Friday, July 30, 2010

Thomas the Train Card

I created this really cute Thomas the Train card for my 3 yr old Jack.  Its a pulley card and I learned the technique from here.  It wasn't as tricky as I thought it would be and not too time consuming.

Salsa Verde Chicken

I saw this recipe on the back of package of  refrigerated Simply Potatoes southwestern style hashbrowns.  It sounded delicious and so easy.  I made a few changes from the original recipe to suit our tastes and it was a delicious meal.  I think this would be equally delicious with red salsa too.

Salsa Verde Chicken

1lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 6)
southwestern seasoning (I used a chipotle rub)
1 20oz package of refrigerated southwestern style hashbrowns
1c sour cream
2/3c salsa verde
1c shredded monterey jack cheese

Preheat oven to 400.  Spray a 9x13 casserole dish with non stick spray.  Add hashbrowns and sour cream to pan and mix well.  Spread hashbrown mixture evenly in pan.  Season both sides of chicken with seasoning and place chicken on hashbrowns.  Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for 45min.  Uncover and top chicken with salsa and then cheese.  Return to oven for 5 min.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bacon Wrapped Chicken

I love this chicken recipe!  It is so simple but sooo tasty!  I buy my chicken tenders in the big 5lb pack at Sam's and then portion them into 1lb Ziploc bags for the freezer.  They thaw out so quickly from the freezer so I don't have to worry if I forget to get my meat thawing in the fridge the day before.  Then I just open up the bag, pour in my marinade, and close it back up until I'm ready to cook.  The marinade I use for this recipe is Kraft's Vidalia Onion Vinaigrette.  Its pretty good as a salad dressing but its great as a marinade!  In fact its the best way to use up that odd bottle of dressing left in the fridge.  Wrapping the chicken in bacon is just the finishing touch. ;)  Hope you'll give this a try.  You won't be disappointed!

Bacon Wrapped Chicken

1lb chicken tenders (about 6 tenders)
1/2 c salad vinaigrette (I used Kraft's Vidalia Onion Vinaigrette)
bacon, 1 slice per piece of chicken

Marinate your chicken for 30 min or longer.  Skewer the end of a strip of bacon to the end of a chicken tender.  Wrap the bacon down the chicken in a spiral fashion.  Skewer the other end of the bacon to the chicken to secure it.  Grill the chicken on medium heat (350) for about 6 min on each side or until done.  Let the meat rest for about 5 min before removing the skewers.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Senate Bean Soup

So apparently there is this soup served at the Senate that is very popular.  I don't know, I've never been there but this is a good soup.  And CHEAP!  It cost about $5 for me to make the whole pot and it was a BIG pot!  The only struggle I have with soups like this one is getting the saltiness just right when using ham to season the soup.  I'm not sure if there is a trick to it or just luck.  Well mine turned out OK but I wouldn't have wanted it any saltier.  We'll make this again this winter for sure.

Senate Bean Soup

1 bag dried Great Northern Beans
2 ham hocks (or leftover ham but you'll need some ham base too)
12 c water divided
1/2 c diced onion
1/2 c diced carrots
1T oil
1t garlic powder

Soak beans overnight according to package directions.  Next day saute onions and carrots in oil.  Simmer ham hocks in 4 c water for 45 min.  If you are using leftover ham skip this step and use the ham base to make 4 c ham stock.  Pull meat off of bones and add back to pot with onions, carrots, drained beans, garlic powder, and 8 c of water.  Bring soup to a boil and then simmer on low for 1 1/2 hrs.  About halfway through cooking taste for salt and pepper.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Shepherd's Pie

Mmmm.....comfort food.  This is it.  Mashed potatoes and meat in gravy.  This is my shortcut recipe that uses refrigerated mashed potatoes so its a really quck fix....which I love. :)

Shepherd's Pie

1lb gr beef
1/2 c carrots, diced small
1/2 c onion, diced small
1T oil
1/4 c AP flour
1 c beef broth
2 t garlic powder, divided
24 oz refrigerated mashed potatoes (I used the homestyle version)
1 egg
1 c niblet corn
salt and pepper

Saute onion and carrots with salt and pepper in oil about 5 min before adding the gr beef.  Brown meat mixture, drain, and add back to skillet.  Add flour and 1t garlic powder to mixture and stir to coat meat.  Add beef broth and simmer until gravy comes to a boil and thickens.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Add mixture to a 9x9 baking dish and top with corn.  Mix potatoes with egg and 1t garlic powder.  Spread potatoes on top of casserole.  Bake at 350 for 30 min or until bubbly.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Salsa and Bean Dip

This is such an easy and delicious dip!  My original version uses canned black eye peas but pinto beans were in my pantry this time.  Its just 3 ingredients but you could jazz it up with cilantro, lime juice, green onion, etc.  Its best when you can mix it up and let it sit in the fridge a little while but still delicious when you eat right away too.

Salsa and Bean Dip

1 can beans, drained (black eye peas, black beans, pinto beans, etc.)
1 can niblet corn, drained (fresh would great too)
1 jar salsa
1 bag tortilla chips

Mix it up and eat it up!!

