19 June 2013

Our Favorite Salsa

My sister-in-law, Isela, makes THE BEST salsa and showed me how-to when she was up for a visit from Arizona...before they moved to the Netherlands. Yes, I am jealous that they live in Europe and I don't. (Her ceviche is incredible too. I'll have to eventually post that recipe as well.) A salsa recipe this good needs to be shared!

I probably don't make it the exact same way she does, but the flavor is the same so that's what matters. Of course, if you like it melt-your-face-off-hot, add more peppers. If you like it mild, only put in one or two. It's completely up to you. Hope you enjoy!

(Total price for my ingredients was $5.74 and it made 8-ish cups.) I keep saying that I'm going to try freezing the leftovers to see if it will freeze well, but don'tcha know, we never have any.

8-10 Roma Tomatoes (about 2 pounds)
5-7 Tomatillos (about 1 pound)
2-3 Jalapeno Peppers
1-2 Anaheim Chili Pepper
1 large Onion
1 TBSP minced garlic
1 small bunch cilantro (just the tops, no stems)
2 Avocados
Juice from 6-8 *Key Limes
1 tsp salt (to taste)

I throw my tomatoes, tomatillos (dehusked), peppers and onion (skinned and chopped in half) on my BBQ grill and roast them on low heat for about 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally. It's okay if they get some burn spots, it makes the salsa tastier. If the tomatoes are turning to complete mush, take them off earlier. You can also cook them on the stovetop in a frying pan on medium-low, it takes a bit longer though. You just want them softened up and kind of browned. My blender isn't large enough to blend everything at once so I do about half at a time but I trim the stems off the peppers first.

When the salsa is blended as smoothly as you like it (I like mine fairly smooth) add the cilantro and pulse a few more times. Mix everything up in a bowl. Then when it's all blended, I juice all the limes and mash up the avocados and mix those in as well. Salt, and if you like, pepper to taste and SERVE. Yum!

*The sweetness of key limes counters the heat from the peppers VERY nicely. I suppose other limes would work as well, (although you'd use far less due to their larger size) but I only use key limes.

23 January 2012

Fried Shredded Wheat

This isn't really a recipe, but more of a how-to for something not many people have probably heard of. This was one of our family favorites growing up and I love that my kids request it, too.

Basically all you need is Shredded Wheat, butter (REAL butter, of course), milk and syrup. If you're on a diet, look away now.

Warm a pan on medium heat. Melt some butter. I don't know how much but don't be stingy.

Dip Shredded Wheat in a bowl of milk, fully submerging it, flip it if necessary and let the milk drain out. Don't "soak" it or it won't get crisp, but you do want all the cereal inside to be moistened. Place it into the hot pan of butter. Fry for a few minutes, until crispy and flip, BUT as you're flipping it over, ADD MORE BUTTER to the pan. Yummyyyyyyyy. Cook until crispy and then serve with...

...wait for it...

...MORE BUTTER. And some syrup.

Then come back here and THANK ME for the easiest, yummiest warm "cereal" you've ever had!

23 November 2011

Fake Nog

This recipe for eggnog has nary an egg in site. My kids love it. I do too...but it certainly isn't healthy by any stretch of the imagination. The good part about it is that I can find the ingredients to make it all year long.

1 gallon whole milk
1 1/4 Cup sugar
3 - 3oz boxes French Vanilla (or plain Vanilla) instant pudding
1 1/2 TBSP vanilla extract
nutmeg to taste (I use about 1 tsp)

It's best to use a gallon of milk that has a few cups missing. Use a large mixing bowl that you can easily pour liquid back into the gallon container with. Empty pudding boxes into bowl. Add some milk, maybe 5-6 cups or so, (I don't measure), and mix well with whisk. Keep mixing until pudding is dissolved and very well combined. Add sugar while mixing and blend well. Add vanilla and nutmeg. Add more milk if it's too thick to pour. Pour the mixture back into the gallon milk jug and shake well to mix with the remaining milk. Chill for several hours. (If you start drinking it right away, the remainder fake-nog gets pretty thick so mix it up the day before you're going to use it...if you can resist.) Shake a few times occasionally to make sure the pudding doesn't settle on the bottom. Shake before serving and enjoy. (I can make this for about $4.50 a gallon...much cheaper than store bought eggnog.)

