Thursday, September 25, 2008

Big Carl's White Chicken Chili

Ok, so I actually made this on Monday (not that you care) to start off the "feel like home" week for Carl. I call his dad Big Carl, since they call my Carl, Little Carl. So "Big Carl's White Chicken Chili" it is! I'd say I hit the nail on the head with this one!

1 1/2 -2 pounds cooked boneless, skinless chicken- cubed (I just cook mine in a little water in a skillet)
2 14oz cans of chicken broth
1 480z can of white northern beans
2 c finely chopped whit onion
2 tbsp fresh minced garlic
1 small can chopped green chilis
2 tsp cumin (heap if you like it hot)
2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (more if you like it hot)

Saute onions and garlic in 1 tbsp olive oil until onions are tender. Stir in the green chilis.

Mix all into big pot with the chicken. Heat until boiling, simmer for 10-15 minutes. The longer you cook it, the more tender the chicken will get.

My Notes: This is the perfect fall recipe! Drop a spoonful of sour cream and sprinkle with cheese for the ultimate flavor explosion! It makes enough to feed 6 adults easily. We had this two nights in a row and then I took the remainder to work and shared with a co-worker. He was also a huge fan. We will definitely make this again and again!

Shelly's Nomilicious Chocolate Chip Cookies

I stole this recipe right from Shelly of Loves to Nom. This is probably the best thing I've ever stolen. I am holding myself back from eating every single one over here! Anyway, I made this in honor of Shelly and Matt who are getting married on Saturday! Congrats you two!

Chocochip Cookies

Yield: 15 cookies

1. Set out a stick of unsalted butter to soften ahead of time. In a pinch you can microwave the stick very quickly (like 10 seconds) to soften it. But if you melt it, the consistency of the cookies will change.

2. Preheat the oven to 350.

3. In a large mixing bowl, with a hand/stand mixer cream together the following:

* 1 stick softened (1/2 cup) UNSALTED butter (not margarine)

* 1/4 cup granulated white sugar

* 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

* 1 egg

* 1 1/2 teaspoons real vanilla extract (don't mess with that imitation crap)

4. In a small bowl, sift/mix together the following:

* 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

* 3/8 teaspoon salt (I prefer kosher for baking)

* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

5. Slowly beat the dry ingredients into the wet.

6. Stir in about 9 ounces (3/4 of a bag) chocolate chips. I like to mix half semi sweet and half milk chocolate. I think it really 'makes' the cookie.

7. Scoop dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Make sure there is about 2 inches between each ball.

8. Bake for approximately 9 minutes, depending on how you like your cookies. Matt prefers his cookies on the (super) soft side. Cookies are done when the edges are lightly browned and still appear moist in the middle.

9. Take pans out and let cookies cool on the pan for 2-3 minutes. Then remove the cookies to a cooling rack, countertop, wax paper, whatever to cool completely... or at least until they are cool enough to devour with a big glass of milk! Enjoy!

My Notes: I actually had to cook mine for more like 11 minutes as opposed to 9. Remember people- ovens vary!

Chicken Piccata

Ok, so this week I was making Carl "feel at home" by making all the dishes he used to have at his parents' house. His dad normally cooks and so I stole all his yummy recipes!! (These are actually out of order, because I'm blogging in multiple places...and only have certain recipes here)

Wednesday's Meal: Chicken Piccata

So- apparently somewhere between my in-law's place and ours, I lost my I just kind of put this together by looking at a couple recipes from Food Network and All Recipes that reminded me of what my father-in-law said. It turned out fabulous if I do say so myself though!


-1 cup all-purpose flour
-1/2 teaspoon paprika
-1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into thin square-like -1/4 cup olive oil
-1/4 cup lemon juice
-1/2 cup chicken stock-
1/2 cup white cooking wine
-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
-1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
- 1 small can of mushrooms
-2 tsp capers


1. In a shallow bowl, mix together flour, paprika, and salt and pepper. Dredge chicken pieces in the seasoned flour.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and saute chicken until light golden brown (about 2 minutes each side). Remove chicken from skillet, and set aside.
3. To skillet, add mushrooms, lemon juice, wine and chicken stock. Simmer until a smooth, light sauce develops. Season with garlic powder. Return chicken to the skillet, and simmer until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. Stir in artichoke hearts and capers, simmer for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and enjoy!

