Friday, December 25, 2015

Easy Christmas Tree Pesto Breadsticks

I made this on Christmas night for an appetizer. You can use ready made pesto or olive tampamade. two Pepridge farm puff pastry sheets are an easy canvas. spread the pesto on an entire sheet. Cover with the remaining sheet. Use a knife to cut a triangle shape. Leave a small rectangle shape at the base. Starting at the top, cut to the middle leaving a two inch strip in the center. Take each strip and twist. Mix one egg with a splash of water. Use a pastry brush and brush the egg on top of the tree. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and kosher salt. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Serve when hot! While it's hot you can also dust the tree with real Parm cheese.

Puff Pastry Christmas Tree

2 sheets Pepridge Farm puff pastry sheets
1 jar Classico pesto
1 egg and a splash of water (1tsp)
sesame seeds
kosher salt
Parm Cheese optional

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Easy Pomegranate Dark "Ice Cube" Chocolates

I saw this idea on Facebook for these cute and easy pomegranate dark chocolates. Pomegranates happened to be on sale at my grocery store. I used an regular ice cube tray sprayed with PAM. For the chocolate I used one package of Nestle Toll House dark chocolate chips. I have seen people whack the pomegranate to get the seeds out but I prefer to cut it down the center.

Prepare the chocolate in a double boiler. First use a pot that is small enough to fit a glass bowl a bit bigger on top. Fill with water so it's not touching the bowl. Bring the water below to a boil.  Add the chocolate chips and a tsp. of oil. This will make the chocolate silky. Use a whisk to stir the chips until melted. Use a spoon to add one half of the chocolate to each of the compartments in the ice cube tray. Add 3-5 of the seeds and then a tsp. or so of chocolate on top of the pomegranates. Tap the tray on the counter to remove any air bubbles and even out the chocolate. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes or until set.  Twist the tray to remove the chocolates. This is why the PAM is essential. If you have some ones that one come out, use a sharp steak knife to remove. Next, hide them from your family! These ones are keepers!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Crock Pot Ropa Vieja

Mexican is defiantly my favorite type of food. This Ropa Vieja can be eaten as a stew or with soft shell tacos and the sides. For seconds we served it over mashed potatoes. The flank steak is a tougher cut of meat and in the end comes out looking like little ropes or ropa.  For additional hotness, add a roasted, seeded Poblano chili and potatoes may also be added along with root veggies for more of a stew.

1 1/2 lbs flank steak
1 can diced tomatoes drained
1 can tomato sauce
1 green pepper diced
1 medium onion cut into rings
2 minced garlic cloves
Adobo seasoning
5-6 capers
10 green olives
1 TBSP cumin
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 TBSP  Italian seasoning

Season the steak on both sides with the Adobo seasoning. Place in a crock pot with the rest of the ingredients. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-6. Remove the steak and shred with two forks. Return to the meat back to the crock pot and serve with tortillas or over rice.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Mini Caramel Apples Drove Me Insane!

I saw this on Pinterest and it looked so easy and cute. This is one of those projects that drove me insane! It would seem simple enough to poke Popsicle sticks through some melon balled apples. More often than not the sticks broke the apples. I had made about 60 balls and only came out with about 50 good ones.

Make this in small batches! It is helpful to have someone helping you. The caramel sets up really fast. I used 5 caramels at a time in a coffee mug. I microwaved it for 30 seconds at a time. It took about one minute and some mixing to make it smooth. The caramel WON'T stick if the apples are wet. You have to dry them about 3-5 times. I had them soaking in lemon juice but they will turn brown. Immediately after dipping they need to go in the freezer for the caramel to set. I recommend using two cookie sheets if making different flavors. Mine got stuck together on the try. Hence separating the flavors.

1 bag apples like Fuji or Granny Smith
2 pkgs Kraft Caramels unwrapped
A melon baller
1 coffee cup
a spoon 
popsicle sticks
2 boxes theater candy or cookies crushed
lots of patience!

Use a melon baller to remove the melon shape from the apple. Soak in lemon juice and water. Poke the sticks through at least 5 apple pieces at a time. Dry them with a paper towel about three times. Melt the caramels in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and place in for another 30 seconds. Stir until melted.  Tip the coffee cup sideways and dip the apple in caramel. Quickly move it to the topping and then into the freezer on a cookie sheet. Repeat this process a bunch more
times! If the topping doesn't stick, dry with a paper towel,  or use a spoon to pour over the apples. If the caramel isn't soft enough put back in the microwave for 10 seconds. Stir and try again. I went through the whole two bags of caramels.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Baba Ganoush or Eggplant Dip

If you love hummus, you will love this Baba Ganoush. No special tools needed here but a food
processor is helpful! I used only one large eggplant for this recipe. You can easily double it and make it for a party. It is low in calories and great with homemade pita chips. This is one snack you don't have to feel guilty about. A touch of plain yogurt adds a extra zip. The garlic can be roasted or added fresh. I have a garlic mincer which comes in handy. If roasting the garlic add double. I didn't have a paper bag handy and used a covered Tupperware bowl to get the skin to easily peel off.

