Saturday, December 15, 2007

Cinnamon Stars

I was very disappointed with this recipe. I followed it exactly and it was a mess so I had to add more flour. Even after chilling the dough it was way to sticky to roll out. I ended up at least doubling the flour. After baking, the cookies were rock hard and tasted like card board. The icing made them a little better but I will not make these again.

Cinnamon Stars

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg yolks, then stir in the milk. Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt, stir into the wet ingredients until well blended. Wrap dough and chill for at least 2 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out cookies using a 2 1/4 inch cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart onto a cookie sheet.
4. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, until lightly browned. Remove cookies to wire racks and cool.

1 cup powder sugar
1 Tbs milk

Stir until well combined and drizzle over cooled cookies.

Snow Caps

This is one of my favorite cookies. I've made these every year around Christmas for at least the last 5 years. The white meringues make me think of winter. I love how they melt in your mouth.

Snow Caps

3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 200 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl combine egg whites and cream of tartar. Beat on high speed. Add sugar, 1 Tablespoon at a time. Beat until peaks form. Add vanilla. Beat 1 minute. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoonfuls. Bake 2 hours or until meringues are dry. Rotate baking sheets half-way through. Turn off heat and leave in oven 2-4 hours until dry.

One Batter, Three Kinds of Cookies

This is a great cookie batter if you want to make several kinds of cookies to please a crowd. Some mix-in ideas are chocolate chips, M&Ms, raisins, oatmeal, chopped nuts, chopped candy bar pieces, or whatever you like.

Basic Batter

2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs

1. 1/2 cup dried cranberries and 3/4 cup white chocolate chips

2. 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

3. 2 cups mini M&Ms

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
3. In a large bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract until creamy.
4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
5. Gradually beat in flour mixture to the butter mixture.
6. Stir in mix-ins.
7. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheet.
8. Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until golden brown.
9. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes 36 cookies

Chicken Cacciatore

This was the first time I've ever made or eaten chicken cacciatore. It was very easy to make and it was tasty. This might become a regular week night dinner for us. I got the idea for this from but I made some modifications and omitted the mushrooms of course!

Chicken Cacciatore (modified)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour for coating
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into pieces
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup chopped cooked spinach
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a plastic bag. Shake the chicken pieces in flour until coated. Heat the oil in a large skillet (one that has a cover/lid). Fry the chicken pieces until they are browned on both sides. Remove from skillet.
  2. Add the onion, garlic and bell pepper to the skillet and saute until the onion is slightly browned. Return the chicken to the skillet and add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, bay leaves, oregano, chicken broth and wine. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes over medium low heat.
  3. Add the spinach and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 10 more minutes.
  4. Serve over angel hair pasta or white rice.

Caramel-Apple Pudding Cake

I saw this recipe on Melissa's Magic in the Kitchen Blog. It looked delicious so I decided to give it a try. It was wonderful but it came out very watery so I would recommend omitting the 1/2 cup of water.

Caramel-Apple Pudding Cake
Better Homes and Gardens

2 medium tart cooking apples, such as Granny Smith or Jonathan, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (2 cups) - I used Granny Smith
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup raisins (I omitted these)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter (no substitutes), melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (I omitted these)
3/4 cup caramel ice cream topping
1/2 cup water (I recommend omitting this)
1 tablespoon butter (no substitutes)
Vanilla Ice Cream - optional


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Grease a 2-quart square baking dish; arrange apple slices in bottom of dish. Sprinkle with lemon juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Top evenly with raisins; set aside.
3. Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Add milk, the 2 tablespoons melted butter, and vanilla; mix well. Stir in nuts. Spread batter evenly over apple mixture.
4. Combine caramel topping, water, and the 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan; bring to boiling. Pour caramel mixture over the batter in the baking dish.
5. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes or until set in center. Spoon warm individual servings into dessert dishes, inverting each portion. Spoon caramel-apple mixture from the pan over each portion. Makes 12 servings.

Pepper Steak

I was feeling creative and decided to try something new in my crockpot. This turned out great and it was the perfect combination of sweet and tangy. I will definitely make this again.

Pepper Steak

2 lbs lean sirloin steak cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup flour
1 green bell pepper cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup soy sauce
1-14 oz can crushed pineapple
1/2 tsp black pepper

Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Coat meat with flour. Add meat to frying pan in batches and brown on both sides. Add meat, bell pepper, soy sauce, pineapple, and pepper to crockpot. Cook on high for 3 hours. Serve over white rice.

Beef and Barley Soup

Beef and Barley soup is probably my all time favorite soup. This is a recipe from my grandmother. Whenever I would go visit her I would always ask her to make it. You can use whatever veggies you have on hand. Some that work really well are carrots, celery, okra, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes, and cauliflower. Always use fresh veggies and never frozen or canned because it makes a huge difference in this soup.

