Monday, January 31, 2011

Shrimp Penne with Tomato Cream Sauce

I have had some people e-mail me off of Facebook and ask why it is we are seemingly eating oh so very early.  The answer is simple...because we are!  Since my hubby works from home, and the kiddos are home-schooled, and I am home all day, we have a pretty unique situation.  We thought we would try to go European and start eating our big meal, aka dinner, during the time we would normally eat lunch.  We have now been eating that way for a month and LOVE it!  We are able to burn off the big meal through the course of the rest of the day, then in the evening, we have a light a salad, soup, or sandwich.  It has done wonders for our digestion (and waist line) to not have a big ol' meal lurking in our bellies before we go to bed.  I know that most people would not be able to make that type of switch-up, but if there is anyway you can, even if just on the weekend, give it a try!  You might find yourself surprised at the benefits :)
Moving on to the recipe.  When my friend Amber from This Mommy Cooks posted this, I knew I wanted to try it and boy am I glad I did!  Though the ingredients seem quite simple, it is truly fabulous and easy, but totally special enough that you could serve it to guests....or a certain holiday for sweeties coming up!

Shrimp Penne with Tomato Cream Sauce   
  • 1 pound Shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3/4 pound (uncooked) Penne Pasta
  • 2 TBSP Butter
  • 2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 small Onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves Garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup White Wine...make sure you like the taste of it!
  • 1 can Tomato Sauce (8 ounces)
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 TBSP fresh chopped Basil
  • 1 TBSP fresh chopped Flat Leaf Parsley
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Parmesan Reggiano cheese, to sprinkle
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add some salt and the pasta and cook according to package directions. 
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter and olive oil.  Cook shrimp for a few minutes just until pink.  DO NOT over cook shrimp, they will become rubbery...bleck!  Remove shrimp to a plate and set aside.  Add onions to skillet and cook until transparent.  While onions are cooking, put the shrimp on a cutting board and chop into smaller bite sized pieces.  Add garlic to the pan and let cook until fragrant.  Add the wine to deglaze the pan, scrapping up any browned bits that may be on the bottom.  After the wine has cooked down a bit, add in the tomato sauce.  Give it a good stir, then slowly add the cream.  Turn heat down to a low simmer and let in hang out for a few minutes.  Add your herbs and stir again.  Add in shrimp and pasta and give it another good stir to warm them back up.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with some grated Parmesan Reggiano on top.  ENJOY!

This recipe has been linked up at:
Nikki's Nifty Knacks
Mommy's Kitchen
This Chick Cooks
Eat at Home

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerio Chewies

I have been posting a lot of main dishes lately.  I can't help it, when it is so stinkin' cold out, all you want to make and talk about is the warm, gooey, and yummy stuff.  Not to mention the whole trying to eat healthy after the holidays thing.  Anyway, as I was looking through my food photos of recipes to post, I saw this little gem I made back in sunnier days.  Now, I am not sure how many of you have had Chocolate Cheerios yet, but can I just say they are FABULOUS?!?!  Dry as a snack, or with milk...they totally ROCK!  And guess what?  When you use them in this recipe, holy chocolate and peanut butter Batman, it is a winner!  This was a fabulous treat for the kiddos and the adults too!

Cheerio Chewies
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 5 cups Cheerios  (I used 1/2 chocolate and 1/2 regular...or maybe 2/3 chocolate and 1/3 regular...whatever, don't judge me.)
In a large sauce pan, combine sugar and corn syrup. Bring to boil over medium heat.
Allow mixture to boil for one minute and remove from heat.
Add peanut butter and vanilla to mixture and mix until smooth.
Add Cheerios and mix until all coated.
Drop mixture by spoonful onto waxed paper and allow to cool.

