Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Creamy Caesar Chicken Salad

This recipe was contributed by a reader, Ida Zeiler.  I can't WAIT to try it!  It looks so delicious!  I may or may not be drooling as I type this . . .

Creamy Caesar Chicken Salad


1 lb pasta [a short noodle is best like penne or bowtie]
creamy caesar salad dressing
2-3 chicken breasts [grilled and sliced into strips] [Foreman grill works great for this]
Parmesan cheese [for topping]

1 - Cook pasta according to directions on box. Drain water and put pasta back in pot or in a serving bowl.  Drizzle pasta with the Caesar dressing and toss to coat.
2- While pasta is cooking, grill chicken, then slice it into strips or cut into cubes
3- Prep salad items [lettuce, tomato, etc]
4- On individual plates - put a bed of lettuce, top with desired items.  Then add a couple spoonfuls of pasta, some chicken and finish with a sprinkle of cheese.  Can also add a drizzle of the creamy Caesar dressing.

** The cool crisp of the salad mixed with the warmth of the creamy pasta and chicken is amazing!

Serves 4-6.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

BBQ Chicken and Pineapple Quesadillas

This is one of those fabulous "recipes" that isn't really a recipe.  It is a big hit in our house!  Cutting up the pineapple is a bit of the pain, but one pineapple makes A LOT of these, so we just eat it several days in a row.  Yummy leftovers!

Flour tortillas--I highly recommend buying the uncooked kind from costco.  Makes a big difference.
Cheese--I like using pepper jack for a little zip.  Mixing in some cheddar is good too.
Fresh pineapple
Chicken--When I am feeling really lazy, I buy the foster farms pre-cooked, grilled chicken strips in the refrigerated section.
BBQ sauce--My favorite is Sweet Baby Ray's Original, but anything will work.

Spread a little BBQ sauce on a tortilla (cook it first if you are following my advice--YUM).  Cover with cheese.  Sprinkle small chunks of chicken and pineapple on top of the cheese.  Top with another tortilla.  Grill it up!  Cut it into wedges and enjoy!

Note: I have made it without the chicken before too, and it is still really yummy.  That is why I included a vegetarian label.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Oreo Truffles

This recipe was contributed by Tia Hammer Stokes, via Sarah McKenna.  I've had these at parties before.  Yum!  

Oreo Truffles

1 package of Oreos (double stuffed if you want)
1 package of softened cream cheese
Chocolate (white, dark, whatever you prefer) or almond bark for melting
Cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper

1.  Beat the Oreos to a pulp however necessary. Pastry cutter, mallet, potato masher, rolling pin etc. No chunks.
2.  Mix Oreos with cream cheese (we used a Kitchen Aid).
3.  Roll into balls (like 1 inch or so), insert a toothpick in the top of each one and chill in fridge for close to an hour or freezer for half an hour on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or wax paper.
4.  Melt the chocolate or bark according to directions. Dip the balls using the tooth pick as a handle. 
5.  At this point you can get fancy and stand the truffles toothpick side down in a block of foam to prevent a flat side (it still tastes the same if you don't) or just put them back on the cookie sheet (parchment paper). Let them harden/cool (this part is hard because you really want to eat them.).

Holiday Party Note:

You can get really creative and dip them again half way in red colored chocolate or plain milk chocolate or green melted chocolate in a ziploc with a hole in the corner to make drizzled stripes.....blah blah blah, but I don't think I could wait that long to consume them.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Coffee Cake and the Big Winner!

Congratulations to the winner of our first GIVEAWAY!

And the winner is . . . . . Sara Lee!

Please email your full name and address to forcedtocook@gmail.com ASAP so I can get this fun little package to you in the mail before I leave for the holidays!

Thank you to everyone who participated!

And NOW for the up-until-now Super Duper Secret COFFEE CAKE RECIPE!  Yum!  ENJOY!

2 cups flour 
½ cup sugar 
½ cup brown sugar 
1 tsp. baking soda 
½ tsp. baking powder 
½ tsp. salt 
1 tsp. cinnamon 
1 cup buttermilk 
2/3 cup shortening 
2 eggs 

½ cup brown sugar 
½ tsp. cinnamon 
½ tsp. nutmeg 

1 cup powdered sugar 
6-8 tsp. milk 
½ tsp. vanilla 

Cream batter thoroughly with a mixer. Pour into a greased 9x13 inch rectangular cake pan. Mix topping in a small bowl with a fork. Sprinkle evenly over cake batter. Cover and refrigerate overnight (or bake immediately uncovered). Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Pour glaze over the top of the cake immediately. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Announcing Forced to Cook's First GIVEAWAY!

Hello, friends!  We are delighted by the feedback we get regarding people using our recipes!  It is always a joyful surprise, especially when we get an unexpected email from a stranger somewhere out there who has become a fan of our blog....and sometimes of US!  A follower emailed us this week who is apparently the leader of an unofficial fan club of Rachel's!  :)  Well, fan club might be a strong term, but who could blame them even if it was fact?!  Rachel is amazing and is a fabulous writer!  If you haven't already, you may want to check out her personal blog and help her on her journey to adopting a baby!

The unexpected fan email made us think that it was time to reward our fellow lazy chefs by doing our first-ever BLOG GIVEAWAY!  Would you like a cute little Christmas package delivered straight to your door?  Great!  Then enter our giveaway.  On Wednesday night at 8:00 (baby's bedtime!) I will look at all of the entries and choose a winner using a random online number generator.  That lucky winner will be receiving the following little care package in the mail:

1.  Darling Christmas kitchen towels to clean up your lazy-cooking messes.
2.  Two bars of yummy-smelling homemade soaps made by my mother-in-law, the lovely and talented Paulette McKenna.
3.  A bag of twenty of my Grandma Elaine's divine homemade caramels (made by me).  They are NOT for lazy cooks, so the recipe will never show up here, but that doesn't make them any less delicious!
4.  A bag of pure nectar from Heaven: Cadbury Christmas Balls, a.k.a. Cadbury Mini Eggs with differently colored shells.  The Westover women have a MAJOR weakness for Cadbury Mini Eggs, so you can imagine how delighted we were to discover that they had started making a Christmas version.  Especially since now we can make these cookies twice a year!  Yum!  (Don't worry, the recipe will be included.)

It's not much, but it's yummy and fun!

Here's how to enter:

1.  For one entry, just comment on this post.
2.  For an extra entry, include in the comment that you leave on this post two or three of your favorite or most-often cooked recipes from this blog.
3.  For TWO extra entries, become a follower of this blog (current followers, you already get two extra entries).

