Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My Favorite Florence - Tuesday

Have you figured out how much we love TexMex food yet? Oh you hadn't? Where have you been this whole time? Anyways my family loves Mexican food, my hubby begs me to make all our meals consist of chicken, corn tortillas and cheese, so of course another one of my favorite Florence recipes is Tyler's Ultimate Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Chile Salsa, yes I know I said Tyler's Tradition Chicken Enchiladas were my favorite but you see they both are, one is with traditional red enchilada sauce and well this is with tomatillos sauce. So see VERY VERY different enchiladas and I love them both. Oh enchiladas how I do love you!

Tyler's Ultimate Chicken Enchiladas
w/Tomatillo Chile Sauce

Now hurry up and grab a fork to dig into this oh so good recipe.


It's my first giveaway and I'm super excited because I'm teaming up with an event that I've been dying to attend myself and celebrity chef Tyler Florence!

I have long since been a fan of Tyler Florence when he first appeared on Food 911. I'll admit it though, back then I wasn't really focusing on the amazing recipes but more like how amazingly hot he was. What can I say, I had a crush. And rightfully so since he was named “Sexiest Chef Alive” by People Magazine. But after a few shows I began to take him seriously and realized what a great chef he was, and how I could really do these amazing recipes of his. Since then I've been hooked. I've enjoyed watching his career progress through his still running hit show Food 911 to his huge hit, Tyler's Ultimate series. My appreciation of him over the years turned from that "oh my what a hottie who can cook" to a real admiration for a guy who loves food and his family. There's just something about him, that when you watch his shows he seems, real, down to earth. Something that makes you really connect with him and trust that this food is gonna be great! That's what I love about him, not only does he take great classic recipes and make them better, but he makes them so that even a novice can master them. I've always wanted to make up a food 911 emergency just so I could watch him in person, but alas I'm really the shy type (at least in real life) and would prolly stumble all over myself and cut a finger off. However I've found the perfect solution to my dreams, Tyler is making an appearance at this year's Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival!

Gourmet Shows has been hosting this annual event for a few years now and it's really taken off! I mean how could an event that features celebrity chefs giving demonstrations up close and personal, along with the chance to eat their amazing food all in one place not be a huge hit? These types of things are always my favorite because its really like a smorgusboard of food and even better its got WINE! Hello, you'd better designate a driver 'cause you're gonna be drunk on good times. (hehe and maybe some of the best wine in the country but I didn't say that about the drunk part).

The 2008 Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival is gonna be huge this year because my Favorite Florence is going to be there! He's going to be doing 2 live performances along with cooking an exclusive Dinner & Dessert event, along with celebrity baker Duff Goldman. Seriously you do not want to miss this once in a lifetime event!

This 3 day festival is going to be h
uge with foods, wines, spirits and of course tons of specialty merchandise from your favorite chefs along with their live performances. In addition to my favorite Florence, Duff Goldman, Guy Mitchell, J. Geoff Johnson, Darryl Harmon, Ron Duprat, Vincent Tropepe, Eric Villegas, Rocky Fino, Lenny Strobel, Maria Liberati, Barry Sexton, Michael Ronis, and James Parker will be doing appearances thoughout the weekend so check out the fun filled schedule.

Okay okay and now for the good stuff! Gourmet Shows has been super generous and is allowing me to give away a great package to attend this amazing festival! If you win you will get...

  • 2 general admission tickets
  • 2 tickets to either the Saturday or Sunday performance of Tyler Florance
  • 1 copy (your choice) of one of Tyler's not yet released books

Check out the two highly anticipated books that he will be debuting at the 2008 Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival, that one lucky winner will grab and be able to have personally autographed while at the festival.

For a chance to win this package all you have to do is leave a comment letting me know what your favorite Florence recipe is. It could be something as simple as a 911 emergency food fix to one of his decedent ultimate recipes, just whatever is your favorite. Contest will be open from Tuesday, September 30th until 5:00 PM (central time) on Friday, October 3rd. Winner will be selected using random generator and will be announced at 8 AM (central time) Monday, October 6th. (Yes I know its a long time to wait for the results, but I'll be oot w/o internet access)

So for those of you who just can't wait and want to go ahead and grab your tickets, we've got a special for you. Receive $5 off by entering "SIDEWAYS" into the comment box when purchasing your tickets at....

Monday, September 29, 2008

Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore

I love watching the show "Throwdown with Bobby Flay", its always lots of fun and a great forum for delish foods. Now as much as I love Bobby, I have to admit that in the episode where he went up against a firehouse cook, you knew who was gonna win that one, at least in my mind. Firemen KNOW how to cook. I mean what is it about them, they all know how to make mean meals. God love firemen! So when Keith Young made his chicken cacciatore I knew I had to try it out, and sure enough it has never failed to please. But because I'm always short on time I'm going to try and change it up a little. So bear with me and cross your fingers that my beloved crockpot can "stand the heat" and fire up this fireman food! Hehe, ok enough of the fireman puns, lets get cooking. (ok sorry I just had to do one more)

Menu: Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore over white or brown rice

Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore

Flour, to coat chicken
2 (2 1/2 to 3-pound) chickens, cut into 8 pieces with the breasts cut into 1/3's (remember I'm using leftover drumsticks)
3/4 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
10 to 12 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
2 green bell peppers, cored, seeded, and sliced into 1/2-inch strips
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and sliced into 1/2-inch strips
1 cup dry white wine
1 (15 1/2-ounce) can chicken broth
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, with their juice, crushed
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 to 3 tablespoons tomato paste
6 leaves fresh basil, chopped

  1. Place the flour in a shallow dish and coat the chicken pieces, shaking off any excess.
  2. Add the chicken to the crockpot. Add the garlic and the mushrooms. Add the onion and bell peppers.
  3. Add the wine and the chicken broth, tomatoes, crushed red pepper, salt oregano and tomato paste.
  4. Allow to simmer on a low heat setting. Depending on your time needs and crockpot we want to watch to make sure that our veggies don't turn to mush but we want the chicken to be fully cooked and falling off the bone.
  5. If you want to thicken it up, remember the cornstarch trick and give it 30 minutes before adding in the fresh basil just before serving.

This dish goes well with any pasta or rice and tastes even better the following day.

My Favorite Florence - Monday

Ok here we go, kicking off our week of My Favorite Florence recipes is Tyler's Ultimate Chicken Salad Sandwich. I absolutely love a great chicken salad sandwich! Now I'm not super picky like some people and will only eat a savory style or only eat a sweet style, I am a fan of both styles and love to try out lots of different versions. Tyler's Chicken Salad aired way back in Season 3 of his hit show (shows how long I've been a fan, eh? anyways) and his version immediately kicked my traditional chicken salad's butt big time. I mean how could it not when his is served on scrumdillyumptious cranberry brie toast! His chicken salad is a labor of love, like all of his ultimate recipes, but it is so worth the extra time if you can do it.

Now of course if you just don't have the time to poach your own chicken you can always pick up a roasted chicken at your local grocery store. I'd look for one that has a mild flavor.

Menu Plan Monday - September 29

Its that time again and fortunately I did this week with last week's menu. However because of the contest I will be hosting this week I'm going to add a few of my favorite recipes from Tyler Florence. Though technically I will not be making these this week, I'll post the recipes for them.

The theme behind our contest (to begin 9/30) is My Favorite Florence! Tyler Florence that is!

So stay tuned this week for some of my favorite recipes from this yummy celebrity chef along with a contest featuring him. And of course for a refresher of what I have on the menu for this week check out MPM September 22nd.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Breakfast Casserole

I love breakfast, it's always been one of my favorite meals of the day. Ok who am I kidding, I love all meals, but anyways breakfast has always held a special place in my heart. Saturday or Sunday morning breakfasts were always something special when I was growing up. It was the one time my dad got in the kitchen, and the one time we weren't all running in a zillion different directions. So that meant we always did it up right, and now I like to carry on that tradition with my own family. Now if only I could get my hubby up before noon so that he could actually partake in the meal without having to reheat it. But I digress, this casserole is a warm and hearty breakfast that is deserving of taking its place on my weekend morning ritual. What's great about it is you can prep the night before and then just pop it in the oven before you've even had coffee. I'm definitely not one for waking up at dawns first light to cook up my yummy breakfasts.

Menu: Breakfast Casserole and some nice fresh fruit

Breakfast Casserole

Cooking spray
1 (16-ounce) package frozen turkey sausage, thawed (such as Louis Rich) I'm just using breakfast sausage
8 (1 1/2-ounce) slices sourdough bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 8 cups)
2/3 cup (about 2 1/2 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3 cups 1% low-fat milk, divided
1 cup egg substitute
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 (10.75-ounce) can condensed 30% reduced-sodium, 98% fat-free cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add sausage to pan; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring well to crumble.

  2. Arrange bread in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top evenly with cooked turkey sausage and cheddar cheese. Combine 2 1/2 cups milk, egg substitute, and Dijon mustard, stirring with a whisk. Pour over bread mixture in dish. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

  3. Preheat oven to 350'

  4. Uncover casserole. Combine remaining 1/2 cup milk and cream of mushroom soup, stirring with a whisk. Pour over bread mixture. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 5 minutes or until set and lightly browned. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Recipe and photo courtesy of CookingLight

Chicago Style Pizza

Fridays always feel so hectic, why is that? Anyways because they seem so hectic and I'm always usually beat by the time they come around so I lean on the family staple that Friday night means pizza night. Now about half the time I'll stick with a good frozen standby but occasionally I like to do one from scratch especially if its quick and simple. Let me tell you, this one fits the bill. You can vary this recipe up anyway you like whether it be tame or flaming and feisty but regardless its a great HEALTHY pizza that all will enjoy.

: Chicago Style Pizza and caesar salad (go on I won't tell grab a beer too!)

Chicago Style Pizza

2 (10-ounce) cans refrigerated pizza crust dough
Cooking spray
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 1/4 cups cooked Atsa Spicy Pizza Sausage
3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 450°.

