Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup

I made this for lunch Christmas Day- it was delicious!!!! And very easy to put together. I used a whole rotisserie chicken shredded

Slow-Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 8 Hours
Ready In: 8 Hours 30 Minutes
Servings: 8
"A quick, no-fuss version of chicken tortilla soup! All you do is put everything into the slow cooker, and turn it on. Then garnish with baked corn tortilla strips!"
1 pound shredded, cooked chicken
1 (15 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes,
1 (10 ounce) can enchilada sauce
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups water
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 (10 ounce) package frozen corn
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
7 corn tortillas
vegetable oil
1. Place chicken, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, onion, green chiles, and garlic into a slow cooker. Pour in water and chicken broth, and season with cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Stir in corn and cilantro. Cover, and cook on Low setting for 6 to 8 hours or on High setting for 3 to 4 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
3. Lightly brush both sides of tortillas with oil. Cut tortillas into strips, then spread on a baking sheet.
4. Bake in preheated oven until crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes. To serve, sprinkle tortilla strips over soup.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Easy and Gooey Cinnamon Croissants

Made these for a quick breakfast this morning... Delicious! I needed to have cooked mine probably 2 minutes longer. Also just realized I baked mine at 325- probably why they should have baked a bit longer.


Easy + Gooey Cinnamon Cresent Rolls
Here's an easy & quick cinnamon roll recipe using Pilsbury cresent rolls.

You'll need:
2 cans refrigerated crescent rolls
1 stick butter, softened
½ cup white or brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

½ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk

Heat oven to 350°F.
In small bowl, combine butter, sugar and cinnamon; beat until smooth.
Separate dough into rectangles.
Spread each rectangle with about 2 tablespoons cinnamon butter mixutre.
Roll up each, starting at the widest side, as you would normally do for crescent rolls.
Firmly press ends to seal.
Place each cinnamon filled crescent roll onto an ungreased baking sheet.
Bake at 350°F. for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

In small bowl, blend all glaze ingredients, adding enough milk for desired drizzling consistency. Drizzle over warm rolls.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Pork Roast with Apples & Onions and Wild Rice

I came across this recipe on The Pioneer Woman's blog.  It's different from anything we normally cook, so I figured I'd give it a try.  I never cook with apples so I thought we'd try something new! 

We really liked the flavor of the pork roast and it was so easy to make.  I would definitely make it again.  I tried the apples but I just wasn't crazy about hot, mushy apples with my pork.    To me, just the pork alone was great.  A word of warning about the recipe, if you print it from her blog.....it calls for beef broth, but no where in the instructions does she say to add the beef broth.  I nearly forgot and then my hubby said "what's this in the microwave?" right before it was going in the oven.  (I had heated a cup of water w/a beef boullion cube to make broth).  This is not the first time I've run into this issue with her recipes (even in the cook book), so I try to remember to read through before I really get going.  (also, she does not say anything about rosemary and thyme in the list of ingredients....but when you get to the bottom of the recipe, she says add them if you have them...just FYI.)  I added these things to the recipe below.

Now, about the wild rice.  I have never made wild rice.  I can't even think of the last time I even ate it.  We were not crazy about it and if I make the pork again, I will do a different side.  She says to boil until all the water boils out...but she doesn't specify how long this will take.  It took FOR-EV-ER!!  Seriously....like an hour and a half!  I don't know if that is a function of the wild rice or what.  Never had this issue with regular rice.  We kept checking it and checking it and checking it.......all the while the roast itself is no longer hot and we are starving!  It was not worth the wait for us.  But, if you like wild rice, just be sure you start it with PLENTY of time left (the roast cooks for 3 hours).  Or maybe we did something wrong?!

And, Darby pointed out to me the other day that PW has her 2nd cookbook coming out in the spring!  Can't wait!!!  Has anyone watched her cooking show on the Food Network?  I wish she'd done some never-before-seen recipes, but I really enjoyed it anyway.  If you don't follow her blog much and haven't been through the cookbook, then I guess the recipes would be new.  I really just enjoyed watching her with her family!

Ok, here's the link and recipe....


Pork Roast with Apples & Onions and Wild Rice:


3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 whole Pork Shoulder Roast (also Called Pork Butt)
Salt And Pepper, to taste
4 cups Apple Juice
1 cup Beef Stock
3 whole Apples, Cored And Cut Into Wedges
3 whole Medium Onions, Sliced
1 whole Bay Leaf
fresh thyme and/or rosemary (optional)

2-1/2 cups Wild Rice
4 cups Water
3 cups Chicken Stock
1/2 stick 4 Tablespoons Butter
1/2 cup Chopped Pecans

Preparation Instructions

OPTIONAL: Saute onions until brown. (Or you may just add them raw to the roast.)

To make the pork roast, heat olive oil in a large pot over high heat. Salt and pepper pork roast, then sear on all sides to give it some color. Reduce heat to low. Add apple juice, apple slices, beef broth, onions, and bay leaf. Cover and simmer for 3 hours. (Or you may place in a 300 degree oven if you prefer.)

Toward the end of the cooking time, make the rice: melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add pecans and saute for a couple of minutes. Add wild rice and liquid, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until all liquid is cooked out.

