Sunday, September 28, 2008

Burrito Pie

I cannot for the life of me take an appetizing picture of this delicious dish. You're just going to have to trust me that it is so tasty! Burrito Pie is the first meal Mark made for me. Well, not quite but we're just going to forget about the frozen chicken breast on the george forman and the shrimp that were not deveined. This is the official first meal that Mark found the recipe for and made for me and we've made it many times since.

1 pound ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove minced garlic
small can black olives, sliced
1/2 (4 ounce) can diced green chili peppers
1 10 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chile peppers (Rotel)
1 can enchilada sauce
1 (16 ounce) can refried beans
6 (8 inch) flour tortillas
10 ounces shredded Colby cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the ground beef for 5 minutes. Add the onion and garlic, and saute for 5 more minutes. Drain any excess fat, if desired. Mix in the olives, green chile peppers, tomatoes with green chile peppers, enchilada sauce and refried beans. Stir mixture thoroughly, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Spread a thin layer of the meat mixture in the bottom of a 4 quart casserole dish. Cover with a layer of tortillas followed by more meat mixture, then a layer of cheese. Repeat tortilla, meat, cheese pattern until all the tortillas are used, topping off with a layer of meat mixture and cheese.
  4. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheese is slightly brown and bubbly.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bacon Cheeseburger Tacos

Jessie was in Phoenix this week, so I thought I would take over Bites. I knew I was going make a hamburger with bacon, but then I decided to Rachel Ray it and make Bacon Cheeseburger Tacos. It was decent, but I definitely miss Jess....

6 slices of bacon
1 lb ground beef
Worcestershire sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste
Soft Taco

Crisp up the bacon in skillet. While bacon is cooking, mix ground beef, Worcestershire sauce, Oregano, and add Salt and Pepper to taste. Remove bacon, drain fat and brown ground beef in skillet. (As I am typing I think you could have put some onions in the meat) Add ground beef / bacon / cheese / lettuce / (tomatoes or avocado would have also been nice, but we didn’t have any). I added ketchup to mine and they were great.

Monkey Bread

Ooeey gooey monkey bread is such a fun breakfast treat! It's great to serve when you have company because you prep it at night and then just pop it in the oven in the morning. The recipe says a serving size of 12. Maybe that is why Becky, Ben, Mark and I didn't eat for the rest of the day after pretty much polishing this mound of sugary dough off.

24 ounces frozen dinner roll dough
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant butterscotch pudding mix
1/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup melted butter
  1. The night or several hours before, grease and flour a bundt pan. Mix brown sugar and pudding mix together. Mix white sugar and cinnamon together. Place frozen dinner rolls in pan a layer at a time. Sprinkle brown sugar and pudding mix over first layer of rolls. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon mixture over the brown sugar and pudding mixture. Spread half the nuts and melted butter over first layer. Repeat with the next layer.
  2. Place on counter over night. Do not cover. Next morning bake in a preheated 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven for 30 minutes. Let stand a few minutes and turn pan over onto serving platter.

Chicken Under a Brick

I knew Chicken Under a Brick was going to be tasty because we love spicy food but I had no idea how much Mark would love it. This is probably one of Mark's top 5 requested meals.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Freshly ground black pepper
1 t crushed red pepper flakes
1T Dijon mustard
5 T EVOO, divided
3 T finely chopped banana pepper rings
2 T hot pickled pepper juice
Handful freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Combine crushed red pepper, mustard and about 2 tablespoons oil in a small dish. Slather the mixture over the skin of the chicken. Place chicken face down in a nonstick skillet. Set loose foil over chicken then a plate or smaller pan on top and weigh it down with a brick or heavy cans. Place pan over medium to medium-high heat and cook. After 18 minutes flip the chicken to get some color on the other side. Reduce the heat from medium to medium-low and cook for another 2 minutes, until cooked through. Remove weight, turn chicken over and sprinkle with chopped hot peppers then douse with pepper juice and top with parsley.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The BEST Mac 'n' Cheese

When I say best mac 'n' cheese, I mean it. My friend Michele gave me this scrumptious recipe and you just can't go wrong with a 4 cheese macaroni. Although it can be pricey, the gruyere cheese makes all the difference so buy it at Costco and find another recipe to use it in!

