Wednesday, October 30, 2013


I love taco night!  I am definitely a ground beef fan, but when I saw this recipe for shredded chicken tacos, I had to try it.  It couldn't be any easier.  All you do is throw stuff in the crockpot!  Are you ready to find out the list of ingredients required to flavor your chicken?  Get a pencil.  Here is the list:

Yup, that's it.  You just have to promise me one thing: DO NOT TAKE THE LID OFF THE CROCKPOT UNTIL THE TIMER GOES OFF.  A lot of people like to get a peek while their crockpot meals are cooked.  Uh... isn't your lid made of glass?  Why are you taking the lid off?  It just adds cooking time and dries out your food.  This chicken needs to be juicy and flavorful so please please please just leave it alone.  Here, I'll show you how exciting it looks while it's cooking:

Is your curiosity squashed now, or what?  Anyway, take a look at all that delicious liquid that is created when this cooks.  Yum.

Oh, and this is how weird it will look before you cook it.

Once it's done, shred away!

If you have a gas stove, getting tortillas nice and toasty over the open flame is a must.  So perfectly crisped and soft all at the same time.

The first night we had this, we put it in the toasted tortillas with cheese, lettuce, avocado, tomatoes, creamy chipotle sauce and hot sauce.  With the leftovers we made salads and added some black beans.  You could also serve this in burritos, quesadillas or tostadas.

We also had sides of rice and delicious refried black beans.  This rice is fun to pair with Mexican dishes because it reminds me of the authentic kind in restaurants with corn, carrots and peas.


2.5 lbs fresh boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders (you could also use frozen)
1 1/2 packets taco seasoning
1 1/2 packets ranch seasoning

Place chicken in crockpot.  Sprinkle both seasonings over the top.   Cover and cook on low 6 hours.  That was the perfect amount of time for fresh, large chicken breasts.  If using frozen chicken, cook for 6-8 hours.  Tenders cook quicker than breasts, adjust cook time accordingly.  Shred chicken with two forks.  Cover and cook for another 15 minutes, to let the chicken soak up all the juices.

Simple perfection.  Mmmmmm.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Do you have any standard "go to" dinners in your arsenal?  Those recipes you've got memorized in your head, use ingredients that are always in your kitchen and take about half an hour to make?  This is one of mine!

A quesadilla doesn't really require a recipe, but you must follow one simple rule: LOW AND SLOW.  If you want that really crispy, golden exterior and perfectly melted cheese on the inside, you must cook it over low heat for about 20 minutes.  It takes a lot of patience and willpower, but it's definitely worth the wait.  Trust me, I've burned many quesadillas in my lifetime.

The best part of this "recipe" is the creole sour cream!  I dip each bite into this creamy deliciousness.  Simply combine creole seasoning and sour cream in a bowl.  I use about a tablespoon per cup of sour cream, but usually end up doing a few mix and taste cycles before it's just right.

This is all you need:

Season the chicken, saute and slice.

L-O-V-E this seasoning!

  First, a layer of cheese:

A layer of chicken:

And another layer of cheese:
(You could use less of course; clearly I have a problem)

 Isn't that griddle cool?  It was only $18 (on sale) at Macy's and we use it for pancakes, french toast, grilled cheese and of course, quesadillas.  No more cooking things one or two at a time in a skillet on the stove!  I highly recommend finding yourself an electric griddle.


2 large flour tortillas (burrito sized)
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Sour cream
Creole seasoning (whichever brand you prefer)

Season chicken with creole seasoning to taste.  The brand I use, Tony Chachere's, advises to "use it like salt" so don't overseason!  Saute chicken until done.  Remove to plate and slice.  Throw back in skillet and give it a stir so all the seasoned juices coat the chicken.

Preheat your nonstick griddle to 300, or your nonstick skillet to medium-low.  Spray one side of tortilla with Pam and place sprayed side down on griddle/skillet.  Sprinkle about half a cup of cheddar on half the tortilla.  Layer on half of the sliced chicken, then another half cup of cheese.  Fold tortilla over and press down lightly on the top for about a minute, until cheese has melted a bit/is sticking.  Repeat all steps with second tortilla.  Keep an eye on the quesadillas and flip after about 8-10 minutes, or when the tortilla is a nice golden brown.  Again, cook this side until golden brown.

Remove from griddle/skillet and slice into four wedges.  Serve with creole sour cream.

Note: to increase the recipe, my general rule is 1 chicken breast and 1 cup of cheese per quesadilla. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Let me begin by saying I do not love chicken.  I prefer to make a meal of red meat, pork, or even a meatless main dish of pasta.  This chicken is definitely an exception.  It is so beyond delicious, juicy and flavorful.  I found the original recipe here but tweaked it slightly.


