Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Molten Chocolate Cakes Take 2

Not new...but in my opinion IMPROVED! I am such a fan of fruit with chocolate, so when I made the molten chocolate cakes the first time, I immediately knew I would like them even more if I drizzled some berry sauce on them. Last night, I remember I had some strawberries in the freezer. Carl says he prefers it without the sauce, but he still thought it was great.

So first make these and then make a lovely strawberry sauce.

My strawberry sauce was easy:

1 cup frozen, sugar added strawberries
1 tsp sugar
3 tbsp water

Heat strawberries in a sauce pan until defrosted and slight runny. Pour into a small food processor with added sugar and water. Blend until the consistency you desire.

Obviously you could do this with fresh strawberries- just add more sugar and a little more water.

Oven Roasted Potatoes

I bought a big bag of potatoes and wanted to use some up last night with our Laughing Cow Chicken. I just searched all recipes for roasted potatoes and found this. So easy, so tasty, it will probably take me awhile to ever try a different roasted potato recipe. These were really good.

Since I was making the LCC too, I only had the oven at 475 for the amount of time it took me to assemble the chicken (about 10 minutes). Then I kicked it down to 400 to accommodate the chicken. It actually worked out perfectly, because the potatoes took an extra 10 minutes at the lower temp, and everything was done at the same time. I also left the peels on- if you are offended by them, feel free to peel!

* 1/8 cup olive oil
* 1 tablespoon minced garlic
* 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
* 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
* 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
* 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
* 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
* 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
* 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed


1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F (245 degrees C).
2. In a large bowl, combine oil, garlic, basil, marjoram, dill weed, thyme, oregano, parsley, red pepper flakes, and salt. Stir in potatoes until evenly coated. Place potatoes in a single layer on a roasting pan or baking sheet.
3. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, turning occasionally to brown on all sides.

I did it! Laughing Cow Chicken

Again, a recipe I am now kicking myself for not doing sooner! I technically found this on Monica's blog but she found it on Lindsay's blog. I didn't realize how delicious and easy it would be! I know...I should trust their testimonials! Carl loved this too. This will definitely be in our regular rotation. I served it with roasted potatoes (which will be in the next post) and a side caesar salad. It was the best dinner I've made in awhile.

Laughing Cow Chicken
Serves two

2 chicken breasts, cut in half horizontally 3/4 of the way through (so you can stuff the inside)
2 wedges Laughing Cow light cheese, one per breast (I used garlic & herb instead)
Italian seasoning to taste
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs (I used 1/2 regular and 1/2 Italian seasoned)
Handful grated parmesan cheese
Cooking spray

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Open each chicken breast up and spread one wedge of Laughing Cow inside the middle. Sprinkle Italian seasoning inside to taste. (I actually mixed my cheese and Italian seasoning in a bowl before spreading it on the chicken to give a nice even flavor) Fold chicken back over to original shape.
3. Mix together bread crumbs and parmesan cheese in a shallow dish. Spray each chicken breast with cooking spray and then dip in bread crumb mixture to coat. Place on baking sheet.
4. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Chicken Caesar Salad

I probably talked about this salad 3 different times on Saturday. It was just so light and refreshing and really really delicious. Super simple too! You can opt to make your own dressing and croutons, but I found that Newman's Own and the bagged croutons were just great!

And I am absolutely loving the nicer weather. I was able to take the picture outside and wow, what a difference it makes!!

*I cut this in half and used this recipe

4 boneless chicken breasts
Melted butter or oil for basting (I swapped salt & pepper to flavor instead)
8 c. bite-size pieces of Romaine lettuce
1 1/3 c. croutons
Parmesan cheese (I grated fresh Parmesan)
Caesar salad dressing

Grill chicken, turning and basting frequently with oil or butter. Cut meat diagonally into strips. Set aside. (*I flattened our chicken and it cooked perfectly with 4 minutes on each side with the grill on medium)

In a large bowl toss Romaine with croutons and dressing. Put on 4 plates, crisscross chicken strips, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Potatoes Au Gratin

We had two of our favorite people over this weekend and decided to make a lovely dinner together. While the boys went to the driving range, the girls started dinner. These au gratin potatoes are a little different than what your mom used to make! YUM! (here is the recipe on all recipes)

* 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened (we omitted)
* 1 1/2 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
* 1/2 cup grated Gruyere
* 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
* 1 cup heavy cream
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 1/8 teaspoon paprika


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter a 1 1/2 quart baking dish with about 1 tablespoon of the softened butter. (Didn't do this)

*We first boiled the potato slices for 10 minutes to shorten the baking time

Arrange a layer of potatoes in the baking dish, and sprinkle some of the cheeses over them. Continue layering potatoes and cheeses until you've used them all, ending with a layer of potatoes.