Notes: This easily will feed 4 people. I served it over a bed of rice pilaf which is the perfect complimentary dish! I plan on just having the leftovers for dinner tonight. Super delicious. And when I said to Carl- it's good, but it's not like your dads. He said- yeah, but I think it's better! Woo HOO for me!

My Own Easy Beef Enchiladas

I could eat Mexican pretty much every night, seriously. But that would make for a boring blog, so I have to mix it up occasionally. Luckily though, I haven't blogged these bad boys yet, so now...for your viewing (and perhaps one day eating) pleasure, behold: MY SUPER EASY BEEF ENCHILADAS!

1 lb ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning (I always use Ortega)
1 cup cooked white rice (yes that says cooked. I'm not explaining how to cook it, just do it now)
1 can refried beans (not warmed!)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 jar of salsa
10-12 burrito size tortilla shells
2 cups Colby Jack Cheese (or whatever yummy blend you'd like)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan. Brown the ground beef and drain. Add taco seasoning and 1 c water. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Add in the rice and stir it up real good!
2. Take the tortilla, spread a spoonful of refried beans on the tortilla. Spread 1/4 c of the meat mixture on top of that. Sprinkle with cheese and roll it up. Put the rolled tortilla seam side down into the 9x13 pan. Repeat until all your tortillas are gone- or the meat mix is gone.
3. Combine the cream of chicken soup and the jar of salsa in a bowl. Mix well. Pour the mix over the tortillas in the pan. Sprinkle with the remainder of the cheese.
4. Put the pan in the oven for 30 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden brown. Remove, cool and enjoy! I like to serve with a side of sour cream and sometimes extra salsa. YUM!

Notes: Ok, so I used to use an actual recipe for this, but now I just do my own I'm calling these mine. Really, they are easy and quick and ALWAYS get rave reviews. Plan on each person eating two enchiladas if you don't serve it with anything else.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Elegant Chicken Rolls

Alright, yet another Pampered Chef recipe. I'm running out of new ones in my cookbook, but I'm not done yet! I was this > < close to just ordering pizza tonight, but I pushed on and decided to make these chicken rolls. I served them over rice pilaf with a side of steamed asparagus. These were really flavorful and I would definitely make them again...and again!

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (4-6 ounces each)
4 ounces cream cheese softened
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
2 tbsp fresh basil leaves snipped
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
6 tbsp sweet roasted red peppers, drained, chopped
1 1/4 cups seasoned croutons, grated (1 cup crumbs)
1 egg
1 tbsp milk
12-18 large spinach leaves
6 ounces thinly sliced deli smoked ham

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butterfly cut each chicken breast half by inserting tip of knife into thickest side of chicken then cutting lengthwise through middle of breast, almost through to the other side. Spread chicken breast open flat. Place each chicken breast between 2 pieces of parchment paper. Flatten chicken to 1/4 inch alternating pounding and rolling.
2. In small mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, feta, basil and black pepper; set aside. Chop red peppers and drain on a paper towel. Grate croutons into a shallow bowl- if you have a cheese grater that works great. You can also just smash them in a plastic bag. Combine egg and milk in another small mixing bowl.
3. For each chicken roll, cover chicken breast with single layer of spinach rolls, about 2 tbsp of the cheese mix, 1 tbsp of the red peppers and then one slice of the ham. Roll up, jelly-roll fashion, tucking in ends when possible. (mine were too small, so I used a metal cooking pick to hold them together- worked great!)
4. Dip rolls in egg mixture; coat with crumbs. Place seam side down in a baking dish and bake for 35 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.

Notes: I had some issues with cutting them butterfly style- I blame it on my chicken. It worked out fine though, I just ended up with smaller rolls. Also- it took mine more like 45 minutes in the oven. It might have been me just being paranoid about chicken, but I'm pretty sure it was still fairly pink at the 35 minute mark. Just keep an eye on it either way!

My Mom's Chili

As a kid, one of my favorite fall/winter dinners was my mom's chili. She uses the seasoning kit pictured, but does it a little different than what the package states. Be warned though: this makes a crap ton of chili! You could easily cut this in half and still feed 6 hungry growing boys. We usually have leftovers for 3 days...(and we usually are sick of chili by day 2). It's alright though...this chili is worth the excess!