When the roast is done, remove the roast, apples, and onions to a platter. Raise heat to medium-high (to high) and boil liquid, reducing it until thick and rich.

Spoon thick sauce over the roast, then cut the roast into slices. Serve with apples, onions, and wild rice.

(Note: add fresh thyme or rosemary to the roast before cooking if you have it on hand!)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Rolo Turtle Fudge

For some reason, I thought fudge was difficult to make....but I was wrong!  I came across this recipe on Pinterest (are you surprised?!) and had to make it.  It did not disappoint!  If you're looking for an easy and delicious treat to make this Christmas, give this one a try.  It makes a lot (9x13 pan) so perfect for gift-giving.  I found some cute little Christmas tins in the dollar section at Target, and I'll be packaging up some of this delicious fudge to give to Caleb's MDO teachers tomorrow.  :-)

Rolo Turtle Fudge

40 Rolo candies, cut in half
1 1/2 cups Marshmallow Cream 
3 cups milk chocolate chips
1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups pecans, chopped

In a saucepan over low heat, melt marshmallow cream, milk and chocolate chips. Stir constantly until completely melted and creamy. Stir in vanilla and pecans. Fold in Rolo candy.

Pour into a foil lined 13x9 pan. Refrigerate until cool, cut into squares. Enjoy.
Recipe and picture via Shugary Sweets.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Southwestern Sausage Quiche

I had a delima the other night with what to fix for dinner.  Everything required something to be thawed and more work than I wanted to exert!  So, I searched the web for sausage quiche because I had a half a pound of sausage left over from pizza we had made.  But it had to be pretty basic because I didn't have much else in my fridge because we'd just gotten back from Thanksgiving travels and hadn't gone to the store yet.

This recipe seemed to fit the bill because I had everything and it sounded yummy!

My hubby LOVED it, he couldn't get enough of it actually.  I thought it was ok but not GREAT!  I would make it again in a pinch but probably not plan for it much to Daniel's dismay!!:)

We don't have Ranch in our house so I doubled the sour cream.

Here is the recipe.

½ pounds Sausage
2 whole Eggs
¼ cups Ranch Dressing
¼ cups Sour Cream
⅓ cups Milk
1-½ cup Cheddar Cheese, Grated
1 can (10 Oz. Can) Diced Tomatoes And Green Chiles (Ro*Tel), Drained
1 whole Unbaked 9-inch Deep Dish Pie Shell

Preheat oven to 350F.
In a large skillet, cook sausage until well browned, stirring frequently. Drain off grease and set aside. Whisk together eggs, ranch dressing, sour cream and milk. Add sausage, cheese and Rotel. Stir to combine. Pour egg mixture into prepared pie crust.
Bake 1 hour. Allow quiche to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Here is the recipe I used for the pie crust.

It's a keeper.  Anything I don't have to roll out is a winner!:)

 1 cup Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
⅓ cups Vegetable Oil
2-½ Tablespoons Milk

Assemble ingredients in a pie pan and mix thoroughly with a fork. It should come together in a semi-crumbly fashion. Once all ingredients are incorporated together, press with your fingers into the bottom and up the sides of the pie pan. Chill before filling, if you wish—no need to bake before making your actual pie!

Chiken Stew

Let me start off by saying I grew up on chicken stew!  My grandma makes the best chicken stew ever!  Chicken stew was also the best lunch day at school....it wasn't served often because the ladies actually made it from scratch but it was always exciting to see it on the menu!

My hubby had never had chicken stew until he met me and he now loves it just as much as I do.  He  said he'd never even heard of it but he's technically not from the south (which I'm assuming chicken stew is) so I guess that's why.

Anyways, I digress, I have Christy Jordan's Southern Plate cookbook and saw her chicken stew in there and wondered if it would be as good or maybe even better than my grandmas so I decided to give it a go the other day.  I will say it was good but I will not make it again just because I like my grandma's recipe better.  They are mostly similar but just a few things are different.  But please do give it a try if you've never had the wonderful pleasure of eating chicken stew.

I will say that I like her method of doing the chicken and I will do that the next time I make it but I would leave out the sugar for sure.  Oh, and I knew 45 minutes of simmering would not be long enough at all because my grams lets her stew go all day just about so I let mine simmer about 2.5 hours.

We always eat with crackers and some slices of block cheddar cheese. 

You can find the recipe here as well as pictures!

  • 1 chicken
  • 2 lg onions, chopped
  • 7 cups water
  • 4 cups canned tomatoes
  • 6 med.potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups frozen or canned whole kernel corn
  • 2 Tablespoon butter
  • 5 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  1. Cook chicken until done in water. Remove chicken from broth and discard skin. Separate meat from bones and shred meat.
  2. Dip off as much fat from the broth as possible.
  3. Simmer potatoes in 1 cup of broth in covered saucepan until done, do not drain. Mash potatoes slightly, keeping them lumpy.
  4. Add corn, onions, tomatoes, sugar, salt, and pepper to broth.
  5. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Add potatoes and chicken and simmer slowly with lid off for at least 45 minutes.
  7. Right before serving, stir in butter and let it melt. Best if made a day ahead and reheated to serve.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Italian Beef and Spinach Pasta Casserole

Another great find on Pinterest. That recipe used chicken breasts, but I wanted a beef casserole so I used 1lb hamburger sirloin instead. I also used a container of the new Philadelphia cream cheese Italian herb cooking cream instead of chive cream cheese.

