Monday, July 30, 2012

Spinach Tortellini with Pesto

If I am in the mood for something light and easy I like to make tortellini with pesto. I don't feel so bad about eating pasta when I use pesto. I usually do not feel as gross after eating it either because it is not super heavy.

When it comes to pesto for the most part I buy it pre-made from the store. Sometimes I will jazz it up a bit by adding crushed red pepper, garlic or parmesan. Tonight I decided to add pistachios.
As you know I watch a ton of Food Network. I was watching Guy's Big Bite one morning and saw him make a pesto with pistachio and rub it under chicken skin. Phil made this recipe (will try to post sometime soon) and I loved the flavor of the pistachio in the pesto.

If you do not have a mini food processor I would highly suggest one. I use mine for chopping up nuts really fine and making pesto (when I have made homemade) or a breadcrumb mixture for meat. So if you are in the mood for an easy and light supper give this one a try!

Spinach Tortellini with Pesto

1 Package Buitoni Spinach Tortellini
1 cup pesto
1/4 cup pistachios, shelled
1/4 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup ricotta cheese

Cook tortellini according to package directions.

Chop shelled pistachios into small pieces. Combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, pesto and pistachios together until well combined.

Once pasta is cooked in a small bowl combine pasta with 1/4 cup olive oil and pesto. Mix to coat pasta.
Top pasta with parmesan cheese and ricotta cheese.

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Blueberry Baked Oatmeal

Cookbook Recipe #8

I love the Southern Living Annual recipe books. They all have over 900 recipes in them and they are all about comfort foods. My favorite! The books have all the recipes from Southern Living Magazine throughout the year. I like that they also put the book together by month because when you are trying to make a recipe with ingredients that are in season you can look at that month. From this book I decided to make Blueberry Baked Oatmeal.

I am not really a big oatmeal person but I really like this baked version. I make this recipe a lot on the weekends because I usually have a lot of leftovers for during the week at work. I love the combination of blueberries and brown sugar together. When I make this in the winter I use frozen blueberries but in the summer I use fresh blueberries. I need to get in the habit of buying a bunch of blueberries when they are on sale and freezing them so I can enjoy good summer blueberries all year long.

Blueberry Baked Oatmeal
Southern Living Annual Recipes 2007

2 cups fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
1 18oz container regular oats
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon cinnamon
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking dish.

In a small bowl toss blueberries with 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Pour and spread out into baking dish.

In a large bowl combine oats and next 9 ingredients until well blended.

Pour mixture evenly over blueberries.

Bake, covered for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 20 minutes.

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

S'more Bars

When I think of summer I think of S'mores and fried chicken....but for today I am just going to talk about S'mores.  I like how you can find so many different recipes for desserts that taste like S'mores. I have seen recipes for cakes, ice cream treats, bars, trifles...etc.  Some of my best memories involve S'mores. On one of our first dates Phil surprised me by taking me to my first drive-in movie. I had told him that going to the drive-in was on my "bucket list." He brought along this S'more maker that he had, that you can make S'mores indoors on a little sterno. We sat outside of the car in lawn chairs and made S'mores and watched the movie. It was such a fun a memorable night for me! 

So when I saw these S'more bars on Pinterest recently I knew I had to make them soon. I got the recipe off of the blog Country Cleaver. Her version said to cook the marshmallows on the stove, but when I made Rice Krispie Treats growing up I always melted the marshmallows in the microwave. I would much rather try to get gooey marshmallow off of a bowl than a a saucepan.

S'more Bars
Adapted from The Country Cleaver

1 10oz bag Mini Marshmallows
11/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
1 12oz box Golden Grahams Cereal
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Non-stick cooking spray

Spray a 9x9 baking pan with cooking spray.

In a large microwavable bowl melt 6 tablespoons butter and mini marshmallows. I cooked it for 45 seconds, stirring after every 10 seconds. 

Stir butter and marshmallows until gooey and thick. Add in Golden Grahams and 1 cup chocolate chips. Mix well. 

Pour into baking pan. Top with 1/4 cup chocolate chips. Press down to make them more compacted. 

