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 ;)

Spaghetti With Meat Sauce and Italian Sausage

This recipe is basically the same exact thing as the regular spaghetti with meat sauce recipe but it's got a small change that really gives it a little extra oomph! It's delicious and definitely should be put on your weekly menu sometime. I'm going to copy the original recipe and make some changes. It's a nice change from "the ordinary"

Spaghetti With Meat Sauce and Italian Sausage

1 pkg. Italian sausage links
1 lb. ground beef
4 small cans Hunts tomato sauce (2 Roasted Garlic, 2 Basil & Oregano)
2 small cans tomato paste
1 pkg. frozen Seasoning Blend (onions, peppers, celery)
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 small cans mushroom pieces and stems
1 small jar whole button mushrooms
1 can Rotel original
Seasonings to taste (Salt, Pepper, Tony Chachere’s, garlic powder, onion powder)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 can/bottle of beer (any kind will do)
1 tbsp McCormick’s Italian Seasonings
1 tsp sugar
1-2 Bay leaves –optional


Bring a large pot coated with cooking spray to medium heat. Coat bottom with olive oil and allow to heat. Add 1/2 pkg. sausage and put the rest in a freezer friendly ziploc bag for next time. Brown the sausage on all sides, then add 1/4 can of beer. Cover and allow to simmer until the sausage is cooked through. You may need to add another 1/4 can of beer if it begins to stick. When it's done, remove to a cutting board and cut into bite sized pieces.

Brown ground beef, seasoning while browning with salt, pepper, Tony’s, etc.). When browned, add sausage pieces, minced garlic and frozen seasoning blend. Cook down until veggies are soft. Add can(s) of mushrooms, including liquid, stir well. Add Rotel and stir well. Add cans of tomato paste and mix evenly. Add the rest of the ingredients (tomato sauce, Worcestershire, beer, Italian seasoning, sugar, and bay leaves) and let cook on medium-low heat 20 minutes. Taste seasonings and adjust as needed. Let simmer about 30 more minutes, though the longer it cooks the better it will be! Stir often to keep from sticking to bottom of pot.

Serve over your favorite kind of pasta (I like linguine).

The Verdict: This is great and very husband-friendly. The addition of the extra meat makes it more "manly" and the pork gives it a great flavor.

"Baked Potato Dip"

I got this recipe from one of my mom's friends. It's a lot like Apache Bread, but I don't put it in a bread bowl usually. It's also like crack, you can't get enough of this stuff! It's an often-requested dip when I'm going to or having a party! It's very easy to make and sure to become a go-to dip for you! We call it "baked potato dip" because it tastes just like a loaded baked potato, though there is no potato in it!

Baked Potato Dip


1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
1 (3-ounce) jar Hormel Bacon Bits
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup chopped green onions


Heat oven to 400*F. In bowl, combine all ingredients. Place in 1-quart baking dish. Cover. Heat 25 to 30 minutes or until hot. Serve with assorted fresh vegetables, crackers and/or chips. Makes 3 cups.

Serving Option: Dip may also be placed in hollowed round sourdough loaf, wrapped in foil, and heated in 400*F oven for 30 minutes.

The Verdict: As I said, it's a dip that is requested often, and for good reason. It's delicious. You could easily see oneself hiding out in the closet and devouring it by yourself!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts

While flipping through the channels the other day, I noticed that the Barefoot Contessa was making tomato and goat cheese tarts on the Food Network. Intriguing. I set my DVR to record it and see how involved it was. Keep in mind, I have a 10 month old. Didn't look very involved at all, I I kept eyeing the tomatoes my dad grew that were sitting on my counter. Fresh tomatoes, goat can you go wrong?

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts


1 package puff pastry, defrosted
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
3 large garlic cloves, I used the chopped variety
salt and black pepper
3 tablespoons white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
ground thyme, to taste
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus 2 ounces shaved with a vegetable peeler
4 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese
1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves

Method (I'll just copy and paste from The Food Network's Recipe):

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Unfold a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it lightly to an 11 by 11-inch square. Using a 6-inch wide saucer or other round object as a guide, cut 2 circles from the sheet of puff pastry, discarding the scraps. Repeat with the second pastry sheet to make 4 circles in all. Place the pastry circles on 2 sheet pans lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.

Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry circle. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork and sprinkle a tablespoon of grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border.

Place 1/4 of the onion mixture on each circle, again staying within the scored edge. Crumble 1 ounce of goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. The bottom sheet pan may need an extra few minutes in the oven. Serve hot or warm.

Tarts are assembled and ready to be baked!

Now baked to a gorgeous golden brown.

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart

The Verdict: Holy mother!! I'm going to say something in all seriousness now....this is honestly one of the most delicious things I have ever had the pleasure of eating. Not many things deserve that honored ranking but this is definitely one of them. It's fabulous and so easy to make!! I would make sure to always use fresh, homegrown tomatoes because they just always taste better than the store-bought junk and when you're buying things like goat cheese and wedges of parmesan, you want it to turn out great. You've got to try this...and you might want to keep a knife handy to stab anyone who tries to steal your tart because it's THAT GOOD!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Chilled Avocado Soup

Sometimes the summer heat calls for a cool, tasty treat. This chilled avocado soup (recipe from The Joy of Cooking) could be the star of your next dinner party.

Chilled Avocado Soup


2 large Hass Avocados (the ones with the dark bumpy skin)
2.5 cups buttermilk
5 tsp. fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp. salt (or more if needed)
pinch of ground red pepper
1 small clove garlic, chopped


Puree' the avocados and the garlic. Stir in the buttermilk, lime juice, salt and red pepper. Remove to a bowl and refrigerate until cold. If necessary, you can thin it further with buttermilk or water. Once chilled, taste and adjust seasonings if necessary and ladle the soup into chilled bowls. Garnish with fresh pico de gallo.

The Ingredients (only the roma tomato was used, the rest just happened to be on the counter!)

Chilled Avocado Soup

The Verdict: This soup is very rich and should be served in small portions. Adding more pico de gallo also breaks up the thickness of the soup. This was delicious!

Woohoo for awards!

What sweetness. Fellow blogger Debra left a comment saying that she gave me an award for my cooking blog! I really enjoy keeping up my blogs, and in fact have some more recipes to put up, just have to find the time to do it! But every award is not without its' rules.

These are the rules:
1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link.
2. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
3. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

I'm not a random blog looker, I always look at the same ones over and over. So my picks for awards are the blogs I regularly look at!

1. Mr. Lesley Cooks
2. Scrumptiously Sassy
3. Sweet Tea and The Red Sox
4. Flatwoods Folk Art
5. The Tubre Quads
6. Life of Lacie
7. There's A Bear In Your Kitchen!
8. The Meyers, Plus TWO!
9. Rules of Engagement
10. The Wilsons
11. Pink Tales
12. Jelly Bean's Blog
13. The Hurricane Hannah Chronicles
14. Elizabeth's Edible Experience
15. Skinny Food By Amy

Hope everyone has a little spot of sunshine in their day!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Maw Maw Doris' Meatballs and Rice and Gravy

Growing up, my grandma always cooked a big lunch every day. At least once a week, it was "meat and rice and gravy." The meat would come in various forms, usually a roast or meatballs. The gravy would consist of basically the meaty grease leftover from cooking. But it was oh so good! Luckily this is one of the few recipes that was written down before her stroke so we can still make it and think of her. I like to serve it with green beans.

Maw Maw Doris' Meatballs and Rice and Gravy

1 pound of ground chuck
Salt and red and black peppers to taste
1 chopped onion
1 chopped bell pepper (green)
2 stalks celery (chopped)
1 teaspoon garlic (minced)
2 eggs
A little Pet milk
A little tap water
Kitchen Bouquet


1. Mix ingredients together (don’t over mix!)
2. Roll meatballs (don’t over-roll!)
3. Fry in a little oil until brown on both sides.
4. Take out of skillet.
5. Add about 2 cups hot water to pot.
6. Put meatballs back in.
7. Cover and when it turns back to grease, add more hot water.
8. Repeat step 7.
9. Add 1 capful Kitchen Bouquet.
10. Serve with cooked rice.

The Verdict: This is comfort food at it's best. I realize it doesn't look like much in the picture, but your taste buds will be so happy, I promise you!! When cooking, the meat will be very loose, since no bread crumbs are involved. Be patient and careful with it. Don't turn in the pan until you can feel that they're browned a little, or they WILL fall apart!

