Thursday, December 3, 2009

for belly and soul

It may be cold outside, but this dish will warm you right up! Homemade chicken pot pie is the name and you are going to love, love, love it! I got this recipe from my mom and the hubs practically begs me to make it for him. Thanks, Mom! It works in all seasons, but truly is comforting on a cold it is:

Chicken Pot Pie

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour 
1/3 cup onion
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup milk
Approx. 2 cup cut-up cooked chicken
1 (12 oz.) pkg. frozen mixed veggies
Cut up fresh potatoes, celery, and carrots (optional)
Pie crust (frozen works well)

Melt butter, sautee onion in butter until clear. Blend in flour, salt and pepper. Stir constantly until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in broth and milk. Heat to boiling. Boil and stir one minute. Add in veggies and chicken. Let cook for a while stirring regularly. Pour mixture over pie crust. Top with another pie crust and flute edges. Cut slits in center. Cook uncovered at 425 degrees for 30-35 minutes until crust is brown.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


The beauty of forcing yourself to cook new things is that in the process you discover the use of herbs, spices, flavors, and techniques that you may not have stumbled upon otherwise. Not that chicken salad is hard to make or anything, but this is probably my fourth or fifth attempt at a recipe that hubby likes. See, he loves chicken salad but there's only about a couple of places he wants to eat it from: Napoleon's Restaurant (small eatery in our home town) and his mother's. I guess I need to ask her for her recipe since I've been missing the target lately. However, I did brave up and decide to try something new this time... and I just might be creeping closer to victory!

I usually buy the canned chicken from the store when making chicken salad, but the Pioneer Woman does not. This woman is basically living the life I dream of, so when she speaks- I listen. Enter: poached chicken (bone-in). For this recipe, I had to pick the meat off the bones instead of just dump it out of a can and I sincerely appreciate the experience. Why was I so scared of chicken bones before?? The chicken salad turned out great and hubby actually liked it. Score. Enjoy!

Chicken Salad
The Pioneer Woman 

1 whole cut up fryer chicken
2 stalks (to three stalks) celery, chopped
3 whole green onions, chopped
2 cups (to 3 cups) grapes, halved
a small handful of fresh dill, minced
1/2 cup mayonaise
1/2 cups plain yogurt or sour cream [I used a little of both]
1 T. (to 2 T.) brown sugar
1 T. (to 2 T.) lemon juice
kosher salt to taste
fresh ground pepper to taste

Step 1: Rinse chicken thoroughly and place in a large pot of water. Turn on the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is done (about 45 minutes to an hour). When you are ready, remove the chicken from the pot and place on a plate. With your fingers or a fork, pull all of the meat off the bones, chip into bite-sized chunks and set aside.
Step 2: Chop all of your fruits and veggies and place them in a bowl with the chicken. In another bowl mix mayonnaise, yogurt (or sour cream), lemon juice, brown sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Add fresh herbs (dill, oregano, cilantro...whatever makes your skirt fly up) and if you're feeling a bit brazen throw in a dash of cayenne pepper! When the dressing tastes just right (you must taste test for appropriate saltiness especially), pour it over the chicken/veggie/fruit mixture and stir gently until everything is thoroughly mixed.
Step 3: Allow the salad to chill for several hours (or even overnight). Serve on a bed of lettuce or in a sandwich.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

happy 1st anniversary to us! :)

Today is our 1st wedding anniversary! Woohoo, we made it!  Of course the first year had its challenges as we adjusted to married life, but I can say with confidence that it has been the most exciting year of my life by far. Hubby works so hard for us so I like to keep him happy and full with my cooking experiments...he never complains and is my biggest fan! I love you, sweetie!!!

This morning I wanted to make something a little different for breakfast since it is a special day but didn't have a lot of time as it is a church morning. So with an idea in mind I set out in search of a pumpkiny, spicy pancake- and I found these. They are so perfect for this time of year and really add a different flavor to your every-day pancakes without an overbearing allspice taste. Trust me, these are a winner!!

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes
adapted from Joy the Baker Blog

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
(OR ¾ AP flour & ½ whole wheat flour)
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
pinch of ground ginger
pinch of ground cloves
1 cup milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter

Step 1: Whisk together flours, salt, spices, sugar and baking powder in a medium sized bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, egg, pumpkin and vegetable oil or melted butter.  
Step 2: Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until just combined.  Don’t worry if you have a few lumps.  You don’t want to over beat the batter, it’ll produce tough pancakes.  
Step 3: Let the batter sit for 10 minutes while you heat the skillet [I skipped this step].  Over low-medium heat, melt a tablespoon of butter or vegetable oil.  Once skillet is hot, spoon a heaping 2 tablespoons of batter per pancake into the skillet.  When pancake starts to bubble slightly, carefully flip over.
Once browned and cooked through place pancakes on an oven proof plate and place in the oven set at 200 degrees F to keep warm while the rest of the pancakes are cooked. Serve with whipped cream and cinnamon sugar or maple syrup.  Delicious! 

