Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Creamy ranch chicken

Are you seeing the trend of comfort food? Yeah, that's how it's been around here.
Healthy, not especially...but lately I've just been about what tastes good. What my family will eat. What makes me happy when I cook it.

Creamy Ranch Chicken

1 package (generally 3-4) boneless skinless chicken breasts
2-3 tablespoons ranch powder
1 stick of butter
1 block cream cheese-softened
1 can cream of mushroom soup
milk, if needed

I've done this in both the crockpot and the oven...so you pick which one you'd like to do. But it basically goes the same.
Crockpot-put chicken, butter, and ranch powder-cool high 4-5 hours or until chicken is cooked through.
Oven-same as above, oven on 350, probably 1-2 hours (or less, I have a phobia about undercooked chicken and I tend to overdo it probably)
Once the chicken is done, take the cooking liquid and mix it with the cream cheese, and soup-if it feels to thick for you add a splash of milk.
Add creamy mixture back to chicken-I generally cut the chicken up a bit, more bit sized pieces.
I serve it over mashed potatoes. I'm sure it would be good with rice as well!

Linguine Carbonara

Please forgive me for the low quality of this picture...I realized as I was shoveling this down my gullet that if I didn't take a picture, there wouldn't BE a picture. So I snapped, then resumed shoveling.
My appetite has been 'meh' lately. Nothing sounds good. Nothing tastes really good. Even my favorite restaurant failed to whelm the last time I went. So when the husband said he wanted Carbonara, I wasn't in a rush to make it.
Then I did. It was like a giant hug on a plate, it was the most comforting pile on a styrofoam plate that there has ever been. It was amazing.

Linguine Carbonara (adapted from Anne Burrell)

1 box of linguine-cook in heavily salted water
1lb of thick sliced bacon, cut into approx 1 inch pieces
3/4 cup grated parm
4 eggs-room temperature.
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Boil your pasta until it's almost done. Al dente is what they call it. I call it-take a piece out, bite it and if it still feels a tiny bit not done it's where you want it.
In a big sauce pan cook your bacon, and as it gets done, pull it out so it doesn't burn.
In a big bowl mix together your parm, eggs, and pepper. You want it to look very mixed..so no random darker bits of errant yolk. It should be thickish, not quite as thick as pudding.
Leave the grease...no really. Leave it...now put the pasta in the grease, and pour your egg/cheese mix over it...toss, toss, toss, toss. What's happening is that your hot pasta and grease are slowing cooking the eggs-this is good. If it still looks really wet, DON"T turn the heat back on-just put a lid on it and give it a minute or so. Then...toss the bacon pieces back in. You don't want it to look like scrambled eggs, it will just look like a cream sauce when it's done.
Then inhale....try to remember to chew.

A little note on this...when I say parm..I don't mean the stuff in the green shaker bottle. You need the real deal for this. So either buy it pre-grated (I know at our grocery it's by the bleu cheese/cream cheese)-or buy a hunk and grate it yourself.

Sour Cream Butter Biscuits

3 ingredients. That's it. Just 3. 3 little things, mixed in a bowl and then put in the oven..TOTAL game changers.
These little beauts show up on our table at least once a week, and there are rarely any left over.

Sour Cream Butter Biscuits (from Paula Deen)
2 cups self rising flour
1 cup butter-softened or melted
1 cup sour cream

Mix together all ingredients. Think to yourself "there is no way this bowl of paste can be biscuits". Grease a mini muffin tin and drop scant tablespoons full of 'paste' into the tin, then put the tin in a 400 degree oven for about 10-12 minutes-you want them nice and golden.
Remove and let cool-briefly.
Pop one in your mouth and be amazed at the complexity of those 3 little ingredients.

Try not to eat them all!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Chex Party Mix-and a giveaway!

Chex Mix...pretty much the go-to snack food. I can remember being on marching band trips, and when we'd make a 'pit stop'-grabbing Chex Mix and chocolate milk. So WHY did it take me SO long to make some myself??


 It's not hard to make. It's not time consuming. It's easy to share. It's VERY easy to eat! I've got a birthday party coming up that I'm doing the snacks for and here's what I made tonight!

Smokey Sweet Onion Party Mix
1 1/2 cups Rice Chex
1 1/2 cups Corn Chex
1 1/2 cups HoneyNut Chex
1 cup Wheat Chex
1 1/2 cups pretzels
3/4 cup dried minced onions
1/4 cup butter-melted
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp HotSalt
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp Liquid Smoke


Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl (large enough that you can get a spoon in there and mix it up-and make sure it's ok to microwave in)
Combine the butter, sugar, and oil in a microwave safe cup, and microwave for 2 minutes (stirring after each minute).
Add the seasonings to the wet mixture, then pour over the cereal/pretzel/onion mixture.
Microwave 3 minutes-stirring after each minute.
Then pour onto a wax paper lined sheet to cool.
Once cool package in something air tight to keep it fresh!

It's sweet and it's got a great smoke flavor, then that HotSalt tickles the back of your throat, and...yum, just yum!

Would YOU like to make some of your own? Or try one of the great flavors that Chex Mix has already come up with FOR you?
I'll tell you right now....yes, I did make up the recipe above, but I've got a few of their recipes on my list-like Chex Pumpkin Pie Crunch, and Chex PB and Chocolate Blast I'm drooling thinking about the sweet fix! And I love the concept of doing a Chex Mix exchange instead of a cookie exchange! Chex Mix mixes take about 15 minutes from start to finish....you'd be lucky to have your cookie batter mixed up by then, not even baked! Such a good idea and I can't wait to try it at holiday parties this year!
Make up bags for trick or treat gifts! Have a big ol' bowl sitting around to munch on at Thanksgiving! Or host a Christmas Chex Mix exchange!
An easy-peasy way to get you motivated to start mixing up? A giveaway...
 Thanks to MyBlogSpark you could win a Chex Mix prize pack, full of the stuff you need to have your own Chex Mix party! 5 different varieties of Chex cereal, awesome take away boxes for your guests, and a gift card to help out with other things you might need for your party!

How you can enter-and it's up to you, enter once or alot of times!
1-Mandatory-what is your favorite Chex Party Mix recipe? Have one of your own? Share it with me! Or go to the webpage and look around at the great recipes!
2-Follow this blog (either on Google Friend Connect or by email-links to the left)
3-Like Suzy's Cup-Tin Creations on Facebook (link to the left)
4-Follow me on Twitter
5-Like to shop? Be my friend HERE!

I'll randomly choose a winner for the awesome prize pack (Provided by MyBlogSpark and Chex Mix) bright and early Monday morning (that's the 10th!)!

Disclosure: The Chex Party Mix-Change product, information, and giveaway have been provided by Chex through MyBlogSpark.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

On top of ol' smokey...

                              all covered with cheese....Sunday over spaghetti.
Tuesday night (leftovers) Meatball Sliders

Meatballs. Basically my Husband's Holy Grail food. And for 7 years (7 looooong years) I've been searching. Turning over every rock, peeking into every Italian kitchen, and trying over and over and over again.
Too tough.
Not enough breadcrumbs.
Not tender enough.
Too meaty.
Too bready.
It seemed a hopeless battle.
But I was determined to keep trying.
This past Sunday I made a meatball that surpassed all prior attempts...a meatball to which my Husband has bestowed the ULTIMATE honor. "Better than my Mom's".
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Finally.