Recipe adapted from:  Real Mom Kitchen

This recipe has been linked up at:
Nikki's Nifty Knacks
Frou Frou Decor
Tidy Mom
Simply Sweet Home
Mommy's Kitchen

Monday, January 24, 2011

Taco Salad Dippers

I am not sure why this is named Taco Salad Dippers and not just "Ohhhh yeahhh, baby!" (in your best Isaac Hayes voice.) 
It is so scrumptious!  An absolute perfect combination of meat, taco-ish sauce, rice, and beans.  The first time I made it, I topped it with cheese, lettuce, and sour cream then scooped up the goodness with tortilla chips, my hubby ate his like a bowl of chili, and my daughter made a bed of lettuce and crushed up Doritos for the filling to rest it's sleepy self on.  The possibilities are endless!  In fact, this week, I am wrapping the filling and some cheese in a flour tortilla and baking them smothered in Enchilada Sauce and more cheese....viola!  Supreme Burrada!  The point is, however you choose to eat this, you will LOVE it! 
As an added bonus, this one pot wonder is freezable!

Taco Salad Dippers
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup white rice, not instant
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce
  • 2 (6 oz.) cans tomato paste
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
In a large pot, brown the ground beef or turkey with the onion and garlic and cook until the meat is no longer pink and the onions are translucent. Drain any accumulated grease. Add the water, rice, seasonings, tomato sauce, tomato paste and beans. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, watching to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. The mixture will seem very watery at first, but after simmering, it will thicken to perfection as the rice absorbs water and all the ingredients meld together.

A HUGE shout-out to Mel from My Kitchen Cafe for another a-mazing dish!

This recipe has been linked up at:
Nikkis Nifty Knacks
Frou Frou Decor
Tidy Mom
Simply Sweet Home
Mommy's Kitchen
The Country Cook

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Monterey Ranch Bread

I am keeping this post short and simple, like this recipe! 
Remember the bread I made with the BBQ Chicken Soup?  That's right, the intriguing Monterey Ranch Bread.  This bread is so simple to make and a nice change to garlic bread.  At first I was a little skeeved-out at the thought of adding Ranch Dressing to cheese, but guess what, it totally worked!  There is a nice tang and medley of spices that you can't quite put your finger on.  Give it a whirl and ENJOY!

Monterey Ranch Bread
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese, or Cheddar Jack Cheese.  Shred the cheese, don't use the stuff in a bag, it just doesn't melt the same way.
  • 3/4 cup Ranch Salad Dressing
  • 4 Bolillo or Hoagie Rolls, split in half lengthwise to make 8 slices
  • 4 TBSP butter, melted
In a bowl, combine the cheese and salad dressing; set aside.
Brush slices of bread with butter. Place on baking sheet. Broil in oven 4 inches from the heat until golden brown. Spread with cheese mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired.

Recipe slightly adapted from:  Cassie Craves

This recipe has been linked up at:
Simply Sweet Home
Frou Frou Decor
Tidy Mom
Mommy's Kitchen
Nikkis Nifty Knacks

Monday, January 17, 2011

BBQ Chicken Soup

Sometimes, great things come out of those "whoops" moments.  Chocolate Chip Cookies, Ice Cream Cones, and Potato Chips were all "whoops" moments.  Now, I am not claiming my "whoops" as life changing as those, but it did work well for us!  I mis-read the amounts for parts of this soup, but thankfully, I was able to fix it...except that it basically doubled everything except the chicken and corn.  But guess what...we LOVED it!  And by "we" I mean, the hubby AND the kiddos.  It was a perfect broth to chunk ratio for us and the next day, we ladled the leftovers over a bowl of hot rice (not pictured above) and that was fabulous too!!  I also served this with some Monterey Ranch Bread, recipe coming later this week.  This was a great and welcome change to soup time, not to mention it is insanely fast and easy, easy, easy.

