Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Chicken fajita quesadillas

Aaaaand for the lazy way out Tuesday, still getting in the swing of the week, type post.....what do you do with your leftover meat from the crockpot chicken fajitas you made yesterday? Boom. Chicken fajita quesadillas! When cooking for only two people, it's imperitive that you get creative with leftovers if you don't want to eat the same thing over and over all week or throw out any leftovers (my food hoarding ways wouldn't have that). Sooooo....after getting your fill of fajitas and fajita salads, head on over to quesadilla town and really get down and dirty with your south of the border cravings.

You don't even need any new ingredients! Lay a tortilla flat, cover with chicken fajita mixture, cover with shredded cheese, and top that with another tortilla on top. Throw it in the microwave for about 40 seconds (or if you're really feeling posh you can toss it in a skillet to heat up like we did the boursin chicken quesadillas a while back and get that crispiness to the shells) and you're in business! Dinner served in less than 5 minutes and tasting just like a restaurant with half the grease? No, you're not in heaven...you're in my kitchen in Iowa :)

I topped this with some Chalula hot sauce, which is pretty much the only hot sauce that exists in my world, and some greek yogurt before going to town on this appetizer for dinner dish....hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Crockpot chicken fajitas

I won't say this recipe is as good as as my Cyclone fajitas,...because what could really compare to one of your favorite foods that is sports affilitated...but if you're going for simple, this is the ticket! I usually enjoy chunks of chicken rather than shredded but if you're a lover of the shredded sort then this recipe may be for you! I would make this again (simply because you know how much I love having dinner ready to scoop into my open mouth the minute I walk inside at night) but I believe I would just use a fajita seasoning packet rather than using the cumin and chili powder...I think the taste could've been a little more apparent and the packet seasonings usually do it for me. Either way...if it's too hot to turn your oven on, you have a busy night and need dinner ready immediately, or you just love you some fajitas...get on this train.

1 yellow onion, sliced
3 bell peppers, sliced
4 large chicken breasts
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 t salt (I left this out)
2 T cumin
2 T chili powder
lime juice to taste
tortillas and fajita fixings like tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream (or greek yogurt), salsa

Combine sliced onion and peppers in the bottome of the lined crockpot.

Lay chicken on top of veggies. Pour chicken brother over top. Sprinkle everything with cumin, salt, and chili powder.  Give a nice squirt of lime jice over the top.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours (or on high for 4-6 hours). When meat is done, shred with two forks and stir back into juices. Serve meat mixture with slotted spoon onto tortillas and top with fajita fixings! I went the salad route since we're overcome with green leaf lettuce from the garden right now...I flipping love the stuff!

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Spicy italian pasta salad

This is an old one that I've had queued up to post for quite some time. I didn't make it myself so I kept forgetting to post it. After yesterday's post of the mostphenomenallasagnaever by Iowa Girl Eats, it reminded me that I had been meaning to post her pasta salad recipe that Leslie made for her birthday get-together a couple of months ago. This stuff was go back for more because you have no choice good. It had a definite kick to it...mainly because Leslie added a good amount of crushed red pepper accidentally...but it was one of those happy accidents that actually work type of things.

We all know everyone needs a go-to pasta salad for this time of year when potlucks are upon us and we would rather be put to death than eat a hot side dish.  I tend to gravitate toward my friend Melissa's recipe, the always loved pasta salad that I got from her a couple years ago and haven't found one to top it yet....but this one gave it a run for it's money. I may have to begin making 2 pasta salads if I go somewhere...

Ingredients (serves 6-8)
  • 1 lb fettuccini
  • 1/2 bottle Zesty Italian dressing (I would use fat free)
  • 1/2 bottle McCormick Salad Supreme seasoning (Leslie used Italian seasoning instead)
  • 2 T crushed red pepper (or more if you like the heat)
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded & chopped
  • 1 small package round turkey pepperoni
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, seeded & chopped
  • 1 small can sliced olives, drained
  • Cook fettuccine in salted, boiling water. Drain, then rinse under cold water.
  • Combine fettuccine in a large bowl with remaining ingredients. Toss to combine, then cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.
Happy Friday, all! If you have a gathering to hit this weekend, I'll just say you're welcome now for making you the favorite guest...

