Saturday, February 28, 2009

Blackened Fish Tacos

We're home from another birthday party. I don't know what exactly was going on in April/May/June 2005, but the boy sure does have a lot of friends with birthdays between December and March. I think we've had one birthday party every weekend for the last six weeks. Hopefully the boy takes a good nap after this party because the husband is off playing golf this afternoon, and I'd much rather have a well-rested three year old to deal with on my own instead of a tired, grumpy one.

So, at the grocery store a couple weeks ago I picked up some tilapia on Manager's Special. I'm always excited when I find meat/fish on special like that. Plus I hadn't bought fish in a long time. I'm excited it's Lent right now because that means the stores will be having fish on sale for the next few weeks. Woo hoo! In reviewing my fish/tilapia recipes there were a couple I had made and liked, so I'm excited to get to have them again. The husband said he'd like to have fish once a week, so now that it's going to be cheap for awhile I can build up a nice store of it in the freezer.

These tacos sounded good to me, and we haven't had them in a long time. Plus avocados were on sale this past week, so all the pieces seemed to come together for this.

Blackened Fish Tacos
1/4 cup sliced green onions with tops
2 Tbsp snipped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp Cajun or blackened fish seasoning
2 cups broccoli slaw mix

1 pound tilapia or catfish fillets
1 Tbsp Cajun or blackened fish seasoning
1 avocado, seeded and sliced
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed
3 medium radishes
Additional snipped fresh cilantro (optional)

For slaw, combine green onions, cilantro, lime juice, oil, garlic, sugar, and Cajun seasoning. Whisk until blended. Add slaw mix; toss to coat. Cover; refrigerate until ready to serve.

Heat grill pan over medium heat 5 minutes. Moisten fish fillets with water and sprinkle with Cajun seasoning. Lightly spray pan with vegetable oil. Place fillets in pan; cook over medium heat 10-12 minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork, carefully turning once. Remove from heat. Flake fish into bite-size pieces.

Cut avocado in half lengthwise; remove seed and cut flesh away from skin. Cut one avocado half into slices. Reserve remaining half for another use. Warm tortillas in microwave or oven. Once heated, top tortillas evenly with slaw mixture and fish. Grate radisehs evenly over fish. Top with avocado slices and sprinkle with additional cilantro.


I don't think I bought cilantro at the store, but maybe I already have some. I don't know off the top of my head. I also don't have corn tortillas, so we'll be using whole wheat. I found whole wheat tortillas that I really like--low in fat, high in fiber, and relatively inexpensive. I think the brand is something like Guerrero? I don't know, but they're my new tortilla of choice (my "old" tortillas were Mission reduced fat, which were good, but I like these a lot better). I think I'm going to make Jen B.'s pinto beans as a side dish. I just love 'em. Last time I made them the husband told me the only kind of beans he likes are refried. Apparently he was unaware that refried beans are pinto beans. So, I'll keep mine whole and just mash his up for him so he thinks they're official refried beans...because I'm just sneaky like that.

Friday, February 27, 2009


I'm not sure what's on the menu for dinner tonight. I'm feeling better, but the husband is meeting a friend for happy hour, so it's just the boy and me. The boy wants pizza, but I'm still tired of pizza after our pizza-fest last weekend (Friday night for the boy's birthday, Saturday at his party, and Saturday night for dinner since there were leftovers). I need to be figuring it out since it's 4:30. Sigh.

Anyway, Jen B. reminded me this week of one of my favorite sandwiches that I had forgotten about, HLT--hummus, lettuce, tomato. They're so tasty, really healthy, and super easy to make. I hadn't made hummus in a long time, so I made some this afternoon. I used Jen's recipe for it since the last time I made my usual hummus recipe I was really disappointed with the results.

Jen's Hummus: Plain

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (aka garbanzo
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt or light sour cream
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1-2 garlic cloves (depending on how sharp and garlicy you like it)
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 cup of feta cheese
2 Tablespoons of tahini

In food processor blender, puree all the ingredients with 1-2 tablespoon water. Add more olive oil and salt, if needed.


Wow. This is awesome hummus. I called Jen after I had first tasted it to tell her how much I liked it. I can't stop eating it. i need to put it in the fridge so I don't eat the whole batch of it in one sitting. Yum!

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I've come down with a nasty cold, so we're having pretty simple dinners at our house until I feel better. Last night we had some marinated mahi mahi filets I had bought at Trader Joe's and had in the freezer. I had planned on making a wild rice pilaf to go with it when I originally did my meal plan, but I didn't feel up to real cooking, so the husband picked up some Pasta Roni when he ran to Walmart to get more diapers for the baby. Tonight I think we're going to have a frozen teriyaki chicken entree I have in the freezer. I had bought it at Costco to have on hand when the baby was born, and there's still one pouch of chicken left. I'll just make some rice to go with it, heat up some stir fry veggies, and probably heat up the last two TJ's veggie egg rolls I have in the freezer as well. Hopefully I'm on the mend tomorrow and can make real dinner again!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


This is going to be short and sweet. The boy didn't nap, the baby's been crying pretty much all day, and i don't have a whole lot of patience or mental capacity. I'm not even going back to correct that i that should be capitalized. When my in-laws were here at Christmas time, my MIL--God bless her--froze a bunch of her spaghetti sauce and meatballs for us to have at a later date. I noticed them in the freezer yesterday when I was trying to do a quick inventory to see what all we had that I could use this week. I had originally slated spaghetti for tomorrow night, but as I'm in no mood to cook or deal with anything more difficult than boiling a pot of water and throwing in some pasta, this will work out great.