  1. Unroll dough portions onto a large baking sheet coated with cooking spray, slightly overlapping the edges. Pinch edges together to seal. Pat the dough into a 15 x 12-inch rectangle.
  2. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border, and top with sausage, basil, and tomatoes.
  3. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and pepper.
  4. Bake at 450° for 2 minutes.
  5. Reduce oven temperature to 425° (do not remove pizza from oven), and bake an additional 12 minutes or until cheese melts.
Recipe and photo courtesy of CookingLight

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

La Bamba Casserole

La Bamba Casserole will make your mouth want to do the mambo! It is one of my favorite recipes. It just always blows people away whenever I first serve it to them, they love it. This recipe goes way back, again to college, when I found it, made it, loved it, therefore made it for my Spanish class as a demonstration and needless to say I got an A. I love it because its so easy and versatile too. First off it can be as healthy as you want to make it or it can be semi-unhealthy. But since I'm (not on a diet) doing a healthy lifestyle eating, I try to make it the healthy way. And since we love spice I kick up the full spice on this baby.

Menu: La Bamba Casserole and can be served with a side salad and/or tortilla chips

La Bamba Casserole

1 (5.25-ounce) can whole green chiles, drained
Cooking spray
1 pound ground turkey breast
1 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles, undrained (aka rotel, hot or mild your choice)
2 cups frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
1 (16-ounce) can fat-free refried beans
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup chopped green onions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.

  2. Cut green chiles in half lengthwise. Arrange chiles in a single layer in an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray.

  3. Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add turkey, onion, chili powder, cumin, salt, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes, stirring to crumble. Add diced tomatoes; cook 5 minutes or until liquid evaporates.

  4. Spoon turkey mixture over chiles. Top with corn. Carefully spread beans over corn. Sprinkle cheese over beans.

  5. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes; top with chopped tomato and green onions.

I just can't express how much I love this dish! I usually add a dollop of sour cream and scoop it up with a few tortilla chips. It works great as a meal but you could just as easily serve this as a dip at a party. Ok I'm going to stop blabbering and scarf up this yummy yummy!

Recipe and photo courtesy of CookingLight

Monday, September 22, 2008

Turkey Bolognese

Menu: Turkey Bolognese and a ceasar salad with garlic bread sticks

Turkey Bolognese

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 pound shredded cooked turkey (preferably dark meat)
3 cups marinara sauce (frozen from a few weeks ago)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound spaghetti
Freshly grated Parmesan

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the carrot and celery and saute until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the turkey and saute 1 minute.
  3. Add the marinara sauce.
  4. Decrease the heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 15 minutes to allow the flavors to blend, stirring often. Stir in the basil. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper. (The sauce can be made 1 week ahead. Cool the sauce completely, then transfer it to a container and freeze for future use. Bring the sauce to a simmer before using.)
  5. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring often, about 8 minutes.
  6. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to coat, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten as needed.
  7. Serve with the Parmesan.
Now serve it up with some crunchy garlic breadsticks and a cool crisp ceasar salad. And viola!

Recipe and photo courtesy of FoodNetwork

Charitable Causes

You'll notice a new section in the sidebar today. I thought it appropriate that I add a section for community based charitable organizations. I have always been very involved in various organizations and volunteering is a big part of my life. I believe volunteering helps not only others around you, but it helps you become a better person. It gives you a sense of purpose in this crazy hectic world. There is no better feeling than when you volunteer your time or money for a cause greater than yourself and I believe all people who are able to should get involved in an organization or cause. So each week or possibly as long as a month, I will highlight a great organization that needs your help. Many will be Texas based (well because thats where I am) but others will have national and local chapters you can find in your own community.

And now just because I'm very proud of myself.... I designed our firm's 1st Annual Volunteer Fair flyer.

Meal Plan Monday - September 22nd

I apologize for the lateness of this post and forgetting to post the recipe for last week's Shepherd's Pie. Time just flew by last week and it's been super hectic. I'm sure you all are the same way. Anyways this week's theme is "Tried and True" over at the Organized Junkie so I'll be using recipes that I've tried and our family loves! Well ok somewhat, I've always got to have a few experiments a week right ;) And since it's going to be crazy this week I'm going to go ahead and do my full 2 week menu, like I always do but usually only post them 1 week at a time.

Dinner: Turkey Bolognese, side salad and garlic breadsticks

I want to use up the rest of the marinara sauce we made a few weeks ago and I know it needs to be something hearty that can stand up to the robust sauce. Since the recipe was from Giada, we'll use a recipe of hers.
Recipe and photo courtesy of FoodNetwork


Dinner: Chicken Stir-Fry

The ultimate quick fix meal at our house. I use store bought frozen stir-fry veggies and frozen boneless skinless chicken tenders. I've got a meal in less than 15 minutes. Make it even healthier and use brown rice.

Dinner: La Bamba Casserole (serve with tortilla chips if you want)

This is definitely a "tried and true" recipe at my house. It has my hubby's favorite staples AND its healthy for you. A great alternative for those looking to stay away from breads (carbs), it's just meat, beans and veggies! Made with ground turkey you could easily use ground chicken as well.

Recipe and photo courtesy of CookingLight

Dinner: Leftovers

It's season preimer week and I'm so excited! My favorite shows are finally back on and I plan on being glued to my tv tonight. So we'll be eating up all those yummy leftovers.


