Sunday, February 12, 2012

Super Bowl Food!

Our Super Bowl Feast!
As a way to celebrate our new apartment, Matt and I had some friends over to watch the Super Bowl last weekend.  My team (Green Bay Packers!) was unfortunately not playing, but I spent most of the day cleaning and - most importantly - cooking!
When I think of the Super Bowl, I think of snacks.  No one wants to sit down to a full meal when they're busy rooting for their team - or watching the way too expensive commercials.  (My favorite this year was for Volkswagon... the one with the dog that had to lose some weight!)  So, I decided to make one of my all time favorite snack foods - my dad's chili dip!

Let me tell you, the chili was a hit.  Everyone loved it, and came back for seconds and thirds!  It's really nothing too special, just your basic chili - only chunked up a bit.  Instead of throwing in diced tomatoes and onions and peppers, the recipe called for 2 cups of chunky salsa, and it uses black beans instead of chili beans.  But other than that, it's just plain ol' chili!  Throw everything into the Crock Pot for a couple hours and BAM - best chili ever.  I served it with some plain tortilla chips, but I think it would also go really great with Ritz style crackers.  Some of our friends brought over some other things to munch on, and we ended up with a game-day feast fit for any football fan!  We had a meat/cheese tray with crackers, cheese flavored little smokies, the chili dip, and some cookies and milk for dessert!  It was a great night, and everyone was full at the end of the night!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Garlic Parmesan Crusted Chicken

Almost every time I'm watching a show on HuluPlus (greatest thing ever invented by the internet) I seem to see the same commercial over and over again, and it was making me hungry.  The commercial is for Hellmann's mayonnaise, but the commercial shows some really juicy looking breaded chicken.  So, I looked up the recipe on the Hellmann's website, made some tiny adjustments, and ended up with the most delicious chicken I have ever had from home.  True to the commercial, the chicken stayed very moist, and the flavor was strong, yet not overpowering, as some garlic chicken can be.  To go with the Italian flavor of the chicken, I served it with my number one side dish, slices of garlic texas toast.

I followed the recipe almost exactly.  The only adjustment I made was to substitute the bread crumbs that the recipe calls for.  Instead, I got some garlic butter flavored croutons and crushed them in a bag and used that as the breading.  The little kick of garlic gave it the Italian flavor that it needed without being too much.  This recipe is going to be one I will use a lot, and the bread crumbs can be substituted with many other things to make it a very versatile dish.  Try it with a different flavor of croutons (ranch maybe), crushed french fried onions, or even mix in some bacon bits with the crumbs!  The possibilities with this are endless, and you can change it to match exactly what taste you are going for!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Anniversary Dinner

Colossal butterflied shrimp, linguine in clam sauce, and garlic parmesan bread
     I cooked a nice dinner at home last night for Matt and I's anniversary.  I love seafood, as I have said many times before, and almost every time I want to cook something nice for dinner, the first thought in my mind is always shrimp.  Anytime we go out for dinner, I almost always order something with shrimp - scampi, in pasta, batter fried, I pretty much love it all.
Everything I made was from Trader Joe's grocery store
     Everything I cooked in this meal came from Trader Joe's which is the coolest grocery store in town.  I have only been there a couple times, but each time I do, I find new and fun things that I'm excited to try.  I love a lot of stuff that I get from that place, and the prices are decent too.  I ended up with a box of 15 colossal butterflied shrimp marinated in garlic and herbs, frozen linguini and clam sauce, and garlic and parmesan french bread.

Shrimp cooking in the oven
     The shrimp were incredibly easy to cook and tasted like something you'd get at a nice Italian restaurant.  They come with the shell on, and I have never cooked shelled shrimp before, but there are very simple instructions included on the box.  All you have to do is place the shrimp on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes.  When they come out, the shells will have turned red and the insides will be white.  I put a little butter on mine before I ate them and they were great.

Linguine "nests"
      The linguine came as a frozen package (one of my favorite things!) with the pasta and sauce together.  One nice thing about this package is that the noodles are frozen in little birds-nest looking things, which are separate from the sauce.  This allows it to cook more evenly, since all the noodles and sauce are not frozen into one giant clump.  It cooked really quickly too, about 7 or 8 minutes total.  Once again, all I did was follow the instructions on the bag.
     I served both of these with slices of a fresh garlic parmesan baguette, which went really well with the Italian seafood theme I went with.  Also served with a bottle of White Zinfindel which went so well with the food too.  All in all, the meal was great, and we had an amazing night for our anniversary.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Hint of Ranch Roast Beef

This is by far my proudest cooking accomplishment.  I have been dying to use my Crock Pot for so long, but never really had any ideas of what to make in it.  I always just thought about chili, which I'm not a great fan of, so I never got around to doing it.
This morning, I went to the Farmer's Market with my parents and grandparents.  I set out this morning determined to score some ingredients that I could use in my slow-cooker.  Since I'm still experimenting with cooking and figuring out how stuff goes together, I asked advice from the two best cooks I know: my dad and my grandmother.  With their guidance, I decided on making a pot roast.  My mom helped me pick out some fresh carrots and red potatoes.  It was a team effort for sure, and it was a great morning adventure with my family.

