Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chocolate Ice Cream

I got an ice cream maker attachment for my birthday back in March, so I deserve a slap on the wrist for waiting this long to use it. But I think knowing what I've been missing out on all this time is punishment enough! Wow. I don't think I'll ever have the need to buy ice cream in a carton. This is just too good to not go through the extra effort. I used the "Easy Ice Cream" recipe out of the newest Martha Stewart Everyday Food magazine.

8 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
2 cups skim milk
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups heavy cream

1. In a medium saucepan, off heat, whisk together egg yolks, sugar and salt until blended. Add in cocoa powder. Gradually whisk in milk.

2. Cook over medium stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until custard thickens slightly and evenly coats back of spoon. (it should hold a line drawn by your finger), 10-12 minutes.

3. Pour custard through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl set over ice. Stir in cream. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until chilled. Churn in an ice cream maker for 30 minutes. Transfer ice cream to a resealable plastic container and freeze until firm, about 7 hours. It will keep up to 3 months....yeah right. Trust me, it won't last nearly that long!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Worth Mentioning Again: Mediterranean Orzo Salad

I made this salad awhile back, but posted it with a couple other items. I really feel as though this deserves it's own post. It's really light and refreshing, perfect for the warm weather months!

1 pound asparagus spears, trimmed and in 1 inch pieces
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 medium red onion, sliced into 1/2 inch wedges
1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, pressed
Salt and coarsely ground black pepper optional
3/4 c uncooked orzo pasta
1 can garbanzo beans
1 package (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
1/2 c pitted whole kalamata olives
1/2 c snipped fresh parsley
1/4 c prepared Greek vinaigrette dressing

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine asparagus, bell pepper, onion and oil in a medium mixing bowl. Press garlic into mixing bowl; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Arrange vegetables on a bar pan (or cookie sheet). Bake 25-30 minutes or until vegetables are tender and deep golden brown. Remove from oven; cool completely.

Meanwhile, prepare orzo according to package directions, drain and rinse under cold running water. Place orzo in large mixing bowl, add vegetable mixture, beans, feta cheese, olives, parsley and salad dressing. Toss gently and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more.

I doubled this recipe for our party on Sunday, and it was a perfect amount. There were about 25 people here. I also recommend more olives...but I really like olives!

Courtesy of Pampered Chef

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Grilled Jalapeno Chicken

(*My pic sucks...I was too excited to eat it and was moving fast!)
I went to look for a recipe on, and this was the featured recipe. It sounded soooo good, I modified my meal plan to fit it in. I'm really glad I did too, because it was really really good! If you like a little spice, you will love this. Carl just kept saying, this is sooo good! And I agree.

I only made about a 1/3 of the recipe with one extra large chicken breast.


* 6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - pounded to 1/4 inch thickness
* 1 (16 ounce) bottle Italian dressing
* 3 fresh jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded (I used jarred sliced jalapenos)
* 1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
* 6 slices bacon (I skipped the bacon)
* toothpicks (I used turkey skewers...seemed safer than toothpicks)


1. Place chicken breasts in a dish with the Italian dressing. Cover, and marinate in the refrigerator at least 2 hours.
2. Preheat the grill for high heat.
3. Stuff each jalapeno half with cream cheese. Roll chicken breasts around jalapeno peppers. Wrap each chicken breast with a slice of bacon. Secure with toothpicks.
4. Lightly oil the grill grate. Arrange wrapped chicken breasts on the prepared grill. Cook for 20 minutes, turning frequently, or until bacon is browned and the chicken juices run clear.

Grilled Veggies

This really isn't a recipe, I just needed a veggie to go with our meal tonight, so I threw together what I had and crossed my fingers.

1/4 of a Red Onion- sliced
1/4 of each a red and orange pepper
6 campari tomatoes
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 tsp rosemary
2 cloves of garlic

Mix all together in a bowl and place in a grill basket. Grill on medium for about 10 minutes. Veggie requirement complete.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

BBQ Chili Chicken Thighs

This was another on the spot meal decision. Chicken thighs were on sale at the store, so I grabbed them. I've never made this cut of meat before, so I figured I'd give it a try. I just searched for recipes for chicken thighs, and found this one.

I cut the entire recipe in half, and while I did enjoy the crispy chicken skin, I think I'll stick to chicken breast. I just prefer a leaner meat with less work, as does Carl. But we both agreed we WILL try this same recipe using chicken breast. The sauce was really flavorful and great on the grill. You could use this marinade on pretty much anything.


