Sunday, February 20, 2011

Nacho Cheese Chicken Chowder

Nacho Cheese Chicken Chowder
makes 6 servings
adapted from

1 Large Can Chicken
2 (14.5 oz.) Cans Mexican Style Stewed Tomatoes
1 (10.75 oz.) Can Condensed Nacho Cheese Soup
1 Can Corn
1 Can Pinto Beans
1 Package Taco Seasoning
1 Cup Chicken Stock

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker.  Cook on low-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours or high-heat setting for 2 - 2 1/2 hours.  Serve with corn bread.

I have great news:  If you can open cans you can make dinner!  This soup is so simple it's ridiculous.  Even the corn bread takes little to no effort with a dry package mix.  I think it took me longer to write this post than it took to make dinner.  Another great thing about this recipe is that everything can be stocked in your pantry so you don't even have to run to the store.  It's basically another chicken tortilla soup, but I switched it up a little bit with the beans. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes
serves 5

1 Pound Ground Beef
3/4 Cup Picante Sauce
1/2 Cup Barbecue Sauce

Cook the beef over medium-high heat until it's well browned, stirring often to separate meat.  Pour off any fat.  Stir in the picante sauce and barbecue sauce.  Cook until mixture is hot and bubbly.  Serve on the buns.

For such a simple recipe, these sloppy joes are delish!  I wasn't big on them growing up, but I am going to make these all the time.  The key here is to use a really good barbecue sauce. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Eggs in Purgatory with Salami

Eggs in Purgatory with Salami
from Food Network Magazine

2 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
4 Ounces Deli-Sliced Salami, Roughly Chopped
1 Medium Onion, Halved and Thinly Sliced
1 Yellow Bell Pepper, Thinly Sliced
1/2 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 Cup Tomato Puree or Marinara Sauce
8 Large Eggs
2 Tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Add salami, onion, peppers, red pepper flakes and garlic powder.  Cook, stirring until salami starts to brown, about 5 minutes.  Add the tomato puree and 1/2 cup water and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium, make 4 indentations in the pepper mixture for the eggs.  Break 2 eggs into a small bowl, then pour both into one of the indentations.  Repeat with remaining eggs.  Sprinkle the grated cheese.  Cover and cook until the whites are set and the yokes are cooked to desired doneness.  Serve with bread.

Pay no attention to that ugly picture up there!  I blame the bad lighting.   Anyway, this dish was amazing.  My mouth is watering right now just thinking about it.  I usually stay away from making things that I don't know how to correctly pronounce and/or have never heard of, but the ingredients felt pretty safe and this was very simple to make and it came together in about a half an hour.  Feeling fancy?  Fresh herbs would have been awesome.  Feel like stretching the dish?  Serve with a pound of linguine.  Perfect for a weeknight meal!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Homemade Valentine's Day Meal

I'm working on Valentine's Day this year, so my husband and I celebrated a day early.  I always like to serve him by cooking him a nice meal rather than going out to eat.  Here was our menu:

Three Cheese Tortellini with Sausage Meat Sauce
Asparagus Parmesan  (from
Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

For the Three Cheese Tortellini with Sausage Meat Sauce, begin by browning ground mild Italian sausage over medium-high heat.  Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil and add a package of tortellini.  When sausage is browned, add a jar of marinara sauce and reduce heat to medium-low.  Drain tortellini and add to sausage mixture.  Done!

For Asparagus Parmesan, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Rinse asparagus and chop off the non-green portion on the bottom of the stalks.  Place the asparagus in a 13x9 baking dish and add 1 tablespoon each olive oil and water.  Season with salt.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until asparagus is fork tender.  Sprinkle 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese over the asparagus and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Happy Day of Romance!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookies
from the back of Ocean Spray Craisins Bag

2/3 Cups Butter or Margarine, Softened
2/3 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Large Eggs
1 1/2 Cups Old-Fashioned Oats
1 1/2 Cups Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 6 oz. Package Crasins
2/3 Cups White Chocolate Chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Using an electric mixer, beat butter or margarine and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, mixing well.  Combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate mixing bowl.  Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition.  Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chips.  Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on wire rack.  Makes approximately 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

A few days ago, I was eating a handful of craisins and saw this recipe on the back.  I thought to myself  "these would be cute for Valentine's Day with the red cranberries and white chocolate chips!"  When I started to make them, I wasn't keen on some of the measurements.  Two-thirds of a cup of butter isn't that easy to measure!  I almost considered doubling or even tripling the recipe for even amounts.  But I had exactly two-thirds of a cup of brown sugar, so it worked out perfectly!  These are my type of cookies, not to sweet, and not to fussy.  Make them for your valentine this year!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Baked Pasta, with Infinite Possibilities

This recipe was in my monthly Food Network magazine.  Well, it's not really a recipe, it's a method.  Mix and match different pasta with different veggies and meats and see what you come up with!  I used fusilli, pepperoni, spinach, ricotta and Parmesan. 