3 cups penne (make sure you measure! A whole box is too much and it’ll come out dry)
1 large egg
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
1-1/2 cups milk
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
4 oz cream cheese
2 cups gruyere cheese
¾ c. grated parmesan
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper (white if you have it)
3 Tbsp butter
12 saltine crackers

Boil noodles. Combine everything in a greased 9x13 or 8 cup casserole dish and bake for 25 min at 350. Crush crackers, add butter. Sprinkle cracker mixture on top and bake another 5 min.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine with Bacon, Parsnips, and Pearl Onions

This week Mark took on a cooking adventure...making short ribs. We've been dreaming about this dish since February. On our first date after James was born, we went to a great restaurant in Capitol Hill called Crush. I ordered the short ribs and they were melting in my mouth. We decided we had to try to re-create them at home. So we busted out our most extensive cookbook, The New Best Recipe and found this recipe. But it called for a dutch oven which we did not have. Cook's Illustrated ranked the Walmart Tramontina as a best buy so that is what we purchased. We were finally ready to make these short ribs! This was a multiple day process with hours of cooking but it was well worth it. These are so succulent and tender, no knife required!

Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine with Bacon, Parsnips, and Pearl Onions

If braising and serving the ribs on the same day, bypass cooling the ribs in the braising liquid; instead, remove them from the pot straight out of the oven, strain the liquid, then let it settle so that the fat separates to the top. With a wide shallow spoon, skim off as much fat as possible and continue with the recipe. Serve the short ribs over noodles or mashed potatoes.

Serves 6
6 pounds bone-in flanken-style short ribs
Table salt and ground black pepper
3 cups dry red wine (full-bodied)
3 large onions , chopped medium
2 medium carrots , chopped medium
1 large rib celery , chopped medium
9 medium cloves garlic , chopped (about 3 tablespoons)
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes , drained
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon tomato paste

Bacon, Pearl Onion, and Parsnip Garnish:
6 slices bacon (about 6 ounces), cut into 1/4-inch pieces
8 ounces frozen pearl onions (do not thaw)
4 medium parsnips (about 10 ounces), peeled and cut diagonally into
3/4-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange ribs in single layer in large roasting pan; season with salt and pepper. Roast until meat begins to brown, about 45 minutes; drain off all liquid and fat with baster. Return pan to oven and continue to cook until browned, about 8 minutes; using tongs, flip each piece and cook until second side is browned, about 8 minutes longer. Transfer ribs to large plate; set aside. Drain off fat to small bowl and reserve. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. Place roasting pan on two stovetop burners set at medium heat; add wine and bring to simmer, scraping up browned bits with wooden spoon. Set roasting pan with wine aside.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons reserved fat in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat; add onions, carrots, and celery. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften, about 12 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in flour until combined, about 45 seconds. Stir in wine from roasting pan, chicken stock, tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, tomato paste, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to boil and add short ribs, completely submerging meat in liquid; return to boil, cover, place in oven, and simmer until ribs are tender, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Transfer pot to wire rack and cool, partially covered, until warm, about 2 hours.
3. Transfer ribs from pot to large plate, removing excess vegetables that may cling to meat; discard loose bones that have fallen away from meat. Strain braising liquid into medium bowl, pressing out liquid from solids; discard solids. Cover ribs and liquid separately with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (Can be refrigerated up to 3 days.)
4. To prepare garnish and finish dish: In Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until just crisp, 8 to 10 minutes; remove with slotted spoon to plate lined with paper towel. Add to Dutch oven pearl onions, parsnips, sugar, and salt; increase heat to high and sauté, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Spoon off and discard solidified fat from reserved braising liquid. Add defatted liquid and bring to simmer, stirring occasionally; adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Submerge ribs in liquid, return to simmer. Reduce heat to medium and cook, partially covered, until ribs are heated through and vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes longer; gently stir in bacon. Divide ribs and sauce among individual bowls, sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon parsley, and serve.

White Bean Bruschetta

I made White Bean Bruschetta for Darren's birthday party. It's hard to go wrong with bruschetta in the first place, but with a layer of goat cheese under the tomato topping, it was amazing!