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Caprese lasagna

Hey, you guys. Heyyyyyy youuuuuu guyyyyyyyys! Hopefully you got the Goonies reference there and didn't think I was yelling at you on this lovely, less than 100 degrees for once, almost to the end of the week Thursday afternoon. Because I wasn't yelling...not yet anyway. If you don't make this soon, you deserve to be yelled at though. And punched in the arm real hard with a ring on...yeah, that should let you know how serious I am about this.

Amanda has been doing a fine job of taste-testing her way around Pinterest during this pregnancy and letting me know when she finds a solid recipe that I absolutely need to try. Her recommendations have always been spot on, so I know very well to get right on it when she throws a link my way and tells me it's heavenly. Amazingly, I read Iowa Girls Eats every single day. I'm more commited to her than I am most facets of my life...I won't even be offended if you quit coming here and start going over there to drool over her photos each day, they're insane and make me want to lick my screen or find out where she lives in Iowa and go sit on her steps like a homeless child who needs some food until she feeds me each evening.  I saw this posted a while ago....but didn't think there could really be much improvement to my standard lasagna, and it looked like more steps (making your own sauce and all) so i didn't want to mess with it. For the love of pasta....mess with it! It's really not as hard as it looks, and it is out of this flipping world light, lovely, all things glorious pasta that will be devoured as if people have no stomach bottoms when you make it.

I really didn't think Main Man was going to approve...you know with his hatred for the fresh basil tasting too "planty". He did though. He killed it. He went all "we will eradicate the earth of this pasta (or at least this kitchen)" and told me it was a make again!  Angels sang in the distance as this is not something I would have projected to be up his alley...maybe his alley is changing?? A girl can hope :)

3/4lb lasagna noodles (I used the no bake noodles)
extra virgin olive oil
3/4lb hot turkey Italian sausage (I used 1 lb lean ground italian turkey sausage)
2 Tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups 2% milk
salt & pepper
4 roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
8 basil leaves, chopped
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook lasagna noodles in a very large pot of salted, boiling water until just under al dente. Drain and return to the pot. Add a splash of extra virgin olive oil and gently stir to coat the noodles.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Squeeze sausage out of its casing and cook while breaking up until no longer pink. Remove to a plate and set aside.
  3. In the same skillet, melt butter, then add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle in flour, then whisk to combine and cook for 30 more seconds.
  4. Slowly pour in chicken broth a few Tablespoons at a time, whisking to break up any lumps. Continue pouring and whisking until mixture is smooth. Pour in milk and whisk to combine. Season with salt & pepper.
  5. Switch to a spatula and stir sauce until thick and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Pour into a bowl with a spout, and set aside.
  6. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9×13″ baking dish with non-stick spray. Pour 1/4 cup sauce into the bottom, then spread evenly with a spatula. Place 3 lasagna noodles in the bottom, then top with 1/3 of the tomatoes, 1/3 of the basil, 1/3 of the cooked turkey sausage, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, and 1/3 of the remaining sauce. Repeat 2 more times, for a total of three layers.
  7. Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 15 more minutes, or until cheese is golden brown and sauce is bubbly. Let sit 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

The juice in my horribly staged photo is from the tomato cucumber salad that is my absolute favorite thing to have in the fridge and pick on all week in the Summer. We are being attacked by cucumbers at the moment, and each day I come home from work I fully expect them to have grown all the way up to and into the house to get into the air conditioner. That hasn't happened yet. But we have more cucumbers than I've ever seen in real life in one place before...so this salad has been a fridge staple all year. I just keep adding cucumbers and tomatoes and bread to the juice and it seems to only get better and better and better and...well, you get the point. I am in love with this stuff.

