Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Monterrey-Pepper Jack Chicken

This is a great healthy easy dinner for a weeknight. It more or less cooks itself, with a little help from you.

Monterrey-Pepper Jack Chicken  

3-4 medium sized Chicken breasts-rib bone & skin on (this makes it extra juicy)

1 large ripe Avocado

1 quart Mushrooms-(Baby Portabellas)-sliced)

2 small cloves fresh Garlic-smashed (for mushrooms)

3 medium sized fresh Garlic-smashed (for chicken)

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper

2 teaspoons butter

About 4-6 ounces sliced Monterrey-Pepper Jack cheese

Rub chicken breasts with salt, pepper, olive oil & sprinkle with garlic (sometimes I place the garlic under the chicken skin). Roast chicken with bone and skin on at 400 degrees uncovered in oven for about 30 minutes.

Heat pan to medium-high, melt butter, add garlic. Add mushrooms and cook till tender, about 5 minutes. Slice avocado. Remove chicken from oven. Peel off excess skin. Top each piece of chicken with sautéed mushrooms, avocado, and top with cheese. Place into the oven for about 3 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Cauliflower Casserole

Cauliflower-Cheese Casserole

1 large head cauliflower (about 1 pound total)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 very small clove fresh garlic, crushed
2 cups whole milk
12 ounces Colby-Jack-Cheddar blend, grated (about 1 1/2 cup)
Special equipment: 10-12 inch glass baking dish

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Fill a medium sized pot with water, 2 teaspoons salt, and bring to a boil.

Remove the leaves from the cauliflower, wash, dry and cut into quarter-sized pieces. Place cauliflower into boiling water mixing periodically. Cook for about 2 minutes. Remove & place into cool water, rinse, drain and place into baking dish.

Sauce: Mix flour with salt and pepper-set aside. In a heavy saucepan over moderate heat, melt the butter, as cook the garlic into the butter.  Reduce the heat to low, add the flour, salt, and pepper, whisking constantly until both are incorporated and the mixture turns golden brown, about 2 minutes. Raise the heat to moderate and add the milk, whisking constantly, until a smooth sauce forms (the sauce should be thick and glossy), about 5 minutes. (If the sauce is too thick, gradually whisk in additional milk until the desired consistency is achieved.) Add about 1 & ¼ cup grated cheese whisking until melted, about 1 minute. Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower, making sure to cover all the florets. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese and season with pepper, then bake until the cauliflower is golden brown and the cheese sauce is bubbling, about 30-40 minutes.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Baked Peach Cobbler with Peach-Rum Ice Cream

Baked Peach Cobbler

2 cans halved peaches in light syrup (save syrup) or 2 pounds peeled, pitted peaches, each cut into 1/2" wedges (about 2 cups) depending upon the season and availability

¼ cup Cointreau

1 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar (divided)

1 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoons salt

1 large egg, beaten to blend

1/2 cup whole milk

1 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

½ cup peach preserves

1 tablespoon raw sugar


Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix flour, egg, ½ cup sugar, vanilla, baking powder, salt, and milk together. The consistency should be like cake batter. Melt butter on stovetop in a heavy pan. Add peaches, peach syrup, ½ cup sugar, preserves and Cointreau to pan. Bring to a boil.

**If using fresh peaches, you will need to cook them for about 12 minutes on the stovetop so that they pre-cook a little more. This will reduce your baking time in the oven.

Add peaches to a glass, greased baking dish (round). Drizzle batter around peaches, not completely saturating, but leaving a few holes at the top. Sprinkle top with raw sugar. Bake in oven for about 30 minutes, or until cooked through & the crust is golden brown. Remove, and serve while warm. I served mine with the homemade Peach-Nectarine & Rum ice cream I made earlier this summer.  

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Easy Summer Salad

Summer Salad

This is truly the easiest salad I have ever made. Amazingly, it doesn't involve cheese or basil. But it’s WOW! I have to admit, I actually drank the juice it was so good. It keeps well unti lthe next day. I ate the leftovers for lunch today…delicious and easy!

