Saturday, September 29, 2012

Mexican Lime Chicken Soup

This is a nice broth soup. The chicken falls apart, the lime makes it tangy, the chipotles are spicy (so do less if you don't like kick) and smokey, the corn balances some of the heat, and the beans make it hearty.

Mexican Lime Chicken Soup


  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, finely chopped, plus 2 tablespoons of the adobo sauce
  • cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 1/2 cups beans (white, pinto, black, whichever you prefer) drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced lengthwise 
  • Crushed tortilla chips (optional)
  • Sour cream (optional)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. I used my dutch oven for this. Add the garlic and onion. Cook until starting to brown. Turn the heat up to medium high, push the onions and garlic to the side, and add the chicken pieces. Cook until browned, 5 minutes or so. Stir in the chipotles, adobo sauce, broth, corn and beans. Lower heat and simmer at least 15 minutes. I prefer 45. Skim any foam off. Stir in lime juice, cilantro, salt, and pepper. Serve with avocado, tortilla chips, and a plop of sour cream if desired. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Buttermilk Peanut Butter French Toast

Yeah. Its even better than it sounds. You will thank me :)

If you don't have buttermilk, no need to make a special trip to the store. Just use milk But if you have it, use it :)

Peanut Butter French Toast


1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup buttermilk
4 eggs
1/3 cup peanut butter

3 tbsp brown sugar sugar or honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
6-8 slices of bread. (We use leftover Challah  or store bought texas toast. )

2 tbsp butter

Whisk together the milk, eggs, PB, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Heat a skillet to medium for at least 5 minutes. Coat in butter. Dip the bread for 15 seconds on each side. Cook until heated through and golden brown, around 3 minutes per side. If it gets too dark too fast, lower heat a little. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cheesy Zucchini Rice

Who needs pasta sides or rice side packets? Not I. Although our side dishes have been lacking since I stopped using them a few years back. I spend a lot of time thinking about the main dish and space off the sides. But I am trying.

This takes about 5 minutes longer than cooking a regular batch of rice.

Cheesy Zucchini Rice


2 cups rice
3 cups chicken broth (or veggie if you want to be veggie)
1 onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
salt and pepper

I cook my rice in a rice cooker. Easy peasy. Dump the rice, broth, onion, and garlic into it and hit cook.

If you use the stove, dump all that into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to simmer and cook 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes. Fluff

Once cooked, put in a large bowl with the zucchini and cheese. Mix well, and cover with foil. Let sit 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Stovetop Popcorn

I know you can't avoid everything. But microwave popcorn is HORRIBLE for you. So if its possible to find a good alternative, why wouldn't you? This takes about 2.4 minutes more than just zapping a bag, and not too much effort. Make it with the kids. Its fun! And it costs pennies to make.
Caramel Marshmallow

Stovetop Popcorn

3 tbsp coconut oil (or vegetable if you *must*)
1/3 cup popping corn
2 tbsp butter

Additional toppings
Cinnamon Kettle Corn (to follow)
Caramel Marshmallow (to follow)

You HAVE to use at LEAST a 3 qt pan. With a lid.

Heat pan, oil, and 3 kernels of corn over medium heat, covered.

Once those 3 kernels pop, add the rest of the kernels. Cover and remove from heat. Count to 30. Place back on heat. Once it starts popping, shimmy the pan back and forth a few inches over and over to keep the kernels moving. Also hold the lid so there is a crack for steam to escape. Once the popping slows drastically (just like microwave popcorn) remove from heat and immedietly dump into a large bowl. Place pan back on heat and melt the butter. Drizzle over popcorn and season liberally with salt.

Cinnamon Kettle Corn.

Kettle corn is just sugar and salt. Pour the butter like stated above and stir til well mixed. And then I mix about 2tbsp white sugar and a tsp of cinnamon (by all that is holy and good, buy yourself some Vietnamese cinnamon) And sprinkle on top. Do NOT forget the salt. It makes all the difference.