This was a huge hit with all of us-

Chicken & Spinach Pasta Bake
8 oz uncooked rigatoni
1 T olive oil
1 c chopped onion
1 (10 oz) pack frozen spinach, thawed
3 c cubed, cooked chicken breasts
1 (14 oz) can Italian-style diced tomatoes, drained
1 (8 oz) container Philadelphia chive & onion cream cheese
½ t salt, ½ t pepper
1½ c shredded mozzarella cheese

Prepare rigatoni according to pkg directions. Spread oil on bottom of 11x17 in baking dish; add onion in a single layer. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes or just until tender. Transfer onion to large bowl, set aside.

Drain chopped spinach well, pressing between paper towels. Stir in rigatoni, spinach, chicken, & next 4 ingredients into onion in bowl. Spoon mixture into dish & sprinkle evenly with shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake covered at 375 for 30 minutes; uncover & bake 15 more minutes or until bubbly.

Walnut, sweet potato, and cranberry bake


I love sweet potatoes- especially during the holidays. Walking through HEB yesterday they were giving samples of this recipe and I fell in love! Made it today for Thanksgiving dinner.

The chef at HEB said to drain the liquid off after baking the 1st time. Put liquid in pot to simmer with brown sugar and pecan mixture until it carmelizes a bit- then put on top to bake last 10 minutes.

P.s. I used canned yams (like the HEB chef did) and they did fine.

4 large sweet potatoes
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons cold butter or margarine

Place sweet potatoes in a Dutch oven; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 40-50 minutes or until tender. Drain. When cool enough to handle, peel potatoes and cut into 1/4-in. slices. Place half in a greased 2-1/2-qt. baking dish. Top with half of the cranberries, brown sugar and butter. Repeat layers. Pour orange juice over top.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. In a bowl, combine the walnuts, brown sugar and cinnamon; cut in butter. Sprinkle over sweet potato mixture. Bake, uncovered, 10 minutes longer or until topping is golden brown.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Nutella hot cocoa

Another fabulous Pinterest find...

1 cup milk
2 tsp nutella

Mix/heat over medium heat until warm enough


It is delicious!

Chicken/Black Bean Enchilada Casserole

The flavorings used in this enchilada casserole are similar to the ones I used in my beef enchilada casserole...when I make a chicken enchilada casserole I use more green chiles and sour cream sauce...I thought this looked interesting on Pinterest because it was a mix of the two-

This was a huge hit for all of us!  Danny liked that it wasn't "too saucy."  I would omit the sour cream in the layer you cook- it curdled a bit and I didn't like the texture (and I love sour cream!).  I would just serve it on the side to put on top.


Chicken and Black Bean Enchilada Casserole
2 cups diced or shredded chicken breast meat (or for extra lazy days use a rotisserie chicken)
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (4.5 oz) can diced green chili peppers, drained
1 (10 oz) can red enchilada sauce
8 (6 inch) corn tortillas
2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
1 (8 oz) container sour cream

Preheat the oven to 375°. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and spray with vegetable cooking spray. Sauté chicken with cumin and coriander until chicken is cooked through. Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in the cilantro, black beans, and green chili peppers.

Spread half of the enchilada sauce over the bottom of an 11x7 inch baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Place 4 tortillas over the sauce, overlapping if necessary. Spoon half of the chicken mixture over the tortillas, and sprinkle with half of the cheese and half of the sour cream.

Spoon the remaining enchilada sauce over the cheese, and make another layer of tortillas. Layer the remaining chicken mixture over the tortillas.

Cover dish with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven.

Remove the cover, and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and dot with sour cream. Continue cooking, uncovered, for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until cheese melts.

Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Savory Shepherds Pie

I love Shepherds Pie...probably stems from my time spent teaching in London... This was a good recipe and easy to make.  I usually make mine with lamb meat, but this time I was cooking for a crowd and making a casserole to freeze, so I used ground sirloin.  I also always leave my frozen veggies uncooked, because we like ours a little crunchy when we eat it.


Makes:6 servings
Prep: 20 mins Bake: 40 mins at 400°F Stand: 10 mins


  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon dried fine herbs, crushed
  • 3 cups cubed cooked beef or lamb
  • 1 10 ounce package frozen mixed vegetables*, cooked
  • 1 8 ounce can small whole onions, drained
  • 1/2 cup rose wine or beef broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 cups seasoned mashed potatoes
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese


1. In a large saucepan, melt butter; stir in flour. Gradually stir in milk and fines herbes. Cook and stir over medium heat until sauce thickens and bubbles. Stir in meat, vegetables, onions, wine, and pepper. Pour into a 2-quart casserole. Spoon mashed potatoes around the edge.
2. Bake in a 400 degree F oven for 30 minutes. Sprinkle top with cheddar cheese and bake about 10 minutes more or until mixture is bubbly and potatoes are brown. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Makes 6 servings.
  • Note: * Save some time by substituting a package of frozen peas for the mixed vegetables and omit the precooking. Just stir in the frozen peas.

