Taco Pockets and Dip

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

There are a few foods that scare me to think about making like bread, cinnamon rolls, calzones... ok you caught me; I am terrified of yeast! It just seems so complicated and easy to mess up. So, when looking at the refrigerated cinnamon rolls I saw a long skinny tube called "thin-crust pizza dough". What a great find this was! I've wanted to try making calzones/hot pockets for a long time and this dough works perfectly! The possibilities are endless (and you will see my experiments coming soon) but my first pocket creation had to be Mexican of course, for my pepper bellied boys!

1 pound ground turkey breast
1 packet taco seasoning
1 small block of pepper jack cheese
1/2 cup salsa verde
1 (11-ounce) can refrigerated thin-crust pizza dough
Chips for the dip

Brown the ground turkey, drain, and add the taco seasoning. Roll the pizza dough out onto your pan with non-stick foil or cooking spray. With a pizza cutter divide the dough into four sections. Spoon the meat onto the dough (about 1/2 a cup) and put a couple cuts of pepper jack cheese on top. Fold the ends of the dough over the meat and cheese. Use a fork to crimp the sides together. When they are all filled, folded, and crimped. Bake at 425 degrees for 12 minutes or until browned. Now while the Taco Pockets are cooking... what to do with the leftover meat in your pan? Add the rest of your cheese and 1/2 a cup of salsa verde. Cook over medium-low heat until everything is melted. Serve this dip with some chips!

Potato Skins

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ok, so it isn't just the skins of the potato, it's the entire potato. Really, why would I waste the inside?! Instead of scooping out the insides I cut the whole potato into slices. These make a great snack but I also serve them as a potato side dish with dinner! Or... serve them with dinner but then continue to snack on them the rest of the night, yikes lol! The boys have abandoned me for a trip to Best Buy so I am watching a great chick flick (Because I Said So with Diane Keaton) and snacking. What is it with guys and Best Buy?!

4 russet potatoes
2 tablespoons oil
Salt and pepper
Colby-jack cheese
Bacon, cooked and diced
Green onions for garnish, optional
Sour cream, optional

Clean and scrub potatoes well. Slice the potatoes into 1/4" thick slices. Place the slices in a plastic bag with the oil and shake. Place the oiled potato slices on a lightly buttered baking sheet and season each side with salt and pepper. Cook at 375 for 30 minutes. Flip potatoes over and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the pan from oven and place a pinch of cheese and bacon on top of each potato slab. Return the pan to the oven and cook until cheese is melted and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Serve with green onions and sour cream, if desired.

Soft Sugar Cookies

Thursday, June 25, 2009

***Dec 2011 Update*** I found another tutorial for these cookies on Jillie's Blog. The pictures Jillie posted of the done vs. overdone cookies are great! This is still my go to recipe for sugar cookies, they are the best! Back in October, I made 400 of them for my grandma's 60th birthday party! I used a 1M tip to pipe the frosting onto the cookies, I was trying to make them look like flowers but I got a bit sloppy frosting 400 cookies fast and furiously ,-)

***Oct 2010 Update*** I tried making these cookies using cookie cutters for Halloween and they were not as good (they were hard and tasted like normal sugar cookies... not Lofthouse)! You need to cut the cookie in a circle shape to keep the cookie soft! Also, don't let the cookies brown, pull them out of the oven as soon as they look cracked and flaky, this too will keep them soft! If you're looking for a cookie cutter sugar cookie recipe try my Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

Sugar cookies are so much fun to make, and you can't eat a sugar cookie without smiling! Walmart has these amazing packaged sugar cookies by Lofthouse. They are so soft, they melt in your mouth, and they are the first cookie to disappear at potlucks. Have you had them? Well, I found this soft sour cream sugar cookie recipe and thought I would give it a try. I didn't have high expectations and I was a little put off by the sour cream the recipe called for; but, this recipe is an exact match to the Lofthouse packaged cookies! These cookies are AMAZING! So soft and melt in your mouth delicious!