the many faces of chili

Last week I found two packages of chili mix in my pantry and since I don't really have a good homemade chili recipe I decided to use up those little magic packs...and let me tell you something, there is NO shame in that! The chili was really, really good. Then over the course of three nights, I used the chili for three different meals: Chili & Cornbread, Frito Pie, and Loaded Baked Potatoes! What a great way to make your food and money stretch. Here is what I did:
  • used two chili packets since I wanted to make a lot [and of course, all the ingredients to go with]
  • added chopped onion & minced garlic [with the meat while it was browning]
  • added 2 cans red kidney beans to add bulk and fiber
  • used my crockpot to cook the chili slowly so that the meat gets tender and the spices get a chance to really set in

Here is the recipe for the best cornbread in the world! [The only kind I will eat!] It was passed down from my grandpa.

Sweet Cornbread

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine 
1 egg
1 1/2 cup sour milk [buttermilk]
1 1/2 cup corn meal
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
3/4 cup flour

Cream sugar and margarine. Add egg and sour milk. Mix cornmeal, salt, and soda. Add to wet ingredients and stir. Add flour and mix well. Pour into 9" greased pan. Bake at 450 degrees for 25 minutes.

It really doesn't get any better than this, folks!

The Frito Pie and Loaded Baked Potato are fairly self-explanatory. You can pretty much add whichever ingredients suit your taste. To the Frito Pie, I simply opened a bag of Frito's, filled the bottom of the bowl with them, poured the chili over the top, added shredded cheddar [gotta have the cheese] and then added some shredded lettuce and tomato for a little extra nutritional value ;) but I'm not going to lie... most of the time I enjoy it with just the chips, chili & cheese! Now for the loaded baked potato, well, you can go crazy with this one! I baked the potato in the oven for about an hour and then added chili, cheese, chopped green onion, and sour cream. Hubby and I both drooled over this one!

I'm sure one day I'll land a chili recipe that is to die for and never go back to the spice packets...but until then, they will have to do. They really do make a good tasting chili and the great thing is you can whip it with practically no effort!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

sugar and spice and everything nice!

Is there anything better than pumpkin and spice in the fall? Is there anything better than cream cheese ever!? Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins are a huge hit and one of my new favorite recipes! Hubby loved them, friends loved them, family at reunion this weekend loved them and all I can say is wow, I wish I could take all the credit! The recipe yields about 24 muffins so they are perfect for fall gatherings, Thanksgiving, school parties, or just to stuff yourself at home. :) It probably sounds like I'm trying to sell these, but they really just sell themselves. Make them and you'll see what I mean! ;) Thank you, Annie's Eats for this amazing recipe!


Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Annie's Eats

For the muffins:
3 cups flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 Tbsp. & 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree

For the filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar

For the streusel topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup and 1 tsp. flour
4Tbsp. butter, cubed
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon 

STEP 1: To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and whip until smooth. Form into a log on a plastic wrap or foil, making sure that the diameter is small enough to fit into the well of a muffin pan. Wrap the log up tightly and freeze until slightly hardened, 1-2 hours. 
STEP 2: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. To make the muffins, combine the flour, spices, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Mix well and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, vegetable oil, sugar and pumpkin puree. Mix until well combined. Add in the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined.
STEP 3: To make the streusel topping, combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix together with a pastry blender or two forks until crumbly. 
STEP 4: Line two muffin pans with paper liners. To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well halfway with batter. Remove the cream cheese log from the freezer and slice into 24 equal slices. Place a slice in each muffin well. Divide the remaining muffin batter evenly among the muffin cups, on top of the cream cheese. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the top of the batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely before serving. 

Friday, October 16, 2009

cranberry-apricot scones. period.

I like to cook. But I love to bake. Apparently I'm also a food-dork because I couldn't wait to wake up this morning just so that I could make these delicious scones.Hehehe. I got the recipe from a "Women In the Church" mail-out this summer and I knew from the second I saw it that I had to make them. It just took me a while to build up the courage because for some reason I thought they would be a challenge. They were actually quite easy and well worth the time and effort. I served them to hubby strait out of the oven and he was smitten by them, well we both were. The dried fruit (mainly the cranberry) make them ideal for a perfect fall breakfast! Yuummmmmm!