* 1 (12 ounce) bottle chili sauce
* 1/3 cup white wine or chicken broth
* 1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
* 10 cloves garlic, minced
* 4 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/8 teaspoon pepper


1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the first seven ingredients; mix well. Remove 1/3 cup for basting; cover and refrigerate. Add chicken to bag; seal and turn to coat. Chill for at least 2 hours.
2. Drain and discard marinade from chicken. Grill, covered, skin side down, over medium heat for 20 minutes. Baste with some of the reserved marinade. Turn; grill 10 minutes longer or until the chicken juices run clear, basting frequently.

Grilled Corn on the Cob

Carl really doesn't even like corn, but I just couldn't help myself when I saw these little guys at the store. I decided to have our entire dinner made on the grill tonight, and the corn was no exception. As we were eating them, Carl said "This was a pretty big risk knowing I don't like corn, but I actually really like it." I really think this is the best way to cook corn on the cob! It keeps it so firm rather than stringy. Yum!

Remove all the husks and clean the ears. Tightly wrap them in double thick aluminum foil. Heat the grill to medium and place ears on the rack. Cook them for 30 minutes, turning them every 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I'm Martha's Cooler Younger Sister...

...Because I don't have all the time in the world to make everything from scratch. I'm far too busy doing other better, cooler, more fun shopping after work? Well anyway, I didn't have time to meal plan this weekend, so I had to wing it while shopping. I remembered a dish I made often while Carl and I were dating, but again another meal we've haven't had since being married. Scalloped Potatoes & Ham, the quick way. There is a much more elaborate way of doing this, but this is my quick fix. It never fails to satisfy!

1 Center Cut Ham Steak (You'll find this by the ham, sometimes by the deli meat)
1 Box of Scalloped Potatoes (Think Betty Crocker....remember- you are younger and's ok to get it them of a box)- Including the ingredients it calls for

Yeah, that's it.

Make the potatoes according to the box directions. Each brand is a little different, but basically the same. They usually need to bake between 25 and 35 minutes. While they are baking, trim and cut the ham into 1ish inch pieces. I'm not picky, whatever floats your boat. After the potatoes have been in about 10 minutes and have set up a bit, take them out of the oven and dump the ham in. Give it a quick stir to incorporate the ham. Put it back in the oven for the duration of the cooking time or until golden brown on the top. Eat!

Simple. Fast. Delicious. Take that Martha.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sloppy Joe's...from SCRATCH!

Growing up, I think the only way I had Sloppy Joe's was out of a can. And rightfully so, it was a quick and tasty option for dinner, and if you were like my mom and had 6 kids, the former was extremely important. But for me, with no time to meal plan this weekend and some ground beef thawing in the freezer,I had to figure out dinner quick and work with minimal items so I didn't have to stop at the store. We haven't had sloppy joe's together....EVER, so what a great option! And, I found this recipe that sounded great, and I knew I had all the ingredients. It was better than the canned stuff, and really not that much more involved. I highly rec this for your next quick, easy, tasty dinner! I served it with some raw veggies and dip.


* 1 pound lean ground beef
* 1/4 cup chopped onion
* 1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
* 1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
* 3/4 cup ketchup
* 3 teaspoons brown sugar
* salt to taste
* ground black pepper to taste


1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef, onion, and green pepper; drain off liquids.
2. Stir in the garlic powder, mustard, ketchup, and brown sugar; mix thoroughly. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Oven Baked Honey Chicken Nuggets

I trust Lindsay. I trust Lindsay a lot. She's never steered me wrong. So when she said "go make these," I nodded and said uh huh.

She veered off the recipe a little, so I decided to do it just the way it was stated. These were a great, quick, different way to eat chicken. I loved the nugget size and the flavor was great. We dipped them in Baby Rays BBQ Sauce- delish! Thanks Lindsay for yet another great recipe!


* 1/2 cup honey
* 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
* 1 1/2 cups dried bread crumbs
* Appx 1 lb fresh boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Spray foil-lined baking pan large enough to hold all chicken pieces in one layer.
2. In shallow bowl, whisk together honey and vinegar. Set aside.
3. Place bread crumbs in a small saute pan and toast lightly over low heat for about 3-4 minutes until lightly golden brown.
4. Pour bread crumbs a little at a time into separated bowl. Roll chicken pieces in honey mixture, then in bread crumbs; place in pan.
5. Bake for 30 minutes, or until cooked thoroughly. (Mine were done in exactly 30 min)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Family Spaghetti Salad

This has been a staple salad at parties in my family for eons. Just the smell of it brings back memories of sandy bare feet running through my parents' house during a bustling party. Love it. Oh, and it's super easy. Really, you can't screw it up.

I doubled this recipe and had plenty for our party of 17 on Sunday. Modify accordingly.