It is a prep you probably haven't seen/used before-but it's what worked for me.

Meatballs (adapted from Jfolse)

1lb ground beef (80/20)
1lb ground pork
6 eggs
1 cup minced onion
1 cup minced celery
2 Tablespoons granulated garlic
1/4 cup chopped basil
6 slices bread (I had honey 7 grain wheat)
1/2-1 cup panko (approximately-see below)
1/2 cup grated parmesan
2 teaspoons pepper

Oven at 350-
Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper-


Run torn slices of bread through the food processor and add to large mixing bowl.
Add ground beef, pork, and eggs
Run onion, celery, and basil through food processor  until very finely chopped and blended-add to big bowl of stuff
Add garlic, pepper, and parm-
Mix by hand. -Do not overwork!
At this point my mix was still very wet and wouldn't really hold together-so I added panko until I got a ball that would hold together but not one that was dry.
Place meatballs onto cookiesheet-I rolled mine just larger than a golf ball and got 31.
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven, and raise temp to 400.
Bake at 400 for 20 minutes.
Remove.
At this point they are cooked through. You can do whatever you'd like with them.
I had a pot of sauce simmering, so I added mine into the sauce.

The basil and celery are really key ingredients here. They add a nice herby backtone to the meatballs. These set a new standard in my house. They are tender, but they hold their shape. They have flavor-so they don't HAVE to be drenched in sauce...we ate a couple before adding them to the sauce and they were just as awesome.
And since this recipe makes such a large amount, I was able to stretch it for two meals..and give the pooches the leftovers!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Creamed spinach and peas

I'm no Popeye. Nope, can't do the straight spinach thing. I can do it in a cheesy dip with artichokes, I can do it snuck into a lasagna, heck, I can even blend it into a smoothie (Green Monsters!). And I'm the same way with peas. Just can't do them on their own. My old boss told me that "no good food is green"-he was even opposed to green jello. That's how hardcore he was. But I went through my freezer the other day and there was ALOT of green. My feeble attempt at healthy eating and incorporating more veggies into our meals staring blankly at me in the frozen tundra.
Last night's dinner needed something green...it was roast, with mashed potatoes. It needed another veggie...or at least I thought it needed another.

So..I took looked up creamed peas...I know that I've heard of it..couldn't find what I was looking for. And I had 4 bags of peas in the freezer. Then I looked up creamed spinach and it let me to The Pioneer Woman (who is awesome, as is her new show!)...and who am I to disregard a blogger mom turned Food Network star (all time dream folks!!)-but of course I had to make the recipe my own.

It was good. The creamy offsets the spinach. The peas give it a nice sweet texture. And the addition of a panko top and some cream cheese just take it to the moon!

Creamed Spinach and Peas (adapted from The Pioneer Woman)

1 stick butter
8 tablespoons flour
1 onion-chopped
2 tsp granulated garlic
1 cup 2% milk
1 cup heavy cream
1lb frozen chopped spinach*
1lb frozen green peas
2oz cream cheese-softened
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs dusted with ranch powder
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Oven at 400
Melt the stick of butter in a large saucepot-once melted at the flour and mix (this is your roux)-cook it about 3-4 minutes. Add onions and garlic powder, and cook another 3-4. Add milk and cream-whisk, whisk, whisk! Add pepper and nutmeg-whisk!
Fold in spinach and peas.
Pinch in cream cheese-
Add to 8x8 baking dish-
top with panko
Bake for 15-20 or until bubbly.

Perfect side dish folks!
* my spinach was a steamer bag. if you have one of the blocks of chopped spinach you'll want to defrost it and squeeze out the excess moisture.

Homemade Ricotta

I wanted something sweet after dinner...but nothing too sweet..I wanted something creamy...and I happened to have some homemade ricotta..so I slapped it on a One-Hour Roll with some blackberry jam. Yum.

I've got lasagna cupcakes on the menu this week (SO excited! Stay tuned!)-and the other day at the grocery I got the stuff I needed...I thought...I got home and had forgotten the ricotta.  Our local grocery is really just a bread and milk stop...and ricotta (which isn't cheap anyway) is generally 75 cents to a dollar more expensive. Thanks Rural Living!  *sigh* So I decided to channel my inner Donna Reed and just do it myself. I'd seen it done on tv. My Dad makes cheese from goat's milk (way better than commercial cheese)-so it CAN be done.

I'm never buying ricotta again. Making it at home you can control alot of things...the amount of moisture (do you want a looser, creamier, cheese or a tighter, spreadable, cheese) and salt content. And in a life where I generally feel like I have NO reigns whatsoever...give me something I can control..and I will thank you!

Homemade Ricotta (from Kitchen Parade)
4 cups 2% milk
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
salt to taste

In a large pot (I used my stock pot)-bring the milk to a simmer(high heat). Once it gets there, add your lemon juice. Drop the heat to medium/medium low and stir. Stir like your life depends on it. Chant 'bubble, bubble, toil, and trouble' and cackle. You'll be stiring for awhile and there is a chance that the chanting doesn't help...but it did help me pass the time. You'll feel when the cheese starts to come together. Mine took about 20 minutes of constant stirring.
Remove from heat (but not from the pan) and let cool 30-45 minutes.
Line a fine mesh colander with a clean dishtowel and arrange that over another larger bowl and pour the curds and whey into it and let it drain. Here is where the control comes in. Check on it and when it's the texture/moisture you want, put it in a container and pop it in the fridge (or eat it straight away).

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sweet potato jalapeno cornbread

This stuff right here...yeah. Delicious. As in truly, lovely, divine.
I'll admit, it made me make inappropriate mouth noises. I couldn't help it. They were completely involuntary...but they came out anyway. In akward..mmmmmms, and ooohs, and maybe even a couple of oh yeeaaahs.

It paired perfectly with the ham I'd roasted and the mashed potatoes for dinner last night. It's got the sweetness and orange-ness of fall (which is upon us-yay!!), and the subtle spice and warmth of the peppers and cumin.


Sweet Potato Jalapeno Cornbread (adapted from Sweet Pea's Kitchen)
1 cup flour
1 cup corn meal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tsp cajun seasoning
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 packet instant mashed sweet potatoes (cooked and cooled)
6 jalapeno peppers-seeded and diced finely
2 eggs
1 tablespoon molasses
1/4 cup olive oil

Oven at 400
Grease an 8x8 pan
Whisk together dry ingredients
Combine wet ingredients and mix until incorporated.
Then combine wet to try until just mixed-
Into the pan and bake 30-35 or until a toothpick tests clean.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Italian Style Mac and Beef

Ok, I know, I KNOW there isn't much appetizing about this picture. Well..maybe the clementines in the background? But this dinner was super easy, very fast, and the children INHALED it.
And it's from my new favorite cookbook...seriously 101 different recipes using mac and cheese. There is even a cake recipe in there. I kid you not!

Italian Style Mac and Beef (adapted from here)
1lb ground beef
1/2 onion-chopped
1 container sliced mushrooms
1 cup water
1 cup spaghetti sauce
1 box mac and cheese

Brown the beef, add the onions and mushrooms and cook until soft. Add water, spaghetti sauce, and cheese packet, stir. Bring to a simmer-add macaroni noodles, then simmer for 7 minutes or until noodles are done.

