Saturday, August 27, 2011


I have always loved the smell of churros. I have also always loved the taste of churros. This year we haven't gone anywhere that makes churros so I decided it was time to make some of my own. After a little research, I realized churros are super, duper easy to make. And they require hardly any ingredients. Woot! Woot! You do have to have a piping bag in order to make them. And you need a star shaped tip that is 1/2 inch wide. The tip is only about $1.00 at any craft store. And totally worth buying for these yummy churros!

2 cups vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon orange zest
3/4 cup flour
2 eggs

Heat the oil in a skillet until the temperature registers 350 degrees on a thermometer.

Combine the 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a skillet, heat the butter, water, 2 teaspoons sugar, salt and zest over medium heat. Once it starts to boil, stir in the flour. Continue stirring until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cook for 1 minute more. Transfer to a bowl.

With an electric mixer, beat the dough for 30 seconds. Add the eggs, one at a time, until completely incorporated, before adding the next egg. Let the dough cool slightly.

Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with the star tip. Pipe strips of dough into the hot oil. Fry the churros until golden brown, turn the churro and continue to brown the other side. Remove the churros and place on paper towels to drain. Immediately coat the churros in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Serve immediately.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Beef Empanadas with Black Bean Dip

I have never had empanadas before but they looked so good I had to try them. I was happily surprised at how easy they are to make and delicious! They are so simple, I can't believe I didn't come across them before. Then you dip them in the amazing black bean dip and oh, my. Your taste buds are happy, happy, happy! You will need a box of puff pastry to make these. There are two sheets inside. It takes about 40 minutes for the puff pastry to thaw, so plan your dinner in advance. Once the puff pastry is thawed, unwrap both sheets. Cut each puff pastry sheet into 9 squares, so there is a total of 18 squares.

1 pound hamburger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 box frozen puff pastry, thawed
1-15oz can of black beans, drained
1 cup sour cream

Combine the hamburger and garlic in a skillet and cook until meat is cooked through. Add the ketchup, cumin and cayenne. Reduce heat to medium and stirring often, cook for another 4 minutes. Let the meat mixture cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon the meat mixture onto each precut square. Fold over the edges to form a triangle. Crimp the edges with a fork. Place on the prepared cookie sheet. Spray the empanadas with non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the tops are puffed and golden brown.

While the empanadas are cooking, puree the beans and sour cream in a blender until smooth. Place in individual bowls for serving.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pan-fried Zucchini

There is an older neighbor near me who has a large property and grows all kinds of foods to sell. He is amazing!! I bought some zucchini from him and brought it home to make it into zucchini bread with a friend of mine. My husband was so excited (not like we have never had zucchini before) and instantly requested pan fried zucchini like his mom made. So I called her up, and she told me how she makes it. She doesn't have a recipe but eyes it as she goes. When I made it for dinner that night, my husband declared it was just like his mom made. Yeah!! The batter ends up being like a tempura around the zucchini. It's quite liquid before it's cooked. It needs salt and pepper but I prefer to sprinkle it on at the end, rather than add it to the batter.

1/2 to 1 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/4 cup flour
3 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 large zucchini, cut into rounds and 1/4 inch thick
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. You only need it to cover the bottom of the pan - that's why there is a range on the oil amount.

Whisk the egg. Whisk in the flour, milk and garlic powder until smooth. Dip the zucchini into the mixture, flipping over to cover both sides. Fry in the heated oil for about 1 minute, flip and cook for an additional minute. Zucchini should be cooked but still crisp.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Chicken Alfredo Noodles

Typically chicken alfredo is time consuming or involves lots of steps. But not this one! I brainstormed some ideas and came up with a quick and easy way to make this meal. And was it ever yummy! Plus, I think it's so fun to use different noodles, rather than just the typical spaghetti-type ones. And if it wasn't for cooking the noodles, this would be a one-pan meal! My favorite kind. The less dishes, the better.

1 package of small shells
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped
1 1/2 cups milk (I used 2%)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stick butter
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan, divided
2 teaspoons pepper
4 Tablespoons parsley

Cook the noodles according to package directions.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and saute until the chicken is cooked through. Add the milk and garlic, cook for 3 minutes. Add 1 cup Parmesan and simmer until the liquid is reduced to about 1 cup. Remove from heat. Stir in the cooked noodles. Sprinkle with parsley and enjoy!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Unstuffed Pepper Bake

This meal is so yummy. In fact, I looked forward to eating the leftovers. My mouth would water as I smelled it warm up in the microwave. I grew up eating stuffed peppers. My mom makes the best ones! But I never liked eating the pepper, only the mixture inside the pepper. So, when I saw a recipe for this, I had to make my own version. Oh, and I had a coupon to save money on a set of tricolored peppers - even better.