06 November 2011

Some Purty Tasty Chili, If I Do Say So Myself

I was getting tired of my old chili recipe and we had an upcoming chili cook-off at church, so I decided to Google "award winning chili". Well, lo and behold, I discovered my new fav-o-rite chili recipe. My dad makes a mean breaded chicken chili that is to die for but it's way too labor intensive for me and therefore I never make it. So while I can say I think his is the best chili I've ever had, this recipe riiiight here comes in at a close second. Now, I'm not saying it's THE BEST because good chili is a fairly subjective thing, but we can't get enough of it around this here household. Just sayin'. I did change up the recipe ever so slightly, (we like a fair amount of beans in our chili) but the original can be found [here].

The night before you want to eat the chili, mix in large bowl:
1 large white onion chopped
1 red pepper, chopped (I think they're sweeter than green bell peppers)
1 poblano pepper, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely diced jalapenos (mine is jarred, and I add a few spoonfuls of the juice too)
3 lbs round steak, cubed (Yup, I said steak. Buy it on sale and it's as cheap as ground beef, but waaaay better!)
1 lb. hot sausage
5 TBSP Worchestershire
2 TBSP liquid smoke
salt and pepper to taste

Allow mixture to marinate, covered, in the refrigerator at least overnight.

The next afternoon, fry everything, (it will probably take 2 or 3 separate batches) and don't discard those yummy juices! Don't worry about cooking the meat all the way through as it will finish cooking while the chili simmers. Transfer to medium-large stock pot.

2 - 28oz cans of crushed tomatoes
1 can pinto beans
1 can red kidney beans (I rinse these)
1 can ranch style beans
Tapatio (or other) hot sauce to taste
chili powder
ground cumin
cayenne pepper (go easy on this until you reach the amount of heat you can handle...we like a little kick but we don't like faces-melting-off-kind-of-heat at our house)
ground coriander (mmmm, my mouth is watering as I type...I love me some coriander)
additional salt and pepper, as needed

Adjust the spices to your personal taste. Heat mixture, stirring frequently over medium(ish) heat until it is warm throughout, then reduce heat to low and let simmer, covered, for 4 to 5 hours, stirring occasionally, (and of course tasting often *wink*.) Just be sure not to scorch the mixture. Long and slow is the key to tender meat here. (I haven't tried to make this in the crock-pot but if I ever do I'll post my results...I'm sure there would have to be some liquid adjustments.)

Enjoy! (Oh, and how you will enjoy this. I promise.)

12 November 2010

Broccoli Basil Soup

4 Tbsp butter
1 chopped onion
3/4 Cup chopped celery
1 (16oz) package frozen broccoli florets
3 1/2 Cups chicken broth
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cans undiluted evaporated milk
2 Cups instant mashed potato flakes

Melt butter. Sauté onion and celery. Add broccoli and broth, salt, basil and pepper. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer 6 minutes or until broccoli is tender. Stir in milk and potato flakes. Warm to serving temperature, do not boil. Serves 6.

15 October 2010

Pumpkin Roll

Prepare a 17 x 11 inch rimmed baking sheet (like a cookie sheet): grease baking sheet, line with parchment paper and grease again. Preheat oven to 375°.

In a small bowl combine:
3/4 Cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a larger bowl thoroughly mix:
3 eggs
1 Cup sugar

Then add:
2/3 Cup canned pumpkin

Stir in the flour mixture and evenly spread the batter in the prepared pan. Bake for 13 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched in the middle. Meanwhile, lay a linen cloth (I used overlapping paper towels instead) on the counter and dust with a generous amount of powdered sugar. NOTE: The cloth needs to be at least as large as the pan you are using. Immediately after baking turn the cake out onto the powder sugared towel and roll up from short end to short end. Let rest on the counter to cool for 20 minutes. Prepare the cream cheese frosting.

8 ounces softened cream cheese
6 Tablespoons softened butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Cup powdered sugar

Once the cake has cooled for 20 minutes, unroll and evenly spread the frosting over the inside. Immediately re-roll the cake (without the towel, of course.) Refrigerate, loosely covered until completely cooled. Dust with powdered sugar. Can be served after about an hour of refrigeration.

27 July 2010

Applebee's Oriental Chicken Salad Dressing

So easy and really good.
(Tastes just like the original!)