That's four chances to win total!  So don't forget to come back Thursday morning to see if you are the lucky winner, because if you are then I will need your address ASAP!  Additionally, along with the winner I will also be posting my up-until-now-super-secret-coffee-cake-recipe!!  It's our family's favorite Christmas morning treat, and you can make it the night before so you just throw it in the oven Christmas morning and don't need to take time out of your precious morning to bake!


P.S.  Check out our new recipes below . . . there have been loads of them posted this week!

Cranberry Salsa

This recipe was contributed by Laura Webb, although it was typed up by Sarah, which is why these delightfully embarrassing pictures are included.  Haha!

This salsa is tasty and appropriate for the season!  It is by far better if you let it sit overnight, because it mellows the onion.  If you need it the same day that you make them then use less onion.  


1 bag cranberries
1 granny smith apple
1/2 medium red onion
1/2 large red pepper
1/4 large green pepper
2 TBSP pickled jalapeno
3 TBSP chopped cilantro
1/2 cub sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/3 cup apple juice

Chop cranberries, apples, onion, peppers, jalapeno in food processor. Combine in bowl; add rest of ingredients. Best if chilled overnight so flavors can combine.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Poppy Seed Cake

This recipe was contributed by Rachel's sister-in-law, Ashley Nielson Cuoio.  This is one of her husband Nate's favorite desserts, and he's not even a big sweets guy, so that's really saying something!  This recipe came from his Grandma Cuoio and it is super easy.  She has made this for years and she swears it has turned out every time.  You just throw in all the ingredients and turn the mixer on.  

This cake is like a pound cake but it is way tasty and moist.  This cake even freezes well so if only want a few pieces you can put half in the freezer for some other time.

Poppy Seed Cake 

3 cups flour 
2 1/2 cups sugar 
1 1/2 teaspoons salt 
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/8 cups vegetable oil 
2 teaspoons poppy seeds 
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract 
Dab of butter--I would say 1 Tbsp 

Mix all ingredients together and beat for 2 minutes.  
Grease and lightly flour bundt pan or two 9X5 loaf pans.  
Bake for 50 minutes - 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Ball

This recipe was contributed by Ida Zeiler, a fan of the blog.  We are a fan of her delicious-looking recipes!  Thanks, Ida!  Look for more to come from her in the next few days! I can't wait to try this chocolate chip cheescake ball!  Seems like the perfect thing to take to a holiday party!
Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Ball

1 [8oz] package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar [powdered sugar]
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans

1 - in a medium bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Mix in powdered sugar, brown sugar and vanilla.  Stir in mini chocolate chips

2- put a good sized piece of saran wrap over a cereal bowl.  Place the batter in the cereal bowl [now seated in the wrap] and cover the batter with the edges of the wrap.

3- chill for at least 2-3 hours.  BEST if chilled overnight

4- lay a new piece of saran wrap on the counter.  Evenly lay out a square of pecans.  Take the batter into your hands and mold it into a ball.  Then roll in the ball in the pecans.  Place it on the center of a serving plate.  Use your hands to press the pecans that did not already stick [look for bare areas and cover them].

** Serve with cinnamon graham crackers around the ball

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Super Sloppy Joes

This recipe comes from a cookbook put together by Natalie Dayton's mom.  (Natalie keeps getting honorable mentions on this blog...I think she should just become a regularly contributing author, don't you?)

I don't know why these Sloppy Joes are so darn good...I think it's the sweet brown sugar and the slightly crunchy red pepper...yuuuuuuummmmmmm.  Even better: it's a super fast and easy recipe.

1 1/4 lbs. ground beef (I've used ground turkey too, and it's delicious)
1/4-1/2 C. brown sugar
2 tsp. steak seasoning blend, such as McCormick brand Montreal seasoning (I've used Adobo, and it works)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1 T. red wine vinegar
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
2 C. tomato sauce
2 T. tomato paste
8 crusty rolls, split and toasted (the toasting really does make it even better)

Heat large skillet over medium high heat.  Add meat to the pan.  Spread the meat around the pan and begin to break it up.  When the meat has browned, drain the grease.  Combine brown sugar and steak seasoning.  Add sugar and spice mixture to the skillet and combine.  Add chopped onion and red pepper to the skillet.  Reduce heat to medium and cook onions, peppers, red wine vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce with meat until the vegetable soften, about 5 minutes.  Add tomato sauce and paste to skillet.  Stir to combine well.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook Sloppy Joe mixture 5 minutes longer.  Using large spoon, pile sloppy meat onto toasted buns.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Apricot Chicken

This recipe was contributed by Sarah McKenna, who got the recipe from Emily Southerland.

I love my meat sweet, so this is a perfect recipe for me!  I always keep the ingredients on hand so I can whip this meal out if I don't plan something else ahead of time.  It is SO easy, and tasty, too!

Apricot Chicken

4-6 chicken breasts, either whole, or cut into strips
8 oz. bottle of Catalina, Russian, or French dressing  (I use Russian.)
1 cup apricot jam
1 packet dry onion soup mix

Mix the goop together first, then pour over chicken in a glass dish (no greasing necessary).
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until chicken is done.  Serve over rice.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

This recipe was contributed by Sarah McKenna.  I pulled it from Rachel's blog, and she got it from her friend Natalie Dayton, who is well-known to be a fabulous cook.  It is not as easy as most of the recipes I post, but it is worth the tiny bit of extra effort.  YUM, YUM, YUM!!!

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

3-4 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed or shredded
1 box Long Grain and Wild Rice mix
2 cans chicken broth
4 cups milk (Regular or evaporated.  I use a mix.)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 Tbs. cornstarch
(1/2 tsp poultry seasoning, optional)
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
Salt and pepper

-Cook the chicken.
-At the same time, cook the rice according to the directions on the box.
-In a large pot, melt butter. Add chopped carrots and celery and pepper to taste, and sauté for about 10 minutes until tender. Add flour, cornstarch and the poultry seasoning (optional), and whisk together quickly.
-Add chicken broth and milk, whisking quickly as you pour.   Cook over medium-low heat stirring often.
-When the chicken and rice are finished, cut chicken into bite-size pieces and add both to the soup.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Sauteed Apples

This recipe was contributed by Rachel Nielson from Cooking Light magazine.

This was super fast and easy and quite delicious.  I even liked the pork without the sauteed apples!