Cranberry-Orange Scones

Williams-Sonoma Bread

3 C all-purpose flour

3 T. granulated sugar

2 ½ t. baking powder

½ t. salt

Zest of 1 orange or 1 t. orange oil

10 T. cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 C. cold buttermilk

¾ cup dried cranberries

¼ cup chopped dried apricots

Step 1: Preheat oven to 425˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Step 2: In a bowl, stir together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, and orange zest. Add the butter to the flour mixture. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles course crumbs.

Step 3: Add the buttermilk to the dry ingredients all at once and stir until a sticky dough forms. Stir in the cranberries and apricots just until evenly distributed.

Step 4: Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. With floured hands, gently knead the dough 8-10 strokes; the dough will be very soft. Press and pat the dough into a loose rectangle about 1 ½ inches thick. Fold the rectangle like a letter, overlapping the two short sides in them idle to make three layers. Pat out the dough into a thick triangle. Divide in half. Pat each portion into a round ¾ inch thick and 8 inches in diameter. Cut each round into six wedges.

Step 5: Arrange the wedges, 2 inches apart, on the prepared sheet. Bake until golden brown, 14-18 minutes. Transfer to racks. Serve the scones warm with butter.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

swedish meatballs: fancy name for meatballs and gravy

I told hubby that I was going to make "Swedish meatballs" for dinner and he all but turned up his nose at the idea. He is very leery of dishes he's never heard of, where I on the other hand, LOVE to try weird new recipes with fancy/funky names. Well friends... I hate to disappoint but as hubby so frankly put it after I made them, these are just good ol' Texan meatballs and gravy! Haha. Regardless of the name they were quite delish and I will definitely be using this recipe again! I hope you enjoy as much as we did. :)

Swedish Meatballs
Good Housekeeping "Step by Step Cookbook" 1997

1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. margarine or butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 slices firm white bread, torn [I used Panko]

1 1/2 lb. ground beef
1 large egg
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
Pinch ground allspice
2 tsp. vegetable oil

2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 can chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy or whipping cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh di
ll [I used chopped parsely]

Step 1: In a 10-inch skillet, melt 1 tbsp. butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, 8 minutes or until tender. Transfer to a large bowl and wipe skillet clean. Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor with knife blade attached, process bread to fine crumbs. To onion in bowl, add bread crumbs, ground beef, and next 5 ingredients and mix until blended. Shape into 1 1/2-inch meatballs.
Step 2: In same skillet, melt 1 tsp. butter with 1 tsp. oil over medium heat. Add half of meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, 10 minutes, or until browned on all sides and just cooked through; transfer to plate and keep warm. Repeat with remaining 1 tsp. each butter and oil and remaining meatballs; transfer to plate.
Step 3: To drippings in skillet, add flour and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in chicken broth and cream; heat to boiling, stirring over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes. Return meatballs to skillet, stirring gently to coat with sauce. Sprinkle with dill and serve.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

some like it hot

Can you believe the only other pasta I've ever made is spaghetti and chicken alfredo? I always drool over pasta plates at Red Lobster and Johnny Carino's SO I decided to try one out at home. While browsing Annie's Eats Blog, I found this beauty. It originally used only chicken but since shrimp is hubby's fave and they were on sale at the grocery store, I figured they would make a great addition ...and I was right!

For those who love cajun-style food and/or SPICE, this pasta should do the definitely cleared me and hubby's sinuses! :) We both REALLY enjoyed it, but agreed next time I should tone down the pepper a bit.

Louisiana Chicken (and shrimp) Pasta
adapted from Annie's Eats

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
~1/2 lb shrimp [I bought a bag of large, frozen, cooked shrimp]
8 oz. bowtie pasta
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup yellow onion

3/4 tsp. kosher salt [I used regular salt]
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. Cajun seasoning
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pep
per [unless you like a LOT of spice, I highly recommend using only a pinch or none]
1 cup half & half
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. water

3 scallions, chopped

Step 1: Heat a small amount of butter or olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, and a generous sprinkle of cajun seasoning. Add to the skillet and cook until lightly browned and cooked through. Season shrimp and add to skillet until thoroughly heated and curled. Transfer both to plate and set aside.

Step 2: Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain the cooked pasta and set aside.
Step 3: Return the skillet to medium heat and heat the butter and olive oil until the butter has melted. Add the bell peppers and onion to the pan. Mix in the salt, pepper, Cajun seasoning and cayenne pepper. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 6-8 minutes. Add the half &
halt and heavy cream to the pan and bring to a simmer. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water, and add to the skillet once the cream mixture has started to bubble. Allow to cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.
Step 4: When the sauce has thickened add the cooked pa
sta, chicken, and shrimp pieces to the pan. Stir well to combine and cook at medium-low heat just until meat is warmed through. Adjust the amount of Cajun seasoning if necessary to suit your taste. Stir in the scallions. Serve immediately and top with additional Cajun seasoning, if desired.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

easy, breesy, cheesy...