Oriental Dressing
3 Tablespoons honey
1 1/2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 Cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon sesame oil

Whisk together and chill until it's time to pour over your salad.

PS-When I make my salad I don't bother breading the chicken, I just fry bite sized pieces in a little olive oil and serve it with lettuce, sliced carrots, green onion, fried Maifun rice sticks, (or even easier, chow mein noodles) and slivered almonds.

10 July 2010

Cole Slaw

In a large bowl mix well:
1 1/4 Cups real mayonnaise
1/4 Cup heavy whipping cream
3 Tbsp white vinegar
3 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp prepared horseradish
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp celery salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
about 7 drops Tapatío hot sauce

Once combined add:
1 medium head cabbage, chopped
3 medium carrots, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped

Toss well. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.

18 May 2009

Apple Cake

Apple Cake

4 cups Granny Smith apples, peeled & diced (about 3 apples)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, well beaten
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 - 1/4 tsp nutmeg (to taste)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine apples and sugar and mix well.

Add oil, beaten eggs and vanilla. Mix well.

Combine dry ingredients and add to the apple mixture and mix thoroughly.

Spread into a greased 9 x 13 pan.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350°, then for 15 - 20 minutes at 325°. Cake will get crispy on top.

Allow cake to cool in pan and then frost with Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below).

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
6 oz cream cheese, softened
3 Tbsp real butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

Cream together and spread on top of cooled cake. (Or do what we did and let the cake cool for a little bit and then dollop the frosting on individual, slightly warm slices...mmmmm.) Be sure to either refrigerate leftover frosting or any leftover cake if the frosting is spread over the entire cake.

(I'd bet this cake would also be delicious with a warm homemade caramel sauce drizzled over the top of a warm cake.)

23 March 2009

Blackberry Hershey Croissant

Yes...HERSHEY! Inside each croissant are three Hershey's kisses. So yummy when served warm! This recipe is found on the Hershey's baking website...but after the suggestion of adding blackberry sauce and whipped cream from a friend, here is it, tweaked a little bit.

1 package (8 oz.) refrigerated quick crescent dinner rolls
24 HERSHEY'S KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates or HERSHEY'S HUGS Brand Candies
powdered sugar

Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates. Separate dough into 8 triangles. Place 2 chocolates, sideways, points facing out, at wide end of each triangle; place an additional chocolate on top of other two pieces, point down. Starting at wide end, roll to opposite point. Place rolls on ungreased cookie sheet. Curve slightly into crescent shape. Bake 9-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly; sift with powdered sugar. Serve warm with blackberry sauce and whipped cream. 8 crescents. (Note: Leftover crescents can be reheated in microwave for a few seconds.)

Blackberry Sauce
1 pound frozen blackberries
3 or 4 Tbsps sugar
1 1/2 Tbsps corn starch
1/3 teaspoon lemon extract

Place first three ingredients in saucepan. Turn heat to low and stir occasionally, smashing blackberries as they thaw. Once there is some liquid in the pan, turn heat to medium. Continue to stir and smash the berries. When mixture becomes bubbly, stir for another 2 minutes. Turn heat to low and simmer another minute. Mix in lemon extract and taste for sweetness. Add additional sugar to taste if necessary. Makes about a cup and a half of sauce, so I make about 24 croissants with this amount of blackberries. I'm sure you could use canned blackberry sauce too.

17 March 2009

Dublin Coddle

Corey and Tyler needed to make this for Scouts today on St. Patrick's day and mmmmm did it turn out good. This is obviously our version, what with the bratwurst instead of Irish pork sausage, but it's still going to be a nice new addition to our menu around here!

1 1/4 pounds bratwurst
1/2 pound bacon
5 - 7 Cups water
3 chicken bouillon cubes
8 medium red potatoes
1 large onion
salt and pepper
1/2 Cabbage

Cut the bacon into 1 inch squares. Bring the water and bouillon cubes just to a boil in a stock pot that has a well fitting lid. Add the sausages (whole) and the chopped bacon and turn down to a simmer for about 13 minutes, covered.

Remove the bratwurst from the broth. Slice the bratwurst into bite sized pieces. Return to broth.

Cut potatoes into bite-sized pieces with the skin still on. Large chop the onion. Add to broth. Add more water if necessary to cover all the ingredients.

Generously season with salt and pepper. (I use something like this McCormick Peppercorn Medley.)

