Friday, July 22, 2011

Baked tortelini with homemade bolognese

Another fridge meal for Justin for while I'm gone...he's a pasta fiend so he should enjoy this one.  This is one of my favorite simple things to throw together, and I always have a bag of frozen tortelini in the freezer for that reason.

I cannot give you the recipe for the bolognese sauce though, as I promised the person I got it from not to give it out.  I've never had a secret recipe before, it's kinda neat!  But I will say that if this were my original recipe, I'm not sure I would share it either.  There's 5 different kinds of meats, tons of things included that I wouldn't even think about, and it all comes together to make a restaurant style bolognese that tops every one I've ever had before.  Since it takes about 4 hours to make, it's good to make a huge batch and freeze it, so that's what we did.  This was my last frozen pint so it's time to make another batch soon....

Anyway, you can do this with your own favorite spagetti sauce and just add meat, onions, mushrooms, whatever you would add to spagetti normally. Boil the tortelini...tri-color is so perdy, isnt it?

It doesnt take long for that to boil, I just used cheese tortelini but you could use meat if you like.  Drain the pasta once its floating, and add your sauce to the bowl along with some diced onions and mushrooms, and mix it all together.  Put them in a Pam'ed up baking dish and layer with mozzerella.  Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes or so...serve with garlic bread and you will have a happy camper on your hands.  At least, he was happy last year I made this for him while I was gone :)

This would also make an awesome freezer dish if that's your plan...

Chicken and rice burritos

Since I'm gone for the week for RAGBRAI, I usually leave Justin some meals in the fridge to throw in the oven (with instructions on the tin foil) so he doesnt starve to death while I'm gone.  Actually, it's to prevent him from eating gas station pizza the whole time.  This started out as a plan to make chicken enchiladas, but after I started I realized I only had 3 large tortillas and 1 small we added rice and went for burritos.

In order to do these meals, I cleared out my freezer.  This sauce was pre-made from the Mexican chicken casserole I made last month and frozen for future use...CLICK HERE for the recipe.  I started by spraying some Pam in my skillet and heating to medium heat.  Here is what else you will need:

4 chicken breasts
1 can Rotel tomatoes with habaneros (use tomatoes with green chiles if you don't like things hot)
1 onion, diced
1 bag Uncle Ben's 90 second spanish rice

4 large tortillas
2 cups mexican cheese

Cook the chicken first, then add the other fillings to the skillet. 

Add 2 large serving spoonfulls of the sauce we had frozen, and bring to a boil.  Take the chicken out of the pan and cut into small pieces before adding back to the skillet. 

Once all your ingredients are mixed together, remove your pan from the heat.  Take your tortillas, and heat them in the microwave for 10 seconds to warm them, this prevents them from tearing when you fill them.  Fill them full, roll them up, and put them in a baking dish (with Pam in the bottom).  Pour the remaining sauce from the freezer on top of the burritos and throw the cheese on top.

I put directions on the tin foil to have the oven at 400 degrees and cook (covered) for 25-30 minutes.  Everything is cooked so you just need to warm it all, and let the flavors meld.

Maybe he will remember to take a picture when he cooks it, but I doubt it :)  I am a little jealous he gets to eat this while I'm gone and wish I would've saved it for when I was home...I taste tested the filling and the sauce and they were both amazing!  Will be even better with my homemade salsa Im sure...we are down to our last 2 jars on that so its almost time for another batch...

This would be a great meal to make and throw in the freezer as well...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Grilled chicken with fresh grape glaze

No pics of this meal...I know, I am slacking. But I had a lot going on that night.  Like coming home to 5 guys swimming to beat the heat since they got off work early. Luckily, I had a bunch of chicken thighs from Sam's Club to throw on the grill, and this glaze topped it off nicely.  I did singe the chicken a bit when the glaze dripped on the burner and started a wildfire...but it seemed to char the taste into the skin...and who doesnt like tasty skin!?  Anywho...this made WAY too much glaze, so I am freezing the leftover to make again sometime, or find a new fun use for it. 