Caramel Marshmallow
(exclude the butter from the original recipe)
Melt 5 tbsp butter with 1/3 cup brown sugar. Once melted, add 6 large marshmallows (or a cup or so mini) and stir until melted. Drizzle over popcorn and toss until coated. Don't forget the salt!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Thrifty Chicken Stock

I am a nerd. I have been so excited about this the last few day. Its SO easy and SO cheap. And SO good for you. Even the organic broths have "natural flavor" added (Also known as MSG). And they can be EXPENSIVE. This can make GALLONS of stock. No joke. With ONE batch of chicken bones. You can do even more with beef bones. I haven't gotten there yet, but I will sure update you with it.

Bone broth is super nutritious. Adding vinegar to the water helps leach out the minerals from the bones as well as the nutritious gelatin. THIS is the chicken soup that will help you get over a illness sooner.

It is thrifty, because you can strain the liquid out, and scoop out the veggies and start again! You can do it two or even THREE times with chicken bones! And double that for beef bones. Its unreal.

And if you are short on freezer space, there is a few things you can do. First, you can freeze in ice cube trays or muffin trays and then place in ziplock bags once frozen solid. Then you can just use what is needed. Or you can return the strained liquid to a pot and simmer on low, uncovered, for several more hours and reduce it by half. Then you can freeze in small jars and its a concentrated form. Just add water once you thaw.

This is also a great way to stretch a meal. Buy a rotisserie chicken or roast a whole chicken on your own and save the carcass. You could even save the bones of thighs and drumsticks from other meals in a baggie in the freezer and make a batch when you have enough. The added drumsticks are great to find on sale. Its a very cheap cut of meat. Save the gross bag of innards from the roaster chicken too. And all the butts of onions, carrots, or celery you cut off and throw away? Save those in the freezer too.

You can add chicken feet to it as well. I haven't gotten there yet :-)

This is about 1/3rd of ONE batch. Not reduced

Thrifty Chicken Stock

I whole chicken carcass
1-2 lbs of whole chicken drumsticks
chicken gizzards, neck, etc (optional)
1 onion, halved
4 carrots, washed, peeled, in 3 inch chunks
4 celery (tops too!) washed, in 3 inch chunks
8 cloves of garlic (no need to peel) cut in half
1/2 tsp dried thyme (fresh is even better. Several stems)
2 bay leaves
10 peppercorns (optional)
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

Place all of the ingredients in a HUGE stockpot and fill with water 2 inches above the top of ingredients. If you wish, let sit at room temp for an hour. This lets the vinegar work on the bones a little. Then bring to a simmer. Cover, and keep on a very low temp. You just want to gently simmer, never boil.

Cook for about 18 hours. Check on the water lever occasionally and to make sure its still simmering. I am sure you can do this in a crock pot, but be aware many crock pots run too hot to just simmer, even on low. So pay attention the first time you do it.

Strain the liquid through a mesh strainer. Either use immediately, place in the fridge for up to 5 days, freeze for up to 3 months, or simmer uncovered to condense and then freeze.

Use in soups, to cook noodles, rice, beans, etc. Or season and sip.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Chunky Roasted Red Bell Pepper Tomato Sauce

I haven't bought pasta sauce in months. While its nice to open and heat store bought sauce, it takes 5 extra minutes of prep, and 20 minutes of simmering is all you need for this quick sauce. Basically, start this a few minutes before you boil the noodles. It will pretty much be done at the same time. If you have an extra few minutes, letting it simmer longer will only add to the yummy flavors.
The red bell peppers add to the sweetness and depths of flavor. Thanks Deanna for the tip!

Chunky Roasted Red Bell Pepper Tomato Sauce

1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
2 roasted red bell peppers (I buy a HUGE jar at Costco. Worth its weight in gold!)
3-4 cloves garlic
1 can petite cut diced tomatoes (can get the garlic ones or other similar flavor, if they don't have them plain) Drained
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp parsley
1 tbsp dried minced onion
1/4 tsp red pepper flake
1tbsp balsamic vinegar

With a stick blender (or put in a regular blender), blend the crushed tomatoes, red bell pepper, and garlic. Add to a pot with the diced tomatoes and spices. Cover and cook on medium until bubbling and then lower heat and let simmer.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Vegetable Beef Stew with Onion Herbed Dumplings

I came across a variation of this in my websurfings. Husb likes Chicken and Dumplings, so I thought this style of it would be a interesting mix. I tweaked it to my tastes and it came out great. Nice for the changing seasons.