Cover and simmer on low for an hour to an hour and a half, or until potatoes are tender.

Meanwhile, shred (like this) about half of a cabbage and steam for 10 - 15 minutes over boiling water. Salt if desired and serve in stew.

09 March 2009

Mexican Beef Stew

2 pounds beef for stew, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 Cups beef broth
3 Cups salsa
2 medium zucchini, quartered and sliced
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans Mexican corn or 2 Cups frozen corn
Salt to taste
Sour Cream to taste

Heat oil til hot add beef and brown on all edges, then pour off drippings. With meat in pan, season with salt to taste and stir in broth and salsa. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Stir in zucchini, beans and corn. Continue cooking, covered, for 15 to 20 more minutes.

Garnish with Cilantro of desired. I like to stir in a tablespoon (or more) of Sour Cream for a little kick of flavor.

04 March 2009

Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole

(I want to add cream cheese to this one day and see how that tastes...yum.)

5 or 6 boneless chicken breasts
1 small can cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
3/4 cup milk
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

2 rolls Ritz crackers, finely crushed
1/2 - 3/4 cup melted butter
2 Tbsp poppy seeds

Flatten the chicken breasts to a fairly even thickness with a mallet. Lightly salt and pepper. Warm a wide saute pan (it needs to have a lid for later) on medium high heat. Add about a TBSP of butter or olive oil to the pan and turn down to medium heat. Add the chicken, single layer to the pan. Cook ONE MINUTE and then flip over. Cover with lid and turn the heat down to low for 10 minutes. Next, without lifting the lid, shut off the burner and let the chicken sit for another 10 minutes. You'll have the juiciest, softest chicken, ready for a quick chop for this casserole.

In a lightly greased 9x13 casserole pan, mix chicken, soup, sour cream, and cheese. Add milk, salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.

For the topping, add poppy seeds to crushed Ritz crackers. (I run the crackers through my food processor.) Pour melted butter on top and mix well. Sprinkle mixture by hand evenly over top of chicken mixture.

Bake at 350° for about 30 minutes or until bubbly.

(Note: if serving a crowd, double the recipe and divide into two baking dishes but be aware that it will take a little bit longer to bake.)

20 February 2009

Tortilla Soup

1 lb. boneless chicken breasts, chopped
3 1/2 Cups chicken broth
1/2 Cup uncooked long grain rice
1 tsp ground cumin
1 (11 oz) can Mexican-style corn (it has peppers in it)
1 Cup salsa
1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp lime juice

Spray saucepot with cooking spray and heat for about a minute. Add chicken and cook until browned, stirring often.

Add broth, rice and cumin. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes.

Stir in corn, salsa, cilantro and lime juice. Heat through.

Top with corn tortilla strips and shredded cheese.

Tortilla Strips
(prepare while soup cooks)

Preheat oven to 425°. Cut corn tortillas into thin strips and sprinkle on a baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray (like Pam) and sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden, stirring occasionally.

20 January 2009

Mexican Casserole

2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can milk
1 can diced green chiles, (4 or 7 oz according to your taste)
1 can chicken breast (13oz), drained
1 diced onion
salt and pepper
1 bag tortilla chips
1 pound shredded Colby-Jack cheese

In medium bowl, mix soup, milk, chiles, chicken, onion and salt and pepper to taste.

In 9x13 casserole pan spread a layer of tortilla chips evenly over the bottom of the pan.

Scoop 1/3 of the soup mixture over the top of the chips.

Sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese.

Repeat layers two more times ending with cheese on the top and bake in a 350° oven for 30-45 minutes, or until bubbly.

(I think I am going to try this in the future with corn and black beans in it too....mmmm....!)

07 January 2009

Easy Berry Dessert

I discovered that this recipe bakes better in the disposable half-size deep steam table pans. I have baked it in regular glass or metal 13x9 pans and I think it gets too dry. I have absolutely no explanation for it, it just is that way. Maybe it's only in my oven...

Anyway, I also want to experiment with the temperature at 375° instead of the current 350° to see if the center can get done a little bit faster so the outside edges don't bake too long. No matter what, it's very easy and simply scrumptious! If you want you can use a yellow cake mix instead. You can also use fresh berries...and it's really yummy when you can find fresh rhubarb, about 4 cups, in place of the berries. But, I will list it how I traditionally make it below.