Baba Ganoush (Eggplant Dip)

1 lg. eggplant
2 cloves garlic
1-2 TBSP lemon juice
2 TBSP Tahini
2 TBSP plain yogurt
1/2 to 1 tsp. Kosher salt
2 TBSP olive oil

Pierce the eggplant all over with a fork. Use your stove top burners to char the eggplant. It may crackle or catch fire at times. This is part of the process. This takes some time. Use tongs if it becomes too hot to handle.  Pre heat your broiler and put eggplant on a cookie sheet. Broil for 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and place in a paper bag or a covered Tupperware bowl. Peel
off the eggplant skin. A paper towel can be used to get the remaining char off. Cut off the bottom of the eggplant. Then cut it in half. You will see the seeds in channels on the bottom of the eggplant. Cut slits upwards and use the knife to get the seeds out. The seeds won't kill you, but they may be bitter. Roughly chop the eggplant and place in a food processor. Add the Tahini, yogurt, salt and olive oil.  You may add more olive oil if you think it's too thick. Pulse until smooth. Add more salt to taste and the lemon. Pulse a few more times until smooth. Place in the fridge to completely cool. Top with cilantro and enjoy with pita chips.

Pita Chips

1 bag Kangaroo brand pita pockets
PAM or olive oil
a cookie sheet

Turn the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the pitas into 4-6 pieces each pita half. Spray with Pam or toss in some olive oil to coat. Top with Kosher salt. Bake for 5-7 minutes per side. Remove and let cool.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Crock Pot Chicago Style Italian Beef Sandwiches

If you've ever been to Chicago's A-1 roast beef, you'll love this easy crock pot version of Italian Beef Sandwiches! The only thing I had to do stove top was reduce the wine to cook the alcohol out. I also opted for a lean chuck roast. (only $6.00) Not only was it more economical than a blade roast, the small amount of fat added flavor. Serve on bollilo or hoagie rolls. The house will smell amazing all day. It basically turned into a delicious pot roast sandwich.

Chicago Style Italian Beef Sandwiches

1 green pepper cut into 1/4" pieces (red pepper diced optional)
1 medium onion cut into large pieces
2 bay leaves
2 cups beef stock
2 cloves garlic minced 
1 cup red wine reduced for 5 minutes
2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1 lean 3 lb beef chuck roast or blade roast

Season the beef on both sides with the salt and pepper. Reduce the wine on stove top until alcohol is cooked out (5 minutes or so) Add the beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, pepper flakes, onions, and green pepper into the crock pot. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8. Use an electric knife to cut the beef into thin slices. Season the broth with more salt if necessary.  Return the meat to the crock pot. Serve on the rolls with a bowl of the Au Jus.

Note: to defat the broth you can either cool it down by sticking it in the fridge when you are cutting the beef and then skim the fat off or use a fat separating measuring cup. I also used the old spoon method by skimming the broth with a big spoon and discarding the fat.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Auditioning for Master Chef: Chicago What's it Like?

I have been a fan of Fox's "Master Chef "since day one. My hubby always tells me that he thinks I can win. I love him! This is the first time I have tried out for the show. My family and I traveled to Chicago via the Metra on Friday and  stayed at the Homewood Suites.  They have a  kitchen in the suites. (Which I later found out didn't have a oven) The auditions were held at the hotel we had our honeymoon at 17 years ago, the Congress. The Congress lobby is beautiful but the rooms need work. There is no place to heat up your food either at the audition..They tell you to bring something that will travel well and not to worry about the temperature of your food. I purchased a insulated bag from Walgreens that I stocked up with goodies. We got in from the Metra and a pretty good walk to the Homewood Suites and then headed off to Whole Foods which was a few blocks away.
chicken roulade with spinach and sun dried tomatoes

I got back to the hotel and could hardly sleep. I ended up getting up at 5:30AM to prepare my dish. One problem, there was no oven to bake my dish  like I practiced. I ended up  poaching my Chicken Roulade wrapped in Saran Wrap. Don't worry! I researched what plastic wraps were BPA free. I put all of my ingredients in Zip loc tubs and into a hot bag and then into the thermal bag.

I was running late!  By the time we got to the Congress, it was 8AM. The line was down the hall but not as bad as I expected. I had to finish my application again because I left the one I had filled out back home. I printed one out at the Business center in my hotel.  Next step was a table where they look over your application and then into a large room to sit and wait. My number was 172. Our group was called to go down to some waiting busses. We weren't sure where we were going. At first I thought the auditions were being held somewhere else. We were being chauffeured to Grant Park right across the street. The crew shot some outside shots where we marched chanting "Master Chef" and held up signs. There were also some chosen people that got to shout out what their professions were. That was judged on unusual looks. There was a paratrooper in a kilt and others with bright colored hair. I was close to the camera and hope to get in some shots. Seriously I was sweating buckets and getting sun burned. I am very fair skinned.