Anywho...I hope your week is going quickly and you get a chance to put something from this post in your mouth soon so you can be as happy as I am in life. Happy Thursday, all!

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Skinny taters

They don't look all that great in this photo...and they weren't all that great in real life, to be honest. I made the mistake of calling these skinny cheesy potatoes before serving them and they were anything but cheesy...which is disappointing to my buds of taste that trust me so much. I really had high hopes for this...like, really high. I love potatoes, we've discussed this before and you can witness it first hand by checking out the baked garlic parsley fries, the crack potatoes, the twice baked potato casserole, the crockpot ranch potatoes, the bacon ranch potato salad, and the bacon ranch grilled taters. Try to digest all of those recipes through the pictures and tell me your mouth isn't watering your garden right now....

So I really thought I had hit the jackpot with a lightened up version of cheesy potatoes...like I had hopes high enough to match my feelings about the twice baked cauliflower, which I was literally obsessed with...there was talk of needing therapy I was so enthralled with the cauliflower for potatoes substitution! You can imagine my disappointment when these smelled SO great cooking on the grill, looked SO great while I was making them, and then tasted like nothing when they got to my plate. What happened??  Don't ask me...I'll give you the recipe in case you want to give it a go and find out what I did wrong...but I also felt the need to give you actually good tater recipes above to check out so you don't have to go into a depression after this flopasaurus like I did.

1 bag frozen hashbrowns
1/2 can low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
2 cups plain greek yogurt
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
1 t black pepper
1 t italian seasoning
1 t salt
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Combine all ingredients and layer into a greased 9x13 baking  pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (or throw on your grill covered in foil). Cook for 35-45 minutes or until bubbly....and then try not to be disappointed. I'm not sure what would help these, it's not like they were bad, they were just bland. Maybe double the spices? Maybe add a ranch packet in there? Maybe I shouldn't have tried it on the grill? Maybe more cheese?  That sort of defeats the purpose of "skinny" taters but what purpose do bland taters have in this world we live in?  If anyone can help a girl out, I'm open to suggestions....I do know that The Spotted Lamb seemed to really love the recipe, so we either have very different tastes or I did something very wrong...either way, may the force be with you and your taters if you give this a shot!

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Texas trash dip

The original recipe (from www.allrecipes.com) goes something like this....
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
2 cans (16 ounces, each) refried beans
1 packet taco seasoning
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups monterey jack cheese, shredded

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together cream cheese and sour cream in a large bowl. Mix in refried beans until combined. Stir in taco seasoning.
Spray a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray. Spread mixture evenly into the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle the top with both cheeses.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cheese in melted and slightly browned. Serve with tortilla chips.

The Never Trust a Skinny Cook version had a few modifications though:

1. Greek yogurt instead of cream cheese...can't even tell the difference!
2. Greek yogurt instead of half of the sour cream.
3. Skip the cheddar and monterey jack cheese and use Velveeta Queso Blanco...I used the whole brick, cubed.
4. Use fat free spicy refried beans.
5. Double everything and throw it all in a crockpot with a liner in it. I like my dips to stay warm while people munch on them all day, not have to continually heat it up (nobody likes cold bean dip)!

So, you can try this recipe either way you think will work best for your purposes...but I'll tell you that my version was doubled and had none left untouched. I didn't throw one refried bean out...this was perfect to leave bubbling at the lake with some buffalo chicken dip and I didn't have to worry about cooking alllllllll day. Tell me that's not the stuff dreams are made of....

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Smoked ribs

If you don't have a smoker, I feel bad for you son, I got 99 problems but my ribs ain't one! A little Jay-Z always starts a Friday off right, huh!?  Anyway...I'm betting Jay-Z doesn't know how to make ribs like this (and even if he does, how cool would it be to have a rib-off with the Hova...let me know when if you happen upon this post, Jay)!