Crock Pot Baked Apples

Very, very yummy...semi-healthy (at least healthier than an apple pie) and they were a HUGE hit with everyone at our Thanksgiving dinner.  We served them with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream drizzled with some of the leftover sauce in the crockpot. 

I prepared/cored the apples and soaked them in orange juice over night- that only added to the hint of orange you get from the liquor.  Make sure they don't over cook!  I'd say 2 hours in a "newer" crockpot is enough-


Makes 6 baked apples


1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons trans-fat free margarine
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 Gala or Macintosh apples, cored
1/2 cup apple juice or apple cider
2 tablespoons orange liquor (optional)


Preheat a large crock-pot on high heat and preset it for 3 hours. In a large bowl, mix brown sugar, walnuts, margarine, and cinnamon. Fill the apples with the filling and place them in the crock-pot. Pour in the apple juice or cider and the liquor, if using. Cover and cook 2 1/2 to 3 hours on high heat until the apples are soft and begin to collapse.

Cinnamon Rolls in the Waffle Iron


These were a huge hit!  Very easy and quick to make- the cleanup wasn't as fun, but worth it!  We will try can bisquits next :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Apple Chips

Another recipe I came across on Pinterest....apple chips!  I have never eaten or even heard of apple chips, to be honest.  Is that crazy?  These are so simple to make, you have got to try them if you like apples!  I really made them to see if my 2-year-old son would like them because he loves apples.  But, I should have known he wouldn't even try them (picky eater!).  I said "Caleb, look - mama made you some apple chips!"  (thinking I'd get him to try them because I called them "chips" - ha!)  No such luck.  He took one look at them at said "Don't like it!!"  (his new favorite saying).  Oh well, more for me!  Seriously, though - he wouldn't even touch them.  He actually ran away from me.  I guess they do look a little odd and not what he is used to apples looking like.

I did not use sugar - only cinnamon.  Also, now that I am reading this again, I forgot to spray mine with canola oil, oops!!  They still turned out delicious!  I baked mine for 2 1/2 hours and found that the ones on the bottom of the oven crisped sooner.  Oh, and 2 large apples doesn't make many chips in my opinion...but it's a start!  My hubby sliced them in the mandoline for me so I did not have to cut my fingers off trying to slice them thin with a knife.  How would you even do that?!

Isn't this a beautiful picture?  I wish I could say that I took it, but I didn't.  I borrowed it from Vittles & Bits, where the recipe came from. 

Apple Chips
  • 2 large apples, cored (I used Red Delicious)
  • 2 T. sugar (optional)
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • canola oil spray

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

Thinly slice apples crosswise about 1/8-inch (2 mm) thick with a mandoline or sharp knife. Arrange apple slices in a single layer on two parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets, and spray with canola oil cooking spray.

If using sugar, combine in a small bowl with cinnamon. Put mixture into a sieve and sprinkle evenly over apple slices.

Bake in the top and bottom third of the oven until apples are dry and crisp, about 2 hours (mine took a little longer than that to get crisp, but I didn't use sugar). Remove from oven and let ‘chips’ cool completely before transferring to a sealed container for up to 3 days. Makes about 2 cups of apple chips.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

This isn't a gourmet meal but it's quick, easy, and yummy.  I had these at my sister's baby shower and knew I would want to make them sometime.  The lady who made me told the basics of what she did so I went on-line and found what I thought was a similar recipe and then made adaptions of what was used for the ones I ate.

I found this recipe here at Tasty Kitchen.

8 whole Sandwich Rolls (or 16 Dinner Rolls) *
½ pounds Ham, Any (sliced Thin Or Chopped)
½ pounds Cheese, Any Variety That Melts Well *

8 Tablespoons Salted Butter
½ cups Finely Minced Onion **
3 Tablespoons Prepared Mustard, Any (the More Flavorful, The Better)**
1 teaspoon Poppy Seeds
1 teaspoon Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

Preparation Instructions
To make the onion butter, combine ingredients in a small sauce pan and heat gently just until the butter is melted and all the ingredients are well combined. Cool to a spreadable consistency.

To prepare sandwiches, place roll bottoms, cut side up on a sheet pan. Spread some onion butter evenly onto each of the halves (use about half of the onion butter for this step), top with 1/2 the cheese, next add all the ham, now add remaining cheese, and end with the rest of the onion butter. Top with the roll tops, cover pan with foil, and heat in a 300F oven for 10-15 minutes until the sandwiches are heated through and the cheese melts.

Note: Sandwiches can be assembled up to 2 days in advance, but store them in an airtight container to control the smell of raw onions in your fridge.

* I used Hawaiian rolls, 16 pack and pepperjack cheese.  I split the rolls down the middle put the onion butter on them then layered them with cheese, ham, then more cheese!  I put the top half on then cut them into the rolls and put more of the butter mixture on them.

**  I only prepared half the butter mixture and I felt that was plenty.  I also used 1tsp of onion powder instead of onions and I used honey mustard.