Sugar Cookie Ingredients
1 cup shortening(I use Crisco)
2 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
4 1/2 - 5 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder

Cookie Directions
Mix the shortening, sugar, sour cream, vanilla, and eggs together. Stir 4 1/2 cups flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder together in a separate bowl. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix. Now, the dough works best if cooled, so refrigerate the dough (in the bowl no need to cover the bowl) for 45 minutes. Generously flour your counter top and roll out the cookies. I had to flour the dough as well to keep it from sticking to my rolling pin. Don't roll the dough too thin, I shoot for a little over 1/4" thick. Cut the cookies (I used the rim of a drinking glass to cut my cookies).
I was able to roll and cut 48 cookies total. Make sure you use non-stick foil or butter/flour your pan and bake them at 400 degrees until just barely light golden brown on the bottom, for me this was 9-10 minutes. After cookies have cooled you can frost and decorate.
Butter Cream Frosting Ingredients
2 pound bag powdered sugar (I added an additional cup to get the thicker consistency I wanted)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
Food coloring, if desired

Frosting Directions
Beat all ingredients together until smooth. Generously frost the sugar cookies! Top with sprinkles for extra fun :-) Now, because I lost a bet... Justin, you are awesome! I never thought you would be able to frost a cookie using two colors, but you did it! You are a supreme decorator, so superb in fact that I think you should do all decorating from now on, lol :-P

Spicy Chicken Pasta

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

This is a great weeknight dinner! I like that there's a little green leafy vegetable slipped in, Justin said that he liked the bites with spinach better than the bites without! Wow! I also like that everything cooks in one large skillet, it makes clean up a cinch! Which meant we had plenty of time to see Night at the Museum 2 (great family movie) and watch Jon & Kate Plus 8 announce their divorce (which made Abbott cry). Making this pasta reminded me of an awesome stop-motion animation video!

PES gives his unique vision of cooking a spaghetti dinner. He transposes various household items into their humorous counterparts in the kitchen (a clove of garlic becomes a Rubik's cube, dry spaghetti become pick-up sticks). I love watching it!

2 chicken breasts
Cajun seasoning
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 can of tomatoes with green chilies, pulsed in a blender to break up the large chunks
A big handful of fresh spinach
1 box of Gemelli pasta(or whatever is you prefer)

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Sprinkle lots of Cajun seasoning on the chicken breasts and cook them in a large skillet. When the chicken is done take it out of the pan, shred the breasts, and set aside for later. Now pour the olive oil into the same large skillet. Add the minced garlic. Cook over medium-low heat until tender. Add the can of tomatoes with green chilies (remember to mince or pulse it, you want the consistency of salsa). Let the juice cook and reduce. Add butter and flour to the skillet to make a roux. Add milk and stir continuously until it starts to thicken up, if it gets too thick add a little more milk. Add the shredded chicken, Parmesan cheese, and salt to the sauce. Now shake on some more Cajun seasoning, taste the sauce, and shake on some more! If I were to guess I think I used 3-4 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning. When the cheese is melted add the spinach and pasta, cook just until spinach starts to wilt.

Alice Springs Chicken

Sunday, June 21, 2009

This is a copycat recipe from Outback Steakhouse. The chicken is marinated in honey mustard then smothered with bacon and cheese. Justin loves honey mustard almost as much as he loves peanut butter and chocolate, so I thought this would make the perfect Father's Day dinner!

1/4 cup spicy brown (or Grey Poupon) mustard
1/4 cup regular yellow mustard
1/2 cup honey
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
8 slices bacon, cooked
1 cup shredded cheese (I've used Cheddar and Colby Jack, both work great)
Salt and Pepper

Flatten the chicken breasts, to do this I place the chicken between waxed paper and beat it with my rolling pin (yes, it is as much fun as it sounds). In a large Ziploc bag combine the spicy brown mustard, regular mustard, and honey; mix it around in the bag until well combines. Add the flattened chicken breasts to the bag and place in the refrigerator to marinade for 6-24 hours. After marinading the chicken place it in a skillet on medium-high heat to cook. When the chicken is done lay the bacon over it and sprinkle with cheese. Once the cheese is melted you can serve it!

