Sunday, December 31, 2017

gorgeous charcuterie & cheese platter

My photo is sideways and I tried to fix it but it wouldn't budge (insert small tantrum).  
Look at this gorgeous appetizer platter (if you want to be fancy check out the title of this post) that my nieces in Southern California made on Christmas Eve.  Fancy, eh?  They opened up all this wonderful food from Trader Joes packages and made some magic happen on a cutting board.  LOVE IT!  One day I might attempt it myself but there has to be a whole lot of people willing to eat all those calories!

aunt mo's mock sukiyaki

We had a great time visiting family in California (and going to Harry Potter Land).  While at my SIL's house I browsed through her ward's "favorites" cookbook and found a few recipes to try.  My family really enjoyed this one.  Simple, fresh flavors and easy to make.

aunt mo's mock sukiyaki (a couple gals from my sister in law's ward in CA)
1 pound tip sirloin, cubed or sliced
cooking oil
8 ounces beef broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch to 1/2 cup water
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 bunch green onion, sliced
2 cups celery, sliced
3 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 green bell perpper, cut into chunks

Brown meat in oil, add broth, soy sauce and vegetables.  Simmer until vegetables are crisp-tender.  Add cornstarch and water mixture to meat and vegetables to thicken.  Serve over brown basmati rice or other fragrant rice.

Monday, December 18, 2017

cranberry chicken

This recipe is a snap to make and I have good memories of this recipe because when we lived in Hershey several women made freezer meals for each other, a dinner club kind of thing, and my friend Suzette made this freezer meal for everyone in the group.  
I signed up to provide dinner for my son's teacher who just had a knee replacement so I made two batches which required chicken and the ingredients you see above, that's all!

cranberry chicken (my friend Suzette)
(for a double batch)
5 big chicken breasts, filetted
1 bottle French dressing
1 box onion soup mix (contains 2 envelopes- use both)
2 cups cranberry sauce 

Lay chicken breasts in bottom of a 13x9 pan.  In a medium bowl mix dressing, soup mix and cranberry sauce with a fork and whisk.  Pour over the top of the chicken and cover pan with foil.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour 20 minutes.  Serve over rice.

Note:  For a single batch, use 2-3 chicken breasts, 1 cup French dressing, 1 cup cranberry sauce and 1 envelope onion soup mix.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

chicken shwarma

I took my husband to a Middle-Eastern restaurant that he'd been wanting to go to for quite a while.  We enjoyed our meal immensely then walked into the little store attached to it.  We bought the above shwarma seasoning so we could make something delicious at home.  As we paid for it I asked exactly how to prepare it so I could get it right.  We enjoyed it TWO nights in a row because it was sooooo good.  I am going to go back and get more seasonings to try out at home!

chicken shwarma (the gentleman at Al-Jebal told me the recipe)
2 pounds chicken, thinly sliced
1 ounce schwarma seasoning (I had to weigh it to be sure how much an ounce was- the bottle contains 5 ounces)

Combine chicken with oil and seasoning and let marinate a few hours.
When ready to cook, heat a little bit of oil in a pan and pan fry until done.
We like it one of two ways:
1.  Serve in a pita with tahini sauce, a hot garlic pepper sauce, cucumbers and lettuce.
2.  Serve over a fragrant rice with tahini sauce and a hot garlic pepper sauce.

homemade tahini sauce

When I bought this jar of tahini I actually thought I was buying tahini sauce.  Then I tried it.  I knew I couldn't pour that onto my chicken shwarma pita so I looked up a simple recipe and adapted it.  I love middle eastern food- it's such a treat!

simple homemade tahini sauce
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2-1 cup warm water (I used close to a cup)

Put all ingredients into a small bowl and whisk, adding water a little bit at a time until you get the consistency you want.