These were one of the big family (10+ friends) dinners we had at the lake over the 4th of July, and I'll be completely honest with you, it's the one I was looking the most forward to that week. Oh, and although he didn't know what was coming, it was Sam's favorite meal too...holy dog bones, Batman!!

I got 3 big racks or pork ribs at HyVee, and we had enough left over afterwards for about 3 people's meals the next day. We rubbed them with olive oil, Lawry's, and garlic salt before placing them on the smoker at 240 degrees for about 6 hours.  We went for an internal temperature of 165 degrees with a meat thermometer but knowing when your ribs are done is a lot harder than one might think. Check out this website for tips and tricks on testing your done-ness. 

After they smoked their little hearts out all afternoon, we sent them to the grill and slathered their skins with some Sweet Baby Ray's bbq sauce to char some of the outer bark and seal the smoky flava flav inside.  Let them rest for 5 minutes when you take them off the grill, just like any other meat. I never seem to get any pictures of ribs on the plate after they're done...it's like I just can't wait to get them in my mouth, my mind loses all focus and just starts chewing. They do look pretty snazzy on the grill though!

I'm not really going to just sit here and brag about these smoked ribs without helping you out a little if you don't have a smoker...don't worry. If you don't own a smoker, go ahead and give Aunt Lisa's ribs a try...they're my go-to family recipe so you know they're on the favorites list! Now, I release you on this Friday to go forth and get yoself some ribbage!  Enjoy your weekend, all!

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Taco mix

Welp, I did it. I buckled to the peer pressure and my curiosity and went to Magic Mike last night with about 6 other girlfriends. I normally don't follow the crowd on the latest and greatest things, I tend to conform to being a non-conformist by purposely avoiding things that are "trendy". Case in point: I've never seen or read any of the vampire movies, books, tv shows (True Blood, Edward vs whatever his name, etc). I did fall victim to the Hungar Games craze but have no desire to read 50 Shades of Grey since everyone and their mother is talking about it lately. But the chance to see Channing Tatum's bottom will make any girl throw her non-conforming conformism right out the window....

I will say that more so than getting all hot and bothered by the movie, I was enthralled with the notion that people can actually physically move their bodies that way. I can't dance. Never have been able to...I blame Big Dan for not letting me have dance classes when I was 7 years old. So I truly appreciate someone who can dance, move, gyrate, and/or maneuver their bodies so gracefully....and man, was it graceful.  I will never again be able to think of anything else when I hear Ginuine's song, My Pony. And that's all I have to say about that...

I suppose we should steer the conversation in a little more food blog appropriate direction, so if you are headed to the movie and are one of those people who bring snacks in their purse (don't judge)...you may want to pack yourself some taco mix. How's that for a segue! Male stripper movie right into taco mix, and you didn't even see it coming!

I had this pinned (from Shugary Sweets) as a lake snack for quite some time and stumbled on it right before the 4th of July. It's always nice to have nibblies around for people who are hungry in between meals, the dill ranch oyster crackers that got devoured a while ago prove that statement. Anyway, this was a perfect snack to bring and set out for people, and I still have some left that I've had the girls nibbling on before dinner when they come over to help me with wedding invites the last couple of weeks. I actually threw them in the mail today...they're done, they're done, THEY'RE DONE!!!!!

OK, back to the snack mix...I doubled the recipe because it seems the cheez-its and the oyster crackers contained exactly 8 cups, and I'm no waster of food! This is a no bake recipe, so you just mix it all up and forget about it for a couple hours...and you're good to go!

Ingredients (16 cups)
  • 4 cup chex cereal
  • 4 cup oyster crackers
  • 4 cup cheese crackers
  • 4 cup pretzels twists (mini)
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup taco seasoning mix
In large paper bag, double lined, dump all ingredients. Fold top of bags down and shake about 20 times until everything is mixed and coated. Let sit until oil has been absorbed (bottom of bag will be greasy, so be sure to put it on a piece of wax paper or foil).
Pour into airtight container. Enjoy!

