Monday, December 31, 2012

Soft, Chewy Pizza Crust

Now, I have a recipe on here already for pizza crust, and it's one that you can use on the fly without having to let it rise.  This recipe however is by far the better choice if you have the time!  It comes out nice and crispy on the bottom and super soft on the inside!  And what's even better is you can play with it and add extras depending on what kind of pizza you're making!  Give it a shot!

Pizza Crust
(Spicy BBQ Chicken Pizza!)

*makes one 12 inch crust

1/2 C. and 2 Tbsp. Warm Water (very important that it's warm)
1 1/8 tsp. Yeast
1/2 tsp. Honey
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 1/2 C. Flour

1. If you are like me and have a bread maker, this is the easiest thing in the world to make.  Start with your liquids in the pan.  Water, oil, and the honey.  Then add the flour, salt, and any fun seasonings you'd like to add. (i.e. chili powder and garlic powder for a mexican style pizza, oregano and parmesan for a chicken alfredo pizza, parsley for a tomato basil pizza, etc)  I generally do a full tsp of any/each.
2. Turn the machine on and use the dough setting and in 90 minutes it's dough!
3. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
4. Then you can take out the dough, use a little flour (I like to use cornmeal with pizza dough) and stretch it to the size of your pan.  I recommend lining the pan with parchment paper for an easy clean up!
*A great tip I came across as well: If you don't have a pizza stone, turn a cookie sheet upside down and use parchment paper.  Turns out crispy and awesome*
5. Sauce it, top it, and throw it in the oven for 12-15 mins depending on the oven.
6. Enjoy!

When you're not using a bread maker:
1. Stir honey, yeast and warm water together in a large bowl.  Let this sit for 5-10 mins to activate the yeast.
2. When it starts to bubble, stir in the salt, oil, and half the flour and mix well.
3. Slowly add the other half of the flour mixing it well.  The dough should be tacky, but not sticky to your hands.
4. Kneed the dough for about 10 mins (or use the dough hook on a stand mixer for 6 mins)
5. Pull the dough out and put it in another bowl that is lightly greased. Move it around a bit to cover it so it doesn't dry out.  Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for an hour or two.
6. Move on back up to step 4 in the original directions!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Remembering the Important Times

I was flipping through my old blog that I don't keep up with anymore and came across a post that marked close to the beginning of my culinary adventures.  This day was weirdly important and made me realize how much I love my kitchen and how much I love to cook.  If anyone needs a reason to keep a blog/journal/diary, this would be it.  A nice reminder of what happened to cause the HUGE turning point in your life.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I went to cook dinner last night and discovered that my kitchen was being flooded..... sigh.   After trying to make phone calls, putting on flip flops and looking for someone to help, I was blown off by a new office employee because the office was closed.... Who in their right mind says, sorry, I hear you saying your apt is being flooded, but if I help you, I'd have to help everyone else in these situations.  WHO does that?!  After hours of water gushing up the sinks, and a VERY new on call repair guy unclogging the building and wet-vac'in my kitchen, everything seems to be doing well.  I did a lot of praying to get rid of my anger and frustration at the situation and ended up cooking a full blown meal right after the repair dude left.  (I'm still a tad upset at the whole situation) But not near as angry and panicky as I was when it was happening.

After a VERY long day at work today, I ended up cooking some awesome wraps to take to work (since I need to lay off the fast food) ((they took away our awesome discount at work, so eating at subway is almost as expensive for me as it is for normal people)).  I also fired up the crock pot with a roast that I (unfortunately) have to shred at 530 tomorrow morning, but I thank God every day for my love of cooking.  Rain or shine, it's just what I do.  (I might be too tired to have dinner tonight though.  I spent over 2 hours prepping the other two things.)  Frozen food for the win.


I don't usually  promote stuff like this, but even though it's irrelevant, it's an important reminder of the little things that change our lives.  At this point in my life, I'm looking at attending Culinary School after I get my bachelor's degree.  :)  Follow your dreams and never forget the past.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Best Beer Batter for Everything!

I first made this for onion rings and decided to try it out on chicken and it turned out amaaaaaaaaaaaaazing.  It's not very heavy and it doesn't feel real thick as you're eating it.  Try it out on your favorite veggies or meats!

Beer Batter

*Makes a lot :) 3-4 whole onions, or 2-3 cut up chicken breasts, just get crazy and fry everything!

3 C. Flour
2 Eggs (separated)
2 cans/bottles Beer (any type, I tend to use ambers)
4 Tbsp. Butter
1-2 tsp. Salt

1. Sift flour into a bowl. Set aside 1 cup in a smaller bowl.
2. In another bowl, whisk egg whites.  Add beer, butter, and salt.  (VERY IMPORTANT: you may not need all the beer.  It should be a pancake batter consistency so play it by ear.)  Add this to the 2 cups of flour.
3. Let this sit for 45-60 mins. **add the egg whites after it sits, and mix well**
4. Heat your oil in a pan or a deep fryer if you have one.
5. Coat your chicken/veggies in flour and then dip in the batter.
6. Fry a few at a time until they are golden brown.  Take them out and put on a cookie sheet or on paper towels as you cook more.