So I looked through my trusty Better Homes & Gardens cookbook (I have no idea how I lived without it for so many years) to find a recipe to guide me.  I found my inspiration in a recipe that was for Ranch Pork Roast.  I liked the idea of tangy ranch in a pot roast.  I made my own unique recipe (for the first time ever!) and did it completely from scratch.  I credit the cookbook for giving me inspiration, but this recipe is 100% made by me.

The roast was so juicy and the fresh carrots and potatoes really made a difference.  I have never had carrots with so much flavor.  My mother decided that they are more "carroty" than other carrots.  This is the perfect way to describe their taste.  If I could, I'd buy farm fresh produce all the time.  I hope to go to the market a few more times before the fall so that I can try out some more fun recipes.


1 beef roast (mine was 1 and 1/4 lbs. and fed Matt and I with a little left over)
1 lb red potatoes, cut into eighths
4 carrots, sliced
1/2 yellow vidalia onion, chopped
1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch Dip mix
Salt and Pepper to taste

 Coat skillet with non-stick spray or cooking oil and heat on medium high.  Take 1/2 packet of ranch mix and rub into roast.  Place meat in skillet and brown, making sure to get each side evenly.

In the bottom of the Crock Pot, add the potatoes, carrots, and onions.  Sprinkle second 1/2 of ranch mix packed onto veggies and stir lightly.  Place roast on top of veggies and pour 3/4 cup of water over top.

Place lid on top and cook.  Cooking times will vary based on whether you cook the roast on low or high, and also on the weight of the meat.  My 1 and 1/4 lb. roast cooked in about 3 hours on high heat.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Cream Cheese Chicken Enchiladas

     This afternoon I really wanted cream cheese enchiladas from Taco Inn.  I thought about it, and decided that I'd try my hand at making them instead.  So, i googled "cream cheese chicken enchiladas recipe" and found one that sounded simple enough (where some recipes had me making sauce from scratch, and I didn't think I was ready for that yet).  I tweaked it very very slightly, and tried it out. This is the link to the original recipe.  I will post my recipe below.  It took me about 45 minutes all together to prepare, and is also the first recipe I've tried where I haven't used some sort of "convenience food" (like the frozen meals or the homestyle mac & cheese).  Where the recipe calls for shredded cheese, I used a 4-cheese mexican blend from Kraft that I think tasted really good with it, and I subbed 1/3 fat cream cheese.
      I was a little anxious to see how they turned out, being the first time I'd made something like this.  We literally just finished dinner as I am typing this, and I have been getting compliments on how good they are from everyone around.  I personally loved them as well.  Not exactly the same as Taco Inn's, but to tell you the truth, I may like mine better.  They're the perfect amount of creamy and spicy.  And they weren't all that hard to make after all.

Cream Cheese Chicken Enchiladas
  • 2 10oz cans of chicken breast, drained
  • 1 tbsp fresh minced garlic
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 8-oz. packages cream cheese
  • Tortilla shells (taco size)
  • 1 1/2 cans enchilada sauce
  • Shredded cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the chicken, garlic, onion, and cream cheese.  Fill the tortilla shells with the cream cheese mixture and place in a baking dish.  Top with enchilada sauce and shredded cheese.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cheesy Chicken & Potatoes

Yet another frozen entree (can you tell I love these?).  So easy and quick to make, nice for the evenings when I've had a long day and I don't want to have to fuss over dinner much.  This one is Bird's Eye brand, and I got it at Hy-Vee for about $4.  The entrees are called Voila! and there are several varieties, the one I prepared being Cheddar Chicken Potato.  It honestly only took 10 minutes from start to finish, and includes all you'll need for an entree for two people.  Also needed are a cup of water and a 10" skillet.  So easy, anyone could make this.



Hamburger buns
Garlic salt

Butter the bread sides of the hamburger buns and place on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle on garlic salt and cilantro to taste.  Bake at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Home-Made Mac & Cheese

Matt loves mac and cheese made with Velveeta.  I prefer the type from the box.  You know, add the cheese powder, milk, and butter, and you magically get cheese.  That's what I grew up on, and was my favorite food for most of my life (and is still a favorite, as you can see, I make it a lot) but now, I've branched out and have decided to work on some variations.  Tonight, I made Matt's favorite version, and although I still love my cheese powder, this stuff was not too shabby either.

18 oz. Velveeta (cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
3 cups uncooked macaroni noodles
1/2 cup milk
Pepper to taste

Bring water to boil in a large pot (I always add just a dash of salt to the water before it boils.  My dad always told me that it makes the water boil faster.  I have no idea if this is true, but I do it anyway).  Add macaroni noodles, cooking until pasta is tender.  Drain and return to pot.  Add milk and Velveeta and pepper.  Cook over low heat until the Velveeta is completely melted, stirring occasionally.

If you prefer, you can use Light Velveeta and skim milk to lower the fat and calorie content.