I'm not even bothering to copy and paste her's a link to it:

MIL's Spaghetti and Meatballs

Monday, February 23, 2009

Nacho Chicken

I'm still reeling from the weekend of birthday festivities (and so is my house!), but life must go on which means making dinner tonight. The husband talks about this recipe a lot, but it's not something I make very often since it uses Doritos, and we rarely have Doritos in the house. We had them for the boy's party on saturday, so I figured this would be a perfect time to make it since I plan on throwing away the bag of chips after I'm done with dinner tonight. Normally I wouldn't waste food like that, but if I have chips around I'll eat them. And, as today starts my new diet (not so much a diet as back to eating healthy all the time), a Costco-size bag of Doritos will be a major detriment. As will the Costco bag of Ruffles, so I will be bidding those adieu as well.

Anyway, aside from dinner tonight all my meals going forward are going to be healthier than what I've been making over the past, oh, 11 months. I gotta start getting rid of this baby fat. the husband is pleased too...he said he tends to lose more weight when I'm trying to, so we can all be a little slimmer. Well, he and I can...the boy could probably use some fattening up.

Nacho Chicken
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
3/4 cup crushed nacho cheese Doritos (about 30)
1 Tbsp butter or margarine, melted

Combine first three ingredients; spread on both sides of chicken. Dredge chicken in crushed chips. Place chicken on a lightly greased baking sheet or jellyroll pan. Drizzle with butter. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is done.


Pretty trashy, I know, but aren't trashy foods some of the yummiest? Maybe not yummiest, but I like to think of them as guilty pleasures. i still haven't decided what to have with this. We're having glazed carrots because I bought way too many baby carrots for the party on Saturday (we'll probably have them a couple times this week actually), but I don't know what to do for a starch.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cashew Chicken

I've fallen a bit behind on my blog posting, but I have good reason. The boy turned three on Friday, so I've been in a birthday frenzy. I have no idea where the past three years have gone--how has it been three years since this amazing little guy graced the world with his presence?! The birthday celebration continues today with our family party for him; yesterday was his birthday party with his friends--12 three year olds (or almost three year olds) in my backyard playing in a bounce house. Insanity...but it was fun.

We had this for dinner on Thursday night, but we'd had a pretty busy day going to check out a preschool with some friends and then taking our kids on a picnic afterwards (we had take out from Whole FOods while the kids had Happy Meals...nice huh?), then I had to get busy cleaning house for my brother coming into town and the party on Friday. I had been wanting to try this recipe for awhile, but for whatever reason it kept getting pushed back in my menu plan. Speaking of menu plan, the recipe is from the Meal Planning 101 blog that I like so much. I was glad I was finally going to try it because Jen A. and Jen B. had both made it and each really liked it. Plus I heart Cashew Chicken. It's hard to find good Chinese food in Phoenix, so I'm always on the lookout for a good recipe I can make myself.

Cashew Chicken
2-3 chicken breasts or 4-5 chicken thighs, chopped up
3-4 tbsp cornstarch
Salt and pepper
8 green onions, chopped
3 cloves of garlic
3 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
¼ cup water
1 cup raw cashews, toasted

Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper. Toss the chicken in a bowl with the cornstarch until the chicken is nicely coated. Heat a wok or frying pan with a tablespoon or two of oil over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add half of the chicken and fry until browned and crispy. Remove from the pan. Add another tablespoon or so of oil and stir-fry the rest of the chicken until crispy. Remove from the pan. Add the white part of the green onion as well as the garlic and stir-fry about a minute or so, then add the rice vinegar. Let the vinegar evaporate (about 30 seconds) then add the chicken back to the pan, along with the hoisin sauce and water. Cook for about a minute or so until the sauce is thick and the chicken is coated. Add the cashews and stir to incorporate. Remove to a plate and top with the green part of the onion. Serve over rice.


This was super easy and sooooo yummy. Mine didn't come out looking as saucy and dark as the picture on the meal planning blog, but it sure did taste yummy. I even added in a little more Hoisin to try and darken it up and sauce it up a bit more. Not a big deal, it was still super yummy. We all really liked it, although the boy didn't eat his cashews. Don't worry, I didn't let them go to waste, I took care of them for him. This is definitely something I will make again. Easy and yummy are two of my favorite combinations!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Crockpot Baked Ziti

I've had a long afternoon, so this will be pretty short and sweet as I don't have the mental capacity to do much more after having dealt with my unruly almost three year old son all day. To get a better appreciation of how may day has gone, I'll tell you that I spent a good chunk of my afternoon getting purple Sharpie marker out of the carpet on our stairs. Sigh.

I came across this recipe while looking at vegetarian recipes on the Year of Crockpotting blog. I had everything on hand for it, so I thought I'd give it a try.

Crockpot Baked Ziti
(link takes you to the post on the blog)

1 bag of your favorite pasta
1 jar of marinara sauce
Any vegetables you might want to throw in
Cheese odds and ends

Rinse pasta in a colander (just so there's some added moisture). Add a handful of pasta and a bit of sauce to your crockpot stoneware insert. Put in a bit of cheese and keep layering ingredients in until you run out. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours.


I forgot to rinse the pasta, but after reading the reviews/comments I added in 1/4 cup of water because a lot of the comments stated that the pasta was crunchy because there wasn't enough liquid. Someone else suggested stirring it partway through cooking so the pasta on the sides wasn't crunchy, so I need to do that. I used a bag of penne pasta that somehow snuck into my most recent Trader Joe's purchase (the downside of letting your kid push one of their kid carts around the store. I almost came home with a papaya and three bags of pistachios, but luckily I caught those. Wonder why they all start with the letter P?) and a bag of mozzarella cheese. For the sauce I used what was leftover from my ravioli dinner last week because I was lazy and never put it in the freezer. Oh, I also diced up the portobellos that were left over from last night and stuck them in one of the sauce layers. I think we'll just have some bread and salad with this. i don't think I can manage much more than that.