These were tasty both me and hubby liked them.  Our 2 year old son not so much but maybe it was the butter mixture.  They were also good the next day warmed up.  We just ate with chips and a pickle!  Nothing fancy but for some weeknights it does the job and it's better and cheaper than going out to eat!!:)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Brown Sugar and Balsalmic Glazed Pork Loin

I am always looking for good slow cooker recipes because with two kids 2 and under - it's a chore to get dinner on the table!  Heck, it was a chore with just one!  :-)
This is a recipe I "pinned" on the best site ever, Pinterest!

I was actually a little skeptical when I was putting this together because I just knew it was going to dry out.  But, I was pleasantly surprised and completely wrong!  It was actually very tender and not dry at all...and I didn't even add any additional liquid to it.  I thought it was very good and the hubby said he liked it but did not rave about it.  But, if I'm being honest, he (ok, both of us) have pretty high expectations for food and it is especially hard for me to find slow cooker recipes that he really likes.  It is kinda hard to find really good ones that don't involve "cream of something" soup.  Anyway!  It's not the best meal I've ever made but it was tasty enough (and very easy) that I would definitely make it again!  Give it a try!

*picture borrowed from the website the recipe came from...b/c my picture did not do it any justice!

Brown Sugar and Balsalmic Glazed Pork Loin
1 (2 pound) boneless pork tenderloin (or regular pork loin)
1 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup water

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Combine sage, salt, pepper and garlic. Rub over roast. Place in slow cooker with 1/2 cup water. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. About 1 hour before roast is done, combine ingredients for glaze in small sauce pan. Heat and stir until mixture thickens. Brush roast with glaze 2 or 3 times during the last hour of cooking. Serve with remaining glaze on the side.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Paula Deen's Crockpot Mac and Cheese

This was very easy to make!  I think I put too many noodles because it wasn't creamy at all, but tasted DELICIOUS! I didn't like the way you melted the cheese in a pot on the stove b/c it turned into one big glob and I couldn't even get it to mix in well.  I think next time I'll put the cheese over the hot noodles in the crockpot and try that.


Servings: 4-6 

1 Boil the macaroni in water for six minutes. Drain.

2 In a medium saucepan, mix butter and cheese. Stir until the cheese melts.

3 In slow cooker, combine cheese mixture and add the eggs (I omitted the eggs), sour cream, soup, salt, milk, mustard and pepper. Add the drained macaroni and stir again.

4 Cook on low for 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells

This recipe smelled delicious- was very easy to make and I couldn't wait to eat it for dinner.  Unfortunetly, pregnancy had another plan and I couldn't even stand the taste of it.  My hubby and son LOVED these shells and ate all of the leftovers and said they couldn't wait for the frozen dish of them I made for when the baby comes.  :)  I did put a layer of alfredo sauce on the bottom of the pan- think I'll try marinara next time b/c it was almost too cheesy.
Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells
original Joelen recipe

12-16 jumbo pasta shells
water for boiling pasta
4oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese + 1/4 cup for topping
3 tablespoons prepared pesto (homemade or store bought)
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot over high heat, boil water and prepare pasta shells as directed on package. Cook pasta shells only until al dente. The pasta will finish cooking when the dish is baked. Drain the pasta shells and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients, except the 1/4 cup of cheese for the topping. Fill the pasta shells with the filling and place in a baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese over filled shells.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake shells uncovered for 30 minutes or until shells are bubbling hot and cheese melts.

 To make ahead/freezer meals - Prepare as directed but place filled shells in an oven- and freezer-proof baking dish. Top with remaining 1/4 cup of cheese over filled shells, cover and freeze. When ready to prepare, defrost. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake shells uncovered for 35-40 minutes or until shells are bubbling hot and cheese melts

Jamie Oliver's Crunchy Garlic Chicken


I don't have a big food processor, so I used my mini one and don't think I quite got the crackers as crumblike as they should have been.  The flavor was REALLY yummy!  I will use this again for chicken or pork. 


• 1 clove of garlic
• 1 lemon
• 6 saltine crackers
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 4 sprigs of fresh Italian parsley
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 2 heaped tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 1 large egg, preferably free-range or organic
• 2 skinless chicken breast fillets, preferably free-range or organic
• olive oil


This crumbing technique is so versatile – you can cook pork or even cod in exactly the same way. As there is butter in the crumb mixture, you can grill, fry, roast or bake the meat dry in the oven and it will go lovely and golden.To prepare your chicken: Peel the garlic and zest the lemon • Put your crackers into a food processor with the butter, garlic, parsley sprigs, lemon zest and a pinch of salt and pepper • Whiz until the mixture is very fine, then pour these crumbs on to a plate • Sprinkle the flour on to a second plate • Crack the egg into a small bowl and beat with a fork • Lightly score the underside of the chicken breasts • Put a square of plastic wrap over each one and bash a few times with the bottom of a pan until the breasts flatten out a bit • Dip the chicken into the flour until both sides are completely coated, then dip into the egg and finally into the flavored crumbs • Push the crumbs on to the chicken breasts so they stick – you want the meat to be totally coated To cook your chicken: You can either bake or fry the chicken • If baking, preheat your oven to its highest temperature (475˚), place your chicken on a sheet pan and cook for 15 minutes • If frying, put a frying pan on a medium heat, add a few good lugs of olive oil and cook the chicken breasts for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until cooked through, golden and crisp To serve your chicken: Either serve the chicken breasts whole, or cut them into strips and pile them on a plate • Beautiful and simple served with a lemon wedge for squeezing over, and a tiny sprinkling of salt • Great with a lovely fresh salad or simply dressed veggies. This crumbing technique is so versatile – you can cook pork or even cod in exactly the same way. As there is butter in the crumb mixture, you can grill, fry, roast or bake the meat dry in the oven and it will go lovely and golden.