No really..that's it. And even though pictures don't do it justice...it's really good. And when the kids are eating it and asking for more and more...I'm not gonna complain!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

CJane's 30 day bran muffins

I won't go into in this post how much I love CJane. I won't go into depth on how I look forward to her blog daily. How she makes me laugh. How her vlog is the one of my favorite parts of the week.
I truly think that if we lived closer, we'd be the best of friends. She'd bring her kids over and they'd play with mine, she'd gently chide me for my coffee habit (since Mormons generally don't drink coffee), and we'd go shopping for muu-muus.
But since we do live so far away, and since our friendship is basically just in my head, I have to settle for these muffins. These muffins which she touted are 30 day muffins because that is "how long the covered batter can last in your fridge without going gloopy, glopy, or sprinkled with blackish green bumps." And with that phrase alone simultaneously made me pee my pants and challenged me culinarily. Now, we're addicted to them. These muffins are good. They are chock full of good for you bran and fiber (we all need that). And they are totally mix-upable. Fridge sustainable. And I ziploc my-day olds. So that way when Little Man rolls out of bed (sometimes literally) and races to the kitchen and points to the oven-his way of saying 'muffin Ma' since he doesn't talk yet-I can just hand him a nice cool one.


30 Day Bran Muffins

4 cups All Bran cereal
2 cups boiling water
1 cup margarine
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 qt butermilk
5 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
5 cups flour
2 cups Bran Flakes

Pour boiling water over All Bran-set aside
Cream margarine and sugar.
Add eggs.
Alternate adding dry (flour, soda, salt) and wet (buttermilk), ending with wet.
Mix in Bran Flakes.
Bake at 400 for 15 minutes.

Now this is just a template...you can kinda do whatever you want to with these muffins. I've melted peanut butter and mixed that into the batter. I've used butter instead of margarine. My most recent batch was 1/2 butter 1/2 cream cheese, had partial usage of wheat flour, craisins and orange zest. Yum. It's also easy to cut the recipe in half.
How do you like your Bran muffins?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Scrabble tile pendants

Quick little self promotion here...I've got Scrabble tile pendants that I made! These are Halloween themed-you can see them all on my Facebook page (link at the left). They are $3, plus $1 shipping if anyone is interested! Here are a few samples!




Simple Gazpacho

                                        Sippable Salsa seems more fitting.

Cold, refreshing, summery, good for you...it's all those things! You don't have to deal with chopping a bunch of water and seedy (blech!) tomatoes either. See me and tomatoes...we're not the best of friends. I can tolerate them on a taco, and once in a great while actually WANT a BLT...but other than that...they need to be in a sauce of some kind...marinara, salsa, ketchup..you get the gist.
And so I'm on a diet (big surprise right?) and I wanted something fresh tasting and low cal, and never having gazpacho, it seemed reasonable to make it (right). But all the recipes I found called for tomatoes...of which I had none. But I did have V8 and tomato soup...already in the form I prefer them!

Simple Gazpacho
1 can tomato soup (I used Progresso Reduced Sodium Tomato Parmesan)
1 can V8 (I used the empty soup can)
1 cucumber-peeled, seeded, and chopped (I used my mini chopper)
1/2 onion-chopped (again with the mini chopper)
1 small handful cilantro
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tablespoon honey

Everybody into the blender and go until it hits the consistency you want it. Me? I let mine get super smooth. I could drink it if I wanted to, but I opted for a bowl with a little cilantro leaf garnish. It was pretty. It was super tasty. The cilantro and cumin do WONDERFUL things to one another, and the cucumber ads that natural coolness.
Absolutely delicious..and I still have a basically full blender in my fridge! Yum!

Wanting a freebie? You still have time to enter the Frito-Lay giveaway!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Chicken Ranch Broccoli Tots

Potato chips. Truly one of my two Achilles' heels. What? I've got two legs, that means two heels...don't question. So yes...potato chips are one..big time. Especially thin, crunchy, and covered with flavor chips-like the newest Frito Lay's Regionally Inspired chips!

These new flavors were specifically designed with specific regional flavor profiles!
1. Northeastern U.S. – Lay’s Honey Mustard

     2. Midwestern U.S. – Lay’s Creamy Garden Ranch

                             3. Northwestern U.S. – Lay’s Balsamic Sweet Onion

                             4. Southwestern U.S. – Lay’s Chipotle Ranch

                              5. Southeastern U.S. – Lay’s Cajun Herb & Spice
· All of the Lay's Regional Flavored potato chips are made with all natural ingredients and cooked in healthier oils, like corn and sunflower oils, which contain 80% or more of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat - the "good fats." They also contain 0 grams of trans fats per serving!
· There’s also less sodium in them than you might think – a 1-oz serving of our Lay’s Regional Flavored potato chips contains less salt than a plain bagel!

For the record..I've tried ALL of them, with the exception of the Honey Mustard-which I just haven't found in my local grocery, or I would have!

So you might be wondering where exactly I'm going with this? Well, I got invited to submit a recipe into the Taste from Home contest being sponsored by Lay's AND...I get to do a giveaway with it as well!  And in true Suzy fashion, I waited until the day BEFORE the cutoff to bang out my recipe. What can I say? I work well under pressure!

You migh have noticed, up there #2-Midwestern..Creamy Garden Ranch. Um yes. I (in true midwestern fashion) put ranch on EVERYTHING. Carrots, broccoli, pizza, baked potatoes, chicken, crackers...so I must agree they got my region RIGHT on!
Like I said--day before submission cutoff, and I realize that I need to get this done!
 I was drawing a blank.
 I was hungry.
And all I could think of was driving to the closest drive-thru that has tater tots (great comfort food) and going to town on the salty, crispy, goodness.
Then I decided, what is a contest without some challenge? And it clicked...I had things to MAKE Tater Tots..had I ever made them before,...um..no..but I could and would do it...today.
Little Man is a tot hound, and Little Miss wanted the leftover chicken and broccoli for lunch. So I combined them. And Little Miss named them.
Not only are they amazing, but they call to the forefront the Creamy Garden Ranch Lay's I so love. The potato, ranch, and cheese are creamy. They have an awesome crunch from the panko coating. And the hint of broccoli, so you'll kinda feel like you are being healthy..oh..and a bit of chicken for protein! It's a meal in tot form..oh yeah!

 And here is how I did it!

