Sunday, April 26, 2009

Whole Wheat Bread

You have to try this recipe, it is so easy and GOOD. This is another recipe from my mother-in-law. It's the perfect balance of flavor and texture. It's light and soft and oh, so good. I'm sold on making this bread every other weak or so and skipping out on the store-bought bread. My loaves ended up a little "muffin-top" because I let them rise too long, so next time I'll pay more attention on how fast they rise.

Whole Wheat Bread

1 tablespoon yeast
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 cup water and 1 1/2 cup milk (combined and warmed to 115-125 degrees, about 2 minutes 15 seconds in the microwave)
3 cups flour (plus more as needed, for some reason I needed A LOT more)
3 cups whole wheat flour

Mix well the yeast, honey, oil, salt, and water/milk. Add wheat flour and mix for 5 minutes. Add white flour 1 cup at a time. Mix well. If dough is too sticky add more white flour until dough does not stick to side of mixing bowl.

Remove dough and gently knead on floured surface for a few minutes. Shape into 2 loaves. Grease 2 bread pans. Place pans in warm place and cover with a kitchen towel. Let them rise until they double in size.

Heat oven at 350 degrees. Brush melted butter on top of bread for softer crust. Bake for 40 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack. Cut loaf when warm, but not still hot.

Oh, so good!

BBQ Chicken Sandwich

When my husband BBQ'ed up that chicken the other night, he cooked 2 extra breasts for leftovers. We had some hoagie-style rolls, which we sliced open and toasted in a 350 degree oven until crispy. I loaded up my sammy with:

Leftover BBQ chicken
More BBQ sauce
Banana Peppers

Super good meal!

Favorite Bottled BBQ Sauce

I love, love, love Sweet Baby Ray's Hot 'N Spicy BBQ sauce. We started using their Original BBQ sauce, but then saw the Hot 'N Spicy and decided to gamble, and we've been getting it ever since.

What's your favorite BBQ sauce?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

BBQ Chicken with Garlic Mashed Potatoes

One time my husband and I were visiting his parents his Dad made us BBQ chicken and it was so amazing. The sauce he used was Sweet Baby Ray's and it was seriously the best BBQ bottled sauce I'd ever had. I was so excited to learn that our grocery store carried it too. We've never bought another brand since. We've made BBQ chicken lots since then, and it's always a treat. We use the frozen boneless skinless breasts from Costco to save on the money. Boned chicken breasts, what my father-in-law uses, generally are more moist.

My husband always does the BBQ'ing. He seasons the thawed breasts with Poultry Seasoning and grills them up, then adds the sauce at the very end of grilling so it doesn't burn. So, so good!

A great side with BBQ chicken is mashed potatoes. This is our favorite mashed potato recipe. Come to think of it, I don't know that we've tried another recipe, it's just so good and easy. The original recipe comes courtesy of Betty Crocker's Cookbook, my version is as follows.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (round red, white potatoes or Idaho work just fine too)
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1/3 to 1/2 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons butter or stick margarine, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash of pepper

1. Wash and peel potatoes, and place potatoes and garlic in 2-quart saucepan, with enough water just to cover potatoes. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 20-30 minutes or until potatoes are tender; drain. (UPDATE: You can leave in all or some or none of the garlic cloves, depending on how garlicy you like your mashed potatoes. In my opinion, leaving them all in won't make it overly garlic.) Shake pan with potatoes over low heat to dry a bit.

2. Mash potatoes in pan until no lumps remain. Add milk in small amounts, mashing after each addition.

3. Add butter, salt and pepper. Mash vigorously until potatoes are light and fluffy.

Jarred Salsa

Thanks everyone who commented on my post about hot sauce. Now, if I can only pull my hand away from the Cholula, I know a few others to try instead :)

In that vein, I want to share my favorite jarred salsa of the moment. It was a fluke that my husband brought this salsa home from the grocery store, but thank goodness he did.
We used it in our Albondigas recipe (recipe coming soon) and it was perfect. I also like to use it in our Pita Chicken recipe (also, coming soon). It's Hot, which until recently (as I said before) I have not appreciated hot spices, but I think it's the perfect amount of heat. You can find it in the Mexican section of your grocery store.

Another standard salsa we used to get all the time is Zapata Medium Fire Roasted Salsa Roja. As far as fresh salsa goes, I have a pretty sweet salsa recipe, but really my favorite is Chevy's salsa that you with chips at your table. Yum! I have a copy-cat recipe I've been dying to try. Hopefully I'll get around to it this summer.

So, what's your favorite jarred salsa?

