“I always had a fantasy of being a chef, because I like kitchen life.” ~ Geoffrey Rush

Have new kitchen, will cook.

There is nothing like a new kitchen to get you out of the cooking rut. I’ve always loved to cook but for the past year, I’ve had to drag myself to the kitchen. I don’t know what the problem was but I believe I found a solution!

A new kitchen!

We just moved and I love, love the new space. The best part about it is that there are tons of cabinets! This makes it so easy to get to the things you need to cook. No digging or unstacking required. Makes putting up clean dishes a breeze as well.

So, hopefully now I can get back to the business of cooking and blogging about it.

Recipe #2 cooked in new kitchen is as follows:

Fajita Pasta

  • 1 lb chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning, divided
  • 1 medium yellow or sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped (I used red and yellow because my husband doesn’t like green)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (jar kind is fine)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 heavy cream
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes (mild for less heat)
  • 8 oz of bowtie pasta
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • sour cream
  • cilantro (optional, didn’t have any but wish I had)

Season chicken with half of the taco seasoning. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in large skillet over medium high heat and cook chicken until cooked through (approx 8-9 mins). Remove from pan.

While chicken cooks, season chopped veggies with the remaining half of taco seasoning. After removing chicken, add the other tablespoon of oil to skillet, followed by the vegetables. Cook, stirring occasionally until they are slightly charred then add in the minced garlic and stir for around 30 seconds. Once done, remove and add to chicken.

In the same skillet add the broth, cream, rotel, salt and pasta, scraping the browned bits off bottom of skillet. Bring to a boil, cover and reduced to medium. Cook for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Finally, add chicken and veggies back to skillet and warm through.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkled with chopped cilantro.


-abp

 

Advertisements

“A cocktail can be made by the bartender. But the cocktail also can be made by the chef.” ~ Jose Andres Puerta

I am all about a craft cocktail. Which has now made me a gin girl. The only problem about craft cocktails is that you have to get dressed up, go out and spend $12-15 per drink.

Now that’s all well and good and I love doing that but not every time I feel the need for one. So, I pulled my favorite ingredients and made my own.

Basil Gin Shandy

  • 2 orange slices
  • 3 sprigs of basil
  • 1.25 oz gin
  • 4 oz lemonade
  • Soda water (optional)

Muddle orange and basil in a shaker. Add gin and lemonade. Shake vigorously. Pour over ice. Garnish with a basil leaf.
Add a splash of soda water for a fizz.

image

Enjoy!

-abp

 

“Warning: Going to Sleep on Sunday night will cause Monday.” ~ unknown

What goes better with a cold, rainy night than a good ole bowl of warm chili??

I can’t think of much else…..

It’s also perfect for winding down the weekend on Sunday night.

So, if you happen to have a cold, rainy, Sunday night – you will have pure perfection with this recipe!

Sunday Night Chili

  • 12 ounces packaged bacon
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1, 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1, 8 oz can tomato paste
  • 1, 15 oz can light red kidney bean, plus one can of water
  • 1, 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed, plus one can of water
  • 1.5 Tbsp Chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1.5 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt (more or less to taste)
  • Shredded cheese, green onion, Fritos and sour cream for toppings
Cook bacon until crisp, remove, crumble once cooled.
In bacon grease cook onion and red pepper for 2 mins then add in ground beef, cook until browned, drain excess grease.
Add crumbled bacon and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 1-1.5 hours. Salt/pepper to taste and serve with toppings of your choice.
chili
-abp

“I think of myself… as a troubadour, a village storyteller, the guy in the shadows of the campfire.” ~ Louis L’Amour

I absolutely love S’mores! I believe I actually like them more than I did as a kid. The only problem is that I don’t spend much time around a campfire.

So when I came across the idea of making S’mores in an iron skillet in the kitchen, I was quite excited about that idea and I knew I must try it ASAP! 