When I read the ingredients to this (although it sounds weird to glaze with grapes), I fell in love.  Everything I love is sauce, which is the main reason I like sushi I think, its just a vehicle to get more soy sauce in my mouth...balsamic vinegar, which we have gone over before, I could drink it from a glass...garlic, vamps will never be a problem for me...rosemary, which is pretty much my new favorite spice and I will be growing it next year in my herb planter.  So when I saw all these listed TOGETHER on , it had to happen.  So here we go...

3 cups seedless red grapes
2 t olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, freshly minced
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T low sodium soy sauce
1 t brown sugar
1 t chopped fresh rosemary

1 T olive oil
8 chicken thighs
2 t chopped fresh rosemary
1 t freshly ground black pepper
1 t salt
cooking spray

To prepare the glaze, place grapes in a blender or food processer until smooth.  Heat 2 T oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion, cover and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add garlic; cover and cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stire in all the rest of your ingredients listed above for the glaze, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes or until slightly thick.  Cool slightly, and then place the mixture back in the blender or processor, and process until smooth.  Set aside.

Start the grill to get it warmed up, I used low heat for chicken so it cooks through without burning the outside (usually this plan works).  To prepare chicken, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary, pepper, and salt.  Place chicken on the grill that you coated with cooking spray to prevent sticking, cover and grill for 25 minutes or until done, making sure to turn and baste frequently with the glaze. 

There were no leftovers. This is a good sign.  Actually, Curt was looking for seconds but Cody beat him to the last sad.  I made taters on the grill too, so my house was not an oven in the over 3 digit temps outside...grilling or just not cooking are the only options when it's this hot!

Grilled buffalo chicken

Not sure if I've told you that I am now obsessed with Buffalo Wild Wings hot sauces? I don't know why I've never thought to purchase them before, but they are pretty inexpensive and have so many flavors, they are my new thing.  This is one for those of you who have told me you don't like to cook anything with more than a couple can't get easier than this.

Soooo, I had some chicken thawed, and on a lazy day just threw the breasts into a tupperware covering them with BWW sauce and let them marinate overnight before thrwoing them on the grill.  Wowza, usually chicken cooks off anything it's marinated with pretty well...these were PERFECT! I used the second to the hottest (Wild) mixed with the Spicy Garlic and it was heaven with a piece of swiss cheese melted on it!  The buns from Wal Mart probably helped out a bit, or maybe I was just starving, but this was one of the best chicken sandwiches I've ever made!  You know when you finish a meal and are just completely satisfied, and don't even want to ruin the taste in your mouth with ice cream after dinner?  This did that for me.  Not really a recipe...but kind of a suggestion.  Try quickly as possible.  You won't be disappointed. 

I won't go into the fact that I almost burned the house down with the wing sauce dripping into the sure to move your grill away from your house, people.  Either that or make sure you have a fire marshall Justin to run out and douse the flames when needed....

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Veggie omelettes

This is just a throw together but it was so pretty I had to take a picture for you :)

Saturday morning we weren't getting around too quickly (Im sure it had nothing to do with the wine we had celebrating Christina's birthday the night before), and all I was craving was grease!  Sooo, I made my way downstairs while Justin was still in and out of sleep to get some breakfast in bed put together. 

As I've said, zucchini is going in everything I can fit it in until our garden dies will be coming out our ears before the end of the summer.  So I mixed together 6 eggs, some fresh spinach, tomatoes, zucchini, portabellos, leftover chicken sausage, and onions.  All of this was found in the fridge from something else I had made.  Threw them in the skillet and stirred while hydrating my body...I was SO thirsty!  When it was close to done, I topped it with some pepperjack cheese slices and mixed it all up to bring upstairs.  Top with Chalula if you're like me and want your eggs to kick a little.  Breakfast in bed and then a nap...why can't every day be Saturday?