Dinner: Chicago Style Pizza and ceasar salad

This recipe is a great win for adults and kids alike. It comes together in a few simple steps and tastes great. And its a perfect alternative to your favorite greasy pizza. You can mix it up by using either turkey or chicken sausage, store-bought breakfast sausage or make your own.

Recipe and photo courtesy of CookingLight

Breakfast: "lego my ego" blueberry waffles and sausage patties
Lunch: Oktoberfest so we'll pick something up there
Dinner: prolly grab something on the way home

Breakfast: Breakfast Casserole
Dinner: Dinner at Parents' house

This satisfying recipe is perfect to make for weekend guests. Assemble and refrigerate the casserole the night before, and just pop it in the oven the next morning. Look for turkey sausage near other breakfast-style sausage in the frozen foods section.

Recipe and photo courtesy of CookingLight

Dinner: Sizzling Salmon Salad

This salad is a great way to jump start your week. With a bed of spinach, corn with red bell peppers and button mushrooms you can't help but feel good about eating good. Plus we eat with our eyes and this feast is a sure sight!

Recipe and photo courtesy of CookingLight

Dinner: Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore

I've got leftover chicken drumsticks so I think we'll finish them up with this great recipe. It's a firehouse tried and true, so you know it's gotta be good. And of course the original called for hours in front of the stove but I just don't have that kind of time so a few shuffles and I'll be dumping it in the crockpot.

Recipe and photo courtesy of FoodNetwork

Dinner: Leftovers
The hubby and I are finally going on vacation, leaving Friday morning so we need to clean out the fridge. Definitely don't want to come home to a stinky fridge.

Dinner: Eat out or leftovers

Same as Wednesday night, besides my favorite shows will be on and I'll be glue to the tube while I'm packing the cooler for our trip!

Breakfast: Breakfast burritos for on the road
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Dinner at Devil's Pool Restaurant

Breakfast: Muffins
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Dinner at the Worman Steakouse

Breakfast: Brunch
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: pick something up on the road

So here's our 2 week shopping list!

Friday, September 19, 2008

D.I.Y. Friday - Family Photo Wall

There is a huge trend right now for great looking photo walls. Whether it be a look down memory lane or recent pictures, everyone wants a put together look. Something like you'd find at Pottery Barn, and I was no different. As a somewhat, History major, history buff, family stories finder, legacy looker, geneology fan I knew I had to create a photo wall with my husband and I's family history. It really started when we were planning our wedding and I decided it'd be a great idea to have pictures of our parents' and grandparents' wedding pictures on a table at our wedding. Something about showing the long line of love that we came from, yeah yeah sappy I know. So thats when I started collecting the photographs and since then I've found a few more. Since the majority of old photographs are in black and white I went with that style and recreated b&w's for those photos that were in color. I grabbed some great black frames and various white matts at good old Wal-Mart and we were on our way. I found the perfect quote in vinyl lettering on ebay from awristacrafts and had our last name's initial cut from Woodland Manufacturing. This way I was able to select the exact size, color and font for the letter!

Now that I had all of the photos, frames, my letter and quote it was time to layout my wall. First I laid everything out on the floor so that I could figure out exactly how I wanted the items to look. Then I cut magazine pages to match the sizes of my items. The magazines would represent my frames and I would be able to tape them on the wall without the fear of messing up my wall if I needed to make adjustments.

Once the magazine pages were up and I was set on my design I began replacing the pages with the actual frames and items. Instead of using nails that would ruin my walls, I use foam adhesive mounting squares. This made the task even easier since I could just line my picture up and press. Super simple and easy.

Pottery Barn has great tips and tools for creating your own memory wall. For design ideas check out their "Creating a memory wall style guide".

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Crockpot Chicken & Dumplings

Paula Deen is the queen of home cooking and our week just wouldn't be right without a recipe from her. I seriously thought about doing our favorite "Lady & Son's Chicken Pot Pie" but that's not a crockpot recipe and I really needed something I could just walk away from today since it's gonna be super hectic at work. So I decided to grab her stove top dumpling recipe and change it to cook in the crockpot. Oh and because I'm too lazy to make dumplings from scratch we're using store bought biscuits.

Menu: Crockpot Chicken & Dumplings and cinnamon apples (I know it wasn't on the list but I'm adding it)

Crockpot Chicken & Dumplings

1 (2 1/2-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces (we're using the leftovers from my "Already Married Chicken")
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 teaspoon House Seasoning, recipe follows
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed cream of celery or cream of chicken soup

Set crockpot to low, either 6 to 8 hours depending on your time needs.
  1. Place the chicken, celery, onion, bay leaves, bouillon, cream of celery and House Seasoning in the crockpot.
  2. Add 4 quarts of water (might want to add a little less than this if your pot isn't that big).
  3. About 30 minutes prior to serving take your biscuits, cut them in half and place in the pot.

Cook's Note: If the chicken stew is too thin it can be thickened before the dumplings are added. Simply mix together 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 1/4 cup of water then whisk this mixture into the stew.