Chicken Ranch Broccoli Tots
Tot-
2 large white baking potatoes-cooked whole, cooled, peeled, and grated on a hand grater
1 egg-beaten
1/2 cup cooked chicken and broccoli-chopped finely
1/2 cup cheddar/monterey jack shredded cheese
3 Tablespoons AP flour
1 Tablespoon ranch powder
Coating-
1/2 stick of butter-melted
3/4 cup of panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon ranch powder
vegetable oil for frying-just enough for about 1/4-1/2 inch in a shallow pan.
 (I'll admit, I tried baking first-but nothing can get that awesome tot crunch like frying it...so fry..don't be afraid!)
(Lined up, ready to be fried)
In a mixing bowl add your 'tot' ingredients. Now my potatoes were already cold from being in the fridge-if you take these from cooked to shred, make sure to squeeze the excess moisture out of them. Gently mix all the 'tot' ingredients together and get to rollin'. You know what a tot looks like, right? Take a tablespoons at a time and roll into little barrels-
In a shallow plate mix together the panko, additional tsp of ranch powder, and melted butter, and mix it with your fingers.
The little tot barrel you just rolled? Now, roll it in the breadcrumbs. Coat it good. Make sure to get the little top and bottom.Then set aside on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Once they are all rolled up and set aside, get your oil going. Fry in small batches until just golden,and remove to a paper towel lined plate. Give them a minute or two to cool before you dig in!
You see that creamy ranch interior? And that golden crispy crust? Yum.
I didn't even salt these lovely little tots-the addition of the ranch powder gives you that nice saltiness already. I didn't dip them in anything either...I don't think ketchup would be fitting with the chicken and broccoli...but you know what would be? Some nice cold ranch dressing.

Want to get in on the giveaway action? Want your OWN variety pack from Frito Lay? Comment answering: Out of the new regional flavors which do you like best, or would you like to try the most?

Additional entries-
Follow me on Google (to the left)
Follow me on Twitter (@ssgreer826)
Like Suzy's Cup-Tin Creations on Facebook (to the left)
Tweet the giveaway with #FritoFlavors

Good luck and enjoy the tots!!

Disclosure: I was invited personally for the contest/ This contest and giveaway are courtesy of Frito-Lay. All impressions and reviews are my own!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Summer Berry Crumble

Even though we're experiencing blistering heat right now, we've got one thing that I always miss in the winter...berries. I mean, I know you can buy berries in the wintertime..but they are much more expensive! So with all these gorgeous summer berries--what do you make?
I saw this recipe and knew it was right up my alley. And you know what? Even though it is awesome a few minutes after you pull it out of the oven..it's even better the next day cold out of the fridge.



Summer Berry Crumble (adapted from Gina's Skinny Recipes)
Filling
1 cup strawberries-sliced
1 cup blueberries
1 cup blackberries
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp lemon zest
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp cornstarch

                                                          Topping
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
5 Tbl butter-melted

Oven at 375
Combine first 6 ingredients, then dust with cornstarch-toss to coat. Place into greased baking dish (I used a 9x9).
Mix the dry topping ingredients, then pour on butter and crumble over the top of the fruit mix.
Bake 40 minutes or until the top looks nice and golden brown.

Monday, July 18, 2011

I now pronounce you Italian Beef Pizza

Mawwige, mawwige is what bwings us togetha...
Man, I love The Princess Bride!...and that quote perfectly sums up this pizza. Because it truly is the perfect union of two things that were destined for one another.

What you never thought that Italian Beef and Pizza should be combined? It seemed totally rational to me. They are both italian. *shrugs*
Let me tell you something first before I get to the recipe. Unless you are living in Antartica...you might have noticed..it's summertime and it's hot. And Missouri has a different kind of hot.  Sure..Arizona, you've got your 107. But it's a dry heat. Here in Missouri we've got humidity. LOTS of it. To the point that at 85 (which seems like it should be almost comfortable) you walk out the front door and feel like you've entered a steam room. Chokes you and soaks you..that's what our humidity does. On days like we've had lately I don't really feel like eating something with a fork, that is hot, and comforting. I want something that I can shove in my mouth so I can get back into the pool.
When Husband came back from the store with the ingredients for Italian Beef, I was a little put off. It's a hot dish and it can be messy. It wasn't the 'fast to eat' meal I wanted to cook. So I changed it up a bit. I'm so glad I did! It takes a little bit of prep work, but you can start it in the morning, then quickly put it together for dinner!

I Now Pronounce you Italian Beef Pizza

Using this pizza crust

For the beef (it's similar to this previous post)
2-3lb chuck roast
1 pkg onion soup mix
3 T brown gravy mix
1/2 jar pepperocinis w/the juice
1 onion chopped
2 jalepenos chopped (keep the seeds)
1 bottle of beer (I used Boulevard Wheat)

I did the beef in the crockpot-put the veggies down first, then put the beef on top, mixed the beer-soup/gravy mixes together then poured over the top. Low all day.

Let's not forget the wedding party of Bridesmaids and Groomsmen-
1 block cream cheese
1/2 bag preshredded mozzarella cheese
1 green bell pepper, diced

Oven at 500-
roll out your pizza dough (using 1/2 of the original recipe-you can save the other half for another day-it freezes well*)
Pre-bake this at 500 until it starts to get golden-then pull it out. Turn the oven down to 425

Your beef (having been cooked all day) should fall apart. Go ahead and pull it out and put it (and the veggies it cooked with) in a strainer and let the gravy fall through. You want it to be dry enough so it won't just make the crust soggy, but not totally void of the gravy goodness.

Take that block of softened cream cheese and add 5 Tablespoons of your gravy to it and give it a mix.

Flip your pre-baked crust over so you'll have more of a flat surface to work on. Your cream cheese/gravy is your 'sauce' for this pizza..so smear it on there.
Top with the beef and soft veggies**, add the diced bell pepper, top with the cheese and return it to the oven for about 15 minutes. Your crust was pre-baked, your beef is cooked, so you are really just melting the cheese at this point.

We're ranch dressing fans on well, pizza in general, AND on our italian beef so I gave it a nice drizzle once it had been cut into pieces.
It was Heaven. Pure pizza Heaven. The cream cheese base was smooth and went perfectly with the beef!
There were sadly no leftovers.

*the pizza dough recipe makes enough for 2 pizzas. To save the other half, wrap it tightly in saran wrap then put it in a ziploc (yes, both!)-and put it in the freezer. The day you want to use it, just pull it out that morning and put it in the fridge.

**if you use whole pepperocinis like I did, make sure when you are picking through/shredding the beef pick out the stems-the long cook time with make them come off and you don't want to bite down on something like that b/c it would kill that perfect pizza moment!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Iced Oatmeal Cookies

The cookie aisle is kinda like high school. 
The cookies that are eye level are the popular ones. They wear BiG brand names and make you clip coupons to get a better deal on them.  They come in all sorts of different versions-double stuffed, chewy, mint, choc'full'o'chunks, their colors might even vary dependant on the holiday season. 
Then you've got that bottom row. They aren't the misfits they are made out to be. They may not have the flashy labels or a huge price tag. They are stable, reliable, constant, dependable, these cookies never let you down. You can count on these cookies to stay the same time after time, season after season.
I think there is something to be said for those cookies.
They are understated and awesome.
They are crunchy. They have warmth from the spices. The cookie isn't overly sweet and it allows the icing to guide your tastebuds to a very happy place.
Delicious. That's what they are.

Iced Oatmeal Cookies (adapted from SmittenKitchen )
2 1/2 cups of old fashioned oats (read the recipe before you dump it all in the bowl!)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rye flour
1 Tbl + 1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar (regular granulated white)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbl molasses
2 sticks salted butter-melted, but cool
2 eggs

Oven at 350-cookie sheets lined and sprayed with non-stick
Take 1/2 cup of the oatmeal and put it in the food processor and grind them up  to a good powder. Add the rest of the oats and pulse until you can see just a handful of large sides oat flakes.