Carnitas Salad

I loved my Carne Asada Chicken Salad so much, I decided to do something similar with the leftover Carnitas. Enter the Carnitas Salad. Almost just as good. I only wish I had some black beans and olives to throw in it. It was still yummy. Same as before, I mixed up the lettuce with a bit of ranch dressing and then piled the yum-yums on top:

Leftover Carnitas, warmed up
Seasoned rice, warmed up
Avocado, sliced
Tomato, diced
Lime juice

Slow Cooker Carnitas

My husband has been tweaking this Carnitas recipe and it just keeps getting better and better. All the credit goes to him. We put the Carnitas in burritos, sandwiches, and this time we decided make tacos. We did the Masa "home" made corn tortillas and I topped my carnitas taco with cilantro, onions, lime, and avocado. So good!

Slow Cooker Carnitas

• 4-5lbs boneless pork butt, trimmed of excess fat
• 1 tbs coarse salt (this can make the pork quite salty, especially depending on saltiness of stock used. Suggest lowering amount of salt to 1 ½ tsp to start to avoid over salting)
• 4 cloves minced garlic
• 2 teaspoon ground cumin
• 2 teaspoon chile powder
• 1 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano
• 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
• 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 2 bay leaves
• 2 cups chicken broth (more if needed)

• Cut pork into 4-5in. chunks, trimmed of excess fat.
• Rub pieces of pork with spices and garlic
• Place 2 bay leaves at bottom of crock pot and place pork on top
• Add chicken broth being careful to make sure seasoning is not rinsed off. Pork should be 2/3 covered or so. Add more or less broth to ensure this level
• Cook till pork falls apart. 5-6 hrs on high, longer on low
• Once cooked, shred pork and enjoy. Nom Nom Nom.
• *optional* take shredded pork, arrange in a thin layer on a baking sheet and place in 400 degree oven for 10-20 minutes to crisp up outer layer of pork.

This recipe results in carnitas that have a subtle flavor that doesn’t overpower the natural pork flavor. This will also make a lot of meat. One suggestion for leftover pork is to make bbq pork sandwiches. Take leftover pork and add your favorite BBQ sauce (Sweet Baby Rays is our preferred). Heat and until hot.

Rice Casserole

This is another one of our go-to recipes. It's cheap and easy, and all the ingredients are always stocked at our house. I think it has a lot of potential for playing around with, but my husband loves it best this classic way. This recipe comes from my mother-in-law.

Rice Casserole

Canola oil
1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
3 cups water
1/4 lb ground beef
3-5 eggs (depending on how much you like eggs-I love them)
Soy Sauce

Heat empty pot for rice over medium heat. Pour in just enough oil to cover bottom. Pour in rice, stirring constantly until the rice is golden-brown, being careful not to burn. Add water, turn up heat, and bring to a boil. (You may add butter and salt according to the rice package directions-I think it tastes richer with these additions). Cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until water is absorbed.

While rice is cooking, cook ground beef in a separate pan, breaking up into small bits. Put cooked ground beef into a serving container and cover to keep warm. In the same pan, cook up eggs, scrambled style, adding salt and pepper to taste. Make sure not to over cook the eggs. Put the cooked eggs in the container with the ground beef. Mix in cooked rice.

Serve individual portions and season to taste with Soy Sauce. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sesame and Ginger Chicken Wraps

I found the original recipe for this wrap in the April 2008 Better Homes and Gardens magazine. It's easy and fast and works well for lunch. Leftovers can be eaten cold just fine, although I preferred it warm. My revised version is below.

Sesame and Ginger Chicken Wraps

1 breast skinless, boneless chicken, cut in bite-size pieces
Kraft Light Asian Toasted Sesame reduced fat dressing (or your choice bottled light Asian-style dressing with sesame and ginger)
1 cup julienned carrots
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or to taste)
1 head butterhead lettuce, leaves separated
1/4 cup peanuts, chopped if desired
Lime wedges
Mandarin oranges (optional)

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Lightly coat a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook and stir for 3 minutes or until browned. Add 1 tablespoon of the dressing and the carrots to skillet; cook and stir for 2 to 3 minutes more or until carrots are crisp-tender and chicken is no longer pink. Stir in red pepper.

Stack lettuce on plates. Top with chicken-carrot mixture. Sprinkle with peanuts and mandarin oranges. Add more dressing to taste and serve with lime wedges. Eat wrap-style and enjoy :)

Tex-Mex Rice and Meatballs

This is a standard go-to recipe for my husband and I when we're trying to think of a ground beef recipe for dinner. It's easy and simple, tastes great, and pretty healthy. The original recipe is courtesy of American Heart Association Meals in Minutes Cookbook, my tweaked version is below.

Tex-Mex Rice and Meatballs

14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 cup water
2/3 cup uncooked rice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

vegetable oil spray
1/2 pound ground beef
Seasoned bread crumbs (as needed)
1 egg
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a medium sauce pan bring tomatoes and water to a boil over high heat. Stir in rice, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon chili powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 12-15 minutes (or until most of the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender).

Meanwhile, preheat broiler. Spray a broiler pan top with vegetable oil spray, and line bottom of pan with foil for easier cleanup. If a broiler pan is not available simply line a cookie sheet with foil and place meatballs on foil.