Allow to sit at least 30 minutes before cutting to be sure they are cooled. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Turkey and Black Bean Enchiladas

Phil and I were at a Mexican restaurant called Salsa 17 and I had fajitas, which they served with black beans instead of the traditional re-fried beans. Ever since I had those fajitas I fell in love with black beans. I want to put them in every Mexican dish I make...and I pretty much do. I like a lot of different kinds of beans but I think black beans are my favorite. So naturally I put them in my enchiladas as well.

Enchiladas are a staple in our house as we make them I would say at least 2 to 3 times a month.....and always with black beans. I also like to make enchiladas with whole wheat tortillas. I started making them with whole wheat tortillas to try to make it healthier and I ended up liking them better that way. It doesn't get much better then enchilada night at our house!

Turkey and Black Bean Enchiladas
Adapted from the Taste of Home

6-8 Whole wheat tortillas
1 15.5oz can black beans,, drained and rinsed
1 28oz can enchilada sauce
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 pound ground turkey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown ground turkey in a skillet over medium heat.

In a sauce pan heat up black beans over low heat.

Meanwhile in a 9 x 13 casserole dish pour enough enchilada sauce to cover the bottom of the dish.

Once turkey is browned assemble the enchiladas. In each tortilla fill with ground turkey, beans and a little cheese. Roll up and place in casserole seam side down. Continue until all enchiladas are made. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas.

Bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes top enchiladas with remaining cheese and bake another 5 minutes.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower

If you have regular Farmer's Markets in your area, I think you should think about checking them out. I need to do a better job at going myself. We have so many of them in the area. The only thing is most of them are at odd times during the week, so it can be tough to go. This weekend I went to a local one that is on Sunday's with my friend Nicole. The markets are a great way of enjoying your local fresh produce. A lot of times there is also vendors selling prepared jams, dressings and sauces as well. It is a good time to stock up on specialty ingredients that you cannot buy at the store.

I have been on a cauliflower kick recently and I saw this purple cauliflower at the market. I have seen the colored ones before but have never tried or made one. I asked the lady selling the produce if it tasted like regular cauliflower and she assured me it would. She was right, it tasted exactly like white cauliflower. I like to roast my cauliflower because I like the crispiness the ends get and it still gets nice and tender in the center.

Roasted Cauliflower
Adapted from Allrecipes

1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Spray a large casserole with cooking spray. 

Toss cauliflower and all other ingredients together in casserole.

Bake for 40 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Baked Potato Soup

Cookbook Recipe #7

Last weekend I was in the Milkwaukee area and I decided to stop in Greendale, which has the headquarters for Reiman Publications. I anxiously await my Taste of Home magazines every month. Ask my is like Christmas whenever one of my cooking magazines arrives. Inside the magazines they always advertise Greendale as being the Taste of Home headquarters. The test kitchen is there, were they test all the recipes that come into the headquarters before they decide which ones will make it into the magazine. They also advertise that they sell the "fallen off the truck" cookbooks for $5.00 a piece. The cookbooks just look a little worn down and the edges a little beaten up. A lot of them though you can barely notice the imperfections. So naturally I have by dying to go there to check it out. This cookbook is one of the cookbooks that I bought for $5.00. I am a big soup girl. I eat soup even when its really hot out (like this weekend). So I was excited when I saw this cookbook which is all about soups.

There are several recipes that I want to make in this book. But the recipe I choose to feature for this cookbook was the Baked Potato Soup. There was a restaurant that I went to with Phil's family called Al Capone's Hideaway and Steakhouse. I am bummed that I only had a chance to go there one time since the restaurant has since closed. But they had the best Baked Potato soup I have ever had. I have tried a couple times to try and make this soup from other recipes. It has been good but not as good as the Hideaway's.
This recipe has come the closest. It came out very creamy but not too thick. I think the key is baking the potatoes, hence "baked potato soup." Other times I have tried to make this I cooked the potatoes in the microwave. So I think baking them really does make a difference. This is not one to make when trying to watch the calories. It is definitely a good splurge recipe, but well worth it!

Baked Potato Soup
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Easy Dinners: Soups and Stews

2 large baking potatoes
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 cups milk
1 cup cheddar cheese
4 slices cooked bacon

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Prick potatoes with a fork and place on baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour or until tender. Let cool. 
Scoop out pulp from potatoes and set aside. 