Then back to the auditions. We had to wait again. Our group was about 24 people. I somehow got in the first spot in our group. When our group got called  we waited on a ramp for the room doors to open. The nervousness was palatable. There was much fidgeting and moving around. Finally after a 25 minute or so wait, we were let in the doors.

It was in a beautiful ball room. There were tables in a rectangle and we had to race around to find our spots. I had secured the number one spot. We weren't allowed to take any pictures at all. I did set up my dish again at the hotel so you could see what it looked like. We were given hand sanitizer and told we had three minutes to plate our dish. We were allowed to set up all of our ingredients on the table first. I had forgot my plate and knife back home so I was using hotel borrowed plates. My heart was pounding really hard and then the time was up. A chef came around to taste my food. I couldn't hear him. I think because my heart was pounding in my ears.  He asked me to describe my dish and tasted it. He asked me what methods I used too. Then a casting director, Kristen came around and talked to us. Alas, my number was not called at the end. My number was 172 and they called 171. Another person won for making brownies. I think they were looking more for stories and certain looks. Finally I got to leave around 2PM.

I may not have won but  I feel proud I tried something new. I started cooking at age 12 out of necessity. I, like many, was a latch-key kid.  My first experience cooking something from scratch wasn't a good one. I made green beans. I thought you could us a regular zip loc as a boil bag and I ended up burning my stomach pretty bad. That didn't stop me from cooking though! I moved out when I was 18 and became the cook for my roommates. My grandma was a wonderful cook but very crabby. I learned some of her dishes. My Mom only made about 7 different dishes. I became very adventurous and a food porn addict. I would see something on TV and then try to make it myself. I haven't always been a perfect cook but I never gave up and  keep on learning.  Well, there is always next time! This experience has made me love food even more. I don't need a judge to validate how good my food is. As long as my loved ones and friends love it, that's all that matters!

Tips for Auditioning:

1) Bring something to eat. You will be there 5-8 hours. We only got free water.
2) Show up early. Auditions were at 10AM. Plan on getting there 2-3 hours early. I was told that if you aren't in line by 12 Noon, you won't be seen.
3) Have a story. The guy next to me had a amazing story. I thought mine was amazing too lol
4) Know your food. Don't make something you have never made before. I make mine for about 5 weeks straight. Be sure you know you prepared it.
5) Make some friends. I made a lot of new friends standing in line.
6) Be as perky and bubbly as humanly possible.
7) Have fun! Enjoy the moment. You are lucky to have the chance to audition.
8) Wear comfy clothes. This salesperson was walking in the mud at Grant Park in her heels. She got on TV too! I was smart and wore tennis shoes. You might be standing for a few hours.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Better than Starbucks Iced Coffee

Starbucks is raising their prices again! I am a Starbucks gold card member but had to cut back due to

being out of work with my surgery injury. Here is a very inexpensive way to make the recipe at home. I store my batch of concentrate in the fridge (for up to a week) Use some of the iced  coffee concentrate to make coffee ice cubes. This way your flavor won't get watered down. I save on calories by adding skim milk instead of creamer. You could also make it like an Americano and substitute water for cream. I use 3 packs of Splenda but again use sugar to your liking.

Iced Coffee

12 TBSP  ground coffee
water up to the 8 cup line in your coffee pot

That's it! Easy peasy right? Brew the coffee as normal. Cool down the coffee and store in a picture or mason jar. Add coffee ice cubes to a bar glass. Pour the coffee concentrate halfway up the glass. Add water, creamer, or milk up the glass the rest of the way. Sweeten with your choice of flavorings or sugars. Enjoy!
coffee concentrate

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Korean Beef Tacos and Garlic Spiced Green Beans

I love to experiment and try different foods. This is a combination of a few Korean Spiced Beef that I have researched and combined together. The result was delicious! I had also canned about 10 lbs of green beans. I thought they would be the perfect accompaniment to the delicious taste of the Korean Spiced beef tacos. You could also eat this over rice with some veggies stir fried in if you didn't want to use the tortilla.  We grilled the

Korean Spicy Beef Tacos


1/4 cup sesame seed oil
1 small onion
1 Asian Pear cored
1/2 cup  soy sauce
1 TBSP sesame seeds
5 cloves garlic minced
1 TBSP minced ginger
3 thin cut rib eye steaks cut on the bias

I stuck my rib eye steaks in the freezer for about 15 minutes. This makes them easier to cut. I cut against the grain and make the pieces thin. You could fry these in oil or do what we did. We lined the grill with tin foil and grilled the pieces for 5-10 minutes.