House Seasoning:
1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder

Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Recipe and photo courtesy of FoodNetwork

Boston Market's Cinnamon Apples

3 each Apple golden delicious
2/3 cup of water
1/2 tbsp of flour
1 tsp of cornstarch
2 teaspoon Butter crumbled
1/2 cup Brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 dash Salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350?F / 180?C.

2. Peel and core the apples. Cut each one into 16 slices and arrange the slices in an 8"x 8" baking dish.

3. In a small bowl, combine the water with the flour, cornstarch, and Butter Buds and stir until the dry ingredients are dissolved and not lumpy. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon and stir until smooth.

4. Pour the cinnamon mixture over the apple slices, cover the dish with foil, and bake for 40 minutes. Stir the apples every 10 minutes.

Oh now we've got a meal "that'll make you slap your mama", just kidding but it will make your mouth water and your mind take you bake to those family gatherings when you were a kid. So eat up and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Chicken Enchiladas

My hubby will be happy with this meal, its got his basic favorites as you all should know by now. And I'm just so excited to be able to use my oven again! I woke up this morning and it was in the 50's can you believe that? It's actually Fall! So in an effort to make some fall comfort food I've turned to Tyler Florence and his great recipes. Plus I'll admit it, when he first made his appearance on tv, I had a bit of a crush. There I admitted it, a hottie's caliente recipe. Now eat it all up!

Menu: Ultimate Chicken Enchiladas and spanish style rice

Tyler's Ultimate Chicken Enchiladas

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless breast
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon Mexican Spice Blend
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
5 canned whole green chiles, seeded and coarsely chopped
4 canned chipotle chiles, seeded and minced
1 (28-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
16 corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups enchilada sauce, canned
1 cup shredded Cheddar and Jack cheeses
Garnish: chopped cilantro leaves, chopped scallions, sour cream, chopped tomatoes

  1. Coat large saute pan with oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Brown chicken over medium heat, allow 7 minutes each side or until no longer pink. Sprinkle chicken with cumin, garlic powder and Mexican spices before turning. Remove chicken to a platter, allow to cool.
  2. Saute onion and garlic in chicken drippings until tender. Add corn and chiles. Stir well to combine. Add canned tomatoes, saute 1 minute.
  3. Pull chicken breasts apart by hand into shredded strips. Add shredded chicken to saute pan, combine with vegetables. Dust the mixture with flour to help set.
  4. Microwave tortillas on high for 30 seconds. This softens them and makes them more pliable. Coat the bottom of 2 (13 by 9-inch) pans with a ladle of enchilada sauce. Using a large shallow bowl, dip each tortilla in enchilada sauce to lightly coat. Spoon 1/4 cup chicken mixture in each tortilla. Fold over filling, place 8 enchiladas in each pan with seam side down. Top with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes in a preheated 350 degree F oven until cheese melts. Garnish with cilantro, scallion, sour cream and chopped tomatoes before serving. Serve with Spanish rice and beans.
Recipe and photo courtesy of FoodNetwork

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ultimate Mac 'N Cheese with Bacon and Peas

What is it about Mac and Cheese that just makes kids and grown ups alike swoon at the first taste? Something about the warm cheese that just melts on your mouth and fills your insides up. When you pair it with bacon, ah yes now you're just in heaven. Okay okay enough dreamin' lets get to the good stuff.

Menu: Ultimate Mac 'N Cheese with Bacon and Peas

Ultimate Mac 'N Cheese with Bacon and Peas

1 pound elbow macaroni
kosher salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups warm milk
5 1/2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
freshly ground black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, smashed
Leaves from 1/4 bunch fresh thyme
2 cups frozen peas, thawed

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 pound elbow macaroni and cook until al dente, about 8 to 9 minutes, and drain.
  3. Melt 3 tablespoons unsalted butter in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Whisk in 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly to keep lumps from forming.
  4. Gradually whisk in 4 cups warm whole milk. Whisk vigorously, and continue to cook until the mixture is thick and smooth. Stir in 4 cups shredded sharp white cheddar cheese and continue stirring until the cheese is melted. Season the cheese sauce with salt and pepper, then add cooked macaroni to the pan. Mix well until macaroni is fully coated with the cheese mixture.
  5. Heat a 2-count of olive oil in a saut? pan. Add 4 slices of bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips, 1 large onion (diced), 2 garlic cloves (smashed), and leaves from 1/4 bunch fresh thyme and cook for about 5 minutes, until onion is softened.
  6. Fold in 2 cups frozen peas (thawed under cool water), and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Scrape contents of both pans into a 3-quart baking dish and sprinkle the top with (OPTIONAL) a few slices of tomato, handful of breadcrumbs and 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
  8. Remove mac & cheese from the oven.
Allow plenty of time to cool because nobody likes a burnt mouth and cheese can burn like nobody's business. I'd serve with a big glass of milk and maybe a can of peaches.