To prepare your chicken:
Peel the garlic and zest the lemon • Put your crackers into a food processor with the butter, garlic, parsley sprigs, lemon zest and a pinch of salt and pepper • Whiz until the mixture is very fine, then pour these crumbs on to a plate • Sprinkle the flour on to a second plate • Crack the egg into a small bowl and beat with a fork • Lightly score the underside of the chicken breasts • Put a square of plastic wrap over each one and bash a few times with the bottom of a pan until the breasts flatten out a bit • Dip the chicken into the flour until both sides are completely coated, then dip into the egg and finally into the flavored crumbs • Push the crumbs on to the chicken breasts so they stick – you want the meat to be totally coated

To cook your chicken:
You can either bake or fry the chicken • If baking, preheat your oven to its highest temperature (475˚), place your chicken on a sheet pan and cook for 15 minutes • If frying, put a frying pan on a medium heat, add a few good lugs of olive oil and cook the chicken breasts for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until cooked through, golden and crisp

To serve your chicken:
Either serve the chicken breasts whole, or cut them into strips and pile them on a plate • Beautiful and simple served with a lemon wedge for squeezing over, and a tiny sprinkling of salt • Great with a lovely fresh salad or simply dressed veggies.                

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pumpkin Fudge

This is a perfect recipe for the next two months! I made this last week for a family reunion, and it was loved by all. It sort of reminds me of a praline with pumpkin. And it is also gluten-free, just in case you have a family member or friend that can't eat the cake and cookies! The picture copied really big...but it makes it look even more mouth-watering! I have this on my pinterest board. ~janice


pumpkin fudge

Yield: 3 pounds of fudge
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 12 min
Fun, fall sweet treat.


3 cups granulated white sugar
3/4 cup melted salted butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
½ cup canned pure (unsweetened) pumpkin
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
One 12-ounce package white chocolate morsels (chips)
One (7-ounce) jar marshmallow crème
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Line a 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil. Spray with nonstick spray.
2. Stir together first 6 ingredients in a 3 1/2- quart saucepan over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until a candy thermometer registers 234° (soft ball stage) or for about 12 minutes.
3. Once mixture reaches 234°, remove from heat and quickly stir in the white chocolate, marshmallow creme, pecans (if using) and vanilla until well blended.
4. Pour into the prepared pan. Let stand 2 hours or until completely cool; cut fudge into squares.
Source: RecipeGirl.com (via Southern Living )

Monday, October 24, 2011

Crockpot Beef Stroganoff


My mom always made beef stroganoff with leftover steak meat and I never seemed to really like the flavor much.  My hubby is allergic to mushrooms so this is something I stayed away from...BUT...when I saw this on pinterest, I thought I'd give it a try. 

It was DELICIOUS and super easy!

My substitutions-
No mushrooms (although I would have added sliced fresh mushrooms)
Used cream of celery soup instead of cream of mushroom
Added double the worcheshire sauce

I made it with 2 pounds meat and was able to freeze 1/2 of it for when the baby arrives- Her hint of freezing before you add the cream cheese worked perfectly.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A New Cook...Blog?


Those of you who would like to join us this time around...we are going to try something different for the next few months.  It seems that online recipes are all the rage, especially finding great ones on Pinterest.com  (If you're not on there, go check it out!) 

So, instead of starting a new traditional "cookbook"- how about we cook two new recipes we find online each week and blog about them.

Make sure you note the website where you found it and if possible, copy the actual recipe into the blog posting so we can all easily make it ourselves. 

If it's a recipe that's an old family favorite, even better!  Please put the recipe in the blog posting for us all to enjoy.

We think this will be fun as we venture into Holiday cooking :)

Happy Blogging!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Ready for a new cookbook as we approach the holidays?

Hello Ladies!

I think there are a few of us out there that are ready to choose a new cookbook. It seems there aren't very many of you still blogging and enjoying The Best 30 minute Recipes...so let's move on to another cookbook! 

So...start leaving comments with what you'd like to do next! We are open for ANYTHING!   I'll put together a vote tally next Wednesday. 

Also, if you are finished with Cook a Book and would like to be removed from this blog list- please let me know. 

Keep Cooking!
Shannon Boyer

Pan Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Mustard-Maple Glaze p.238

Honestly...not a favorite of ours.  I liked the technique to cook the tenderloin, but I'm not a fan of the sweet glazes.  Maybe it's because I didn't buy the expensive, real maple syrup...

Chicken Pizzaiola with Mozarella and Pepperoni p.229

A real kid pleaser!  Brayden loved that he got to put this whole dinner together and eat pepperoni's with chicken! 

I used turkey pepperoni, jar spaghetti sauce, and low fat cheese

We've already made this one twice!