Christen's Green Beans

In case you're wondering about the green beans I often serve as a side dish, this is how I make them!

Christen's Green Beans


1 large can (or two regular cans) of Del-Monte Fresh Cut Green Beans, with liquid
1 small onion, chopped
1 TBSP minced garlic
olive oil
2 slices bacon
2-3 shakes Worcestershire Sauce
Seasonings to taste (I use Tony's, salt, garlic powder and onion powder)


Brown bacon in a small pot, remove from grease. Add a small amount of olive oil and the onions and garlic. Saute'. When onions are almost soft, chop the bacon into small pieces and add back into pot and let cook for a couple of minutes more. Add green beans, Worcestershire sauce and seasonings. Cover and simmer for a couple of hours, or until the liquid is almost all gone. Taste for seasonings.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Maw Maw Doris' Famous Banana Pudding

Probably don't need to even write a verdict with a title like that, do I?? Well I decided that the perfect dessert to follow the wonderful Spicy Chicken Wraps would be a cold, sweet banana pudding. I originally planned to follow the recipe from friend Scrumptiously Sassy but then remembered that I have my grandma's recipe for her banana pudding. My grandma passed away on Thanksgiving Day of 2008 after a long battle with alzheimer's and I miss her so much. She was the most amazing cook and I would have loved to be able to have her taste some things I cook! Unfortunately I didn't have all the ingredients, but I'll give her recipe anyway because it's awesome!

Maw Maw Doris' Banana Pudding


1 French Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix
1 Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix
1 Banana Instant Pudding Mix
1 tub whipped topping
4 oz. sour cream
nilla wafer cookies
8 bananas
5 cups milk


In a large bowl, mix the 3 pudding mixes, milk, sour cream, and half of whipped topping. Stir until well mixed.

In another large bowl, layer pudding, then sliced bananas and cookies. Continue until you get towards the top of the bowl. Top with remaining half of whipped topping.

Keep refrigerated.

The Verdict: One bite took me back to my childhood and brought tears to my eyes. This sweet treat is one that I will forever associate with my grandma. Unfortunately I didn't have all of the ingredients on hand, I had to make do with two regular vanilla puddings, no sour cream and only 3 bananas. I sliced them very thin so I think it was just as good. I also shared a bowl with my 10 month old daughter who loved it! It means so much to me to be able to share these special things with my baby girl. Try this recipe, you'll love it I promise!

Spicy BBQ Chicken Wraps

Nothing says summer like throwing something on the grill! One of my favorite things to grill are Spicy BBQ Chicken Wraps, a recipe given to me by my friend Kenleigh. You can do any variation of this, including using chicken breasts or chicken tenders. I prefer tenders, just because they're not as huge. You can also use spicy jalapenos or find a brand that's not as spicy. Anything is wonderful when it's wrapped in bacon, so the sky is the limit with this recipe! We like to serve with green beans and potatoes. As a pre-dinner drink, we also made Scrumptiously Sassy's Gin & Lemondade. It's the perfect cold refreshing drink on a hot day!

Spicy BBQ Chicken Wraps


Chicken Breasts or Tenders (I used 13 tenders)
1 pound bacon, uncooked
1 package of cream cheese, softened
chopped jalapenos
Seasonings of your choice
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 stick butter
3 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
a few shakes of your favorite hot sauce


Place a few tenders at a time into a ziploc bag and flatten with a tenderizer. Repeat this until all meat is fairly thin, but not torn apart. In a bowl, mix together minced garlic, cream cheese and however much of the chopped jalapeno you prefer. I like to add a little Tony's creole seasoning at this step.

Season all the chicken tenders with seasonings of your choice. Spread a thin layer of cream cheese mixture down the center of each tender, then roll. Wrap each roll with one slice of bacon, making sure the bacon covers the end so the cheesy goodness doesn't leak out! Secure with a toothpick. At this point, you can set these in the refrigerator if you plan on cooking later. If cooking immediately, continue on!

Melt the stick of butter in a small pot. Once melted, add Worcestershire sauce and a few shakes of the hot sauce, stir well. When your coals have turned white, place the chicken wraps on the grill. Baste with the butter mixture frequently. Cook until chicken is cooked through. Make sure to tell your guests to be cautious of the toothpicks when eating!

