Sunday, May 24, 2015

double chocolate orange brownies

My husband declared these Hall of Fame!  He says it's the orange essence that did it.  I normally go for the box because I've been disappointed by made-from-scatch brownies.  Not these.  These are worth the extra effort, which by the way isn't much effort.  If you can crack a couple of eggs, pour in water and oil for a box mix you're half way to these brownies.

double chocolate orange brownies (Taste of Home)
3/4 cup butter, cubed
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon orange extract
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter and chocolate in a microwave proof bowl.  Stir until smooth.  Cool slightly  In another bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar.  Combine the two mixtures.  Add orange extract, orange zest, extracts and flour.  Pour into a prepared 13x9 pan.  Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Do not over bake.  Cool completely and cut into 2 dozen brownies.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

cinnamon glazed popcorn

When I saw this recipe I knew it was for me.  Sweet, salty & savory.  Crunchy & fresh but a tad bit sticky.  Simple to make and quick to be devoured.

cinnamon glazed popcorn (
2 bags popped popcorn
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons water
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Place popcorn in a very large mixing bowl.  Make sure you remove the un-popped kernels first.  Melt butter in a small saucepan.  Add water, sugar and salt.  Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and cinnamon.  Drizzle about half the cinnamon mixture over the popcorn.  Stir gently to coat.  Add remaining cinnamon mixture and stir until all the pieces are coated.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

ceviche tacos

Hall of Fame!  There are actually two kinds of fish tacos featured here.  The one on the left is what we call a "sauteed fish taco" and the one on the right is a ceviche taco.  When my husband asked me to thaw some fish for ceviche tacos I was afraid.  Ceviche is typically made from fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices.  Sounds amazing, right?  Well, I made it once and it was terrible.  It was my mistake for thinking it was the ceviche and not me- these are AMAZING!  My husband recently returned from a surf trip to Monterrey, California and lived on tacos while he was gone which I am sure provided the inspiration for these.  Since I was afraid of the ceviche at first, he sauteed some tacos for me so I got to try both.  I'll give you both recipes.  I am no longer afraid of ceviche!

my husband's ceviche tacos (pass the peas, please)
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup lime juice
Tapatio sauce
tuna steaks diced into bite-sized pieces
corn tortillas, diced tomatoes, mozzarella, shredded lettuce Renfro's green salsa, cilantro

He cut the tuna into bite-sized pieces then marinated it in the citrus juices with the tapatio for about 4-5 hours.  That "cooks" the fish.  He put the corn tortillas on the stove directly over the flame to make them nice and hot and toasty then filled them with ceviche, diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, mozzarella, green salsa and cilantro.  They were pretty heavenly!

my husband's sauteed tuna tacos (pass the peas, please)
diced tuna steak
few teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
a little olive oil
Pappy's garlic and herb seasoning

He mixed it all up and sauteed it.  He put the fish into corn tortillas that he had placed over the flame on our stove to warm. They were topped with diced tomatoes, mozzarella, shredded lettuce, green salsa and cilantro.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

pork and rice meatball soup

I say Hall of Fame, my husband said almost Hall of Fame.  It's so good all four kids ate it and enjoyed it (okay, two only ate the meatballs but that's okay with me- I ate the other stuff out of their bowls when they were done!).  Make it- you'll be glad you did.

pork and rice meatball soup (Real Simple Magazine, January 2015)
1/2 cup cooked white rice (I used brown jasmine rice)
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 scallions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
kosher salt and black pepper
1 pound ground pork
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
6 cups chicken broth
1 bunch spinach, about 4 cups
fresh cilantro, grated Cheddar and sour cream for serving

Combine the rice, eggs, oregano, a third each of the scallions and garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of the cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a bowl.  Add the pork and gently mix with your hands until just combined.  Form the mixture into meatballs (I formed about 24).  Broil on the prepared baking sheet, until cooked through.  Recipe called for 8-10 minutes but to get them nice and brown on top I cooked mine much longer.
Heat broiler.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the remaining scallions, garlic, and cumin and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the scallions are tender, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to thicken, 4 to 6 minutes.
Add the broth and bring to a boil.  Stir in the spinach and meatballs.
Serve topped with the cilantro, Cheddar, and a dollop of sour cream.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

store bought favorite: creamy garlic butter chicken

Note to self:  Another big hit with all my kids!  I just learned a great lesson- sometimes it's good to visit a different grocery store than you usually frequent because sometimes you'll find a treasure you never knew existed.  That's how I feel about this dish.  It's so easy and it's soooo good!  You put your chicken and vegetables in a 9x13, pour the sauce over the top and bake.  My kids were eating more carrots and potatoes than I've ever seen them eat.  It was a proud dinnertime.

store bought favorite: creamy garlic butter chicken (Campbell's OVEN Sauces)
You'll need 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, 2 cups potatoes, cut into 1" pieces and a pound of veggies.  The picture on the front of the pouch shows green beans but I used crinkle cut carrots and they were very delicious.  You bake at 400 degrees for an hour.  Serve with a loaf of French bread. 

6 servings in a pouch- 7 grams fat, 5 grams carbs, 1 gram sugar, 1 gram protein

Another note to self:  It would be a good idea to put a few of these pouches in the pantry for when a quick meal is needed to take to somebody.  A "one disposable pan" meal!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

turkey meatballs with light tomato sauce

Note to self:  All four children ate their dinner tonight. :)  These meatballs are moist and delicious.  I rarely cook with ground turkey because I don't think the leftovers are as desirable as other meats but the photo I saw of this meal made me salivate so I decided to give it a go.  This meal is super simple and delicious.  Tomorrow is the true test.

turkey meatballs with light tomato sauce (Inspired Taste)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste (I accidentally forgot this ingredient but didn't miss it)
1 large basil sprig plus tablespoons torn basil leaves

turkey meatballs
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 teaspoons chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound ground turkey (I used Foster Farms)

In a large skillet, heat olive oil with garlic and red pepper flakes.  Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and basil.  Let heat until it it is starts to bubble.
While the pasta sauce heats to a bubble, combine the bread crumbs, milk, egg, cheese, parsley, oregano and salt. Combine well.  Add the ground turkey and gently combine.  For this recipe you'll gently form each meatball one at a time and drop it into the "barely bubbling" pasta sauce.  Don't stir the meatballs until they have been cooked through because they are very fragile.   Serve over your favorite pasta.

Friday, February 6, 2015

quick and easy chicken noodle soup

This soup was a continuation of my friends' kindness yesterday.  When my friend Julie brought my little boy home from playing at their house all day she brought dinner- homemade chicken noodle soup, soft sourdough bread and salad.  I always say I don't need anything and I'm fine because I can usually deal with whatever comes but it was so nice and touching.  I felt loved and that feels good!  I wouldn't have made dinner and as it turns out my kids wanted dinner- go figure.  This soup tasted SOOOOO good.  I really like the seasonings and was drawn to the big chunks of carrots- I love cooked carrots.  There really is something to soup when you're not feeling well.  I have the best friends ever.

quick and easy chicken noodle soup (Julie found this recipe at
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chopped onioin
1/2 cup chopped celery
4 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 (14.5 ounce) can vegetable broth
1/2 pound cooked chicken breast, chopped
1 1/2 cups egg noodles
1 cup sliced carrots
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter.  Cook onion and celery in butter until just tender, 5 minutes.  Pour in chicken and vegetable broths and stir in chicken, noodles, carrots, basil, oregano, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes before serving.