In a small bowl, whisk the cream with the salt and pepper; pour this over the potatoes. Dot the remaining butter over the top and sprinkle with the paprika. Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until the potatoes are tender and golden brown on top. (*Ours only took about 35 minutes since we started with the boiled potatoes) Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Red Skin Potato Salad

I love potato salad, and so I bought some red skin potatoes after seeing Lindsay post this recipe. Apparently I didn't cook my potatoes long enough :/ but other wise it was very tasty! Oh and sorry for the super crappy picture. I was too hungry to work on a better one.


* 2 pounds clean, scrubbed new red potatoes
* 6 eggs
* 1 pound bacon
* 1 onion, finely chopped
* 1 stalk celery, finely chopped (omitted)
* 2 cups mayonnaise
* salt and pepper to taste


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain and set in the refrigerator to cool.
2. Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Cover and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water, cool, peel and chop.
3. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside. (or just use crumbled bacon like I did!)
4. Chop the cooled potatoes, leaving skin on. Add to a large bowl, along with the eggs, bacon, onion and celery. Add mayonnaise, salt and pepper to taste. Chill for an hour before serving.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Happy Birthday To MEEEEEE!

Yay! I'm officially a quarter of a century today. To celebrate first, Carl made me a wonderful breakfast on Saturday morning.

Then, last night we had Carl's family over last night for pizza and cake. YUM cake! White with real strawberry filling! I'm so lucky to have such wonderful in-laws!

I'm off to continue celebrating!

Monday, March 16, 2009

I wish this had a fancier name

Green Beans with Cherry Tomatoes

Yeah, so I wish this had a better name. It sure deserves it! Is this the best way to get your veggies? Well no, we are about to coat them in butter, but we are getting our veggies so just deal with it!

Again, another recipe where I (say it with me) didn't have to go to the store, woo hoo. This was honestly the best way I've ever had green beans. Take that green bean casserole!


* 1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces (I used 1 pound frozen)
* 1 1/2 cups water (I used 1 cup)
* 1/4 cup butter (I used about half of this)
* 1 tablespoon sugar (I omitted completely as reviews suggested)
* 3/4 teaspoon garlic salt (I used about 1/2 tsp)
* 1/4 teaspoon pepper (1/8 tsp)
* 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil (1/2 tsp dry basil)
* 2 cups cherry tomato halves (I used quartered campari tomatoes)


1. Place beans and water in a large saucepan. Cover, and bring to a boil. Set heat to low, and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain off water, and set aside.
2. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in sugar, garlic salt, pepper and basil. Add tomatoes, and cook stirring gently just until soft. Pour the tomato mixture over the green beans, and toss gently to blend.

Mashed Red Skin Potatoes

Red skin potatoes were on sale, thank you St. Patrick's Day, so I bought a big bag. I have been wanting to try to make mashed red skins for quite some time, and it seemed like the perfect pair to my roasted chicken. I found this recipe which again, didn't make me go to the store, woo hoo.

I basically cut the recipe in half and it worked out so we could eat these for dinner and then have them again as leftovers. They were really really good! I will absolutely make them again....now just to decide when is too soon to make them again!


* 4 lbs small new red potatoes, quartered
* 2 teaspoons salt, plus
* 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
* 1 cup heavy cream (I used half and half)
* 1/2 cup unsalted butter
* 1/2 cup sour cream (I use reduced-fat)
* 3/4 teaspoon pepper


1.Place potatoes in 5-6 quart Dutch oven; add enough cold water to cover potatoes.
2.Add 2 tsp salt to water; bring to a boil.
3.Reduce heat to low; simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a small knife.
4.In small saucepan over low heat, heat together heavy cream and butter for 5 minutes or until butter is melted and mixture is heated through.
5.Drain potatoes; transfer to large bowl.
6.With potato masher, smash potatoes together with hot cream mixture until well blended.
7.To potatoes, add sour cream, remaining salt, and the pepper.
8. Blend in with the potato masher; continue to smash until desired consistency is achieved.

*I just used my hand mixer on low and left a few lumps...yummy!!!

Zesty Roasted Chicken

I bought two full chickens at Sam's for less than $8, how can you beat that? I wanted to use my crock pot so it could cook while we were at my nephew's brunch birthday party. I just searched through a few websites and found this one. It didn't require me to go to the store and it had great reviews- woo hoo! It ended up being quite the Sunday dinner, you'll see the rest of the menu above.

The chicken literally fell off the bone as I was trying to get it out of the crock pot. My only issue is I think my crock pot cooks things too fast. It was definitely done after 4 hours, but since I was at the party, I couldn't test it beforehand. It might have been done sooner. It still tasted really good and the juices the chicken made were awesome!


