Saturday, December 28, 2013

Prepping for Bread

If any of you are like me, I like things to be quick and easy most days when it comes to the kitchen!  This is a post to help out those who like to make their own bread!  This is something that can be done in less than 10 mins and will keep you stocked for ease. :)

Prepping dry ingredients for Bread:

1. Choose your favorite recipe for bread.  These pictures are of my Onion Bread recipe.
2. Pull out all the dry ingredients minus the yeast.
3. You can pour ingredients directly into the bags if you'd like or do it like me.  I put them all in bowls and mix with a whisk before I put it in bags.

4. Label each bag with the name of the bread, how big of a loaf it makes and then the order in which things go into your bread machine (or in a bowl if you're doing it old school!).  *note: to make it more clear, you might want to put an extra line where you dump in the bag ingredients before the yeast*

5. Store on your shelf for a rainy day or whenever you'd like a quick loaf of bread! :)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana!

Who doesn't love a little soup and salad for lunch every once in a while?!  Well, my absolute favorite at Olive Garden is the Zuppa.  I get it every time!  MMMMMMMM dipping hot fresh breadsticks in that soup is heavenly.  Well, I decided to try the recipe my mom put together and see if it's anything like the real soup.  Boy was I amazed!  It tastes JUST like it!  I made it a little healthier using turkey instead of spicy Italian sausage.  But I honestly couldn't really tell the difference.  :D

Zuppa Toscana

*Makes 6-7 2 cup servings

Allergen Tips:
Make sure you check the bullion and bacon for gluten ingredients to keep this a g-free recipe!

1-1.25 lbs of Ground Turkey (or Spicy Italian Sausage)
(season with Italian seasonings, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and garlic if you're doing the turkey)
1/2 lb. Smoked Bacon (chopped)
10 C. Water
4 Chicken Bullion Cubes
1 Med Onion (chopped)
2 Large (or 3 med) Russet Potatoes (sliced)
2 Cloves of Garlic (minced)
2 C. Kale (chopped)
1 C. Heavy Cream
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Add water and bullion cubes to a pot and cover.  Put on med-low to dissolve.
2. In a pan, brown the turkey, adding the seasonings as it cooks.  Drain and put aside in a bowl.

3. Cook the bacon in the pan, drain, and add to the turkey.

4. Add the sliced potatoes, garlic, and onion to the pot.  Bring to a low boil and simmer on med with the lid off until the potatoes are tender.

5. Add the meats, bring to a low boil and simmer for another 10 mins.
6. Add the kale and cream, season the soup with salt and pepper.  Doesn't need to boil, just warmed through, and it's ready to serve!

And here's a jar of the soup with my label to sell :)

(this soup must be kept fresh, it's not canned)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Scary's Chicken and Dumplings

One of the comfort foods I have been asked to make and put up here is chicken and dumplings.  I grew up eating mom's homemade chicken and dumplings and I wanted to try it out!  So here's my version of it!  (Mom, don't worry!  I'll put up the original recipe soon!)  This is very hearty with just a touch of heat.  It makes for a great meal throughout the week. :)

Scary's Chicken and Dumplings

*Makes.... ummmm.... a pot full?  A lot of servings!  I fed 6 people several servings.  Maybe close to 12-14 2 cup servings

20 C. Water
2 Basil Leaves (mine are kind of in pieces so it was hard to take them out at the end, but remove these when you serve!)
12 Chicken Bullion Cubes
5 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
1 Celery Stalk
4 Red Bell Peppers
1 1/2 Onions
2 Jalapenos (seeds optional)
Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder (at LEAST 2 tsp each but to taste)
Thickening liquid (1/4 C. flour and enough water to mix into a liquid)

3 C. Flour
1/2 C. Shortening (pea sized chunks)
1 tsp. Baking Powder
2 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Pepper
1 tsp. Sage
1 tsp. Rosemary
1 tsp. Parsley
1 tsp. Oregano
1 1/2 C. Water (give or take)

1. Put the water, bullion cubes, veggies, seasonings, and chicken in a stock pot.  Bring to a boil and lower to med heat.  Cook for about 45 mins to an hour.

2. Pull out the chicken and shred, or chop if you prefer cubed chicken.  Put it back in the soup.
3. Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl with the shortening.  Add the water a little bit at a time and mix.  You don't want the dough to be too wet!!  If you find that it's too wet, just add more flour or roll it out in a ton of flour.
4. Divide the dough into 3 balls and turn the heat up on the soup between med and med high.  (I have limited counter space so I can't roll out a ton of dough at once).  Roll it to about 1/8 inch thick and cut.  Go crazy and use a pizza cutter!!  Makes the job super easy!  I made really big dumplings in these pictures, but I prefer smaller ones.  It's all up to what you like.