Add all your dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl.Whisk it around to get them mixed together.
In a separate (and probably smaller) bowl-whisk the eggs, butter, and molasses together.
Fold the wet mix into the dry mix. Don't overmix this.
I rolled mine in about ping-pong ball size (probably 2 Tbl or so)-place on the baking sheet-make sure they are at least 3 inches from the next cookie. These guys need room to spread.
Total bake time is around 16 minutes. Rotate your pan at 7 minutes.
Let them rest of the sheet once you take it out about 5 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack.
Make your glaze-

Cinnamon glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
3-4 Tbl of milk
whisk until you get it to a nice drizzle consistency.

Once the cookies are cooled get glazin'!  I did the dip and drip method: Flip upside down and dip the tops in the glaze, let them drip for a couple seconds then flip them back right side and back to the rack until they were dry.

I know my recipe has stuff in it that you might not have in your cabinets. Don't go out and buy it! Click on the link and see SK's variation-she doesn't use rye flour or molasses.  I had rye flour (the recipe she varied off of used it)-I'm weird like that I guess. And since I don't keep DARK brown sugar, I added the molasses-b/c that is what makes brown sugar into dark brown sugar.

I should have counted how many cookies I got, but I didn't. I know I got ALOT out of this recipe. So there will be plenty for you to share. Or for you to hide behind the pasta boxes in the pantry so only you know where they are....

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ham and Mushroom Stuffed Manicotti

And that little piggy cried "DANG that was good!"


Ok, so he probably didn't. But this dish...really good.

Ham & Mushroom Stuffed Manicotti (adapted from allrecipes.com)

Filling
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 package cremini mushrooms, chopped
couple pats of butter
couple turns of the pan of olive oil
2 cups ham-chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Sauce
3 Tbl butter
3 Tbl olive oil
6 Tbl flour
3 Cups milk-room temp
1 1/2 cups swiss cheese-shredded
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese-shredded
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 box (14 tubes) manicotti-cooked as directed on the box


Got your tubes cooked and set aside? Good...preheat the oven to 350, would ya?

Working on the filling first-add your butter and oil to the pan, get them warm then add your veggies. Once those are softened up, add your chopped ham. I used my leftover ham from my roast (fyi..the recipe is a couple weeks old)-so mine was kinda sweet (still was awesome)-I'd think that those thick slices of breakfast ham chunked up would be good for this. Set it off the burner to cool, and after about 20 minutes add the parmesan to it.

Now the sauce-in your saucepan get the butter and oil together and liquidy..then add your flour-I add a spoonful at a time and whisk as I'm doing it. You don't want lumps. Now cook this (which is a roux btw) for a few minutes over low-medium heat..whisking, whisking, all the way. You'll need to be a bit ambidextrous with this next step. Up the heat to medium and with one hand add the milk, with the other keep whisking. Keep whisking until you feel the sauce come together. And you will.You'll be standing there whisking, thinking 'this is NOT working' and all of a sudden..you'll have Bechamel sauce! Turn the heat back to low, ditch the whisk and get a nice sized spoon, dump your swiss and mozz in and slowly fold/stir/generally incorporate. Take a good spoonful (about  1/4 cup) and add it to the meat/veggie mix (combine).Turn it off, set it aside.

So now we have our cast of characters. I chose to make TWO 9x9 cooking dishes full of this and one is still hanging out in the freezer. You can easily do this in a bigger pan (9x13) and have a larger serving.
Add a smear of the white sauce to the bottom of the cooking dish
Stuff the tubes with the meat/veggie mix. Easier said than done. Honestly? I split mine open, filled them, then put them seam side down. *sigh* Glad I got that off my chest.

Once you have them filled and all cozy laying next to one another in the dish, pour on the sauce. Top with the rest of the grated parm and tuck it away in that nice warm oven for about 30 excruciatingly long minutes.

It should get bubbly, and a little golden around the edges. You'll need to let it cool down for about 15 minutes (again torture) to avoid instant mouth scald.

But it's worth the wait. It is SO worth the wait.  The creamy swiss cheese sauce, the salty ham, the meaty mushrooms, and the lovely back up flavors of the pepper and onion.

Quite easily in my top 20 meals I've made-EVER. And freezes great!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Meet Cotton

Remember when my heart got broken back in March? You'd think I would have recovered by now. But my heart still ached for that silly dog. And even though we had 4 dogs already that keep me busy. 2 cats that keep me busy. 2 human kids that keep me busy. My heart was just NOT happy. And despite the fact that we did not NEED another pet/baby...It wasn't a phase or a random thought I could get to go away...


...Husband finally realized the reason I'd been so down WAS indeed dog related. So I'm pleased to introduce you to Cotton!

 She's my new little Labrador love. Please ignore the no make up and my freakishly large hands (I'd like to blame the angle of the shot, but my hands are kinda wide). We got her on Saturday and she's 7 weeks old. It's been 7 years since I had a puppy..I've forgotten how small they are, how sharp those teeth are, how much potty training sucks...but I'm remembering the love, that delicious puppy breath, that soft belly skin. We're so glad to have her, and I can't wait to watch our new puppy-baby grow up with our human-babies!
                                                       Lots of kisses
                                                     Lots of cuddling
In general lots of just 'almost makes you want to puke' cuteness. I can't stand it.

Baked Banana Oatmeal

Oatmeal for breakfast means you are eating healthy.

Let's ignore the drippy peanut butter and white chocolate topping. Yes, let's just pretend it's not there and really...you're eating healthy..it's ok.

Baked Banana Oatmeal (adapted from mostlyfoodandcraft.blogspot.com)

1 cup old fashioned oatmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
dash of salt
3/4 cup of milk ( I used 2% )
1 egg
1/2 cup mashed banana ( I keep little containers of mashed nanners in the freezer )

Mix together dry
Whisk together wet
Combine.
Pour into greased baking dish (I used a 9x4-yes..weird-if you don't have one you could probably use a loaf ban, or just double everything and use a 9x9)
Bake at 375 for 25 minutes.

You could be perfectly sensible and eat it as is. Or you could be completely ridiculous and melt 1/4 cup of peanut butter w/ a 1/4 cup of white chocolate chips and pour it over the top, like I did. I do ridiculous well. Also..since I forgot to add in the brown sugar from the original recipe, I thought it needed something to make it sweeter. Great combo really..peanut butter and banana, didn't you know?
Oh and I also dashed the top with salt..ssshhh. Just do it. The salt pops this OVER the top.

I think I might now be in LOVE with baked oatmeal..so you know. It might be my new favorite way to make it..and stay tuned b/c I'm gonna be making all sorts of different styles of it.

Yum..and filling.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Quick pictureless post..

Just wanted to check in with you guys to assure you I'll be around soon with some really yummy recipes!
We recently took a family trip to IN (where my family is from)-20 hours total with the two kids was a bit exhausting. Then back in MO where I run our rental business we've had some goings..so I'm trying to get new people app'd up and moved in..blah blah.
New things-
Awesome camera (I think I already touched on that)
New flat screen tv for the bedroom
New puppy-whoa what? Yes...Husband finally caved and we got one..she'll get her own post with pictures soon. :)

Not so fond farewells-
My hair girl who was also a tenant who completely screwed us over and trashed the place, bailed on lease, rent, friendship, and *sob* my hair.
Our 52 inch projection screen and wait for it.....Dish network. I'm still adjusting to NOT having Food Network and *sobs* DVR. However we've got the new tv and Netflix through the Wii. Honestly I'm so tv obsessed that it might be healthy for me to take a break for awhile. No..it will be..I'm just not so happy with it right now.