Grilled veggie salad

As anyone who has a garden knows, zucchinis are the easiest thing in the world to end up with a million extras to try and give away.  I planted 2 plants last year but only one lived for a while due to the flooding, so I planted 4 this year to make sure I had 2 plants live.  All 4 lived.  Oh, I have 10 zucchinis a week and throwing away food is not an option for a food hoarder like myself.  Sooooo, if you need some, let me know!

Our first crop was picked this weekend so I tried to find ways to use as much of it as possible.  I needed a veggie for Friday's dinner and had some other good grilling veggies in the fridge to throw in with zucchini so it worked out perfectly.  The veggies were actually my favorite part of the meal!

I had portabellos, a red pepper, some sweet corn (which I cut off the ears), zucchini, and would've done an onion but Christina is not a fan...I threw them in a tin dish with Pam in the bottom, added a bit of olive oil and 2 cloves of fresh minced garlic, salt and pepper, and throw on the grill.  You can pretty much throw in any veggie you've got, and just have at it! Easy peasy...and yummy in my tummy! One zucchini down, 80 more to go...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Protein bars

In honor of RAGBRAI, I figured I should post these even though I didn't get a chance to make them myself yet. A friend from my hometown, Jason Lambertz sent me this recipe the other day and I can't wait to try it. I spend so much $ on protein bars and meal bars for workouts or meal replacements throughout the day, that it makes sense to make your own.  I don't know why I've never thought of it before...

There won't be any posts until I'm back from RABGRAI next week but I hope to have lots of pictures and good stories to share when I get back!  Until then, give these a shot and let me know how you like them!

2 cups quaker oats
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup vanilla protein powder... i use eas soy protein
1 cup milled flax seed
1 cup honey

Combine all ingredients together until well blended, use wax paper to press down into a 9x13 pan approx 1" thick. Refrigerate. Cut into 2x2 bars.
Thanks, Jason!

Catch you all next week!

Imperial crab stuffed flounder

So, I learned something this weekend.  I do not like flounder. I'm big on most fish, I love salmon even though I can't make it much since Justin doesn't like it, my fave is tilapia, I'm a huge fan of tuna and swordfish, and I really enjoy cod....add to that crab, lobster, shrimp, and most other seafood and I'm usually down for anything.  This is the 2nd type of fish that I've tried and just wasn't a big fan of (the first was skate wing at Sborocco...they both just seemed really fishy to me).  I know Justin wasn't a fan either, and Christina let Nate finish her plate (he absolutely raved about it for some reason), so it wasn't my best dinner party!  Good thing the sides and dessert were good :)

We had Christina and Nate over for dinner and she is a foodie like me, so I thought trying something new would be a good idea. I guess I learned my lesson there!  Although I didn't like the actual flounder, I loved the imperial sauce and crab that it was stuffed I would do this again with a different base for the stuffing next time. I think a tilapia or cod would work great as they are pretty mild....

So, here we go...for the imperial sauce:

1/2 cup mayo (I used fat free)
1 large egg (lightly whipped)
1 squeaze fresh lemon juice
1 t sugar
1 t old bay seasoning
6 oz lump crab meat (picture below was before adding the crab)

This recipe is for 2 servings, so I doubled it to serve 4 people...

Mix all the sauce ingredients together until well blended. Place 4 large filets of flounder in your baking dish, and place 1/4th of your filling on top of each filet.   Take the remaining 4 filets, and split them in half, placing one half on each side of the stuffing, leaving the top visible.  I was super excited to cook these after seeing how they looked in the pan! Place a little water in the pan to keep it from drying out, and cook the fish at 350 dgrees for 25-30 minutes. 

This recipe came from the blog of a chef and author called and his picture was amazing, I will even post it as a comparison so you can see how embarrassingly wrong mine came out looking. As I've said though, if it tastes good, what does it matter? Except this didn't taste good, haha! If you like flounder, I would recommend this for sure, the crab imperial sauce is amazing.  But if you don't like flounder, give it a shot with a more mild fish, as I plan to do!