Juice of 1 lemon

Zest of 1 lemon

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt to taste

1 small clove fresh Garlic-Crushed

1/8 cup fresh Parsley-finely chopped

1 cup black olives-chopped

1 box (2 cups) organic Cherry tomatoes

1 large cucumber (peeled and Sliced)


Cut each cherry tomato in half. Add garlic, parsley, olives, and cucumbers. Zest lemon and add lemon juice. Add sea salt to taste. Mix well and chill until needed.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Vegetable Biryani Rice

Vegetable Biryani Rice 

4 cups Basmati or Jasmine rice (Precooked)  

1 cup Frozen peas

1 medium sized White Onion-chopped  

3 cloves fresh Garlic-Minced

Salt to taste

1/2 teaspoons  Garam Masala

1 teaspoon Cumin

1/3 teaspoon cardamom

1 cup Yogurt

4-5 teaspoon Olive Oil

¼ teaspoon whole cloves

1 teaspoon Turmeric

1/3 cup fresh grated Ginger

½ teaspoon Coriander

1 small can tomatoes (diced)

1/2 teaspoon Paprika

Juice of 1 lemon

1/3 cup yellow raisins

1 cup water

Set pre-cooked rice aside (it should still be warm). Heat oil, and add onions and garlic. Cook until golden brown. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add tomatoes, lemon juice, and your spices. Add 1 cup water.  Cook for about 10 minutes.

Add raisins and peas, and cook for about 3 minutes. Add Yogurt, and turn off heat. Mix well until consistency is creamy. Add a few teaspoons at a time to rice. Mix well-serve.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Grilled Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori Chicken


2 pounds chicken thighs
1 cup Plain-unsweetened yogurt
Juice of 2 Meyer lemons
4 cloves crushed garlic
½ cup Tandoori seasoning (I ordered mine from Penzey’s Spices but you can also make your own using this recipe from Recipe Source

1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 teaspoons salt

4 tablespoons olive oil


Combine all your ingredients, and mix well. Rinse and dry your raw chicken. Place your chicken and marinade together into large zip lock bags. Make sure the chicken is saturated with the marinade. Refrigerate overnight. Grill on a low heat or replicate a similar result in the oven at about 350 degrees until done.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Summer Couscous Salad

It's been really HOT here lately, and I wanted something satisfying, but not heavy. This summer salad was the perfect choice. And, you don't feel guilty after you eat it. Unfortunately, I lost most of the afternoon sun, and my photos weren't as pretty as I'd hoped, but you get the general idea.

Couscous Salad

You’ll need:

1 box (24 oz.) chicken stock

1 box Israeli Couscous (or you can also use the smaller variety which is easier to find. They both work very well)..I used a combination of both, but that can be tricky since they both require different cooking times.

Olive Oil

1 white Onion-chopped

1/2 cup fresh chopped Basil (about 12 leaves)

3 cloves fresh Garlic-minced

2 tablespoons butter

1 carton Cherry Tomatoes (about 1 1/2 cups)-slice each tomato in half

½ cup Sun Dried Tomatoes-in olive oil-sliced

Juice of 1 lemon

Zest of 2 lemons

Natures Seasoning

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup shredded Mozzarella

Olive Oil

Begin by heating chicken stock, and salt to a boil. Add couscous, stir, reduce heat to low, and cover. Follow directions on couscous package, but for the larger variety cook for about 7-8 minutes, and for the smaller variety-about 5.

Heat olive oil in pan (a few tablespoons) and then sauté onions, garlic, and basil till golden brown. Your couscous should be ready now, so remove from heat & toss with butter. Fluff it up gently so it doesn’t stick. Add your cherry tomatoes, onion mixture, sun dried tomatoes, and Natures’ Seasoning. Toss gently, and then add zest and lemon juice. At the end add cheeses, and toss. Serve cold or hot because this is just plain delicious!