Recipe and photo courtesy of FoodNetwork

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - September 15th

Do you ever get that feeling that your life is just passing you by? Sometimes I stop and think how in the world did I get here and I can't believe its fall of '08 already. It feels like just yesterday I was pregnant but now I've got a crazy maniac of a 14 month old son. I get these feelings when the weather starts to change, you know that smell, or when you look outside and the sunshine seems familiar. It's the thing that brings back memories. I've definitely got that feeling so in honor of my trip down memory lane this week will be full of yummy comfort foods. Some tried and true, others a new take on but I promise they will all have you reminiscing, whether its an old memory or just the last bite I can't promise.

Dinner: Ultimate Mac 'N Cheese with Bacon & Peas

There's nothing better than a huge spoonful of ooey gooey mac and cheese on a cool fall day. We're adding salty smoky bacon and crisp peas to make this a meal in itself. Heck we might even add some tomatoes and breadcrumbs on top too!

Recipe and photo courtesy of FoodNetwork.

Dinner:Chicken Enchiladas

You can't go wrong with traditional chicken enchiladas when you want something spicy to warm up your insides. We're sticking with our theme and bringing Tyler Florence's ultimate recipe home this week with this TexMex staple.

Recipe and photo courtesy of FoodNetwork.

Dinner: Crockpot Chicken & Dumplings

An adaptation from the queen of home cooking herself, Paula Deen. I'll be using store bought biscuit dough and of course, changing it to cook in the crockpot. I'm using the leftover chicken from our "Already Married Chicken".

Recipe and photo courtesy of FoodNetwork.

Dinner: Beef Shepherd's Pie

Hearty and heart warming version of an Irish family staple. Potatoes, peas and beef, you just can't go wrong.

Recipe and photo courtesy of FoodNetwork.

Dinner: Hamburgers, Green Bean & Potato Salad

Easy peasy weekend classic American staple. I think I might make this yummy potato salad to go with them too.

Photo courtesy of CookingLight

Breakfast: Early morning at a balloon festival, we'll be eating breakfast out for my dad's birthday!
Lunch: Prolly eating out again!
Dinner: NCAA Football Night Nachos

Tradition started back in the 90's when the Cowboys had the Trio (Akman, Irving, Smith) and I was in middle school. We'd always fix nachos. Nothing fancy, just taco meat, refried beans, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream. Simple but tastes great when you're cheering on your team! Gig'em Aggies! and begrudgingly, Hook'em Horns (for my hubby)

Breakfast: Oatmeal, toast and jelly
Dinner: TBD, that just seems so far away right now to me.

No shopping list this week, since I have everything I need on hand as its mostly leftovers. But just in case you don't I'd suggest picking up a few cans of enchilada sauce, canned chipotle in adobe, frozen peas, WHITE cheddar but regular cheddar will work just fine too, and a can of biscuits. Oh and ground beef and chicken if you don't have any left.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Already Married Chicken

The legend behind this dish is a little sketchy, some date this as 22 years back but others state this as a recent phenom but we do know that in its January 2004 issue, Glamour printed instructions on how to make Engagement Chicken, a dish that at that time had inspired the boyfriends of three women to pop the question. Since then the magazine has received numerous letters from women who say this simple meal was the magic trick that got them a rock.

“I made Engagement Chicken for my live-in boyfriend and less than two months later, I’m wearing a wedding band. This chicken is serious stuff. But please keep me anonymous — my husband doesn’t know he was reeled in by a chicken!” a Woburn, Mass., woman wrote to Glamour recently.

So what is so special about this recipe as Adapted from Marcella Hazan’s More Classic Italian Cooking? This simple and easy dish is basically one whole chicken, lemons and seasoned with salt and pepper so how could a plain chicken make a man pop the question?

I believe it's all about the setting, and the scene. There is something about pulling a whole roasted chicken out of the oven, picture June Cleaver, and doesn't every man deep down want his very own June Cleaver? But still why would the chicken make a man propose marriage? Jon Suder, said the well-dressed bird put marriage on his mind because it seemed like a wifely concoction. "It's a meal your wife would make. It got me thinking," said Suder, who now has three children with the chicken-maker.
While I did not cook this concoction up to get my ring, I have cooked this since and I have to agree. My man did swoon at the s
ight of his little wifey looking like June Cleaver or Martha Stewart. But since I am already married I realized that I needed to spiffy up this basic chicken in order to really impress my man. So after a little research and guidance from the queen of the home herself, Martha Stewart, here's my "Already Married" (but I want a great gift or bigger ring) Chicken.

Menu: Already Married Chicken, rosemary roasted potatoes and lemon butter asparagus

Already Married Chicken

Marinate the chicken for at least four hours and as long as two days for the best flavor and texture. A salt rub not only seasons the meat but tenderizes it as well.