andes mint cookies

These are awesome!  My husband tried them at our kids' piano recital and my daughter who helped make them at a friend's house said they were sooooo easy to make so I asked for the recipe.  My friend Amy says she always has a box of cake mix and a package of Andes mints on hand in case someone in the family needs to take refreshments somewhere last minute and with kids going to mutual and firesides, it happens frequently!  Now I have a box of cake mix and a package of Andes mints in my food storage pantry. :)

andes mint cookies (my friend Amy N.)
1 (15.25) package devil's food cake mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 package Andes Mints

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine cake mix, oil and eggs.  Drop spoonfuls of dough onto baking sheet.  Bake for 6-9 minutes.  Take baking sheet out of oven and while cookies are still very hot, place an Andes mint on the top of each cookie.  In about 5 minutes, the mint will be melted.  Take a spoon and smooth out each mint like frosting.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

fabulous fish

I found this recipe in my beloved Hershey Ward Relief Society Cookbook and this recipe is from a dear friend of mine so I really looked forward to trying this recipe because she's a really great cook.  My kids are not fish eaters so this was the "adult dinner" and I made them a "kid dinner"- a chicken broccoli casserole from the same cookbook.  My son decided not to touch the kid dinner and took 3 servings of this fish!  The last serving he took off my plate when I was making more salad for my girls.  I was overjoyed that he liked it.  He even commented on its flakiness.  What?!   This fish was fabulous!  And easy.

fabulous fish (my friend Annie)
1 pound tilapia fillets (mine were from Costco)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning
1 lemon, quartered

Place fish fillets in a baking pan or Ziplog bag.  Mix soy sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, and lemon pepper in a small bowl.  Pour mixture over fish fillets and marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.  Cook fillets over medium heat for 5-7 minutes.  Squeeze lemon juice over cooked fillets.  Serve warm.

hello dolly cookies

Why do I always forget to make the easiest cookies?  These are the BEST!  I made a lot of the cookie recipes my grandma used to make to send to my grandpa for Christmas.  She always used to make these hello dolly cookies as well as about a dozen others at Christmas and I looked forward to them.  My kids can't remember me making these before and LOVED them.

hello dolly cookies
3 cups crushed graham crackers
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
2 cups chocolate chips
3 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
1 can sweetened, condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl combine graham crackers and melted butter. Spread into the bottom of the 9x13 pan.  Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top.  Sprinkle shredded coconut over the chocolate chips.  Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk over the top of the coconut.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Friday, December 8, 2017

creamy garden spaghetti

It had been a while since I'd pulled out my Hershey Relief Society cookbook so I pulled it out and found a few recipes to try.  I love remembering these friends as I prepare the recipes.  This creamy garden spaghetti is delicious.  I wanted something with lots of veggies because of all the endless Christmas goodies in the house.

creamy garden spaghetti (Natalie from Hershey Relief Society Cookbook 2008)
1/2 pound fresh broccoli, broken into florets
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 large carrot, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces uncooked spaghetti
1/4 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups milk
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons butter
sauted chicken, optional

In a large skillet, saute the broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms and carrot in oil until crisp-tender.  Remove from the heat and set aside.  Cook spaghetti according to package directions.  In another saucepan, saute onion and garlic in butter until tender.  Stir in the flour, bouillon and thyme until blended.  Gradually add milk.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Reduce heat to low; stir in cheeses until melted.  Add the vegetables, heat through.  Drain spaghetti, toss with vegetable mixture.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

pumpkin spice roll-out sugar cookies

I did it- I made a big Thanksgiving dinner today.  For one person, my son.  He couldn't remember having a big traditional dinner so I thought we should do it.  The rest of the family wasn't all that thrilled but I did it (they like our tradition of raclette for dinner)!  All the clean up is just about taken care of and now we're awaiting the arrival of some friends to join us for dessert tonight.  Cheesecake, cherry pie, pumpkin pie cake, fresh fruit, etc.  These are cookies that the kids can decorate and either eat tonight or take home.  This recipe is terrific.  It calls for sugar-in-the-raw which adds a satisfying crunch, while eating and while cutting the shapes out with cookie cutters.  The perfect fall sugar cookie.

