Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Guess who...

It's Teak!

He did this entirely to himself the other morning while I was getting ready for work, and it set the tone for a very happy day. I love this little dog.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Shortcut Parmesan & Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

These mashed potatoes have so much flavor that people will think you spent a lot of time on them.  You won't, of course, but no one has to know that.  I adapted it from one of Giada's recipes, but I used instant mashed potatoes instead of real potatoes.  These were a big hit! 

If you're looking ahead to the holidays (am I the only one who is SO ready for Christmas?), this would be a delicious, quick side dish that could be easily doubled for a crowd. 

Shortcut Parmesan & Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

1 (7.2 oz) box roasted garlic instant mashed potatoes (it contains 2 pouches--use both)
2 1/2 cups hot water
1 1/3 cups milk
4 Tbsp butter
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp plain dry bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400; spray a 9"x13" dish with cooking spray, and set aside. 

In a large, microwave-safe bowl, stir water, milk, butter, and both pouches of potatoes until moistened.  Cover loosely and microwave for 2-3 minutes.  Remove from microwave and stir in mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. 

Spread potatoes in prepared dish.  In a small bowl, combine remaining half cup of Parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs.  Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture on top of the potatoes, and bake uncovered until topping is golden-brown, about 20 minutes.  Serves 6-8.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Teak Dog Tuesday!

He was determined to get comfortable, even if the laundry was in his way.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Pumpkin Smoothie

Fall is coming, so I am excited to start cooking with pumpkin.  I made a tasty pumpkin smoothie yesterday that was really creamy and has very few calories.  Plus, I have lots of pumpkin puree left over, so more pumpkin recipes will follow this one. :)

Pumpkin Smoothie

1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 banana
1/4 cup nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp honey
1 cup crushed ice

Blend all ingredients until smooth.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Queso Blanco Dip (White Cheese Dip)

My sweet friend Sarah sent me this amazing queso recipe.  If you haven't noticed, we eat a lot of Mexican food at our house, so we had this finished off in no time.  It would be great to snack on this while watching a football game.  You could also serve it as a sauce over your favorite Mexican dish. 

The recipe calls for a block of white American cheese, but I couldn't find a block of it, so I ended up using individual slices of white American cheese, and that worked just fine; it probably melted faster than the cubes would have.

Feel free to cut the recipe in half depending on the size of your crowd.

Queso Blanco Dip

1 1/4 (1.25) lb block white American cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup diced green chiles
10 pickled jalapeno slices, chopped
1 oz picked jalapeno juice
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup cold water
Pinch of cumin (optional)

Toss all ingredients into a large microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave on high for 5 minutes, stopping to stir after every minute.  (The mixture might seem too liquid-y during the first few stirs, but it will come together nicely when all the cheese has melted.)

Serve immediately as a dip with tortilla chips.

Store leftovers in refrigerator.  Reheat in microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until creamy and hot.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Teak Dog Tuesday!

This sweet puppy has been working hard.  He picked up four doves after a dove shoot on Saturday.  He needs to rest.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


These were SO delicious--so delicious, in fact, that we made them three times in one week.  They just can't be any easier and cheaper and tastier!  Plus, these would be very easy to personalize based on your taste: add cilantro, black olives, avocado, grilled chicken instead of ground beef, refried black beans instead of regular refried beans etc.  We recommend these highly! 

Below, I said to use 4-6 tortillas.  That's because the first time we made them, I went heavy on the ground beef for each tortilla, so we only ended up needing 4 tortillas.  However, since each tortilla already has a serving of beans, there's plenty of protein and fiber per tortilla, so you can lighten up on the ground beef and stretch it to accomodate 6 tortillas if you need to.

The best part of these tostadas, which are just a form of tacos, is how crispy the bottom of the tortilla gets.  To get the crispiness, make sure you put the baking sheets/pizza stone in a cold oven, and then heat up the oven and the pan together.  I got two tortillas per baking sheet, and three tortillas on our pizza stone.