1.  Trim 1 pound pork tenderloin and cut crosswise into 12 pieces

2.   Combine and sprinkle over pork:

1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. ground coriander
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 t. ground cinammon
1/8 t. ground nutmeg

3.   Heat large skillet and coat with cooking spray.  Add seasoned pork to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.  Remove pork from pan; keep warm.

4.  Melt 2 T. butter in pan.  Swirl to coat.  Add the following and saute 4 minutes or until apples start to brown:

2 cups thinly sliced unpeeled Braeburn or Gala apple
1/3 c. thinkly sliced shallots (I left this out because we didn't have any)
1/8 t. salt

5.  Add 1/4 cup apple cider to pan, and cook for 2 minutes or until apples are crisp-tender.  Stir in1 t. fresh thyme leaves (I used 1/2 t. dried thyme).

Serve apple mixture with the pork.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sweet Pulled Pork

This recipe was contributed by Rachel Nielson.

This is one of our "staple" company meals.  It is a yummy and EASY pork recipe.

Trim the fat off of a pork tenderloin or pork roast.  Put it in a crockpot.  For every two pounds of meat, add 1 cup of salsa and 1 cup of brown sugar.  Let it cook for 4-5 hours on high.  You can cook it longer on low.  When about 1 hour remains, shred the pork with a fork--during the final hour, it will soak up all the juices.  YUM.

The original recipes says that you can serve it on buns or in tortillas.  We love it in tortillas topped with lettuce, tomato, sour cream, etc--the usual fixin's.  It would also be yummy on a salad.

This Tomatillo Cilantro Ranch dressing is also amazing on it.  We spoon it on to our tacos/burritos:

Combine in a blender:

1 c. buttermilk
1 c. mayo
1 pkg DRY ranch dressing mix
1-2 cloves garlic
juice from 1 lime
2 tomatillos
cilantro to taste

This makes a TON of dressing, so I usually half it.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Our Mama's Zucchini Bread

This recipe was contributed by Sarah McKenna.  This is our Mama's divine zucchini bread.  Diet food it is not.  Delicious it IS!

Zucchini Bread

3 cups flour
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup canola oil
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 cups zucchini, grated
(1/2 cup nuts, chopped --- optional)

In a large bowl, thoroughly beat eggs, sugar, brown sugar, canola oil, and vanilla.  Stir in dry ingredients.  Blend in grated zucchini (and nuts).  Pour into two greased and lightly floured (Baking PAM!) bread loaf tins.  Bake at 325 degrees for 60 to 70 minutes.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Breakfast Casserole

This recipe was contributed by Sarah McKenna.  I got it from my friend Michelle Leinwebber.  It is super yummy and easy!  The only time consuming part is the bacon, and if you're willing to spend a little bit more moolah you can make that easier by buying the microwavable, or even pre-cooked, bacon.  It is great for a brunch or breakfast because you can put it together the day before and store it in the fridge overnight so you can stick it in the oven in the morning.  If you do prepare it the night before there is no need to thaw the hash browns before you put it together.

Breakfast Casserole

1 pound bacon
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
3 cups shredded cheddar
8 eggs
2 cups milk
1 (16 ounce) package frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
Pepper, to taste

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x13 inch casserole dish.

2.  In a large bowl beat together eggs and milk. Mix in cheese, bacon, onion and green pepper. Stir in the thawed hash browns. Pour mixture into prepared casserole.

3.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 30 minutes until eggs have set.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Help Needed

My husband and I are trying to eat healthier lately, and we always hear that fish is very good for you.  The problem is, we don't really love fish.  The one type of fish that I find palatable is salmon.  Does anyone have any good salmon recipes?  What do you serve on the side?

Please help!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Chipotle Bean Burritos

This recipe was contributed by Rachel Nielson and was originally found in Cooking Light magazine.

This is a quick, easy, healthy, vegetarian dinner.  We usually have all of the ingredients in the cupboard, so it can be a last-minute meal.  We recently made this recipe with black beans and pinto beans (because that's what we had on-hand), and it seemed to taste just as good.  I think it's a versatile recipe.

 I think these would be delicious with guacamole and chips as a side dish.

For bean mixture:

1 T canola oil
1 garlic glove, minced
1/2 t chipotle chile powder (we just use regular chili powder because that's what we have on-hand)
1/2 t salt
1/3 cup water
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained (the recipe calls for organic beans)
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained (the recipe calls for organic beans)
3 T. refrigerated fresh salsa (we just use jarred salsa)


flour tortillas (obviously)
chopped tomato
chopped onion (optional)
sour cream (absolutely delicious on top!)
shredded romaine lettuce


1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently.  Stir in chile powder and salt; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Stir in 1/3 cup water and beans; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat; stir in salsa.  Partially mash bean mixture with a fork.

2.  Warm tortillas according to package directions.  Spoon about 1/3 cup bean mixture into center of each tortilla.  Top each with cheese, chopped tomato, shredded romaine lettuce, chopped onions, and sour cream; roll up and chow down.

**For leftovers, we use corn tortilla and warm them on a skillet with a sprinkle of cheese until crispy like a tostada--then we add the warm beans, sour cream, lettuce, tomato, etc.  YUM!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Chunky Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

This recipe was contributed by Sarah McKenna.  I remember tasting these at a church activity in college.  I have been thinking about them ever since.  They combine so many of my favorite things . . . . peanut butter, chocolate, coconut, cake . . . . yum!  I have been craving them for over a month and finally found an excuse to make them.  (Thank you, housewarming party!)  They are easy and rich.  Love it.

Chunky Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

1 box plain yellow cake mix
1 cup chunky peanut butter
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 bag (12 ounces, 2 cups) semisweet chocolate chips
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Set aside an ungreased 9x13 baking pan.

2.  Place the cake mix, peanut butter, melted butter, and eggs into a large mixing bowl.  Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute.  The mixture will be thick.  Set aside 1 1/2 cups for the topping.  Using your fingertips to spread it out, press the remainder of the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan as a crust.  Set aside.

3.  For the filling, place the chocolate chips, condensed milk, and 2 Tablespoons butter inot a medium-size heavy saucepan over low heat.  Stir and cook until the chocolate is melted and the misture is well combined, about 3 or 4  minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the coconut and vanilla until well distributed.  Pour the chocolate mixture over the crust and spread evenly.  Using your fingers, crumble to reserved crust dough and scatter evenly. 