pumpkin spice roll-out sugar cookies (from my friend Brittney's daughter who shared these at Activity Days)
1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
3/4 cup baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
2 3/4 cup whole wheat flour

Cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in the tubinado sugar and cream for an extra minute.  Add the baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice; mix well.  Add the egg and milk.  Beat well.  Add the flour, mixing until well combined.  The dough should be soft and not sticky.  Turn out onto sheets of waxed paper and roll.  Cut out shapes and transfer to baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Freeze sheets for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 365.  Remove cookies from freezer and bake 8-10 minutes or until the edges begin to have a hint of brown.  Cool cookies on baking sheet 2-3 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.  Decorate if desired.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

spicy giardiniera pizza topping

About a year and a half ago my husband gave me the most delicious pizza and pasta topping for my birthday.  We wanted more after we polished off the jar but unfortunately the store, Tuesday Morning, no longer had it.  After a long wait, my husband decided to find a recipe and make some.  It is delicious!  What I love about this recipe is that it is far less greasy- the store bought topping was marinated in oil which is not my preference.  We all agree that it is less spicy than the other but that's an easy fix! :)

spicy giardiniera pizza topping (my husband found the recipe somewhere?!)
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 big carrot
1 celery stalk
1 onion
5 jalapeƱo peppers
1 habanero pepper
1 cauliflower
1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
1 heaping tablespoon dried oregano
1 heaping tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 C. white vinegar

Dice all the vegetables and combine with the spices and vinegar. Add a little water if necessary and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

2 little cans of diced black olives
2 big jars of pimento stuffed green olives
1/2 cup olive oil

Chop the green olives and combine with the black olives, olive oil, and the spicy vegetable mixture. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 days.

Friday, October 27, 2017

store bought favorite: tj's harvest blend herbal tea

This herbal tea is delicious.  Normally I don't think of tea as being delicious but this one is fall-in-a-cup.  Pour in a little milk or half and half and you have creamy-fall-in-a-cup, even more delicious.   I need to go stock up!  Just in time for those chilly (way too chilly) mornings.

store bought favorite: trader joe's harvest blend herbal tea
ingredients:  cinnamon, ginger, hibiscus, natural cinnamon and apple flavors with other natural flavors, chamomile, roasted chicory, orange peel

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

delicious cheese sticks

We got home from dance this evening and my oldest had these made about 3 minutes after we walked in the door.  I rarely eat fried foods but these are delicious! One of my weaknesses is cheese.  The more cheese the better!  We enjoyed these with homemade salsa.  I asked her if she found this idea on Pinterest and she said no- she saw some egg roll wrappers that had been sitting in our fridge for weeks so decided to try this out.  Brilliant!

delicious cheese sticks
12 string cheese sticks
12 egg roll wrappers
water to seal the edges

Roll up each cheese stick in an egg roll wrapper.  Seal the ends with a little water.  Pour enough canola oil in the bottom of a pan to coat the bottom.  Heat to medium.  Cook the cheese sticks until light brown and bubbly.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

stuffed pork chops with butternut squash and figs

Hall of Fame.  Seriously!  It's been killing me that it's taken so long for me to post this after making it and enjoying it so much.  Posting delicious dishes sort of seals the deal for me; makes it official.  Will life slow down?  No.  It just speeds up and gets more complicated.  That's okay if you can slow down long enough to enjoy a dish like this.  Thanks, Erin, for the great recipe!

stuffed pork chops with butternut squash and figs (my friend Erin K found it at skinnytaste, slightly adapted)
3 thick boneless pork chops
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small white onion, chopped
1 1/4 cups diced butternut squash, 1/2-inch diced (I used 1/2 package from Trader Joe's)
5 black mission figs, chopped (I picked out 5 from bulk foods section)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup baby spinach
3 fresh sage leaves, chopped (next time I'll add a few more)
1/4 teaspoon crushed black pepper
cooking twine
cooking spray