Vegetable Beef Stew with Onion Herbed Dumplings

2 lbs stew meat
1 can beef broth
1 cup water
1 can diced tomatoes, with juice
4 carrots, peeled and sliced in buttons
2 celery, sliced
2 onions, sliced
1 package sliced mushrooms
2 bay leaves
2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp dried mustard
salt and pepper
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup water

1/2 cup (a few more TBSP if needed)
1 1/2 cup flour
2 tbsp cold butter, in small pieces
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried rosemary (crushed up)
1 tbsp dried minced onion


Get a skillet hot on medium high heat. Add meat, in batches to sear each side.

Put meat in the crockpot with broth, water, tomatoes, carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms, bay leaves and spices.

Cook on low 8-10 hours or high 4-5.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Whisk water and flour and add to soup.

Put all the dry ingredients of dumplings into a bowl. Add butter. Cut in with pastry cutter, forks, metal whisk, or even your hands. Make sure the butter is mixed well. Add milk and stir until just mixed.

Drop glops of this into the stew, cover, and cook on high until toothpick comes out clean.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

This is Husb's mother's recipe. I actually haven't changed it much (except using home made tortillas and cream of chicken from scratch)

Its nice to be able to give him some comfort food that reminds him of home.

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas


8 8 inch flour tortillas
2 cans cream of chicken (or 2 recipes from scratch)
4-5 green onions, chopped
1 4oz can diced green chilis (not drained)
1 cup milk
3/4 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar or colby jack
2 large chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (or rotisserie chicken.)

I baked my chicken breasts in the 350 oven for 30 minutes

Preheat oven to 350

Mix cream of chicken, green onions, chilis, milk, sour cream, S&P, and cheese. Reserve 2 cups of this. Mix the shredded chicken in to the remaining mix. Spoon approx 1/2 cup of the reserved mix on the bottom of a 9x13 pan to lightly coat it. Fill the tortillas with the mixture and place seam side down in the pan and top with remaining reserved mixture. Spread to cover completely.

Cook for 30 minutes or until bubbly

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mini Make Ahead Frittatas

I am always looking for make ahead food for my toddler. I am a zombie in the morning so I don't want to have to think about what to make. Or lunch is a scrounge for yourself type day. Its not fair for the toddler to find his own lunch so this is a good option :)It would also be great for a fast breakfast before work.
I just adapted my other frittata recipe. The combinations are endless. Play around with it.

Sorry about the picture. I forgot to take one until they were already frozen.

Mini Frittatas
Makes 12 muffin sized


2 tbsp butter or oil
2 russet potatoes, grated
1 onion, grated
8 eggs
2 tbsp milk or cream
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
1 cup of cheese (I used feta, cheddar, and provolone, separately)
filling of choice. Ideas: mushrooms, asparagus, bacon, sausage, ham, spinach, zucchini, bell pepper, tomatoes

Preheat oven to 375

Dry the potato and onion very well after grating. Place in a large skillet that has been heated over medium heat, with butter melted.

Cook until starting to brown, stirring/flipping as needed. About 5-8 minutes.

Evenly divide potato mix between the muffin pans. Add whatever fillings you want. Put cheese on top.

Beat the eggs, milk, and spices well. Add a couple/few tbsp to each muffin pan.

Place in oven and cook 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and set. Let cool in pan. Eat or transfer to sheet pan and put in freezer for 2 hours and then move to freezer bag. This is so they don't stick together

Sunday, September 16, 2012

How to make Cream of ___ from scratch!

I try to do as much homemade as possible. But some of my favorite comfort food recipes have some cream of goop in it.

My compromise lately has been to buy it organic. That has to cut out some of the crap, right??

Well, the last time we went to the store, I couldn't find any. Husb really wanted me to make his moms creamy chicken enchiladas. But it calls for TWO of those bad boys. :-/

So I did some searching. I always see on Pinterest a powdered mix you can make. But it calls for bouillon powder and instant milk...Is that really that much better??

So, todays search found this!! REAL food "cream of"substitute!