Chicken Piccata

I stumbled across a dish that has so vastly changed from the original Italian recipe as it's been passed around the states.  The original is a breaded chicken that's split open and fried and usually served before pasta or rice.  This recipe has taken on an American feel to it because of our love of pasta!  Here goes!

Chicken Piccata

*Serves 2-3

Allergen Tips:

Rice flour noodles are a great g-free option for any pasta dish!

Marinade for Chicken
2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice (preferably fresh)
3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. Garlic (minced)
1 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1/2 tsp. Basil

2 Tbsp. Butter
4 Tbsp. Lemon Juice (preferably fresh)
1 Tbsp. Garlic (minced)
1/2 C. Half and Half
2 tsp. Basil
1/2 C. Parmesan Cheese

2 C. Penne Pasta

1. Mix your marinade and pour over the chicken. Marinade for at least 4 hours.
2. Boil the water for your noodles and cook them to your liking.
While the water is boiling, Start cooking your meat, either searing in a pan or grill it.
3. Melt the butter in a pan on medium heat to start the sauce.  Add the garlic and lemon and whisk.  Add the half and half and whisk until it's warm.  Throw in some salt and pepper for taste.  Then add the parmesan cheese and basil.  Whisk until it's melted and sauce-like.  You don't want it stringy.
4. Drain your pasta if you haven't already and toss the pasta in the sauce.
5. Cut up the chicken and throw it on top.  Top with a bit more parmesan and enjoy!

Chipotle Marinade

Who doesn't like a nice smoky, spicy piece of meat?!  I'm tired of buying marinades that aren't worth the price (even though I love the flavors).  So here comes the chipotle marinade that's easy to play with and you can use on any cut of meat!

Chipotle Marinade

** served with Smash-ed Tatoes**
*Makes enough for 2 pieces of meat

3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Cloves of Garlic (chopped)
1 tsp.-1 Tbsp. Honey (depending on if you like a subtle sweet with your spice)
1/4 tsp. Cumin
2-5 Chipotle peppers (from a can in adobo sauce) ((2 is a touch of spicy, 5 is a good kick in the mouth))
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Pepper

1. Put all the ingredients in a food processor or a blender and mix until it's no longer chunky.
2. Here is where you can play with the flavor a bit.  You can add green onions, regular yellow onions, herbs, or other spices.
3. Pour over the meat and marinate.  Cook how you like it.  I love to grill it.

*marinating times*
Chicken- 24 hours
Steak- 12-24 hours
Fish- Who knows... I don't eat the stuff :)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Salsa Gratin Potatoes

Potatoes.  One of the cheapest foods in stores.  I buy 10 lbs for less than 2 bucks!  Now what to do with these potatoes becomes the issue.  I decided to try my hand at some fresh au gratin potatoes to accompany my bbq chicken.  But instead of it being just plain ol' au gratin, I put my own twist on it.  As usual, I encourage you to play with it, add ingredients to your liking.

Salsa Gratin Potatoes
*serves 2-3

3 Russet Potatoes (peeled and sliced using a mandoline or cut by hand 1/4 inch thick)
1/4 Onion (diced)
1/3 C. Salsa (I use a liquid or pureed salsa rather than a chunky one)
1 1/2 Tbsp. Butter (not margarine!)
1 1/2 Tbsp. Flour
1 1/4 C. Milk
1 1/2 C. Cheese (shredded, and your favorite kind)
Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder

1. Slice your potatoes and soak in water for 15 mins.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Put butter into a pan on med-high heat and melt.  Add the flour and whisk until the lumps are gone.  Slowly add the milk (only 1 cup, save the rest for later).  Make sure you're still whisking to keep the lumps out.  Then turn the burner down to just below med-low.  Dump in the cheese and again keep whisking. (Does your arm hurt yet?  Mine did!)  You want to keep stirring until it turns into a creamy sauce.  If it seems a bit thick, add a tiny bit of milk at a time from the last 1/4 C.
3. Take a 6x9 pan and rub the inside with butter.
4. Pour our the water and dry the potatoes a bit with a kitchen towel.  Make your first layer (10-14 slices).  Season with salt, pepper, and garlic (be generous with the salt).  Then pour a 1/3 of your cheese sauce over the potatoes.  This part doesn't need to be perfect.  Sprinkle half the onions on top of the cheese.  Then drizzle 1/3 of the salsa over the cheese.
5. Repeat a second time.
6. Use the last of your potatoes for the top layer.  Scrape the cheese into the pan covering as much as you can and then the last 1/3 of the salsa.
7. Cover with tinfoil and cook for 90 mins.
6. Uncover for the last 25 mins to get a nice browned surface.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Fresh off the Pan Tortillas

Considering how much Spanish/Mexican food I make, I've probably spent a fortune on tortillas in the last few years.  I've had some of the best homemade tortillas during some family gatherings and I decided to make some for myself.  These can be made to suit all kinds of different meals and I encourage you to play with it!