Skillet S’mores

1/2 Tablespoon melted butter
1 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
7-10 jumbo marshmallows, cut in half
Box of graham crackers

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Swirl butter around the bottom and sides of an 8 inch iron skillet.
Evenly spread chocolate chips in the bottom of skillet.
Arrange marshmallow halves on top of chocolate chips (cut side down).
Place on middle rack and back 6-10 minutes or until the tops of marshmallows are browned.
Let sit for for 5 mins, serve immediately with graham crackers.

**caution – skillet and dip will be hot.

   
-abp

 

 

“I followed my heart and it lead me to the fridge.” ~ unknown

Having spent the whole day yesterday watching college football and not have any food that even resembled tailgate food (aka appetizers, junk food, finger food), I was definitely craving something like that today!

But it needed to be quick and not huge because I may be the only one who would be snacking on it.

This old school dip came to mind and definitely handled my craving.

As I mentioned, this is not a large appetizer. It’s good for a few people to nibble on along with other items, although you could easily make 2 or double recipe and put on larger serving plate.

Easy Pizza Dip

  • 4-6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup Heinz Chili Sauce
  • ¼-½ cup shredded mozzerela cheese
  • 6 pepperoni slices, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 3-4 small olives (green or black) optional
  • Fritos

Evenly spread cream cheese in a small serving dish or dinner plate. Cover evenly with Chili Sauce.

Top with cheese, pepperoni, onion and olives.

Serve immediately with Frito chips or refrigerate until ready to serve.

I told you it was easy! 🙂


-abp

“Summer should get a speeding ticket” ~ unknown

Summer is quickly coming to a close. *sigh*

I really hate to see it go! It’s been a very busy summer, as you can tell from my lack of posts, but it has been a great one!!

I do love the fall too but it means winter is just around the corner and I’m not much of a fan.

I think the part I dislike the most is the short days – I’m hoping our state decides to stop the time change so even if the days are cold they will not be so short!

If you are like me and want to grasp on to the little bit of summer we have left – here is a great recipe that has summer written all over it!

Summer Sangria

  • 1 (750 ml) bottle of dry rose wine
  • 1/2 cup elderflower liqueur
  • 2 sprigs of mint, divided
  • 1.5 cups cantaloupe, cubed, divided
  • 1.5 cups seedless watermelon, cubed, divided
  • 1.5 cups honeydew, cubed, divided
  • 1.5 cups club soda, chilled

In a large pitcher, combine the wine, liqueur, 1 sprig of mint and a cup each of the cantaloupe, watermelon and honeydew. Cover, chill for at least 8 hours.

Place the remaining melon cubes in a baking dish in a single layer, cover and freeze.

Remove the mint from the chilled mixture and discard.

Add in the other sprig of mint, club soda and frozen melon. Stir and serve immediately.

 


Enjoy!

-abp

“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.” Lewis Grizzard

Thanks to one of my husband’s wonderful patients – we have had a surplus of fabulous home grown tomatoes!

I can eat BLT’s all day long, all week – I love them that much – but it still doesn’t use all those home grown beauties before they go bad. So ,I had to come up with another way to use them.

Hello delicious pizza sauce!

I make this up in several batches and freeze.

Pull out of the freezer and use with a pre-made crust for a quick weeknight dinner.

It’s also great to make when tomatoes are not in season, just use canned crushed tomatoes.

Perfect Pizza Sauce

  • 15 oz of fresh tomatoes (peeled) or canned crushed tomatoes
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5-6 leaves of fresh basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon sugar
  • 1.5 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt to taste

Blend tomatoes and basil in blender to a chunky puree.

Brown garlic over medium/high heat in olive oil until fragrant (2-3 minutes). Be careful not to burn.

Add blended tomatoes and basil to garlic/oil mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally until liquid is reduced.

Let cool and use to create your favorite pizza or freeze in a zip lock bag until ready to use.