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil.  Add onions and saute for 2 minutes.  Add squash and 2 tablespoons water and cover; cook on low for 10 minutes.  Remove lid and add figs, garlic, spinach, salt, sage and pepper and cook for another 3-4 minutes.  Set aside to cool.
Cut a pocket into the sides of the pork chops, careful not to cut all the way through at the ends.  Season the inside and outside of the pork with salt.
Stuff each with about 3/4 cup of squash mixture. Cut cooking twine long enough to tie each with twine.  Cut off extra twine.
Preheat oven to 375.  In the skillet over medium-high heat, carefully sear each pork chop on each side- 3 sides.  If your skillet is oven-safe, cover with foil and place in the center of the oven.  If not then transfer to baking dish and cover with foil.  Place skillet or baking dish directly into the oven and cook for 30-35 minutes.  Allow to sit 5 minutes before cutting off twine.  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

green tomato salsa verde

I love my backyard but there are two "problems" if you want to grow anything.  The first is the deer.  Our yard is the home to many deer who absolutely love our property.  They love the lichen that drops from our 100 foot tall, 100 year old beautiful oak trees that block the sun which is the other problem.  I love the deer and the trees but it's hard to grow anything edible or beautiful.  My very determined husband secured a garden area but those oak trees don't let a lot of sun in.  Thanks to his persistence and creativity we ended up with a lot of tomatoes very late in the season but many never turned red.  He asked if I could make some salsa verde so here it is!  My kids absolute loved it.  My husband will get to try it when he gets home.

green tomato salsa verde (adapted from
3 pounds green tomatoes, cores removed and quartered
2 large onions, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 jalapenos
1/2 cup cilantro
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon salt or to taste
6 cups water

Place tomatoes, onion, garlic and jalapenos into a big pot.  Add cilantro, cumin and salt; pour in water.  Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the tomatoes are soft, 10 to 15 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables into a blender in batches.  Puree until smooth.

Monday, September 18, 2017

really easy and delicious vegetarian chili

It's unlike me to post vegetarian main dishes and now I've posted two in a row!  My oldest wants to eat less meat so I'm trying some new recipes.   This looked easy and had great reviews so we gave it a try.  My family loved it!  Two family members ate theirs before the rest of us got home.  When I asked if they had pulled out the shredded cheese, cilantro and sour cream they said it didn't need it!  This is good stuff.  And SOOO easy.

really easy and delicious vegetarian chili (adapted from
1 onion, diced (I used 1/2 red onion and 1/2 white)
1 (28 ounce) can pureed tomatoes
2 (15 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
2 can great northern beans, drained
2 cans chili beans with spices, undrained
2 cans kidney beans, drained
2 tablespoons taco seasoning (or 2 packets)
1 packet ranch dressing mix (I found one without MSG, it was store brand)

toppings: shredded cheese, cilantro, sliced green onions, sour cream (all optional)

In a big pot saute the onions for a few minutes.  Add the tomatoes, beans and spices.  Bring to a boil and cook until thoroughly heated.  Enjoy!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

slow cooker indian-spiced lentils

First of all this dish is outstanding!  Second, it was exciting because I don't recall ever buying red lentils so I got to try something new.  My kids looked at it and were unsure but ate it up. Then asked for more!  My husband said it tastes a lot like what we'd get at Evergreen, our favorite Indian restaurant downtown.  I was excited to try this recipe because my teenager wants to eat less meat.  Not only is this recipe full of lentils but also an enormous bag of spinach!  This recipe is very healthy with lots of protein and iron and other good stuff I'm sure.  A big thank you to my friend Mandy for passing this recipe along!

slow cooker indian-spiced lentils (my friend Mandy found it at Our Best Bites, slightly adapted)
2 cups red lentils
10 ounces fresh spinach, chopped
15 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
4 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon mustard seeds (I omitted this)
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon lime juice
handful of chopped cilantro plus more for garnish
serve over cilantro lime rice- it was delicious!

