Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Blog Has Moved

All new posts are now located at . I apologize for any confusion, but hope you find the new blog easier to navigate!

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Chocolate Chips

I found this recipe on Kraft Foods a few years ago. It sounded interesting and like a good fall dessert. When I made it, I forgot to get all the stuff for the icing so I served it without the icing. Fantastic! Now that I've had it a BUNCH of times without the icing, I don't think I'd ever want it on there. When served as-is, it doubles as a delicious breakfast to have with your morning coffee. Perfect way to start the day.

I most recently made it as my birthday cake - it's that good. Give it a try, you'll love it too! This is my adapted version of it:

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Chocolate Chips


1 package spice cake mix (along with water, oil and eggs as it calls for)
1 3 ounce package cream cheese
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350.
Mix cake as directed on the package, only reducing water to 1/2 cup and increasing oil to 1/2 cup. Add the pumpkin, cream cheese and spices. Beat until well blended. Add enough chocolate chips to suit your tastes and stir in well. Don't beat because the chocolate chips will break up. Pour into a greased bundt pan and bake 40-45 minutes. Cool. (though I do like to cut off a slice while it's still warm!!)

The cake (missing a slice)

The missing slice!

The Verdict: Make it. Now.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Goat Cheese and Asparagus Omelet

Sunday morning is the only day of the week that our family can have breakfast together, since my husband works 6 days a week. We try to do something nice and then have a good, productive day. In order to truly have a productive day, you need food that will keep you going. So today, I bring you...

Goat Cheese and Asparagus Omelet

Ingredients (makes 2):

4 eggs
1/3 cup half and half
1 stalk green onions, chopped
desired seasonings - salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, Tony's, thyme
goat cheese, crumbled
leftover asparagus from dinner last night, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon butter


In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, green onions and desired seasonings. Heat 1/2tablespoon butter over medium heat in a smooth, nonstick skillet. When butter has melted, add 1/2 of the egg mixture, allowing it to cover the bottom of the skillet evenly. On one half of the eggs in the skillet, add asparagus, goat cheese crumbles and a few spoons of salsa. When eggs are barely runny, gently fold the empty side over the filled side to create the omelet. Allow to cook for another minute or two. Transfer to a plate. Repeat process for second omelet.

Goat Cheese and Asparagus Omelet with a side of bacon and extra salsa!

The Verdict: mmmm good morning! This omelet had such great flavors. The leftover asparagus had bacon and onion in it, so I added all of that to the omelet. The flavors merged beautifully. I will definitely be cooking this next time I have leftover asparagus!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Chicken Marsala

I've always seen recipes for Chicken Marsala but for whatever reason, I never felt compelled to try it. I came across a picture on someones blog that looked tasty and lo and behold, that's what it was. After looking at a few of the ba-zillion chicken Marsala recipes on the internet, I came up with this...

Chicken Marsala


1 pkg boneless skinless chicken breasts - approx. 3 chicken breasts
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon oregano
desired seasonings - I like salt, Tony's Creole seasoning, garlic powder and onion powder
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups Marsala wine
3 cups chicken stock
1 package whole fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
linguine, cooked


In a gallon size Ziploc bag, pound chicken breasts until thin, but not breaking. Season as desired. In a large bowl, mix flour, oregano and desired seasonings. Heat oil and butter over medium-high heat. Dredge chicken breasts in the flour and add to the oil mixture, cooking 3-4 minutes on each side. Transfer to an oven-safe dish and keep warm in the oven.

In the same pan that you fried the chicken breasts, add the wine to deglaze. Make sure to scrape all that golden goodness leftover into your wine! Add chicken stock, mushrooms and garlic, bring to a boil. Check for seasonings, adding desired seasonings (careful not to add too much salt!). Cook about 15-20 minutes, or until sauce has reduced by 1/2. Return chicken to the pan and cook an additional 10 minutes. Serve over linguine.

Chicken Marsala with Bacon & Caramelized Onion Asparagus

The Verdict: This was delicious!! I added the part about being careful adding salt because I messed that up. I tasted it and it was a bit bland, so I added salt. Then when it reduced, I guess all that flavor was bundled up because it was SALTY! I had to add a little sugar to make it not so bitter. It still turned out delicious though! I don't like eating whole chicken breasts so I left one whole for photo purposes, and cut the rest into small pieces before I added it back to the sauce. Definitely will be making this again!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Spicy Salsa

Now that we've got a larger kitchen, my parents decided to give me a canning set for my birthday. There are a couple of different things I plan on trying in the near future, but tonight's first canning experience was making and processing salsa. My husband helped me and it came out pretty good, if I do say so myself!