1 pound hamburger
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 each - red, yellow and green pepper, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-14.5oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 cups instant rice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups cheddar cheese, divided
1-15oz tomato sauce

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Combine the hamburger, onion powder, peppers, garlic and salt in a large skillet. Saute until the meat is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Stir in the tomatoes, rice and Worcestershire sauce. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of cheese. Spread the mixture into a 9x13 pan. Top with tomato sauce and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until heated through and cheese is melted and bubbly. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Peanut Butter Layer Bars

I found a recipe for these bars months and months ago. I even made them but, quite honestly, they were really dry. They needed a little something else. So, I put my mind to work, adjusted the recipe and now these bars are amazing! They are super loaded with peanut butter. The crust is peanut butter cookies, followed by a melt-in-your mouth peanut butter layer, sprinkled with marshmallows and topped with more peanut butter, peanuts and rice krispies. Is your mouth watering yet? Just wait til you try them!

1 pound peanut-butter sandwich cookie, coarsely crumbled (I used Nutter Butters)
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
4 cups peanut butter chips
1 1/3 light corn syrup
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups mini marshmellows
2 cups dry-roasted peanuts (I used the salted kind)
2 cups crisp rice cereal (I used Rice Krispies)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray and 9x13 pan with non-stick spray.

Crush the cookies either using a food processor or a rolling pin. Add the melted butter and mix until well combined. Press into the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden.

In a saucepan, combine the peanut butter chip, corn syrup, butter and vanilla. Stir until smooth, about 7 minutes. Spread 1/2 of the mixture over the crumb crust. Top with the marshmallows and return to the oven. You only want them in there until the marshmallows puff, about two minutes. If you cook them longer, the marshmallows will turn crunchy.

Toss the peanuts and rice cereal with the remaining peanut butter mixture. Stir well so everything is evenly coated. Drop, by the spoonful, over the marshmallows. Cool bars completely before cutting and serving.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sarah's Salad

The other day my hubbie and I were invited over to our friend's for dinner and games. Dinner was this salad and I have to say, it was incredible. One of the best things I have had in forever! So I had to make it at home for me and my hubs another time. The best part is, there are several components, but if served buffet style each person can add as much or as little of each part they like. Our friends used a flavored Ranch dressing, but I didn't have any when I made it. I loved it without dressing, my hubbie made due with some dressing from our fridge. When I made the rice in my rice cooker, I just added a canned of drained pinto beans with the uncooked rice as the way to cook them.

1 - 2 pound pork roast
1 cup barbeque sauce
2 cups of uncooked rice and a can of drained pinto beans, cooked together
1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 avocados, chopped
dressing of your choice

Cook the pork roast until you can pull it apart with a fork. I put mine in the crockpot, on low, for 6 to 7 hours. Once you pull the pork apart, stir in the barbeque sauce.

Meanwhile, about 1/2 hour before the pork is done, cook the rice and beans. While they are cooking, cut the lettuce, red pepper and avocados. Place each in a separate bowl. Place the pork and the rice and beans into separate bowls when finished cooking. Assemble the salad for each individual, adding as much or as little of each food as desired. Then dig in and enjoy!! Thanks Sarah for sharing this amazing salad!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Coconut Curry Chicken and Potatoes

Curry really doesn't look too appetizing, does it? But it sure tastes amazing! This dish made our taste buds come to life and dance. Yummo! However, my house smelled like curry for the next couple of days, so be prepared for that. This comes together quickly and is very filling. Also, minus using my rice cooker, this only took one pan to make the entire thing.

1 tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons curry powder (I used yellow)
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut chunks
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 golden potatoes, cut into chunks
14oz can coconut milk
14.5oz can stewed, diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons sugar
cooked rice

Heat the oil and curry powder in a large skillet over medium-high heat for two minutes. Stir in onions and garlic. Cook 5 minutes more. Add chicken, salt and pepper, tossing lightly to coat with curry mixture. Reduce heat to medium.

Add potatoes, coconut milk, tomatoes, and sugar into the pan. Stir to combine. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are fork tender and sauce thickens. Serve with rice and enjoy!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Jamaican Jerk Porkchops with Fruit Salsa

Time for some barbeque!We started off the season with some mouth watering pork chops. All I did was rub some yumminess on the meat, barbequed it up and topped it with a fruit salsa. So easy and so delicious!

1 1/2 cups chopped honeydew
1 1/2 cups chopped cantaloupe
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 Tablespoon snipped fresh mint
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon honey
4 teaspoons Jamaican jerk seasoning
1 1/2 pounds pork chops

Combine the honeydew, cantaloupe, strawberries, mint, lemon juice and honey. Stir gently to combine. Leave in the fridge until serving, up to one hour.

Sprinkle the Jamaican jerk over the pork chops and rub in. Grill the pork chops for about 40 minutes, or until an internal temperature reads 160 degrees. Turn only once while grilling to retain the juices.

Cover with fruit salsa and enjoy!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tuna Noodle Casserole

My food storage is overloaded with tuna fish. I used to eat it all the time, then I got pregnant and "they" say pregnant woman shouldn't eat tuna fish. But I did it anyways and it was delicious. I was craving it. So I figured if it was mixed with a bunch of other stuff, it would be alright. Hence the reason for this yummy tuna noodle casserole.