5. Drop the dough pieces into the soup a few at a time.  Once you're counter is clean, repeat until all the dough is made!  You want to make sure and push the second and third group of dough down into the water so it doesn't hang out at the top and stick together.

6. Cook for about 10 mins and then turn the heat down to medium again.  Here you're going to add the thickening liquid to make it more soupy instead of just watery.  You can always add in more if you want it even thicker but keep in mind it gets thicker for the next 20 mins.  Cook for another 20-30 mins, checking the done-ness of the dumplings.

Serve it up with some fresh french bread for dipping!

Biscuits and Gravy

The ultimate comfort food when it comes to breakfast!  Mom was always the major cook in the house but when it comes to breakfast, dad was the boss. :)  His specialties are the most AMAZING pancakes ever (I'm sure I'll put that recipe up sometime) and his hamburger gravy to slather on some piping hot biscuits.  This is not a traditional recipe but I prefer it over using sausage because it's still a unique flavor.

Dad's Hamburger Gravy

*makes 2-3 servings

1/2 lb. Hamburger
3-4 Tbsp. Flour
2 1/2 C. Milk
1 Tube of Biscuits
Salt and Pepper

1. Preheat oven for the biscuits.  Start browning the hamburger.  Be liberal with the salt and pepper.  You don't want the meat to be bland once the gravy is made.

2. Once the hamburger is brown, add the flour and stir to coat the meat and absorb the grease.

3. Put the biscuits in the oven.
4. Keeping the heat at about med-high, add the milk and stir often until it starts to boil.

5. Lower the heat to med-low and simmer while it thickens.  Still stirring often to make sure the gravy doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.

6. Season with salt and pepper (heavy on the pepper).  The biscuits should be done by now, pull them out and put it all together!

Dig in!!!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Philly Cheese Steak Bites

There's a quaint place that I have to visit every time I'm in LA called Phillipes that is just to die for!  I don't think I enjoy my french dip sandwiches as much anywhere else.  I don't often make my own french dips or philly cheese steaks either, but hey why not take it for a spin!

Philly Cheese Steak Bites

*makes 12-16 bites

2 tubes of Crescent rolls
1 package of roast beef (using 2 slices per roll)
6-8 slices of cheese [usually provolone but I'm not a fan] (cut in half diagonally)
1/2 Onion (sliced)
1 Green Bell Pepper (sliced)
2-3 tsp. Olive Oil
1 packet Au Jus gravy

1.  Put the oil in a skillet and add the veggies.  Let these cook on one side for 5-8 mins and then stir/flip them as best as you can to the other side.  When these are done, preheat the oven according to the rolls.
2. Open up the rolls and start separating them.  Lay the cheese down on each roll with the long edges together.
3. Then layer 2 slices of roast beef, add 2 strips of bell pepper and 2-4 pieces of onion.  Roll up and put on a cookie sheet lined with tinfoil and sprayed with non-stick spray.

4. Cook them for 10-12 mins.
5. Prepare the au jus while the rolls are cooking.
6. Serve it all up and enjoy!

(the roast beef tends to weep a little so the bottoms don't stay crisp, I recommend a fork and knife)

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sausage Sliders

Saturday morning is my favorite day to make breakfast (and usually the only morning in the week I can find the time).  I was feeling a bit adventurous this morning since I've been living on fast food breakfast this week. :(  I wanted to get a little crazy and make my own breakfast sandwich with a biscuit.  The biscuits I use are small and fluffy and not hard and dense like McDonalds.  It makes for a fun breakfast!

Sausage Sliders

*makes 8 sandwiches

1 Tube of Sausage (I use Jimmy Dean's Hot Sausage)
2 Slices of Cheese (My favorite is pepperjack!)
2 Eggs
1 Tube of Buttermilk Biscuits

Salt, Pepper

1. Preheat oven according to your biscuits.  Get your pans ready for the sausage and eggs.  Put the biscuits in as soon as it's ready.
2. Start cooking the sausage patties.
3. About the time you flip your sausages to the other side you can start frying your eggs.  Season them as you like with salt, pepper, maybe some garlic or parsley.  I personally don't like a ton of egg, but if you are an egg lover, then you can up how many eggs you actually use.  I used two and cut them into quarters.
4. About this time, the biscuits should be close to done if they aren't already.  When the saugage is done, put a 1/4 of the cheese slice on top to start melting.
5. Assemble everything and serve!