Butternut Squash "Fries"

I finally got to use the Hungry Girl Cookbook that my brother got me for Christmas!! I had taken it upstairs awhile ago to read in bed one night and kept forgetting to bring it downstairs so I could use it for meal planning. I was flipping through it the other night and noticed this recipe and thought it would be good to try sometime. Fast forward to yesterday when I was grocery shopping, and I saw butternut squash. I had yet to come up with some kind of starch side dish for dinner, so I thought I'd get a squash and try these "fries" with it.

Hungry Girl's Butternut Squash "Fries"
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds, large enough to yield 20 ounces uncooked flesh)
1/8 tsp kosher salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Use a sharp knife to remove the ends of the squash. Cut squash in half widthwise and then peel squash halves using a vegetable peeler or knife. Cut squash in half lengthwise and then scoop out all seeds.

Next, cut squash into french fry shapes. Use a crinkle cutter to make authentic-looking crinkle fries. Using a paper towel, pat squash pieces firmly to absorb any extra moisture.

Place squash in a bowl, add a light mist of nonstick spray, and sprinkle with salt. Toss squash evenly to distribute salt and then transfer to a large baking pan sprayed with nonstick spray. Use two pans if needed. Squash pieces should lie flat in the pan.

Place pan(s) in the oven and bake for 40 minutes or so (longer for thick-cut fries, shorter for skinnier fries), flipping halfway through baking. Fries are done when they are starting to brown on the edges and get crispy.

Makes 2 servings.


I forgot to pat the squash pieces dry before mixing them with the spray and salt. I didn't think it would make that big a difference, but after eating them I think it's a step that has to be done. The fries were really good, but I think they would have been a little crisper if I had patted out excess moisture. The boy didn't like them, but the husband, my mom, and I all really liked them. I'll definitely make these as a side dish again.

Portobello Burgers with Aioli

I never got around to posting yesterday because we had a crazy busy day. In the morning was my Bible study group, then we met my friend Gina for lunch at Z Tejas. I heart Z Tejas. I used to frequent their happy hour quite often because they make a darn good margarita and just a couple will knock you on your butt. I like a lot of bang for my buck when it comes to happy hour. Or liked I guess, since I really have no idea when the last time was I went to a happy hour. Anyway, I had the smoked chicken chile relleno. I'd never had it before and was feeling slightly adventurous. Per the menu on their website, it's a "Grilled poblano pepper stuffed with chicken, pecans, apricots, raisins, a blend of spices and Jack cheese, served over a green chile and picante cream sauce with green chile rice and black beans." Lordy mama, was it ever tasty. I ate every last bite and only left a couple black beans--and the stem of the pepper--on my plate. Yum. I've never been disappointed with anything there.

Anyway, we got home from lunch and I quickly fed the baby because my mom was coming over to watch the kids so I could try and get the boy in a preschool and then go grocery shopping. The boy didn't win the lottery for the preschool, so after I got home I spent the rest of the afternoon looking up preschools to check out for him. There are a few that look good, so I'm hoping I end up liking one of them. I was way too caught up in preschool searching to stop and post my recipe for last night, so I'm doing it this morning.

Truth be told, I was more disappointed that the grocery store I went to only had one pacakge of portobello mushrooms than I was that the boy didn't get in to the preschool. My two grocery choices are Fry's and Safeway, and I like Safeway so much better, but I went to Fry's because they had portobellos on sale--and then didn't even have enough! Grrrr. I made due, though, and bought a package of the baby portobello caps to make up the difference. It worked out okay. This is another recipe from

Portabella Burgers With Aioli
Recipe #19147
By: Kim Weimer

4 medium portabella mushrooms
1 cup gouda cheese, shredded
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves
4 hamburger buns (We prefer whole wheat)

1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 teaspoon italian seasoning
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dill weed

First make the aioli sauce. Just add all the Aioli ingredients and whisk together. Chill for approximately 20 minutes.

Lightly clean the Portobello mushrooms and remove the stems. Mix the Olive oil and Garlic and brush all over Mushrooms. Broil Mushrooms for 3-5 minutes with rib side down. Turn over and top with cheese. Broil an additional 3 minutes. Place on Hamburger bun and top with aioli or anything you would prefer.


I used my grill pan instead of broiling them, and I used slices of provolone instead of gouda. I still had some of the whole wheat buns I had made leftover, so we had our sandwiches on those. They were super yummy!! The aioli was really tasty and a nice complement to the mushrooms. I love having portobello burgers because they're so easy to put together, and the mushrooms just have so much flavor. Yum!

For side dishes I made butternut squash fries (I'm posting that recipe after this one) and some roasted asparagus. It was quite a vegetarian feast. For the asparagus I just lay it out on a cookie sheet, pour some olive oil over the spears, sprinkle with salt, and throw in the oven. Easy and so tasty.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Lame Duck

Okay, we aren't really having duck for dinner, but I imagine you figured that out because y'all are smart cookies. The husband has a cold, and when I was asking him if he'd be hungry for dinner he hemmed and hawed enough that I figured it wasn't worth cooking a real dinner. I hate taking the time to cook something and then find out no one wants to eat it. PITA! So, I think we're just going to have grilled cheese sandwiches or hot dogs or something lame like that.

I'll be back tomorrow with a yummy dinner...I'm excited for what I have planned!

Saturday, February 14, 2009


The boy wasn't napping yesterday, so I had to cut my updating short so I could actually get some stuff done while he was contained in his room. It was nice to have a clean house for awhile--of course this morning when I got up it was a disaster already. I think elves or some other small mythical creatures must sneak into my house in the middle of the night after I've cleaned and make a mess again. Oh wait--or maybe it's the husband and my almost three year old son. That's probably a more likely scenario.