Homemade Flour Tortillas

*Makes 8 six inch (really thin) tortillas

2 C. Flour
3/4 tsp. Salt (this is close to taste. Any less will not be enough, but you might want more than this so keep that in mind if you expect the salt to stand out.)
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 Tbsp. Oil, lard or Shortening (either work I just find it easier to mix with oil)
3/4 C. HOOOOOOOT Water

1. Sift all dry ingredients together.
2. Add the water and oil. (if you use shortening or lard, add that first and mix well with a fork to distribute it)
3. Mix until it starts to form into dough.  Kneed the dough for 5-10 mins adding flour or a sprinkle of water if needs be.
4. Separate into little balls.  If you want fajita size, you'll get about 8, if you want burrito size, this makes about 4.
5. Cover the bowl with a towel and let it sit for 10 mins.
6. Put a pan (cast iron, skillet, griddle, or whatever you have that's large enough for the size you're making) on the stove and heat it to medium high.  Spray the pan with non-stick spray for each tortilla!
7. Flour your counter and the rolling pin and roll them out one at a time. You can make them as thick or thin as you'd like.  I go for the store bought thickness so roll it out about as thick as a dime.
8. Cook in the pan for about 30-45 seconds (or until it starts to brown nicely) on one side.  Flip to the other side and cook for another 15-25 seconds.  Put on a plate covered with a towel or if you're fortunate enough to have a tortilla warmer, you can use that!
9. Repeat until they're all made and enjoy!

**To make things interesting, you can use all kinds of seasonings in the dough depending on what you plan to make with them!  You can make sandwich wraps with herbs, or a thicker tortilla similar to naan.  Garlic powder and chili powder are always favorites as well!  Get a little crazy!**

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Personal Pot Pies!

After attempting large muffin size chicken pot pies, I decided that I wanted to make some that are bigger to enjoy more of the filling!  This is a recipe to make everything from scratch EXCEPT the gravy because I haven't quite perfected that part of it yet!

Chicken Pot Pie

*Makes 2 6" potpies (about 2 inches deep)

2 c. flour
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 c. crisco or lard
6-7 Tbsp COLD water

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 stalks of celery
1/2 can corn
5 mini carrots
1/2 small onion
1 bell pepper
2 cans chicken gravy

1. Boil all the "insides" ingredients together for 35-40 mins.

2.  Sift flour and salt, add crisco in small lumps. Add water 1 tbsp at a time and use a fork to push against the side of the bowl until it turns into dough.

3.  Lightly flour your counter and roll out, cut to size of your pot pie dish.  Don't forget to cut both the bottom and the top pieces!  Set oven to 400 degrees.

4. Drain the insides and cut or shred the chicken.  Add gravy and put in pot pie, don't be shy with the filling.

5. Cover, making sure to put slits on top.

6. Cook at 400 degrees for 45-50 mins. or until really golden brown. (darker than my picture, the bottom wasn't quite done)

What is Chicken Divan?!

So I'm doing my normal, "browse Pinterest and Allrecipes" because I'm hungry one day and I decide to check my junk email for something else to do.  I must point out that I get a daily email from allrecipes with a featured recipe.  So as I'm deleting emails, I came across one that was "6 ways to use broccoli" and I had to check em out.  The last recipe on the list was chicken divan and I'm like, what?  I've never heard of this dish before and I as usual, tweaked it to my liking, and it was AMAZING!  If you haven't tried it before, give it a shot!

Italian Chicken Divan

*Serves 6

2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
1 Large Head of Broccoli
1/3 C. Onion (chopped)
1 Can Cream of Broccoli
1/2 C. Milk (I use skim)
1 C. Mixture of Mozzarella and Parmesan
3 Tbsp. Bread crumbs (mine are from an 8 grain bread)
1 1/2 Tbsp. Light Margarine
Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Olive Oil, Italian Seasonings

1. Dice the chicken and onion.  Drizzle olive oil in the pan and add the chicken, onion and seasonings.  Cook until the chicken is done.
 2. While the chicken is cooking, cut up the broccoli and cover with water in a pan.  Bring to a boil and cook for about 5 mins or until tender and then drain.  Set the oven to 450 degrees.
3. Salt the broccoli and mix together with the chicken and put in a 9X13 pan.
4. Mix the soup with the milk and pour over top of the chicken and broccoli.
5. Sprinkle the cheese over the top.
6. Melt the margarine and mix with the bread crumbs and Italian seasonings.  Sprinkle this on top of the cheese.
7. Cook in the oven for 15 mins or until the cheese starts bubbling.
This is a half recipe for 2 people


I went to Disneyland for Thanksgiving this year and didn't get my turkey dinner!  BUT I did come away with a HAUL of stuff for my kitchen.  Who can say no to Mickey??? I sure can't.

Cravin' Crepes?

My favorite breakfast as a kid was the "crepe bar" we would have occasionally.  We would go all out and make 2-3 different flavors of pudding, 4-5 different kinds of fruits, whipped cream, etc!  I've been terrified to attempt the recipe and finally bit the bullet!  From my breakfast bar to yours!

