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.