1 cup canned great northern beans, rinsed and drained
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup chopped pitted Greek olives
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 cup fresh basil, cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1 French baguette, cut into 1/3 inch thick slices
5 ounces goat cheese
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the beans, tomatoes, olives, 4 tablespoons oil, basil, garlic, salt and pepper.
  2. Place bread slices on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush with remaining oil. Broil 3-4 in. from the heat until golden, about 1 minute. Spread with cheese; top with bean mixture. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Slow Cook Thai Chicken

For Valentines Day this year Mark surprised me by making Slow Cook Thai Chicken. He found the recipe on and bought the ingredients without me knowing. When I got up in the morning, I found the chicken already simmering away in the crockpot. The cutest part of it all was when I went into the guest bathroom later in the day and found the cutting board and knife. He had been doing all the prep on the bathroom counter so I wouldn't hear him. I am seriously married to the most AMAZING man!!

6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 1/2 inch strips
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
3 green onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts


1. Place the chicken breast strips, bell pepper and onion into a slow cooker. Pour in the chicken broth and 1/4 cup of soy sauce, then season with cumin, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir to blend, then cover and cook on Low for 4 1/2 to 5 hours.
2. Remove 1 cup of the liquid from the slow cooker, and mix this with the cornstarch, peanut butter, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and lime juice. This should blend into a fairly thick sauce. Stir the sauce back into the slow cooker, and place the lid on the pot.
3. Cook on High for 30 minutes. Garnish with green onions, cilantro and peanuts before serving.

Piquant Pork Chops

This is a recipe I loved from my childhood- one of the many delicious meals my mom makes. This time I made them in the crockpot but they are equally as tasty in the oven. I served them with Brocco-tatoes.

6 pork chops
3 T butter
flour, pepper and salt

For sauce:
1 1/2 c. beef broth
1/4 c. chili sauce
1 bay leaf
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t. celery salt
1/4 t. hot pepper sauce
3 cloves or dash or allspice
1 clove of garlic, minced

2T cornstarch
1/4 c. water

Dredge chops in seasoned flour. Brown in butter and put in roasting pan (or crockpot). Pour off fat from frying pan. Mix sauce ingredients and pour over chops. Cover and bake at 350 for 1 hour. (Or 6ish hours in the crockpot on low) Remove chops to platter. Skim fat from liquid and pour the remaining liquid into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in 2T cornstarch blended with 1/4 c. water to thicken liquid into a sauce/gravy. Use to pour over chops.

Brocco-tatoes: Peel and Cube 2 large baking potatoes. Cover with cold water in stockpot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cook for 10 min. Then add 1 large head of broccoli, stems removed and chopped. Cook for an additional 8 min and then drain. Add 1/2 c. milk and smash with potato masher.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Shrimp Creole

My dad, a.k.a. MOD Master Chef, can cook up a mean Shrimp Creole. Whenever he brings leftovers into work he always says "the buzzards were out again".

1 ¼ cup onion
¾ cup green bell pepper
½ cup celery
1 poblano pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded
2-3 Tbsp. garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
¼ tsp. dried thyme
1 ½ Tbsp. Cajun seasoning
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. Tabasco or other hot sauce
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
10-15 grinds fresh black pepper
1 14 oz. can tomato sauce
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes in liquid
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
½ cup chili sauce
½ cup red wine
chicken stock to thin sauce
1 lb shrimp (can substitute cooked, diced chicken if desired)
3 Tbsp. olive oil

Chop the onion, bell pepper, celery and poblano. In large skillet, sauté onion, bell pepper and celery until tender. Add garlic and poblano pepper, sauté two more minutes. Add remaining ingredients, except shrimp, stir thoroughly, cover and simmer slowly for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Use chicken stock to thin sauce to desired consistency. Check seasonings several times. To finish, remove bay leaves, add shrimp, cook just until pink. Remove from heat. Serve over hot rice, garnished with chopped green onion or parsley, accompanied by extra hot sauce, garlic bread and your favorite cold beverage. Hoooeeeeeeee!