Pudding Ice Cream

Friday, June 19, 2009

Summer is here, finally! It got up to 92 degrees this week and we spent today at the pool! There's nothing better on a hot summer night than ice cream! This is easy and it is healthier than the usual cream based ice cream. You can use any pudding flavor... cheesecake, pistachio, strawberry, lemon... the possibilities are endless! It tastes like a Pudding Pop Popsicle that you would buy at the supermarket! Ingredients
2 (3.9 ounce) boxes of instant pudding (any flavor you want)
3 cups milk (we used non-dairy soy milk)

Whisk together pudding mix and milk. Pour into ice cream maker and freeze according to machine directions.

The Justin Loves Grilled Cheese

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The blog title is a play on the movie “The Devil Wears Prada”, where Anne Hathaway has a fashion internship with Meryl Streep. Adrian Grenier (the boyfriend and chef) makes Anne late night grilled cheese sandwiches. He uses Jarlsberg cheese and in the last line of the movie he even mentions that he’s sure the city they're moving to has Jarlsberg. It’s a great movie and his grilled cheese looks so good (I always notice the food in movies, does that make me weird?!) I hadn’t ever had Jarlsberg cheese so when Justin and I came across it at the supermarket we had to try it! Holy cow! It’s like Swiss, Provolone, and Parmesan all got together and had a love child named Jarlsberg! I pulled out the skillet, garlic, butter, french bread, and the love affair began. Justin loves grilled cheese, but not just any grilled cheese, he is in love with Jarlsberg garlic grilled cheese! We had it for lunch and then he asked if I could make it again for dessert that night! This sandwich is fantastic the kind of sandwich that deserves a ray of sunlight and chimes from the heavens as it is placed in front of you!

French or Italian bread, sliced
1 garlic clove, pressed or minced
2 tablespoons butter
Sprinkling of salt (very important don’t forget it)
Jarlsberg cheese

Over medium heat saute the butter, garlic, and salt. Just stir it around the pan for a minute or two until it is hot and bubbly. Place the slices of bread on the garlic butter. Cook the bread for a couple minutes until it is toasted. Flip it and toast the other side. I leave room in my pan so I have extra garlic butter I can flip the bread into, but you may need to add more butter, garlic, and salt. Lay the Jarlsberg cheese over the bread to melt while the bread cooks. If the cheese doesn’t melt before the bread is toasted then you will need to stick it in the microwave for 20-40 seconds to melt the rest of the cheese. If you leave the bread like this you have excellent cheesy garlic bread, but that’s not a meal! You need to pick up two pieces of bread and marry them together to create a sandwich... now that’s a meal!

Easy Potato Corn Chowder

Sunday, June 14, 2009

What's with all the soup lately? Well... we have had lots of thunderstorms and it's been chilly outside! It is the middle of June and it feels like fall! It's weird but we have enjoyed the soup! This was the easiest soup I've ever made but you couldn't tell by the taste. The soup was terrific! However, watch out the corn will get stuck in your teeth. I've become obsessed with flossing! I have never consistently flossed in my entire life. When I was little I used to chew floss because it tasted good but I didn’t actually use it. I like how my teeth feel after I go to the dentist though so now I’m flossing. They make this berry-mint flavored floss, its pretty tasty... so far I’ve resisted the urge to chew it!

1/4 cup crumbled bacon
2 (10oz) cans Cream of Potato soup
2 cups milk
2 cans (11oz) corn, drained
salt and pepper to taste

Heat potato soup and milk in a sauce pan. Add corn, bacon, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.