Combine all ingredients except for the lime juice and cilantro in the pot of a slow cooker.  Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-7 hours.  Before serving add the lime juice and cilantro.

cilantro lime rice

This is my new favorite rice.  I discovered how versatile it is when I used it for Mexican bowls one night,  Thai chicken another night and last night withIndian-spiced red lentils (a recipe you have to try!).  It complements so many dishes really well.

cilantro lime rice
2 cups brown basmati rice
5 cups water
1 tablespoon chicken broth granules
big handful of cilantro
1/4 cup lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

Put rice, water and chicken broth granules in a rice cooker.  Turn on and allow to cook.  When it's done cooking add cilantro, lime juice and salt and pepper.  Stir well to combine.  That's all!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

instant pot thai chicken

This was really tasty.  I liked that the flavors were mild.  I paired it with some cilantro lime rice that was leftover from a different night and it went together perfectly.  I wasn't sure if my kids would like the peanut sauce but they did!  They ate the chicken and dipped naan bread (from Trader Joes) in the extra sauce.

instant pot thai chicken (Pressure Cooking Today)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed (I used a bag of thawed chicken thigh strips which was 2.7 pounds from Tyson)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I need to use more next time!)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup chopped peanuts, optional
green onions or cilantro chopped for garnish, optional

Select Saute and add 1 tablespoon oil to the instant pot.  When oil is hot brown the chicken in small batches.  Set the browned chicken onto a platter.
When all the chicken is browned, add chicken broth, peanut butter, soy sauce, cilantro, lime juice, red pepper and ginger.  Stir to combine.
Add the browned chicken to the pot with any juices that have collected on the platter.  Turn off Saute.  Cover pot and lock lid in place. 
Select Poultry and 10 minutes cook time.  After 10 minutes turn off pressure cooker and use quick release method.  Remove chicken thighs from the pot leaving the sauce.
In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in 2 tablespoons water.  Add cornstarch mixture to the sauce in the pot stirring constantly.  Select Saute and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  After sauce thickens, add thighs and coat with the sauce (if you want a sweeter sauce, add some sugar).  Serve garnished with chopped peanuts and/or green onions.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

quick and easy fish stew

This soup is delicious!!!  It was so quick to make.  Makes me want to take a trip to the coast.

quick and easy fish stew (adapted from Simply Recipes)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 medium sized tomatoes, chopped
2 teaspoons tomato paste
6.5 ounce can chopped clams with juice
2 cups chicken broth
2 pounds fish fillets (use a firm fish- I used cod), cut into 2" pieces
pinch of oregano
dash of Tabasco sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat.  Add onion and saute 4 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook a minute more.  Add parsley and stir 2 minutes.  Add tomatoes and tomato paste and gently cook for 10 minutes.  Add clams with juice, broth and fish.  Bring to a simmer until the fish is cooked through and easily flakes apart.  Add seasoning.  Serve with crusty bread.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

instant pot meaty italian pasta dinner

All of my kids liked this one and it was easy in the Instant Pot.  I liked the flavor that the balsamic vinegar and worcestershire sauce gave this recipe.  It was great.

instant pot meaty italian pasta dinner (homemade food junkie)
1 tablespoon oil
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground sausage (I used spicy chicken sausage)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup roasted peppers, chopped
12 ounces uncooked pasta
20 ounces canned petite diced tomatoes with juice
2 1/2 cups water
6 ounce can tomato paste
15 ounces tomato sauce
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
1 cup Mozzarella cheese
parmesan cheese