1 lb spaghetti noodles, cooked, drained and rinsed
1 cucumber (I use English seedless), diced in 1 inch pieces
2 medium sized tomatoes, diced small
2 scallions, diced thinly
2 medium green peppers, diced small
1 bottle Wishbone Italian Dressing (not the huge bottle...the normal sized one- I believe it was 16 oz)
1/2 bottle McCormick Salad Seasoning Supreme

Mix together the noodles and veggies thoroughly, then start adding the dressing and seasoning. I recommend tasting it after you've added about half of each. The flavor can get strong, which is the way I like it, but you may like it a little less powerful. You can't screw this one up, trust me! Carl's words (in between bites mind you) "'"

Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes

I spotted this recipe on Mrs D Loves to Eat's blog. They looked so springy and fresh, I had to add them to the Mother's Day menu, and a good decision that was. Everyone loved them...especially the surprise in the middle!

Lemon-Raspberry Cupcakes
yields 24 cupcakes

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups buttermilk (I used whole milk and lemon juice instead)
zest and juice of 2 Meyer lemons

Raspberry preserves

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. raspberry preserves
24 raspberries

Wash and drain raspberries. Allow to dry on a paper towel. (This will prevent excess liquid dripping onto the frosting.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

In a large mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Continue beating and gradually add sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Gradually drizzle in the eggs, and beat in between additions, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat until batter is no longer slick.

Alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk on low speed, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Beat in the lemon juice and lemon zest.

Divide batter between 24 cupcake liners, and bake for 18-20 minutes, until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely.

To fill the cupcakes, cut a small cone out of each cupcake using a small paring knife. Fill with 1 tsp. raspberry preserves and replace each cone. (You may need to cut a small part of the cone off so it sits evenly.)

To prepare the frosting, in a large mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a hand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar until frosting consistency. Add preserves and continue to beat until a pinkish hue and raspberry flavor is achieved. Pipe onto cupcakes as desired. (Smoothing with a knife will not work as well with the cone.) Put a raspberry in the center of each cupcake.

Classic Potato Salad

Oh potato salad, how you mock me with your unphotographic ways....

Flipping through the newest Food Network magazine I stumbled upon a classic potato salad recipe by Aaron McCargo. I needed a recipe for my Mother's Day menu, and this one looked fresh, and delicious. Oh and it was! I will definitely make this again- most likely the next time will be our Memorial Day party in just a few weeks.


* 3 large Yukon gold potatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (I actually used regular potatoes)
* 3 large eggs
* 1/2 cup diced onion
* 1/2 cup diced celery (omitted)
* 2 tablespoons sweet relish
* 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
* 1 teaspoon hot sauce
* Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
* 1 cup mayonnaise
* 2 scallions, thinly sliced


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and spread out on a sheet pan to cool. Meanwhile, bring a separate pot of water to a boil. Carefully add the eggs; cook for 12 minutes, then remove to a bowl of ice water to cool completely. Peel the eggs under cold running water, then roughly chop.

In a large bowl, combine the onion, celery, relish, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and the mayonnaise. Fold in the potatoes, eggs and scallions. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

Party Punch

Who doesn't love a good punch? I mean really. Raise your hand if you don't like a good punch. See, everyone loves a good punch. So I made a big ol jar full of it to dispense at the Mother's Day party, and it was a huge hit! I thought for sure I would be drinking punch for a week, but it's actually almost gone. I'm enjoying the last glass right now. I found it on Shelly's Blog and apparently her mom is the punch queen. That's a good sort of queen to be in my book. Thanks Momma Gail!

Party Punch
Serves: about 20

Mix together the following:
+1 bottle cranberry pomegranate
+1 can frozen lemonade
+1 can frozen orange juice (I used a large can of orange juice- in the warm juice aisle)
+3 cans water (from juice cans)(I omitted all water)
+1 bottle (can) pineapple juice
+1/2 bottle 7-Up

To keep it cold in the bowl, make a pretty ice ring! Get a cool jello mold or a bundt cake pan and fill with the blended punch or just plain 7-Up. You can add slices of fruit too. Make sure to freeze overnight. Don't make the ring too big to fit in the bowl! Enjoy.

Strawberry Lemon Poppyseed Cake

I needed something to bring to Mother's Day for Carl's family. I had seen a cake in an issue of Women's Day and just knew I had to make it! It was a big hit and I would definitely make it again.

The recipe called for 8 inch pans, which would allow you to cut them in half and have four layers. I, however, only had 9 inch pans, so mine was only two layers thick. Not a problem for me though, it worked out just fine. I also used a different frosting, but have included the one that came with the recipe. I will also post the one I used at the bottom.