Friday, August 19, 2011

MSC Dinner Club Kick-Off Event

Last night went off without a hitch. This year in honor of the Malmstrom Air Force Base Spouse's Club (MSC), I am hosting a Dinner Club, and trying something new--an Instructional Cooking class. Each are to be held bi-monthly. At our first MSC Kick-off event last night I had a booth, with a dinner display, sign-up sheets, flyer's, and some yummy Blueberry and Raspberry bars to give away.

I have to admit, I was a little apprehensive, but it was actually FUN. I met a ton of new Air Force Spouses, and it was great to get a feel for what they want to see, are interested in, and what works/doesn't work.

Here's a photo of part of my booth (basic I know but gimme a break, it's my first one EVER). On my right is my friend Stephanie, who helped me out last night (thanks Steph).

Here are the blueberry & raspberry bars................(Yes, this was taken with my iPhone, so it's not the greatest quality!

And the dinner theme display I did -

I'm very excited about this opportunity to meet new people here, plus more cooking opportunities of course!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Greek Salad

After all the pastries, cookies and desserts we've been eating, I thought it was time for a healthy dinner. Greek salad it is. The only problem was I was out of Red wine vinegar. I found some Rice wine vinegar, and added a bit of Sherry wine to act as the red wine vinegar would. The result-it was even better. The tartness was gone, and it had a perfectly sweet flavor to complement the rest of the salad.

I do have to confess that I took this photo with my iPhone..I have let the battery on my camera run out four days in a row. So I had to resort to this. But not to worry-it's been charging all night, and I'm good to go for today!

Greek Salad
1 large Romaine Lettuce-washed and chopped
1/2 half red onion, sliced thinly
1 Cucumber, diced
1 cup Kalamata olives
½ cup green Olives
1 cup Greek Feta cheese, crumbled
2 Tomatoes-diced
Red Peppercorns
Black Ground Pepper

1/2 cup olive oil
¼ cup Rice wine Vinegar
1/8 cup Sherry wine
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1 teaspoon Nature’s Seasoning
1/8 tsp salt

1. Wash, chop and place lettuce in a large bowl.

2. Mix dressing ingredients in a small container (like Zip lock) with a lid, secure, and shake well.

3. Add vegetables and olives to your salad, toss. Sprinkle with feta. Add peppercorns, and ground pepper. Pour dressing over salad, toss and serve immediately.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Oatmeal Spice Cookies

Oatmeal Spice Cookies 

Pretty sure I ate my weight in cookie dough on this recipe. It was so good-I couldn’t stop, nor did I want to. Adapted from a Paula Deen (that says it all) basic oatmeal cookie recipe, with a twist. I omitted the nuts (I think more people like it this way), and a half cup more raisins, chopped dates (which by the way caramelize-yum), orange extract, Ginger, Nutmeg, and Ground Cloves…..


  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 2 teaspoon ground Ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground Nutmeg
  • 1 cup chopped dates


1.      In a large mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugars. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the oats, flour, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in dates and raisins.

2.      Chill dough for about 45 minutes.

3.      Drop by tablespoons 2 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes or until golden brown. (10 minutes was the perfect time of you make the cookies only 2 teaspoonfuls). If you are making them bigger, 11 minutes was good. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Shrimp and Vegetable Alfredo (A lighter and Healthier version)

Shrimp and Vegetable Alfredo (A lighter and Healthier version)

You’ll need:

1 pound peeled, deveined raw Shrimp (medium sized, with tail removed)

2 cups heavy cream

2 cups pasta water (retain from cooking your pasta)

1 pound uncooked pasta

Salt & pepper

6-7 fresh sweet Basil leaves-julienned

4 cloves fresh Garlic-chopped

½ a yellow sweet Onion-diced

1 pound fresh mushrooms-sliced

2 cups fresh baby spinach

½ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Nature’s seasoning to taste