Beef and Barley Soup

1 lb ground beef
1 cup pearl barley
8 cups chicken broth
3 cups fresh vegetables, chopped into bite size pieces
1-8oz can tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste
5 slices Kraft singles

Brown meat and drain fat. Rinse barley and add to a large pot with water. Boil barley for 10 minutes. Drain water. Add the meat, broth, and veggies to the barley pot. Bring back to a boil for about 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Reduce heat and add the tomato sauce, salt, and pepper. Add the cheese slices one at a time to the soup, stirring between each addition. Continue stirring until cheese is completely dissolved in the soup.

Hot Bean Dip

I made this for a potluck I went to last night. It doesn't look great but it is actually very tasty and very easy.

Hot Bean Dip


  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 (16 ounce) cans refried beans
  • 1/2 (1 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
  • 5 drops hot pepper sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 (8 ounce) package shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 (8 ounce) package shredded Monterey Jack cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a medium bowl, blend the cream cheese and sour cream. Mix in the refried beans, taco seasoning, hot pepper sauce, parsley, green onions, 1/2 the Cheddar cheese and 1/2 the Monterey Jack cheese. Transfer the mixture to an 8x12 inch baking dish. Top with remaining Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven 20 to 30 minutes, until cheese is slightly browned.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Chocolate Crinkles

I've been in the cookie baking mood lately. That is why I was so excited when I got my recipe for my second blogging event. This event is a holiday recipe exchange. Each participant submits a holiday dessert recipe to the organizer. The organizer mixes the recipes up and assigns a recipe to each participant. The participants have to make the recipe and post a blog about it by December 22. The recipe I was assigned is for Chocolate Crinkles. I got my recipe yesterday and I started it the same day. You have to refrigerate the dough for 3-4 hours or overnight so I baked the cookies today. I wonder if I am the first person to make my recipe.

There are several reasons why I couldn't wait to start my cookies.
1. I've been in the cookie baking mood (like I mentioned earlier).
2. I just got new cookie sheets and I couldn't wait to try them out. They are wonderful by the way. I didn't even use any non-stick spray or anything else and the cookies came right off. They baked evenly and did not spread out too much. I called my sister as soon as I bought my new cookie sheets to let her know that these were my Xmas gift from her. I told her I would bake some cookies on them for her and we could call it even. Guess what sis you are getting some Chocolate Crinkles!
3. I love chocolate.
4. I already had all the ingredients to make these cookies. This is one of the few recipes I've made that I followed the recipe and ingredients exactly. I'm kind of proud of myself for that.

Thank you whoever submitted this recipe! It is delicious and I would definitely make it again!

Chocolate Crinkles

4 tablespoons (56 grams) unsalted butter
8 ounces (225 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (210 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup (110 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted

In a stainless steel bowl, over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Remove from heat and set aside.
In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the eggs and sugar until thick, pale, and fluffy. (When you slowly raise the beaters the batter will fall back into the bowl in slow ribbons.) At this point beat in the vanilla extract and then stir in the melted chocolate mixture.
In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture, stirring just until incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to shape into balls (3-4 hours or overnight).

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (170 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.

Place the confectioners sugar in a shallow bowl. With lightly greased hands, roll a small amount of chilled dough to form a 1 inch (2.54 cm) diameter ball. Place the ball of dough into the confectioners sugar and roll the ball in the sugar until it is completely coated and no chocolate shows through. Gently lift the sugar-covered ball, tapping off excess sugar, and place on prepared baking sheet. Continue forming cookies, spacing about 2 inches (5 cm) apart on baking sheets. (If you find the dough getting too soft for rolling into balls, return to the refrigerator and let chill until firm.)

Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes or just until the edges are slightly firm but the centers are still soft. (For moist chewy cookies do not over bake. Over baking these cookies will cause them to be dry.) Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

These cookies are best eaten the day they are baked.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.


Baggett, Nancy. 'The International Chocolate Cookbook'. Stewart Tabori & Chang. New York: 1991.

Lebovitz, David. 'Room for Dessert'. Harper Collins Publishers. New York: 1999.

Panda Express Orange Chicken

Ok I will admit it. I like Panda Express. I know it's not real Chinese food but I think it is tasty. I especially like the orange chicken. It must be their best selling dish by far. I have a little theory that all of their customers order the orange chicken. If you eat there and you don't get orange chicken please leave a comment so I can disprove my theory.

I found a recipe online for the orange chicken so I can make it at home any time I have a craving for Panda Express. It is awesome!! It really does taste like the real thing!

Panda Express Orange Chicken

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
white pepper
oil (for frying)
1/2 cup cornstarch, plus
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon gingerroot, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed hot red chili peppers
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon rice wine
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Orange Sauce for Stir Fry
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons water
5 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons white vinegar
1 orange, zest of

1. Place chicken pieces in large bowl.
2. Stir in egg, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon oil and mix well.
3. Stir cornstarch and flour together.
4. Add chicken pieces, stirring to coat.
5. Heat oil for deep-frying in wok or deep-fryer to 375 degrees.
6. Add chicken, small batches at a time, and fry 3 to 4 minutes or until golden crisp.
7. (Do not overcook chicken).
8. Remove chicken from oil with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels; set aside.
9. Clean wok and heat 15 seconds over high heat.
10. Add 1 tablespoon oil.
11. Add ginger and garlic and stir-fry until fragrant; about 10 seconds.
12. Add and stir-fry crushed chiles and green onions.
13. Add rice wine and stir 3 seconds.
14. Add Orange Sauce and bring to boil.
15. Add cooked chicken, stirring until well mixed.
16. Stir water into remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch until smooth and add to chicken.
17. Heat until sauce is thickned.
18. Stir in sesame oil and orange zest if desired.
19. Serve over jasmine rice.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

BBQ Ribs

I found some boneless beef ribs on sale at the grocery store today. I think I've perfected baby back pork ribs but I can never seem to get beef ribs tender enough. I tried a new method this time and they were wonderful! So tender and juicy!