Select the saute function.  After it heats add the oil.  Add the meat and break it up and cook until completely browned.  Add the garlic and peppers and stir.  Add the uncooked pasta.  Add the liquids and the tomatoes.  Stir all together.  Secure the pressure cooker lid.  Select manual for 6 minutes and seal the vent.
When cooking is done turn the instant pot off and use quick release.
Stir in the mozzarella cheese.  Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

instant pot ginger garlic drumsticks

I love how my new Instant Pot is inspiring me to try new recipes again.  Cooking and eating was becoming a blah experience.  I enjoy having something new to look forward to toward the end of the day.  Everyone enjoyed the chicken.  The meat is always so tender from the Instant Pot and full of flavor.  What will I try next?

instant pot ginger garlic drumsticks (Living Sweet Moments) 
12 chicken drumsticks, skin on 
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey 
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar 
2 garlic clove minced1 teaspoon fresh ginger minced
1/2 onion chopped
1/2 red onion, sliced

In the instant pot, mix the sauce ingredients: water, soy, honey, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, garlic, ginger, and onion until combine.
Add chicken drumsticks and push them down so they are submerged in the sauce as much as possible.
Cook on high for 10 minutes.
Let the drumsticks cool for 5 minutes before releasing the steam.
Release the steam.
Remove the drumsticks and place on a cookie sheet with a lip lined with foil.
Push the saute button so the sauce boils and starts reducing.  Mix 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 3 tablespoons water and stir into the sauce to thicken.
Pour sauce over the drumsticks and place sliced onion over the top.  Broil for 2 minutes on each side.

Note:  I doubled the sauce ingredients.  I'm glad I did because my family enjoyed the extra sauce on sticky rice.

Friday, August 18, 2017

store bought favorite: tj's enchilada sauce

My husband texted me this picture of our glass recycle bin so I would begin to comprehend my consumption of this dream sauce- Trader Joe's bottled enchilada sauce.  There's nothing like it!  It started with one innocent bottle and has led to enchilada-eating that has grown to out-of-control proportions.  I admit it- I eat an enchilada for breakfast and lunch every day.  Every single day (except when I'm on vacation and there's no Trader Joes to be found).  I know.  It's weird.  But I ask you to just try an enchilada the way I make them.  Fresh every time.  Now my kids are asking for them.  I introduced them to my mother when she was in town and she has since introduced them to my brother and his wife.  It's a thing.  I'm telling you...

trader joe's enchilada sauce enchiladas
1 tortilla (I use whole wheat tortillas)
a nice scoop of shredded chicken (cooked in the crock pot with some salsa)
shredded mozzarella cheese (my kids prefer Cheddar but I prefer lower fat)
trader joe's enchilada sauce 

Place a tortilla on a microwave proof plate.  Spread a line of chicken across one end of the tortilla.  Pour some enchilada sauce over the top and a little cheese.  Roll up.  Pour more enchilada sauce over the top.  Be totally generous with the sauce- don't hold back.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Microwave for 1 minute 45 seconds. 

pressure cooker teriyaki chicken

I asked my friend with a pressure cooker for a favorite recipe so I don't waste any time with so-so recipes and she enthusiastically shared this recipe, which she makes weekly for her family.  My family LOVED it.  I wish I had made more because 3 pounds of chicken wasn't enough (and I didn't even have any because the sugar content would put me into a coma).  Now my family wants it weekly.
I have to say I am a huge fan of these new pressure cookers.  They are silent!  I was worried mine wasn't working because I grew up with my mom using an old school super noisy, scary one.  I was always worried it was going to explode and kill us all after she warned me not to get too close.  I feel nice and safe with my Instant Pot.  Now onto the recipe:

pressure cooker teriyaki chicken (Dee-Anna found this recipe on
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple
1 cup chicken stock
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used frozen from Costco)
2 tablespoons cornstarch, optional
2 tablespoons cold water, optional