Anyway, we had pizza last night. it was yummy. I had bought proscuitto at Trader Joe's a couple weeks ago and remembered a pizza I'd made with proscuitto awhile ago, so I made one of those and a plain cheese. I think the baby is going through a growth spurt because he wanted to eat every hour yesterday evening, so the husband and I ended up eating dinner after the boy went to bed because there was no way the pizza was going to be ready in time for us to all eat together. Here are the recipes for the crust I made and the proscuitto pizza.

Quick Homemade Pizza Crust
1 package of active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 cup warm water
2 1/2 cups of flour
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon of Italian Seasoning (optional)
1 Tablespoon of garlic powder (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 450. In a medium bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy (about 10 minutes).
2. Stir in flour, salt, & olive oil. Beat until smooth. Let rest 5 minutes.
3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat or roll into a round. Transfer crust to a lightly greased pizza pan dusted with corn meal. Spread evenly with sauce. Cover with toppings in an even layer.
5. Bake 15-20 min. Let cool 5 minutes. Cut and serve!

Mushroom-Prosciutto Pizza
Cooking spray
8 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1 (10-ounce) Italian cheese-flavored thin pizza crust (such as Boboli)
2 ounces prosciutto, cut into thin strips
1/3 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) shredded fontina cheese

Preheat oven to 450°.
Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add mushrooms and shallots to pan; sauté 7 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Add garlic and thyme; sauté 1 minute. Stir in vinegar; remove from heat.

Place crust on the bottom rack of oven. Bake at 450° for 4 minutes.

Place the crust on a baking sheet. Spread mushroom mixture evenly over crust; sprinkle evenly with prosciutto and fontina cheese. Bake at 450° for 6 minutes or until cheese melts.


Obviously I changed up the proscuitto one since I made my own crust. I also didn't have sherry vinegar, so I used red wine vinegar instead. I also couldn't find fontina cheese at the store I was at, so I got some smoked gouda instead. I don't like all smoked cheese on a pizza, so I did a layer of that and then regular old mozzarella (well, not old mozzarella because that would be gross, but you know what I meant). And I baked for the time in the dough recipe.

This pizza is FANTASTIC. I had kind of forgotten about it until I bought the proscuitto, and I was so glad I remembered it. The flavors in it are so good together. This is one I need to make more often because the husband and I both really like it. We had planned on grilling them, but we're low on propane, so we just did them in the oven instead. There are a few pieces left which I can't wait to have for lunch!!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Crockpot Applesauce

Awhile back I came across a really cool cooking blog, A Year of Crockpotting. Then a few weeks later, one of my friends sent me a link to it, which was nice because I had completely forgotten about it (the downside of having a favorites folder of Cooking Blogs since the folder isn't always open for me to see what's there). Once again, I forgot about it. Then I was reading posts on the Meal Planning 101 blog that I like so much, and she mentioned the crockpot blog in one of her posts. So I went to look at it again and saw this applesauce recipe. I'd been wanting to try making my own applesauce for awhile but never got around to looking up a recipe for it. I thought, "What could be better than throwing it all in the crockpot?!" I bought apples a couple weeks ago and had told the boy we were going to make applesauce. Then I forgot about it. Are you noticing a trend here? I have NOTHING in the way of a memory?! So this morning, as all mornings, the boy's first question was, "Where are we going today, mom?" I told him we were staying home because we've had a crazy week, but we'd do fun stuff around here. He asked if we could make applesauce, and I said, "You know what? That is a great idea!" so we did. I love letting him help in the kitchen. He wants to taste everything we put into a recipe which I think is way cool of him. I also try to use the experience to teach him things, like "How many eggs are we putting into the cookies?" Or with the applesauce, "Can you count how many pieces of apples are here?" yeah, I'm a dork, but at least I'm aware of it.

Crockpot Applesauce
(the title links to the post on the crockpot blog)
4 large apples, skinned ,cored, and cut in quarters
juice from 1 lemon
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 T brown sugar
1/4 cup H20

Skin, core, and cut your apples into quarters. Plop the pieces into your crockpot. Add the juice from the lemon, and the water. Pour in the vanilla, and add the cinnamon and brown sugar.

Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours. When the apples are super tender, mash with a potato masher or large fork.


Mine is still cooking, but it's been in for 4.5 hours, so I imagine it will be done anytime now. This was super easy to throw together, and I have to imagine it is cheaper than buying applesauce at the store, especially if apples are on sale. I used Granny Smith apples because that's what they looked like in the picture on the crockpot blog. I also didn't have a lemon (well, I did, but it was definitely past its prime), so I just used a little less than a tablespoon of lemon juice. Desperate times and all. I really like homemade applesauce, so I'm really looking forward to trying this. My mom used to make her own applesauce, and I told her about this recipe and she said it sounds a lot easier than how she used to do it on the stove because you had to watch it really closely or the apples would burn.

Pot Roast

Originally I had planned on having this Wednesday, but I kept forgetting to take the roast out of the freezer. Turns out it didn't matter as I forgot to take it out for Thursday, too. But I figured if I put it in the crockpot early enough it wouldn't matter.

Claire's Crockpot Pot Roast
2-3 lb. chuck roast (I think that's the cut I was using)
3-4 potatoes, peeled and in chunks
4-5 carrots, peeled and in chunks
1 envelope onion soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup

Place peeled and chunked potatoes and carrots in the bottom of crockpot. Place roast on top. Sprinkle onion soup over roast and vegetables. Pour can of soup over roast and vegetables. Cook on low 7-8 hours.


I heart pot roast. I heart it a lot, which is funny because I don't think I really liked eating it as a kid. Maybe part of it is that I appreciate the ease at which this comes together. I put a frozen, two-pound roast in the crockpot around 8:30 yesteday morning I think it was, and we ate dinner at 6:00. It was perfectly done. I love to just pour spoonfuls of the sauce/gravy over my whole plate. My only disappointment is that there wasn't enough meat leftover to make shepherd's pie. We'll be having this again in the near future because I came across two roasts in the freezer from August. This was one of them, and I want to get the other one used up quickly too. Actually I may try to do something else with it--branch out a little, expand my roast horizons and all that.