BBQ Boneless Beef Ribs

2 lbs boneless beef ribs
1 cup Kraft Honey BBQ sauce (you can use what ever kind of BBQ sauce that you want)

Place ribs in a crockpot and cover with water. Cook on high for 4 hours. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking dish with foil. Remove ribs from the crockpot and place on foil. Baste ribs with BBQ sauce. Place in oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven turn ribs over. Baste again with BBQ sauce. Place in oven for an additional 5 minutes or until ribs get slightly crispy. Remove and glaze the ribs with a final coat of BBQ sauce.

Pecan Pie Cookies

I saw these on Open The Oven & Take A Look blog. I've been wanting to bake cookies all week but I couldn't decide what to make. I needed some quick and simple cookies to take to Stephanie's Christmas party so I made the Caramel Toll House Cookie Bars and I made these. It was a perfect combination because people who didn't like nuts really liked the cookie bars and people who didn't like chocolate raved about these. I had several requests for both recipes. I think both turned out fabulous!

Pecan Pie Cookies

Cookie Ingredients:

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Filling Ingredients:

1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 p firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream*
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 350°F. Combine all cookie ingredients except flour and baking powder in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add flour and baking powder. Beat until well mixed. Shape dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Make indentation in each cookie with thumb; rotate thumb to hollow out slightly.Combine all filling ingredients in small bowl; fill each cookie with 1 rounded teaspoon filling. Bake for 9 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets.

* I have a confession. I didn't have any heavy whipping cream in the house so I used 1/4 cup of Cool Whip. They still turned out well and no one commented on them being too sweet.

Toll House Caramel Bars

I saw these on Kyla's Cookies blog and they looked delicious. I decided to make a batch to take to my friend's Christmas party. They were a hit. I warned people that they were rich but one person liked them so much that he filled his plate. I had several requests for the recipe.

Toll House Caramel Bars

1 cup of packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup of butter melted
2 cups of semi sweet chocolate chips
1 jar (12 ounces) of caramel sauce
2 1/3 cups of flour
2 cups of old fashioned oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In one bowl combine 2 cups of flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and oats. Stir in butter.

In a separate bowl, mix 1/3 cup of flour with jar of caramel sauce TIP: Coat rubber spatula and bowl with flour or it is a mess.

Reserve 1 cup of that mixture and press the rest into a 13 x 9 greased and floured baking pan.

Cook for about 10 minutes or until it is lightly browned. Remove from the oven

Spread jar of caramel sauce on top evenly. Then sprinkle chocolate chips on top of caramel sauce. Crumble the rest of the oats/flour mixture on top. Bake for about another 20 minutes, until top brown and caramel bubbles.

Mini Chocolate Lava Cakes

This is a cute and yummy dessert. Everyone gets their own little mini cake. The outside is a cakey and slightly crisp shell and the inside is a gooey chocolate fudge. It is incredibly delicious!

Mini Chocolate Lava Cakes
4 oz semi sweet baking chocolate
4 Tbs butter
1 large egg
1/3 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 Tbs flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the chocolate and butter in a small sauce pan over low heat or in a microwave. Whisk the egg, sugar, and salt together until light yellow and fluffy. Fold in the melted chocolate mixture. Mix in the flour until fully incorporated. Lightly butter the ramekins. Pour the batter into 2 ramekins. Bake for 22 minutes or just until the tops crack. Serve warm.

Yields 2 servings

Broccoli Cheese Balls

I read several recipes for broccoli cheese balls but I ended up creating my own as I went along. These can be used as appetizers, a side dish, or even a vegetarian substitute for real meatballs. I love broccoli cheese soup so that was my inspiration for this creation. These broccoli balls would be a perfect side item or dipper for broccoli cheese soup. I thought the broccoli balls were kind of plain by themselves. They would be much better with some kind of dip or sauce. I also recommend adding some spices (i.e. Italian spices).

Broccoli Cheese Balls

2 cups bread crumbs (4 slices of bread)
1 cup broccoli, chopped
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 egg

Place broccoli in a microwave safe dish. Cover with plastic wrap. Cook in the microwave until tender. Drain liquid. Add bread crumbs, cheese, and egg. Stir until all ingredients are incorporated into a dough. Form into individual 1 1/2 inch balls.