I hadn't tried these before I read Plain Chicken's post on Open Face Tacos- thanks for the awesome recipe!


1 lb ground beef (I used ground venison)
1 Tbsp grill seasoning, or 1 (1 oz) packet of taco seasoning
4-6 flour tortillas
1 cup salsa
1 can refried beans
2 Tbsp sour cream, plus more for garnish (I substituted Greek yogurt)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Suggested toppings for garnish:

Place cold pizza stone or baking sheets in cold oven, and preheat oven to 425. 

In a skillet, brown ground beef until no longer pink.  Drain fat from skillet, and then add grill seasoning and cup of salsa.  Stir and let simmer over low heat for 5-10 minutes. 

In a microwave-safe bowl, heat refried beans on High for 2 minutes.  Stir in sour cream, and set aside.

To assemble the tostadas, spread refried bean mixture on each tortilla.  Top with ground beef and shredded cheese. 

Place assembled tostadas on the now-hot pans, and return the hot pans to the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.   Top with lettuce, tomato, and sour cream.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Baked BBQ Chicken

This was SO quick and easy. I used chicken tenders because it's what I had in my freezer, but you could easily use thighs or an entire chicken and just adjust the cooking time accordingly. Also, make sure you use a good barbecue sauce that you like; the chicken will taste just like whatever sauce you use.  It's excellent served with a baked potato and a salad.  Hope you enjoy!

Baked Barbecue Chicken
1 lb chicken tenders
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper
Prepared barbecue sauce (I used about 1 cup)

Preheat oven to 350.  Season the chicken tenders with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Bake them for 25 minutes in a dish sprayed with cooking spray.  Then remove them from the oven, and pour the desired amount of barbecue sauce evenly over the chicken.  Return to the oven and bake for 15 additional minutes.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Monday, September 3, 2012

Skillet Lasagna

This was so good!  It's fast and easy enough to make on a weeknight, too, which is wonderful.  The recipe calls for ricotta/cottage cheese/Greek yogurt to be added, and even though I forgot to stir it in (which I'm sure would have made it even better), it was great. 

The original post (from my favorite blog, Plain Chicken) says to use half a pound of sausage and half a pound of ground beef.  We had a pound of ground venison, so that's what I used, but I bet the addition of sausage would be delicious.

Use a large pot to boil your pasta, and then you can combine all of your ingredients in it.  I was tempted to cook more than 8 ounces of pasta, but it made plenty.  It makes four generous servings, but if you add a side salad and garlic cheesy bread, it can feed six.  Luckily, it's just as good (if not better) reheated for lunch the next day.

Skillet Lasagna

8 oz Farfalle (bowtie) pasta
1 (24 oz) jar pasta sauce
8 oz shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 lb ground venison (or beef)
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp shredded fresh basil
2/3 cup ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese or Greek yogurt)

In a large pot, cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.

In a skillet, brown ground meat until no longer pink.  Drain grease from skillet.  In the large pasta pot, combine the cooked pasta, cooked meat, pasta sauce, cheese, Italian seasoning, basil, and ricotta.  Stir to combine, and coat thoroughly.  Simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Top with additional cheese if desired.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers

Yum!  This was my first time making stuffed peppers, and they were great!  My in-laws grew some beautiful bell peppers, and we couldn't wait to use them for this recipe.  It's a great all-in-one recipe: meat, starch, and veggies all together.  They're easy to make and very tasty.  Hope you like them!

Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers

1 pound ground beef
1/2 (1 oz) package taco seasoning mix
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp water, divided
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 cup cooked rice
2 Tbsp minced onion flakes
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (8 oz) can Rotel tomatoes, drained
4 large green bell peppers
Shredded pepper jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 9"x13" dish with cooking spray. 