The Verdict: We've been cooking this for years and I think it gets better each time! This is a fantastic dish to fix when you're having a few friends over for a fun summer BBQ. If you use chicken breasts, you may require more than one piece of bacon to wrap around it! We had a couple of pieces left over, and I'm going to hide them from my husband so I can have them for lunch tomorrow! Two very enthusiastic thumbs up!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Chicken Piccata Pasta Toss & Tomato, Avocado & Onion Salad

Today's recipe is mixing a little tried and true with a little new to you! I discovered Rachel Ray's Chicken Piccata Pasta Toss recipe in one of her cookbooks a few years ago, and with my own variations of it, have been cooking it ever since! I also came upon a recipe on a friend, Josh's blog the other day that literally made my mouth water, for a fresh tomato, avocado and red onion salad. I knew I had to try it, soon!

Chicken Piccata Pasta Toss


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/3 pounds chicken breast tenders, cut into 1-inch
Seasonings to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white wine
1 lemon, juiced
1 cup chicken broth or stock
3 tablespoons capers, drained
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 pound penne rigate pasta, cooked


Heat a deep nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil and the chicken to the pan. Season chicken as desired. Brown chicken until lightly golden all over, about 5 to 6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add another tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter, the garlic and green onions to the skillet. Saute garlic and green onions 3 minutes. Add flour and cook 2 minutes. Whisk in wine, lemon juice and broth into sauce. Stir in capers and parsley. When the liquid comes to a bubble, add remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter to the sauce to give it a little shine. Toss hot pasta with chicken and sauce and serve. Adjust seasonings to your taste.

Fresh Tomato, Avocado & Onion Salad


2 avocados, sliced into chunky strips
3 Roma tomatoes, sliced into chunky strips
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice


Combine in a bowl, folding gently to avoid breaking up the avocado. Let stand for 5-10 minutes and serve.

The Verdict: Well as I said, the recipe for the pasta is one I've been cooking and enjoying for years. It's delicious. The recipe I wrote is an altered version from the one from Rachel Ray, just as a FYI. And the tomato salad was fantastic! It was so light and fresh and even better leftover once the flavors really got to mingle! I think I'll try cilantro in it next time, for a little more of a kick, but that's just because DH has this strange obsession with cilantro! It's delicious as is!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Honey-Pecan Chicken

This recipe is another that is not new to us. I am a cookbook fanatic (I'll have to take a picture of my overflowing cookbook shelf sometime!) and a couple of years ago bought The New Holly Clegg Trim & Terrific Cookbook. This was the first thing I tried out of it and it was fantastic! The recipe I'm going to write up has a few differences, in some tweakings I've done over the years. I also even emailed Holly herself to see if she had thoughts on how to make a glaze to drizzle over it. She's a super nice person! I hope you enjoy it as much as we have!

Honey-Pecan Chicken


1 cup Wheat Chex Cereal
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
4 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 pkg. boneless, skinless chicken tenders
Seasonings to taste


Preheat oven to 425 F.

Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with Pam. On a plate, mix the cereal crumbs and the pecan crumbs well. In a bowl, mix the soy sauce and honey until well combined. Reserve half of this mixture in another bowl, or a small pot if you don't want to dirty an extra bowl! Season the chicken to taste, then dip completely into the honey-soy mixture. Dredge in the pecan-cereal mixture and place on the baking sheet. Repeat until all the chicken has been coated. Bake 10-15 minutes on each side, until chicken is cooked through (be careful not to overcook it as it will be dry).

In a small pot, heat the reserved honey and soy sauce mixture until it forms a slight syrup. Be careful not to burn it, but don't turn the heat off or it will turn to glue! Lightly drizzle over the chicken.

Serve with your favorite sides (we had mac and cheese and creamed corn).

The Ingredients

Ready to bake!

The honey-soy sauce mixture that will be drizzled over the chicken!