Saltimbocca p.202

Ready to eat!

This was a very easy and very delicious recipe!  I loved the sage on top, but next time, I think I might put the sage under the prosciutto so the flavor gets into the meat more-

Also, you'll see the blue specs in the 2nd picture- don't use colored toothpicks!  They leave a mark behind when you take  them  out :)

Pan Roasted Asparagus p. 230

The one thing I dont' like about this cookbook is that it's more difficult to put together a full meal- I like when you are given suggestions for sides, etc.

This pan roasted asparagus is the same recipe I use weekly, but this time I tried their toasted garlic addition and it was yummy!  A new twist!

Pork Chops with Worchestershire and Butter Sauce p.196

I'm always looking for new ways to serve "boring" pork chops and steaks- this was a very good sauce that had lots of flavor.  I think I put too much cornstarch because ours was pretty thick, but we all enjoyed the new flavor on our plain grilled pork chops.

Pasta with Garlic-Basil Cream Sauce p.161

Another very yumy pasta recipe- the sauce was delicious!  I added sliced grilled chicken breasts at the end to make it more of a complete meal for us.

Skillet Vermicelli with Chorizo Sausage and Black Beans p.150

For those of you who enjoy spicy foods, this ones for you!  This tasted like Mexican Spaghetti but it was way to spicy for my family.  I didn't even put 1/2 tsp of adobo chiles in it. 

I did like that you toasted the vermicelli so when it was cooked in the sauce, it didn't get"mushy" like their skillet spaghetti recipe.

Skillet Chili Mac p.147

This was very good!  Very easy to make, pretty healthy by using wheat noodles and low fat cheese- I did double or even triple the amount of chile powder I used to make it taste more like the chili flavor we like. 

Skillet Steak Fajitas p.125

I am not a fan of the pre-marinated packaged steak or chicken fajita meat, so I was excited to try this 30 minute quick fajita recipe.  The flavor was very good.  I did enjoy eating "good" flank steak meat.  But...the downside for all of us was the meat was still very chewy and not very tender at all. 

I'm still on a search for a good fajita meat recipe :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Linguini with shrimp, garlic and lemon p.172

This was very easy and very good.  A light sauce made it delicious. 

There isn't anything I'd change...It was a hit at our house :)

Skillet Baked Pastitsio p.149

Danny and Brayden are STILL talking about this dish!  It was DELICIOUS!

Very similar consistency to a chili mac, but the flavors were out of this world!  Make sure you use the ground lamb meat. 

This was very easy to make and a success!  The little bit of cinnamon in it really popped out!

Pasta Quattro Formaggi p.146

I was looking for a new kind of mac and cheese and thought I'd give this 30 minute one a try- it was VERY good!  I am not a fan of gorgonzola, so I'd probably leave that out next time- but the blend of cheeses, and the fact that the pasta really cooked well in the skillet made this a success for me. 

I wasn't a fan of doing the spaghetti and meatballs in a pan, but this one worked. 

You could do this one with any mix of cheeses! Enjoy!

Pan Roasted Chicken Breasts with Potatoes p. 113


I cooked this when we were having a friend over for dinner- she LOVED it as well!  Pretty easy to make- my oil splattered everywhere, making a mess- but the flavoring was delicious.  I used bone-in breasts and the chicken stayed very moist. 

The potatoes were good, once again- I really do like cooking them in the microwave to soften them up and then finishing them in the skillet for crisp outsides and flavoring.

I'll be making this more often :)

Chicken and Couscous wtih Fennel and Orange p.112

I think everytime I buy fennel at the store, someone asks me what I'm doing with it :)  This time it was the sacker and she was stunned you threw all the top part away and had to cook it to make it good.  It was cute!

This was good, but not great.  I would finely chop your fennel and red onion for the couscous.  I did buy the right kind this time, not the pearls, and I liked being able to cook my own instead of out of the box.  This gave me hope I can do it more often. 

I really liked the drizzling oil for the top of the chicken-

A nice, light summer chicken dinner.

Quick Pozole p.81

This had very good flavor- very easy to make, but since we don't like many soups around our house- I drained most of the liquid off at the end and served it in hot flour tortillas, like a pork taco- it was a huge hit! 

I could have tooped with with more cilantro and sour cream, but didn't have any :)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

PW Pizza Dough

Hey guys!

Sorry this isn't related to the new book but I just bought some whole wheat flour for a bread recipe I want to try and was wondering how else I could use it to make things a bit healthier.  We love PW pizza crust and was wondering if any of you had tried it with whole wheat flour and if so is it still as good?  If you sub the two are they equal measurements?  Just wondering and figured this might be quick and easy to find out with all you cookin' healthy ladies.

Thanks a million!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Easy Glazed Carrots p.235

These were easy to make, yummy, but my boys still won't eat cooked carrots- oh well, I'll keep trying :)

Tortellini, Peas and Asparagus in a creamy, tarragon sauce p.175

Delicious!  I used skim milk because I didn't have any half and half, and it did just fine- I like thickening the sauce and adding it to the pasta instead of just serving it on top.  Make sure you use fresh tarragon and fresh pasta- I used Buitoni-then you finish in 30 minutes.

Both my boys loved this one!  And it had two green veggies in it!