In a large dutch oven melt butter. Add flour and stir until combined. Add milk, salt, pepper and dill. Cook until thick and bubbly stirring often because milk will scald on bottom of pan very quickly. 

Once milk is thickened add potatoes, cheese and bacon and mix well. Stir until cheese is melted. 

Garnish with your favorite potato toppings. 

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Chicken Tetrazzini

Cookbook Recipe #6

My Food Network obsession started with Rachael Ray. I used to watch her a lot when she was on in the afternoons. Then I started to watch other chefs more and more and now I am OBSESSED with the Food Network and the new Cooking Channel.

My parents started getting me the new Rachael Ray cookbooks every year for Christmas, which started my cookbook collection. She is great with making a burger into a pasta and then a soup. I love how she can make anything into something else. I also love Rachael's cookware line. I like how everything is made in color. I have her pots and pans, casseroles and utensils. Her cookware is all very user friendly as well. My favorite is a ladle that has a flat bottom to get up all the yummy brown bits on the bottom of the pan. The yummy brown bits are the best part!

Anyway...enough with my obsession with Rachael's cookware...onto dinner. As much as I love Rachael, Rachael LOVES onions and puts onions in every one of her recipes. So I have to pick recipes that I think will still be great without the onions.

Tonight I chose to make her tetrazzini recipe. She made hers with turkey, but I am not a big fan of turkey breast so I used chicken. I also made mine healthier by using whole grain pasta, which you could not even tell that it was not regular pasta. I have made tetrazzini before but have always used cream of mushroom soup. So this was the first time I have made it from scratch. It definitly tastes better making it from scratch. I love the texture that the breadcrumbs gives to the pasta. Phil said this one is a definite keeper!

Chicken Tetrazzini
Adapted from Rachael Ray Just in Time

1/2 pound whole grain spaghetti
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
1 package sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 tablespoon dried parsley
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Cook pasta according to package directions. 

While water comes to a boil heat a large skillet with 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Season chicken breasts with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Brown chicken about 5 minutes on both sides (depending on how thin your chicken is pounded will determine how long to brown). 

In another skillet heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat and cook sliced mushrooms about 10 minutes until done. 

Once chicken in browned place aside. In the same skillet add 2 tablespoons butter and melt over medium heat. Once melted, add flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Whisk in white wine and continue to stir for another minute. Add stock and bring to a bubble. Once bubbling stir in sour cream and add mushrooms. 

Cut chicken into thin strips and add to cream mixture. 

In another skillet add remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. To butter add breadcrumbs and cook until browned. Once breadcrumbs are browned add parmesan and parsley. 

Add pasta to cream mixture and then top with breadcrumbs. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Italian Breaded Pork Chops

MMMmmm this is the best pork chop recipe I have made so far in my few years of cooking. We make this one a lot. How many times do you cook pork chops and they come out dry? I always used to over cook pork. It is pretty easy to do though. I have a couple pork chop recipes that I make and I have a hard time trying new recipes because they come out perfect every time.

The trick to perfect pork chops is to sear the outside before finishing them off in the oven.  You have to be sure to use a skillet that can go in the oven, but be extremely careful that you remember that you put the skillet in the oven and do not go to reach the handle without an oven mitt!. Phil has burned his hands a couple times and I almost have as well, because you get used to grabbing the skillet when you are cooking with it on the stove top.  Also, I think that bone in pork chops is the way to go because the bone helps them come out really tender and juicy. 

For recipes that call for making your own breading I tend to make way more breading then I need because I get annoyed when I do not have enough and I have to remix. So this recipe I had more then needed so you can adjust to your liking.

Italian Breaded Pork Chops
Adapted from Allrecipes

1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 bone-in pork chops

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

In a shallow bowl beat egg and milk together.

In a separate shallow bowl mix all the dry ingredients.

Dip each pork chop in first the egg mixture and then in the bread crumb mixture.

Heat olive oil in a large oven proof skillet. Place coated pork chops in skillet and brown 5 minutes on each side.