Hibachi Soup

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Andrew and Abbott's favorite restaurant is Hibachi, which is a local Japanese Steakhouse. So, they call this "Hibachi Soup" but I think it is actually called a "Japanese Onion Soup". It's a broth based soup that is topped with french fried onions and shaved mushrooms, it is heavenly! The boys each eat 4+ cups of this soup, they love it! I love that it taste just like the soup served at our Japanese Steakhouse but only costs a fraction of the price!

1/2 stalk celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules
3 tablespoons beef bouillon granules
1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
2 quarts water (8 cups)
French fried onions

First off, the ingredients say "chopped" it means just cut it in half or fourths. Make it easy on yourself and leave the vegetables in large chunks! Alright, in a large saucepan or stockpot, combine the celery, onion, carrot, ginger, garlic, and a few of the mushrooms. Add chicken bouillon, beef bouillon, and water. Place the pot over high heat, and bring to a rolling boil. When the mixture reaches boiling, cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook for 45 minutes. It can cook for longer than 45 minutes (sometimes I leave it on for a couple hours), you will just need to add more water if too much water evaporates. Here's what my soup looks like, notice the big chunks of veggies. After it's cooked for at least 45 minutes strain the cooked soup and discard all of the vegetables, leaving the broth. Serve the broth with sliced mushrooms and sprinkle french friend onions over the top.

Asian Noodle Salad

Monday, June 8, 2009

This recipe comes from Pioneer Woman, she has an amazing blog with step-by-step pictures for this salad, check it out! I've had my eye on this recipe for awhile and I finally had the perfect opportunity to make it! I took it to work to celebrate Shalee's (one of the secretaries) last day of work for the summer... we celebrate the small things ;-)
I am kicking myself for not making this earlier! It was absolutely fantastic! I was always hesitant to make it for my family because of all the veggies, I knew my husband and boys wouldn't eat the cabbage or bean sprouts. However, you can't even taste them! Seriously, I am going to make this for my family, for my non-veggie eating in-laws, and maybe even my boy's Friday night sleepovers! Ha! This may be the best recipe I've ever found to get my kids to eat healthy vegetables! You have to make it!!
**Important tip! This makes more salad than I've ever seen in my life. I brought my two giant salad bowls to work to serve it in but they weren't big enough. I had to borrow one of those industrial sized steam table pans from the high school cafeteria! Salad Ingredients
1 package linguine noodles, cooked, rinsed, and cooled
1/2 to 1 head sliced Napa cabbage
1/2 to 1 head sliced purple cabbage
1/2 to 1 bag baby spinach
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 small bag bean sprouts (also called “mung bean sprouts”)
3 sliced scallions (green onions)
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
LOTS of chopped cilantro—up to one bunch
Dressing Ingredients
Juice of 2 limes
16 tablespoons olive oil
5 tablespoons sesame oil
12 tablespoons soy sauce
2/3 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
4 cloves chopped garlic
2 hot peppers or jalapenos, chopped

Grab some comfy shoes and a cutting board, you're going to be here for awhile! Chop and dice all the salad ingredients. Mix them together with the chilled linguine noodles or put in a Ziploc and store in the fridge for later. To make the dressing you whisk together the ingredients and pour over salad. Mix the salad with tongs and serve in a large platter or bowl. The dressing keeps up to three days in the fridge before serving.

I took my salad to work so here's what it looked like before I left. The veggies were all chopped in a bag, the 3 cups of dressing was in a sealed travel bowl, the cooked linguine noodles were in a bag, and I left the spinach and sprouts in their bags. Then when I got to work I put everything in the fridge until lunch. At lunch time I just dumped the bags out into the serving tray tossed with the dressing and served. Everyone loved it and I can't wait to make it again!