1 Carroll Shelby's Original Texas Brand Chili Kit
1 large can of crushed tomatoes (like the 30 oz size) or two regular cans
1 can of tomato sauce
2 lbs ground beef
1 can of chili beans (size is to your discretion depending on your love of beans-I use one very large or 2 regular)

Brown ground beef in skillet and drain grease. Dump ground beef into stockpot (at medium heat) and add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and 1/2 can (15 oz) of water. Add in the chili seasoning packet (the big packet), the salt packet, and unless you want your tongue to literally fall off, just half of the cayenne powder. Mix all that together.
Next, fill the can 1/2 with water and add the masa packet (the white packet)and blend together. Add to the chili mix. Continue to stir and simmer for about 15-20 minutes. The chili will thicken up quite nicely, that's when you know it's done!

Notes: Can I really consider this homemade? Probably not. Could I create my own chili figuring out exactly which spices to use? Probably. Do I want to? Probably not. Honestly, this is the best hearty chili I've ever had, and you know me, I'm not one to mess with perfection :)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mini Glazed Lemon Cakes

We skipped dessert last night...oh the horror! So tonight had to be better than a stale cookie. I picked this one out of the "Season's Best 2008 Spring/Summer" from Pampered chef.

2 T butter, softened & divided
2 T sugar
2 small lemons, divided
1 pkg (9 oz.) yellow cake mix
1 egg
1 8 oz. container sour cream

2 T lemon juice (from lemon used for cakes)
2 T butter
1/4 C sugar

1. For cakes, brush 6 Prep Bowls with 1 T butter; sprinkle with sugar. Thinly slice one of the lemons. Remove any seeds from the lemon slices and place one slice in the bottom of each bowl; set bowls aside.

2. Zest remaining lemon and measure 1 T of zest; set lemon aside for glaze. Place remaining 1 T butter into microwavable bowl; microwave on high 15-20 seconds or until melted. Add lemon zest, cake mix, egg, and sour cream; whisk 1 minute or until smooth (batter is pretty thick). Scoop batter evenly into prepared bowls. Place bowls in circle on microwave turntable. Microwave on high 4-5 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean (cake still looks slightly wet). Carefully remove cakes from microwave; cool in bowls for 5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, for glaze, juice reserved lemon to measure 2 T juice. Melt butter. Stir in lemon juice and sugar; microwave on high 30-60 seconds or until boiling.

4. To serve, gently tap sides of bowls to release cakes. Transfer to serving plates and drizzle glaze over cakes.

Notes: Ok, so this is the sitch. I had the precious 6 prep bowls this recipe refers to, but somewhere along the way, I've ended up with like 4...and 1 of them wasn't available. Time to improvise!! Since there was only two of us, I just split the batter between my two smallest pyrex bowls- my guess is they are about a 4 cup size. I also made the mistake of not realizing that a standard cake box is about 18 oz- not 9 oz. That changes a lot! ;) Anyway, I made it work and they were delicious.

Florentine Shells

Carl has often complained that he thought he was getting himself an Italian girl, but this isn't what he expected. Well, I am Italian by genetics, but hardly in the kitchen. I promised him I would work on it. Part of the problem is I hate meat in my pasta- but stuffed shells are easily made without meat and still hearty enough to handle Carl's appetite. I served this with a light spinach salad and some Texas Toast. All it needed was a glass of wine, but Carl had already poured the milk :(

* 18 jumbo pasta shells (I use Barilla brand)
* 1 container (15 ounces) part skim Ricotta
* 1 package frozen spinach chopped, thawed, and drained and squeezed dry
* 2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend
* 3/4 cup half and half (divided)
* 1 garlic clove pressed
* 1/2 tsp. dried basil
* 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
* 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
* 1/8 tsp. salt
* 28 oz. jar of spaghetti sauce

1. Preheat oven to 350, cook pasta according to directions, drain.
2. Mix ricotta, spinach, 1 1/2 cups of Italian cheese, 1/4 cup of Parmesan, and 1/4 cup of half and half. Press in garlic and seasonings. Mix well.
3. In another bowl whisk the rest of spaghetti sauce with remaining half and half. Pour half of sauce mix on bottom of cooking pan. Fill each shell with ricotta mixture, I use my medium Pampered Chef scoop- its perfect!. Arrange filled shells in baking pan. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce.
4. Cover with foil, bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil, top dish with remaining 1/2 cup of Italian cheese. Bake uncovered an additional 5 min. Let cool for 10 min. before serving. Enjoy!