I apologize for not having more posts lately. I thought I had escaped the yucky crud going around...luckily I did not get the flu, but having a cold is miserable too! To me there is nothing more comforting than a hearty, creamy, delicious soup when you feel bad. Enter: Cheesy Broccoli Soup. This soup is full of flavor and slides right down the throat to warm the belly :) Plus, it's not hard to make so you don't have to stand for hours over a hot stove...

Cheesy Broccoli Soup
adapted from Taste of Home, Heartwarming Soups

2 cups water
2 cubes chicken bullion
1 pkg. (16 oz) frozen broccoli [chopped in processor]
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup butter
3 T. AP flour
1 cup milk
1 lb. Velveeta cheese, cubed

Step 1: In large saucepan, bring water and bullion to a boil. Add broccoli. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 3-4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup liquid.
Step 2: In another large saucepan, saute onion in butter until tender. Whisk in flour until blended. Add the milk and cheese. Cook over medium-low heat until thickened and cheese is melted, stirring frequently. Stir in broccoli and reserved cooking liquid.
Makes about 4 servings.

how do you like them apples?

OH. MY. GOSH. Let me introduce you to my new best friend, Praline-Apple Bread. This is the most decadent, savory, moist, flavorful bread I have ever tried. You are going to go NUTS over this for more than one reason... you'll know what I mean once you make it. I chose this recipe because fall seems to bring out the best in apples and apples seem to bring out the best in fall :) Make it now, thank me later. The only problem with this bread: I can't stop eating it.

Praline-Apple Bread
Southern Living, Sept. 2009

1 1/2 cup chopped pecans, divided
1 (8 oz.) container sour cream
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 T. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups finely chopped, peeled Granny Smith apples (about 3/4 lb.)

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 1/2 cup pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 6 to 8 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring after 4 minutes.
Step 2: Beat sour cream and next 3 ingredients at low speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes or until blended.
Step 3: Stir together flour and next 3 ingredients. Add to sour cream mixture, beating just until blended. Stir in apples and 1/2 cup toasted pecans. Spoon batter into a greased and floured 9X5 inch loaf pan. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup chopped pecans; lightly press pecans into batter.
Step 4: Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 5 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, shielding with aluminum foil after 50 minutes to prevent excessive browning. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack.

Step 5: Bring butter and brown sugar to a boil in a 1-qt. heavy sauce pan over medium heat, stirring constantly; boil 1 minute. Remove from heat, and spoon over top of bread; let cool completely (about 1 hour).
Note: To freeze, cool bread completely; wrap in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil. Freeze up to 3 months. Thaw at room temp.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Several people have asked if the food pictures I post are my own or from a website. The answer is they are definitely MY pictures. I take pictures of all final products. Just wanted to clear that up. Hope you all [in south Texas] are enjoying the cool weather. :)

Oh! If any of you have a fabulous recipe that you want me to try please send it my way! I love recipes that are passed down because I know they are yummy.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

quick & easy tuna melts

Here it is... my first "quick & easy" post. I had to serve something fast tonight because I found a puppy wandering around lost earlier that needed tending to :)
I was really surprised at how incredibly YUMMY this sandwich is. Hubby loved it too! The only thing is, I wouldn't recommend eating this one in the car or on-the-go because it might get a little messy since you have to balance it on half a baguette. But it's soooo totally worth it! Enjoy...

Country French Tuna Melts
My H-E-B Texas Life

1 pkg.(81/2 oz.) Frozen Demi Baguettes, rosemary or multigrain [I just bought plain frozen demi baguettes]
1 pkg.(6 oz.) pre-sliced mild cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese
1/3 cup Central Market Organics Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise [very important ingredient]
8 thin slices red onion (optional)
2 cans (5 oz.) tuna, packed in water, drained and flaked [I would recommend using 3 or 4 cans]
Salt and cracked pepper
2 large ripe tomatoes thin sliced

Step 1: Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare baguette according to pkg. directions and slice lengthwise into halves.
Step 2: Line baking sheet with foil, spray with nonstick cooking spray, and set aside. Increase oven temp. to 425 degrees F.
Step 3: Cut each slice of cheese diagonally into triangles and set aside. Spread each baguette half with 1 tbs. [be generous for the best flavor] mayonnaise and layer with 2 triangles of cheese, 1 slice red onion (rings separated), and 1/4 of the tuna. Season tuna to taste with salt and cracked pepper [I also added sweet relish to the tuna]. Top each half with 2 tomato slices, remaining triangle of cheese and another layer of red onions [optional].
Step 4: Place sandwich halves on prepared baking sheet and bake 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and sandwich is thoroughly heated.