Place the ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat, and brown the meat, breaking it apart into crumbles as it cooks, about 8 minutes.  Drain the excess fat.  Stir in the taco seasoning, 3/4 cup water, chili powder, cooked rice, tomato sauce, garlic salt, and minced onion flakes; mix until thoroughly combined, and simmer for 20 minutes. 

Meanwhile, cut the bell peppers in half lengthwise, and remove stems, membranes, cores, and seeds.  Place in a microwave-safe dish with 2 Tablespoons of water.  Cover with a damp paper towel, and microwave for 3 minutes. 

Place the steamed peppers into the prepared 9"x13" dish, and fill lightly with the meat filling.  Top each pepper with a spoonful of the Rotel tomatoes and a handful of shredded cheese.  Cover the dish with foil, and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Teak Dog Tuesday!

How is this even possible?  He's incredible.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Cake Batter Blondies

I can't even describe these.  I've been sitting here trying to come up with words for how delicious these are, but they're just too amazing.  I love gooey, slightly undercooked cookies (stemming from the love of cookie batter, I'm sure), and this is the gooey-slightly undercooked cake version.   Incredible. 

Biz has been on a health kick lately, leaving me to eat most of the pan by myself, which was fine by me.  I selfishly didn't even want to share these with friends or neighbors.  I wanted them all to myself. 

Cake Batter Blondies

1 box yellow cake mix
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg, beaten
1/4 - 1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine the cake mix and sprinkles in a large bowl, and then mix in the oil and egg.  Add the milk slowly, just until the batter is combined--you want it to remain as dense as possible.  Place batter in a greased 8x8 dish or 8-inch cake pan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or just until the edges turn golden.  Let cool for 20 minutes before cutting because the gooey center needs to set. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Easy Mexican Ground Beef Casserole

Like I said yesterday, we're looking for fast, easy, and tasty recipes (who isn't?) now that school is back in session.  This fit the bill.  (Now that I think about it, it's sort of a Mexican version of the ravioli lasagna from yesterday.)  We had everything we needed already in the house, and it came together in under an hour--and only a few of those minutes were hands-on time. 

You can adapt this easily.  Add black beans or chili beans, use crushed tortilla chips instead of tortillas, add green onions or black olives or jalapenos, whatever you want!  We served it with Mexican rice. 

Easy Mexican Ground Beef Casserole

3 large tortillas
4 oz (1 cup) shredded Cheddar cheese
4 oz (1 cup) shredded pepper jack cheese
1 lb ground beef
1 cup sour cream (I substituted nonfat Greek yogurt)
1/2 cup salsa verde
1 can Rotel tomatoes, drained of excess liquid

In a skillet, cook the ground beef until no longer pink and drain.  Mix salsa verde into the ground beef. 

Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly spray a 9"x13" dish with cooking spray.  Tear one tortilla into pieces, and use it as the bottom layer on the baking dish.  Add a layer of ground beef, half of the sour cream, and half of the diced tomatoes.  Repeat layers of a torn tortilla, the other half of ground beef, sour cream, and diced tomatoes.  Top with a final torn tortilla and the shredded Cheddar and pepper jack cheeses. 

Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Ravioli-Style Lasagna

It's back-to-school time for me, so I've been on the lookout for tasty dishes that won't take much time to prepare.  Even better and always important for the school year, it tastes just as good reheated the next day for lunch. 

This is one of our new favorites, and it's easy to adapt to your particular tastes.  You could omit the ground beef, add spinach, use ravioli with chicken and mushroom filling, etc.  Also, if you like more sauce, you could use a whole 24 oz jar of tomato sauce; I just used what I had in the pantry.

Ravioli-Style Lasagna

2 (9 oz) or 1 (20 oz) package refrigerated cheese-filled ravioli
1 (16 oz) can crushed tomatoes
8 oz shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 lb ground beef

Preheat oven to 400.  In a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. 