**These would have been awesome with some gravy to dip in, but I didn't have any. :(

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Beef N Broccoli

I love me some yummy Chinese food.  I'm suuuuuuuuuuuuper picky about stuff we order for takeout!  That's why I started making my own stuff. :)

Beef and Broccoli is so simple yet can be so complex!!  I decided to make a crock pot version and messed with it to make it yuuuuuuuuuummy!!!  This is definitely a treat in my house this week!

Beef N Broccoli

*makes 4 servings

Allergen Tips:
Choose a gluten free soy sauce made by Kikkoman or Tamari.

1 lb. Flank Steak (Cut in strips and then cut in half)
1 C. Beef Broth (I used water and 2 cubes of bullion for a stronger flavor)
3 Cloves Garlic (minced)
1/2 C. Soy Sauce
1/3 C. Honey
1 Tbsp. Oil (sesame is recommended but vegetable works if you don't have it handy)
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Pepper
2 Tbsp. Cornstarch
2-3 Heads of Broccoli (chopped)

3/4 C. Brown Rice
1 1/2 C. Water

1. Place beef in a crock pot.
2. In a small bowl, combine broth, soy sauce, honey, oil, garlic and salt/pepper. Pour over beef. Cook on low for 4-5 hours.
3. After that time, in a cup, stir cornstarch and just a little sauce from the crock pot until smooth. Add to crock pot. Stir well to combine.  Repeat if it's not thick enough for you.
4. Add broccoli to the crock pot. Stir to combine.

5. Start the rice by mixing with water.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 30 mins.
6. Cover beef and broccoli and cook an additional 30 minutes on high.

7. Combine and enjoy! :)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Canning and Salsa Excitement!

Well as some of you know, I'm going to start canning and selling my salsas in the near future.  And let me tell you, I can hardly contain my excitement!  It's been nonstop research and buying necessities to make this happen.  I feel that the money dumped into this idea isn't going to be money wasted even if this salsa selling turns out to be a flop.  (which it won't!!!)

I just dropped the last chunk of money necessary to get started on a pressure cooker/canner!  I can't even explain how excited I am to have one in my possession!!!  My pressure cooker was given to me when my grandpa died.  It was well loved, and used a ton.  There was an unfortunate accident in my kitchen (NO ONE was harmed thank God) and it's now useless as a pressure cooker.  I just didn't want to drop the money on a replacement.  But NOW I have several reasons!!!

I just bought this beast of a cooker!

This is the All American 921 Pressure Cooker/Canner.  I went biiiiiiiiiig and got the 21 1/2 quart for just over $200.  This beast can process up to 19 pint size jars at a time and that's the size I'm going with for my salsas!  What a deal!!!

I honestly can't wait to get it on Wednesday to take it for a spin!!!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Roasted Green Chiles

Have you ever wanted a batch of fresh green chile but you just don't live in an area where you can get them easily?  Sure, you can go to the store and buy a frozen block of Hatch's (and let's be honest, they ARE the best) but it's still just not the same.  Well here's how to make your own homemade roasted green chiles that you can chop up and use immediately or you can freeze some for later.  I just think it's way better than buying the little cans of green chiles.  Those are just best when you're in a bind and have nothing else but really need chiles!

Roasted Green Chiles

*Makes however many chiles you roast
**This can be done with any type of pepper!!

8-10 Anaheim Chiles (this is how many will fit per cookie sheet depending on how big they are and this will make about a cup chopped)
Non stick Spray
Tin Foil

1. Set your oven to broil and put a rack on the very top shelf.
2. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil and spray with the non stick spray.
3. Arrange the peppers on the sheet.

4. When the oven is good and ready, put the sheet in the oven.  Keep a close eye on them.  The first side can take from 3-6 mins.  You want the skin to be mostly black and bubbly, but not completely black or else the chile itself will be burnt.

5. Turn the chiles over when the first side is ready.  This side should take a little less time since the chiles are already hot.
6. Once the second side is mostly bubbly and black, take them out and put them all in a ziploc bag.  Let them steam for 20 mins.

7. Carefully take them out one by one to peel the skin off and take the tops off.  Prepare the chiles as you like: diced, strips, whole.  Use to your hearts content!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Eggie Bites

Eggie Bites

*Makes 6 Bites

Allergen Tips:
Check your meat labels and always be aware of cross contamination when you buy from the deli when it comes to gluten!
Just omit the cheese for a healthy, yet dairy-free option!

6 Slices of Lunch Meat (Ham, Turkey, Chicken, Roast Beef, or whatever else you love)
4 Eggs (scrambled)
2 Tbsp. Shredded Cheese
1 Tbsp. Green Onions
2 Tbsp. Bell Peppers
2 Tbsp. Onion

1. Set the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Scramble the eggs with the seasonings.  Add the bell peppers, onions, cheese, or whatever other veggies you'd like. (OR you could get crazy and add some bacon or sausage)
3. Spray the muffin tin with non-stick spray.  Line the cups with the meat.  Pour in the eggs.
4. Top with the green onions as garnish and bake for 25-30 mins.