* 4 teaspoons salt
* 2 teaspoons paprika
* 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1 teaspoon onion powder
* 1 teaspoon thyme
* 1 teaspoon white pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
* 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
* 1 large roasting chicken (with pop-up timer if possible)
* 1 cup onion, chopped (optional)


1. In a small bowl, combine the spices.
2.Remove any giblets from chicken and clean chicken.
3.Rub spice mixture onto the chicken.
4.Place in resealable plastic bag and refrigerate overnight. (I usually skip this step because I'm always in a hurry).
5.When ready to cook, put chopped onion in bottom of crock pot.
6.Add chicken. No liquid is needed, the chicken will make it's own juices.
7.Cook on low 4-8 hours.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

I've pretty much had a fascination with pineapple upside down cake since I saw one baked on Saved by the Bell. You know what I'm talking about right? Remember...the school received some money and to decide how to spend it the girls and guys have a sports competition. The final event is a bake off, but Zack (swoon) switched the oven knobs so the girls would burn their....you guessed it, pineapple upside down cake. Well anyway, I've always wanted to make one, but never had. But when I saw this recipe, I decided to give it a go. Success.

Sorry my picture isn't the greatest, I made this with my mother-in-law at her house and had to bring a piece home to take a picture.

1 can(s) (20 1/2 ounce) pineapple rings in pineapple juice
12 tablespoon(s) unsalted butter
1/2 cup(s) light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup(s) dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1/3 cup(s) chopped pecans
1 1/2 cup(s) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon(s) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup(s) granulated sugar

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Drain the pineapples and discard the juice. Place the pineapples on six layers of paper towel and allow the excess liquid to absorb for 5 minutes. Flip the rings over onto a dry spot of the towel and repeat.
3. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter, pour it into a 10-inch round cake pan, and sprinkle with the brown sugars. Arrange the pineapple rings in a single layer over the brown sugars, sprinkle with the nuts, and set aside.
4. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Lightly beat the eggs, yolks, and vanilla together in a small bowl and set aside. Beat the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl using an electric mixer set on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
5. Reduce speed to low and alternately mix in the flour mixture and egg mixture. Pour the batter into the pan and bake until golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean — about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
6. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes on wire rack. Run a small, sharp knife around the edge of the pan to release cake.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Awesome Banana Nut Bread Muffins

I have a love. A love of banana nut bread. And in a search to find that perfect recipe, I luckily...LUCKILY found this one at allrecipes.com. OMG. Just omg. If you like banana nut bread, you MUST try this. It is definitely a sweet version of the bread. Now, I've made this a few times, but this time, I decided to go the muffin route. Mostly because they are fast, but also because they are darn cute. And the single serving portions are just an added bonus.

I'll state my changes/information here to make it easier (easier on me that is...).
1. This recipe made 12 regular muffins and two batches of mini muffins- so that's 12 large and about 60 mini.
2. The mini muffins were done at 12 minutes at 350 degrees/The regular muffins took about 17 minutes at 350 degrees


* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1 cup butter or margarine
* 2 cups white sugar
* 2 cups mashed overripe bananas
* 4 eggs, beaten
* 1 cup chopped walnuts


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9x5 inch loaf pans.
2. Sift the flour, salt and baking soda into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the butter or margarine and sugar until smooth. Stir in the bananas, eggs, and walnuts until well blended. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mixture, and stir just until blended. Divide the batter evenly between the two loaf pans.
3. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes in the preheated oven, until a knife inserted into the crown of the loaf comes out clean. Let the loaves cool in the pans for at least 5 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack, and cool completely. Wrap in aluminum foil to keep in the moisture. Ideally, refrigerate the loaves for 2 hours or more before serving.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Weekend Frittata

Saturday morning we wanted something decent for breakfast. We were working on the guest room, and Carl had to make a Home Depot run. So while he did that, I tackled the Internet to see what I could possibly make with the food I already had. I found this one at RecipeZaar rather quickly, and for the most part I had everything. Cheese? Good. Veggies? Good. Eggs? Good. Off I went.

I pretty much cut this in half, and it was plenty for us to have...and then there were still leftovers.


* 8 ounces bulk pork sausage (I just used 3 breakfast maple sausage patties)
* 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
* 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
* 4 ounces medium mushrooms, sliced (I only had canned)
* 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, if needed
* 6 large eggs
* 2 tablespoons water
* 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (No fresh basil here- I just used a 1/4 tsp of dried)
* 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
* fresh ground black pepper
* 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
* basil leaves, for garnish (again...no fresh basil, so I skipped this. My presentation is lacking)


1.In a large ovenproof skillet over med-high heat, cook sausage and bell pepper, breaking up sausage with a spoon, for 3 minutes.
2.Add in onion and mushroom; cook until sausage is no longer pink and vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes; add oil, if needed.
3.Preheat broiler.
4.In a bowl, whisk the eggs, water, basil, salt, and pepper together; pour over sausage mixture in the skillet.
5.Decrease heat to med-low, cover and cook, 10-12 minutes, until eggs are set and top is almost dry. (*Mine took a little less since there was less egg to cook)
6.Sprinkle with cheese; broil until frittata is puffy and cheese melts, about 1 minute.
7.Let stand for 5 minutes; cut into wedges and serve; garnish with basil leaves.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Tuna Macaroni Salad

Ah yes, you can totally tell it is Lent. One of my favorite recipes to break out on our non-meat days is tuna macaroni salad. It's easy, it's tasty and refreshing!