Honey-Pecan Chicken

Verdict: Well as I already said, we have had this before numerous times and loved it! The first couple of times I made it, it turned out kind of dry but careful baking without overcooking has corrected that problem. Also, the sauce drizzled on gives it a little something extra! The original recipe does not call for the sauce to be added as a drizzle, and it also calls for chicken breasts. I prefer tenders, they're easier to eat! Definitely try this recipe soon!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Chicken Noodle Soup

Let's face it, the economy sucks and we're all trying to find ways to pinch those pennies and make things stretch as much as possible. Yesterday's meal not only dirtied practically every dish I own, it also called for three quarts of chicken stock or broth, which would have been wasted as it was only used for boiling the spaetzle. Rather than let it go to waste, I made it into another recipe.

Chicken Noodle Soup


3 quarts chicken stock
2 chicken breasts, diced
1 can sliced carrots
2.5 cups egg noodles, raw
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 bay leaves
2 TBSP fresh parsley, chopped
3 cups water
1 TBSP heavy whipping cream
desired seasonings


In a large pot, bring chicken stock and water to a boil and add the bay leaves. Season chicken with desired seasonings and add to the pot, cook till done. Add carrots and celery, allow to slowly boil for another 5 minutes. Add noodles, cook covered until they are tender. Add whipping cream. Serve hot.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Verdict: I have never made chicken noodle soup before that was not condensed! This was very easy to make and was delicious! If you don't have leftover stock on hand, you can buy it already made, or buy broth and season it up! Two thumbs up!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Jagerschnitzel with Bacon-Mushroom gravy and homemade Spaetzle

Do you ever get into a food "rut" and end up cooking the same things over and over? That's why you haven't seen any new posts here in a week or so, we haven't made anything new. So the other day I watched The Food Network to get some inspiration. Guy Fieri made a German meal on his show Guy's Big Bite that had my mouth watering! Normally when I think German food, I think sausage and beer! I am not a fan of sausage, but what he made was Jagerschnitzel with a bacon-mushroom gravy and homemade spaetzle, which is a pasta. I was concerned when I saw "Jagerschnitzel" because my mind immediately went to Jagermeister. The alcohol. Which tastes like cough syrup. NO thanks! I looked up the recipe and found that was not in the ingredients so I decided to give this a try, but tweaked it to fit what I had on hand and my own tastes (I'm a southern girl, I like seasoning!! And paprika is NOT what Southerners consider seasoning!!).

Jagerschnitzel with Bacon-Mushroom gravy


Pork chops, flattened/tenderized with the fat cut off
Seasonings to taste: I used Tony's, salt, garlic powder, onion powder and smoked paprika)
1 cup crackers, crumbled into fine crumbs
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp. mustard
1 cup flour
1/2 lb. bacon
2 small cans mushroom pieces and stems, drained
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 cups beef stock
1/4 cup red wine
2 TBSP butter
Olive Oil for frying


In a shallow medium bowl, mix together 3/4 cup flour with preferred seasonings. In another shallow medium bowl, combine egg, milk and mustard. In another medium shallow bowl, combine cracker and panko crumbs. Dredge pork slices first in flour, then in egg wash, and finally in crumbs. Let set on a baking sheet fitted with a cooling rack for 5 minutes.

In a medium saute pan over medium heat cook the bacon until crispy. Remove from pan to drain on paper towels. In same pan with bacon fat, add onions and saute for 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and continue sauteing for 2 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup flour. Cook flour to make roux until light brown, about 2 minutes. Add wine and cook for 3 minutes, reducing by 1/3, then add stock. Continue cooking to reduce by 1/3 again. Add crumbled bacon. Season with desired seasonings. Keep warm.

Heat 1/4-inch oil in thick saute pan or cast iron skillet. Cook pork evenly on both sides, about 5 minutes for the first side, 3 to 4 minutes for the second. Remove to platter when done. Add butter to sauce, stirring until it has melted. To serve, cover pork with sauce.



1/2 cup cold water
1 3/4 cups flour, plus extra for kneading
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
3 quarts chicken broth
3 tablespoons butter
3 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Special equipment: pizza wheel


In a medium sized bowl, combine flour, water, eggs and salt with a wooden spoon. Place dough mixture on a clean cutting board dusted with flour. Flour both sides of the dough and roll into a long rectangle, approximately 12 by 2-inches and 1/8-inch thick. With pizza cutter, cut into strips, 2-inches in length and 1/4-inch wide.