I really didn't need to take a picture of this. It looks like whitish yellow goop. You have all seen it before.

This makes a chicken version. For cream of mushroom, use beef broth and add some sautéed mushrooms!

"Cream of"
(makes 1 can worth. Ok maybe a little less, but we really don't need to use THAT much, ya know?)


2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
3/4 cup chicken stock/broth
1/4 cup milk
salt and pepper.(don't be shy)
optional (highly recommend at least some):
1/2 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder

Essentially you are making a roux.

Melt the butter over medium heat. Add flour. Cook for 3 minutes, whisking often. (It will be a bunch of clumps.

Add the milk and broth. Whisk and heat until bubbling. Stir often. Add salt and pepper (and spices) to taste.

Once thickened, remove from heat.

Thats it. 5 minutes and pennies compared to the crap you have to buy. Just keep some stock around for times like this!!

Zucchini Tots

Side dishes aren't my best speciality. I get halfway through dinner and realize I don't have a plan for sides. Whoops. We have many a one pot meal around here. Which has its place. But options for side dishes are always good to have around. I am only 24, and only have been really cooking for 2 years or so, so this is a constant learning and growing process :)

These taste like fried zucchini meets zucchini cakes meets a quiche. Super yummy and comforting like tater tots, but with a fresh element. And pretty healthy all things considered!

Zucchini Tots
Makes 24 mini muffin tots


2 grated zucchini
1/2 grated onion
2 eggs
1/2 cup cheese (I used shredded sharp cheddar this time, but feta, parm, or some others would be great!)
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400
Pat dry the grated onion and zucchini.
Mix all ingredients well
Spray the mini muffin pan well.
Divide mixture evenly in the pan.
Press down well to compact it.

Cook 17-19 minutes, until golden brown. Let sit in pan 5 minutes then flip out.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Orzo with Veggies and Feta

I don't know what it is about orzo that is so yummy. Its like rice, but a better texture. I love it. And I love feta. And pretty much everything else in this. And its all staples around here so that makes it convenient. The only thing that would make it better is some mushrooms. I didn't have any on hand. : ) My toddler ate his weight in this stuff.

Orzo with Veggies and Feta

1/2 box of Orzo pasta
1 18 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
2 roasted red bell peppers (from a jar), diced
1/2 package of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
2-4 oz crumbled feta cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
2 tbsp olive oil

Cook pasta to box directions (if there is a time range, do the lower number since this cooks a little after) and drain.

Combine the tomatoes, bell peppers, spinach, feta, spices, and olive oil. Add to the pot with the pasta and heat on medium until warmed through!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Pork Potstickers with Dipping Sauce

You can easily double this recipe and freeze (just freeze on a sheet pan and then transfer to a ziplock) You can use the standard wonton wrappers or go giant and just use egg roll wrappers. The pros to the wonton is they are easier to dip, but the process takes a lot longer. The giant ones are faster to make, but you will need a fork to assist the dipping process.

Pork Potstickers with Dipping Sauce
(makes about 16 giant or 40+ regular)

1 lb ground pork
1/2 bag of shredded cabbage
1 cup diced green onion
1 can water chestnuts, diced
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 cube of ginger, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp corn starch
salt and pepper

wonton or egg roll wrappers

Dipping sauce (recipe at bottom)

Mix all the stuffing ingredients together with your hands.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Lay out a wrapper. For wonton sized, use a heaping tsp full of filling. For egg roll sized, about an egg sized.

The wrapper is going to be folded in half, diagonally. So fill one half of a wrapper (from corner to corner) with the filling. With the egg roll one, make sure the filling is smushed down, leaving about a half inch around the edge. The wet your finger and run it along the edges. Pull the corner from the empty side across and press shut. Then press seal the rest of the edges. The end result is just a simple triangle. If you are confused at this point, Im sorry. Its hard to describe but its easy to do. Just look at the picture and it will all come together. Next time I make it, I will take pictures of the process.

Finish filling the wrappers. At this point you can freeze and transfer to a ziplock and make later. Just freeze when they are laying separate or they will stick when thawed.

To cook:

Heat a skillet (with a lid!!) to medium. Let it fully preheat.