Once browned place pork chops, in the same skillet they were seared in, in the oven and cook 25 minutes or until done.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Creamy Garlic Noodles

Another one of my food idiosyncrasies that I have overcome is cream sauce. When I was younger I would wipe off the cream sauce on pasta into a napkin because I thought it tasted foamy in my mouth. Now I love creamy sauces, cream soups, creamy pasta. I guess the one good thing about being a picky eater when I was younger is that I feel like I am experiencing so many new great tastes now and I think I enjoy it more then I would have as a kid. My poor mother, between me and my brother, who is also picky, she probably had the hardest time trying to figure out what to make for dinner. 

Tonight's dinner was yet another Pinterest found recipe. The picture of this pasta on Pinterest was just so appetizing. Taking pictures of food for me right now is like taking pictures of the Grand Canyon and then getting home and thinking the picture just does not do it justice. I got a book to read on my Kindle about Food Photography so I am hoping that throughout this process I will also be able to get better at food presentation and making my food look more appetizing. 

I really liked these noodles. They had the perfect amount of garlic and cream. You definitely have to serve these right away as the sauce continues to thicken the longer it sits. As much as I enjoyed this pasta, next time I make it I would probably just have it as a side dish instead of a main dish. I think it would be a perfect side to Italian Sausage or Chicken Parmesan. 

Creamy Garlic Noodles
Adapted from the Cheese Pusher

2 teaspoons olive oil
4 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 pound angel hair pasta
1 cup parmesan cheese
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon dried parsley

In a pot heat up olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the butter and stir until melted. Add chicken broth, salt and pepper and bring to a boil on medium high heat.

Once broth is at a boil add pasta and cook according to package directions. 

Once pasta is cooked, reduce heat to medium and add parmesan and stir until melted. 

Take off heat and add heavy cream and parsley. 

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Oven Fried Chicken

I love fried chicken....the crispy skin....yum! I have never made real fried chicken because I get nervous with the hot oil splattering all over the place. I do want to try to make real fried chicken someday, especially after I saw the chicken scene in the movie The Help. They always make it look like a breeze on TV. The chefs never look like they get splattered. I have tried to fry things before and I feel like I am jumping back from the stove more than I am standing at it.

When I am craving fried chicken I make an oven fried version. I think the oven fried version tastes just as good as the fried version, and it is better for you to. For this recipe I like to marinate the chicken in buttermilk overnight or at least 8 hours. I think it helps keep the chicken extra moist. This is Phil's favorite recipe that I make. If he looks in the fridge and sees the buttermilk he always gets excited and asks if I am making the oven fried chicken. I think it is definitely one of my favorite recipes as well!

Oven Fried Chicken
Adapted from Taste of Home

1 whole chicken, cut up
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
4 teaspoons dried parsley
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion salt
1 tablespoon butter

Place cut up chicken in a large bowl. Pour in enough buttermilk to cover the chicken completely. Refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large Ziploc bag place mix all the dry ingredients. Place chicken in the bag and shake to coat completely.

Place a cooling rack on a cookie sheet. The cooling rack will help the get the chicken crispy underneath while cooking. Place chicken on cooling rack and bake for 10 minutes. Melt the butter in microwave. After the chicken has been in oven for 10 minutes drizzle with melted butter. Finish baking 30-40 minutes until juices run clear.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Vanilla Cake Donuts

I do not know what prompted me to decide to make donuts tonight, but I thought it sounded like a good idea. I think I read somewhere that cupcakes are out and donuts are in. I have been seeing recipes for homemade donuts all over Pinterest lately and a lot of stores are now carrying the donut pans.

Back home in Iowa they have Casey's General stores all over. Which is a gas station/country store. They have the best cake donuts I have ever had. Whenever I go home to visit family we always have to stop and get one....and breakfast pizza, but that will be another story.

The donut itself came out pretty good. I mean it is hard for a baked donut to pose as a fried donut you get at a bakery. I would probably use a different frosting recipe next time I make them as this one was not as sweet as I would have hoped. They sure looked great though!

Vanilla Cake Donuts:
Adapted from Cluense at

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
8 teaspoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla


2 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Spray a donut pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix well.

In another bowl combine buttermilk, sugar, eggs, butter and vanilla. Mix well. Combine wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until smooth.

In a large resealable ziploc bag, pour all the batter. Snip off a corner of the bag. Pipe batter into donut pan, filling each section 2/3 full. Wipe off any excess batter from pan. Batter will make 12 donuts so you will have to do 2 batches.