Aunt Jo's Swedish Pancakes

A visit with Aunt Jo would not be the same without her famous swedish pancakes. Swedish pancakes are commonly served with lingonberries but we prefer to just stuff them with powdered sugar!

1 c. flour sifted
2T sugar
1/4 t salt
3 eggs
3 c. milk
2T melted butter
Powdered Sugar

Combine dry ingredients, stir in eggs and gradually add milk until smooth. Add melted butter. Butter frying pan and pour batter in sections of the pan. Fry both sides. Once removed to plate, top with powdered sugar.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Kristi's Chicken and Salad

My good friend Kristi Hesse (brave mother of twins and fellow mindsweeper player) made this dinner for us one night in Tucson and I loved it.

Salad Dressing
1/2 C of olive oil
1/4 C of rice wine vinegar
1tsp of dijon mustard
1tsp of salt
1 tsp pepper
2tbsp parm cheese
1 clove crushed garlic
1/2 tsp of sugar
Just mix all ingredients together and pour over salad

Pound out the chicken so that it is an even thickness
3 lemons
1 Tbsp of lemon peel (zest)
1/4 C of olive oil
1 tbsp of sugar
1 tbsp of cidar vinegar
1 clove of garlic (minced)
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more if you like it hot)

Mix all together and marinate chicken for 1-2 hours, then cook chicken on the grill.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Twice baked mashed potatoes

Twice baked mashed potatoes is a delicious recipe I received from my friend Jaime Green.

4 large potatoes
4oz cream cheese, softened
5 slices cooked bacon, chopped
1/2 c. sour cream
2-3 T milk
salt and pepper
1/2 c. cheddar cheese for topping

Bake potatoes at 350degrees until soft (60-90min). Cool slightly and scoop out into a large bowl. Mash potatoes and then mix in the softened cream cheese. Then mix in the other ingredients, adding milk until consistency of thick pudding. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake in a 8x8 casserole dish at 350degrees for 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Moon Pies

Lately Mark has been "reminding" me of important recipes that just HAVE to be on the blog. Moon Pies are one of his favorite desserts.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup marshmallow creme
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease a cookie sheet.
  2. To Make Cookie Crusts: In a large mixing bowl, cream together 1/2 cup butter or margarine and white sugar. Add egg, evaporated milk, and vanilla. Mix well. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, salt, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder. Add flour mixture slowly to sugar mixture while stirring. Mix just until all ingredients are combined.
  3. Drop the dough onto greased cookie sheet by rounded tablespoonfuls. Leave at least 3 inches in between each one; dough will spread as it bakes.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 6 to 8 minutes, until firm when pressed with finger. Allow to cool at least one hour before filling.
  5. To Make Marshmallow Filling: In a medium mixing bowl, blend together 1/2 cup butter or margarine, confectioners' sugar, flavored extract, and marshmallow creme. Mix until smooth. Assemble pies by spreading 1 to 2 tablespoonfuls of filling on flat side of a cookie crust, then covering filling with flat side of another cookie crust.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Mexican Meatballs

Mexican Meatballs are a great twist on a traditional recipe. If you don't like things really spicy then omit the jalapeno and use a mild salsa. These pack a mighty punch!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1 large egg
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 16-ounce jar salsa

Heat oven to 400° F.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large, preferably ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeño and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat; let cool.

In a large bowl, combine the pork, bread crumbs, egg, salt, pepper, cumin, and onion mixture. Shape into 12 meatballs.

Wipe out skillet, add the remaining oil, and heat over medium-high heat. Brown the meatballs on all sides, about 7 minutes total.

If not using an ovenproof skillet, transfer the meatballs to a baking dish. Pour the salsa over the top. Bake until cooked through, about 25 minutes.

Pear Yeast Bread

This pear yeast bread recipe comes from my friend Dana who now resides in Dublin. It's a good thing she doesn't live closer because she is such a great baker, I would be 20 lbs. heavier if she lived nearby. Dana and I were in a women's Bible study in Tucson together and when I got married she gave me a cookbook she made with all her favorite recipes. Each one has been a winner!