Yield: 6 Servings
Notes: I actually used fresh spinach and just chopped it in my mini processor. Not sure if it made any difference, but I had a big thing of spinach that I needed to use. I also doubled the garlic...naturally!

Spicy Beef & Broccoli Stir-Fry

Brought to you right from the kitchen of...Carl. I honestly had full intentions of making dinner, but I wasn't feeling great and he offered, how could I say no? Anyway, it turned out great and I would definitely make it again!

1/4 c light soy sauce
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
1 boneless beef top sirloin steak, trimmed (1 1/4 lb)
3 c broccoli flowerets
1 medium onion
1 medium red bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tsp peeled fresh ginger root, finely chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 c beef broth

Whisk soy sauce, cornstarch and 1 tbsp of the oil in a medium mixing bowl. Cut the steak lengthwise in half and then crosswise into 1/4 inch thick strips. Add beef to soy sauce mixture; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate 15 minutes to marinate.
Meanwhile, cut broccoli into flowerets and onion into thin wedges. Cut bell pepper into thin strips, 2 inches long. Set vegetables aside. Press garlic and finely chop the ginger root.
Heat 1 tsp of the remaining oil in a skillet over medium high heat until hot. Add half each of beef, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes to skillet. Stir-fry 1-2 minutes or until outside surface of beef is no longer pink (do not overcook). Remove from skillet; keep warm. Repeat with 1 tsp of oil, remaining beef, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes. Remove from skillet.
Heat remaining 1 tsp oil in same skillet until hot. Add broccoli, onion and bell pepper; stir-fry 3-4 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Return beef to skillet; add broth. Bring to a boil. Boil 1 minute, stirring gently, until sauce is slightly thickened. Enjoy!

Yield: Enough for the two us to have good sized dinners and me to have a decent sized portion for lunch the next day.

Notes: We served this over a bed of rice and it was really good. It was even better than I thought it would be! My only suggestion is that if you like spicy- at least double the red pepper. It wasn't really spicy at all. If you don't like much spice, leave as is. All in was good and will hold a spot in our rotation!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Broiled Marinated Steak

I walked into the house to see my kitchen and family room completely disheveled. Carl decided to install the rear surround sound speakers in the ceiling today, nice. Good thing my dinner was a relatively simple and easy one. Again, not much of a recipe, but it was it gets a post :)

Marinated Steaks:
2 top sirloin steaks
1 c BBQ marinade

We marinated them for about 3 hours. Then I broiled them for about 7 minutes on each side for me (I like it pretty rare) and 8 minutes for Carl (more medium rare). I really like broiling steaks when the grill isn't an option. (Carl was busy, it was drizzling...broiler it was)

Then I just steamed some green beans and made some butter noodles with the help of Lipton :).

Pumpkin Choc Chip Cookies

I yanked this recipe right from Shawna on Daily Deliciousness. As much as I am not ready for fall, these pumpkin cookies jumped off the computer screen at me.

Pumpkin Choc chip cookies

* 1 cup canned pumpkin
* 1 cup white sugar
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil
* 1 egg
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon milk
* 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
* 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
* 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Combine pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil, and egg
In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and salt. Dissolve the baking soda with the milk and stir in.
Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix well.
2. Add vanilla, chocolate chips and nuts.
3. Drop by spoonful on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for approximately 10 minutes or until lightly brown and firm.

Yield 3 dozen cookies

My notes- I used both the chocolate chips and walnuts. Next time I will try just the walnuts...but like double the amount. To me, I couldn't get into the chocolate/pumpkin mix, but the pumpkin/walnut bites were delicious! I also took Shawna's advice and baked them at 365 degrees for 12 minutes. That was perfect, but I'm not sure that the 10 minutes at 375 degrees wouldn't have been.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Tropical Chicken Fajitas

I told Carl to pick tonight's dinner. He chose chicken fajitas. He's been missing his grill. Really, this isn't a recipe, but I'll throw in my few tips for fajitas here. We used 2 large chicken breasts, Kroger's Spicy Tropical Mango 30 Minute Marinade, a quarter of each of a green, red, orange and yellow pepper, a 1/4 red onion- sliced, sour cream, cheese and salsa. We grilled both the chicken and vegetables for about 10 minutes. I also made Zattarans Black Beans and Rice. It was pretty delicious if I do say so myself!