1 lb elbow noodles cooked and cooled (or whatever noodle you like)
2 cans tuna, drained
1 bag of peas (the 15oz size)
1/2 red onion chopped
3 hard boiled eggs
1/2 cup Miracle Whip (or regular mayo if you insist)
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together. (difficult right?) For best results, refrigerate for at least an hour, but this is always a little tastier the next day!

Dining Out While Eating In

I've decided my absolute favorite restaurant is Buffalo Wild Wings. Ok, at least my favorite chain restaurant, but anyway...I do love it! For Christmas I got Carl a couple of the sauces so we could made some of our favorite dishes at home. My original plan tonight was to make Stephanie's Chicken Tacos but then I remembered I had the sauces and buffalitos sounded soooo good! I don't suppose I can take any credit for this, I pretty much just did what they did, but I tell you what- they were delicious! So thank you BWW for 1. introducing me to heavenly buffalitos and 2. thank you for selling me your delicious sauces.

1 large chicken breast or 4 chicken tenders (I used the tenders...on accident)
1/4 c of your favorite BWW sauce- I used Caribbean Jerk
Flour Tortillas
1 c Colby Jack Cheese
Chopped Lettuce
Sour Cream
Pico De Gallo (I used salsa that I partially drained)

Heat oil in a skillet and place chicken in, season lightly with salt. Flip once and allow to cook through. Pull chicken out and shred with two forks. Place chicken back in the pan on med-low and add the BWW Sauce. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes so the sauce can soak through.

Warm your tortillas for 15-20 seconds in the microwave. Load your tortillas with the chicken, cheese, lettuce, sour cream and pico de gallo. Roll em up and EAT! This made enough for roughly 6 buffalitos.

It's easy. It's yummy. It's fun! Go do it!

Thank You...Thank You ::::gracious bow:::::

Jenna at Jenna's Random Thoughts was kind enough to award me with the Refreshing as Lemonade award and the Your Blog is Fabulous award. Thanks so much Jenna! You just made my night! I really have enjoyed adding to my cooking skills and creating this blog. It's good to know others have been enjoying it too :)

I'm passing these awards onto:

Jen @ Domestic Diva
Monica @ My Big Fat Food Blog

Here are the rules…

- Add the logo in your blog.
- Add a link to the person who gave you the award.
- Nominate other (refreshing…like lemonade and fabulous) blogs of your choice.
- Don’t forget to add links to those blogs in yours.
- Also leave a message for your nominees in their blogs, informing them about the award.

Classic Beef Stew

Apparently what I really wanted was classic stew. Don't get me wrong, Parker's Stew was good, but I just needed that nostalgic classic taste. I still had a plethora of stew meat in the freezer, so I thawed out another pound of it and snatched my father/mother-in-law's recipe. Oh and by the way- it was in a super cute recipe book their church had compiled in 1988. I can't wait to try some of the other recipes!

1-1 1/2 lb stewing beef cut into 1-2 inch pieces (I used 1 lb)
2 tbsp oil
1-2 bay leaves (I used 2)
6 cups boiling water
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic (I used 2)
1 medium onion (I used 2 small onions)
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp pepper
dash allspice and cloves (I just used allspice)
6 carrots (I used a 1 lb bag of baby carrots)
4 potatoes- cut into cubes- about 2 inches

Brown meat in oil. Add water, spices and seasonings. Cover and simmer (don't boil) 1 1/2 hours. Remove bay leaves. Add carrots and potatoes. Cook 1/2 hour.

Dumplings (optional...but not according to Carl- he says they are a must)

1 cup flour
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1/2 egg shell of milk (approx 1/8 cup)

Form into small balls (they will expand in the water) and add drop into boiling water. Cook approximately 20 minutes. (If you start these right after you put the carrots and potatoes in, it times very nicely)

After the 20 minutes (and now your carrots and potatoes have probably cooked for 30) put the dumplings in the stew and let simmer for another 10 minutes. Serve! (Enough for 6 hearty servings)

This is such a great recipe. Carl even said "The beef is just melting in my mouth!" I agreed! Just be careful and patient. I didn't want to wait any longer so we dove right in, and I'm still nursing the roof of my mouth because I burned it :(
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