4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup shredded parmesan (the kind in the plastic tub)
1 envelope Good Seasons Zesty Italian dry mix
1/2 cup Italian seasoned panko breadcrumbs
1 cup shredded mozzarella
3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Heat oven to 400.  Mix parmesan cheese, dressing mix, breadcrumbs, and garlic powder in a shallow, wide bowl.  Combine olive oil and garlic in plate.  Dip both sides of chicken in olive oil mixture, then press into breadcrumb mixture, making sure to evenly coat both sides.  Place in baking dish or on foil-lined baking sheet.  Bake 25 minutes, or until chicken is almost cooked through, then top with shredded mozzarella.  Bake for an additional 5 minutes, until cheese is melted and chicken is fully cooked.

Look closely at this piece- I always have to cut into chicken to see if it's done.  What a pro!

Saving the best bites for last...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


These little sandwiches are so so good.  Apparently they're very common (I did a quick google search, only to find out I was the last person on the planet to discover these amazing creations).  I heard about them from my friend, Tara.  We trade recipes constantly, and she's never strayed me wrong.  So when she claimed these were even good LEFTOVER, I knew I had to try them.  Have you ever heard rave reviews about a leftover sandwich??  Me neither.

There are many variations for this sandwich:
- onions.  Some swear by grating an onion, but that sounds like work to me.  Some call for chopping an onion.  Work.  I use dried minced onion, found in the spice aisle.
- condiments.  Some use mayo, some use miracle whip, some use none.  I use both.  It gives it the creamy consistency of mayonaise, but also the sweet tang of miracle whip.  I only spread the mixture on one side of the bread; if you use it on both sides your sandwich will be soggy.
- topping.  Some people claim you must refrigerate these sandwiches for 24 hours before you bake them, but I just let them sit on the counter for 10-20 minutes until it looks like the saucy tops have set.
- bread.  I've used regular white dinner rolls and King's Hawaiian Sweet Rolls.  The latter wins.
- meat and cheese.  Most recipes call for "good" or "deli" products.  I buy the prepackaged variety from the regular aisle and they are delicious.
- poppyseeds.  I know, it's weird.  You have to buy them because they aren't on your spice rack.  Trust me, they make this sandwich delicious.  You won't end up like Elaine from Seinfeld.  Unless you're going on a work trip to Africa soon.  In that case, omit the poppies.

Sandwich stuff:
 (yeah yeah, ignore the mustard, lining up condiments is a tough task)

Saucy topping stuff:


24 small rolls (King's Hawaiian, preferably)
24 slices deli ham
24 slices swiss cheese
1/2 cup Miracle Whip
1/3 cup maynonaise
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 1/2 tablespoons minced onion
2 tablespoons yellow mustard (not dijon or spicy brown!)
1 tablespoon poppyseeds

Split the rolls in half, making sure you don't cut all the way through.  Keep them connected just enough so the top is still hanging on.  Mix together mayo and miracle whip in bowl.  You may not use all of this mixture, depending on how much mayo you prefer on sandwiches.  Spread on bottom of each roll, top with one folded slice of ham, top with cheese (fold/break into fourths to make fit).  Close sandwiches tightly, and push them together on pan closely.  They should all be touching.
In bowl, melt stick of butter.  Add remaining ingredients and thoroughly stir.  Pour over sandwiches.  Use spoon to spread over tops of sandwiches, making sure there are no dry spots.
Let sandwiches sit for about 20 minutes, until mixture sets.
Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 13 minutes.  Yes, 13.
Remove foil and bake for about 3 minutes, until tops are slightly crisp.

I made a full pan of 24 for our adorable little family of two.  Not because we're pigs, but for the sole purpose of having leftovers to bring to work for lunch.  Yup, leftover sandwiches.  To be reheated in a microwave.  Seriously, they're that good.

Monday, October 14, 2013


Another day, another one skillet dinner.  My favorite!  I found this recipe here.  This meal does not photograph well, but you've seen chili before, right?  And rice?  Okay there you go.

I wasn't able to find the special Rotel the recipe calls for, so I just used a can of the mild flavor, two tablespoons of chili powder and a few shakes of this stuff:

Thanks, Allison, for bringing this amazing seasoning into my life!  It's a cajun seasoning that can be used on fries, pasta dishes, seafood or basically anything you'd like to kick up a notch in the flavor department.  You can buy it on Amazon and I've even seen it at World Market.