Christen & James' Spicy Salsa


4 very large tomatoes; boiled, peeled, cored and broken into small pieces.
1-2 TBSP olive oil
1/4 red onion, chopped fine
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped fine
1-2 TBSP chopped garlic
1-2 serrano peppers, seeded and chopped fine
sliced hot jalapenos from a jar, chopped fine
1/2 can tomato paste
1 TBSP garlic salt
a dash of cumin
other seasonings to taste: we used salt, pepper, hot sauce, garlic powder and onion powder.


In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped garlic, onion, bell pepper and serrano pepper. Saute' till tender. Add tomatoes and jalapeno peppers, stir well. Add seasonings to taste. Chill before serving. Makes 32 ounces of salsa.

Excellent recipe for canning (four 8-ounce jars).

Sorry for the crummy picture, I'll take one of the salsa in a bowl once we open a jar!

The Verdict: Well while we were tasting to get the seasonings right, it turned out fantastic! Of course we used every speck we made to go into the jars so until we open a jar, we won't be able to feast on it. I'll post more once we open a jar!

A Tasty Tease!

I'm posting this picture but not the recipe because frankly, I can't remember what all I did! I got on this egg roll making kick right around the same time we moved into the house and this egg roll was fan-freaking-tastic. But I kept forgetting to post it and now I don't remember exactly what all I did. Maybe next week I'll try again! Until then, enjoy looking!

Monday, August 10, 2009

40 Garlic Clove Chicken and Homemade Creamed Potatoes

I admit I frequently stalk other cooking blogs looking for inspiration and tasty recipes. Recently I've come across different versions of 40 Clove Garlic Chicken and have been intrigued. While trying to decide what to put in the crock pot today, I found one recipe for this that was a crock pot recipe. I got the basis for my recipe from Beantown Baker's Blog but made a few additions on my own. I served it with my mom's recipe for creamed potatoes.

Crockpot 40 Clove Garlic Chicken


3-4 lbs. mixed chicken pieces, bone in and skin on
1 TBSP olive oil
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp Tony Chachere's Spice N'Herbs Seasoning
1 bay leaf
1-2 tsp rosemary
3 heads fresh garlic, out of peels but left as whole cloves
1 onion, chopped
splash of white wine


Spray crock pot with cooking spray to prevent sticking and aid in easier cleanup. Cover bottom of pot with onions. In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients and mix well, being careful not to pull the skin from the chicken. Place on top of onions in the crock pot. Cook on HIGH setting 6 hours.

Penny's Homemade Creamed Potatoes


3/4 of a 5 lb. bag potatoes
1/2 cup warm (not scalded) milk
1 stick butter
salt and pepper, to taste


Wash potatoes well and peel. Chop into smaller pieces and boil until soft. Drain well and empty to a large bowl. Add stick of butter and using a hand mixer or stand mixer, mix well, slowly adding warmed milk until the consistancy you desire. Season with salt and pepper.

40 Clove Garlic Chicken with Creamed Potatoes

The Verdict: This is probably the juciest, most tender chicken I've ever had. It literally just falls off the bone when you try to get it out of the crock pot. The flavors are fantastic, it's not overwhelmingly garlic-y tasting like I feared it might be. The potatoes are the perfect complement, as the chicken makes it's own grease type gravy. I agreed with Beantown Baker that it was a little greasier than I'd like so next time I'd probably do some of the chicken without the skins. This was a definte make again recipe! And again, and again!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Pizza...It's What's For Breakfast!

I recently came across a recipe on a blog for breakfast pizza. I was like "Hmm, ok whatever." Until I saw one of the ingredients was goat cheese. Hello!! We are total goat cheese fanatics at my house! I called my husband and told him that I knew what we were having for our traditional Sunday morning breakfast! Thanks to the Beantown Baker for the recipe. I did make a few changes, though!

Breakfast Pizza


1 large Boboli pizza crust
1 onion, chopped in large chunks
sprinkle of thyme
1-2 tsp minced/chopped garlic
olive oil
salt, pepper and Italian Seasonings to taste
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped into small chunks
1 garlic and herb goat cheese
bacon, crumbled
parmesan cheese
3 eggs


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Saute' onion and garlic in olive oil until soft and barely turning golden. Season to taste with salt and thyme. Remove completely from pan and set aside. Fry 4-5 strips bacon until crispy enough to crumble. Set aside.