In a medium bowl, combine remaining ingredients using hands to mix. Add enough breadcrumbs to make mixture cohesive but not too dry, adding a little at a time. Measure 1 inch meatballs using a heaping teaspoon or leveled tablespoon to measure out mixture. Place on broiler pan and broil with oven door ajar with pan 6 inches from heat for 4 minutes, rotate and cook another 4 minutes. Serve meatballs over rice and enjoy :)

Serves 3-4

Monday, April 6, 2009

Guest Posts Invitation

If you are interested in being a guest contributor to this blog please comment on this post and I will get in touch with you. If you think I don't have your email address, please include that in the comment, but make sure you use "at" instead of @ and "dot" instead of . This is a public blog and I want to keep spammers at bay.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Cholula Hot Sauce

I never liked hot sauce growing up. My Dad's hot sauce of choice was Tabasco, which I still remember being put on my thumbs to get me to stop sucking them. I stopped, eventually. But, I digress . . . I still didn't like hot sauce the first 5 years of marriage. But, mysteriously and suddenly I have come to love Cholula hot sauce. I can't explain it at all, except maybe my husband's love of Cholula has subconsciously turned me into a fan. Needless to say, he's happy and proud about my conversion. Do you like hot sauce? What kind or brand?

Carne Asada Chicken Salad

So, for dinner tonight we took our leftovers from last night's Carne Asada Chicken Tacos and created something new to make it a bit more interesting. It turned out so yummy, I couldn't believe it. I took two handfuls of lettuce and mixed it in a medium bowl with a bit of ranch salad dressing. I put the dressed lettuce on a dinner plate and added the following leftovers and things laying around in my fridge:

Leftover Carne Asada Chicken, warmed up
Black beans, warmed up
Seasoned rice, warmed up
Avocado, sliced
Black olives, sliced
Tomato, diced

If I had any leftover cilantro or lime juice I would have added those, too. As it ended up, it was SO good. A definite do-over.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Carne Asada Chicken Tacos with Rice

The name of this meal may be a little misleading because typically Carne Asada is grilled steak. We took a Carne Asada marinade and used it with chicken and then BBQed it up. We served it simply on homemade tortillas and garnished with cilantro and lime juice. On the side we made seasoned rice (my mother-in-law's recipe) and black beans for me.

Carne Asada Chicken

1 tablespoon garlic, minced (about 3 cloves)
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds chicken/skirt steak/milenesa meat

In a small bowl, whisk the garlic, lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Place the meat in a gallon plastic bag and pour marinade into it. Gently shake to distribute, then let stand in the refrigerator for an hour and a half (add a few more hours if using chicken). Remove meat from marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Grill meat on BBQ. Let meat rest on cutting board for 5 minutes before cutting.

Spoon onto small tortillas (use Masa mix if you want homemade) and garnish with lime, cilantro, and onion.

Seasoned Rice

2 cloved garlic, finely diced
1/2 small onion, finely diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
2 roma tomatoes, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 cups long grain rice
4 cups water
2 Sazon Goya con Culantro y Achiote seasoning packet (you can find this at a Mexican grocery store)

Brown oil and garlic on low heat. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, turn heat down to low, then cover for 12-18 minutes until rice is done and liquid is absorbed.

Black Beans (not pictured)

1 can black beans
Chili powder
Red pepper flakes
Cayenne pepper
Salt & Pepper

Combine beans and seasonings to taste, and heat over stove. Easy.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Not So Verde Beef & Bean Chile Verde with Golden Sweet Cornbread

I got this recipe from a magazine, Eating Well, I think. I edited it a bit to remove and replace things our family doesn't like. This is what we ended up with:

Not So Verde Beef & Bean Chile Verde

1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
6 cloved garlic, chopped
(1 tablespoon chili powder - oops, somehow we missed this, and it was still really spicy without it)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 jar taco sauce (originally this called for green salsa or enchilada sauce)
1/4 cup water
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed well

Cook beef and onion in a large saucepan over medium heat, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon, until the meat is browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin and cayenne; cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Stir in sauce and water; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, stir in beans, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve with cornbread.

Golden Sweet Cornbread

This is ridiculously awesome cornbread, so sweet and so addicting. I found this recipe on

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray or lightly grease a 12-muffin pan.

In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder. Stir in egg, milk and vegetable oil until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.

One Thing I Can't Live Without in My Kitchen

I refer to this book almost daily. Mostly, I use it for the tips and techniques when my Mom is not around, but I also discovered a killer Apple Pie recipe in it too. What's your favorite go-to cook book or reference?


Welcome to my new blog. I love cooking and baking and trying out new recipes and thought I might as well share it with you all. I also love sewing, quilting, and crafting, so eventually those types of things will make it here as well. I hope you enjoy and more importantly PLEASE comment, I'd love to hear your thoughts and questions.