Bring chicken broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Drop spaetzle in batches into boiling stock and cook until pasta floats to the surface. Remove pasta to the ice bath. Drain spaetzle and hold on sheet pan. Continue with the other batches.

In a medium saute pan, add butter, and melt over medium heat until butter turns a light brown. Add garlic and cook until it becomes lightly colored. Add spaetzle to the pan to heat through. Add parsley, cheese, salt and pepper, to taste.

My spaetzle dough, ready to be rolled out with my great great aunts rolling pin!

Dough rolled out and cut

My meal, ready to eat!

The Verdict: I actually have mixed feelings on this review. The food was absolutely delicious, though I'm really not a fan of al-dente pasta. I like soft fluffy pasta that's fully cooked. It was all great, my husband said it was the best pork chop he had ever had. And the spaetzle had a GREAT flavor, just like I said I'm not a big al-dente' fan. Next time I'd probably just cook the pasta fully. Definitely a keeper though!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Asparagus and Tomato Tart

As previously stated, asparagus is the most-loved veggie in our home. We love our normal way of cooking it, but sometimes you get tired of having stuff the same all the time. The other day I saw an episode of Sandra Lee's Money Saving Meals on the Food Network, and one of the dishes she cooked was Asparagus and Tomato Tart. She used some of the asparagus for the tart, then the rest in a soup for another meal. Economical! We're going to try that, so tonight I made the tart and another pot of that delicious slow cooker French Onion Soup to go along with it.

Asparagus and Tomato Tart


1 (9-inch) frozen pie crust
3 slices bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bunch fresh asparagus tips, reserve stems for Round 2 Recipe
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained well, divided
Seasoning to taste (salt, pepper, etc)
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place the frozen pie crust onto a baking sheet. Poke the bottom of the crust a few times with a fork and bake for 10 minutes.

Saute the bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and drain on a paper towel. Add onion and asparagus tips to the skillet with the bacon fat and saute until tender.

In a large bowl whisk together ricotta, milk and eggs. Add parsley, bacon, half the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Make sure after the tomatoes are added to use a spoon to stir, not the whisk! Add asparagus and onion mixture and stir well. Pour egg mixture into the crust.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the tart is lightly browned on top. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, toss the remaining tomatoes with the basil, balsamic vinegar and season with a pinch of salt and pepper and garlic powder. Serve as garnish for tart.

The Ingredients (minus the pie crust!)

It's baked!

And ready to eat!

Verdict: This was freaking delicious! I made sure to read the comments on the recipe before trying, so I kicked the seasoning up a bit by using some Tony's Creole seasoning, Salt, Garlic Powder and Onion Powder. Make sure to do that and you will have an awesome meal! I think this would be great as a brunch also.

Chicken Stew

My husband loves good home-style cooking. I call it food people on farms eat. Things like chicken stew just seem like something hearty and homey that a farmer would come in and eat after a long day on the tractor or something! I'm silly, I know. Anyway, I've been making this recipe that I created for a few years now and I think it's pretty tasty. I served it with the Bacon-Carmelized Onion Asparagus and there were almost no leftovers!

Chicken Stew


2 chicken breasts, cut into small pieces and seasoned to taste
1 stick butter
1/2 cup flour
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
Seasonings to taste (I used Tony's, Salt, Garlic Powder and Onion Powder)
1 can chicken broth
1 small can mushroom stems and pieces


In a deep, non-stick pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and stir constantly until a golden brown (this is called a roux). Add pieces of chicken and combine well with the roux. When chicken is no longer pink, add the onion and garlic and cook until softened. Add the mushroom stems and pieces, including the liquid and the chicken broth. This will break up your roux and turn it into a nice gravy. Let simmer for a few minutes, then season to your tastes. Kitchen Bouquet can be added sparingly to achieve the brown color you desire. Serve over rice.

The Ingredients (minus the chicken)

Stew is simmering

Ready to eat!

Verdict: I think this is a pretty darned good chicken stew recipe, if I do say so myself! We also serve it with peas often. Anyone that loves rice and gravy will love this, two thumbs up!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Stuffed Artichokes

I love stuffed artichokes but it's something you don't often see in grocery stores or restaurant menus. While at my local Kroger, I noticed the fresh artichokes were on sale for fifty cents each. What a steal! I bought two and looked up a recipe for stuffed artichokes in my Cooking with Entergy cookbook. The recipe I used (page 57) is for 6 stuffed artichokes, I cut it down to two, but I'll give you the recipe for the six anyway.