Put a tsp or so of oil in the pan and swirl it around. Put a few potstickers in it. Leave room to maneuver.
Let cook a couple minutes, until golden brown (check often, it could burn fast depending on how hot your stove gets)
Flip and brown the other side. Once nice and brown, add 1/4 cup of water and put on a lid. Cook until water is gone, shuffleboarding the skillet every so often. Remove and let cool a couple minutes.

Dipping sauce
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar or honey
1 tsp of Srircha or Garlic Chili Sauce. Or 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes. (more or less to taste)

Whisk together and dip away!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Cheddar and Feta Au Gratin Potatoes

Ok, I really need to do a "Kitchen Gadget" post. Someday.

In the meantime, its time for a gadget plug. A mandoline slicer. Oh heavens. Best invention ever. I got mine for $19 off amazon. Its amazing.

So unless you want to manually slice 4 potatoes and a onion into 1/4 inch slices, INVEST.

Anyway. This dish is crack. Ooey gooey. Carby. Comforting. A good holiday or sunday meal dish. The potatoes still have enough bite in them that they aren't mush. Its just a great dish.

You could add some ham or bacon and make a meal out of it!

Cheddar and Feta Au Gratin Potatoes


4 medium Russet potatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1 onion, sliced into as thin of slices as possible
4 garlic cloves, sliced (or minced, if desired. I like chunks)
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
2 cups cheddar cheese
4oz feta crumbles
salt and pepper to taste.

Prep your potatoes, onion, and garlic.

Place a single layer of potato sliced on the bottom of a greased casserole pan.

Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium. Add the flour and cook 3 minutes, stirring often. Add the milk. Whisk until combined. Once hot, but not boiling, add the cheddar. Whisk until combined. Add salt and pepper. Move off heat.

Ladle a ladle or two of sauce on potatoes. Add a layer of potatoes, then some onion, garlic, and feta. And then another overlapping layer of potatoes. Spoon a bit more sauce on top. Repeat until done. Ending with sauce and a little feta.

Cover with tin foil and bake at 375 for 1 and 1/2 hours.

Let sit 5-10 minutes, then serve.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

Lemon and blueberry are that classic combo. They belong together.

These muffins don't rise a ton, so don't be afraid to pile them high.

Lemon Blueberry Muffins


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted 
  • 1¼ cups sour cream
  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1½ cups frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350. Either grease or line a 12 muffin pan

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the blueberries and toss to combine.

In another bowl, whisk the egg until light. Add the sugar and lemon juice and zest. Add the butter and sour cream, until just mixed.

Add this to the flour and blueberries. Mix until just combined. It is very thick. Do not over mix or they will be tough.

Divide into the muffin pan. Cook about 30 minutes, turning halfway through. As always, its done when a toothpick comes out clean.

Let sit in pan 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Lemon and Rosemary Roasted Chicken

I'll be honest. Rosemary isn't a herb I am very comfortable with. It looks like pine needles and its pretty strong. But I had to give it a try.

I don't know what it is about our location, but chicken is outrageous. About $8 for 3 medium chicken breasts. I don't know, it just seems like a lot to me. But for $6 or $7, we can get a whole roaster chicken. And its really pretty easy.

The secret to perfect crispy skin is twofold. First, SALT. And lots of it. Chicken is bland. You have to be heavy handed with the seasonings. Salt also dries out the skin to make it crispy. Second, high heat in the first part of cooking

Lemon and Rosemary Roasted Chicken


1 roaster chicken, about 4.5 pounds. Give or take
1 lemon, quartered
3 tbsp butter, melted
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp dried rosemary
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 onion, very very thinly sliced into rings
Lots of salt and pepper.

Rinse the chicken after your remove the nasty bag inside. Dry very well.

Place the onions on the bottom of a roasting pan.

Stuff the lemons inside the chicken.

Combine the butter, olive oil, rosemary, and garlic in a small bowl. Rub all over chicken and even under the skin.

Place in pan and salt GENEROUSLY and sprinkle with pepper.

Cook in a 450 oven for 20 minutes, and then reduce to 350 for 20 minutes per pound. About an hour and a half.