I had a large amount (I'm talking Sam's Club sized) of fresh spinach that I made a bed out of for this fish and it turned out so well I will be doing that again for our parmesan tilapia this week.  I threw a bunch of that in a bowl, added 2 T of light butter, as well as 2 cloves of garlic freshly minced and some cracked pepper, into the microwave to wilt before putting on the plate to set the fish on top of when I plated. 

I found myself digging under the fish for some spinach at times it was so tasty, and it was a very nice compliment to the sauce and crab.  So, Im sure this is a no-no in the blog world but this is what it was supposed to look like:

And here is what it did look like!  Hahahaha....I lose.  See what I mean with other people's blogs and their food photography? It's very intimidating, but strangely inspiring! Honestly though, this recipe would have been great had I been a flounder lover...don't let me scare you off from trying it, this guy has some amazing recipes on his blog, and I'm positive that this one will be great with a fish more to my taste preference!

Bacon ranch grilled potatoes

Simple, yummy potatoes. I tend to gravitate toward my rosemary, garlic, and olive oil too much for taters so this sounded great!  The recipe is from a blog I follow called Cassie can check it out at if you like!

10-12 baby red potatoes, thinly sliced
6 slices of cooked and crumbled bacon (leftover from BLT's the other night, score!)
1 packet ranch dressing mix
salt and pepper to taste
3 T butter (I used olive oil instead)
fat free sour cream for serving, if desired

Spray your tin foil or grilling pan with PAM before putting anything on it.  Toss potatoes in, topping with ranch packet and bacon evenly.  Add the butter or olive oil, and salt and pepper.  Wrap securely and throw on the grill! The before picture even looks yummy:

Grill for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let stand 10 minutes before unwrapping and serving. Because they were sliced so thin, they were nice and crispy and had great flavor.  Thank goodness these turned out since the main course was lacking...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Oreo cheesecake pops

So cake pops are all the rage now from what I see online.  I never really had a desire to make them until I saw this though.  It was listed on Foodbuzz's top 9 recipes of the day on Thursday. I had planned on buying a little birthday cake for my friend Christina, whose birthday celebration I will be missing due to being gone on RAGBRAI...eeeeeek, it's less than a week away!!  Anyway, her and her boyfriend were coming for dinner Friday and once I saw the little amount of ingredients, and that it included oreos (I'm not a huge cookie freak but oreos just do it for me), I decided I had better give it a shot.  Besides, if I screwed it up, I could just go with my original plan and buy a little cake on the way home from work on Friday. Always plan for failure...good logic, huh? Here's what you need...

1 package of Oreo cookies
1 (8 oz) container cream cheese (I used fat free)
1 package white chocolate wafers or chips
lollipop sticks
styrofoam block

Take 5 of the oreos and put them in your food processor....grind these to a fine crumb, you won't even be able to see the white middle part anymore. Set aside.

Take the rest of your cookies, break them up into pieces and put them into the food processor with the cream cheese. Process until well blended...this will be your "cake".  Put the mixture in the fridge for an hour.

After it's chilled, mold the dough into one inch balls, and put them back in the fridge for 20 minutes (I put them in the freezer for half that time).  One suggestion: Do remember that there is a blade in the bottom of your food processor bowl when you are scraping the bottom with your fingers to get all the chocolate love out of there.  I sliced myself quite well and Justin had to finish balling the cakes up!

While the balls are hardening up (hehe, yes I have the humor of a 5th grader), melt your white chocolate in a double boiler.  If you do not have a double boiler, like me,  you have to improvise.  Use two saucepans and put an inch or more of water in the bottom of the larger one.  Put your chocolate in the smaller one, and set it inside the one with the water. Put your burner on high and let the bottom pan boil on high to melt the chocolate in the top pan.  DO NOT try to melt the chocolate on direct heat, you will scorch and ruin me.  I learned that lesson the hard way a few years ago! Make sure you watch your water level and don't boil all the water out too....

When the chocolate is melted, get your balls out of the fridge and put lollipop sticks into the center of each one. The smaller ones worked better than the larger ones, for future reference.