BBQ Chicken Soup
  • 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 TBSP fresh minced garlic
  • 1can (11 ounces) corn with peppers, drained.  Also called MexiCorn.
  • 2  cans (12 ounces each) White Chunk Chicken, drained.  Don't let this scare you!  I used Trader Joe's, but Swanson and Costco have a version that is great too.  You of course can always use diced or shredded chicken breast as well
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup your favorite BBQ Sauce.  I used Bullseye Original.
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp seasoned salt, i.e., Johnnie's or Lawry's
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Optional:  steamed White Rice to ladle soup over
Heat oil into a medium pot over medium heat. When hot, saute onions for 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in garlic, corn and chicken breast; mix to combine. Pour in chicken broth, BBQ sauce, salt, pepper, and seasoned salt. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, add cilantro leaves and simmer an additional 5 minutes or until ready to serve.  ENJOY!

Recipe adapted from:  Picky Palate

This recipe was linked up at:
Nikki's Nifty Knacks
Frou Frou Decor
Tidy Mom
Simply Sweet Home
Mommy's Kitchen
Delightful Country Cookin'
Eat at Home
The Country Cook

Friday, January 14, 2011

The ULTIMATE Chicken Fajitas

I don't know why I have hesitated to make Fajitas at home....something about the sizzling hot pan perhaps.  Or, something about every homemade Fajita I have tried has lacked a certain something.  It either has no seasoning or the packet seasoning that comes across as processed and salty to me.  But that all ends NOW!
I know it is incredibly presumptuous to call something the BEST or the ULTIMATE....but that is just how I roll...and that is how these Chicken Fajitas roll.  Or fold over.  Or whatever you like to do with them.  They are perfect and easy, and yes, the BEST!
Without further ado, let me introduce you to your next BEST:

ULTIMATE Chicken Fajitas


  • ¼ cup fresh lime not use the bottled stuff (about 3-4 limes)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp apple cider or red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp liquid smoke (do NOT skip completely makes this marinade!)
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts (about 3 large chicken breasts)
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into thin strips
  • 1 green pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 red (or orange) pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced.  I used red and Walla Walla Sweet Onion.
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 TBSP water
  • ½ tsp fresh lime juice (a quick squeeze of a cut lime)
  • dash of salt and pepper

Combine all marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Place chicken in a ziploc bag and pour the marinade ingredients over the top. Seal the bag and place in the refrigerator and let marinate for 2-3 hours.
After marinading, take chicken out of the bag and discard the marinade. Grill or broil the chicken 4-5 minutes per side. I used my indoor grill but you can certainly use your outdoor BBQ as well.  Remove from grill and tent with foil to keep warm.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat and add the onion, mushrooms and peppers. Stir fry until softened but still crisp tender. Add soy sauce, water, lime juice and salt and pepper. Cook another 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Slice chicken thinly on the diagonal and toss with the vegetables in the skillet. Serve immediately with flour tortillas and top with tomatoes, lettuce, guacamole, cheese, sour cream…the options are endless!

A BIG, hearty THANK YOU to Melanie from My Kitchen Cafe for again providing me with a FABULOUS recipe!

This recipe has been linked up at:
Frou Frou Decor
Tidy Mom
Simply Sweet Home
Mommy's Kitchen
Nikki's Nifty Knacks

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cheesy Ranch White Chicken Chili

I still cannot get used to the freak-out over snow in this part of the country.  Sure, I am from Colorado, so I know snow.  But, here in NC, they start cancelling schools and closing businesses the day before we might get snow.  Case in point, I went grocery shopping this weekend and it looked like a horde of locusts descended upon the stores.  Empty shelves everywhere!  I mean seriously...these people have block parties when there are hurricanes, but the mere mention of snow has them stockpiling and hording food and supplies thinking they will be trapped for weeks.  Crazy I tell you, CA-RAZY!!!
Anyway, here is what I made today for our "big snow", and it is pretty spectacular if I do say so myself.  A nice change up to "regular" chili and very quick to throw together. 