This recipe calls for shredded cheddar, and I beg you to shred your own rather than purchasing the bagged kind.  It tastes creamier and melts better!  And look, how gorgeous is that?
I let this simmer 5 minutes longer than called for because my rice wasn't fully cooked after 20 minutes.  We topped our bowls with a tad more seasoning, sour cream, and Fritos scoops.  And salt.  I can't help it, I'm an addict.  Don't tell my mom.

Oh, and did I mention we ate this for dessert?
It requires a can of creamed corn and melted butter.  What's not to love?  Now, if you'll excuse me, my sweatpants and the couch are calling.


I keep the salt and pepper on the stove for easy access when cooking.  I'm still getting used to our new home and its gas range.  Apparently if you broil something in the oven, the stovetop gets hot.  Really hot.  Oops.  Katy, I'm sorry I destroyed your very thoughtful housewarming gift.

Now fess up, what kitchen tools have you burned, melted or destroyed?


This meal had such an amazing smoky flavor.  Did I mention how easy it was to make?  It took 20 minutes and only used ONE PAN.  Yup, I only had to wash one skillet, and since it was nonstick it was even easier to clean.  I got the recipe from one of my favorite blogs and only made two changes.  The recipe calls for heavy cream, but I subbed fat free half and half.  I honestly didn't notice a difference in taste or creaminess.  Oh and I used chicken prosciutto parmesan tortellini instead of plain cheese.

Make this and I promise you will be happy.

Note: the recipe claims to make 4 servings, but we ended up splitting it between the two of us.  It's okay though because I used fat free half and half.  Diet food.  Right???

Sunday, October 13, 2013


Posole is a hearty soup consisting of chickpeas, shredded pork (sometimes beef) and a rich, red broth.  My grandma has been making this traditional soup for our family since before I was born.  She usually only makes it for us once a year, so I had to find a way to keep my belly happy those other 364 days.  I finally found the perfect combination of ingredients, and came up with this.  Of course I developed the recipe for the slow cooker, because there's nothing better than meat that's been cooked all day.  See???

You put all the ingredients in the slow cooker, go to work, come home and have meat that just FALLS APART. I am partial to Old El Paso brand enchilada sauce and I do believe it makes a difference in this recipe.  I've had it with other brands, and it just doesn't taste the same.  Also, since slow cooker meals are usually made in the morning while running out the door to work, I use two of my favorite cooking shortcuts:

No chopping and most importantly: no garlic and onion scented fingers to ruin your day!

Another favorite shortcut of mine are these magical things but with this recipe, they steal too much of the flavor.  Please promise me you will go without them just this once!


1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
1 (2 or 2.5 pound) boneless pork loin roast
1 (14.5 ounce) can MEDIUM enchilada sauce
1 (28 ounce) can MILD enchilada sauce
4 (15.5 ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 onion, chopped (or dried chopped onion)
1 (4.25 ounce) can chopped green chiles, undrained
1 (32 ounce) carton beef broth
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more if you can handle it!
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon salt

  1. Cut the pork loin into large chunks, about 6-8 big pieces.  Heat the canola oil in a skillet over high heat. Place pork in skillet and sear all sides. You don't want to fully cook the pork, just sear the sides to seal in all the juices.
  2. Place the meat in a large crock pot. Pour the enchilada sauce over the meat. Top with the chickpeas, onion, chiles, garlic, cayenne pepper, and oregano. Pour in enough beef broth to fill the slow cooker (you might not need the entire carton).
  3. Cover and cook on High for 6 to 7 hours.  Remove the chunks of pork spoonfuls at a time to shred.  At this point, you should only have to smash them with a large wooden spoon and they fall apart.  Find and discard any bits of fat.  Stir in can of tomato paste to crock pot until blended.  Carefully put shredded pork back in crock pot.  Add salt.  Cook for about another hour on low.  Taste broth and add additional salt or cayenne pepper as necessary.  Serve with fresh tortillas, chips or corn bread.


Do you love buffalo wings?  Cheese?  Pasta?  If you don't, then we probably can't be friends.  But if you do, definitely make this recipe (and fill out a friend application).  It's a bit labor intensive, but definitely worth making.  Very creamy, satisfying, rich, and just enough heat.  I found the recipe here but made a couple changes.  I used pipette shaped pasta, not elbow.  I didn't put breadcrumbs on top because I'm just not into that.  I also didn't use parsley because fresh herbs have never had a home in my kitchen.  Do you have to water them?  Do you keep them by the window?  How long do they stay alive?  I need to be schooled.  And now it's your turn to be schooled BY THIS PASTA.  Make it!

Also, make sure you get Frank's Red Hot WINGS sauce.