Bake for 13 minutes, until cake bounces back. Allow to cool in pan for 3 minutes. Once cooled invert donuts onto cooling rack to cool at least another 2 minutes.

For the frosting combine sugar and milk until smooth.

Once donuts are cooled, dip one side of them into the frosting mixture. Sprinkle with your favorite toppings before frosting hardens.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Grilled Chicken with Homemade BBQ Sauce

Cookbook Recipe #5

When you were a kid did you ever go into the kitchen and make a disgusting concoction of random ingredients and then tell your friends you would give them some amount of money to drink the whole thing? We would do that at my house all the time and I would always put the liquid smoke in it because as a kid I always thought it smelled sooo gross. When I was getting the ingredients together to make this barbeque sauce it reminded me of those days as a kid, as the recipe calls for liquid smoke. I actually thought it smelled pretty good when I took a whiff before adding it to the sauce!

Isn't it so gratifying when you make something homemade and you try the first bite it actually tastes like something you bought in a store? Its the best feeling when you can make it from scratch on your own. There are not a lot of things that I like to make from scratch, but I do like to make my own sauces and marinades once in a while. So, I thought I would try my hand at making homemade barbeque sauce.

When I am making things for the first time I like to make the recipe pretty close to the original, have a taste, and then make it more my own. The original recipe for this barbeque sauce was really good, but I still wanted to manipulate it a little bit, so I added some garlic. I would probably add garlic to most things if I thought it would go well because I love it so much. I thought garlic would be a good twist to straight barbeque sauce, and it was.....the sauce came out great. All the ingredients in this recipe are things I have on hand all the time, so I am going to try to make it a point to make my own sauce more often.

This was a tag team dinner again with my husband as I made the sauce and he grilled the chicken. We are really getting some good use out of the new grill!

Grilled Chicken with Homemade Barbecue Sauce
Adapted from the Deen Brothers Cookbook: Recipes from the Road

1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 tablespoon mustard
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon onion salt
Mix of chicken pieces (thighs, drums, wings, breasts)

Preheat grill to 350 degrees. 

Mix everything but chicken together in a bowl. Brush chicken pieces with sauce. 

Grill indirect for 40-50 minutes until chicken is cooked through. If you like your chicken crispier, after it is fully cooked, grill direct for 5 minutes each side.  Brush chicken with barbeque  sauce every 10-15 minutes while grilling. 

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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Chicken Stew

Cookbook Recipe #4

You know how I like to make comforting foods. Well the slow cooker is the ultimate way of making comforting foods. Phil is not the biggest fan of the slow cooker. He does not like how it makes meats more of a shredded consistency. So, I use the slow cooker a lot on weekends when Phil is working. I think everyone who has a slow cooker should buy slow cooker liners. I thinking they are AMAZING!. How many times do you go to clean the slow cooker after dinner and because the food is in there all day there is a crusted ring around the walls of the cooker? Even with soaking sometimes it is hard to get off the crud. The slow cooker liners solve the whole mess. They are definitely worth the extra money at the store. 

I saw a version of this chicken stew recipe on a fellow Iowan's blog: Macke Monologues at Desiree is from my home town of Denison and we graduated in the same class. She pins all her recipes on Pinterest and that is how I found her blog. I saw that Desiree got this recipe from Betty Crocker so I looked up the original online. I have a couple Betty Crocker cookbooks (go figure) so I thought I would see if this recipe was in one of them.....and low and behold, it was. 

I thought this recipe sounded like a good weekend slow cooker recipe. I love anything with gravy, so I figured this would be a good one. And it was. The gravy made the stew very rich tasting. I choose to use Porcini mushrooms because I think they have a deeper flavor then regular white mushrooms. The recipe calls for boneless skinless chicken thighs and they can be pricey at the store. The price is worth it to me because I sure would not want to bone them myself. Because chicken thighs are the dark meat of the chicken it works well in the slow cooker whereas the breasts wouldn't stay as juicy. 

Chicken Stew
Adapted from Best of Betty Crocker 2010 and Macke Monologues

3 medium red potatoes, diced
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 8oz package Porcini mushrooms
6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon onion salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 12oz jars chicken gravy
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon parsley

Place a slow cooker liner in slow cooker. 