BBQ Chicken with Pickle Juice BBQ Sauce

Pickle juice?  Really?  Yea, why not?  Pickle juice is just sugar, vinegar, and spices all of which are in BBQ sauce.  So why not just use that leftover juice in the jar for something?  Actually this happened by trial when I was following a BBQ sauce recipe that called for lemon-lime soda and I didn't have any.  I think this recipe could be substituted with any soft drink flavor really and the ratios of the ingredients of course could be tweaked to your liking.  I need to find me a Carolina sauce recipe to try next.  Their BBQ sauces are very mustardy and delicious on chicken.

BBQ Chicken and Pickle Juice BBQ Sauce

4lbs of chicken pieces (my family loves just chicken legs which can be on sale soooo cheap!)
BBQ rub (any store bought brand you like will do)
1/2 c ketchup
1T mustard (I used spicy brown)
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1 t chopped garlic (finely chopped onion is good too)
2 T brown sugar
1/4 c sweet pickle juice (I use bread & butter)

Apply rub to chicken and allow to marinate for about 15mins or longer.  Combine remaining ingredients and microwave for about 1 min just till the brown sugar dissolves and sauce is heated through.  Grill chicken on direct medium heat (350) for about 10 mins.  Move to indirect heat for 20-30 mins turning occasionally but keeping lid closed as much as possible.  Brush with sauce repeatedly and cook an additional 10-15 mins until chicken is done.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Lion Friend Card

I love this little card.  I used a stamp for my lion.  I stamped him out on yellow card stock and then again on striped paper.  I cut his mane out of the striped paper and glued it to the cut out lion from the card stock.  Added some googly eyes and voila!

Ham and Potato Chowder

I'm still on my soup kick.  This is such an easy recipe.  It is actually and adaption from a recipe I saw on the back of my Simply Potatoes, diced potatoes with onion.  Publix frequently puts these on sale BOGO and all of the varieties have recipes on the back.  I have a bag of the southwestern hashbrowns that I'll be doing a Chicken Salsa Verde casserole recipe with and I have the mashed potatoes to do a Shepherd's pie recipe with.  We had grilled cheese with our soup but I would have preferred having the Bisquick garlic cheddar biscuits with it.  Those are awesome just require the packet of mix and water!  PS...I doubled the recipe since I was taking some to a friend so the recipe below can be halved.  As it is written I would say that it serves 10.  Enjoy!

Ham and Potato Chowder

2 T olive oil
2 c chopped ham
1/2 c AP flour
2 packets (20oz) diced potatoes with onion
1 c water
32 oz carton of chicken broth
1 can niblet corn, drained (fresh would be great too)
2 c milk

Saute the ham in the oil just a few minutes and then add flour.  Stir and flour around to coat the ham and cook some of the raw flour taste out of it.  Add potatoes and water.  Stir until well blended.  Add chicken broth and bring to a boil stirring frequently to keep potatoes from sticking to bottom of pot.  You can add some salt and pepper at this point but don't add much because the ham will add saltiness to the soup.  Once to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook about 20 mins or until potatoes are tender.  Add corn and milk and simmer until warmed through but do not boil.  Add salt and pepper as needed.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Eggplant Casserole

I bought a Japanese eggplant from the farmer's market last Saturday and I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do with it.  My friend Sabrina gave me a recipe for a Turkey Eggplant Casserole.  I modified it and created a great side dish.  I think I'll get some more eggplant and add the meat to create a one dish meal.  I told my kids that it was ratatouille so that they would be interested in trying (they had recently seen the Ratatouille movie).

Eggplant Casserole

1 Japanese eggplant (these have a thinner skin and less seeds than Italian eggplant), chopped
1 T olive oil
1 sm onion, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1 t chopped garlic
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1/4 c bread crumbs (I used Italian seasoned)
1/2 c shredded mozzarella
1T grated Parmesan cheese (I was out but I think it should definitely be added)

Saute the vegetables until a little tender in oil.  Add garlic and tomatoes and simmer until bubbly.  Add bread crumbs and simmer until the crumbs thicken the juice.  Pour the mixture into square baking dish and top with cheese.  Bake at 350, covered for about 20 mins.

This would be such an easy recipe to add chicken, ground or sliced sausage, or ground beef to and create an easy meal.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Ice Cream Cone Card

Lately, I have started doing my own handmade cards.  It's alot of fun and I've really enjoyed playing with different techniques using my cricut machine, stamps, ribbons, and all kinds of embellishments.  I made this card with my cricut using the Stretch Your Imagination cartridge.  I cut out the card in light brown and then cut out the layers in light green and pink.    I then used a piece of ribbon to attach the scoop to the cone creating a flap.I think I'll try the same idea with a flower next.