Toaster oven: Cover tray with aluminum foil. Spray foil with cooking spray. Place balls on foil about an inch apart. Bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes. Turn the balls over and bake for an additional 3 minutes.

Conventional oven: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cover baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray foil with cooking spray. Place balls on foil about an inch apart. Bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes. Turn the balls over and bake for an additional 3 minutes.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Applesauce Pancakes

This was the second recipe from Jeannie for my mission to use up wheat bread. It was delicious but I am slightly partial to the banana fritter pancakes. I didn't have any dry milk so I used regular milk for both of these. It didn't seem to make a difference in the banana recipe but it made this one too runny so I added another slice of bread. That did the trick and they turned out perfect.

Applesauce Pancakes
from the LEAN and LUSCIOUS Cookbook

2 eggs
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 slices whole wheat bread, crumbled (I used 3 slices)
2 tsp vegetable oil
1/3 cup nonfat dry milk (1/4 cup 2% milk)
1 tsp double acting baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
sweetener equivalent to 3 tsp sugar (I used sugar)

In blender combine all ingredients until smooth. Preheat griddle or skillet over medium- high heat. Pour mixture unto griddle, making 8 4 inch pancakes. Turn carefully when edges are brown.
Makes 2 servings
263 calories

Banana Fritters

I went a little crazy at Costco and bought WAY too much bread. The next few days I will be on a mission to use up some of this bread because I hate wasting food. Jeannie sent me two fabulous recipes and I made them both for breakfast today. Yes, I finally got around to cooking breakfast at 10:30 am. It is my day off so I've been really lazy.

Banana Fritters

2 eggs
1 medium ripe banana
2 slices whole wheat bread, crumbled
1/3 cup non fat dry milk (substituted 1/4 cup 2% milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp double acting baking powder
2 tsp vegetable oil
sweetener equivalent to 2 tsp sugar (I used sugar)
I also added 1/2 tsp cinnamon

In blender, combine all ingredients. Blend until smooth. Preheat a griddle or skillet over medium- high heat. Pour unto griddle making 8 4 inch fritters. Turn over carefully when fritters become brown.
Makes 2 servings
286 calories

This isn't exactly what I think about when I think of fritters. I was expecting a deep fried breaded banana. This is so much better and better for you. I would probably call it a pancake instead of a fritter.

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

I found this recipe on Good Eats n' Sweet Treats Blog. It sounded delicious so I gave it a try with a few modifications. It was perfect for a lazy weeknight dinner of soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Tomato Basil Soup
from Cooking Light

4 cups chopped seeded peeled tomato (about 4 large)*
4 cups low-sodium tomato juice*
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 cup (4 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
Basil leaves, thinly sliced (optional)
8 (1/2-inch-thick) slices diagonally cut French bread baguette

Bring tomato and juice to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes.

Place tomato mixture and basil in a blender or food processor; process until smooth. Return pureed mixture to pan; stir in milk, salt, and pepper. Add cream cheese, stirring well with a whisk, and cook over medium heat until thick (about 5 minutes). Ladle soup into individual bowls; garnish with sliced basil, if desired. Serve with bread.

8 servings (serving size: 1 cup soup and 1 bread slice)

*I modified this recipe by using (gasp!) canned tomatoes (1-14 oz can whole tomatoes and 1-14 oz can diced tomatoes) because I didn't have any fresh tomatoes on hand and was too tired to go to the store. This was enough for 4 servings. I also added 2 Tbs sugar and omitted the milk because 4 oz of cream cheese for 4 servings was plenty creamy (maybe a tad much). It still turned out great. This is the perfect comfort food.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Navajo Fry Bread Breakfast Pie

I stumbled upon a contest called Homegrown Gourmet while I was checking out some other food blogs.

Here are the rules:

Anyone can play!

A theme will be picked by the host. Participants will make a dish that follows the theme and that somehow represents their home region- town, state, area. Representation can feature a local ingredient, be a traditional dish from your area, or be a creative twist.

Participants will have 3-4 weeks (host discretion) to complete their recipes and post them to their blog (or email the pics and text), and notify the host. The host will then post the results and then let everyone know via email or message board the results are up! An explanation of your dish is required; it can be a story about the local custom or ingredient, how you came about eating/ making the recipe, or an explanation about how your creative dish fits the theme.

Fresh and local foods are encouraged!

When the round is done, the host will announce their favorite dish by updating their blog. Favorite is completely subjective to the host- no one expects the host to make and taste test all the dishes, it is just something that strikes the host’s fancy! The creator of the fave gets the honor of hosting the next round, if they so choose!

The theme for this round is…PIES AND TARTS!

I was so excited about a blogger contest! But then I got to thinking what could I make to represent Arizona? We are definitely not known for pies or tarts. The first things that came to mind were Indians, Southwestern/Mexican food, and oranges. Since our climate is warm we are one of the top citrus growing states. Unfortunately I couldn't think of any orange pie or tart that sounded good. That left me with Indian and Southwestern/Mexican food. Traditional pies like fruit pies, cream pies, or nut pies were ruled out. I had to think out of the box (or the traditional pie shell to be exact). It was also Sunday morning and I was getting hungry for breakfast. So I decided on a Southwestern take on Huevos Rancheros using Navajo Fry Bread for the pie crust.