Since I am 'good' tv-less, Yo Gabba Gabba is keeping the kid's attention, and the pup is sleeping..I'm gonna tackle this house. Maybe since I won't have the giant tv distracting me I'll be able to keep a clean house? And um, that was one of the Husband agreements on getting the pup..that I'd work harder on the house. B/c evidently I don't work hard enough cooking and taking care of the kids...*snickers*

I'll be back soon with food..I promise!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Half a hog

We recently purchased half a hog. I'll just let that soak in for people who might think it's strange...
It was Husband's idea, and admittedly not a 'bad' one. Other than the fact that I have NO room for anything else in my freezer right now. It's full of 23lbs of sausage, 15lbs of bacon, ribs, tenderloins, ham roasts, and pork fish (wth right? I have no clue either).
This weekend when we were trying to figure out what to eat, we both concluded that it should probably be pork.

True right? Well..unless you are adverse to pork, which we aren't.
The 3 ham roasts take up the most space in the freezer, so I decided to take one on. However, even though I love ham..I'm not very experienced with it. Deli ham, Christmas/Easter ham, Granny's ham salad (which isn't even ham, it's bologna)..I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into. So I called up my Dad and he told me to just cook it like a roast, b/c it IS a roast. And I found out he was right. It was a Sunday ham dinner, and it was good, really good!

Maple and BBQ Roast Ham
3-4lb ham (ours had 2 bones, fat, and skin on it-but just helped with the flavor)
granulated garlic
black pepper
bbq sauce*
maple syrup*
cajun seasoning

Oven on 375 (to start) and my ham was still partially frozen.
I put some garlic and pepper in the bottom of my roasting pan (the only pan I had that was big enough). Put in the ham and added more garlic and pepper to the top of it. Then added about 4 cups of cool water. Topped it with aluminum and put it in.
And I waited about 3 hours.
Up the heat to 425
I removed it and added 1 cup of maple syrup* and 1/2 cup bbq sauce*, covered the foil back and put it back in.
1 hour later I removed it again, removed the foil, and added another cup (the rest of my) syrup and a good shake of cajun seasoning.
This time when it went back in the oven, I left the foil off. I also 'basted' it with it's own juices about ever 15-20. Gave it another 45 minutes in there, then took it out to rest.
Let it rest up and cool-
Remove the skin/excess fat/bones (the dogs were happy that night!). Slice/shred the meat.
Oh..also right before I upped the temp I added in about 8 medium russet potatoes (peeled and halved).

Now this is just the way I did it. You can flavor this however you want. I saw a recipe for a peanut butter glaze. Pineapple is a classic pairing. Honey mustard would be awesome I think.

Pig is a blank canvas...and we are the painters.

*the syrup and bbq sauce I used were both homemade. I'm sure that 2 cups of maple syrup sounds extreme-but when it's the kind you make from sugar, water, and maple flavoring, it's not as intense as the real stuff. Also my bbq sauce..again homeade, VERY thin...so if you use a bottled kind, you might take a bit of the broth and thin it out a little. Or not and have a more intense bbq/maple taste.

And just WAIT until you see what I did with the leftovers!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Brazilian Lemonade

                   SO refreshing...such is a vanity shot...and yes that is a HUGE lime.
But this-
 Yeah..that's how most of my drinks end up. In my cup with my straw..it tastes the same whatever it's in..but this glass is WAY more practical for me!
Hubby and I LOVE Fogo De Chao it's up there as probably the #1 fancy restaurant right now...so good...it's a Brazilian place and they have this amazing lemonade. Thing is though..it's not 'lemon'...it's lime. I love it so much that I really don't care what they call it...as long as they keep making it. And now thanks to a new blog I found -I can make it at home!

Brazilian Lemonade
1 lime, cut into eight pieces
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
1 cup of ice
1 cup of water
3/4 cup of lemon-lime beverage

Take your first 5 ingredients, put them in a blender and blend ( I got until I can't hear any ice)-then strain the mixture into a measuring cup to remove the rind.
Now the original recipe says this is a two serving deal..I'm calling mine a one serving!
Pour 3/4 cup of lemon-lime beverage (*cough*Sprite*cough*) into a glass, add about 4 cubes of ice and pour over the 'mix'..give it a mix with a spoon...and take a long, smooth, drink of summery bliss.

Oh..and check out my little helper's new cooking-wear! (get wear..since she's wearing it?)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

BEST ever-Chewy Sugar Cookies

I've long been on the quest for (in my mind) the "perfect" sugar cookie. Not crispy, but not powdery soft. Substantial but not heavy...and slathered in frosting doesn't hurt either. Since I'm so often disappointed in sugar cookies, I've shied away. Since I have no patience, I assumed to get that 'perfect' cookie you'd have to chill, and roll, and blah-blah-blah.

But a couple weeks ago I was watching PBS and one of my favorite cooking shows came on...sorry Food Network..I love you, but PBS..well it's awesome. *pushes glasses up on nose and adjusts pocket protector* America's Test Kitchen..I LOVE it! They've got teams of chefs that really break down a recipe and try it a zillion different ways, then they give you the recipe for which way turned out best for them. This chewy sugar cookie does NOT disappoint. Ah..and does NOT need to be put in the fridge or rolled...also..no creaming method..in fact I didn't even use my mixer. Just my God given tools, wooden spoon, and a bowl.


Chewy Sugar Cookies (from America's Test Kitchen)

2 1/4 cups ap flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 ounces cream cheese
6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup veg oil
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

Put sugar and cream cheese into a large bowl. Pour over melted butter, whisk to combine (some cream cheese lumps are ok). Whisk in oil. Whisk in egg, vanilla, and milk. Add flour and mix until it all comes together-don't overmix!
Roll into 2-tablespoon sized balls, place on greased cookie sheet, and flatten (I flattened with my fingers). Bake at 350 for 11-13 minutes, turning the pan at around 7 minutes. As soon as you see that the edges are browning slightly..take them out!
Let them cool on the pan for about 5 minutes before removing them to a cooling rack.
Let cool completely, then top with frosting of choice.
Note: ATK's original recipe had you roll the little balls in sugar before you flattened and no frosting (what?!). You can do that if you want to as well...but really if you have the frosting..why not use it? :)

My frosting of choice was the leftovers from the Triple Citrus Cupcakes...and I have to say..I'm not sure which I liked it better on..the cookies or the cupcakes! Slightly crisp on the edges, and chewy in the center. Heaven in cookie form.
The babies were even good 3 (that's right 3) days later (as long as they are kept in a ziploc or other container).