In a 7"x11" baking dish sprayed with cooking spray, put a thin layer of crushed tomatoes--just enough to cover the bottom of the dish.  Then layer half of the ravioli, half of the remaining tomato sauce, half of the beef, and half of the mozzarella cheese.  Repeat layers, adding the Parmesan cheese to the top. 

Cover and bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Blueberry Maple Refrigerator Oatmeal

The Yummy Life has several healthy recipes, including this easy no-cook breakfast that will definitely get your day started in a healthy way.  This recipe is high in proten, fiber, and calcium and low in fat and sugar.  Apparently this type of yogurt and oatmeal mixture is also called "summer porridge" or "muesli."  She recommends making these in individual mason jars, so they have grab-and-go appeal if you don't have time to eat until you're in the car or at work.  Of course, you could make them in any container that holds one cup. 

I followed her recipe and added chia seeds, which are evidently rich in protein and Omega-3 fatty acids.  If you can't find any at your local health-food store, you can substitute ground flax seeds or omit them.

Blueberry Maple Refrigerator Oatmeal

1/4 cup uncooked old fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1 1/2 tsp dried chia seeds
2 tsp maple syrup
1/4 cup blueberries

In a jar, add oats, milk, yogurt, chia seeds, and maple syrup.  Put lid on jar and shake until well combined.  Remove lid, add blueberries, and stir until mixed throughout.  Return lid to jar and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.  Eat chilled.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Amazing Tomato and Onion Pie

Our tomato plants are making one last push before the heat officially kills them, so I looked through several tomato pie recipes, settling on one before amping it up on my own.   It was SO delicious.  I served it baside a salad topped with grilled chicken, and it was the perfect summer meal.

I broke with tradition and used nonfat Greek yogurt instead of mayonaisse, which was incredibly un-Southern of me, but I needed to cut fat where I could (since I did add bacon and two types of cheese!). 

In other tomato pies I've made, the crust tends to get soggy, but I found a solution.  First, get rid of as much moisture as possible in the tomatoes.  Second, before prebaking the crust, mist it with cooking spray.  Then, once it comes out, spread 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese on the bottom of the crust before adding the tomatoes.  The crust in the finished product wasn't soggy at all.

Amazing Tomato and Onion Pie

1 (9-inch) deep dish pie crust (or feel free to make your own!)
Cooking spray
4 medium tomatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 large Vidalia onion, sliced
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
3 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
5 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
Zest of 1 lemon

Place tomato slices in a single layer on paper towels; sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Let stand at least 30 minutes, and pat dry with more paper towels. 

Preheat oven to 400.  Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat, and add sliced onion, cooking until soft and light brown, 15-20 minutes. 

If pie crust is frozen, allow it to thaw on the counter for 10-15 minutes.  Poke bottom and sides of crust with a fork, and mist the crust with cooking spray.  Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from oven, and sprinkle 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese over bottom of crust.  Arrange tomato slices over cheese in crust.  Lower oven temperature to 350. 

Combine the Greek yogurt, the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, the softened slices of sweet onion, lemon zest, green onions, cheddar cheese, and bacon bits.  Spread yogurt mixture over the tomatoes. 

Bake at 350 for 34-37 minutes, covering edges with foil to prevent burning, if necessary.  Let cool 5 minutes before serving. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Teak, ever vigilant, waits for Buck to get home from work.  I love this dog.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Marinated Grilled Shrimp

This is a really good marinade that makes for some really good grilled shrimp.  The longer you marinate the shrimp, the more flavorful they'll be!  We ate them with a baked potato and a salad.  Feel free to scale the recipe up or down as you need to.

3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup tomato sauce (or ketchup)
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 pounds fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined

In a large zip-top bag, combine all ingredients, making sure the shrimp are evenly coated.  Close bag, and refrigerate for at least an hour. 

Preheat grill or grill pan to medium heat, and lightly oil grill grate.  Using skewers if desired, cook shrimp for 2-3 minutes per side, or until opaque. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Honey Pecan Chicken Breasts

This was so delicious!  It was even better because I had everything I needed already at the house.  It would be great over rice that could soak up some of the extra sauce.  We'll definitely make this again soon; it was easy, quick, and such a treat!