One thing I've discovered about my town is there seems to be a festival every weekend except in the summer months when it is too hot to go outdoors. One of the most popular attractions at these festivals is the Navajo Fry Bread stand. Some people go to these festivals only to get some fry bread. You can order plain fry bread with powder sugar and/or honey for about $4 or you can get a fry bread taco with beans, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and sour cream for $7. I did a little research to find out how to make fry bread. It is actually really simple. I can't believe how much these stands charge for fried dough. Maybe I should start a fry bread business! I wanted to incorporate fry bread into my pie since Arizona has a strong Native American history.

We also have a strong Mexican influence. I love Mexican food. I could eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My husband and I like to go to the Mercado on the weekends and have authentic carne asada, chile verde, and fajitas. The Mercado reminds me of a party with loud music and the aroma of delicious food. Several times we have tried to re-create the foods that we ate there at home. I like the red salsa so I'm always trying to imitate it. My husband likes the green salsa so he tries to make that one. The famous red/green salsa debate, popular in the southwestern states, continues in our own house! The key to a good salsa is fresh ingredients. I wanted to incorporate salsa roja into this dish because no matter what everyone else says the red salsa is the best!

It may sound a little strange but this actually turned out really, really well. I was very impressed and so were my taste testers!

Navajo Fry Bread Breakfast Pie

The Crust:
1 cup flour, plus additional for dusting
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup warm water
vegetable oil for frying

Heat oil in a large, shallow frying pan. Mix 1 cup of flour and baking powder in a bowl. Slowly add the water. Stir until a dough forms. Dust some flour on a sheet of wax paper or other clean, dry surface. Dust flour on a rolling pin. Add the dough to the surface and roll out into a 10 inch diameter circle. Add dough to oil and fry for 3 minutes on each side.

The Pie:
(use fresh ingredients for best results)
2 large tomatoes
1/4 cup white onions, diced
1/4 cup red onions, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
1 Tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
4 oz tomato sauce
1 Tbs lime juice
2 Tbs cilantro chopped
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Piece the skin of the tomatoes on the bottom in an "X" shape. Heat a bowl of water in the microwave just until boiling (about 3 minutes on high). Add the tomatoes to the water for 2 minutes. This will make it easier to peel the skin. Remove the skin from the tomatoes. Dice the tomatoes and add to an oven safe dish. Add the onions, jalapeno, olive olive, salt, pepper, cumin, and tomato sauce to the tomatoes. Stir to combine. Place in oven and roast for 40 minutes. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes. Add the lime juice and cilantro.

Place the fry bread on the bottom of a pie plate. Add the salsa on top. With a spoon, create 4 wells in the salsa. Crack an egg in each well. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until eggs reach the desired consistency.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Turkey N' Loaded Dumplings

It was kind of chilly in Phoenix today. It doesn't really get "cold" here but when the high is 70 that is cold to us. I was lazy today and sat around the house in cozy sweat pants and a sweat shirt. I felt like eating some warm soup too. We still have leftover turkey and lots of veggies that I wanted to use before they went bad. I created this little twist on traditional chicken n' dumplings. I called the dumplings "loaded" dumplings because I got the inspiration from a loaded baked potato. This turned out delicious!

Turkey N' Loaded Dumplings

6 cups chicken broth
2 large carrots, coined
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 cup turkey pieces, cooked
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Tbs green onion, chopped
1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
2 pieces of bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 Tbs milk

Bring the chicken broth, carrots, and celery to a boil in a large pot. Simmer over medium until vegetables are tender. Add the turkey and reduce to low. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Add the sour cream, onion, cheese, and bacon. Stir to combine. Slowly add the milk and stir until a thick dough forms. Add additional milk if dough doesn't stick together. If dough is too sticky add additional flour. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls into soup. Turn the temperature back up to medium and cover pot with lid. Cook for 20 minutes or until dumplings are done.

Asian Slaw

I really like the flavor and uniqueness of Asian Slaw. I had the best Asian Slaw at a restaurant called Claim Jumpers. I tried to re-create my own version today. It turned out ok. It is very fresh tasting and zingy. One thing that could be added is some red or green bell pepper.

Asian Slaw

3 cups cabbage, shredded
1 large carrot, shredded
1 celery stock, shredded
2 Tbs cilantro, chopped
2 Tbs green onion, chopped
4 Tbs vegetable oil
2 Tbs rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs sesame seeds

Mix the first 5 ingredients in a large salad bowl. In a separate bowl whisk the remaining ingredients to form the dressing. Pour the dressing over the slaw and mix to combine. Chill in a refridgerator until ready to serve.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Sweet Potatoes

My co-worker Dara made this for our Thanksgiving Potluck at work and I had to have the recipe because it was by far the best sweet potato casserole that I have ever had. My husband said this was the best part of the meal, even better than dessert. The recipe came from Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. Dara said she went to the restaurant and tried the sweet potatoes and liked them so much that she called them and asked for the recipe. I never thought about asking a restaurant for the recipe but I will keep that in mind next time I like something when eating out.