4.  Bake until the cake is light brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Grand Junction Peach Cobbler

This recipe was contributed by Sarah McKenna.  It is the favorite dessert of Ryan Nielson, Rachel's hubby and Sarah's brother-in-law!

Don't you just LOVE peach season?!  I do.  Whenever I bite into a juicy, ripe peach I think of poor Kramer with his damaged sense of taste not being able to enjoy those precious Mackinaw peaches!  (That one's for you, Laura!)  They are such a sweet treat!  There are many delectable ways to bake with peaches, including my mom's famous fresh peach pie, but today I want to focus on my current craving and obsession: peach cobbler.  Yum!   Rachel got this recipe at a road-side peach stand in Grand Junction, Colorado, and it is the best cobbler recipe any of us has ever tasted.  Top it with a little vanilla ice cream (the slow churned, half fat Edy's kind is shockingly yummy for low fat!) and you can't get a much more delicious summer treat.  This particular recipe is super easy.  I have made it several times recently, but every time I forget to take a picture.  Oh well.  Enjoy!

Peach Cobbler*

*We suggest 1 1/2 - ing the topping if you want some extra gooey goodness.  Your call.  :)

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
2 cups sugar (SEPERATELY)
3/4 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
dash salt
cinnamon to taste
4-6 peaches, peeled and sliced

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Melt butter in the bottom of a 9x13 pan. 
3.  Mix flour, ONE cup sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
4.  Add milk.
5.  Pour batter into the pan over the butter, but don't mix/stir.
6.  Lay peaches over the top of the batter.
7.  Sprinkle ONE cup sugar over the peaches.  Sprinkle cinnamon over the peaches to taste.
8.  Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown, about 45 minutes to one hour.
9.  Top with ice cream and enjoy!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Variations on a Theme: Chicken Tacos with Fruit Salsa

These recipes were contributed by Rachel Nielson.

I love to make fruit salsas in the summer, and I've found that they are delicious with simple, chicken tacos served on corn or flour tortillas.

Here is the recipe I use for the chicken.  Soooo easy:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Combine and rub over chicken.  Add oil to a pan, add chicken, cook 4 minutes on each side or until done.  Cut into chunks for strips.

Here are some options for fruit salsas:

Pineapple Salsa  (from For the Love of Cooking blog)

  • 1 small pineapple, cored and diced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp red onion, diced finely
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded and diced finely (This can be left out if you don't like spice)
  • 1 green onion, chopped finely (I leave this out if I don't have it)
  • Zest and juice of 1/2 lime
  • Dash of sugar
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste  (I've never added this, but maybe should)

Strawberry Avocado Salsa (from Cooking Light magazine)

  • 1 cup finely chopped strawberries
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped avocado
  • 2 T. finely chopped red onion
  • 2 T. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 t. grated lime rind
  • 2 T. fresh lime juice
  • 2 t. finely chopped jalapeno pepper (if you like it hot)
  • 1/2 t. sugar

Mango Avocado Salsa  (from Natalie Dayton, a friend)

  • One diced avocado
  • 1-2 diced Roma tomatoes
  • One diced mango
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 c. onion, diced
  • Juice of one lime (or lemon juice if that's what you have)
  • Several dashes Frank's Red Hot sauce (if you like it hot)
  • Salt and garlic salt to taste  (I've never added this, but maybe should)

Peach Salsa (from Cooking Light website)

  • 2  cups  finely chopped peeled peach (about 2 medium)
  • 1/2  cup  finely chopped red onion
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped cilantro
  • 1  tablespoon  fresh lime juice
  • 1/2  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon  ground red pepper
  • 1  jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1  garlic clove, minced

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Brownie Berry Trifle

This is one of my favorite desserts to bring to parties because it looks super impressive even though it is very easy!  However, I must say that the key to the presentation is a trifle bowl.

  • One box brownie mix, prepared (I am partial to the Hershey or Ghiradelli triple chunk versions so you get big chunks of chocolate surprises in your trifle)
  • Two small boxes of chocolate pudding mix, prepared (You need 8 oz total, so the larger 6 oz box isn't quite enough.  I have even used the sugar free, fat free mix before and it was still delic!)
  • 8 oz container of cool whip (I use light and you can't tell the difference)
  • Frozen or fresh berries (I love the mixed bag of frozen blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries with a few fresh strawberries mixed in.)

Cut the entire pan of brownies into little bite sized squares and layer in the bottom of your bowl.  Top with pudding, then cool whip, then berries.  Start over with the brownies again and repeat three times.  Voila!  Easy as pie (actually way easier). 

A few notes:
  • If you use frozen berries, they tend to bleed all over the cool whip on top and ruin the presentation.  Rinse the ones for the top layer in a colander first.  They will still bleed, but not nearly as much.  I don't rinse the inside ones because the berry juice soaking into the brownies is what makes it so, so good. :)  
  • Sometimes I do a smaller version of just two layers.  The 6 oz pudding box is perfect for this.  

Thursday, July 22, 2010

South of the Border Pizza

This recipe was contributed by Rachel Nielson.  It was stolen from another food blog Best Recipe of the Week, which was started by a bunch of young moms at my church.  The recipe was originally posted by Stephanie Evans.

I have made this several times and really like it.  Ryan isn't sure about the lack of sauce and meat, but I think it is a yummy, quick, healthy, vegetarian option.  You could always add chicken and some sort of sauce if you are creative.  The crust only takes 10 minutes to rise, and the tomato is the only topping that really needs chopping.  Very easy.

You could serve this as a main dish or a side dish.  

Pizza Toppings: 
(I always improvise how much of each)

1 c. kidney beans, rinsed and drained (I've also used black beans)
1 c. whole kernel corn
1 large tomato, chopped
1/4 c. finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalepeno pepper, finely chopped (you can make it without this as well)
1/4 c (4oz) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1 c. warm water
1 Tbsp white sugar
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
about 2 1/2 c. all purpose flour 

Stir water, sugar, and yeast together until dissolved. Add the olive oil and salt. Stir in the flour until well blended. Let dough rise for 10 min. Pat dough into pan using fingers dipped in olive oil. (Or you can use a pizza stone).  Sprinkle with basil, thyme, or other seasonings. Top with toppings and bake for about 15 min. (until cheese is melted and lighly browned) at 425.  You can dip it in ranch if you want to.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


This recipe was contributed by Sarah McKenna.  It is from a Silver Palate Cookbook.
My husband spent two years in Australia on a religious mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  While there, this was his definite favorite Australian delicacy.  Every time that I eat it I am shocked by how rich and delicious it is, especially since it's basically just egg whites and sugar!  Additionally, since it is basically just egg whites, it is not all that bad for you!  We have been doing Weight Watchers together, so we make this treat anytime we have people over now because it is relatively low in points.  A sixth of the pavlova---which is a sizable amount!---WITH the whipped cream is only 7 points on the old WW system (an eighth is 6 points) and on the NEW system a sixth is only 4 points (an eight is 3 points).  If you are someone who is satisfied with Cool Whip instead of real whipped cream (Um, LAME!) then you can drop your points to 3 per slice on the old system and 0 points per slice on the new system.  Um, WOW . . . . maybe I should reconsider my stance on Cool Whip.   