Add potatoes, carrots, and mushrooms. Place chicken on top of vegetables. Sprinkle with onion salt, pepper, parsley and garlic salt. 

In one of the jars of gravy stir in tomato paste. Pour both jars of gravy into slow cooker. Add wine and cover. 

Cook on low for 8-10 hours. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Caramel Sticky Buns

Some of my favorite cookbooks that I have are annual cookbooks. I have a few annuals in my large cookbook library. Pillsbury has a general annual book and a Christmas annual book. My mother in law Linda has gotten me both the past few years. I really like these books as they are a collection of recipes from  contestants in the cook and bake offs that they have. The recipes in these books are always very simple and kind of semi-homemade recipes as you can use ingredients like Pillsbury biscuits, pizza dough and crescent rolls to make the recipes, which I like because I am still intimidated by making my own dough, although I think I am going to make myself do it one of these days. I am sure there is a dough recipe somewhere among my near 300 cookbooks!

This recipe was one of the semi-homemade versions as it used Pillsbury grand biscuits to make the sticky buns. This recipe reminded me more of Monkey Bread than a sticky bun, but it was pretty good anyway.

Caramel Sticky Buns
Adapted from Pillsbury Annual Recipes 2012

1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 12oz can Pillsbury Grands Jr Golden Layers refrigerated biscuits

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Grease 12 muffin cups with shortening.

In a small bowl mix butter, brown sugar and corn syrup. Spoon 1 tablespoon of mixture into each muffin cup.

In a large resealable plastic bag mix granulated sugar and cinnamon. Separate dough into 10 biscuits. Cut each biscuit into 6 pieces. Place pieces into the plastic bag and mix well with the sugar to coat the dough. Place 5 biscuit pieces into each muffin tin.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Cool for one minute. Invert pan onto wax paper. Serve warm.

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hot Corn Dip

Another corn recipe from the Iowa girl!

Every year our friends have a 4th of July Party at their house. This year unfortunately it was too hot to have everyone over so just a few of us got together to hang out. It was still a really fun day even though it was more low key. All of our friends within the last year had babies so it is always fun to see them as they are growing up. It was especially cool to see the really young ones get into the fireworks. I couldn't believe how mesmerized some of the babies were. Streamwood, where we went to watch the fireworks, have some of the best firework shows I have ever seen, so I can see why the kids enjoy it so much!

I was asked to bring an appetizer this year, so I decided to bring Corn dip. When deciding to make something for a party I,  a. always bring something I know that I will like because of my whole onion thing.....and b. like to make something that stays good if it gets set out for awhile. I am a big dip person so I will usually bring a dip if I am making an appetizer.

I have a weird thing with using canned vegetables so any recipe that calls for canned I just thaw out frozen vegetables, which is what I did with this recipe. But if you prefer canned that works as well. The last few times I have made this recipe everyone always says how much they like it. It is great with tortilla chips and who doesn't like corn?!?!

Hot Corn Dip
Adapted from Allrecipes


1 16oz bag frozen yellow corn, thawed
1 16oz bag frozen white corn, thawed
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 8oz package cream cheese, slightly melted
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tsp garlic salt
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium baking dish combine all ingredients and stir until well blended.

Bake for 30 minutes until hot and bubbly.

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Stuffed Challah Bread French Toast

Happy Forth of July to everyone today!

Everyone is trying to stay cool in the Midwest this week as it has been well over the 90's all week. But that didn't stop me from making a hot breakfast this morning.

If you haven't had the chance to try Challah bread you definitely need to. There is a strong Jewish community in the northern suburbs of Chicago and close to where I work. There is a Jewish Deli called the Original Bagel and Bailey that we go to once in a while for lunch at work and they have awesome Matzo ball soup and sandwiches. With every order you always get a Challah bread roll. It  has a slightly sweet taste and it is thicker than regular bread.  I was looking for a nice thick bread to make french toast at the grocery store and I saw the Challah bread and thought it would be perfect.

Stuffed Challah Bread French Toast


Loaf Challah Bread, sliced into thick slices
Cream Cheese spread
Blueberry Preserves
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup fresh blueberries
Powdered Sugar for dusting

You will need 2 slices of bread for each french toast sandwich. On one slice of the bread spread a heavy amount of cream cheese. On the other slice of bread spread a heavy amount of blueberry preserves. Put together spread side of bread slices to make a sandwich. 

Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet at medium high heat.

In a shallow bowl beat 2 eggs and 1 cup milk together. Dip both sides of french toast sandwich in the egg mixture. 

Once butter is melted in pan cook french toast sandwich on each side for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown.

While toast is cooking in a small saucepan combine water, cornstarch and sugar. Stir in 1 cup of blueberries and heat to boiling over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook another 2 minutes, stirring often until thickened. 

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Perfect Corn on the Cob

I am from small town Iowa and will always be an Iowa girl at heart. One of my favorite things about the summer is corn on the cob. I have corn on the cob here in Illinois all the time but it still doesn't seem as good as the corn I had growing up in Iowa. 

I remember going down to the gas station near the edge of town and getting corn on the cob from families who sold it out of their trucks. Corn picked that morning is hard to beat. I would sit out on the back porch and help my mom or dad shuck the husks and silk off of all the corn we picked up. I know most people think it is gross but I would think it was cool if I found and ear of corn with a worm hiding under the husk. There would always be at least one ear of corn that had a worm out of the batch we would pick up. There are plenty of farm stands out by where my husband and I live selling corn, but it is just not the same as getting corn from the families selling it out of their trucks. And I still have yet to find a worm in my three years living in Illinois. 

You may notice in my picture..the Butter Boy. How many times does the butter fall off of your knife while you are trying to butter your corn? A lot of cooks will say it is unnecessary to have cooking tools that only serve one purpose. I love the Butter Boy. I think it is a great tool for buttering your corn. The head is curved to fit perfectly over the ear of corn and the butter glides on with ease. Love it!

Anyway......This way of making corn is the way my family always made it growing up and I think it comes out perfect every time. 

Perfect Corn on the Cob


2 tablespoons Sugar
2 tablespoons Salt
Ears of Corn, husks and silk removed

Fill a large pot full of water. Add sugar and salt to water and bring to a boil. Once boiling add corn and boil, covered for 10 minutes. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Blackened Cajun Chicken Pasta

Sunday's are usually my day to put "healthier" aside and go with total comfort food. I am definitely a comfort and hearty type of cook. During the week I generally try to tone down the comfort style to make our dinners a little better for you.

Pinterest has been a great place for me to find new recipes. It is also the place that got me thinking about starting my own blog. I would click on the recipes that I was interested in making and I would usually be sent to someone's blog. I started scrolling though other recipes of the blogs I was directed to and if I found several I liked I subscribed to the blog. I now receive several blog posts by email and am continually adding more and more. Pinterest directed me to this recipe on the blog "Comfortably Domestic." My husband absolutely loved this dish. He is a firefighter and often has to cook dinner at the firehouse for the guys. I know I hit a home run in the kitchen when he asks me to make a copy of the recipe for him to make at work. I was a little nervous that the chicken was going to be too spicy for me as the dish called for a lot of the Cajun spice. It was delish though. I love the Cajun flavors and this one hit the spot for me.

Blackened Cajun Chicken Pasta
Adapted from Comfortably Domestic


4 small boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch pieces
Cajun Blackening Spice
2 Tablespoons butter, divided
Olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cup freshly grated Italian cheese blend (Asiago, Parmesan)
4 oz herbed goat cheese
1 pound fettuccine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook fettuccine according to package directions for "al dente." Drain and rinse with hot water. 

Meanwhile, pat chicken dry with a paper towel. 

In a large resealable plastic bag put a heavy amount of the Cajun blackening spice. Put all chicken pieces into bag and shake to coat. 

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Sear chicken on one side for 3 minutes. Flip to other side and sear for about 2 more minutes. Place seared chicken on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until no longer pink. Cover and set aside. 

While chicken is cooking, re-heat the skillet over medium-high heat and deglaze the pan with the white wine. Add the minced garlic, red and green peppers, and diced tomatoes to the pan. Cook for about five minutes until peppers are done. 

Reduce heat to medium low and add the heavy cream. Stir constantly for 1 minute.

Add the salt, pepper and remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Continue to stir mixture until combined for 3 to 4 minutes. 

Remove pan from heat and add the goat cheese and grated Italian cheeses. Stir constantly until sauce is smooth. 

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