Sweet Potato Casserole
Ruth's Chris Steakhouse

Sweet Potato Mixture

Cup Mashed Sweet Potatoes
1 Cup Sugar

Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon
2 Eggs, well beaten

1 Stick (1/2 cup) Butter

Crust Mixture

1 Cup Brown Sugar
1/3 Cup Flour
1 Cup Chopped Nuts (Pecans preferred)
1/3 Stick Butter, Melted


  1. First, combine Crust Mixture in mixing bowl and hold on the side.
  2. Combine Sweet Potato Mixture ingredients into a mixing bowl in the order listed. Combine thoroughly.
  3. Pour mixture into buttered baking dish.
  4. Sprinkle the surface of the sweet potato mixture evenly with the crust mixture.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes at 350°. Allow to set at least 30 minutes before serving.

Double Layer Pumpkin Pie

I was craving pumpkin cheesecake but cheesecake is overwhelmingly rich for my taste so I usually only take a few bites and I'm done. This recipe was the perfect combination of cheesecake and pie. The bottom layer is a fluffy cheesecake layer (not thick cheesecake like most) and the top layer is creamy pumpkin. Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of a slice that shows the two layers but you can use your imagination or go to the recipezaar link because mine turned out looking the same. This was simple and fabulous. I would definitely make this again. Oh and I didn't have any plain graham crackers to make the crust so I used cinnamon graham crackers and I think it made it even better.

Double Layer Pumpkin Pie

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon milk or half-and-half
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups thawed whipped topping (such as Cool Whip)
1 9-inch graham cracker crust (store bought or make your own)
1 cup cold milk or half-and-half
1 (16 ounce) can pumpkin
2 (3 1/2 ounce) packages vanilla flavor instant pudding and pie filling mix
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (I used nutmeg instead)

  1. Mix cream cheese, 1 tablespoon milk and sugar in large bowl with wire whisk until smooth.
  2. Gently stir in whipped topping.
  3. Spread on bottom of crust.
  4. Pour 1 cup cold milk into large bowl.
  5. Add pumpkin, pudding mixes and spices.
  6. Beat with wire whisk 2 minutes.
  7. The mixture will be thick.
  8. Spread over cream cheese layer.
  9. Refrigerate 4 hours or until set.
  10. Garnish with additional whipped topping and/or chocolate-dipped pecan halves.
  11. Store in the refrigerator until just before serving.

Cream Corn Casserole

Chase wanted cornbread stuffing and I wanted a vegetable so this was our compromise. I would describe this dish as part cornbread, part corn niblets, and part creamy goodness. I've made this several times in the past for potlucks and other occasions and it is always a hit. It is also really easy to make.

Cream Corn Casserole

1/2 cup butter melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup sour cream
1 can whole corn, drained
1 can cream corn
1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add all ingredients to a bowl in the order listed and mix with a spoon. Pour into a greased casserole dish and bake for 1 hour or until slightly brown on top.

Find the 4-Leaf Clover Rolls

My grandmother makes the best rolls. Someday I will get her recipe but until that day comes I will just have to keep experimenting with imitations. This recipe was alright but I probably won't make it again. I thought the rolls were too dry. They weren't soft and doughy in middle like my grandmother's recipe.

Find the 4-Leaf Clover Rolls

1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons superfine sugar (caster sugar)
4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons dry active yeast
1 egg
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups flour, plus a bit extra if needed
2 tablespoons , melted for brushing, for lining bowl and pans

  1. Warm the milk until lukewarm.
  2. In a large bowl pour in the lukewarm milk, stir in sugar, the 4 tablespoons of softened butter and the yeast. Let stand for 15 minutes.
  3. Add eggs and salt to the mixture.
  4. Stir in 4 cups of flour a little at a time adding more if needed to get a rough dough texture.
  5. Knead dough until smooth (about 5-10 minutes).
  6. Place the dough into a clean bowl coated with shortening; cover with tea towel and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1 1/2 hours).
  7. Coat 2 muffin pans with shortening.
  8. Punch down raised dough and roll into balls, sized to fit 3 into each cup in the pan. Make a few to fit four balls in the pan for the 4-leaf clovers.
  9. Cover the pans with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours.
  10. Preheat the oven to 400F; brush the rolls with the melted butter and bake about 20 minutes until lightly browned.
  11. Let cool slightly before serving.

Happy Turkey Day

Here was the menu:
Brined and Roasted Turkey
Homemade Clover Rolls
Cream Corn Casserole
Sweet Potatoes
Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake
Moscato Wine

It was just my husband and I this year but of course I had to go all out and cook enough for an army. We will be having leftovers for a long time.

One of my former co-workers told me about turkey brining and he swears this technique makes the best turkey. I decided to give it a try three years ago and it is amazing. I've brined the last three turkeys that I've cooked. I'm not sure where he discovered this method. I think he told me either America's Test Kitchen or Cooking Illustrated.