Stuffed Artichokes


6 small artichokes
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups French bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon hot sauce


Trim steam of each artichoke, leaving 1/2 inch. Remove any damaged or rough lower leaves and trim off upper edges of remaining leaves. With palm of hand, gently press down on artichoke to open up or separate leaves. Wash artichokes in cold running water. Heat oil over medium heat; add garlic and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in crumbs, cheese, parsley, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Stuff each leaf with crumb-cheese mixture. Place artichokes in a large sausepan and steam in 2 inches of water over low heat for 1 hour or until leaves can be removed easily. During steaming period, occasionally baste artichokes with additional olive oil. Yield: 6 Servings.

The ingredients

The artichokes, washed and trimmed

Stuffed, ready to be steamed

In the steamer basket

All done!

Verdict: While quite tasty, the end result was so NOT worth the effort! This is an involved process and did you know that artichokes have pickers on them?? My thumb is hurting today! I also added some garlic and onion powders. It was delicious but seriously, whatever the grocery store is wanting to charge for stuffed artichokes - pay it. Don't attempt at home! I will NOT be making this again!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Pimiento Cheese Stuffed Burgers

This is another recipe stolen from my friend who is the genius behind the blog Scrumptiously Sassy. She posted it and talked about how delicious this burger was and I admit, I was a skeptic. Pimiento cheese in a burger? Hmm... But I'm a good sport and willing to try new things so I did. I changed/added a few things too.

Pimiento Cheese Stuffed Burgers


1 lb. Ground Beef
1 Egg
Tony's Creole Seasoning
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Tiger Sauce
Worcestershire Sauce
4 Tablespoons Store-Bought Pimiento Spread
Hamburger Buns
Toppings as desired


In a large bowl, combine ground beef, egg, a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce, a small touch of Tiger Sauce and the rest of the seasonings to taste. Add enough of the breadcrumbs to hold the meat together. Form into a ball and score into fourths. Take each fourth and form into a ball, then tear apart, making each half into a patty. Put 1 tablespoon pimiento spread in the middle of one, then press the other on top, sealing the edges. Do this for all four patties. Cook as desired and serve on hamburger buns with your desired toppings.

Sorry for the fuzzy picture, but you get the idea!

Verdict: Delicious!! I am no longer a skeptic and will definitely be making this again soon. For our toppings we used Cabot Vermont White Sharp Cheddar, pickles, and grilled onions, along with mayo and mustard. I have a recipe for homemade pimiento cheese that is fantastic, I just didn't have time to make it. I may try that next time just to see how it turns out, but this was fantastic!! Two very enthusiastic thumbs up!

Olive Cheese Bread

This fabulous concoction comes from one of the best cooking websites there is, The Pioneer Woman. I am one who thinks that olives are the best thing since sliced what better to pair them with than bread? And cheese just puts it over the top! The photography on PW's website are just great, I'd love her camera! On her site, she explains how you can flash freeze the bread to serve at a later date. I definitely think I will do this with small pieces, so I can pull out to go with dinners for Hubby and I.

Olive Cheese Bread


1 loaf fresh French Bread, cut into two halves
1/2 cup real mayo
green onions, chopped
1 6 oz. can black olives
1 6 oz. can green olives
1 pkg. finely shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
1 stick butter, softened

In a bowl, combine butter, mayo and cheese. Coarsely chop both black and green olives and add to bowl. Add green onions and mix well. Spread mixture generously over French Bread and bake at 325 for 25 minutes or until cheese is turning golden and melted through. Cut into small portions.

The Ingredients

The olive cheese mixture

I couldn't wait till tonight to try this so I cut the end off of the loaf and made myself a sample to go with my leftover French Onion Soup for lunch (see previous recipe). Here is what my sample looked like!

Verdict: OMG! This is heaven! I thought I'd cheat and buy the already chopped can of black olives and will not do that again next time. They were chopped too fine and I'd rather them be chopped more coarsely. But this is fantastic, you MUST try it!