Italian Sausage, Peppers, and Onions

This was what I needed the buns for on Wednesday night. I had bought some chicken parmesan sausage at Sprouts when they had their big sausage sale. Jen B. made this recently, and I thought I'd copy her once again. Plus peppers were on sale, so all the stars seemed to align. We were originally going to have this on Tuesday night, but we got home later than I had planned, so there wasn't time to make the buns. I cut it close on Wednesday, too, but it all worked out okay.

Italian Sausage, Peppers, and Onions
6 (4 ounce) links sweet Italian sausage
2 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 large red bell pepper, sliced
1-2 green bell pepper, sliced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup white wine
salt and pepper to taste

1. Place the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat, and brown on all sides. Remove from skillet, and slice.

2. Melt butter in the skillet. Stir in the yellow onion, red onion, and garlic, and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in red bell pepper and green bell pepper. Season with basil, and oregano. Stir in white wine. Continue to cook and stir until peppers and onions are tender.

3. Return sausage slices to skillet with the vegetables. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes, or until sausage is heated through.



I only changed this up slightly. I used one each of yellow, orange, and green peppers. I skipped the yellow onion and used half a red onion. I also only had three links of sausage, so that was all I used. It was really good, I love, love, love the smell of peppers and onions cooking on the stove. My house smelled awesome. One sandwich was really filling, too. I don't often have sausage in the house, but this is one I'd make again if I had all the ingredients.

Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns

So, my friend Jen B. recently made her own hamburger buns and raved about them. I figured they were worth trying since 1) she loved them so much, 2) it's nearly impossible to find hamburger buns in the store that don't have high fructose corn syrup and a bunch of other junk in them, and 3) I had all the ingredients on hand for them. She found the recipe on, which is my new favorite recipe website.

Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns
(Recipe #318534 by Sharon123)
2 cups warm water
1/4 cup corn oil or canola oil
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup cooked oatmeal
1/4 cup flax seed, ground
1/2 cup honey
6 cups whole wheat flour (you can replace 2 of the cups with white flour if you like)
2 tablespoons active dry yeast

In a large mixing bowl place all ingredients except flour and yeast.
Mix, adding 4 cups whole wheat flour(or 2 cups white flour, 2 cups whole wheat, if desired)and 2 tbls. yeast.

Whip with a wooden spoon 5 minutes. Slowly, add the rest of the flour. Turn out on a floured board and knead till smooth.

Spray a large bowl with cooking spray and place dough in it. Put in a warm place to rise, covered with a towel, about 1 hour.

When the dough has doubled in size, divide into 12 pieces. Roll into smooth balls. Flatten with the palm of your hand and place on a baking sheet.

Let rise till doubled, about 45 minutes to an hour. Bake at 350*F. 20-25 minutes.
Remove from oven. Cool on wire rack.

© 2009 Recipezaar. All Rights Reserved.


Wow, were these good. I don't think I'll ever buy hamburger buns again. Okay, that's not true because if we ever had a BBQ I wouldn't want to go to the trouble of it, and the husband a lot of times takes a Boca burger in his lunch, so I'd have to make these pretty often to accomodate that. But, when we need hamburger buns for dinner, I'll definitely make these. Even the dough looked good--so grainy (good grainy) and hearty. The husband said the buns were the best part of dinner. I think we only used three, so I'm excited to still have nine left in the freezer.

Catching Up

Man alive, this has been a crazy week for us. I need to go back and update from Wednesday and yesterday as well as what we're having tonight. We've had multiple things happening every day. My house is a total disaster because of it, and I feel like I've been completely out of it and frazzled since Monday. We've done a lot of fun stuff, but it's still been crazy. I was supposed to host a scrapbooking event this morning for my MOMS Club, but it got cancelled. We were invited to go to the zoo with some friends, but the husband is expecting a package, so we opted to stay home so he doesn't miss it. Plus as much as I wanted to go, I thought it would be nice to have a day at home to get things done. And we have had a nice day so far. The boy and I made applesauce in the crockpot (recipe to come shortly), cleaned up the toy room, made Valentines for family members, cleaned his room. Both kids are down for naps, so I figured I'd quickly update the blog and then get busy cleaning up downstairs. I love going into the weekend with a clean house, although sometimes I wonder why I even bother because it's usually chaotic again by Saturday morning. Who am I kidding...whenever I clean it's chaotic by the next morning!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I'm not having much luck with dinners this week. I had planned on making sausage and peppers tonight along with my own hamburger buns, but my plans went awry. We went to my new Bible study group this morning and then spent the rest of the day with my mom and aunt and saw my dad and grandmas. By the time we got home, it was too late to make my own buns, and we didn't have any others. So that idea got scrapped. I was missing an ingredient for my back-up dinner plan, so that got tossed out the window too. I remembered I had a bag of frozen raviolis in the freezer, so I quickly threw together a pasta sauce to go with those. I loosely based it on the tomato sauce recipe I usually use but changed it up just a bit.

Tomato Sauce
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato paste (the small can)
1/2 cup tomato juice
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning

Heat some olive oil in a saucepan and add onion and garlic. Cook for a few minutes being careful not to burn the garlic. Add in remaining ingredients, let simmer for an hour or more.


I'm so not good at writing out my own recipes. The usual tomato sauce I make calls for water, but I had tomato juice in the pantry for a soup I want to make, so I thought I'd pour in some of that instead. It smells good, so we'll see how it turns out.