Dip the solid cake pops into the melted white chocolate and then dip in the ground up oreos that you set aside.  Put the pops in the freezer for 2 hours, then stick them into the styrofoam in a vase or other serving dish.  And now you have a little bouquet of cake balls :)

As you know, I am not a huge dessert person but these were mmmmmmmmmm!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHRISTINA!!

Egg salad BLT's

A little twist on an old classic.  We looooooove BLT's and sweet corn in the Summer...its like the quintessential Iowa Summer meal, and the Grimes sweet corn just started popping up last week.  The only thing that is bad about this is how much Summer is gone, I hate looking toward Winter. Those of you who have never had fresh Iowa sweet corn are seriously missing's one of the simplest pleasures in life.  Toward the end of the Summer, I will buy a few dozen ears, cut them off the cob, and freeze it for the Winter.  It's that good, I can't wait till the following Summer for more.

So I thought I would mix up the routine a bit and replace the standard mayo with egg salad, that's gotta be good, right?  Right.  The only thing I will say is that is tastes more like an egg salad sandwich with bacon, rather than a BLT with egg salad.  If you're having a serious BLT hankering, you better just stick with the tried and true.  This is really good though, I loved it! Justin ate his egg salad as a side so he could savor his bacon all by it's lonesome though :) 

For the egg salad:
8 hard boiled eggs
1/4 cup fat free mayo
3 T thinly sliced green onions (these make it great!)
3 T fat free sour cream
2 T dijon mustard
1 t freshly ground black pepper

Cut your eggs up into small pieces and combine all other ingredients together.  This is a standard egg salad recipe but very tasty!

Everyone knows how to make a BLT...cook your bacon, slice your maters, throw on some lettuce.  I usually use turkey bacon but since we have this darn hog in the freezer, Justin won't settle for the better for you stuff at this moment...once it is gone though, I just don't buy real bacon and he doesn't have a problem with that.

I used Italian loaf from Wal-Mart for the bread.  If you've never tried it before, Wal-Mart has surprisingly good fresh baked bread, I go there just for that sometimes.  I threw it in the oven to toast and then added a layer of egg salad before throwing on my B, my L, and my T.  I really thought it was a great replacement for mayo, or I guess it's an addition to mayo since there's mayo in the egg salad.  This was a HUGE sandwich, I would need thinner slices of bread next time, but this is a make again for me. 

I plan on throwing some tuna in the leftover egg salad so Justin has tuna salad sandwiches for lunch. I love recipes that make my life easier :)

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Pizza fondue

If you were told to make something for a white trash party, what would you bring?  My vote: pizza fondue!  Fondue sounds so classy but pizza fondue...not so much :)  Liquid pizza in your mouth though? Can't beat it.

I got this recipe from my Aunt Chris last year, she had it at a party and thought it was something I should try....she knows me well!  It's super easy and perfect to bring to a party...

1 small onion
1 lb ground beef
2 T butter (I omitted this)
1 T oregano (I didn't have any so I used pizza seasoning)
1 T garlic powder
1 T corn starch (I omitted this since I didnt have it on hand)
2 (10 oz) cans pizza sauce
10 oz shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded mozzerella cheese

Brown hamburger and onion with butter (I also added a can of mushrooms and a half a package of turkey pepperoni I had in the fridge).  Drain.

Mix spices and corn starch with pizza sauce.  P.S. I've tried a lot of pizza sauces and this is the one.  Use it, love it.

Pour sauce over hamburger and cook until bubbly.  Add cheese.  Put in crock pot and serve with italian bread that has been baked so it's nice and crusty. 

Last year I made this, we ran out of bread and people were eating the remnants with a spoon out of the bottom of the crockpot....I'd say that means it tastes alright :)  Do you think our outfits were trashy enough this year?? I know you like my Keds....

Spicy spinach-stuffed chicken

This has been on my list foreva-eva to try, but I kept forgetting to grab fresh spinach at the store.  I've been on a chicken kick lately, and this did not disappoint.  Chicken can get pretty boring so I have to keep finding new ways to mix it up...and this was a great way to do that.  I got this off of again, can you tell I like her blog?? 