1/3 cup coarse salt
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 five-pound roasting chicken
Gremolata (see below)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
8 fresh, or dried bay leaves
4 lemons, quartered lengthwise, plus 3 lemons halved (optional)

  1. In a small bowl, combine salt and lemon juice. Loosen the skin of the chicken from the flesh. Rub mixture under the skin and in the cavity of the chicken. Place chicken in a large resealable plastic bag; chill at least 4 hours and up to 48 hours, turning occasionally.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Rinse all of the salt off the chicken with cold water; pat dry with a paper towel. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine gremolata and softened butter. Rub two-thirds of the gremolata mixture under the chicken's skin; rub the rest on the outside. Stuff the cavity with the bay leaves and the quartered lemons.
  4. Place chicken in a large roasting pan, breast-side up. Tuck the tips of the wings under the bottom of the bird. Transfer pan to oven. After 40 minutes, baste. If using lemon halves, place in pan, cut side down. Cover chicken with a 14-by-18-inch piece of aluminum foil. Reduce heat to 375 degrees.
  5. Cook, basting occasionally, until the skin is crisp and golden, 40 to 45 minutes more. The juices should run clear when the chicken is pierced; an instant-read thermometer should register 170 degrees.in the deepest part of the thigh when done. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  • Zest of 6 lemons, grated or finely chopped
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped roughly fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots (about 2 medium shallots)
On a cutting board, chop lemon zest, garlic, parsley, and shallots until well combined.

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes
1 1/2 pounds small red or white-skinned potatoes (or a mixture)

1/8 cup good olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoons minced garlic (3 cloves)
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the potatoes in half or quarters and place in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and rosemary; toss until the potatoes are well coated. Dump the potatoes on a baking sheet and spread out into 1 layer; roast in the oven for at least 1 hour, or until browned and crisp. Flip twice with a spatula during cooking to ensure even browning.

Remove the potatoes from the oven, season to taste, and serve.

Lemon Butter Asparagus
24 thin asparagus spears
1 lemon
2 tablespoons butter
Olive oil
Kosher salt

  1. Wash asparagus and line them up on a cutting board with the tops even. Cut off tough bottom ends.
  2. Bring a skillet or oval casserole filled half full with salted water to boil. Dump in asparagus all at once.
  3. When water returns to the boil, cook asparagus until crisp-tender, about 1 to 3 minutes, depending on size. Drain. Return asparagus to hot pan, squeeze lemon juice over top. Add butter and a drizzle of olive oil, tossing to coat. Add kosher salt, to taste. Serve immediately.
Once everything is ready place on a candle lit table and serve up this fancy but simple chicken dinner. I'd even open up a bottle of white wine.

Now if you're feeling really happy homemaker go ahead and make a sweet dessert to wash it all down with. Possibly and apple pie with vanilla ice cream or maybe a chocolate cake.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Orange-Pecan French Toast Casserole

This breakfast is a classic at our house. We absolutely love it. It's served for special ocassions and a few regular days. It is so sweet and saucy that it feels like you're eating dessert instead of breakfast. I gurantee your family will beg for more and making this casserole saves you the trouble of standing over a griddle flipping individual slices of French toast. Assemble the dish the night before your gathering, and pop it in the oven the next morning. Be sure to serve each slice bottom-side up so the pecan mixture is on top.

Menu: Orange-Pecan French Toast Casserole and a big glass of milk 'cause your gonna need it.

Orange-Pecan French Toast Casserole

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons light-colored corn syrup
Cooking spray
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup fat-free milk
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large egg whites
2 large eggs
12 (1-inch-thick) slices French bread (about 1 pound)

  1. Combine brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup; pour into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle chopped pecans evenly over sugar mixture.

  2. Combine rind and next 7 ingredients (rind through eggs); stir with a whisk. Arrange bread slices over pecans in dish; pour egg mixture over bread. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or up to overnight.

  3. Preheat oven to 350°.

  4. Carefully turn bread slices over to absorb excess egg mixture. Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until lightly browned.

Recipe and photo courtesy of CookingLight

Crockpot Apple and Onion-Stuffin' Pork Chops with Orange-Pineapple Gravy

I saw this recipe and I knew I had to try it out. It seems a little labor intensive so I decided to go ahead and make some tweaks to it and try doing it in the crockpot along with stuffing. This is definitely an experiment so we'll see how it turns out.

Menu: Crockpot Apple and Onion-Stuffin' Pork Chops with Orange-Pineapple Gravy and steamed green beans.

Crockpot Apple and Onion-Stuffin' Pork Chops
with Orange-Pineapple Gravy

4 (1-inch thick) pork chops
2 slices bacon, roughly chopped
1 large sweet onion, 1/2 chopped and 1/2 in wedges
4 sprigs fresh thyme, stripped
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and sliced thin
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons pineapple-orange juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 lemon, zested
2 teaspoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Set your crockpot to 6 to 8 hours depending on your time needs.
  1. Gently cut pockets into chops by slicing horizontally in the side. On a plate, place salt and pepper. Dredge chops in seasoning.
  2. In a medium skillet over medium heat, saute the bacon, chopped onions, thyme, and sage until the bacon is almost crispy and the onions are beginning to caramelize around the edges, about 10 minutes.
  3. Using this skillet we will make the gravy, add 1/2 cup of pineapple-orange juice and scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan. Bring the liquid to a simmer and cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add lemon zest and parsley. Transfer to a storage container and put in refrigerator until serving time.
  4. Pour mixture into a bowl. Add apples, butter, 2 tablespoons of pineapple-orange juice and cinnamon. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Stuff each chop with apple mixture and hold together with skewers.
  6. Place chops in the crockpot. Add boxed stuffing mix and amount of butter per directions (I used cornbread) Add 2 cups pineapple-orange juice and remaining onion wedges around the chops. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Allow to cook until thoroughly done. Remove pork chops from pan and let rest 10 minutes.
  8. Reheat gravy made from earlier in the day and pour sauce over pork chops & stuffin'.
Now please remember this is an experiment and you might want to watch your crockpot. Make sure that the stuffing doesn't get too dry, maybe add some water or more juice if you think it needs it. If I make an adjustments I will be sure to let you know.