I think the sausage and peppers will be slated for tomorrow night. I try to do a crockpot dinner on Wednesday nights, but I had planned on doing a pot roast but have yet to get it out of the freezer, so I don't think that will work. We have a busy day Thursday, so I'll plan on the pot roast then. Plus tomorrow I know I'll have time to make the buns.


The sauce was good. I don't think it was too different in taste than how I usually make it. I ended up adding some sugar because it tasted too acidic and tart and mixed in a bit of water because it seemed really thick. There was quite a bit left, so I'll probably end up freezing it to use some other time. I much prefer making my own sauce instead of buying a jar. It's really inexpensive and you know there aren't a bunch of additives or preservatives.

Monday, February 9, 2009


I was going to make something new for dinner tonight, but in getting out stuff for lunch today for the boy and me, I realized we have an insane amount of leftovers. Chicken fajitas from last week, roast beef and funeral potatoes from Saturday, gumbo from last night. So I thought why add to the clutter of my fridge, we'll just eat what's in there, and I'll cook tomorrow night. That means I'll have to cut something I had planned on making later in the week, but I have two ideas what that could be.

By the way, I made a fabulous panini for lunch yesterday, and I'm having one again today. I used a french roll leftover from the french dips, spread some BBQ sauce on both sides, then added roast beef, cheddar cheese, and sliced red onion. Lordy mama, was it good. In fact when I told the husband it was leftovers tonight, he said he wants a panini like I had yesterday and a side of gumbo. I told him that was exactly what I was having for lunch.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Aunt Holly's Gumbo

I love Aunt Holly. She's the husband's aunt, and I've only met her once, but I love her. She's awesome, and she makes some darn good gumbo. The husband and I went to New Orleans for our first anniversary and had dinner at Uncle Charles and Aunt Holly's house one night while we were there, and Holly made her gumbo for us. I was fortunate enough that she emailed me the recipe when we got home. It's not something I make very often because, well, it's just not gumbo weather in Phoenix very often. Who wants to stand over the stove making a roux when it's 110 degrees outside?! But, I bought some andouille sausage recently, and yesterday was cloudy and rainy, so I figured it was perfect. Actually I had already planned it for dinner last night, it was just a nice coincidence that it was cloudy and rainy. The recipe is exactly as Holly sent it to me, so you'll have to read through it for the ingredients and directions. But, to help in the process, I took pictures as I was going!! That's why I'm posting the day after, I didn't get the pictures uploaded last night. I'll paste in the recipe and pictures and their descriptions will be below.

Aunt Holly's Gumbo
First you make a roux. I don't use olive oil I use about 3 or 4 large cooking spoons of flour and about 1 large spoon of vegetable oil. Med. heat. The roux should be the consistency of a loose paste. Stir then let it sit a few seconds then stir. Keep repeating till the roux is a med dark brown. not as dark as chocolate. Then add 1 chopped onion, about 3 or 4 green onions chopped, 1/2 bell pepper, chopped, 1 or 2 sticks celery (optional) chopped, Parsley chopped. Keep stirring and cook about 10 min till onions start to cook then add about 4 cups of water this may not be enough. but let it come to a boil and let all your roux melt this takes about 20 min. You can always add more water. It may take about 6 or more cups. I don't know I never measure. I just know what constancy it should be. Remember Gumbo is watery not like stew. As soon as it comes to boil turn fire low or it will boil over. In separate pan on high heat brown chicken. I use either breast and thighs (boneless) or sometimes like my Grandma did I cut a whole chicken. Just brown the chicken don't cook it. Then put it in with Gumbo, add smoked sausage (Bryan) I also pre cook that in separate pot to get out oil. I also add andouille sausage. I also add 1 smoked turkey wing which is also hard to find. But the smokey flavor of the turkey wing just adds flavor it's not a necessity. Everything is in one pot now and boil on low fire till chicken is well cooked. Then you can add file' if you can buy that also. I think you can it's with the spices and called Gumbo file' Add about 2 tbs. of that sprinkle on top stir than cook about 5 more min. I add a little garlic powder. Oh don't forget plenty of salt thats your flavor and pepper and cayenne pepper to, it's Cajun remember. Serve over rice.

I broke out both of my Le Creuset pots for this endeavor:

Here are my vegetables, all chopped up and ready to go:

Here's my sausage browning away. I used Trader Joe's chicken andouille sausage and half a thing of Hillshire Farm smoked sausage. I like to put it cut side down to get some of the fat/oil out and to brown that side of it.

Check out all this sausage remnant yummy-ness. I cooked my chicken in it because I just live on the edge like that.

Here's my sausage and chicken ready to go for a swim in the gumbo.

Here's the start of my roux. I hate making a roux, but I think I did better this time than I ever have before.

Here's my roux part way through cooking. I was worried it was burning because I got busy taking pictures and dealing with an unruly toddler while the husband was napping on the couch. But it was didn't burn. See how it's starting to get darker?

Here's my roux when it was done. I thought this was a nice medium brown color.

This was my meat cooking pan after I had browned the sausage and chicken. I couldn't let all those glorious browned bits go to waste, so I deglazed the pan with a bit of chicken stock then poured it into the gumbo pot. Had I been thinking, I would have done everything in the same pot so my roux would have cooked in this yummy goodness.

Here's the vegetables mixed with the roux, before the water is added in to the mix.

Now, the gumbo simmering away. YUM! You can kind of see some chicken and sausage poking out.

And, the final product. This was actually my second helping because I was too excited to eat to stop and take a picture of my first bowl.