White Chocolate Frosting
21⁄2 cups cold heavy cream
6 oz white chocolate, chopped

2 1/4 c cake flour (I used 1 1/2 + 3 tbsp flour and 1/4 c + 1 tbsp cornstarch)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp poppy seeds
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 c sugar
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 tbsp grated lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
Whites from 3 large eggs plus
1 whole egg
1 c whole milk
8 tbsp strawberry jam
1 lb strawberries (reserve 4 whole berries for garnish), hulled and sliced


1. Frosting: Pour 1 cup of the cream into a 4-cup glass measure; bring to a simmer in microwave, about 2 minutes; add white chocolate. Let stand 2 minutes. Whisk until smooth; refrigerate while making cake.

2. Cake: Heat the oven to 350°F. Line bottom of two 8 x 2-in. round cake pans with parchment or wax paper; coat pans and paper with nonstick cooking spray.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, poppy seeds and salt. Beat sugar, butter, lemon zest and juice with mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg whites and whole egg until smooth. With mixer on low, alternately beat in flour mixture and milk until incorporated. Continue to beat batter on medium speed for 3 minutes. Divide batter between prepared pans and smooth tops with spatula.

4. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack 10 minutes. Loosen edge of cakes with knife; invert onto the rack and remove parchment paper. Turn cakes right side up. Cool completely.

5. To finish the frosting: In large bowl, beat chilled white-chocolate mixture with remaining 11⁄2 cups cold cream until stiff peaks form.

6. To assemble cake: With a serrated knife, halve cakes horizontally. Place 1 layer on a serving plate, cut side up; spread with 2 Tbsp of the jam. Spread a scant 2⁄3 cup frosting over jam. Arrange one third of the sliced strawberries evenly over frosting. Top with a second cake layer; spread with another 2 Tbsp jam, frosting and a layer of berries. Repeat with a third layer. Brush the cut side of remaining cake layer with remaining jam and place jam-side down on top. Cover cake with remaining frosting. Decorate with reserved berries.

I took 3 strawberries and stood them up slicing them almost all the way through, then carefully spread the sideways- like you would hold playing cards in your hand. I arranged those in a circle and placed a whole strawberry in the middle.

The frosting I used was very light and fluffy...perhaps that's why the name was "Light and Fluffy Frosting" on It was the perfect compliment this the cake which already had a lot of flavors going on!

1 c milk
4 tbsp flour
1 c granulated sugar
1/2 c butter
1/2 c crisco

Heat milk and flour slowly, mixing until thick. Cool. Beat sugar, butter and crisco on high speed for 5 minutes. Add cooked milk mixture and beat 5 more minutes.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Chicken Creole

One of my favorite go to recipes is this Chicken Cacciatore. The things I like most about it is that it's healthy, comes together quickly, I almost always have all the ingredients on hand and it's really TASTY! So, when I saw this recipe on Wine a Bit...You'll Feel Better I knew I had to make it! It is really similar to the Cacciatore, but it has a kick to it. The flavor is wonderful. As Carl said, it was "spicy, but then not spicy." It really was a great blend! This meal will definitely make our regular rotation.

1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into one-inch strips (I used 1 lb)
14 oz. can tomatoes, cut up (I used a can of diced tomaotoes)
1 cup chili sauce (I used 3/4 c)
1 large green pepper, chopped up (1/2 large green pepper)
1/2 cup chopped celery (omitted- I didn't have any)
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil OR 1 tsp dried basil
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley OR 1 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (I used 1/2 tsp)
1/4 tsp salt
Non-stick spray coating
Brown rice OR whole wheat pasta (Tisk tisk, I used white rice)

1. Spray deep skilet with non-stick spray coating. Preheat pan over high heat. Cook chicken in hot skillet until no longer pink.
2. Reduce heat. Add tomatoes AND THEIR JUICE, chili sauce, green pepper, celery, onion, garlic, herbs and salt. Bring to boiling; reduce heat and simmer covered for 10 minutes. Serve over hot, cooked brown rice or whole wheat pasta.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

My Grandma's Chip Dip

I've been eating this chip dip since I was very little. My grandma ALWAYS had it at her house for parties, and still does. It is by far my favorite chip dip. The measurements are approximate simply because that's how my grandma does it. You know, just mix it until it looks right. It should be a very pale pink.

1 bar of cream cheese- softened (Just let it sit out for about 15 minutes)
~2 tsp Worcestershire
~2 tbsp chili sauce
~2 tbsp chopped green onion (optional)

Mix all the ingredients and serve with regular potato chips for dipping.
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