Anyway, I made this last night for a card making club that I was hosting and it got RAVE reviews.  In fact, I got so many requests for the recipe that I decided to just post it on this blog.  You will definitely need an electric hand mixer, and a spring form (cheesecake) pan is best for baking, but a round pan of any sort would probably work.  It is best with this recipe to have everything out on the counter and ready to use so there isn't much down time in the beating process.

And, yes, it is named after the famous ballerina.  On to the recipe . . . .


4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar (I just use white because it's what I keep on hand.)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
2 to 3 cups fresh berries (Strawberries are our favorite!)

1.  Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
2.  Beat egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar together in a bowl until the whites hold a stiff peak.
3.  Add the sugar, a few tablespoons at a time, beating until mixture is stiff and glossy.
4.  Beat in the cornstarch, then the vinegar and vanilla.
5.  Butter and flour (baking PAM!) an 8 inch spring form pan and fill gently with the meringue mixture, spreading it slightly higher around the edges than in the center of the pan to form a depression.  (You barely have to do this at all!)
6.  Bake cake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until meringue is firm and lightly browned.  Pavlova will remain moist inside.  Cool slightly, unmold, slide onto a serving plate, and cool completely.  
5.  Lightly whip cream just before serving and prepare berries.  
6.  Serve with whipped cream and berries on top.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Easy Homemade Bread! For real!

I got this recipe from my sister Rachel.  She is an amazingly lazy cook, so if she says that she made homemade bread and that it was EASY then, well, it may sound too good to be true, but it isn't!  There is no kneading and no traditional rising time!  Impressive.  As you may suspect, iI\n all honesty it's not the most amazing homemade bread that I've ever had, but it is very easy and quick compared to most yeast breads, and it is still way yummier than any grocery store bread!  She makes it with part whole wheat flour and part white for a "light wheat" feel, but you could use fully whole wheat flour or fully white flour to accommodate for your particular taste buds.  I will list it as she makes it.  Enjoy it right out of the oven with some honey butter!  Yum!

Easy Homemade Bread
2 1/2 cups hot water
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 oil
1 Tbsp. salt
about 6 cups of whole wheat or white flour
1 1/2 Tbsp. yeast

1. In a mixing bowl, combine...
             2 1/2 cups hot water
             1/3 cup sugar
             1/3 cup oil
             1 tbsp salt
2. Mix for 30 seconds.  (I do not use a dough hook for this part.)
3. Add 3/4 cup WHITE flour.
4.  Mix for 30 more seconds
5.  Add 1 1/2 tbsp yeast.
6.  Mix for 30 seconds.
7.  Add 5 cups white or wheat flour (or a combination...I usually do 3 cups wheat and 2 cups white.)
8.  With the dough hook, mix until flour is mixed in.
9.  Let dough sit for 20 minutes. 
10. Oil counter and dump dough on oil.
11.  Cut dough in 2 equal pieces.
12.  Take the first portion of dough, and roll it out thin with a rolling pin. (Roll the dough wide enough to fit a bread pan but long and thin).
13.  Roll up dough and pinch along the crease.  Place the crease side down in a greased and floured bread pan. Repeat with second portion of dough.
14.  Place loaves in oven and turn oven onto lowest temp (170). Let bread rise for 25 minutes.
15.  Then turn oven to 325 for 30 minutes WITHOUT OPENING OVEN!
16.  Dump out of pan to cool and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Strawberry Cream Cake

This recipe was contributed by Sarah McKenna.

Laura and I both happened to be in Colorado with our dad on Father's Day, and he requested that we make him this cake.  It is one of his favorites that my mom used to make, and Laura and I had forgotten about.  It is easy, yummy, and tastes very summery and fresh.  (It tastes a lot better than it looks, I promise!)

Strawberry Cream Cake

1 - 10" prepared angel food cake
1 - 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened  (We used the 1/3 less fat kind.)
1 - 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk (We used fat free.)
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tsp. almond extract
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries

(Optional: whipped cream or cool whip on top)

Cut a thin slice (1" max) crosswise from the top of the cake with a sharp knife.  Hollow out the center of the cake, leaving approximately 1" thick walls and base.  Reserve cake pieces.  Beat cream cheese until fluffy.  Beat in sweetened condensed milk until smooth.  Stir in lemon juice and almond extract.  Mix well.  Stir in reserved torn cake pieces and strawberries.

Fill the cavity of the cake with the mixture.  Replace the top of the cake.  Chill for three hours.  Top with whipped cream or cool whip and fresh strawberries if desired.  

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Devil's Food Cake Mix Cookies

This recipe was contributed by Sarah McKenna.  I got to recipe from my friend Emily, who got it from her friend Katie.  These cookies are not as lowfat as Rachel's Weight Watcher's cake, but they are super easy and super yummy.  I usually LIVE for warm cookies, but these are actually a bit better after sitting for a bit and getting chewy and yummy.

Devil's Food Cake Mix Cookies

1 box devils' food cake mix
1/2 cup of butter, softened
2 eggs
1/2 bag of any kind of chocolate chips you want (or a full bag, if you'd like!)
(Emily usually uses the Andes mint pieces---Yum!---but has also used peanut butter chips, white chocolate chips, regular chocolate chips, etc.)

Mix all the goodies together.  (The dough is pretty stiff and sticky.)

Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Most Divine Low-Fat Cake in the World

Contributed by Rachel Nielson

My friend, Laney Hawes, has made this cake for me twice, and I can't get over how delicious it is.  She got it out of a Weight Watchers cookbook--WEIGHT WATCHERS???!!!  This cake is so good that I would pick it even if it weren't low-fat.  It is soooooooooo yummy,

1 box of cake mix (any flavor you want works, I use white for the one I make)
2 1/2 cups of diet soda (I used 7-up)
3 egg whites

The cake mix seems really runny, but it bakes up really nicely. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until its done. Don't over cook it. 