Yum. This was such a good dinner. The boy just ate the meat out of it and some rice, he doesn't really dig on soup. The andouille gave this great flavor and spice. There's some left in the fridge that I think I'll have for lunch. I can't wait!!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Funeral Potatoes

I've had a nice break from cooking dinner. I guess it was only one night, but somehow it seems longer. I had Bunco last night, so I got a pizza at Walmart for the husband and boy to eat since I prefer to overeat at Bunco and not having dinner before that helps me overindulge. ;) I had planned on making shrimp dip, but I couldn't find the cream of shrimp soup for it. I had already bought the potato chips for it, so I quickly tried to come up with another idea while at Walmart that would use the potato chips. Nothing came to me, so I called Jen B. because I'm completely dependent on her and can't make a decision on my own to save my life. She said save the potato chips and use them for Funeral Potatoes or Potato Chip Chicken (which I call White Trash Chicken). So, I did. I ended up getting spinach dip to take instead.

Now, I've been eating these potatoes for as long as I can remember because my grandma has always made them, only she calls it Hashbrown Casserole. Jen B. makes this and calls it Potluck Potatoes. She was talking to our friend Laura about the recipe, and it turns out Laura calls them Funeral Potatoes. While kind of morbid, I think it's funny, so that's what I'm dubbing them now.

We're having french dips as our main course which I don't think really warrants typing out a recipe since I just use deli roast beef, french rolls, and a packet of au just. I'm pretty excited for french dips, we haven't had them in a looooooooooooong time because I can never find roast beef on sale for a decent price. Sprouts, however, came through for me last week. I've been closely monitoring the roast beef every day to make sure it's still good. I think the sell by date on it was yesterday, so I'm pretty comfortable using it tonight. Funeral Potatoes is kind of a weird side dish I realize, but they sound good, and I don't really have occassion to make them later in the week with any of the dinners I've planned. Yeah, yeah, I could wait until next week and plan a dinner around them, but I'd rather just have them tonight. Which reminds me I need to get going on them since they have to bake for an hour.

Funeral Potatoes
2 lb. bag of diced, frozen, country-style potatoes
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 can of Cream of Chicken soup
1/2 yellow onion, diced finely
1 Tablespoon of dried, minced onion
1 teaspoon of paprika
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 stick of melted butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooking Spray

For topping:
1/2 cup of crushed corn flakes
1/2 cup of crushed plain, potato chips
4 Tablespoons of melted butter

1) Coat 9 x 13 glass casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.
2) In a large bowl, combine diced potatoes, sour cream, 1/2 cup of shredded cheese, soup, yellow onion, dried minced onions, garlic powder, paprika, melted butter, and salt and pepper to taste.
3) Once thoroughly combined, spread in an even layer in the casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese on top.
4) For topping: In a separate bowl, combine crushed potato chips, crushed corn flakes, and melted butter. Sprinkle mixture evenly over top of potatoes and cheese.
5)Bake at 350 degrees, for 1 hour (uncovered).

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Giada's Orzo Stuffed Peppers

When I first got the newest Giada cookbook, I flipped through and noticed this recipe immediately. I couldn't wait to make it but wanted to wait until red peppers were on sale. I was super excited when I saw them for cheap at Sprouts last week (are you asking when I'm going to stop talking about Sprouts? I don't blame you, but I'm almost out of all the goodness I bought there), and I had looked at the recipe shortly before that trip, so I knew the other major stuff I needed for it.

I'm not feeling super wordy today, so on to the recipe.

Giada's Orzo Stuffed Peppers
1 (28-ounce) can Italian tomatoes
2 zucchini, grated
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
6 sweet bell peppers (red or yellow)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Pour the tomatoes into a large bowl and break apart using a pair of kitchen shears or your finger tips. Add the zucchini, mint, cheese, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.

Meanwhile, bring the chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the orzo and cook for 4 minutes. The orzo should be only partially cooked. Use a fine mesh sieve to transfer the orzo to the large bowl with the other vegetables. Stir the orzo into the vegetable mix to combine. Transfer the warm chicken broth to a 3-quart baking dish.

Slice the tops off the peppers and remove all ribs and seeds. Cut a very thin slice from the base to help the peppers stand up.

Place the peppers in the baking dish with the warm chicken broth. Spoon the orzo mixture into the peppers. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle the top of each pepper with cheese and continue baking until the cheese is golden, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, carefully transfer the orzo stuffed pepper to a serving plate.


I didn't make many changes to this, except I had regular canned whole tomatoes, not Italian. I meant to add some Italian seasoning to the mixture, but I forgot when I was mixing it all up. I also browned some sweet Italian sausage and added in to the mixture, per Jen B.'s recommendation. And can I just say how much I love fresh mint?! It smells fantastic...I could stand in my kitchen inhaling that scent all freakin' day. I only used four peppers, and I have a ton of the filling left, so I put it in the freezer, then I'll have a super easy dinner at some point in the future. I tasted some of the filling before I froze it, and it was so good. Lots of yummy flavors--the olive oil, sausage, tomatoes, mint, parmesan (oh yeah, I used parmesan instead).

These were really good. The boy didn't eat it at all, but I think he was having an off night. All he ate for dinner was broccoli. Yes, my toddler loves broccoli. Anyway, the husband and I both really liked this, although he said the pepper itself was kind of bland but the filling was really good. Not sure what I can do about that, but if that's his only complaint, I'm not complaining. We will definitely have these again...regardless of the huge bag of leftover filling in the freezer. ;)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Beer Chicken Fajitas

Don't you love finding new cooking blogs? Okay, maybe not everyone does, but I sure do! Foodie Blogroll has changed my world. That may be an overstatement, but I sure have found some cool blogs through it. I haven't even explored the website a whole lot, but I just click on some of the blogs that show up on the widget every day (over on the right side of my blog). This is how I found this recipe, it was on Feasting Fun.