1 can (15 ounces) pear halves, undrained
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3-1/2 cups bread flour
2-1/4 t active dry yeast


In a blender or food processor, combine the pears and extract; cover and process until pureed. Pour into bread machine pan.
Add the remaining ingredients in order suggested by manufacturer. Select basic bread setting. Choose crust color and loaf size if available. Bake according to bread machine directions (check dough after 5 minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 tablespoons water or flour if needed).

Balsamic Chicken with Goat Cheese

Balsamic Chicken with Goat Cheese is a recipe from my friend Bethany Long. Fresh basil, goat cheese and balsamic has to be one of the best combos ever!

Mash together:
1/2 lb. goat cheese
1 garlic clove, minced
1 package fresh basil, minced (dried will not work for this)

3 chicken breasts sliced thin to make 6 thin breasts
salt and pepper

Saute chicken in olive oil over medium heat.
Cook until almost done. Remove from heat and place in baking dish.
Cover with the cheese mixture and place in oven @ 350 until cheese is melted. ~10min

Into the pan the chicken was cooked in, add:
1 c. chicken broth
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar

Cook until reduced to syrupy consistency.
Add 1/2 stick butter (cut into pats)
Remove from heat and swirl until melted.

Pour over chicken and serve with rice, couscous or roasted potatoes.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Baked Chimichangas

Becky and Ben came over this weekend and made these Chimichangas for us. Baking them was great because it wasn't as fattening as frying but we coated them with olive oil so they still came out crispy and delicious!

1 cup chopped onion
6 galic cloves, minced
2 t olive oil
2 c. shredded cooked chicken
1 t oz. can green chilis
1 1/2 cups salsa
1 can refried beans
1 box of mexican rice
salt to taste
1-2 t chili powder
2 t cumin
3 T sour cream
1 1/2 c grated cheddar cheese
flour tortillas

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook rice according to packages directions. Saute the onion, garlic in olive oil until soft. Add the chilis to onions to cook through. In a large bowl combine booked onion mixture with all other ingredients (besides tortillas and 1/2 of the cheese). Place large scoop of mixture in each tortillas and roll up like a burrito. Place on foil lined baking sheet, coat with olive oil and top with cheese. Bake for 15min or until cheese is melted.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Aussie Chicken

This is a shout-out to my favorite Aussie: Meagan Williams who is "down under" for a couple of years. Her birthday is in a couple of days, so I made this meal in honor of her!

Aussie Chicken

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - pounded to 1/2 inch thickness
2 teaspoons seasoning salt
6 slices bacon, cut in half
1/2 cup prepared yellow mustard
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup fresh mushrooms
2 cups shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  1. Rub the chicken breasts with the seasoning salt, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until crisp. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the mustard, honey, corn syrup, mayonnaise and dried onion flakes. Remove half of sauce, cover and refrigerate to serve later.
  4. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place the breasts in the skillet and saute for 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until browned. Remove from skillet and place the breasts into a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  5. Slice mushrooms (I use my pampered chef egg slicer) and saute in skillet with a little bit of butter or oil until tender. Apply the honey mustard sauce to each breast, then layer each breast with mushrooms and bacon. Sprinkle top with shredded cheese.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and chicken juices run clear. Garnish with parsley and serve with the reserved honey mustard sauce.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Orzo with Roasted Vegetables

Orzo with Roasted Vegetables is a recipe given to me by my friend Elizabeth who is the funniest writer I know and skilled vegetable cook (since she doesn't eat meat). I omitted the eggplant and added 2 portabella mushrooms.

1 small eggplant, peeled and 3/4-inch diced
1 red bell pepper, 1-inch diced
1 yellow bell pepper, 1-inch diced
1 red onion, peeled and 1-inch diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound orzo or rice-shaped pasta

For the dressing:
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/3 cup good olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To assemble:
4 scallions, minced (white and green parts)
1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts), toasted
3/4 pound good feta, 1/2-inch diced (not crumbled)
15 fresh basil leaves, cut into julienne

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Toss the eggplant, bell peppers, onion, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, and pepper on a large sheet pan. Roast for 40 minutes, until browned, turning once with a spatula.

Meanwhile, cook the orzo in boiling salted water for 7 to 9 minutes, until tender. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the roasted vegetables to the pasta, scraping all the liquid and seasonings from the roasting pan into the pasta bowl.