And there you have it...a movie review and a snack to take to the movie. I'm here for you guys! :) 

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Grilled chicken garden salad

I gotta tell you...there's nothing quite like going out to your garden to pick your dinner. It brings out your inner hunter/gatherer to know that you grew, harvested, and prepared your meal all on your own. We've been alternating between huge salads and yummy pastas (don't worry, I'll share those soon) for dinner...but mainly hitting on the huge salads part. Our lettuce row is loving this heat lately (at least I assume so with how much it's growing) so we have an abundance of fresh green leaf lettuce at our fingertips.  I also hope the world is ready for the amount of cucumbers I am about to unleash into it...

Main Man used to tell me he couldn't get full off of salads for dinner (taking a page from Big Dan's book) but a couple years ago I started making full dinner salads that completely satisfied him and he has relented that argument. He even mentioned that a "salad full" feels way better than a "steak or pasta full"...so I think I won that battle.  He no longer pitches a fit if I say we're just having salads for dinner...and with the banana peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, etc coming out of the garden at a record pace, these are no boring salads by any means!

Although we're down with the veggies, we in the Stensland household are still major carnivores so we have to have some protein in the mix. I usually just grill some chicken and we add a half a breast to our dinner salad and call it good...my usual dressing being olive oil and white vineger (seriously find some if you've never had it) so we don't want the chicken to be too overpoweringly flavored but we don't want it bland either.

Well, a year or so ago I placed an order with Tastefully Simple for some beer bread and some other things...I had tried the Garlic Garlic dip and the Onion Onion dip at a party before so thought I would grab some to keep on hand. They came in a 3-pack with TS's version of seasoned salt (we now have a new replacement for Lawry's by the way) and it just so happens that these 3 things together absolutely complete a chicken boob (or breast of chicken for you mature people out there) in a way I never could've imagined. Rub them with olive oil and season them generously with these and you will never grill chicken with other seasonings again. Just here to help you out, my peeps!

You would think a girl would get sick of salads but I'm still drooling over this picture....nom nom nom! Enjoy your hump day, everyone!

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Turkey rollups

Perfect. Lake. Food.

I'm not sure where I got this idea but I've been obsessed lately with the Weight Watchers/Skinny Cow cheese wedges. Weight Watchers has a jalapeno cheese that I used on the pizza sammiches I made a few weeks ago...it's got enough bite to let you know it's there but no burn to worry about with people who don't like the heat. The stuff is phenom...oh, and it's only 35 calories per ginormous wedge of creamy cheese. Beat that!

I wanted something simple all made up for people to grab when they needed a snacky poo that didn't include me having to drag a bunch of stuff out...so I grabbed my cheese wedges and got started!

We have cucumbers up the tuckas from the garden lately so I thought a little crunch with the rollups would be nice, and diced one up to add. Spread one wedge on each small tortilla, layer with turkey, and diced cucumbers....and roll, baby, roll!

A little tip: be sure to leave a little cheese bare on the end of the tortilla (don't cover it with turkey) as it works as sort of a glue to hold the rollups together. I cut them in half and packed them all nice and neat in my deviled egg carrier (seriously one of the best things I've ever bought from Amazon...check it out HERE if you're interested) and we were on our way. Easy. That's my favorite word. I didn't come home with any of these rollups, so I believe that constitutes a hit!

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Pepperoni chips

Ever seen something and thought what a great idea it is, get mad at yourself for not thinking of it in all it's simplicity, and then have it flop so horribly that it's not even fit for humans and gets turned into dog treats? I have. 