The husband is taking a class at church on Wednesday nights, so I'm trying to do a crockpot recipe on Wednesday nights so we're guaranteed to eat at a certain time. I hadn't been able to find any crockpot recipes that use stuff I got at Trader Joe's or Sprouts last week, so we were going to have french dip sandwiches because I figured that was easy to have ready for whenever. Then yesterday I came across this chicken fajita recipe and said, "Aha!" Okay, not really. Or I didn't verbalize it at least. I had slated chicken fajitas for Saturday night, so I just did some rearranging so we'll have them tonight. I'm excited to try this. My mom said she's done something similar with beef fajitas, and they turned out well. I used to have a really good recipe for chicken fajitas, but I got rid of the cookbook it was in without writing it down. All I remember is the chicken marinated in lime juice, garlic, and something else. Sigh. So hopefully we like this and it can be my new chicken fajita recipe.

Beer Chicken Fajitas
1 onion
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
3-4 boneless chicken breasts (approx. 1 per person)
2 bags of fajita seasoning
½ bottle of beer

1. Slice up 1 onion, 1 red pepper, 1 green pepper, and 1 boneless/skinless chicken breast per person and put in a crock pot
2. toss with 2 bags fajita seasoning, and pour in half a bottle of beer
3. Simmer on low for 6-8 hours
4. Serve with tortillas and your favorite toppings.


When I was at Trader Joe's last week I spotted a bag of frozen red, green, and yellow bell peppers (already sliced even!) and threw it in my cart. Jen B. and I took turns going in while the other stayed in the car with the kids, so it was literally a whirlwind TJ's trip, so I really did throw it in my cart. I think I'm going to just toss the whole bag into the crockpot, and I may scale back on the chicken a little since there will be a lot of peppers. I'll probably do two chicken breasts. And I guess I'll have to have beer with lunch because I'd hate to have half a bottle go to waste. ;) I bought some avocados at Sprouts, so I'm going to make guacamole to go with these. Not sure what we'll have on the side, I haven't planned that far ahead yet.


Wow. This was REALLY yummy!! And for the first time in I think forever, I made chicken in the crockpot and it wasn't dried out!!! It was so super easy to throw everything together. I put the chicken breasts in the the crockpot still frozen, then after a few hours I took them out and sliced them up and put them back in. This is something I will definitely be making again. And I'll be honest...I didn't mind finishing off the remaining half a beer. Actually after the day I had, I went and got another out too. ;) Oh, I used High Life Light, so don't think you have to use some fancy beer for this. Even though High Life is the champagne of beers. ;)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tater Tot Casserole

this is one of my most favorite meals ever!!! My mom went to a sewing expo not far from my house last week. I invited her for dinner one night, but she said she was just going to head home. The next day she asked what we were having. :) I had originally planned on making this that night, but I got those ahi tuna steaks at Trader Joe's and switched things up. So I told her I'd make it one night this week and she could come for dinner then. She comes over once a week and stays with the kids so I can go grocery shopping alone. Isn't she a saint?! My mom's awesome. So, she's going to come over this afternoon and then just stay for dinner. I love this casserole because it's easy to throw together and so super tasty. Seriously, it's been one of my favorites since I was little.

Tater Tot Casserole
1 lb ground beef
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder
Cheddar cheese--sliced or shredded
1 can cream of mushroom soup
Tater Tots

In an 11x7 pan, crumble or spread ground beef. Sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder on top of beef. Cover with sliced or shredded Cheddar cheese (NOT American cheese...real cheddar). Spread can of cream of mushroom soup over the cheese layer (this can be tricky business if you've used shredded cheese). Top with tater tots. Cover with foil. Bake at 350 for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, uncovering for last 30 minutes. Or bake at 375 for one hour, uncovering for last 30 minutes.


Mmmmm. Yum. I can't wait for dinner. I like to eat mine with ketchup. I usually use shredded cheese because that's what I always have on hand, but it's much easier with slices. Actually I have a big block of cheddar cheese in the fridge, so maybe I'll slice some of that up to use instead of the shredded. We'll have some kind of vegetable on the side--maybe green beans.

Pioneer Woman's Pasta and Eggplant

I had one of the worst days ever yesterday, so updating the blog wasn't super high on my list of priorities. Let's just say I spent most of the day reminiscing about the days before I had kids. And I didn't really decide what I was going to make until late afternoon. I wanted to use the eggplant I bought at Sprouts last week (they were 2 for $1...2 for $1!!!!!!), but I didn't want to make eggplant parmesan again since it's so time-consuming and really not that healthy. Jen mentioned this recipe she had made from Pioneer Woman's website, so I thought I'd give it a go as well. Jen made some modifications to it, so I went with her version.

PW's Pasta and Eggplant: A Variation
Olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 medium eggplants (the original recipe has 3 eggplant)
4 sliced, small Portobello mushrooms (optional, not in the original recipe)
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
Fresh basil
1 1-lb package fusilli
salt & pepper
Parmesan Cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions.
Slice eggplant into round slices. Sprinkle one side with salt and allow to stand or 15-20 minutes. Turn over and repeat for another 15-20 minutes. Rinse eggplant and pat dry. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil and cook onion and garlic until starting to turn color, about 5 minutes. Add eggplant and mushrooms, stirring gently. Cook for 8 minutes, or until somewhat tender and starting to brown. Dump in canned tomatoes and reduce heat to simmer. Add salt and pepper and simmer until eggplant is tender. Toss in cooked pasta and chopped basil. Stir in 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Garnish with shaved Parmesan.


I only had one eggplant to use, but I think it was enough. I think the three in the original recipe would have been too much, but maybe without the mushrooms you'd want three. I used cremini mushrooms in mine--yum. I didn't have any cans of tomatoes, so I defrosted some homemade tomato sauce I had in the freezer and used that instead. It seemed a little shy to me, so I added in a few ladles of the pasta water to stretch it some.

We all really liked this. The husband and I both had seconds, and the boy ate all that was on his plate which is rare these days. It made a lot--after dinner there were still at least three large servings left, so at least we have lunch for a couple days. I'll definitely make this again--it was really easy and so tasty.