1 box noodles (I used the mini bow tie pasta)
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
2 cans of tuna fish
1 1/2 cups peas
8oz can of mushrooms, drained
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Cook noodles according to package directions.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large saucepan. Whisk in flour until well combined. Pour in the milk, stirring constantly until mixture thickens. Add the tuna, peas, and mushrooms, stir to combine. Add the noodles once they are cooked. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until bubbly. Sprinkle with cheese and return to oven until the cheese is melted.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Maple Sugar Cookies

I actually made these cookies way back on July 1st to celebrate Canada Day! I had started to look back through all these recipes and found all these things I had planned for different holidays. Too bad I didn't make any of them. Guess I have it all planned out for next year. But I was headed to a friend's house to celebrate Canada Day and I just had to make these this year. And these aren't just maple by their shape, they are packed full of maple flavor. I think these might become a yearly tradition.

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 drops maple extract
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the maple syrup, maple extract and egg yolk until mixture is well combined. Add the salt and flour, mix thoroughly. 

Chill the dough (trying not to eat too much), wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, about 2 hours. 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray cookie sheets with non-stick cooking spray.
Divide dough in half. Lightly flour surface. Roll out dough 1/8 inch thick and with a 3-inch floured maple-leaf cookie cutter cut out cookies. Arrange cookies on prepared baking sheets. Continue until all dough is used.

Bake about 12 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Coconut Caramel Bread Pudding

Anyone in the mood for a super yummy breakfast? To tell the real truth, we ate this for dinner one night and then for breakfast leftovers the next morning. The key to this melt-in-your-mouth yumminess is using stale bread. So you can either use stale bread, make it go stale by cubing it and placing it on a baking sheet overnight or popping it in a 200 degree oven for an hour. Either method works. This recipe does require the bread to sit in the milk for 45 minutes, but does not require the sitting to happen overnight. So plan a little longer for this to be ready to eat.  

For the bread pudding:

6 eggs
3 cups whole milk
1 13.5oz coconut milk
1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 loaf of French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes, must be stale
2 teaspoons butter
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Whisk together the eggs, whole milk, coconut milk, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Stir in the bread until combined. Let sit at room temperature for 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9x13 pan with the 2 teaspoons of butter. Transfer the bread mixture to the prepared baking dish. Combine the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the bread mixture. Bake until the center is set, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and cool for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.

For the sauce:

1 stick (8 Tablespoons) butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Melt the butter and brown sugar in a saucepan until melted and smooth, whisking constantly for about 2 minutes.  Whisk in the cream, cinnamon and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens and is reduced to about 1 1/2 cups, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla and lemon juice. Serve the sauce warm over the bread pudding.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cheesy Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole

This casserole has a twist compared to other cheesy casseroles, because the cheese is Swiss and Parmesan. It really changes up the flavor. And to save myself some time, I totally used frozen broccoli and cauliflower. But this would work just the same with fresh veggies. If you use fresh veggies, place them in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 minutes. Drain and immediately shock in a bowl of ice water. This stops the cooking and helps the veggies keep their color. Set the veggies aside. If you are using frozen veggies, let them defrost first and drain the excess water. If you don't drain them, you will end up with soggy veggies.

3 cups broccoli florets
2 cups cauliflower florets
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs (I used Italian)
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
3 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
2 1/4 cups milk (use 2% or whole)
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
2/3 cups shredded Swiss cheese
2/3 cups shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Combine the bread crumbs and melted butter until coated. Set aside.

Melt the remaining 3 Tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, then cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and Dijon, cooking until the sauce slightly thickens, about 8 minutes. Make sure the mixture does not come to a boil. Add the cheeses and stir until completely melted. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the broccoli and cauliflower into the sauce. Make sure the veggies are completely coated, then pour into a 9x13 pan or a 2-quart baking dish.

Sprinkle the crumb topping over the casserole. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the casserole is bubbly. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Garlic Pork Roast

I love garlic. I love pork loin roast. What a better idea than to put them together? The picture I have, shows gravy. But as a warning, pork loin roasts don't typically make enough drippings to make gravy. So, I'll admit it. I totally used the small amount of drippings and added a package of gravy mix. The best way to make sure pork is done correctly, is to use a meat thermometer. That way you also won't overcook it, making it dry.

2-3 pound pork loin roast
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cloves garlic, cut in half
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Combine the oil, rosemary, sage, and thyme in a small bowl. Pierce the top of the pork to make six slits 2-inches apart on either side. Insert a garlic half into each slit. Like in the picture below.

Score the top of the pork by cutting in a crisscross pattern. Rub the herb mixture onto the pork. Roast the pork for 20 minutes, the flip and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of the pork registers 145 degrees, about 20 minutes more. Remove the roast from the pan, tent with foil and let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Then slice up and enjoy!