Muffin Base

Everyone has enjoyed a muffin or two.  Some love banana nut, some are all over the chocolate muffins, and some like poppy seeds.  Well, for those of you in adventurous cooking moods I have the perfect muffin base for any type of muffin you could ever want!  Mix it up and make several different kinds or just make a big batch of your favorites!

Muffin Base

(Dark Cherries and Pineapple, Cinnamon Raisin, Chocolate Chip)

*makes 12 regular sized muffins

1 3/4 C. Flour
1/2 C. Sugar
1/2 C. Brown Sugar
3/4 tsp. Salt
2 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 C. Milk
1/3 C. Oil
1 Egg (well beaten)
1/4 C. Apple Sauce (only use this if you DON'T use some type of fruit in the muffins.  this adds a little extra moisture to the batter.)

1. Add all dry ingredients in a bowl and sift well.
2. Beat the egg in another bowl and then add the rest of the wet ingredients to that bowl.
3. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix 10-15 times.  DO NOT OVER MIX.
4. This is where you can add your mix-ins.  (blueberries, cinnamon and raisin, cherry and pineapple, chocolate chips, poppy seeds, banana and nuts, etc)
5. Fill the cupcake cups 2/3 full and cook at 400 degrees for 18-22 mins.  Keep a close eye on them due to altitude and different ovens.
6. Check them with a toothpick.  When it comes out clean, pull them out and let them sit for about 5 mins before moving to a cooling rack.

These nutrition facts DO NOT include any add-ins

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Chipotle Cilantro Rice

Well, Chipotle is one of my guilty pleasures when it comes to eating out.  I've been known to travel to different cities just to get a burrito bowl covered in all the yummy goodness that they offer!  I've been trying to recreate their food for YEARS and I've finally nailed the rice!  Hope you all enjoy the recipe!

Cilantro Rice

*makes 3-4 servings

1 C. Brown Rice
2 C. Water
2 Tbsp. Butter
1 Lime (cut in half and juiced)
1 Tbsp. Cilantro (finely chopped)
Salt to taste

1. Put the butter, rice, and half the lime juice in a pot and stir until the butter is melted.
2. Add the water and around 1/8 tsp of salt.  Bring to a boil.
3. Lower the heat to just below med-low and cover.  Cook until the water is all gone.  (usually just over 30 mins)
4. Take it off the heat and let it sit for about 5 mins.
5. Add the other half of the lime juice and the cilantro as well as a little more salt to taste.  Stir well and add to ALL your Mexican dishes!!!

Tostitos Taco Bites

I love making my taco bites with wonton wrappers!  They're fun and inventive but sometimes I'm feeling a little lazy.  The solution?  Bite size taco bowls of course!

Tostitos Taco Bites

*Makes 30-45 bites (depending on filling)

Allergen Tips:
Be sure to read the fine print on your taco seasonings for a g-free dinner!

1/2 lb. Ground Turkey (or hamburger)
1/4 C. Bell Pepper (chopped)
1/4 C. Onion (chopped)
1 Taco Seasoning Packet (or close to 1/4 C. if you have a large container)
3/4 C. Water
Tostito's Scoops
1/4 C. Shredded Cheese
Olive Oil or Butter for Veggies
Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder to taste

1. Cook bell peppers and onions with oil or butter for about 8 mins on just above medium.  Add turkey or beef.  Season and brown and then drain fat.
2. Add the taco seasoning and water.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to med-low.  Simmer for 20-25 mins or until the liquid is almost gone.
3. Set oven to broil with the rack at the very top.  Place chips on a cookie sheet lined with foil.  Add the meat and cheese.  Place in oven for about 45 seconds to melt the cheese.
4. Serve with lettuce, olives, sour cream or whatever else sounds good!

Lazy Game Hens

I love chicken.  I could eat it 7 days a week!!!  (oh wait I almost do!)  I find my creativity is almost endless even with boneless skinless chicken breasts.  The boyfriend doesn't like bones in chicken so I never get to cook with normal chicken!  Such a shame and a lack of flavor!  But I've learned all the in's and out's of the boneless stuff to make all kinds of fancy stuff.

I have been DYING to make a cornish game hen because I love how small and cute they are!  They're perfect for one person!  I've been thinking of making one since the last time I was in Vegas and we got dinner and a show where they served game hens.  Very inspiring to my imagination!  So out of curiosity I decided to make them in a crock pot.