The reason I was so excited about it was the PJ cheese, I love love love PJ cheese...I don't ever eat any other kind if there's an option.  Anyway, here's what you need:

1 (10 oz package) fresh spinach leaves
1/2 cup sour cream (I used fat free)
1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese (I used reduced fat as the fat free doesnt melt right)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used 2 ginormous ones instead)
fresh cracked black pepper
8 slices of bacon (2 for each piece of chicken so I only used 4)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees first.  Put the spinach in a bowl and throw in the microwave for 1 minute, until it wilts.  Take it out and add the sour cream, pj cheese, garlic, and pepper to the mixture.  How good does that look? Yes, I licked the spoon...don't judge me. 

Mix all that up evenly, and use a meat tenderizer to pound your chicken breasts out as thin as possible.  Once they are laid out, you can fill them with the stuffing, roll them up and wrap them with bacon, securing with toothpicks.  This picture below is for those of you who told me to start a cooking is not pretty, and I mess things up a lot...this craptastic pile of unappetizing looking garbage is how my food looks.  Also for those of you who think you can't cook...this shizz is not hard if you don't care how it looks, only care how it tastes! Granted, I tried to pile in 4 breasts worth of stuffing into 2 breasts so I wouldnt waste it...but you get the point. To be honest though, I don't think I would want to lose any of my stuffing...having extra made it creamier and nobody likes a dry chicken, so my vote is: stuff those suckers as full as you can get them (and lick your plate when you're done)!

Throw in the oven and cook for 35 minutes.  The recipe says to increase the heat to 500 degrees or use the broiler to cook for an additional 5-10 minutes to crisp the bacon up, but I had used cooked bacon leftover from the BLT night we had, so mine was done.  I also would normally have used turkey bacon but we had to get rid of the full fat stuff we had in the fridge.  They came out of the oven looking better than that picture above though...and they tasted phenomenal!  A little heat from the cheese but not too much, good creamy filling, and they were huge so I could only eat half. 

I poured the extra juice on top and VOILA....yumtastical chicken.  Every part-time kitchenista needs a go-to chicken recipe...and this just might be mine!

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Skinny mini cheesecakes


I don't even remember where I found this recipe, but it's become my go-to dessert for get togethers.  Some history: I love cheesecake.  I'm not a dessert person but for some reason, cheesecake is my achilles heel...I have no power over it.  My mom got me a cheesecake for my birthday one year, I said I didn't want to take the leftovers because I knew I would eat them all.  She snuck the cake in my car and I found it when I got home...and ate the WHOLE thing.  This is not an exaggeration.  The whole thing.  I was curled up in a ball with guilt for hours afterwards...but holy crap it was good.  That was 3 years ago and I am probably still burning those calories off...not worth it.

Sooooo, when I found this light cheesecake recipe, I thought I would give it a shot and see if it could really be light and taste rich and creamy like the real thing.  I win.  This recipe will never leave my cookbook, plus it's easier than pie...or cheesecake I guess.

Here we go:

18 vanilla wafers (I use reduced fat)
2 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese (I use fat free)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla 
2 eggs
cherry, strawberry, or blueberry pie filling (I use sugar free)

You will also need a muffin pan and some muffin cups.  Put your muffin cups in your muffin pan...duh :)  Alot of times I have to do a couple batches if I double the recipe as I don't want to own 5 muffin pans when I don't even bake. 

Anyway, I put Amanda to work on this recipe while I was doing something else...and she did a spectacular job for a self-proclaimed non-cook! Put a vanilla wafer in the bottom of each muffin cup.  Mix all other ingredients (except for the pie filling) with a hand mixer until smooth.  Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full of the cream cheese mixture.  Put in the oven at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  When they come out, they should look like this.  Actually, they should look better than this...this is a horrible picture.  This batch also did not come out the prettiest (I think because of so many cooks in the kitchen and so many recipes in the works at the time), so this is the ugliest they will ever look...but who cares how they look if they taste good, right?