Crepe Batter

Sugar free Chocolate Fudge and Peaches

*Makes 6-8 depending on your pan size

Heaping 1/2 C. Flour
Dash of Salt
1 1/3 tsp. Sugar
2 Eggs
1 C. Milk
Butter (give or take a Tbsp)

1. Mix it all together (minus the butter, that's to grease the pan).
2. Warm up your pan and keep it at med-high to high.  Butter the pan before each crepe.
3. Pour around 1/4 C. of batter into the pan and rotate to disperse the batter evenly.
4. Cook for 20-30 seconds on the first side, flip it over and cook for about 5 seconds on the second side.
5. Remove from the pan and keep on a plate under a damp paper towel to keep them warm.
6. Fill them as you see fit, using pudding, sweet cheeses, fruits, etc.  Top with whipped cream or more fruit!

*These keep in the fridge for a few days if sealed in a ziploc bag, just pull out and microwave 5-10 seconds on a plate and then fill!

Beef Jerky, What What!

My mother used to make beef jerky whenever a cut of london broil was on sale (which in my hometown is like once a year).  I would dream about it all the time and now that I'm all grown up, I can make my own!  While I don't have a dehydrator, I make use of the most basic thing in my kitchen, the oven!

Beef Jerky

 I made too much and it didn't all fit! O.o

*Marinades 2-3 lbs of meat

Allergen Tips:
Choose a gluten free soy sauce made by Kikkoman or Tamari.
Stay away from the liquid smoke to keep it g-free!

2-3 lbs of Meat (I use flank or london broil because of the low fat content)
1/2 C. Soy Sauce
1/3 C. Worcestershire Sauce
1 1/4 tsp. Onion Powder
1 1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
2 tsp. Pepper
Here is where you can play with it a bit.
1 tsp. Liquid Smoke or 2 Tbsp. Brown Sugar or once you finish a layer, sprinkle it heavy with more pepper for that extra spicy kick!
*You'll need a lot of paper towels for this*

1. Slice your meat against the grain in very small slices and put them in a container or a ziploc gallon size bag. (you might consider splitting this into two bags and either freezing one after you add the marinade because there's not enough room for all the meat in one batch.\
 2. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and pour into or over the meat.
3. Make sure the meat gets covered well by the marinade and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.
4. Once it's done marinating, dump the bag into a bowl or just pull out the container.
5. Doing small batches at a time, spread the meat out on paper towels and dab to get the loose marinade off of it.  *Set the oven to the lowest setting, as close to 140 degrees as you can get it!)
6. I use stackable cooling racks and lay the meat out as close together as I can get it.  Other ways to do it would be to use a skewer and thread the top of the meat and hang these from the oven rack on the highest slot in the oven.  Either way, I have a cookie sheet underneath to catch anything that drips.
7. As you get the jerky ready for the oven, you might consider adding seasonings to give it that extra pop (i.e. peppered jerky, or red pepper flakes).
8. Once all the meat is ready to go, put it in the oven and prop the oven open with a wooden spoon for just a little circulation.
9. Depending on how thick your meat was sliced, cook for 5-9 hours.  To tell if it's ready, it should crack a bit when you fold it in half but not snap.
10. Pull the jerky out and let it fully cool before you package it up.  You can freeze it in jars for up to 4 months or keep it in the fridge for 1-2 months depending on how fatty your cut of meat was.
11. ENJOY and don't eat it all in one sitting!!!

(These facts are using london broil not flank!!)
(Serving size is 4-6 pieces depending on how thick or long you cut them)

Reprieve from Mayo Pasta Salads!

I can't stress enough how much I HATE mayo.  I tend to not ever make anything that calls for it because it's not welcome in my house or my fridge.  That being said, I really really love pasta salads and there aren't too many that are mayo free.  So I got a little crazy with some fat free ranch instead!

Crunchy Ranch Shells

*Makes 4 servings

Allergen Tips:

Rice flour noodles are a great g-free option for any pasta dish!
Double check your ranch label to ensure it's a gluten free option.

8 oz. Whole Wheat Shell Pasta
1/4 C. Broccoli (chopped)
1/4 C. Red Bell Pepper (chopped)
1/4 C. Onion (chopped)
1/4 C. Celery (chopped)
1/4 C. Cheese (diced)
1/4 C. Ranch (give or take, I didn't measure. Depends on how ranchy you like it.) (I also used fat free ranch, the veggies mask the "fat free-ness" of it!)

1. Boil the pasta with some salt in the water.
2. While the pasta is cooking, chop all the veggies and cheese and put in a container.
3. Once the pasta is done, drain and rinse with cold water until the shells aren't warm anymore.
4. Lay the pasta out on paper towels to drain some of the water, getting it as dry as possible.
5. Add pasta and ranch to the veggies and mix well.  Refrigerate for at least an hour to make sure the shells get chilled.  Serve as a side dish or a yummy snack!

Smash-ed Tatoes

I have to say, I grew up on a lot of instant mashed potatoes growing up and man did I love them.  As an adult, I find myself loving real potatoes and take immense joy in using them in different ways.  I don't use red potatoes often but I stumbled across a recipe that I tweaked for my own eating pleasure!