Place pizza crust on a pan and sprinkle lightly with olive oil. Rub gently over the crust to spread evenly. Sprinkle on parmesan cheese over the whole crust and follow with some goat cheese and half the tomatoes. Spread the bacon crumbles evenly, then the other half of the tomatoes. Add more goat cheese, just however much you want (I like a lot!). Sprinkle a litte more parmesan over everything, then season with salt. Make three small "holes" in the toppings to place your eggs, but don't put them yet.

Bake the pizza 5 minutes, then remove and crack your eggs and place into the holes. The whites may run but the yolks should stay put. Sprinkle the eggs with a little more salt and pepper and lightly dust the whole pizza with Italian Seasonings. Bake 10 more minutes. Remove from oven (eggs will still be jiggly) and make a foil tent to place over the pizza. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, or to the firmness you desire for the eggs. Cut and eat!

Breakfast Pizza

The Verdict: OMG. This is so delicious, I'm ready to pop as I type this! The flavors were just fantastic. The original recipe calls for using smaller pizza crusts, which were not available at my grocery store. I added in the onions because I LOVE onions! Also, it originally called for fresh parsley but the selection at my grocery store wasn't very appealing. I will definitely be making this again SOON! I think it'd be great as a "breakfast supper" as well!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Peanut Butter and Banana Stuffed French Toast

As avid fans of the Food Network, my husband and I have really been enjoying the new show "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" from the Food Network Stars. Recently there was an episode about breakfast foods and the one that Bobby Flay talked about just made my stomach growl. I had to try it.

Peanut Butter and Banana Stuffed French Toast


6 slices day-old white or wheat bread
1 to 2 ripe bananas
8 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
4 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon dark rum
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash salt
Butter or oil, for frying
Powdered sugar, for topping
Maple Syrup, for topping


Lay out the pieces of bread and spread out the peanut butter on each slice. Top every other piece of bread with slices of banana. Combine to make the sandwiches.

In a shallow medium sized bowl, gently whip, by hand, the eggs, cream, vanilla, rum, cinnamon and salt.

Heat skillet to medium heat, around 350 to375 degrees F, or until butter melts and begins to sizzle. Dip 1 sandwich at a time into rum batter and place into skillet. Cook until golden brown (about 3 to 4 minutes before turning) on each side. Remove from skillet and cut in 1/2 diagonally. Top with powdered sugar, butter and maple syrup.

Peanut Butter and Banana Stuffed French Toast

The Verdict: Well it was good, but it was really rich. I think I added too much peanut butter. I will use less next time. I also forgot the nutmeg the original recipe calls for, so I'd use their recipe instead of my recipe! Definitely will play with this one and perfect it sometime!

Fried Fish Soft Tacos

Sorry I've been MIA for a while, we've been moving and haven't really been cooking lately! My kitchen is getting back to normal so I thought I'd post a few things we've done lately.

I've been hearing about fish tacos everywhere lately. So just to kick it up a notch, we did fried fish tacos and used the soft shells. It's fun to have a little break from the norm every once in a while.

Fried Fish Soft Tacos

6-8 tilapia fillets, cut in half
oil for frying
Flour batter of your choice, we like Zatarain's Fish Fry with lemon added
Desired seasonings for fish, we like mustard, Tony's Creole Seasoning, lemon pepper, garlic powder and onion powder
tartar sauce - see recipe below
desired toppings, we used diced tomato, cheese, and avocado slices
soft taco shells/small burrito shells

Coat fish fillets in mustard, then sprinkle seasonings over and mix well. Toss in flour batter and fry in hot oil till golden brown and crispy.

Serve on warmed tortillas with desired toppings.

Connie's Tartar Sauce

1 cup mayo
1/4 cup sour cream
2 TBSP dill relish
2 TBSP onion, finely chopped
2 TBSP olives, finely chopped (I used green olives with the pimento removed - 12 equals 2 TBSP)
2 TBSP green onions, finely chopped
1 tsp lemon juice
dash pepper

Mix well in bowl and chill before serving.

Fried Fish Soft Tacos

Verdict: Fan-freaking-tabulous!! This will definitely join in the dinner rotation! It was so easy and fun!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Red, White & Bleu

My husband and I normally enjoy doing something festive for the 4th of July, and it usually involves an outdoor grill. I don't know if it's just me, but this summer seems like it's a LOT hotter than normal! That said, the last thing we wanted to be doing was standing outside in 100 degree heat, over flames! No thanks! We thought of what some other favorite "American" meals were and decided to try making buffalo wings at home. We're both HUGE buffalo wing fans, but never made them at home. After checking out a bunch of different recipes, this is what we came up with:

Christen's Spicy Buffalo Wings


1 package raw chicken wings and drummettes
vegetable oil for frying
Seasonings to taste (I used Tony's Creole Seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder and salt)
1 bottle Emeril's Wing Sauce
Bleu Cheese (we used Marzetti Ultimate Bleu Cheese)
celery sticks, if desired


A few hours in advance, dump all raw chicken into a gallon sized ziploc bag, add desired seasonings, close (with some air in the bag) and shake it up! When it seems like all of the chicken is evenly coated, place in refrigerator.