Sweet and Sticky Wings

Friday, June 5, 2009

Colleen had these Sweet and Sticky Wings on her blog and they looked so good! Drumsticks were on sale so I didn't actually make any wings, just drummies! It was the perfect Friday night meal for Andrew and his friend! Speaking of Andrew, we got a letter in the mail yesterday congratulating him for being one of only 25 kids in his grade to be placed in advanced math next year! Not that I am surprised, this is the child that got 6th in a state mathletics competition. I am just so proud of him... and thankful he got his dad's intelligence ;-)

2 pounds chicken wings,tips removed (or in my case drumsticks)
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup brown sugar
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple drained
Optional- sprinkling of red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper

Cut the wings into two pieces and thow away the tips. Put the chicken in a greased baking dish big enough so that they do not touch each other and are in a single layer. Stir the soy sauce, brown sugar and drained pineapple together and pour over the chicken wings. If you like your wings sweet and spicy, just add some crushed red pepper flakes to the liquid mixture before baking.
Colleen buys the wings that are called party wings (frozen and already cut up). She doesn't even thaw them, just toss them with the soy/brown sugar/pineapple mixture and bake them at 375 for 1½ hours (turning every 20 minutes). My chicken legs weren't frozen and they were done in an hour. I know you are thinking that is way too long, but it isn't, trust me. It takes that long for the chicken to get super tender. Your chicken will be nice and shiney and sticky when its ready.
The soy/sugar mixture will become very dark. Do not serve this...throw it away.

Baked Lemon Pasta

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

This pasta is delicious but I would call it a side dish, rather than an entree. You can only eat so much of it before the lemon and Parmesan flavor gets overpowering. The boys were cute; they were hesitant to try the pasta and when they tried it they both gave a "Hmph"... the kind of Hmph that implies it's better than they expected. After that they just gobbled noodles faster than they could talk. This pasta would be fantastic served with seafood, maybe next time I'll serve it with my lemon pepper fish!!
**Overnight Update- I thought about this pasta all night long and I finally realized what taste it resembles, shrimp scampi... like noodles that have had scampi sauce poured all over them! We didn't have any leftovers (the neighbor boys finished it off) but I am craving some more today! Can we have the same dinner two days in a row?

1 pound thin spaghetti
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
2 cups sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
Grated Parmesan cheese
Flat leaf parsley, chopped

Cook spaghetti until al dente. In a skillet, melt butter with olive oil over LOW HEAT. When butter is melted, add minced garlic. Squeeze lemon juice into the pan. Turn off heat. Stop to inhale the magic you've just created! The butter, garlic, and lemon... Mmmm it is quite possibly the best smell in the world! Add the sour cream and stir mixture together. Add lemon zest and salt. Taste, then add more salt if necessary. Pour mixture over drained spaghetti and stir together, then pour spaghetti into an oven safe dish. Bake, covered, for 15 minutes at 375 degrees. Then remove foil and bake for an additional 7 to 10 minutes. (Don’t bake too long or the pasta will dry out.)

Let me pause for a second and talk about cheese. We like cheese, so I thought I would shred the entire 7-ounce triangle of Parmesan cheese. It would be the perfect amount for our pasta, right? Wrong! It was WAY too much cheese! In the future I will only shred 3-ounces of cheese! Look at the mountain of cheese I ended up with!! When you remove it from the oven, top generously with Parmesan cheese, then chopped parsley.

Cookies and Cream Rice Crispy Treats

Monday, June 1, 2009

I am back from vacation, woohoo! Sure, normally I would be sad to leave vacation to go home but Orlando kicked my rear! It was so hot and we walked (sometimes ran) miles around those parks. It was exhausting!

I am a teacher so I spend my amazing summers at home with my boys. We go to the farmer's market every week, the pool almost daily, and I have plenty of time to cook! I am so glad this recipe was the first recipe I made of the summer. These were incredibly delicious! Really really good! I may never make plain rice crispy treats again!

1/4 cup butter
16 ounce bag miniature marshmallows
7 cups rice crispy cereal
1 (8 ounce) bag of mini Oreos

In a large pan on medium heat melt the butter. Stir in the bag of marshmallows until they are almost melted. Add in the rice crispies and mini Oreos and mix well. Press the mixture into a buttered 9x13 pan, the trick is to dampen your hands with water and press down on the mixture (it won’t stick to you hands this way). Let cool and serve!