Smash-ed Tatoes

Pick 1-2 red potatoes per person
Olive Oil
Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Basil (or any fresh herbs you like)

1. Boil the potatoes until they're soft.
2. Set the oven to 450 degrees.
3. Line a cookie sheet with foil and spread olive oil over it to prevent sticking.
4. Put potatoes on the cookie sheet, take a potato masher and push them down like a peanut butter cookie.
5. Brush them with more olive oil and liberally season with the above seasonings.
6. Bake for 20-25 mins or until golden brown.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Gotta Use Them Pumpkin Seeds

It's that time again, Halloween is actually tomorrow and everyone is carving pumpkins.  I have had at least 3 people ask me recently if I have a recipe to make Roasted Pumpkin Seeds.  So here's for all you carvers looking to not waste those seeds!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

1 1/2 C. Pumpkin Seeds
1 Tbsp. Butter or Margarine
1 1/2 tsp. Salt or Garlic Salt
Any other seasonings if you're feeling adventurous (Chili Powder, Onion Powder, Cajun Seasoning, etc)

1. Boil seeds in pretty salty water for 20 mins.  Drain and lay out on a sheet for 24 hours to dry out.
2. Set oven to 300 degrees.
3. Melt butter, add to seeds and seasonings in a bowl, mix well.
4. Spread on 1-2 cookie sheets making SURE that it's flat layer with no overlaps to ensure the baking.
5. Cook for 45 mins stirring occasionally.
6. Let them cool and TADA! Snack time!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Real Mashed Potatoes?!

In all honesty, how many people eat real mashed potatoes anymore.  While potatoes are literally dirt cheap, they spoil instead of sit in a pantry so people don't carry them as often.  I grew up on Potato Pearls and I swore by them as a kid.  I loved the buttery taste.  But these days I don't eat anything but real potatoes, none of that canned or boxed stuff. (no offense to the food storage, I'll still keep some there)  I think everyone should splurge for real mashed potatoes more frequently than holidays!  *Side note, we don't normally eat gravy in our house, so I season my potatoes to give them some attitude*

Scary's Mashed Potatoes
*serves 3-5

2-4 Russet Potatoes (depending on size)
1 Pot full of Water
Season Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, touch of chili powder, to taste
1/2 C. Shredded Cheese
1/4 C. Butter or Margarine
1/4ish C. Milk

1. Wash your potatoes, peel them if you don't like the skin.  I think that's the best part!
2. Dice potatoes, the smaller, the faster they'll cook.
3. Add potatoes to water, bring to boil and cook at med-hi heat until they are soft enough to squish against the side of the pot.
4. Drain and return to pot.
5.  Start mashing and add butter and milk.
6. Add seasonings to taste along with the cheese.  Mix well til the cheese is melted.  Constantly taste the potatoes to see what balance you like with the spices.
7. Serve with dinner!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bread Crumbs for Any Dish

I have come across a handful of recipes that require bread crumbs and they don't normally sell them at an inexpensive price in stores.  This is an easy fix with a loaf of bread or ends of loaves for your household!  Bread crumbs freeze really well and last for about 6 months.

Bread Crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 275.
2. Take any pieces of bread, ends, whole loaf, rolls, etc and lay directly on the oven rack.
3. Turn them over after 15 mins.  Bake for another 10-15 mins.
4. Put the pieces in a food processor 2 or 3 at a time and blend to make your crumbs!

*You can get super creative and add all kinds of fun seasonings for different occasions!

Cajun Grilled Tacos

As my posting history shows, we eat a lot of Mexican food in our house.  We like it spicy and usually south of the border!  Here we have a twist on normal tacos.  You might compare them to Chipotle (fast food chain) tacos, but I've never had them before.  The rice is however inspired by Chipotle even if it tastes nothing like it. :)

Cajun Grilled Chicken Tacos
*serves 2-4

1-2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (depending on size) (Slice in half so the breast is thinner)
1 batch of  Scary's Bean Dip
1 C. Long Grain Rice
1 3/4 C. Water
1/3 C. Finely Chopped Cilantro
1 Tbsp. Butter or Margarine
1/2 Lime (juiced)
1 pack Fajita size Tortillas (I am a HUGE fan of Guerrero tortillas for ALL my tortilla needs)
Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Cajun Seasoning to taste
Favorite salsa on top

1. Add water, butter, and rice in a heavy pot.  Bring to a boil.
2. Once boiling, bring heat down to medium.  Cover the pot mostly with room for steam to escape.
3. Pull out the chicken, slice in half to make thinner filets that grill faster.  Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a little heavier on the cajun seasoning.
4. Check the rice, once it starts forming craters from the bubbling, cover it completely and turn down to low heat.  Cook for about 15 mins.
5. Throw the ingredients for the bean dip in a pot and turn it on med.  Stirring occasionally.
6.  Start grilling one breast at a time.  Put them on a plate in the microwave (or you could warm your oven if you'd like) to keep them warm.
7. Once the bean dip is thoroughly melted and done, you can put aside.
8. Check the rice to make sure that all the water is absorbed.  Once this is done, stir in the lime juice and the cilantro.
9. Cut the chicken into thin strips. (or dice as I did here)
10. Assemble the taco starting with the bean dip, followed by the rice, then the chicken and then salsa to top it off!