-abp

“The early bird may get the worm, but its the second mouse that gets the cheese.” ~ Jeremy Paxman

Macaroni and Cheese is honesty one of my favorite foods of all time.

I really don’t think you can beat the kind in the blue box with the powder but it is always such a luxury to order the Mac n Cheese with black truffles in a fine restaurant.

Being someone that is still (yes still) trying to get the final baby pounds off, it’s not something I feel I should very make often. But luckily I get to indulge in my guilty pleasure more often because it is my sweet stepson’s favorite thing to eat and he always ask for me to try and make different ones.

I am always happy to oblige. 🙂

Copycat Panera Mac & Cheese

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 ¾ cup whole milk
  • 8 oz. shredded white cheddar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ Tbsp of dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1lb pasta, cooked (corkscrew, shells, elbow etc.)

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and set aside.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium high heat until melted. Whisk in flour and cook for one minute to make your roux.

Reduce heat to medium and while whisking constantly, add the mild, cream, salt, pepper, mustard,  and hot sauce.

Continue to whisk until it starts to bubble.

Reduce heat to low and add cheese. Keep stirring until completely melted.

Remove from heat and stir in pasta.

Let sit for 4-5 minutes and serve.

Copycat Panera Mac & Cheese

-abp

 

 

“You can’t be a grown-up woman and not like chocolate.” ~ Julie Dawn Cole

The biggest thing I noticed about my pre-preggo self and my post-preggo self (besides the obvious shifting of all things body) would be my cravings.

I used to love good old salty, savory snacks and appetizers.  I was never really tempted by ordering desserts at a restaurant or I never ventured over to the dessert table at a party or wedding.  I sometimes never even had a piece of the brides cake.

Now, I’m like – “Is that chick ever going to cut that dang cake!”

Sweets.

I just can’t say no.

I also never liked dark chocolate at all.

Now, I dream about it.

This pie helps with my new found addiction.

Dark Chocolate Mousse Pie

  • 1 ready made graham cracker crust
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 Hershey bars (1.5 oz), chopped
  • 3 Special Dark Hersey bars (1.5 oz.), chopped
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounce container of Cool Whip

Melt cream and chocolate in microwave in a microwave safe bowl for 45-60 seconds. Stir until chocolate is melted. If additional melting time is needed, melt for 10 more seconds.

In a stand mixer, cream sugar and cream cheese until smooth.

Next, in the mixer, add chocolate mixture to cream mixture, reserving around 1/4 cup of chocolate mixture for garnish.

On a slow speed, add cool whip to mixture.

Pour mixture into prepared crust, smooth top and drizzle with remaining chocolate sauce.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Dark Chocolate Mouse Pie

-abp

“I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.” ~ Mae West

If you have visited my blog before, you know I like simple.

I also like good.

When I need a very impressive, delicious dessert, I turn to my mom. She is fabulous when it comes to wonderful desserts but when I make desserts – they are pretty easy and straight forward.

The following dessert is no exception.

It has a secret ingredient that makes it super moist – baby food.

I thought since I have a surplus of baby food on hand this would be a great, no fuss dessert to make for a weekday treat.

Pineapple Carrot Cake

Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1¼ cups vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 jars (6 oz each) carrot baby food
  • 1 can (8 oz) crushed pineapple, drained
  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts

Frosting

  • 1 block cream cheese (8 oz.), softened
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 box (1 lb) confectioners sugar
  • Chopped walnuts (optional)

In a large bowl, stir to combine the dry ingredients.

Add the oil, eggs and baby food and mix on low speed with a hand mixer until well blended.

Stir in pineapple and nuts.

Pour into a greased and floured 9×13 pan. Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to wire racks to cool completely

For frosting, in a bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in vanilla and confectioners’ sugar until mixture reaches spreading consistency.

Remove cake from pan, frost top and sides. Garnish with nuts if desired.

Store in the refrigerator.


-abp