Baked Pasta, with Infinite Possibilities
from Food Network Magazine

1.  Pick a pasta.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Bring a large pot of salted water to boil; cook 1 pound of pasta until very al dente, 2 or 3 minutes less than the label directs; drain.  Choose from:
  • Farfalle
  • Cavatappi
  • Fusili
  • Rigatoni
  • Penne
  • Ziti
  • Large Shells
2.  Heat up 4 cups prepared tomato sauce
3.  Choose your mix-ins.  While the sauce simmers, prepare 3 cups meat and/or veggies (in any combination).  Choose from:
  • Italian sausage, crumbled and cooked
  • Meatballs, quartered and cooked
  • Pepperoni, chopped
  • Rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • Hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • Roasted Red Peppers, sliced
  • Frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and chopped
  • Zucchini, sliced and sauteed
  • Mushrooms, sliced and sauteed
  • Eggplant, sliced and sauteed
  • Fennel, sliced and sauteed
  • Spinach, chopped and sauteed
  • Escarole, chopped and sauteed (I'm not going to pretend to know what that is)
  • Black or green pitted olives, chopped
4.  Flavor the sauce.  Stir in one of the following ingredients into your sauce, then add meat and/or veggie mix-ins.
  • For herb sauce:  1 cup each chopped basil and parsley
  • For creamy sauce: 1 cup fresh ricotta
  • For meat sauce:  3/4 pound pancetta, diced and browned
5.  Pick your cheese.  Prepare 3 cups melting cheese and 1 cup grating cheese.
Melting cheese:
  • Fresh mozzarella, cubed
  • Mild provolone, shredded
  • Italian fontina, shredded
  • Young asiago, shredded
Grating cheese:
  • Parmesan, grated
  • Pecorino, grated
  • Ricotta salata, grated
6.  Bake the casserole.  Toss the cooked pasta with the sauce and half of each cheese.  Spread in an oiled 3 to 4 quart baking dish.  sprinkle the remaining cheese over the pasta.  Bake, uncovered, until browned, about 15 minutes.  Let rest 15 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Chocolate Caramel Crack(ers)

Chocolate Caramel Crack(ers)
makes 40 crackers

40 Saltine Crackers
2 Sticks Unsalted Butter
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Pinch of Sea Salt
1 1/2 Cups Chocolate Chips
1 Cup Chopped Nuts (Optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line and 11x17 baking sheet completely with aluminum foil and top with a sheet of parchment paper (yay for easy clean up!).  Line the bottom of the baking sheet with crackers, covering all parts.  In a medium heavy-duty sauce pan, melt the butter and brown sugar together over medium heat until it begins to boil.  Once it has begun to boiling, let it bubble for three more minutes, stirring it well.  It will begin to thicken as it cooks.  Remove from the heat and add the vanilla and salt, then quickly pour it over the crackers.  Spread it quickly since it will begin to set as soon as its poured.  Bake the crackers for 15 minutes, watching it carefully.  If the crackers begin to get too brown, reduce the heat.  Remove from the oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips.  Let stand for a few minutes, the spread the chocolate.  Sprinkle with nuts, if desired.  Let the crackers completely cool and the chocolate set then store in an airtight container.

I've eaten at least 10 of these in the past 2 days... and I made 80 of them. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Baked Apricot Chicken

Baked Apricot Chicken
makes 4 servings

1 Pound Chicken Thighs
1/2 Cup Apricot Preserves
1/2 Cup Catalina Dressing (or Italian or French)
1/2 Packet Dry Onion Soup Mix
1 Can Pineapple Chunks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl combine preserves, dressing, and soup mix.  Place chicken in a baking dish.  Pour apricot mixture over chicken and bake uncovered for 50 minutes- 1 hour.  During the last ten minutes, add the pineapple.  Serve with brown rice with mixed veggies. 

I love apricot preserves.  I love an inexpensive cut of chicken.  I love baking chicken.  I love easy dishes with only a handful of ingredients!  Love, love, love it!  The sauce tastes like sweet and sour... only better.  Next time I may throw in some chopped green pepper and onions when it first goes in the oven.