Chicken Parm Bites

Growing up I was never a fan of Chicken Parmesan whatsoever.  Chicken and marinara just grossed me out.  Today, I've grown out of it! YAY!  These are fun handheld bites to switch things up at the dinner table!

Chicken Parm Bites
*serves 2-3

1 Can 8 pack of Biscuits (I only had crescent handy at the time)
1-2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (depending on size) (shred or dice very small)
3/4 C. Favorite Marinara Sauce
1/3 C. Shredded Parmesan (or the grated parmesan out of the green container)
Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Italian Seasonings
1 Egg (beaten)

1. Boil chicken for 45 mins.  Cut up or shred.  Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.
2. Preheat oven to 400.  Spray a 6X9 pyrex pan with non stick spray.
3. Get everything ready to go, pull out the biscuits.  Flatten them one at a time to about 1/8"
4. Put a small handful of chicken in the middle. (again, mine are funny shaped because they were crescent rolls)
5. Sprinkle the parmesan on the chicken and then add a small spoonful of marinara sauce.
6. Gather the edges and press together.  This is a difficult part because you don't want the bottom to be too thick or it won't cook thoroughly.
7. Place in the pan with the open end down.  Repeat until you have all 8 made. (or however many you're making)
8. Once they are all done, brush the tops with the beaten egg.  Sprinkle italian seasonings and some grated parmesan on top.
9. Bake for 20-25 mins. The dough can be a little less done in some places depending on how evenly you rolled them out.  The tops should be golden brown.
10.  Serve up with a side of marinara sauce to dip in.

Subtle BBQ Marinade

I tend to be pretty picky about my flavors on chicken.  I've tried store bought marinades and I like one or two but I decided to try my hand in making my own to play with.  This is tough for me as we don't actually own a grill at the moment.  (we live in a STUPID apartment complex and can't have one)  So, we deal with a mini George Foreman grill.  All of my grilling recipes are usually made for either one.  I was looking for a spicy, sweet, and subtle taste and I stumbled across it while just dumping things in a bowl!  I can only encourage people to be creative.  That's where half of my recipes come from, me just making stuff up.

Subtle BBQ Marinade

*enough for 2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Allergen Tips:
Double check your bbq label to ensure you have a gluten free dish!
Balsalmic vinegar is also safely on the g-free list :)

1/4 C. Olive Oil
1/2 C. Spicy BBQ Sauce (we use Bill Johnson's and swear by it!)
2 tsp. Balsalmic Vinegar
1 Tbsp Garlic (minced)
2 tsp. Salt
1 1/2 tsp. Pepper
1 tsp. Chili Powder
1/8 C. Water
1/3 C Onion (chopped)

*If ACTUALLY grilling, you may want to set aside just a bit of the marinade to brush on while grilling!*

1. I like to cut my chicken breasts in half so they are thinner and easier to grill to perfection.  Put them (in whatever state you like) in a ziploc bag.
2. Chop up your onion and put in the bag with the chicken.
3. In a bowl, mix all other ingredients.  Mix well with a whisk.
4. Pour the sauce over the chicken in the bag.
5. Marinade for at least 5 hours or freeze for a later date.
6. Grill Chicken to your liking and enjoy!

Parmesan Chicken Tenders

I'm always on board for cooking in the oven to avoid grease and fat!  These are "adult" tenders but kids would love them too!  Serve these up with your favorite dipping sauce.  My favorite is spicy barbeque. :)

Parmesan Chicken Tenders
*Serves 2-3

2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (cut in half width wise and then cut into strips)
1/4 C. Butter
1 Tbsp. Garlic (minced)
1 tsp. Garlic Powder (separated into 1/2 and 1/2 tsp)
1 tsp. Season Salt (separated into 1/2 and 1/2 tsp)
1/2 C. Bread Crumbs (I make my own from a 9 grain loaf but any bread crumbs will do)
1/4 C. Parmesan (I prefer fresh shredded parmesan, but you can use the processed stuff in the green container)
1/2 tsp. Pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350.  Get a cookie sheet (cover with tinfoil for easy clean up) and put a cooling rack on top of it. (this ensures it cooks on both sides evenly)

*FUN FACT* I tend to use a cooling rack a lot on top of a cookie sheet for cooking.  Easy clean up on the cooling rack, turn it upside down on the cookie sheet and soak with soap and hot water! No more stuck on food!!!

2. Cut up the chicken into small strips, or squares if you prefer but try to keep them fairly thin.  (like 8 total pieces from a breast, 4 on top and 4 on bottom)
3. Melt butter in a small bowl and add the minced garlic, 1/2 tsp of garlic powder, and 1/2 tsp of season salt.
4. Add bread crumbs, parmesan, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp season salt, and the pepper in a separate bowl.
5. Dip the chicken in the butter concoction and then smother in the bread crumb.  Lay each piece on the cooling rack one at a time with plenty of room between them.
6. Cook 35-40 mins and serve with sauce and sides!  These also make great leftovers!

*My favorites to serve are my homemade mashed potatoes and green beans

Carne Asada with a Citrus Twist

I don't like to settle on one marinade when it comes to meat.  I like to play around with them here and there until I tweak it just enough to make it perfect.  This marinade for carne asada has a tangy lime flavor with a hint of heat in the spices!