1 small container of fat free cool whip
1 small box of sugar free pudding mix or sugar free jello (I use pistachio)
1 cup of diet soda (I used 7-up again)

Mix it all together and spread over the cake. I found that if I let the cool whip get to room temp and mix it with the pudding mix,  it dissolves better than if the cool whip is really cold. Then I add the 7-up. And the cake is best if it is left in the fridge for a few hours or even over night.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Jessica Haslam's Honey Lime Enchiladas

This recipe was contributed by Jessica Haslam via Sarah McKenna.  It is super yummy!  It is a great mix of sweet and spicy.  The original recipe calls for flour tortillas, but Jess uses corn because she thinks they're more fun.  :)

Jessica Haslam's Honey Lime Enchiladas

1 1/2 pounds chicken, cooked and shredded

1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup lime juice
1 1/2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 (10 ounce) cans green enchilada sauce
1 pound (or less, you decide) Colby Jack or Mexican blend cheese, grated
18 taco sized corn (or flour) tortillas

Mix together sauce ingredients then add to shredded chicken.
Let the sauce soak into the meat for about 30 minutes.

Lightly spray 9x13 baking dish with PAM.  Pour enough green enchilada sauce to cover the bottom of the dish.  Lay six corn tortillas over the surface of the dish.  (The will be overlapping.)  Top with half of the meat mixture, then cover with cheese.  Layer another six tortillas and cover with some enchilada sauce and the rest of the meat.  Sprinkle cheese on top.  Layer last six tortillas on top and cover with the remaining sauce and cheese.  Be generous with the cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour.

Monday, April 26, 2010

"Cheater" Chicken Parmesan

I got this recipe from my sister-in-law, Amy, who is not a lazy chef at all.  So I am always very skeptical when she says things are "easy."  But this one really is!  Enjoy.

  • 3 chicken breasts – cut into 6 cutlets
  • 1 can Hunt’s spaghetti sauce (I used traditional)
  • Provolone cheese slices (About 5)
  • Bread crumbs
  • Romano cheese –  about  ¾ -1 cup

Preheat oven to 350.

Season cutlets with salt and pepper.  Sautee chicken in skillet just to get crusty.  Place browned chicken in 9X13 casserole dish.  Deglaze skillet with a little chicken broth and sauce.  Cut provolone cheese in half and lay over cutlets.  Pour sauce from pan and remainder from the can over chicken.  Sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs and romano cheese.

Bake for 25 minutes, uncovered.  Serve with angel hair pasta. Yum!

Handy tip: To reheat leftovers, warm chicken and sauce in covered skillet on med/med-low heat.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Garlic Herb Bubble Bread

I got this divine recipe from my friend, Christa Shaw.  I have made it twice now and still can't believe how delicious and EASY it is.  But warning: when I say garlic, I mean garlic.  My fingers stink for days after making it. :) 

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dill weed
  • 1/8 teaspoon each dried thyme, basil and rosemary, crushed
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 loaf (1 pound) frozen Rhodes bread dough, thawed

  • In a small bowl, combine cheese and seasonings. In another bowl, combine butter and garlic; set aside.
  • Cut dough into 16 pieces. Roll into balls. Coat balls in butter/garlic mixture, then roll in cheese mixture. Place in a greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pan.
  • Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Bake at 350° for 22-26 minutes or until golden brown. (Cover loosely with foil if top browns too quickly.) Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Serve warm. 
YUM!  We made this for dinner with some friends, and the husband said it tasted like bread you go to a restaurant with mediocre food for just because the bread is so stinking good.  Enjoy.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Jessica's Banana Bread

This recipe comes to you courtesy of Jessica Haslam, via Sarah McKenna.  It is her mom's banana bread recipe, and it is Y.U.M.M.Y.  I can't wait to have it again!

Jessica's Banana Bread
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter flavored shortening
2 eggs
3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon soda
3/4 cup Buttermilk (Jess usually just adds lemon juice to regular milk.)
3-4 smashed "bad" bananas
1/2 cup walnuts (opitonal)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cream shortening and sugar.  Add eggs, salt, soda, bananas, flour and buttermilk.  Mix until smooth.  Add nuts if desired.  Grease and flour (baking PAM) two bread pans.  Bake two loaves at 350 degrees for 45 minutes - 1 hour.  Let cool and turn out of pan.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Genie's Chocolate Sauce

This recipe for homemade hot fudge sauce was contributed by Ann Brown via Sarah McKenna.  It is her grandma's recipe.  And it is divine!

Genie's Chocolate Sauce

6 oz (1 cup / half of a standard sized bag) of semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
1 1/3 cup evaporated milk (just under one full can)
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Slowly melt chocolate chips and butter. Add other ingredients and boil for 8 minutes. Serve over ice cream or pound cake.

Top Ramen and Cabbage Salad

This recipe was contributed by Marie Newman via Sarah McKenna.  This seems to be a Mormon standard recipe.  It saves remarkably well overnight because the cabbage stays crisp.  Marie says that it is better if you put it together about two hours early so the dressing has time to soften the cabbage and ramen a bit.  Throw in chicken if you want a main dish or leave it out for a side salad.

Top Ramen and Cabbage Oriental Salad

2 cups cubed chicken, optional
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 med. head of cabbage
6 green onions
2 pkgs Ramen noodles, crushed

1/2 cup oil
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 tsp pepper
2 flavor packets from Ramen noodles

Monday, April 5, 2010

Broccoli Salad

I know that I'm always looking for cheap and easy side dishes to bring to the zillions of events at church and with church friends which ask for attendees to bring side dishes or desserts.  Not shockingly, I always bring a dessert.  It seems cheaper and easier to a junk food junkie like myself who always has sweets ingredients hanging around the house.  However, last week I went to an Easter Egg Hunt at a friend's and one of my friends, Michelle Leinweber, brought this cheap, easy, and---oh yeah---delicious broccoli salad.  It was a huge hit.  Next event . . . I'm bringing it!

Broccoli Salad

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup craisins
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
3 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp vinegar
7 cups chopped fresh broccoli florets
1/2 cup shelled sunflower seeds
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

In a large bowl combine mayo, craisins, onion, sugar, and vinegar.  Add broccoli and stir to coat.  Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.  Before serving, stir in sunflower seeds and bacon.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Corn Bread

Contributed by Tia Sherwood.

This is so good that we call it corn bread cake. It makes and entire casserole dish, but doesn't half well b/c of the eggs.