Remember, you've still got about 2 hours to enter the giveaway! Free brownies, come on!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Giveaway! Fiber One 90 calorie brownies


Brownies with ONLY 3g of fat, 90 calories, AND Fiber. Most important to me though? They taste FANTASTIC! There is no way I would ever think these babies only had 90 calories!
My husband is a bit of a fiber bar junkie. He eats at least 2 a day. I know right? He likes them b/c they fill him up at work, they are quick to eat, and hello...fiber. So when we got these in the mail...I knew I'd have to hide at least ONE box! Unfortunately..the kids found it and inhaled a few themselves....that's right..even my kids (3 and 1) LOVE these brownies!

 AND...that's right...the winner of this giveaway gets EVERYTHING pictured above! I got my goodies courtesy of MyBlogSpark! And you can too!
I'll pick the winner by random Saturday morning (the 25th of June). Make sure I have your email address so I can contact you if you are the winner!

Mandatory entry: How do you make sure you get enough fiber in your diet??
My answer: Beans...lots of beans!

Additional entries (not required)-
Like Suzy's Cup-tin Creations on Facebook
Follow this blog publicly
Follow me on Twitter

Good Luck!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Triple Citrus Cupcakes

I'm all for giving credit where credit is due. And I know I've linked to her before here on Cuptin...but you all need to know...CB, well...she's my Cupcake Idol. My Cupcake Master. My Cupcake Martha. I think I just heard CB gasp all the way here in MO from CA. There...I said it. I'm not kidding. When I need a cupcake recipe...I'll flip through cookbooks first, and I might think about making one out of the book. But when push comes to shove...I check and see what kind of recipes CB has. True. Her red velvet...ROCKS my Husband's world. Her snickerdoodle cupcakes are requested again and again by my Ma and Brother. So a coworker of my husband asked me to make cupcakes for her daughter's 30th. And she asked for just vanilla and chocolate. Easy peasy. I'm all about trying to give fresh cupcakes...so I didn't bake them straight away...and she called last night and asked if she could change the order. Her daughter decided she wanted lemon. I lurve lemon. And I was happy to oblige the change.
I'd made lemon cupcakes before for a babyshower..and I'd used a box-doctor recipe, and they were good. But I felt like doing something more. So I went to the books...and I found a recipe and it sounded alright. Not fantastic...not lemony enough really. So I went to CB's. The heaven's opened and a beam of sunlight shone upon my computer screen when I discovered her Triple Citrus Cupcakes- I called up coworker and asked her "just HOW lemony can I go?" and I described the cupcakes as best I could...and she got excited. So I got to the store and got the necessary ingredients...got home, and got to bakin'!
Triple Citrus Cupcakes (by CB-iheartcuppycakes.com)
Made 24 cupcakes for me-
Cake-
1 package Neufchatel cheese (like cream cheese)
1 stick (1/2 cup) softened butter (salted)
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup half and half
2 cups AP flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

Combine N. cheese and butter, add sugar, orange zest, and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Add in eggs one at the time-mix to incorporate after each addition. Add oil and mix completely-I let the KA-mixer go for a couple minutes.
While the mixer is working, combine your flour and baking powder in another bowl, and get your milk ready.
Add alternately...ending with flour.
I used my ice cream scoop to put these into cupcake liners (1/2 way full) and into a 325 degree oven for 20 minutes (turning at the 10 minute mark)

Frosting
1/2 stick (1/4 cup)of softened butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon zest
2-3 tablespoons lime juice
3 cups sifted powdered sugar

Combine all ingredients and beat the heck out of it. I added a little bit of yellow food coloring b/c that was requested by the coworker!
Frost and enjoy.

Husband-who is generally just a chocolate or red velvet cake eater..LOVED them.
I thought they were awesome as well. Such a nice change, so summery, and so bright. The cake has that nice light orange flavor and the cheese adds such a nice flavor. The frosting though...OH the frosting...so mouth pukering and delicious!!

I can't say ENOUGH good things about CB. Her blog might be Iheartcuppycakes...but I hope she knows how much IheartHER! You rock CB! Thanks for another great recipe!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Two layer Sprite jello

See those lovely layers? Sheesh..I should have made this for St. Pat's day!
I pull ALOT of inspiration from other blogs. Each time I think I have an original idea...I search it and there ya go..10 blogs that have had the SAME idea...and MUCH better pictures than I have! *sigh*
A month or so ago...I found a Jello GENIUS. And her blog gave me the idea for this nummy jello treat!
Two layer Sprite jello
1 sm package lemon jello
1 sm package lime jello
1 container Cool Whip
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup sprite
8x8 pan

Add jello packets to the boiling water, whisk to dissolve. Add Sprite, add Cool Whip-and whisk until combined. The mix will be cloudy. It's supposed to look like that. Then magically when you pour it in a pan and put it in the fridge...it will separate!

It's cool, it's creamy, it's tart and sweet...it's Jello...but amped up a bit!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Kitchen Sink Chicken Salad

 Let's talk about chicken salad for a minute. Growing up I had chicken salad one way, and one way only. Canned chicken + miracle whip (alot of it)-the end. And I had/have no problem with that. When I was a teenager and worked with a lady to moonlighted (moonlit?) at a sandwich shop and was told of crazy things like grapes and apples being in chicken salad...I thought she was insane. Then I tried it. Wow. Not that I don't love my Ma's chicken salad...but the different textures really worked so well!
I had baked some chicken for dinner, and we hadn't eaten all of it-so I decided to give it a go..and I put EVERYTHING I could think of in it. Well..not EVERYTHING...but close to....
Baked chicken breasts (that I baked with salt,pepper, and granulated garlic)
Lemon pepper
Walnuts (chopped)
Dried berry blend (SO good..has dried sweet cherries, tart cherries, blueberries, cranberries and strawberries)
A Braeburn apple
Some celery
A couple jalapenos (seeded and diced finely)
A couple garden fresh radishes (shredded on my cheese grater)
And Mayo...just enough for it all to stick together.
This morning I ate it for breakfast on club crackers w/some swiss cheese...yesterday we all ate it on toast sandwiches...and by "we all" I mean-myself, Husband, our two kids, my in-laws (that's 3 more), the guy helping us install cabinets, and my Aunt Jane. There was ALOT of salad. But it was so good. No really. It was amazing.
My Mother-in-law is really easy to please-she likes it as long as she doesn't have to cook it.
My Father-in-law though...to get a food compliment out of him, well that means you must have really done a good job...and even HE liked it! Yay!

While I was trying to get a good shot of the food (playing with lighting, what do you think?) Bubba was behind the baby gate cheering me on!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Exhausted.

Sometimes (more often than not) motherhood is NOT pretty (example above of no makeup/greasy ponytailed hair). I don't want to bust the bubble of anyone who has all these grand, wonderful, ideals of motherhood...b/c some of it is...but there are days *sigh*....there are dark days. There are days when you question yourself at every turn. There are days when you CAN'T do it yourself. There are days when you'll fight against a teething baby, and they'll fight against you...until they collapse against the sound of your heartbeat and surrender. You haven't won, this is not a victory. It's just a quiet reminder that you are the BEST thing in that baby's world. It's just hard to see it all the time.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tomatillo chicken with stuffed jalapenos

Our local supermarket isn't really 'known' for having good deals or foods of a different culture. I mean sure, we've got a little 'spanish' section where you can get salsa and taco shells...but when I saw tomatillos in the produce section, I about flipped! Had I ever cooked with them before? No..but I couldn't wait to try them out!
The resulting dinner might not have been the prettiest, but it was VERY tasty!!