Skillet Baked Ziti p. 140

This was very good!  Great flavors, easy to make, good taste- We did finish it off in the oven to brown the cheese on top.

You definetly can finish this in under 30 minutes

I added ground, cooked italian sausage. 

Skillet Spaghetti and Meatballs p.138

Honestly, not one of our favorites and I can make regular spaghetti and meatballs in under 30 minutes, so I don't think we'll be trying this "one pot" recipe again. 

The noodles never cooked enough and we didn't like the taste of the sauce cooked into the noodles.  Tasted like can spaghetti and meat.  Very interesting to make though-  You really do have to constantly stir it and add more liquid. 

I couldn't find meatloaf mixture for the meatballs- so I used half ground pork and half ground sirloin.

Salmon and Couscous Skillet Supper p.129

This was good, but for some reason my couscous turned out mushy- I did accidentally buy the couscous pearls- that could have been the problem.  I ended up pouring it into a strainer and then serving it. 

We love salmon and this was another good way to fix it- the sauce was very good!

Baja Style Fish Tacos p.128

Another variety of fish tacos and once again I retreated to my favorite sauce instead of the adobo chipotle chiles which we do not like. 


But...I tried to fry the fish for the first time and it was surprisingly easy, although, not as healthy as the grilled variety I usually do.  But still yummy.  It was my first beer batter and we did like the flavor of it.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tostadas (page 263)

This is the very last recipe in the cookbook, though not my last recipe- I still have many left to go through. This is another great post-Thanksgiving meal to add some variety to your turkey. I made this meal simply because I already had all of the ingredients on hand and it wouldn’t require a trip to the store. I know you know what tostadas look like so I just took a picture of all the fixin’s I had available for dinner: salsa, refried beans, avocado, green chilies, cilantro, sour cream, black olives, cheddar, and chicken.

Fiesta Chicken Casserole (page 254)

This was so good, and I can’t wait to cook it again. I made this as if it were a regular recipe and not a left-overs meal. I just boiled some chicken and then shredded it. Most people who know me, know I don’t like left-overs, but I plan on using this recipe after Thanksgiving this year with turkey to switch things up a bit

Simplified Smothered Pork Chops with Apple Cider (page 212)

This dinner received a perfect score from me. I really liked the delicious sweet and savory flavor with the subtle mustard undertone. My husband did not like the pork as much as I did though. I served this over white rice and will probably be making it again, when my hubby is out of town.

Beef Teriyaki (page 205)

Of course I had to cook this recipe because it looked so delicious on the picture page :-) This meal can be made much faster than the 30-minute maximum. In fact I’m pretty sure I had this insanely simple meal on the table it a little over 15 minutes. I used 1/8 tsp dried ginger instead of freshly grated, which probably saved on time. I also added sesame seeds and served it over white rice to match the picture. Deliciously quick dinner!

Baja-Style Fish Tacos (page 128)

A couple weeks ago we had fish tacos at smallgroup for dinner. I don’t remember ever having fish tacos before that night. Since they were so delicious I decided to try making my own and was thrilled to find this recipe in our cookbook. I didn’t want to fry the fish though so I grilled it instead. I added cilantro, fresh lime juice, and homemade salsa verde as toppings. I served the tacos with Cuban black beans, but everyone ate the beans as another taco topping. I really like the idea of fish tacos, but I think cod was a little too much of a “fishy” flavor for me. I will definitely try this recipe again but with another type of fish (e.g. tilapia).

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Spaghetti with Spinach, Bacon & Toasted Bread Crumbs (page 165)

My husband liked this dish a lot more than I did simply based on a tasting preference. I added grilled chicken to go on top and I think that I really wouldn’t have liked this dish without the chicken. When I subtract the time it took to grill the chicken, I needed about 45-minutes to make the rest of the dish. If you do make this and you really like it, then you will be in luck because there are a lot of left-overs. For the bread crumbs I used “Oatnut” by Oroweat. Make sure you read the note at the bottom of the page for tips on how make your own bread crumbs; they’re very helpful.

Skillet American Chop Suey (page 148)

To be perfectly honest, I only made this recipe because of the name. Surprisingly, I didn’t change the recipe at all. Shocker! I loved that it was a one-pot meal and that the ingredients were simple and appeasing to picky eaters. However, I will say that this recipe was VERY similar to the Skillet Chili Mac which I deemed “glorified hamburger helper.” I’m not a fan of hamburger helper, but if you are, than this is certainly a recipe for you.

Creamy Skillet Penne with Mushrooms & Asparagus (page 143)

We thought this pasta was pretty good. Like always, I made a few minor adjustments to the recipe to suit our tastes. I added grilled chicken for some protein, used whole-grain penne, and omitted the wine. The parmesan cheese was the perfect last ingredient to complete the meal.

Skillet-Braised Bratwurst and Sauerkraut (page 123)

We enjoyed this meal and I can see myself making this again during football season. The note recommended sauerkraut in the bags, but I couldn’t find that so I purchased the jars and it tasted just fine to me. I omitted the juniper berries because I refused to spend that much money on a small glass jar of berries. I served both the brats and the sauerkraut on a bun with yellow mustard and everyone was grinning ear-to-ear