Carne Asada Marinade
*for about 3lbs

3lbs Thinly Sliced Flank Steak (You can usually buy it pre-sliced from the store)
4 Cloves of Garlic (minced)
1/2 C. Cilantro
1 Bell Pepper
1 Small Onion
2 Limes (juiced)
1/3 C. Orange Juice
1/4 C. Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. Cumin
1 Tbsp. Pepper
1/2 C. Vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
1 Tbsp. Chili Powder (use 2 Tbsp. for more of a kick)

1. Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor.  Mix until close to smooth.
2. Pour over carne asada meat, in a bowl or ziploc bag.
3. Marinade for 48 hours (or you can freeze for later) *I usually make it in two half batches one for now and one for later.
4. Grill (or pan sear) to a medium well.  Keep in mind that this meat is SUPER thin and you don't want to over cook it.

 (Sorry it's blurry! This is after I've grilled them.  I'm keeping them in the skillet with a lid to keep them warm.)
5. Once cooked, cut up into small 1/4" squares and serve in burritos, tacos, or put it on nachos!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Bisquick Replacement

As my mother pointed out to me the other day, I would drop dead before I'd make something like this 5 years ago.  Now, I'm too lazy to go to the store so I made my own Bisquick mix to use in recipes!  This recipe is good up to 4 months frozen and I think 2 months in the fridge...

*Makes just over a cup but you can make in bulk

1 C. Flour
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 Tbsp. Crisco

1. Add all dry ingredients and sift or whisk.
2. Cut in the shortening or Crisco.  Use a pastry blender or a fork to mix well so there are no lumps.
3. Use as directed in any recipe that calls for Bisquick.

Green Chile Chicken

This is an offspring from my mother's Green Chile Burritos but it's made with chicken and you can use it for just about anything. Burritos, enchiladas, sopapillas,  even tacos if you like them messy!  The only picture I have is of finished enchiladas but this is just the base chicken concoction.  You can also just make the green chile sauce without any meat or use beef instead of chicken.

Green Chile Chicken

*Makes 8-10 servings depending on the dish

3 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (use the longer time if they're frozen)
1 small Onion (diced)
2 cans Cream of Celery Soup (prepared with only 1/2 can of water each)
Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Chili Powder (to taste, but at least 1/4-1/2 tsp each!!!)
2-4 cans Diced Green Chiles [dependent on how spicy you like it]  (or use 3/4 C. Diced fresh Green Chiles)
1 Can Black Beans
1 Can Corn

1. Add everything to the Crockpot and cook on low for 6-7 hours.

2. Around 5-6 hours, pull the chicken out to shred.
3. Put the chicken back in and cook for at least 30 more mins.  Don't forget to TASTE!  The chicken will change the level of seasonings in the sauce.
4. Proceed to make whatever dish you choose to use it in!

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas
*makes 12-16 enchiladas

1 20 pack of Corn Tortillas
1 Green Chile Chicken Concoction from above
1 C. Shredded Cheese (I use pepper jack)

1. Prep Green Chile Chicken above.
2. Preheat oven to 350°.
3. Spray a 9X13 pan with non stick spray.
4. Start stuffing tortillas with the chicken from the crockpot, and sprinkle some cheese into it.  Lay seam down into the pan.
5. Continue til the pan is full and then top with more of the sauce.
6. Add the rest of the shredded cheese to the top of the enchiladas.
7. Cover with tinfoil and cook for 20-25 mins.

Quick Pizza Sauce on the Stove

Most authentic pizza sauce requires hours on the stove to simmer and I now have one that takes about 15-20 mins!  This works wonders with my pizza dough recipe!

Pizza Sauce!
*makes 4-7 amounts of sauce topping depending on how heavy you dab it on.
**I freeze small pizza size amounts for future pizzas!

2 Cans Diced Tomatoes (you can use Rotel Tomatoes to make it a bit more spicy or just add more seasonings for spice)
3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. Basil
1 tsp. Oregano
1/4 tsp. Salt
4 Cloves of Garlic (minced, about 2 Tbsp.)

1. Put all ingredients minus the olive oil and blend til pureed unless you like it chunky.

2. Put the oil and the puree to a sauce pan and simmer for 15 mins.
3. Use however you'd like but it's a recommended sauce for pizza not pasta.
(I blended afterwards for this picture and it didn't turn out as well but it's still a great pizza sauce!)

Yan Can Cook!

I must say, I chuckled when I was a kid and he cut off his finger (hopefully you know of him....).  I was in a rush to cut some potatoes for a late dinner and cut halfway through my middle finger.  This put a severe hindrance in my recipe posting!  So I'm back and I'm paying more attention than that night. :D  Don't be sloppy or fast!  It gets you nowhere.

Fries in the Oven

I've had an insatiable craving for potatoes lately and with how picky I am, there aren't many choices.  I ALWAYS want fries and while we do have a fryer, it's kind of a waste of time for one batch of fries honestly.  Plus, everyone wants to eat more healthy right?!