Cream cheese and chorizo stuffed jalapenos
Oven on 350
8 large jalapenos cut in half and seeds removed
1 block of cream cheese (8oz)
1 tube of pork chorizo (cooked/crumbled)

The heat of your cooked chorizo will melt the cream cheese, so just toss it on top, and then after about 5 minutes mix it together with a spoon to make a glorious cheese/chorizo paste. Then take about a tablespoon and put in to the little jalapenos. Bake 20-25 minutes, then let cool for a few minutes (that cream cheese get h.o.t.-you have been warned).

Tomatillo Chicken  (adapted from tlc.com)
1-2 tablespoons oil
3 chicken breasts-cut in half (thinner and now you have more to feed more people)
6 small-med tomatillos (husks removed,rinse them off, then cut into quarters)
1 small can of diced green chiles
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon (give or take) of cumin

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Season chicken breasts with cumin and add to pan. Brown chicken slightly.
Add tomatillos, chiles, chicken broth, and cilantro-
Cover and simmer 20-25 minutes
Remove chicken to plate, and take the remains of the pan and add to a blender and pulse slightly (you just want to smooth out any really big pieces)-top chicken with 'sauce'-then top with cheese if desired (I always desire cheese!)

If we hadn't have had company (and we almost ALWAYS have company) Husband and I could have taken down this entire dinner ourselves. The jalapenos...perfect with that creamy filling! The chicken was awesome too! The tomatillos give this slight tartness that almost had me thinking there was lime in there. But...since I was the one that cooked it, I knew there was no lime! Yum! It will be made again..and maybe next time with a pitcher of margaritas! Ole'!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Veggie pizza, but not what you are thinking...

If you are wearing socks, you might want to slip them off before this recipe KNOCKS them off....


What? This isn't what you think of when you think of veggie pizza? Hrm...you're right..it does just look like your ordinary run of the mill thin crust Buffalo chicken pizza.
Oh, but it's not. It's a life preserver for all of us low-carbers out there! You see I stumbled upon this website a few weeks ago...and she had posted a Cauliflower pizza crust. Hrm....And um...Husband couldn't even tell. Honestly..if I hadn't have been the one that physically MADE the pizza...I wouldn't have known either. You can go to the linked site above for her original recipes..and you should b/c she rocks! The possibilities are ENDLESS! This is a prebaked pizza crust. So you make it up, bake it up, then top it with whatever, then just bake it until it's warm and bubbly. I'm soon going to try to make up a few of these bad boys to keep in my freezer! I made the crust in the morning, then the pizza for dinner. So not only is this basically carb free and healthy (depending on the toppings of course)..it's super quick once it's baked. It's the PERFECT way to sneak veggies in on your non-veggie eating kids/spouse/family!
Cauliflower Crust for Pizza (adapted from here)
1 steamer bag of cauliflower (from the freezer section)
1/2 cup sharp cheddar shredded*
1 egg, beaten
Oven on at 450-
Follow the instructions on the bag to steam the cauliflower. Remove from bag to strainer/collander (whatever you might call it), let cool. No really..b/c when it comes out of the steamer bag it is H-O-T!
Cooled off? Ok...get a clean kitchen towel and put the cauliflower in it, and now squeeze it with all of your might (over the sink preferably). Think it's all dry now?
Squeeze it again! Ok...see there was more liquid than you thought! Move the squeezed cauli into your food processor and chop it up!
Take it out into a new dry kitchen towel and squeeze it again!! You want this stuff very dry!
Alright..into a bowl add your egg, your cheese, and your cauliflower. Mix it together.
Now..time to get a little messy. On a lined and greased baking sheet (parchment would have been AWESOME here but I was out-but seriously...it would be best b/c mine stuck to the aluminum even though I greased it up) plop your mix down into the center.  You can either put a tiny bit of water on your fingers or oil but work it into a circle (or whatever pizza shape you prefer). I was able to get mine into about a 10 inch circle.
Now into the oven. This bad boy needs to go until it's golden brown. I left mine in there a good 30-40 minutes.
Once it's cooked it should be fairly firm, crispy edges. You can let it just hang out while you prepare your toppings. Mine were chicken tossed in buffalo sauce, some ranch mixed with bleu cheese, chopped onions, and pepperjack cheese.
It cuts up and eats just like regular pizza...but you won't have the regular heavy gut afterwards...or guilt!

*use your imagination with this. If you are going for a traditional pizza instead of cheddar you might want to use provolone or parm!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Butteriness brownies

One layer lovely, chocolate, butteriness
One layer dreamy, creamy, peanut-butteriness
and all in 6 little ingredients!
1-chocolate cake mix (I used Butter Fudge Recipe for that extra butter kick)
2-eggs
1-block of cream cheese (softened)
1-stick of butter (melted)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Oven at 350
Combine cake mix, 1 egg (beaten), and the entire stick of melted-this will get nice and pastey-and pat it into a greased 9x13*
In another bowl combine softened cream cheese, the other egg, the peanut butter, and the powdered sugar and beat relentlessly until combined. Then smooth that mix over the cake mix.
Bake 20-25 or until top layer doesn't jiggle.
Let cool (yes, sorry, you really do have to b/c that cream cheese layer is like lava right now). Cut and enjoy! I know the birthday boy did! And even though I'm restricting I did have a very small sliver...and I approve. The Butter fudge mix + the actual butter + oven heat gave the chocolate layer an awesome browned butter/almost carmel flavor, and of course the top layer of just creamy peanut butter silk. It was a REAL test to stay away from them!

*if you wet your fingers a bit they won't stick to the cake layer as you are patting it in the pan!

Tomorrow, I've got a recipe that will change your life. Not kidding.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The magic veggie

I'm talking about zucchini (which I'm always worried I spell wrong, btw). It might just be one of my FAVORITE veggies ever. So versatile, so pretty and green. I love you zucchini! No really...I ate two of them yesterday. Pre-marriage the ONLY time I had zucchini was in bread...and really the ONLY other veggies consumed in the maiden house were potatoes, corn and green beans. After I got married I became more accquainted with the magic veggie. My Mother in Law (who doesn't cook unless she HAS to) makes this dish that is zucchini, onions, tomatoes, and hamburger meat...it's really good. And it really got me hooked on zucchini!
Yesterday's food:

 Zuc #1-zucchini and sausage coins with ranch dressing
1 smallish zuc cut into rounds and sauteed up with jalepeno/cheese sausage rounds -the sausage makes the fat, the fat cooks the zucchini
 Zuc #2 zucchini noodles topped with spaghetti sauce
1 smallish zucchini cut into ribbons on the mandoline slicer with the julienne blade. Then sauteed with a pat of butter..then topped with spaghetti sauce and parm.
While the rest of the family gorged themselves on the above-Husband's birthday dinner..spaghetti, homemade rolls, salad, green beans (I did eat a salad and green beans)..I had a dinner of basically NO carbohydrates. Yay me! (and down another lb on the scale this morning as well!)
I pinched off a tiny (literally) piece of the rolls I made, and had a sliver (literally) of Husband's birthday brownies (that I'll post soon!)...but other than that..no white starchey carbs for me. And it didn't really bug me. Which is weird..and cool at the same time!