1 white cake mix
2-3 cups frozen berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries...)
1 Cup sugar
1 Cup heavy whipping cream

Make cake mix according to package directions. Pour batter in lightly greased pan. Sprinkle berries evenly over the top of the batter.

Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the berries.

Pour the cream evenly over the top and without stirring place directly in pre-heated 350° oven.

Bake for between 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, depending on your oven. Cake is done when center is mostly set. Remove from oven and let it sit for about 10 minutes before serving. Great with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on top.

23 December 2008

Bath Salts

This makes a great little Christmas gift for your girlfriends...
Bath Salts
2 Cups Epsom Salt
1/4 Cup corn starch
8 drops food coloring
7 squirts of your favorite perfume OR 6 drops essential oil

Shake all ingredients in a bowl with a lid, mixing thoroughly. Pour into storage container. To use, sprinkle as much or as little as desired into warm bath water. Enjoy!

P.S. Epsom salt is great in the tub for tired and sore muscles! :)

30 October 2008

Cucumber Radish Pasta Salad

1 lb small shell pasta, cooked, rinsed in cold water, and drained
1 cucumber, chopped lengthwise in quarters and then sliced
6 green onions, chopped
6 radishes, chopped
3 small (Roma size) tomatoes, chopped (I scrape out the seed part so the salad doesn't get soggy and mushy)
5 chopped slices of cooked bacon (OR about 3 TBSP bacon bits)
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
5 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 can black olives, finely chopped
1 1/2 Cups mayonnaise
3/4 Cups Sour cream
lots of pepper

Mix everything in a large bowl and chill until you serve it. I'm wondering if mozzarella cheese cubes added to this would make it even yummier! Hmmmmm...

23 October 2008

Texas Sheet Cake

Combine in a large mixing bowl-
2 Cups flour
2 Cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

In medium saucepan, melt-
2 sticks butter (1 Cup)
Add 4 heaping Tablespoons cocoa

Mix well. Add 1 cup boiling water and allow mixture to softly boil, while stirring, for 30 seconds, then turn off heat.

Pour over flour mixture, and stir lightly, and briefly, to cool.

In measuring cup, mix-
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 beaten eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

Stir buttermilk mixture into butter/chocolate mixture. Combine thoroughly.

Pour into jelly roll pan (deep large cookie sheet, approx 13"x 17 1/2") and bake at 350-degrees for 20 minutes.

While cake is baking, make icing.

Melt 1 3/4 sticks butter (7/8 Cup) in a large-ish saucepan
Add 4 heaping Tablespoons cocoa and stir to combine, then turn off heat.
Add 6 Tablespoons milk (or about 1/4 inch under 1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 lb minus 1/2 cup powdered sugar (14oz on my kitchen scale)

Stir together.

Add 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans. (Optional.)

Stir together, and pour over warm cake right when it comes out of the oven. Smooth icing all over top and let cool. Cut into squares to serve. Super yummy with a glass of cold milk!

See Pioneer Woman's instructional photos...my recipe only differs from hers in that I add cinnamon.

Chicken Tetrazzini


8 oz spaghetti, cook as directed on package
1 small chopped onion
1/2 green pepper, chopped, about 2/3 cup
2 Tbsp butter
3-4 Cups cooked chicken, chopped
2 1/2 Cups monterey jack cheese, grated
2 cans, 10.75 oz each, cream of mushroom soup
1 soup can of milk
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper
grated parmesan for the top

(I usually cook too much spaghetti so when I do I freeze it and then thaw it out to use it when I make this casserole. Also, whenever I boil and chop chicken, I always do extra and freeze that too, for casseroles. Sometimes I can have most of the ingredients for a meal in my freezer, already prepped. You can do that with lots of veggies, shredded cheese, marinara sauces, etc... It sure does save time.)

In a medium skillet, sauté the onions and green peppers lightly in the butter, just to soften them up. I don't like my onion to cook down so that it's soggy so I put it in a minute or two after my green peppers.

Mix onions, peppers and all remaining ingredients (except the parmesan) in a large bowl, thoroughly. Place in 9x13 casserole baking dish. Lightly sprinkle with parmesan cheese to your taste.

Bake in a 350° preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until bubbly and a little crispy on top.

Incidentally, this meal can be prepped and frozen in a large ziploc bag and then thawed and baked later.