When ready to fry, heat oil in a deep fryer to 350 degrees. Place chicken in (we were only able to get about 6 pieces at a time in our Cuisinart Mini-Fryer) the fryer and cook 11-12 minutes, or until a deep golden. Drain on a wire rack placed over paper towels. If you're only able to fry a little at a time like us, place some aluminum foil over the chicken to keep warm on the wire rack.

Pour bottle of wing sauce into a microwave safe bowl and when all of the chicken is almost fried, heat the sauce in the microwave until hot.

Put all the chicken in a large bowl and toss with the warmed wing sauce. Serve immediately with bleu cheese and celery sticks.

Delicious, crispy buffalo wings!

The Verdict: mmmmmmmmm. That's the sound you make when you take a bite. This was fantastic! I've actually never fried chicken on the bone before because I'm always scared it won't be cooked through. This was cooked to perfection, the perfect amount of crisp and the Emeril's Wing Sauce delivered the exact amount of heat needed. A few of the recipes I looked at called for the wings being breaded first. I'm really glad I did it the traditional way, it was delicious! With today's economy this was an inexpensive way to enjoy a restaurant favorite at home! Two very enthusiastic thumbs up!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Christen's Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Yesterday I went to lunch with a good girl friend to a place that specializes in soups and sandwiches, a "ladies lunch" type of place. I ordered the roasted red pepper soup (never had it before!) and a BLT with avocado sandwich. I'd had the sandwich before and how can you fail with that? You can't! But this soup. One word. Heaven. I decided to look up some recipes, see what the basics of this soup are. So many different recipes had so many different versions, so I made my own and I hope you enjoy it! It makes four generous servings.

Christen's Roasted Red Pepper Soup


3 red bell peppers
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
4-5 baby carrots, chopped into small pieces
1 tomato, peeled and quartered
4 cups chicken broth
appx. 4 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon evaporated milk
seasonings to taste (salt, pepper, etc)
extra-virgin olive oil


Cut the bell peppers in half, removing the seeds and stems. Place on a baking sheet skin side up, brush lightly with olive oil and broil until browned and blistered on top (when they're done, remove from oven and set aside to cool). While the bell peppers are cooking, saute' onions, garlic and carrots in a small amount of olive oil until tender. You may add a splash of chicken broth if it's starting to stick. When almost tender, add the tomato and basil. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, then add the rest of the chicken broth. Your bell peppers should be cool enough to handle now, so very gently remove the skins, then roughly chop the flesh and add to the pot. Discard the skins. Let simmer about 5-10 minutes, then puree to a fairly smooth texture using an immersion blender (you may want to empty to a big bowl if you are using a nonstick pot as I was). Once smooth, return it to a slow simmer and add the cream and seasonings. Let simmer a few more minutes and taste test.

Serve with optional green onions and cheese. Would be great accompanied with a grilled cheese sandwich!

Christen's Roasted Red Pepper Soup

The Verdict: I think this picture speaks for itself...

We had no leftovers AT ALL!

This recipe would be very easily doubled for a small dinner party, and could also be served in smaller portions (this was a main part of our dinner so we ate it all!).

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Grilled Salmon, Fried Avocado Slices with Spicy Lime Crema

As you can probably tell, I'm a big fan of the Food Network. The other day I was watching Emeril and he fried avocado slices. Hello! This sounded like my idea of heaven. My husband and I are self-titled Avocado Lovers like you wouldn't believe. I tucked that nugget of deliciousness in the back of my mind. Then while at the supermarket the other day, they had salmon on sale for crazy cheap. We bought some and were trying to decide what to serve with it. Remembered on...

Christen's Grilled Salmon


1 large piece of salmon, cut into serving pieces, skin on (sorry I didn't notice the weight!)
olive oil
fresh dill
lemon pepper seasoning

Heat a stove-top grill over medium heat (this will require you to turn on both front and rear burner). Lightly brush the skin sides of the salmon with the olive oil and place the salmon on the grill. Be careful to try to avoid having to place a piece over the area not over a burner. Grill 5-6 minutes, or until it doesn't stick. If it's sticking, it's not ready. In the meantime, lightly brush olive oil on the flesh sides of the salmon. Then lightly sprinkle salt and lemon pepper over each piece. Finish with sprigs of fresh dill. When ready, gently flip over and grill for an additional 4 minutes, or until it doesn't stick. Remove to a serving platter.