Combine brown sugar, soy sauce, cider vinegar, ginger, garlic powder, pepper, crushed pineapple and juice and chicken stock and stir until the brown sugar is dissolved.
Place chicken thighs in the pressure cooker and pour in the sauce.  Stir gently to coat.  Bring the pressure cooker up to high pressure over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, maintaining high pressure.  Cook for 20 minutes.
Stir cornstarch into cold water and set aside.
Reduce the pressure using the rapid-release method.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a serving dish; cover with foil and set aside.  Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the sauce, bring the mixture to a boil, and cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened, about 3 minutes.  Serve the chicken topped with the teriyaki sauce.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

instant pot beef gyros

My husband got me an Instant Pot for my birthday and after trying it out using this recipe...I LOVE IT!  I love this recipe and I love my new appliance.  These beef gyros were incredibly tasty.  INCREDIBLY.  I silently told myself about a million times what a good cook I am while I enjoyed my beef gyro.  Do not, I repeat do not use a store bought tzatziki sauce.  Make it using the recipe below.  You'll be telling yourself what a fine cook you are.

instant pot beef gyro (My Crazy Good Life)
2 lbs. beef roast, thinly sliced (I bought the carne asada meat because it was thinly sliced)
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. lemon juice
Pitas or Naan bread, or Flat Out pitas

tzatziki sauce
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup cucumber peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp. salt and pepper
2 tbsp. fresh dill

toppings: sliced carrots, sliced onions, sliced cucumbers, sliced tomatoes, lettuce, feta cheese

Directions for Instant Pot Beef Gyros:
1) Turn Instant Pot on saute and let the pan warn up. When it’s warm, add oil to the bottom of the pan and let it get hot.

2) Add meat, seasoning, garlic, and onion to Instant Pot. Sear and let onions soften for 3-5 minutes.

3) Pour lemon juice and broth over the meat. Give the meat a quick stir, then lock lid into place. Turn the steam valve to sealing. Using the Meat/Stew preset cook the gyro meat for 9 minutes. Let the pressure naturally release for 3 minutes before releasing the remaining pressure using the quick release method. 

Directions for Instant Pot Beef Gyros  stove top directions in italic):
1) Turn Instant Pot on saute and let the pan warn up. When it’s warm, add oil to the bottom of the pan and let it get hot. Do this on your stove top. 
2) Add meat, seasoning, garlic, and onion to Instant Pot. Sear and let onions soften for 3-5 minutes. Same directions for stove top. 

3) Pour lemon juice and broth over the meat. Give the meat a quick stir, then lock lid into place. Turn the steam valve to sealing. Using the Meat/Stew preset cook the gyro meat for 9 minutes. Let the pressure naturally release for 3 minutes before releasing the remaining pressure using the quick release method. Add lemon juice and broth, cover, let simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

orange marmalade bbq chicken

My young son made this delicious chicken for dinner tonight.  True story.  I've been having each my kids make dinner one night per week and it's a smashing success!  If I had made this chicken myself he maybe would've eaten one drumstick.  He ate three!  He couldn't believe how delicious they were.  One of my daughters who doesn't like chicken ate it too!  Everyone loved it.  Three ingredients.  Three!

orange marmalade bbq chicken (slightly adapted from Lord Byron's Kitchen)
16 chicken drumsticks
1 cup Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce
1 cup Smucker's orange marmalade
salt and pepper, if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly spray  a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray or line with foil (that's what I did).
Position the drumsticks on the sheet, skin side up and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Now stir the marmalade and the barbeque sauce together in a bowl and set aside.
Remove the chicken from the oven and spoon the sauce on top of each piece of chicken.  Use half the sauce.
Return the chicken to the oven and bake another 20 minutes.
Once again, remove the chicken from the oven and spoon more sauce onto the drumsticks.
Bake 10 more minutes.
Now spread the rest of the sauce over the chicken and bake 10 minutes more.
Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

no churn two ingredient ice cream

Happy Mother's Day!  I was spoiled today from morning til evening with delicious meals from my husband.  For dessert he made crepes and my oldest daughter pulled out this no church two ingredient ice cream that she made.  The ice cream went into crepes with more strawberries and Nutella than you have probably ever dreamed of.
This ice cream is decadent. (And not overly sweet like store brand ice cream.)  My kids decided I should stop buying ice cream and stock up on whipping cream and sweetened condensed milk.  My daughter says you can add vanilla extract or other extracts to the mix or whatever add-ins appeal to you like chopped cookies or fruit.