Lazy Game Hens

*makes 2 hens

2 Cornish Game Hens (still frozen)
1 Onion (chopped)
3-5 Tbsp Olive Oil (depending on how generous you want to be)
Salt, Pepper, Garlic (preferably fresh but powder works), Onion Powder, Rosemary, Thyme
3/4 C. White Wine

1. Sprinkle salt, and pepper on the bottom of the crockpot.  Drizzle 2 Tbsp oil on the bottom of the pot.
2. Add onion to the crock pot.
3. Put the hens on top of the onion.  Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil over the hens.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, onion powder, rosemary, and thyme.  If you're using fresh garlic, place several slices on top of the chicken and put the rest around it on the bottom with the onions.  If you're using powder, be generous on and around the chicken.
4. Pour in the wine but don't pour over the chicken or else all that seasoning will be a waste!
5. Cook on low for 6 hours.

6. Pull out and enjoy your fall off the bone chicken!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Saturday Morning Bites

It's not often I'm up to make Saturday breakfast because I work super late Friday nights.  I've been meaning to throw together a certain dish for several weeks now because I love playing with crescent rolls!  This was a little time consuming but the result was AWESOME!!!  It's buttery, and protein packed with lots of extra goodies!

Saturday Morning Bites

*Makes 8 rolls, serves 4 (or two really hungry people)

1 Can Crescent rolls (I buy the reduced fat ones, they taste the same!)
9 Eggs (I separate 7 of them and only use two yolks)
4 Tbsp Bell Pepper (chopped)
4 Tbsp Onion (chopped)
2 slices turkey bacon (cooked and chopped)
Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, and any other seasonings you like in your eggs
1 Tbsp Parmesan
Parsley for garnish

1. Cook your bacon and chop up.
2. Start cooking your bell peppers and onions in a pan.
3. Scramble your eggs in a bowl with the seasonings.  Add to the bell peppers and onions.  Toss in the bacon bits.  (Here you can throw in whatever extras you might want like green onions)
4. Once the eggs are scrambled, put them aside and open up your can of rolls.  Set the oven according to the package 350-375 degrees depending on the type of pan.  I line my cookie sheet with tin foil for ease of clean up and spray with a non stick spray.

5.  Start with a handful of eggs and put on the thickest part of the roll.  Pull both edges toward each other and then roll the dough up.  This ensures that no goodies fall out of the rolls!

(This is the egg whites one)

6. Once they're all wrapped, sprinkle the parmesan and parsley on top and bake 11-12 mins.

7. Pull them out and enjoy!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mom's Green Beans

I love green beans of all shapes sizes and recipes!  My mom used to make the best green beans growing up with bacon!  I made it last night out of nostalgia and man did I enjoy them!  It's been years since I've had em!    Who doesn't love a little bacon?!

Mom's Green Beans

*Makes 3 Servings

1 Can French Style Green Beans
2 Slices of Bacon
Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder to taste

1. Fry the bacon til it's slightly crispy.  Remove from pan and cool.
2. Add green beans to the bacon grease in the pan.  Season and fry them for about 5-7 mins.
3. Chop up the bacon into small pieces.  Throw them back in right before you serve.
4. Eat healthy veggies slathered in bacon grease! :)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Rosemary Chicken and Roasted Potatoes

After craving red potatoes for a month I decided that I needed to break out the ol' Pyrex to make some roasted potatoes!  What better combo than with chicken?!?!  This is my version of a classic dish. :)

Rosemary Chicken and Roasted Potatoes

*Makes 3-4 Servings

2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (cut vertically to make 4 chicken fillets)
6-8 Small Red Potatoes (cut into 1 1/2" cubes)
1 Bell Pepper
1/2 Small Onion
1/4 C. Parmesan
3 Tbsp. Green Onions (chopped)
3-4 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 Tbsp. Parsley
1/4 tsp. Basil
1/2 Tbsp. Rosemary
1/2 tsp. Paprika
1/2 tsp. Pepper
3/4 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Garlic Powder

1. Cut up the potatoes and put in a large pot full of hot water.  Turn the burner on to high.  Take off the stove and drain as soon as the water starts to boil.  Put in a bowl to the side.
2. Set oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a 9X13 pan with non stick spray.  Sprinkle a little salt on the bottom.  Lay chicken side by side.
3. Add bell pepper and onion to the potatoes.  Add the oil and all the seasonings.  Mix well!
4. Spread the potatoes over top of the chicken.  Sprinkle the Parmesan and green onions on top.  Put in the oven for 35 mins.
5. Enjoy! :)

 Before and After :)