Put in the fridge to cool, top with a dallop of the pie filling of your choice, and serve!  Whenever I make these, there tends to be a mouse in the fridge and a few end up on the MIA list...

This was my attempt at an American flag for the party on the 4th...not too hot, as I've said, I'm not a pro at this food photography stuff.  But they did taste good :)

Deviled eggs

Deviled eggs are a staple at any event...or at least they should be.  Nobody just whips up deviled eggs as a side for dinner during the week, they are a special occasion food, and one I used to hate.  Now they're one of my faves and I have to be sure to watch myself as I walk by the plate and consume half the batch before the guests get to try them!  This time I didn't get one...and that upsets me!  I thought we made a HUGE batch but I guess everyone loves deviled eggs as much as I do...and saved me from myself :)

My Aunt Vicki always brings the deviled eggs to holiday meals, which is why she is so good at it!  This is her recipe for a traditional deviled egg, and I havent found one to beat here ya go, secret ingredient and all!

We quadrupled this recipe so we started by hard boiling 24 eggs...

You can't really over cook them, so I just boil them for an amount of time that I KNOW they're done.  Then take them out of the hot water to cool before peeling, it hurts too bad to try and peel the shells off when they're scorching hot!

After peeling, you cut the eggs in half the long way, and remove the yolk from the center (placing all yolks in a large mixing bowl).  You can line up your egg whites to be filled now....

Mix these ingredients (using a hand mixer) with the egg yolks until as smooth as possible (this recipe calls for 6 hard cooked eggs, so if you're doing 24 like I did, take everything times 4):

1/4 cup mayo (I use fat free)
1 t prepared mustard (I use the spicy mustard I always have on hand)
1 t vinegar (I usually use apple cider vinegar)
2 T blue cheese dressing (I use fat free)

Mr. Cyler did a very good job of filling the eggs for me, they're pretty, aren't they?  We put these in containers and refridgerated overnight so they were a little solidified.  As you can see, we are missing a few as the whites ripped or were not thick enough to hold anything on some of them.  Which is why you always make more than you want to with this recipe...and you should always make more than you think you'll need because these things tend to disappear rather quickly!

Yes, I do have tupperware specifically made to tote around a large amount of deviled eggs...don't judge.  If you don't own some, get on invention EVER!  I learned from the best though...these are my Aunt Vicki's egg containers (I have 2 like the one on the left, and one like the one on the right)...

I need to get one of these signs to post for when I bring them to parties though...

I usually throw some cayenne or paprika on top for color but you can sprinkle with bacon bits, parsley sprigs, etc.

Also fun..I made these for Halloween last year and used black olives as spiders to make them festive.  I bought a can of whole black olives, and cut them in half the long way.  Putting one half of the black olive on the egg, I cut the other half down the middle and then in half 4 times.  I added these smaller pieces as spider legs...I think they turned out well :)

And just because this is one of my favorite pictures ever....our Halloween costumes that year! Get it? :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Stuffed burgers

I'm not a horn-tooter, but if I had a horn, I would toot it over this recipe.  My burgers are always the thing that get the most compliments when we have parties.  I just sort of came up with these a couple years ago and now I always make them when we are feeding an army.  They are kind of a pain, but they are worth it in my horn-tooting opinion.  I actually didn't even get one on the 4th, sadface. 

It's not a real nailed down recipe.  This time I used 10 lbs of meat, which yields about 30 burgers.  I tend to use at least 2 different kinds of meat usually...sometimes I use half ground whitemeat turkey mixed with half hamburger to make them better for you, but this time I used half ground pork mixed with hamburger since we had a freezer full of it and turkey is extremely expensive at this point in time. 

You have all your meat thawed, unwrapped, and piled on the counter.  Now you add your fixin's!  I use a can of mushrooms, a bag of mixed cheese cubes, and usually about 1 habanero per 2 lbs of meat (diced extremely small, this gives the burgers some taste but not too much heat, kids even love them).  For some reason the habbies are not being sold right now...Im talking at any of the 3 stores I went to looking for them.  So I meant to use jalapenos instead, but we used all of those up in other dishes for the we improvised.  I had about 5 cans of diced green chiles that I added to the pile of meat on the counter, and they seemed to work just fine.  You could add diced onions to them too, whatever fixin's you want mixed in to your burgers.