This is what you do:
Step 1: Put turkey in a bucket of water with 1/4 cup salt (kosher salt is preferred but you can use table salt) and 1/2 cup sugar. Soak for 1/2 per pound but not more than 8 hours. Keep refrigerated while brining if you can.
Step 2: Let turkey dry overnight in refrigerator. This will help get the skin crisp while roasting. I skipped this step this year but still got a crisp skin.
Step 3: Butterfly the turkey by removing the backbone and flattening the breast with a rolling pin. This will help the turkey cook more evenly.
Step 4: Baste turkey with 1/2 cup melted butter. Cover turkey with aluminum foil
Step 5: Roast turkey in 450 degree over for about 1 hours rotating and re-basting half-way through cooking time. Remove foil and continue roasting for 30 more minutes or until meat thermometer reads 170-180 when inserted in thigh.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Winning Chili Recipe

We had a chili cook off at work last year and my competitive side came out. I created a sweet and spicy chili with a few "secret" ingredients. I'm not very good at keeping secrets so I will share the recipe. All the measurements are approximate and you can add more or less to taste.

The Winning Chili Recipe

1 lb ground beef
2 cans tomato sauce
1/2 c water
1 can Rotel
2 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp onion
1 tsp garlic
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne (more or less to taste)
3 oz Hershey's milk chocolate
1/2 c Dr. Pepper
1 can red kidney beans

Brown beef and drain fat. Add all ingredients except the beans. Simmer on medium low for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the beans and simmer for 10 more minutes.

My chili won the cook off and I got accused of having an unfair advantage because of my Texas heritage. Oh well, I still get bragging rights and that's what matters.

Grand Canyon

The kitchen was out of commission last weekend because we took a little expedition to the Grand Canyon. We applied for and received a back country permit about a month ago. With this permit we were able to hike down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and camp overnight. It was truly one of the most amazing places that I have ever been. It was also the most physically challenging thing that I have ever done.

On Friday we camped at the Mather Campground on the South Rim. Then on Saturday we hiked down the South Kaibab Trail. Saturday night we camped at the Bright Angel Campground by the river. On Sunday we woke up at sunrise and started our hike up the Bright Angel Trail. We arrived at the top of the canyon Sunday afternoon. Just before we reached the top we saw 5 big horn sheep resting on a nearby cliff. It was fascinating to see such interesting animals in person.

In order to make our backpacks as light as possible we brought MREs for lunches and dinners. This was the first time I've ever tried MREs and maybe the last. I definitely prefer home cooking. If you've never tried one and are curious what they look like here is a picture (close your eyes if you have a weak stomach).

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Snickers Caramel Apple Salad

Tomorrow we are having a Thanksgiving potluck at work. I thought this was a perfect recipe for a potluck because I can make it the day before, I don't have to keep it warm, and its super easy. One of the things that perplexed me about this recipe was why is it called a salad because this really sounds more like a dessert. After making it I think that I figured it out. Without the caramel topping and peanuts it looks just like a mustard potato salad. I want to dedicate this "salad" to my co-worker Bill because real salad is his arch enemy. I don't think he will have a problem with this one. I think this turned out perfect. I would definitely make this again.

Snickers Caramel Apple Salad

6 (2 1/4 ounce) Snickers candy bars, chill and chop

6 apples, cored and chopped into bite sized pieces (Granny Smith and/or Red Delicious) 1 (12 ounce) container Cool Whip

1 (5 ounce) box instant vanilla pudding or butterscotch pudding mix (dry mix – do not prepare!)


1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping or caramel apple dip (optional)

1/2 cup chopped peanuts, can also sprinkled on top (optional)

  1. Mix cool whip and dry pudding mix together.
  2. Chop apples and chilled Snickers.
  3. Mix together.
  4. Heat caramel sauce a bit in the microwave- just enough to drizzle, not enough to heat up salad.
  5. Drizzle caramel sauce over salad and sprinkle peanuts on top.
  6. Chill for at least an hour.

Grilled Top Sirloin

We loved to grill. One of the great things about living in Arizona is that you can grill all year. I think grilling with charcoal is the secret to a good steak. You just can't get the same flavor with a gas grill. Tonight we had grilled top sirloin with a baked potato. Yum-O.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Teriyaki Salmon

This is a true 30 minute meal and not a Rachael Ray 30 minute meal that really takes 1 hour plus. Another benefit is that this one is healthy and good for you. I love salmon and I think I just about perfected it with this recipe.

Teriyaki Salmon

1 salmon portion per person
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 cup teriyaki sauce
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp chopped green onion
sesame seeds for garnish

Heat oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Dust salmon portions with ginger, black pepper, red pepper, and green onions. Add salmon portions to the skillet and cook on each side for 3 minutes. Add teriyaki sauce and sesame oil to skillet and cover. Let the fish simmer on medium low for about 5 minutes on each side or until pink throughout. Thicker portions will take longer. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve.

Tonight I served the salmon with sticky white rice and tender steamed veggies (cabbage, carrots, and celery).