no church two ingredient ice cream
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups whipping cream

My daughter says she poured the two ingredients into a bowl and used a hand mixer to whip it up until it formed soft peaks.  She poured it into a freezer safe bowl and froze it overnight. 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

candy piano

We had a La La Land party because we had some celebrating to do so I looked online for party ideas and found this easy piano!  I didn't know where to find white chocolate kit kat bars so I texted a friend and what do you know- with her help I found them on the first attempt.  That's something to sing about.  (Tip:  Fred Meyer)

candy piano (
white chocolate kit kat bars
mini kit kat bars 

All you do is line them up on a tray- as long as you want.  This made a really easy alternative to a birthday cake!!

tip: how to cut brownies

tip:  how to cut brownies
This double chocolate mint brownie recipe is one of my most loved and requested recipes and they're easy to make so I like to take them to parties, potlucks, etc.  The only thing I didn't like about them was cutting them into bars...until now.  I shared this recipe with a friend and she came back and asked if I had ever cut them with a plastic knife.  The answer was no.  Why would I think to use a plastic knife!  She's right- a plastic knife cuts them beautifully!  I just had to share this little tip if you should decide to make THESE wonderful brownies.  Taking two pans of these delicious brownies to school this morning for teacher appreciation was a cinch.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

coriander-crusted tilapia with brown rice and vegetables

Hall of Fame.  Again!  That's two in a row.  I felt so fancy after having made this dish.  It was soooooo good.

coriander-crusted tilapia with brown rice and vegetable (slightly adapted from Real Simple Magazine, March 2017)
6 tilapia loins (I buy them at Costco frozen then thaw them)
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup shredded carrots
3 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups whole grain jasmine rice, cooked and hot
3 cups loosely packed arugula and spinach

Pat tilapia dry with paper towels.  Combine coriander, pepper and 3/4 teaspoon of the salt in a small bowl.  Season tilapia all over with the mixture.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add tilapia and cook until golden brown and crispy, about 4 minutes.  Flip and cook until opaque, about 1 minute.  
Simultaneously, heat a smaller skillet with 1 tablespoon oil..  Add carrots and green onions and cook until almost tender.  Add broth and lemon juice and cooked rice.  Cook until hot.  Add greens and cook until wilted.  
Serve tilapia with brown rice and vegetables.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

sheet pan chicken thighs with fennel and shallots

Absolutely delicious.  Hall of Fame meals are infrequent but my husband declared it Hall of Fame.  I agree. This is my new favorite way to eat fennel...and everything else in this salad!

sheet pan chicken thighs with fennel and shallots (Real Simple Magazine, April 2017)
1 large fennel bulb, sliced into 1-inch thick wedges
4 large shallots, quartered (I used 2 onions)
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch strips (I used red and orange)
2 lemons, halved crosswise
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided (I cut that in half)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
8 (6 ounce) bone-in, skin on chicken thighs (I used boneless, skinless chicken thigh strips)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
3 cups loosely packed baby arugula (I used a combination of arugula and spinach)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees with racks in upper and lower thirds.  Toss together fennel, shallots, bell pepper, lemons, 2 tablespoons of the oil, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper on a rimmed baking sheet.  On a separate baking sheet, rub chicken thighs with remaining 2 tablespoons oil.  Season with thyme and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
Roast vegetable mixture on top rack and chicken on bottom rack until vegetables are tender and lightly charred, 35 to 40 minutes.  Remove vegetables from oven and transfer chicken to top rack.  Increase heat to broil and cook until chicken is cooked through and golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes more.
Add arugula to baking sheet with vegetables and toss until wilted.  Squeeze 1 roasted lemon half over vegetables; serve with chicken and remaining lemons.