1 cup margarine, melted
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 cups flour
1 cup corn meal
4 tsps baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk

Combine in a mixing bowl, pour into a 9x13 and bake for about 35 min.
Great with chili.

The McKenna Family's Spaghetti Meat Sauce

The McKenna Family's Spaghetti Meat Sauce 
a.k.a. "Special Sauce"
(as dubbed by Logan's mom when they were little)

This is an easy and yummy homemade spaghetti sauce.  It makes a LOT!  I doubled it last week and fed two couples that we had over for dinner (on two different nights!) and still had leftovers.  It freezes well.  Some of my friends sneak pureed veggies (broccoli, carrots, zucchini, etc.) into their spaghetti sauce to trick their kiddos into eating more veggies, and they say they can't even taste them.  I've never tried it, but it seems like a good idea and something you could definitely do with this recipe.

1 1/4 pounds ground beef
1 onion, diced
several Teaspoons olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic
2 cans tomato paste (short and skinny can)
2 cans tomato sauce (short and fat can)
2 cans diced tomatoes (regular sized can)
   To taste:

1.  Brown meat, drain.
2.  Throw in olive oil and onion (with meat) and cook until onion is soft.
3.  Add garlic and cook for 15 seconds (ONLY IF USING FRESH GARLIC, otherwise add garlic later with other spices).
4.  Add all tomatoes.
5.  Add spices.
6.  Bring to a boil.
7.  Simmer 1+ hours.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Vegetarian Chili

This recipe was contributed by Tia Sherwood.

This recipe is great because it is quick, easy, and meat-free. Meat is kinda gross and definitely expensive, so I like meat-free :)

1 16 oz can of chili beans
1 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn (I just use a can)
1/2 cup chunky salsa
1 tsp. chili powder
1 Tbs ground cumin
1 cup chopped green bell pepper

1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Comibine all except the last two in a pot, cover and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 min, stirring occasionally.

Serve and top with sour cream and cheese.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Creamy Black Bean Salsa Chicken

This recipe was contributed by Tia Sherwood.

Three reasons this recipe is great: 1)it goes in the crock pot, 2)it can be served a variety of ways, 3)it is DELICIOUS.

Combine all of the following in a slow cooker:

2-4 chicken breasts (I usually do 3 and have tons of left overs, but have added up to 6 when we were having guests over)
1 cup chicken broth (I don't always do this)
1 cup salsa
1 15 oz can of corn, drained
1 15 oz can of black beans, drained
1 pkg taco seasoning

I usually just put the chicken in the bottom then mix everything else up in a mixing bowl before pouring over. The chicken can be frozen or fresh, whatever you have.

Cook for 3-4 hours.

After this you can "Choose your own adventure". You can scoop out the chicken and pour the salsa mixture over it on the plate. Top with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese. I've never done this variation but it is the way it was originally written.

OR shred the chicken about 30 min before you are ready to serve. It will be so tender at this point you can easy just reach into your slow cooker with 2 forks and break up the chicken breasts. Leaving for another 30 minutes will allow the chicken to then soak up all the juices that are in there, otherwise it will be kinda watery.

After shredding it you can add 1/2 cup of sour cream and 1 cup grated cheese, or for a healthier version just use the sour cream and cheese as toppings. I do both!

I love to buy the corn tortillas and fry them up to serve this in. Regular flour tortillas or hard shells would be great too.
You could use it to make taco salads or we have even used it to fill enchiladas before. It is likely you'll have enough leftovers to try 2 or 3 variations if you want.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Italian Sausage Spaghetti

This recipe was contributed by Tia Sherwood, one of Rachel's best friends.

This one is great for 3 reasons: It goes in the crock pot, it makes enough for 2-3 meals (if you have a small family or are cooking for 2) , it freezes really well. So I like to make it, have it for dinner, lunch the next day and then put the rest in a gallon size freezer bag to save for one of those time you need a quick meal. Also, my mom taught me to lay the bag flat, like on a pizza box to freeze it, that way you can stack it once it is frozen AND it will thaw really quickly. I usually put it in a sink of hot water and within a few minutes it is soft enough to get into a pot to heat up. Anyway, here is the recipe:

Italian Sausage Spaghetti

1 package Italian turkey sausage links, cut into 1/2 pieces
1 cup diced onions
3 Tbs sugar
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
2 cloves minced garlic
28 oz can crushed tomatos (undrained)
15 oz can tomato sauce
12 oz can tomato paste
1 1/2 lbs spaghetti (so about 3 dinners for us)

I cut up the sausage and throw it in the bottom of the slow cooker. Combine the rest of the ingredients, except the spaghetti of course, pour that in over the sausage and leave it be!

Cook in crock pot on low for 8-10 hours. I usually forget to put it in until later in the day and put it on high to reduce the time. So long as the sausage is done it is fine.

Boil pasta according to the directions and viola! Meatballs and all--it is great.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Salsa Chicken and Black Bean Soup

This recipe was posted by Rita Funk, a new regularly contributing author to this blog.  Welcome, Rita!

This is a VERY easy meal- and my favorite tortilla soup-ish recipe. I got it from my sister in law who said it was "freakin delish."  She was right.

Add to crockpot:
1 pound chicken (frozen)
2 cans black beans (drained and rinsed)
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup frozen corn
1 jar salsa (16 oz)
1 1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 cup sour cream (stir in at the end)

*** Put the beans on the bottom and don't disturb them. Chicken on top and then just layer everything on that...
*** Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours
*** Stir in sour cream before serving.

I have added frozen tomatoes and green peppers from my garden and it was great- and any kind of beans will work- I just use whatever I have on hand.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mom's Fajitas

This recipe was contributed by Sarah McKenna.

I was putting these together tonight and remembering how yummy and easy they are, so I thought I'd better post the recipe. It is a little bit annoying to chop everything up, but they are super yum.  All of the ingredients for the marinade can be totally "eyed" / added to taste.  These are the measurements that I start with.  I usually end up at least doubling it.  I marinade both the chicken and the vegetables.  Growing up I used to love these enough to request them for my birthday dinners!  Additionally, my sister Rachel has calculated lots of Mom's recipes using the Weight Watchers points system, and this is one recipe that is actually very healthy and acceptable on that system.  Enjoy!