Slow Cooker Chocolate Mocha Pudding Cake

Almost everything I have ever made in a crockpot has turned out fantastic. I've never tried making a dessert in it before. I thought this recipe looked fabulous and super easy. It was super easy but it wasn't very pretty, it was basically a gooey blob, and the coffee gave it a bitter taste. Sorry but this will not be added to my recipe box.

Slow Cooker Chocolate Mocha Pudding Cake

Cooking Spray or butter for pot
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (divided use)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoon butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup packed golden brown sugar
1 2/3 cup hot coffee or hot water

Spray inside of 3 ½ to 4 quart slow cooker with cooking spray or rub with butter.

In a mixing bowl, thoroughly stir together flour, granulated sugar, 3 tablespoons of the cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Stir in the milk, melted butter, vanilla and chocolate chips. Spread this mixture over the bottom of your slow cooker

In another bowl, mix together brown sugar and remaining 1/4 cup cocoa powder. Sprinkle cocoa mixture over the batter, but do not stir it in. Pour the coffee evenly over all. Again, do not stir.

Cover and cook on high heat for 1 3/4 to 2 hours or until a tester inserted in the top portion of the cake comes out clean. The inside should be hot and similar to fudge sauce. Spoon cake and sauce out of slow cooker and arrange next to or under a very cold scoop of ice cream. Or if you prefer, set the ice cream on top.

Chicken Fried Steak

Being from Texas you probably would have thought that I grew up on chicken fried steak. I actually never even tried it until I was in college. Now it is one of my favorite foods. My hubby makes the best chicken fried steak that I have ever had. One day he was going to make it for me but we were all out of bread, bread crumbs, or anything we normally might use for breading. We did however have several bags of pretzels. We decided to crush the pretzels and use that for breading. It was so good. We will never use anything else for breading ever again. It comes out so much crispier. Since I like things spicy he also adds a "daring dash" of cayenne to the breading mixture. "Daring dash" was his term because its not too much that it overwhelms the taste but its just enough to give it a kick.

Chicken Fried Steak
By Chase

Tenderized cube steak (1 per person)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 Tsp milk
vegetable oil

1 cup crushed pretzels
1 daring dash of cayenne
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried onion

Fill a saucepan with vegetable oil (1-2 inches deep). Heat the oil to medium. Whisk the eggs and milk in a shallow dish. Dip the steaks in the egg/milk mixture then cover them with the breading mixture. Cook one steak at a time in the oil until it gets brown. Approximately 4 minutes on each side. Serve with gravy.

Beer Bread

I was browsing the web and I stumbled across this recipe. There are only six ingredients and five of them are always in my kitchen. Beer tends to disappear very quickly in our house. I went grocery shopping yesterday and brought home a six-pack among other things. I knew if I was going to make this recipe then I needed to either hide one of the beer bottles or make this recipe immediately. I opted for the later just to be safe. I started measuring out ingredients before I even put away all the groceries.

Beer Bread


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle beer (I used Budweiser Select)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan. In a large mixing bowl, combine all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt and brown sugar. Pour in beer, stir until a stiff batter is formed. It may be necessary to mix dough with your hands. Scrape dough into prepared loaf pan. Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean.

This recipe was super simple. The flavor will change depending on the type of beer you use. I would also suggest adding a little bit of butter on top before you put it in the oven so it will get slightly brown. Overall this was not bad but I might try other beer bread recipes before I make this one again.

San Francisco

In July I went to San Jose for a business trip. I stayed a few extra days so I could be a tourist in San Francisco. It is a great place for food, wine, and culture.

I did two wine tastings. One was the Savannah Chanelle Estate in the Santa Cruz mountains and the other was Waddle Creek Vineyard in Ghirardelli Square. Both were fabulous. If you ever go to the Waddle Creek Vineyard or try any of their wine I highly recommend the Sparkling Cabernet.

So what goes best with wine? Chocolate of course. If you are a chocolate lover the Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory is a must see if you are ever in San Francisco.

I also recommend having one of their famous Ghirardelli Hot Fudge Sundaes. Don't share, get your own because every calorie is worth it. After this trip I have added Napa Valley to my future travel wish list. I would also like to go back to San Francisco some day.

About Me

Welcome to my food blog "Spice N' It Up"! I was inspired by all the fabulous cooking blogs out there so I wanted to create one of my own. I love cooking, eating, and trying new things. My first word was cookie so I guess I have been a foodie my whole life. Most of the things I make have a southern or southwest flair. I am originally from Texas so I know good BBQ, steaks, chili, and Tex Mex. I currently live in Arizona where I've learned to have an appreciation for spicy foods, the red vs. green sauce debate, and burritos. I am an engineer in real life so I don't always have a lot of time to cook. I am also not the most patient person so not everything I make is gourmet but every once in a while I will throw down in the kitchen.

I don't want this to be just a recipe database. I will have recipe reviews, product reviews, restaurant reviews, meal planning, and tasty travels. The one thing you will not find on here are any mushrooms. If you would like to find out more about something you read here just send me an email. I hope you enjoy!