We served it with...

Fried Avocado Slices with Spicy Lime Crema


1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons hot sauce
4 firm-ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, and each sliced into 8 even pieces
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 cup diced red onion
1 Serrano pepper, seeded and minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 1/2 cups flour, seasoned with your favorite seasonings, such as Essence
3/4 teaspoon baking powder


In a medium bowl, combine buttermilk, hot sauce and avocado slices. Soak for 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, lime juice, cilantro, red onion, Serrano pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir to combine. Chill until ready to use.

In a medium cast iron skillet, fill oil to a depth of a couple of inches (no more than halfway up the sides of the pan.) Heat oil to 375 degrees F over medium-high heat.

Combine flour, seasoning and baking powder. Dredge soaked avocado slices in the cornmeal mixture, shaking to remove excess cornmeal.

Place avocado slices in the hot oil and fry until golden, about 1 to 2 minutes each side. Using a slotted spoon, remove slices and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Serve immediately with spicy lime crema.

Grilled salmon, fried avocado slices with spicy lime crema and scalloped potatoes

Fried avocado slices with spicy lime crema, served on a bed of Southwestern-Style corn

The verdict: This was delicious! The salmon was cooked perfectly, not overseasoned. Just fresh tasting. The avocados were fantastic, but what really made the dish was the spicy lime crema! Fan-freaking-tastic! Also, Emeril's recipe uses a cornmeal and flour mixture, but I really do NOT like cornmeal so I used flour only. You may like to try the other way, to each his/her own! But do try it :)

Potato "Stuff"

One of my favorite things to order when going out to eat is twiced baked potatoes, also known as stuffed potatoes. Have you ever made them? It's not so easy! I can never get the potatoes out of the skin without breaking it into a billion pieces. So my stuffed potatoes are always a casserole known as "potato stuff." Might not look so pretty but mmmm, tastes good!

Christen's Potato Stuff


4 baking potatoes
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 small jar cheese whiz
1/4 cup milk
4 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
4-6 green onions, chopped
shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Bake potatoes until tender, remove from skins. In a large bowl, mash up. It may be lumpy, you're not making creamed potatoes so it doesn't matter. Mix in the can cream of mushroom soup, cheese whiz, milk, bacon and green onions. Stir till well mixed (this may require some muscle!). Top with shredded cheese and additional green onion bits. Pour into a large greased casserole. Bake uncovered until hot and bubbly.

Variation: fried crawfish tails can top this for a delightful "main dish".

The verdict: Delicious! In this particular instance, I didn't have cheese whiz on hand so I used a small block of velveeta. I put half the cheese in the potato mixture and sliced the rest of the block and added to the top.

French Toast, Bacon and Hash Browns

With this year being James' first Father's Day, I wanted to make him a special breakfast. Normally he makes breakfast every Sunday morning, but I got up extra early and made a big pitcher of orange juice, French toast, fried some bacon and a skillet of hash browns. It's a meal that warms your tummy as well as your heart. It's also great on a cold night for dinner (not the case here, in Louisiana!).

French Toast


2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
a few shakes of nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sugar
a dash of salt
6 slices Texas Toast


In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the two eggs. Add in vanilla, milk and seasonings. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat, spray with additional cooking spray (I know some say not to do this, but it works for me!). When heated, dip slices of toast in the liquid, then place on the skillet. Let cook until brown and then flip. Repeat with remaining slices of toast.

Top with butter, syrup or powdered sugar.

I serve this with fried bacon slices and hash browns. I reserve 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the bacon drippings and 2-3 strips of bacon, crumbled for the hash browns.

Christen's Hash Browns


1/2 bag Ore Ida Southern Style Hash Browns, defrosted
crumbled bacon
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 tsp garlic, minced
Seasonings to taste, I like Tony's seasoning, salt, garlic and onion powders.
Reserved bacon drippings.


Heat bacon drippings over medium heat. When warmed, add the onions and garlic and saute till tender. Add the potatoes and bacon. Cook, stirring often, until potatoes are crisping. Serve warm.

The verdict: This is awesome! My husband doesn't really care for sweet stuff for breakfast, but even he loves the French Toast. The potatoes are fantastic, what makes it even better if if you have some leftover from a crawfish or crab boil. But the Ore Ida do in a pinch ;)