Food.com had this recipe for low carb pepperoni chips that I was pretty sure was going to be the next best thing since the low carb twice baked cauliflower. Pepperonis on a paper towel, thrown in the microwave to get crispy for 30-60 seconds, and eaten as a better alternative to potato chips. I even used turkey pepperoni so they were low fat as well!

Followed the directions. They were chewy pepperoni disks that are not really enjoyable in the slightest if you ask me, but if you ask Sam (our dog), he would disagree with you. He loves the things! Good thing I made the whole bag of pepperoni, we're still working our way through the big baggie it made.

I promise you some actual recipes that work this week since posting this flop and my kale chips flop last week doesn't really give you much to work with if you're looking for something good. 

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Baked cheesy chicken rotini

This recipe came from Real Mom Kitchen, which is a fantabulous blog which makes me feel inadequate for not being near as cool as her, but at the same time gives me the confidence to know that you really can do it all even when you have kids. I love her recipes, and she even reviews cookbooks so you know what to pick up if you need more ideas!

6 T butter (I used 2 T butter and 4 T greek yogurt)
1 box wheat rotini pasta
1 t olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup flour
6 garlic cloves, finely minced
6 cups whole milk (I used skim)
10 oz cremini mushrooms (I used normal mushrooms)
1 cup sliced, oil packed sun dried tomatoes, drained
2 cups shredded provolone
1.5 cups freshly grated parmesan
garlic powder to taste
onion powder to taste
italian seasoning to taste
2 cups chicken stock/broth
2 cups spinach or arugula

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and boil your pasta acording to the package instructions. While pasta is boiling, prepare chicken to bake the chicken breasts by seasoning it with garlic powder, onion powder, and italian seasoning. Bake until opaque throughout.

Add olive oil to a saute pan, and cook mushrooms and sundried tomatoes. In a large pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add flour and garlic, whisking for 1 minute. While whisking constantly, gradually add milk and bring to a simmer. Keep whisking frequently as sauce thickens. Since I used less butter and thinner milk, the flour would ball up so I whisked and separated with a fork rather than an actual whisk so I had more control over mixing.

Add mushrooms and tomatoes, and cook for one more minute before turning off the heat. Gradually stir in provolone, greek yogurt (if you're skipping some butter like I did), and 1/2 cup parmesan. Stir in the chicken stock and you should have a pretty hefty sauce. Cut up the chicken and add it to the pan, as well as your cooked pasta and the spinach or arugula. Mix it up and pour into a baking dish, topping with remaining parmesan, and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. 

I made this for a pool night when I knew there were going to be a bunch of kids over...I thought of it as sort of a "fancy" mac and cheese. Main Man walked into kitchen and scolded me for feeding all those veggies to kids. He scared me into thinking they would stare at their plates and I would be deemed the least fun house ever to visit. So I made spagetti. I froze this (which was tough because I really wanted to eat it)....and made it this week when some of my bridesmaids came over to help stuff invitations. AND Aubrey ate the crap out of it so I know it is (almost) 2 year old kid approved! It was also Main Man approved (he scarfed down the leftovers and hid the rest in the fridge for lunch this week), and picky bridesmaid approved (Brandy and Cyn both had seconds). The point of all this is...I WIN!!

A lot of pasta dishes taste the same, but this one has a little something different with the sweet chewiness of the sundried tomatoes, and the creaminess of the cheeses. I know it seems like a lot of ingredients, but if you read through the list, most of it was stuff I have on hand normally anyhow. Please excuse the photos, I took them with my phone since the camera Santa bought me had an accident (hopefully not too expensive of an accident).  I served this with green leaf lettuce salads picked right from the garden...there's something so cathartic about picking your dinner out of the dirt, washing it, and eating it then and there...just gives me a warm fuzzy!  Enjoy your Friday, all!