Cheesy Ranch White Chicken
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into bite sized pieces, salt and peppered
  • 1 medium Yellow Onion, diced
  • 2 cloves Garlic, finely minced
  • 2 cups Chicken Broth
  • 3 cans (15 ounces) Cannellini Beans drained and rinsed.  They can also be called white Kidney Beans
  • 2 cans (4 ounces) diced Green Chilies
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp dried Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 packet (1 ounce) dry Ranch Dressing Mix
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese, plus more for garnish if desired
  • 1 cup Sour Cream
  • 1/2 cup Whipping Cream
  • 1 TBSP chopped fresh Cilantro (you can use an additional TBSP if desired)
In a skillet over medium high heat, melt butter in olive oil and brown pieces of chicken in 2 batches.  Once all chicken is cooked, set aside and lower heat to medium - medium low.  Saute onions until soft and translucent, about 2-3 minutes.  Add garlic and allow to cook slightly.  Remember, no burnt garlic....bleck!  Transfer onions and garlic to a pot and add chicken.  Add in the chicken broth, beans, green chilies, Ranch packet, and seasonings and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.  Turn heat off and add in the shredded cheese, sour cream, heavy cream, and cilantro and stir to combine.  Additional salt and pepper to taste.  ENJOY!

This recipe has been linked up at the following:
Nikki's Nifty Knacks
Prairie Story
Frou Frou Decor
Tidy Mom
Simply Sweet Home
Mommy's Kitchen
Delightful Country Cookin'
The Country Cook

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Taco Soup

I know that everyone has a recipe for Taco Soup....and guess what, so do I! 
For those who may not have tried Taco Soup, it is kind of a lighter chili-ish type meal.  Perfect to serve with Corn Bread or Frito's, you can top it with any normal chili toppings.  It has a wonderful balance of flavors that is sure to please the kiddos as well as adults.
I particularly love that this is so easy, just open throw it in the crockpot and walk makes a TON so perfect for large gatherings or for leftovers.
Speaking of, one of our favorite ways to use up the leftovers is for NACHOS...YUM!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Texas Brisket with Caramelized Onion Gravy

This recipe is INSANELY fabulous and FABULOUSLY easy!
Truth be told, up until this recipe, I was a brisket virgin.  Yes, it is true.  Put away your faces of shock...surely I can't have been the only one. Right?
I had heard horror stories of briskets never turning out.  Ok, maybe "horror stories" is a bit strong.
When I read Donna's  "Holy crap cow balls. Was this ever delicious!" review of this brisket, I knew I had to make it.  I mean with a review like that, how could you go wrong, lol!
Try it, even if you have experienced a brisket horror of your own.  Try it, even if you have not the faintest idea how to make a brisket. 
Just do it and thank me on the flip side.


  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 3-4 pound fresh beef brisket
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup liquid smoke
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup steak sauce (such as A1)
  • 1/4 cup strong brewed black coffee
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Slice onions and arrange in center of a roasting pan that will hold the brisket snugly. Place brisket on top, fat side up.  You do not want to put the brisket on a rack, since you are making the bed of onions.  I used a large metal pan that I use when I make a lasagne for a crowd.
Whisk together the remaining ingredients; pour over brisket. Cover pan with heavy aluminum foil, sealing it tightly. Bake 3-1/2 hours or until tender.
Remove from oven; transfer meat to a cutting board and tent with foil.
Transfer the caramelized onions to a blender with a ladle or two of the liquid from the roasting pan. Blend until smooth.  Place remaining liquid from roasting pan into a small pot.  Stir pureed onions into liquid in pot and warm over medium low heat.
Slice brisket across the grain and then, if desired, cut the slices in half. Place slices in a serving dish and pour onion gravy over top.

Recipe Source:  Nigella Lawson

This recipe has been linked to:
Nikki's Nifty Knacks
Simply Sweet Home
Tidy Mom
Frou Frou Decor
Mommy's Kitchen
Prarie Story
Eat at Home