For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and pour on the pasta and vegetables. Let cool to room temperature, then add the scallions, pignolis, feta, and basil. Check the seasonings, and serve at room temperature.

Rosemary Bread

Is anyone obsessed with Macaroni Grill bread like I am? Well, no need to go back, because this bread machine recipe is the perfect copy! I could pretty much eat the entire loaf with a little oil and cracked pepper to dip it in.

Rosemary Bread

1 cup water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select white bread cycle; press Start.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Spiced Mini Burgers with Couscous Salad

Spiced Mini Burgers with Couscous Salad is a great recipe I found in an old issue of Real Simple. Just like the magazines name, this recipe is really simple but tasty!

1 10-ounce box couscous
1 pound ground beef
Kosher salt and pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 scallions, trimmed and sliced
4 Roma (plum) tomatoes, quartered
1 seedless cucumber, sliced into half-moons
3 tablespoons tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 8-ounce container hummus (optional)

Place the couscous in a medium bowl and pour 1 1/2 cups hot tap water over the top. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork.

Form the beef into 12 small 1/2-inch-thick patties. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the cumin, and oregano.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the patties and cook to desired doneness, 4 minutes per side for medium.

Combine the couscous, scallions, tomatoes, cucumber, lemon juice, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and the remaining oil in a large bowl.

Divide among individual plates. Serve with the burgers and hummus, if desired.

Coconut Shrimp

Coconut Shrimp is a staple in our house. I fell in love with these beauties on my 21st birthday at Joe's Crab Shack. Even if you do not love coconut, you have to give these a try!

1 egg
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup beer
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups flaked coconut
24 shrimp
3 cups oil for frying
  1. In medium bowl, combine egg, 1/2 cup flour, beer and baking powder. Place 1/4 cup flour and coconut in two separate bowls.
  2. Hold shrimp by tail, and dredge in flour, shaking off excess flour. Dip in egg/beer batter; allow excess to drip off. Roll shrimp in coconut, and place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) in a deep-fryer.
  3. Fry shrimp in batches: cook, turning once, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Using tongs, remove shrimp to paper towels to drain. Serve warm with your favorite dipping sauce.

Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo Bars are a scrumptious Northwest dessert. These chocolate no-bake squares are often found on BC Ferries and in coffee stands. I found custard powder right next to the jello boxes in my local grocery store. Definitely a crowd pleaser!

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 egg, beaten
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds (optional)

1/2 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons custard powder
2 cups confectioners' sugar

4 (1 ounce) squares semisweet baking chocolate
2 teaspoons butter
  1. In the top of a double boiler, combine 1/2 cup butter, white sugar and cocoa powder. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Beat in the egg, stirring until thick, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in the graham cracker crumbs, coconut and almonds (if you like). Press into the bottom of an ungreased 8x8 inch pan.
  2. For the middle layer, cream together 1/2 cup butter, heavy cream and custard powder until light and fluffy. Mix in the confectioners' sugar until smooth. Spread over the bottom layer in the pan. Chill to set.
  3. While the second layer is chilling, melt the semisweet chocolate and 2 teaspoons butter together in the microwave or over low heat. Spread over the chilled bars. Let the chocolate set before cutting into squares.

Blue Chips Chicken Salad

I found this recipe in the free Costco cookbook that they hand out around Christmas time. Whenever Mark sees blue chips on the counter he always gets excited because he knows this recipe is coming. I packed this dinner for us for our flight to San Deigo because it's a great meal to make ahead of time and bring on picnics or for a meal on the plane. Just be sure to keep the chips separate until you eat so they don't get soggy!

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 packet taco seasoning
1 T olive oil
1 15 oz. can of whole-kernel corn, drained
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 c. COOKED white rice
1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
2 c. blue corn tortilla chips
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 c. salsa
1/2 c. ranch dressing

1. Season chicken with taco seasoning. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a saute pan. Add chicken and cook until done. Cut into strips and set aside.
2. In a bowl, mix corn, black beans and rice. Form into 4 balls and set aside.
3. Layer lettuce with rice balls, chicken strips, chips and cheese.
4. Combine the salsa and ranch dressing in a bowl and stir to mix. Pour over salad.


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