Chicken Fajitas

approximately 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into bite-sized pieces (This is easier to do if the chicken is partially frozen.)
chopped/sliced peppers and/or onions as desired

1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
pepper to taste
1 tsp. chili powder
3 Tbsp. salsa
Sautee in SUPER hot oil.  Halfway through the cooking splash tabasco sauce and lemon or lime juice over the chicken (and veggies).  Enjoy with traditional toppings such as sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes. 

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Creamy Homemade Marinara

This recipe was contributed by Rachel Nielson.

Our friend, David Majeroni, taught us how to make this homemade marinara. It's his Italian family's favorite, and it's a flexible "eye-it" sort of recipe.

-Scoop out the innards of about six Roma tomatoes. (Get rid of all of the seeds and wet stuff.)

-Do the same for a large red bell pepper.

-Put these fresh veggies in a food processor or blender and puree. Add a 16 oz. can of diced or crushed tomatoes.

-Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and at least 1/4 cup of sugar. (You can add more if you want the sauce to taste extra sweet.) Mix.

-Put this tomato mixture in a skillet on the stove at a medium-high heat. Add a pinch of garlic.

-Let it simmer for about 30-45 minutes until most of the liquid has cooked out, and the color is deep red.

-When the mixture looks almost done, add a couple of tablespoons of basil (fresh or dry) and sun-dried tomatoes (optional). Simmer another couple of minutes.

-Add cream or half-and-half to your liking. The sauce should be a creamy consistency and light red in color. (You decide what tastes good.)

-Serve over penne pasta.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Chicken Tamale Casserole

I just tried this out tonight and couldn't believe how easy it was. My husband and I both thought it was a good staple meal.

Chicken Tamale Casserole

  • 1 cup preshredded 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese (next time I will use a little more)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
  • 1 (8.5-ounce) box corn muffin mix (such as Martha White)
  • 1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
  • 1 (10-ounce) can red enchilada sauce (such as Old El Paso)
  • 2 cups shredded, cooked chicken breast
  • sour cream to serve with

1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Combine 1/4 cup cheese and next 7 ingredients (through chiles) in a large bowl, stirring until moist. Pour mixture into a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
3. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until set. Pierce entire surface liberally with a fork; pour enchilada sauce over top. Top with chicken; sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Serve with sour cream.

Hope you like it!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Fast and Easy Chili

This recipe was contributed by Rachel Nielson.

I made this recipe in 15 minutes tonight. I couldn't believe how fast and easy it was!

-1 small onion (chopped)
-1 medium green pepper (chopped)
-1 clove garlic (minced)
-1 lb. ground beef or ground turkey

Brown the meat with the onion, pepper, and garlic. Drain.

In a pot, mix the meat with the following:

-1 can kidney beans
-2 cans black beans
-1 can corn
-1 can stewed tomatoes
-1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
-1 tsp. chili pepper
-1/2 tsp. basil

Simmer for a while. The recipe says at least 30 minutes, but I did it for about 10 minutes tonight, and it was still delicious. Top with crackers and cheese. YUM.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Filled Lemon Cupcakes

This recipe was contributed by Chrissy Carlson via Sarah McKenna.  Chrissy says that these divine cupcakes are her favorite, but they are only for the truly sweet-teethed out there.  A few variations that she has tried are listed below the recipe for those of you who are big lemon people.  (I can't wait to try to chocolate variation......yumm......)
Filled Lemon Cupcakes

For 12-18 cupcakes, you need:
1 package lemon-flavored cake mix (and all of the ingredients that you need in order to mix together the mix....eggs, oil, etc.)
1 dry package cheesecake pudding mix
2 cartons lemon-flavored frosting
2-3 cups powdered sugar
lemon candies

Mix the cake, adding the pudding mix as a last step.  When filling the cupcake tin, alternate every other cup, and fill each one almost full.  You want it to spill over the sides a little...don't worry, just grease the pan well.  (This is why one box of cake mix won't quite make the usual 2 dozen cupcakes.)  Bake and cool.

Mix together the canned frosting and powdered sugar.  Using the long end of a wooden spoon.  Poke a hole through the top of the cupcake all the way to the bottom, so that there is a tunnel running from top to bottom.  Pipe the lemon frosting into the cupcake until the top starts to bulge.  That's how you know it's full of yummy frosting.  Then you can swirl some more icing around the top, and top the whole thing with a lemon candy, right in the center.  Repeat for all of the cupcakes.  

Other yummy variations I've tried:
*Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and chocolate chips on top
*Spice or carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and a candy corn or candy pumpkin on top

Sunday, January 10, 2010

White Chicken Lasagna

This recipe was contributed by Ann Brown via Sarah McKenna.  I (Sarah) tried it last week, and my husband and I both really enjoyed it.  It is very unique and tasty.  It does not require any cooking skill, but it does take a bit of time to assemble.
White Chicken Lasagna
approx. 10 no-boil, uncooked lasagna noodles
1 1/2 - 2 jars (16) oz. white Alfredo sauce (thinned with a splash of milk if desired)
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
3 cups chopped or shredded chicken
1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, pressed (or 2 tsp minced garlic)
3 cups (12 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese (keep 2 handfulls for the top)
1 package (4 oz) crumbled feta cheese
2+ cups packed fresh baby spinach 
1.  In a small bowl: Alfredo sauce, milk and oregano.
2.  In a separate, larger bowl: All remaining items. 

1.  Pour 2/3 cup of sauce mixture on the bottom of the pan.
2.  Lay a few noodles.
3.  Spread a handful of spinach over the noodles.
4.  Spread approximately half of the chicken mixture over the spinach.
5.  Pour approximately half of the sauce mixture over the chicken mixture.
7.  Finish the dish by topping it with a thin layer of shredded mozzeralla.

Cover with aluminum foil and cook at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.  Uncover and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes or until the sauce bubbles.
(Ann usually just covers it and lets it cook for approximately one full hour.)

Easy-Cheesy Chicken Tortilla Soup

This recipe was contributed by Ann Brown via Sarah McKenna.  

Ann's told me that this is very much a "feel it out" recipe.  The ratios of chicken broth to cheese are easy to modify so that the consistency of the soup is to your liking.

Easy-Cheesy Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 1/2 - 2 cups cooked chicken cubed
1 jar of black bean corn salsa
      (Any brand will do, but I usually try to go for the more "homemade looking brands" . . . not Pace.)
1 lb. Velveeta, cubed
2 (15oz) cans of chicken broth
1 (15oz) can corn (drained)  (or 1/2 bag frozen corn)

Stir broth, chicken, salsa and corn together. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add cubed Velveeta, stir and simmer until melted. Serve with chips and sour cream.