Honey Pecan Chicken Breasts

2 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp butter
1/4 tsp minced garlic
3 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp finely chopped pecans

Flatten chicken to 1/2-inch thickness.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and cayenne.  In a large nonstick skillet, brown chicken in butter for 3-4 minutes per side or until juices run clear.  Remove chicken from skillet and keep warm.  Add garlic, honey, and pecans to the pan, and cook, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes.  Top chicken with honey/pecan sauce, and serve warm.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Teak kept me company as I cleaned up our guest room, but he tucked his little face under the covers during a nap.  So stinkin' cute.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

5-Minute Tomato Sauce

Need a good tomato sauce to go with those Oven Toasted Ravioli from yesterday?  Try this! 

I know it's the summer, and a plethora of beautiful tomatoes are available.  However, I didn't have time for all that.  I needed this sauce quickly, so I used a can of crushed tomatoes, and it turned into a solid, easy, tasty sauce.  Yum.  (And don't be afraid of the red pepper flakes; it really isn't hot.) 

5-Minute Tomato Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
3 medium cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
zest of 1 lemon

Combine the olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt, and garlic in a cold saucepan.  Stir while you heat the saucepan over medium-high heat.  Saute about 45 seconds, or until everything is fragrant but before the garlic browns.  Stir in the tomatoes, and heat to a gentle simmer, 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat, and add more salt if desired.  Stir in lemon zest.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Oven Toasted Ravioli

I love toasted ravioli, and I'm so glad to discover how easy it is to make at home!  You can use thawed frozen ravioli or refrigerated ravioli, which is what I used.  It can easily make a main course for me, but it's great as an appetizer.  I'm sure you'll love it!  Thanks to Steph at Plain Chicken for sharing! 

Oven Toasted Ravioli

12 refrigerated ravioli
1 egg
1 Tbsp milk
6 Tbsp Italian bread crumbs
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 375.  Whisk together egg and milk in shallow bowl.  In another bowl, combine bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.  Dip ravioli in egg mixture first and then in bread crumbs.  Place on baking sheet.  Repeat until all ravioli are coated.  Spray ravioli with cooking spray, and bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve with warm marinara or pesto.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Turkey, Bacon, & Avocado Sandwich

Taking notes from the Sandwich King's show on Food Network, we wanted to create our own masterpiece.  There isn't anything too fancy about a sandwich, except, of course, when there's bacon and avocado involved.  This has been a new favorite around our house, so I hope you'll enjoy it as much as we have!

Turkey, Bacon, and Avocado Sandwich

1 whole wheat sandwich thin (you can use sliced bread, too)
2 slices bacon, cooked
1 slice cheese (I used American)
1/4 small avocado
4 slices deli turkey
2 slices ripe tomato
1 Tbsp light mayonaisse
Salt and pepper, to taste

Toast bread or sandwich thin.  Spread top half with mayonaisse.  On the bottom half of the bread, pile turkey, cheese, tomato, bacon, and avocado.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Put top half of sandwich thin on top, and enjoy.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Egg McMuffins

Yum!  I have never ordered an Egg McMuffin from McDonald's, and I've apparently been missing out.  This homemade version is really good!  (I especially like them with a little smear of strawberry jelly.)  

Who doesn't want a hot, protein-filled breakfast?  The Canadian bacon is really good and good for you, but you could substitute ham or bacon or whatever other meat you want. 

You'll be baking the eggs for these, so make sure you have the right equipment.  I used my handy muffin-top pan, which worked perfectly.  However, you could use regular muffin tin pans (the size just may be a little small) or ceramic ramekins.