The Bright Star Restuarant

Wow!  Why has it taken me this long to finally go to this local landmark?  What a wonderful meal and a wonderful atmosphere.  This restaurant has been in Bessemer, Al since 1907.  Jimmy Koikos, one of the owners, greeted us at the door and once he learned that we were first timers, he treated everyone to a cup of their famous gumbo.  Unfortunately, since I have seafood allergies I didn't get to try it but my parents and Bill said that it was delicious.  I did, however, get to experience their wonderful beef tenderloin cooked "Greek style".  They marinate their steak in olive oil, lemon juice, and oregano for 2-3 hrs before broiling it.  It was fork tender and so delicious! 

We finished everything off by sharing a bowl of their bread pudding with whiskey sauce.  It was very light and creamy.  I will definitely be visiting The Bright Star again soon!

Rotel Chicken Salad

My coworker Sabrina shared this recipe with me.  The Rotel tomatoes really gives this chicken salad a nice flavor but doesn't over power it at all.  If you are not familiar with Rotal tomatoes, they are canned diced tomatoes and green chiles.  I use the mild but you can use the hotter varieties for more heat.  Thanks Sabrina for sharing your recipe.

Rotel Chicken Salad

3 c chopped cooked chicken
1 can Rotel tomatoes, drained very well
1/3 c mayo
2 T honey
1 c grapes (I like to slice mine in half)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Cappuccino Pie

This recipe was divine! Coffee ice cream filled with chocolate chips and toffee bits! What's not to love?!

Cappuccino Pie

1 store bought chocolate cookie crumb pie crust
1 pint coffee ice cream ( I used StarBuck's)
1/3 mini chocolate chips
1/3 toffee bits
cool whip

Softened ice cream and mix in choc chips and toffee bits. Fill pie crust with ice cream and refreeze. Top with cool whip and sprinkle top with a few choc chips and toffee bits. Freeze until ready to serve.

Lamb Kabobs withTaziki Sauce

I am a real fan of Greek food. Who isn't? I decided a few months ago to try my hand at lamb. I didn't grow up eating lamb and it isn't a very familiar meat in my circle friends and family now days either. I found some at Sam's wholesale and it was affordable enough for me to give it a try. I think this recipe makes lamb very easy and not so intimidating. The sauce is a traditional yogurt sauce that really compliments the meat. I served my kabobs with pita bread, roasted potatoes, and salad. It was a feast!

Lamb Kabobs

1 boneless leg of lamb
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 c olive oil
1T fresh oregano (you could substitute dried just reduce it to 1t)
1T chopped garlic
1 red onion

Cube meat into 1 1/2 to 2 inch chunks. Marinate in lemon juice, oil, oregano, and garlic for 2-3 hrs. Skewer meat occasionally alternating with onion chunks. Grill over medium heat for about 10-15 mins. Allow meat to rest before removing from skewers.

Taziki Sauce

16 oz plain yogurt (greek yogurt is nice and thick for this)
1 cucumber grated and drained
1t chopped garlic
1T olive oil
2t red wine vinegar

Combine ingredients and allow the sauce's flavor to develop in the fridge for about 2 or 3 hrs. It tastes even better the next day! Serve this sauce cold with the lamb.

Bread and Butter Pickles

Well I had these 3 large cucumbers and 4 banana peppers that I wanted to do something with. I thought a simple pickle recipe would be a great solution. These turned out great! I really didn't think they would be crunchy because you briefly boil them in the brine but the cukes kept all their crunch. The original recipe called for a few things I didn't have but the following recipe is what I used. Enjoy!

Bread and Butter Pickles
1 1/2 lb cucumbers sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 onion ( I had vidalia) sliced
4 sliced banana peppers (this is optional)
2 T kosher salt
3/4 c white vinegar
1/2 c cider vinegar
1 c sugar (I think you could use 3/4 c for a little less sweet pickle)
1/2 T mustard seed
1/4 t celery seed
3 whole cloves

Salt the cukes, onions, and peppers and toss to thoroughly coat. Place in bowl covered with papertowels and top with ice. Refrigerate for 4 hrs. Drain and rinse thoroughly. Leave mixture to drain in colander while you prepare the brine.

Bring vinegars, sugar, and spices to a boil. Add mixture to brine, return to boil, and remove from heat. Pour pickles and liquid into a container and once cooled, refrigerate overnight.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cabbage Beef Soup

I'm posting my first recipe!!
This is a great soup recipe that my coworker Nancy developed. It was a hit with my husband and two boys. It is a great way to use up some extra cabbage and is very filling. We love soups and stews (even in July!) so I'm always eager to try a new one.
Normally cabbage isn't anything that I get very excited about but maybe now I will! It was great with mexican cornbread. Yum! Thanks Nancy!

Cabbage Beef Soup

1/2 head of cabbage, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 lb. ground chuck, browned and drained
1 can kidney beans (I used light red)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can condensed tomato soup
salt and pepper

Saute the cabbage and onion in the pot after browning your ground beef. Add a little water to help steam the cabbage and cook just until the cabbage is tender. Add a little salt and pepper at this step. Add the beef, beans, tomatoes, soup, and 1/2 or 1 can of water to the pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-20 mins. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.