About ¼ cup Olive oil

Cook your pasta-according to directions on the box, but shorten cooking by 2 minutes. Retain water for later use. Chop onions, garlic and basil. Cook in olive oil until golden brown. Add mushrooms, mix once and then let them sit for about 2 minutes at a time, so that they caramelize on the bottom. Add shrimp. Sauté for about 3 minutes. Add 2 cups hot pasta water. Add heavy cream, cheese, and salt and pepper. Bring to barely a boil. Turn off heat, and add pasta. Toss, and add spinach. I like a couple dashes of Italian seasoning, and a bit of Nature’s seasoning, which is a combination of Onion salt, pepper, garlic salt, and seasonings.

Serve immediately.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Chocolate-Orange Ganache Cupcakes with Blood Orange Frosting

Chocolate-Orange Ganache Cupcakes with Blood Orange Frosting

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cups cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter-room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure orange extract

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (melted) combined with

1 teaspoon orange essence

1/8 cup orange zest

**Optional-Chocolate Ganache  

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside.

2. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, cream butter and sugar together until well combined. Add the buttermilk, eggs, orange zest and orange extract. Melt chocolate chips, and add orange essence. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the melted chocolate and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

3. Using a large scoop, distribute the batter between 24 muffin wells, filling each well 2/3 full. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack and cool completely.

 **I piped about a Hershey's sized dollop of chocolate Ganache into the center of the cupcake before I iced them. You can make this easily by melting 1/2  bag of semi-sweet chocolate morsels, 1/2 stick of butter, and 1/4 cup of heavy cream. Mix over low heat constantly till its all dissolved. Remove from heat & use. It will harden within a few minutes, then ice you cupcakes after you frosting has had time to chill, and your cupcakes are completely cooled. I also topped mine with a bit of candied orange peel.

Blood Orange Frosting**frosts 24 cupcakes 
2 sticks unsalted Butter-at room temperature
3 cups Confection sugar
Zest from 2 Oranges
2 teaspoons Orange extract
2 teaspoons Orange essence
Food coloring (I combined the “rust” and Bright “yellow” to come up with the perfect shade of light tangerine orange. **Use a toothpick to add this to your frosting mixture. The other ingredients will already have given your icing a light orange hue, but use the food coloring to obtain the exact desired coloring.
Approx. ½  cup blood orange or tangerine juice (This is NOT exact and you will add this gradually to the above ingredients, and adjust to desired consistency.
Begin by adding your butter, zest, extract and essence to your mixer, using the whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until ingredients are combined. Reduce your speed to low, and begin to add confection sugar a few tablespoons at a time. Once all your sugar has been added, begin to add your orange or blood orange juice. When I make icing, it is never exact. I adjust by taste, texture, and how it looks. Add your food coloring at the end once you have the desired thickness. Chill for 30 minutes before you ice.
**Adapted from My Baking Addiction

Chicken Quesadillas

This is the third meal I’ve made from the roasted chicken this week. The chicken is almost gone, and tonight I’ll be making the last meal.

Chicken Quesadillas

You’ll need:

Roasted Chicken Breasts (Shredded or chopped into bit sized cubes)

1 Can roasted diced tomatoes

1 Green Bell Pepper (Diced)

4 cloves Garlic-minced

1 yellow or white Onion-diced

1 Serrano pepper-diced

2 ripe Tomatoes-diced

2 tablespoons Paprika

Natures Seasoning

4 tablespoons Olive oil

1 teaspoon Chipotle (Sometimes I will use Chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce-but if you do this you’ll want to omit the Serrano peppers or it will be too spicy)

Shredded Cheddar and pepper jack cheese blend

Tortillas (I use the low-fat version)

Low fat Sour cream-for garnish


Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil till golden brown. Add Serrano peppers and bell peppers and diced chicken. Add fresh and canned tomatoes. Add remaining ingredients and spices. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Drain juices from chicken, and keep for remaining chicken to store later. Heat a frying pan to a medium heat, adding a little butter in the pan. Lay one tortilla down, sprinkle cheese, then a layer chicken across entire tortilla. Add another layer of cheese. Then top with another tortilla. Cook till golden brown, and then flip to opposing side. Once golden brown, remove, slice and serve with black beans, Queso Fresca, and sour cream.
**Store your remaining chicken in the juices for later use.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mani-Pedi Day...