A food saving tip! When you don't need to use the whole pepper or onion- wrap it in a paper towel before putting it back in the bag. Trust will last so much longer!

Molly's Mexican Dip

I've made this dip so many times and when my sister said she was lacking appetizers for my nephew's birthday party, I jumped at the opportunity to make it.

1/4 c sour cream
8 oz cream cheese
1 jar of salsa
2 cups shredded monterey jack/colby cheese
1/4 c chopped olives
1/4 c sliced green onions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the cream cheese and sour cream in a small mixing bowl until smooth. Spread the mix into a 9 inch pie plate. Cover with salsa, then cover with the cheese. Sprinkle with the olives and place in the oven for about 15 minutes. Remove and sprinkle the onions- serve with tortilla chips.

Please forgive me for the craptastic picture. I knew this dip wouldn't last long so I took it while it was in the oven...before I even put on the onions. It was a good thing I got devoured immediately!!!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Monica's Peanut Butter Squares

Ok, so tonight's food consisted of all knottie inspired items. Monica posted this on her blog today, and it read Carl from top to bottom. Not to mention it looked super easy- which reads Molly all over! We've still be on a dessert kick (not the best "kick" to be on but whatever) and so I wanted something better than our oreos and milk from yesterday. Although, this one also needs a glass of milk on the side!!

3/4 cup melted butter
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
12 oz crunchy peanut butter
2 cups powdered sugar
12 oz melted chocolate chips

Combine butter and graham cracker crumbs, mix in sugar and peanut butter. Spread in 13 x 9 pan. Pour chocolate over the mixture. Chill.

My notes: Yes, I made this the same, and yet Carl said "Monica's looked thicker" (insert pouty look here) Whatever. It still tasted delicious!

Lindsay's Taco Bake

Ok, I needed something that didn't take much effort, and when I say not much effort I mean taking extra time to search for a recipe. This one has been raved about on The Knot thanks to iheartkeith, and I finally decided to give it a whirl.


* 1 lb ground beef (or ground turkey, or ground chicken)
* 1 packet taco seasoning
* 15 oz. tomato sauce
* 8 oz. seashell pasta
* 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened in microwave
* 1/2 cup sour cream
* 8 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese


1. Brown ground beef, drain. Add taco seasoning and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes.
2. In the meantime, cook pasta according to directions. Drain.
3. Mix softened cream cheese and sour cream in separate bowl.
4. Spray bottom of 9x13 pan. Put pasta in bottom of pan.
5. Spread cream cheese mixture over pasta.
6. Spoon ground meat mixture over this.
7. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top.
8. Bake @ 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes before serving.

My notes: I cut the entire recipe in half and it was perfect. Other than that...I'll just let this last picture do the talking:

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Ground Beef Casserole

1 lb ground beef
1 small onion diced
1 large can of tomato soup (regular can works too...)
1 can green beans
1 can corn (really you can use whatever vegetables you want, these are just my favorites and I always have them around)
Mashed potatoes for about 6 people (instant is ok too)
Other spices (you'll see my suggestions below)

Make the mashed potatoes. Heat the oven to 350. Brown the ground beef and throw in the onion. Drain the beef. Feel free to add whatever spices you have laying around- I like garlic powder and chili powder but really...whatever you've got. And season with salt and pepper! And of course a package of onion soup mix is always approved per monica if you really want it.

Spread the beef into a 9x13ish casserole pan (i use my pampered chef deep dish baker- because it is biiiiig). Then spread the uncooked green beans and corn over that. Then poor the tomato soup over the entire thing and add about a half a can of water to make sure the whole thing has some juicy goodness going on. Top with the mashed potatoes over the top and bake for about 25 minutes or until the edges start to get brown.

I really love this casserole...but definitely add the salt and pepper- it needs it! As you can see...I really don't have set amounts. We'll call this Shelly Cooking...or grandma cooking. My sister gave me an actual recipe but I used it like 2 times and then never needed it again. You can blame me if it turns out bad...but I haven't had that happen yet.
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