**fast forward to 2015 and I've officially given my frier away! YAY!**  Baked/Roasted is the way to go in my house!

Baked French Fries

*makes 2-3 servings

2-3 small (or 1-2 large) Russet Potatoes
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Pepper
1/2 tsp. (heaping) Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp. Onion Powder
1/2 tsp. (heaping) Dried Parsley

Here is where you can get very creative with taste, pick one (or more if you're crazy!):
1/2 tsp. Cajun seasoning
1/2 tsp. Chili Powder
1/2 tsp. Italian Seasonings
Or anything that tickles your taste bud fancy.

1. Preheat oven to 350°.  Put a pot of hot water on the stove with some salt and put on High to boil.
2. Cut potatoes into your shape of size, wedges, steak fries, smaller fries etc.  (just keep in mind you need to watch them in the oven closely based on size)
3. Once the water is boiling, add the potatoes and start a timer.  8 mins for thick cuts (wedges, steak fries), 5 mins for small fries.  While this is going, get a bowl with ice water for blanching.
4. When the timer goes off, strain the potatoes and immediately put them in the ice water to stop the cooking process.  After about 1 min, strain and dry with paper towels as best as you can.
5. Cover a cookie sheet with foil and spray with non stick spray (VERY important to cover it all)
6. Add olive oil and then all the seasonings to the fries.  Mix well with your hand! Get down and dirty with it!
7. Spread the fries all over the sheet in one layer, if you have more, you might need to prep 2 cookie sheets at once.

7. cook between 30-35 mins depending on how crispy you would like your fries.  Turning at least once to crisp different sides.
8. Serve with your dinner or eat as a snack!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sneak Preview of Recipes to Come!

Well after months of talking, I finally decided to get over my fear of pot pies.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to make the crust, or just use store bought pie crust.  And I couldn't find a decent filling recipe.  I didn't want to complain forever because the other person in the house (who shall remain nameless) kept asking when I was going to make him one.  So I finally did it.  I jumped off the ledge and cooked for 2 and a half hours to get the most awesome first attempt ever.  I'm going to share recipes and more pictures next time I make them now that I have the process down.  But here's the finished picture of tonight's dinner!

The top didn't get as golden brown as I wanted for presentation, but man was it cooked perfect!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bread. The Lost Art.

*Insert Raiders of the Lost Ark song*

Anywho!  I was given an amazing bread machine for a graduation present almost 2 years ago.  And I have to say I was a little rusty.  I used to watch my mom make rolls and even help her form them, but I knew nothing about actually MAKING the bread.  So I started dabbling after I got my own.  After many MANY tries, and not so much fails as they were just not great attempts, I finally made a near perfect loaf.  As I've mentioned, I keep forgetting to take pictures during the preparation processes.  But it's usually because I'm up to my ears in food!  I need a nice waterproof camera, that'll do the trick!  So I got a few pictures of the loaf, but none of the helpful steps are illustrated.

Onion Bread
*I'll give amounts for 1 lb and 2 lb loaves.

1 lb
8 oz. Water
1 Tbsp. Butter
1/4 C. Dried Onions
2 C. Flour
1 Tbsp. Sugar
1 Tbsp. Dry Milk
1 tsp. Salt
1 1/4 tsp. Yeast

2 lbs
12 oz. Water
2 Tbsp. Butter
1/3 C. Dried Onions
4 C. Flour
2 Tbsp. Sugar
2 Tbsp. Dry Milk
1 3/4 tsp. Salt
2 1/2 tsp. Yeast

1. (keep in mind, I use my bread machine to make my dough and this is also instructions for a 1 lb loaf, a 2 lb comes with much more dough and would make at least 2 loaves)  Add water, butter, and onions (and for the onions, you can be more liberal.  I usually just grab a big handful.)
2. Add all dry ingredients on top of the wet ones.  Then make a well in the center to add the yeast.
3. Add yeast and set machine on dough.  (Takes 90 mins for mine to process.)
4. Close to the time being up, grease a cookie sheet with Crisco and heat the oven to 200°.
5. Pull out the dough when it's done.  (I use Crisco on my hands instead of flour on the counter because I don't want it to dry out)  Kneed it for about 2-3 mins and then form your loaf of dough.  There are many many different shapes and sizes out there.  The loaf in my picture is a braided loaf.  You cut the dough into three parts and start each strand in the middle working your way out careful not to push too hard.  You want some bubbles left in there!
6. Once all three are as long as you want them (around 12-14 inches) stick the three together at the top.  Start braiding and mash the end together or tuck it under.
7. Lay the loaf on your greased cookie sheet and cover with a flour cloth.  Set at the back of the stove top and let it rise for 45 mins.
8. Separate an egg from it's whites and use a pastry brush or a bbq brush to lightly coat the top with the egg whites.  If you find it difficult, add a tsp of water to the egg whites and beat it together.
9. Raise the oven temp to 350° and wait for it to fully warm up.  Put the bread in and bake for 30 mins.
10. Take the bread off the pan and onto a cooling rack.  Enjoy fresh bread once it's cool!

 This is while the bread machine works on the dough.  About 15 mins into the 90 mins.
 Like I said, no helpful instruction pictures, but here's the finished loaf! (after I ate the end of course!)
And the pretty sammich I made with the loaf.