Another reason we've really loved these is that they can be frozen.  That way, when I'm short on time in the mornings (which is just about every morning during the school year), I can just pop one of these in the microwave or oven.  The recipe below is for 6 Egg McMuffins, since Canadian bacon and English muffins tend to come in packs of 6.  However, feel free to scale it up and freeze as many as you'll need.  If you're making one batch, you might as well make several.  It's just a big assembly line.

We highly recommend these!  You'll be so glad you have them on hand! 

(For even more detailed instructions and pictures, see this post on The Yummy Life.

Egg McMuffins

6 whole wheat English muffins
6 eggs
6 slices of cheese (I used American)
6 slices of Canadian bacon
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray the muffin top tins or ramekins with cooking spray, and add an egg to each one.  Break the yolk with a fork or spatula so that it flattens and spreads with the egg white.  Sprinkle salt and pepper on each egg, and bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. 

While the eggs bake, split open the muffins, and add the slices of cheese and Canadian bacon.  Add the baked eggs when they're ready. 

If you plan on reheating these in the microwave, wrap them in wax paper or parchment paper.  After they're all wrapped, put them in freezer ziplocs and freeze them.  It takes less than a minute to reheat a thawed McMuffin and about 3 minutes at half power for a frozen one (turn it over after each minute).

If you'll reheat in the oven, wrap them in aluminum foil.  Frozen ones will reheat at 350 for 30-40 minutes or 15-20 minutes for thawed McMuffins.  This is especially helpful if you're feeding a crowd and need to reheat several at a time.  They'll also get crispier this way.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fresh Corn on the Cob

This isn't as much a recipe as it is a new way (for me, at least) to cook corn on the cob.  We were lucky enough to get sweet corn still in the husk, and I had no idea you could cook it in the microwave!  It's fast, easy, and delicious!  You can serve the corn however you like: butter is always a good option, and this recipe with Parmesan cheese was great, too.

Fresh Corn on the Cob

Loosely wrap ears of corn, still in husks, on a damp paper towel.  Turn ears over and rearrange after half the cooking time. 

Cooking Time Table
1 ear - 1 1/2 minutes
2 ears - 3-4 minutes
3 ears - 5-6 minutes
4 ears - 7-8 minutes
5 ears - 8-9 minutes

When ears are hot to the touch, remove them and wrap in kitchen towel or foil.  Let stand for at least 5 minutes.  Remove husks and silk, and serve as desired.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cake Mix Cookies

I've tried a few cake mix cookies, but these are the best I've found.  I think the peanut butter adds so much flavor!  I used chunky peanut butter and mini-chocolate chips, so these cookies had a lot of texture.  They were definitely chewy cookies, not thin and crispy cookies.  I almost wanted to underbake them just a bit so they would be even chewier.  (The dough on its own is pretty darn good, too.)

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cake Mix Cookies

2 eggs
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter
1 (18.25 oz) pkg yellow cake mix
2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray cookie sheets with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, cream together the eggs, water, margarine, and peanut butter.  Stir in the cake mix, and blend well.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes in the preheated oven.  Cool cookies on a wire rack.  Yields 2 1/2 dozen large cookies.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Pioneer Woman's Blueberry Cobbler

My family picked blueberries for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and we all enjoyed it (including my 15-month-old nephew, who liked picking up rocks from the gravel road a bit more than picking blueberries).  We couldn't wait to try this cobbler recipe from the Pioneer Woman.  She used blackberries in her recipe, but I think any fruit can be used; my mom has used peaches and gotten great results, too.  It is SO delicious!  I loved it, and I hope you'll try it!

The Pioneer Woman's Blueberry Cobbler

1 stick butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup milk
2 cups blueberries (or any frozen or fresh fruit)

Preheat oven to 350.  Melt the stick of butter in a microwaveable dish.  Pour one cup of sugar and flour into a mixing bowl, whisking in milk.  Mix well.  Pour in melted butter, and whisk it all well together.  Butter a baking dish.

Rinse and pat dry the blueberries.  Pour the batter into the buttered baking dish, and sprinkle berries over the top ofhe batter, distributing evenly.  Sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar over the top. 

Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, or until golden and bubbly.  If you desire, sprinkle an additional teaspoon of sugar over the cobbler 10 minutes before it's done.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fried Pickles and Jalapenos with Blue Cheese Dip

These were absolutely delicious!  I adapted the recipe from this Paula Deen recipe I found a while back.  We ended up making two batches, just for the two of us! 

You can use fresh jalapenos like Paula Deen did, but I used sliced pickled jalapenos and bread and butter pickles.  Either way you do it, these will turn out great.  I didn't pour much oil in the skillet because I'm not used to frying things and because hot grease generally makes me nervous.  I only fried them for a minute or two per side, and that was enough. 

You have to assemble Fry Mix, and you should cut the recipe down or just be prepared to save some for later.  I'm sure it keeps in an airtight container for a couple of weeks.

The blue cheese dipping sauce is outstanding.  When we ran out of pickles and jalapenos, we moved on to Wheat Thins or anything else we could find.  I lightened it up by using fat-free Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, and it was excellent. 

Fried Pickles and Jalapenos with Blue Cheese Dip

1 cup Fry Mix (Recipe below)
1/4 cup Pickled jalapeno slices
1/4 cup Bread and butter pickles
Canola oil, for frying (or peanut oil or vegetable oil)

Heat a small amount of oil in a deep skillet to 375.  While the oil heats up, coat the jalapeno slices and pickle slices in the fry mix.  Using a slotted spoon or tongs, carefully lower the jalapenos and pickles into the oil.  Fry for about 2 minutes, turning them to brown evenly.  Drain on a paper-towel lined plate, and season with salt.  Serve immediately with Blue Cheese Dip (recipe below).

Fry Mix

3 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup self-rising white cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 tsp crushed black pepper

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix.

Blue Cheese Dip

1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup low-fat mayonaisse
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup (2 oz) crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions

Combine the yogurt, mayonaisse, salt, and pepper.  Fold in the blue cheese and green onions.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Strawberry and Spinach Salad

What a delicious salad!  It's hard not to like anything with strawberries and goat cheese--yum!  The salad dressing is divine, too.  If you don't have the sesame or poppy seeds, you can leave them out.  The mixture of oil, vinegar, and sugar is the main event.

You'll be SO glad you tried this.  Hope you love it!

Strawberry and Spinach Salad

2 bunches spinach, rinsed and torn into bite-sized pieces
4 cups sliced strawberries
2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup almonds, blanched and slivered
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp paprika
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 Tbsp poppy seeds

In a large bowl, toss together the spinach, strawberries, goat cheese, and almonds.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, sugar, paprika, sesame seeds, and poppy seeds.  Pour over the spinach and strawberries, and toss to coat.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Teak is an excellent fisher-dog.  He's not freaked out by the crickets like I am.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Marinade for Grilled Chicken

This is so great because you probably already have all of these ingredients at your house already.   It's a quick, easy, and tasty marinade to throw together in the morning so the chicken can soak it up all day long before dinner.  The longer the chicken sits in it, the more flavorful it will be! 

I made enough for two large chicken breasts, but you can always adjust the amounts if you're feeding more people.  I also think apple cider vinegar would be a good substitute for the red wine vinegar. 

I grilled the chicken on my grill pan for about 6 minutes per side over medium heat, but feel free to light up the charcoal or even bake the chicken in the marinade.  Hope you like it!

Marinade for Grilled Chicken

1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp Worcestershire suace
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp and 1 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp finely minced fresh parsley

Mix together all ingredients in a large zip-top bag.  Add chicken to bag, and marinate in refrigerator for at least two hours. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Mexican Rice

We served this Mexican rice with our Mexican chicken, and it was great.  Feel free to add some chili powder if you like spicier rice.