Serve these chops up with a bag of steamed green beans and you've got a meal that even your mother-in-law will love!

Recipe and photo courtesy of FoodNetwork

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Remembering 9/11, there are few times in history where an event causes the nation and the world to stop in time. An event that every person who was alive knows exactly where they were and what they were doing. You can ask anyone older than 50 where they were on Friday, November 22, 1963 and they can tell you. And you can ask anyone older than 12 where they were on Tuesday, September 11, 2001 and they can tell you.

I was walking into my accounting class at Texas A&M. I sat down unaware of anything that was happening over a thousand miles away. I overheard classmates talking about how they couldn't believe what just happened but I didn't really understand. My professor walked in and his exact words "Needless to say we won't be having class today" and he walked out. I was stunned, walked out of the room, walked to the bus stop and dialed my mom. I asked what just happened, she told me, there was fear and panic in her voice. The paranoia that more was going to happen, would they strike again, should they leave the city? Off the bus, I got in my truck and drove home to find my roommate panic stricken, her father was at the Pentagon, she couldn't get hold of him. We sat glued to the tv watching in disbelief. We watched as they replayed the events, and we watched as suddenly the towers collapsed. It was like a disconnect, your heart and head just can't wrap around what your eyes are seeing. Together we sat there with that stunned silence, a feeling that we had felt together once before. See we were together when the Bonfire collapsed as well. Finally after hours my roommate got the relief she needed, her father had been at breakfast across the street from the Pentagon.

Funny how you can remember things like this. I remember it with such vivid details, the sky, the bus, the darkness of my accounting room, the smell in the air. All of this and I can only imagine what it must be like for those who were in the thick of it all. So for those who were there, those who lost their lives please take a moment today and remember. Remember where you were, remember those who died, remember those families dealing with the effects, remember those who fight now for the events of that day.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Crockpot Chicken Piccata

If you haven't figured out by now, my family survives on quick fix meals. I absolutely love the convenience of microwavable meals but the quality and content of them can make even the hardest at heart jump out of their skin when you read the labels. The sodium content alone is usually enough to make me start to sweat so to my husband's discontent I've been refraining from buying those go-to dinners. Nowdays I come home from the store and he looks around asking "well what did you buy?", because he doesn't see anything he can grab and eat out of the box. But I know that not only are our homemade meals healthier they are actually cheaper. Because my man can eat and those out-of-the-box meals end up only satisfying him as a snack, whereas I can make much more myself! Case in point is tonight's recipe. Michael Angelo's dinners are absolutely amazing. I love them, what can I say, they're the next best thing to homemade, HOWEVER, they cost an arm and a leg. I usually buy a 2 pack of their Chicken Piccata at Sam's for about $12.00, and we end up eating both packs for 1 meal. Whereas I can make my own with twice as much for less than $5.00! So after a little research and compiling a few recipes I've created a yummy Crockpot Chicken Piccata.

Menu: Crockpot Chicken Piccata, garlic mashed potatoes and seasoned peas

Crockpot Chicken Piccata

4 (4-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and ground black pepper
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, quartered
1/4 cup drained capers

1/2 can of diced tomatoes

Set your crockpot on low for 6 to 8 hours, depending on your time requirements.

  1. Place chicken in zip-top bags and pound with a meat mallet or rolling pin until 1/4-inch thick.
  2. Remove chicken from bag and season all over with salt and black pepper.
  3. In a shallow dish (or plastic bag), combine flour, lemon zest, paprika, and garlic powder. Mix well. Add chicken and turn to coat.
  4. Remove chicken from flour mixture and shake off excess flour.
  5. Add chicken to crockpot. Add lemon juice, wine and chicken broth. Add artichoke hearts, tomatoes and capers.
  6. Allow to cook thoroughly, once chicken is cooked through you're ready to serve. If the sauce is too running use the cornstarch trick.
When your chicken is done prepare a box of garlic mashed potatoes per its directions and pop a bag of seasoned peas in the microwave. I like Bird's Eye Garlic Peas. Plate your chicken, potatoes and peas! What a yummy home cooked meal!

Photo courtesy of FoodNetwork.com

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Omnivore's Hundred

I found this on a friend's blog and it's so interesting so I thought I'd join the fun.....

The Omnivore’s Hundred is an interesting list of 100 items that Andrew Wheeler, co-author of the British food blog Very Good Taste, thinks every omnivore should try at least once in his life. He offered this list with the following instructions:

1. Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2. Bold all the items you’ve eaten
3. Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4. Optional extra: Post a comment here at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

Here's my list!

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos Rancheros
4. Steak Tartar
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41.Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

And I can say I'm not very experienced in the cuisine of the world!