Now comes the fun part...season the pile with Lawry's, garlic powder, onion powder, and whatever else you would like to use. I used a little cayenne pepper this time as the green chiles aren't real hot so I was afraid they would lack flavor.  I usually over-season, because the taste gets cooked out, so when it looks like I've got too much, I add a little bit more before stopping.  Now it's time to get dirty!  Mix all your ingredients up very well before pattying...I'm talking squeaze all the meat between your fingers!  Mix, mix, mix, and then start pattying.  I use waxed paper to separate the burgers in the tupperware to store them before grill time.  Cook as you normally would, throw them on a bun, and you've got yourself a burger with so much good in every bite, you won't know what to do with yourself!  I have seriously had people comment on them when they are just grabbing cold ones that weren't eaten, and gnawing on them with no bun or toppings...and say they're the best burger they've had! 

The best thing about them is that if you make too many, you can throw them in the freezer and pull them out another time.  I usually make a big batch to bring in the RV for RAGBRAI so maybe I will remember to take pics of the process then for you....

Hearty breakfast quiche

I would compare this casserold to a quiche, sort of? Anyway, I made it this Winter for a Christmas thing and it was a huge hit.  Very hearty and filling, with veggies and all sorts of surprises in there too.  We have a pig in the freezer as you all know, so we have an abundance of pork sausage I need to dispose of (and don't like to eat all by myself) this recipe is good for getting rid of that.  Plus, it's great to have a breakfast casserole ready to throw in the oven when we have people over, that way I don't have to cook in the morning.

1 lb pork sausage (could use turkey sausage as well)
1/2 cup chopped onion (I leave this out depending on who is going to eating it)
1 and 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used 2% mexican cheese)
1 (10 oz package) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 can sliced mushrooms
12 eggs
2 cups heavy cream (I used skim milk)

In a skillet, cook sausage and onion, until the sausage is browned and the onion is tender.  Drain, and spread in the bottom of your baking dish (greased with fat free Pam).  In a large mixing bowl, mix the spinach, half the cheese, mushrooms, eggs, and cream together, beating the eggs.

Pour over the sausage in the pan.  Cover and throw in the fridge until the next morning, careful moving it around as it's very liquid at this point. 

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees or until a knife comes out clean from the center (like a cake).  Sprinkle with remaining cheese, and let sit for 5 minutes before serving so it all melts.  I promise you will get Wow's from this and will seem like you spent hours in the kitchen preparing a breakfast quiche!  I didn't get any pics of this in the morning...I am soooooo not a morning person. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Queso dip

You know the queso dip you get at mexican restaurants?  The creamy white goodness that is soooooo bad for you but such a perfect treat?  Yeah, you can't get that stuff in stores.  I was unaware of this fact, because I have never thought to make the stuff at I said, it's kind of a treat and if you start making it at home, it's easy to eat a bucket of it!  But let's just say I know someone who has an aunt who is a caterer and could get my hands on 15 lbs of this lovely stuff for really can't pass an opportunity up for that, now can you? 

Thanks to Curt's aunt for the cheese hook up! She did say that some Sam's Clubs sell this cheese too, but I didn't see it at the Ames one...let me know if you find it anywhere! This is the block of goodness pre-prepared:

For the party, we used a 5 lb block (I have 10 more lbs in the freezer, yippeeeeee) and diced it up so it would melt easier.  The ratio is 1 lb of cheese to 1 cup of half and half so we had to use 5 cups of half and half.  We added about 5 jalapenos that were diced up, but in hindsight, I would've done wasn't hot at all.  I didn't want to make it smoking hot since we were serving a crowd, but you couldn't even taste the heat so I would double it for sure next time. 

Throw the crockpot on high for about an hour and stir every so often so it melts evenly and you will have a dip that would put a lot of mexican restaurants to shame!!