Mexican Rice

1 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 small onion, diced
2/3 cup uncooked long-grain rice
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 (10 oz) can Rotel tomatoes and green chiles, NOT drained
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 tsp salt
Cilantro, for garnish

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.  Stir in onion, and saute until translucent.  Pour the rice into the pan, and stir to coat the grains with oil.  Mix in cumin, chili powder, tomatoes, salt, and chicken broth.  Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.  Cook at a simmer for 20-25 minutes or until rice is tender.  Garnish with cilantro and serve warm.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Mexican Chicken

We love our Mexican food in this house, and this Mexican chicken was awesome!  This was so easy and delicious, and we had everything we needed at the house already.   I highly recommend this! 

Mexican Chicken

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
Montreal steak seasoning
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup shredded pepper jack, cheese
Cilantro, for garnish
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375.  Spray 9"x13" dish with cooking spray.  Season chicken with steak seasoning, and place in baking dish.  Top each chicken breast with salsa, and bake for 35 minutes.  After 35 minutes, top chicken with shredded cheese, and return to oven for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.  Garnish with cilantro and serve.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Rattlesnake Bites (Beef-Stuffed Crescents)

I was so pleased with how these came out!  The recipe below shows how to make them fromm scratch, but I approached these with some leftover hamburger patties that had already been grilled.  For some reason, a leftover hamburger sounded awful, but transformed into these Rattlesnake Bites, they were awesome!  (I think they're called Rattlesnake Bites because of the good kick of heat that they have.  They're not too hot, but it's just enough to not be bland.  If you wanted to crank up the heat, you could add chopped jalapenos, too.) 

You can use regular-sized crescent rolls, and those would be great appetizers or finger food; just know with those, you'll only get about a tablespoon of the meat filling for each roll.  I used the jumbo rolls and put about 1/3 cup of filling per roll.  

Also, there wasn't any neat rolling going on.  As long as I got the seams pressed together, I was satisfied.  They tasted excellent whether or not they looked like crescents. 

Rattlesnake Bites

1 lb ground beef
1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes and green chiles (I used original Rotel)
4 oz low fat cream cheese, softened and cut into cubes
Salt and pepper
2 tubes refrigerated jumbo crescent rolls

Preheat oven to 375.  In a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until it is no longer pink; drain.  In a bowl, combine meat, tomatoes and chiles, cream cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. 

Separate crescent dough into triangles.  Divide the beef mixture evenly along the short end of each triangle; carefully roll up.  Place on greased cookie sheets.  Bake in preheated oven for 14-17 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve warm.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fried Tomato Sandwiches

YUM!  Buck's tomato plants are yielding beautiful, fresh tomatoes, and we couldn't wait to try them out.  These open-face sandwiches were delicious!  We had friends over and made two separate batches of these.  So good!

Notes about the recipe: The tomatoes tend to fall apart in the skillet, so slice them a bit thicker than you might normally.  Since I fried the tomatoes in butter, I wanted to save some fat somewhere, so opted for fat-free cream cheese on the baguette.  I also thought about substituting Laughing Cow cheese for the cream cheese; I might try that next time.  Also, you'll probably have to cook these in batches.  There's no skillet in my house big enough for so many slices of tomatoes, but I could fit half of what it called for.

I want to especially thank my aunt Carolyn and my wonderful cousins for giving me the cookbook that contained this recipe.  I appreciate it very much. :)

Fried Tomato Sandwiches

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
3-4 ripe tomatoes
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
Salt and pepper
1 baguette cut into thin (1/4" slices)

Melt butter in skillet.  Place sliced tomatoes in pan, and sprnkle with half of the sugar, salt, and pepper.  Saute for 4-5 minutes; flip and sprinkle with remaininng sugar, salt, and pepper.  If tomatoes seem runny, continue to saute on low heat until sauce thickens. 

Place baguette slices on a cookie sheet, and broil until golen.  Spread with softened cream cheese, and return to oven until cream cheese bubbles.  Spread friend tomatoes over open-faced toasted baguette.