I am going to claim the mani-pedi I have earned this week (and if nobody else does, at least I think I do)...and I found some really cute ideas....

From "Cupcakes and Cashmere's" blog:

And finally from


Friday, August 12, 2011

Chicken-Tomato-Basil Panini's

Tomato, Basil and Chicken Panini’s

Remember the herbed chicken I roasted earlier in the week? Well, here’s the first of a few recipes I am making, using the chicken which at this point I have de-boned, extracted the chicken stock which is now frozen, and stored in several zip lock bags in the refrigerator.

You will need….

A loaf of Sourdough bread, or another variety of hearty bread that has larger slices

1 Tomato-sliced thin

A handful of Purple, or sweet basil (I layered mine with both)

Provolone Cheese (my hubby prefers Muenster)

Chicken Breast (or you could use sliced deli turkey or chicken) **Our grocery store carries a low-fat Turkey with Sun Dried Tomatoes which is delicious.

Italian Seasoning

Salt and pepper

Olive Oil

A Panini maker


Heat your Panini maker up. Cut into slices. Layer a couple of tomato slices, a layer of basil, chicken, salt and pepper, Italian seasoning, and cheese onto your bread. Close the sandwich and on each of the outsides of you slices, drizzle olive oil on each piece. Place into your Panini maker, close and cook until the desired crispiness. I like mine golden brown, till the cheese is oozing out, and the bread is crispy. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Creamy Primavera Vegetable Risotto Stuffed Bell Peppers

Creamy Primavera Vegetable Risotto Stuffed Bell Peppers 

I tried a new product today as part of a Foodbuzz Tastemaker program with Birds Eye Chef's Favorites, and created a new recipe. The variety I chose was the Creamy Primavera Vegetable Risotto, which is a great vegetarian meal option. On its own, it would be a healthy and quick dinner, which can be prepared directly in the bag.

For my stuffed Risotto Peppers you will need:

2 Sweet Bell Peppers (I chose several colors)

½ cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

¼ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

1 few dashes of Olive oil

3 teaspoons water

Salt and Pepper to taste (Optional)


Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Start with two beautiful bell peppers. Wash and dry the peppers.

Heat Birds Eye Creamy Primavera Vegetable Risotto in microwave according to directions on package.

Combine both cheeses together. Slice top of bell peppers off (removing stem) and ½ an inch of top. Add one spoonful at a time of risotto into each of the bell peppers. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs, then cheese mixture. Repeat until all of the risotto, cheese and breadcrumbs fill both peppers. Drizzle olive oil over the top of each pepper. Add peppers to a baking dish. Fill the bottom of the baking dish with three teaspoons of water.
Bake Peppers uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove and serve immediately.
And your result will be this.............

Blueberry Crumb Bars

I made these because I had a flat of leftover blueberries that needed to be used. The result was the most delicate, crumbly, sweet treat that I will most certainly be using again. Since I cannot (I mean should not) eat the entire pan, I am sending the remaining bars, cut into small pieces and wrapped in Wax paper to work with my hubby tomorrow, just to be extra sure that I don't eat them throughout the day :)

Blueberry Crumb Bars

1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest and juice of one lemon
4 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar (for blueberries)
4 teaspoons cornstarch

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch pan.

2. In a medium bowl, combine one cup sugar, flour, and baking powder, mix well. Add salt and lemon zest. Using a pastry cutter, blend in the butter and egg. Your dough should be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

3. In another bowl, stir together the ½ cup of sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 50 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cut into small squares once cooled.

**Adapted from an All-Recipes