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Broccoli and bacon salad

Since I posted such a flop yesterday (thanks for all the tips by the way, I will be trying the kale chips again thanks to you guys), I figured I should share a winner today....and this is it! This stuff was sooooo addicting, I tore through the leftovers for lunches at work and wasn't even mad about it. I have a love of broccoli that runs deeeeeep, my friends. I steam it and cover it with fresh cracked salt and pepper, and sprinkle some parmesan cheese on it for our standard side dish all the time. I call it "death by broccoli" because Main Man and I kill a whole head of broccoli in one sitting.  No big D.

This stuff though...the cranberries give it a chewy sweet aspect, the onions a tiny bite, the almonds and sunflower seeds give some salty with some crunchy....gaaaahhhhhh. You will be the talk of the party if you bring this to your next summer potluck. You can trust this not so skinny cook :)

2 heads fresh broccoli, washed and cut into bite size florets
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2  cup roasted sunflower seeds
1/2-1 cup crumbled bacon (approx 12 slices for 1 cup...I used turkey bacon)

1 cup mayo (I used greek yogurt)
3 T white vinegar
1/3 cup sugar (I used stevia so I used a little less)
1/2 t ground black pepper

Mix all of the top group together in a bowl, and mix all the second group together in a smaller bowl. I didn't want it to get soggy as this was a side dish I brought to the lake, so I didn't mix the dressing with the broccoli until I served it....but just kept both refrigerated until that point. YUMMMMMM!

It said this serves 8-10 people, but we had 4 eating on it for two meals and I think I got four lunches out of it when I brought it home. It actually stayed pretty well and didn't get soggy with the dressing on so you could mix it all together beforehand if the feeling hits you. The best part is once you buy all the ingredients, you will have all the ingredients on hand again to make another batch (nobody sells a half a cup of anything). Also, with the substitutions to the game (turkey bacon, stevia, greek yogurt) this isn't going to kill the waistline either so get out of the pasta salad line and get on the broccoli train! You'll thank me later! Happy Thursday, peeps!

I hope no one noticed I spelled broccoli two different ways throughout this post...back and forth, back and forth, between "broccoli" and "brocolli". I don't know why it's one of the words that always get me...I never remember if it's 2 c's or 2 l's or 2 of both!? Anyway, I fixed it...forgive me, it's a little embarrassing for the fourth grade spelling bee champion to mess up such a common word.  Guess I'm out of practice...
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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Kale chips

I used to think that some people just knew how to cook and some didn't. I didn't realize how much of a trial and error process it is until well before I even started this blog. And I find it hilarious that people sometimes think I'm some sort of expert chef because I write recipes up to share with people on the internet. I've been asked all sorts of random questions that I just go to the almight Google for, I'm really no Rachel Ray.  I've had my share of jack-ups, these kale chips being one of those that I can't, for the life of me, master!

Mallory made a batch and brought them over one evening we were hanging at the pool, and they were phenom! Main Man even tore through the rest of the bag when he got home, and that's not really something I expected as he's always making fun of me for "weird" substitutions like this...."That green stuff is never going to taste like potato chips, Abby....never."  Look who saddled up on the skinny train and mowed through a bag of green chips, bud!

But I digress...as I said, Mallory made these and I wanted to duplicate them...badly. I tried 3 times. I failed 3 times. And I'm done trying. My parents didn't raise a quitter, but they didn't raise a dummy either. Repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity...and I'm on the brink of it. Maybe it's my oven? Maybe the kind of olive oil? Whatever it is, I'm not doing something right and this is the simplest recipe in the universe. So if anyone has any tips for me...please, for the love of food, help a blogger out!

I started with a head of kale, washed and chopped into "chip" sized pieces in a bowl. I drizzled a little olive oil in there, and covered the leaves with garlic powder (although the chips didn't work, the flavor was amazeballs).

Lay them out on a greased pan and bake at 275 degrees until they crisp up, about 20 minutes. Seems simple, right?

Exhibit 1: burnt kale chips. Although these resemble what I would expect to see when the recipe is called "crispy kale chips". They would disintegrate into ashes in your mouth when they touched your tongue. Lovely. This is what happens when you weed the garden while waiting for something to cook...lesson learned.

I didn't take pics of the next 2 attempts. They didn't burn, thankfully. But they wouldn't get crispy. The second batch I baked for an hour! I kept flipping, kept flipping, kept flipping....soggy. Probably too much olive oil? Third batch had the same problem with less olive oil so I'm not sure what the dealio was with that.

I guess I'm destined to pay Mallory to make kale chips for me for the rest of my life, unless someone (anyone?!) can give me some tips on what I did wrong.....help me, people! Please and thank you :)

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Grilled wings

It seems that cooking shows get me into a trance even when I'm just flipping through channels...."Oooooo, what's that?!" goes through my head and then I'm frozen until a commercial. It happened last night with Master Chef (how mean are those judges?!), and it's a common occurence with Chopped. That's how I stumbled on this little tip...on how to grill chicken wings.

I ALWAYS make my wings the same way, a "don't fix it if it ain't broke" kinda thing. Seriously, try those....they fall right off the bone.  It's love at first finger lick. I was flipping through the channels on a Sunday afternoon though, and there was some show where these Italians were explaining how to make wings and pulled pork. Normally, I don't think of wings and pulled pork when I think of Italian cuisine...but all these men were very heavy so I know they know how to cook :)

The trick to the wings is to grill them when they're frozen. If they're thawed, they will stick to the grill and burn. If you start them frozen, they work great. I made these for Father's day lunch...Big Dan loves him some chicken wings and grilled shrimp scampi.

Just toss the wings on the grill, and be careful to keep an eye on them so they don't burn. Turn every so often until they're cooked through, I think it took about 20 minutes.  After they come off the grill, throw them in a bowl with a little butter and spin them around to coat.

I did half the batch in one bowl with Frank's Buffalo sauce....because it's the best, duh.  I also did one half of the batch in Rich and Sassy BBQ sauce...but pick your fave. The hot sauce batch was the crowd favorite by far. These are far easier and quicker than the wings I normally make, and linked to above. So if time is an issue, head in this direction.  I will be keeping this little trick in my pocket for future reference, that's for sure!

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Boursin chicken quesadillas

We had Mexican night at the Hofers a while back, and I was pretty pumped about my contribution. anything with boursin is usually a home run, and who doesn't like quesadillas?! Brandy didn't like them, so I finished hers, but that's not uncommon with anything that has "too much taste".  So I was surprised to hear Main Man tell me he didn't like them when we were walking to the car that night...

Me: Did you like those boursin quesadillas I made for tonight?
Main Man: No.
Me: For real?! Crap, I loved them!
Main Man: Well, I guess I didn't hate them, I had 3 or 4 of them.
Me: But you didn't like them?
Main Man: Ehh...

I have to tell you that I had to edit this post because I originally posted it WITHOUT a recipe. That should tell you what kind of day I'm having getting back into the grind after vaca! Anyway, here you go (recipe from one of my favorite blogs Cassie Craves):

1 cup cooked choppped chicken (I used rotisserie chicken)
8 T Boursin garlic and herb spreadable cheese, divided
8 flour tortillas

Spread 1 T of Boursin evenly on each flour tortilla. Sprindle four of the tortillas with chicken (the recipe called for tomatoes too but I was in a hurry), then top with another tortilla, cheese down. Cook quesadillas both sides until crispy in an oiled skillet. Very simple!

I don't feel real bad repeating something that he says he doesn't like if he stomachs 3-4 of them with no one forcing them down his throat, so we will be having these again at some point! Now that I've successfully completed my post WITH a recipe, I will bid you adieu until tomorrow. We had a mishap with the new camera (don't tell Main Man how much that's going to cost to fix) so I will have a lack of photos, although no shortage of recipes coming up for you! Stay tuned....and happy July!

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