This is probably the most money I spent on dinner all week at $14.00. You could use a tougher cut of meat like round steak or flank steak. In the food processor I added the onion, and Asian Pear and minced it very fine. The Asian Pear adds a different kind of sweetness to the dish. Marinate for 3-24 hours.
Remove thee meat from the marinade and either grill or fry. The meat should not turn gray. Just light brown. Serve over rice or with soft shell tacos, cucumber, radishes, and bib lettuce. I also served Siracha on the side. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds before serving.

Garlic Green Beans

1 1/2 lbs green beans
2 TBSP oil
4 cloves garlic minced
2 TBSP soy sauce

Toss the green beans in the oil and stir fry until crispy tender. Add the garlic and soy sauce. Toss to coat.Top with sesame seeds. Season with additional salt if necessary.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Lemon Meringue Pie

I have been ill due to a complication with my gall bladder surgery. Since I have been cooped up in my house I felt well enough to do some baking and experimenting yesterday. When I was growing up my  Mom made the best lemon meringue pies ever when I was a kid. I have a feeling she used the boxed lemon meringue filling. Mine is a different recipe. I did sub bottled lemon juice for squeezed. I also have perfected my meringue and got to pull out my stand mixer. You can use a hand held mixer, but I found this saves the wrists.

Lemon Meringue Pie

1 premade, pre-baked pie crust (I used Martha Stewart's recipe)
3/4 cup lemon juice
3 TBSP corn starch
2 TBSP flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water
4 eggs separated (yolks for the filling)

4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 pinch cream of Tartar
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Poke holes and prebake the pie crust using parchment paper loaded with pie weights or beans to weigh the pie crust down. If you don't do this the crust separates from the pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove the pie weights and bake for another 5 minutes or until the pie crust is baked through. .

Add the water, corn starch, flour,  and sugar to and sugar to a medium sauce pan. Stir with a whisk until boiling. Add in the lemon juice. Stir and remove from the heat. Add the egg yolks one at a time and continue to stir. After all have been added, return to the heat and continue to mix for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 20 minutes. Stir the mixture periodically. Put the whites in the fridge.

Use a fine mesh strainer to pour the pie filling through. Use a spoon to push it through and into the pie crust. This assures there are no lumps in the filling. Refrigerate pie for 2 hours. Remove the whites from the fridge and place in a clean metal bowl. I used a stand mixer. I began beating the meringues on low. I added the vanilla and sugar with a pinch of Cream of Tartar slowly until the whites became glossy and formed peaks. Cover the pie with the meringue and use a knife to lift the meringue up and form peaks. Place under a broiler for 5 minutes until browned. Cool for a few minutes and back to the fridge if you can wait that long!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Honey Dipped Fried Chicken

Who doesn't like fried chicken?  On Monday's at Woodman's they put all the weekend meat on
Honey chicken with mango-corn salsa.
clearance. Score for us! I got a thick ham slice for $1.50 and a whole chicken fryer for around $3.00. Again, nothing wrong with them. They were at their due date. If chicken is frozen it's good for up to 9 months. If you are using it you want to try to make it no later than 2-3 days afterward. Throw away if you notice any fowl smell or slime.

This chicken was perfect. I have this way I like to bread my chicken. I normally use a grocery paper bag. It saves the mess. I use 2 cups flour to 1/2 cup corn starch. This recipe is different using a dipping batter. Still the same principle: dip the chicken into the cornstarch and then into the wet batter. To keep the skin krispy, this recipe called for removing the chicken and letting rest half way through cooking. I didn't like this method at first. I had to rebatter some of the chicken half way though. With the bag method, you shake and fry. The wet batter only had salt and pepper. I like to add Cayanne and Thyme to my dry batter.

 But before all that I brine the chicken for a few hours first in 2 quarts water, 1/2 cup salt, and 1/2 cup sugar. Mix the sugar and salt until dissolved. You could also use buttermilk. This helps break down the fibers and makes the chicken moist.

2 cups flour (1/2 cup reserved)
1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2  cups water

Honey Coating:

3/4 cup honey
2 TBSP hot sauce

Remove the chicken from the brine patting dry with paper towels. Prepare the batter mixing in a little water at a time. Fill a cast iron skillet half way with canola oil. Heat to 350-375 degrees. Use a thermometer to verify temp. Coat the chicken in the reserved flour on both sides. dip into the batter and into the hot oil. I fit all of my chicken in together. You can also do this in batches. Fry for 7 minutes a side. Remove the chicken from the oil and let rest for 7 minutes. (Or fry the next batch)

Return the chicken to the hot oil. Fry the breasts 20-25 minutes or until the internal temp is 160 degrees. Thighs take 15-20 minutes, smaller pieces like drums and wings may be done at 14 minutes. Drain oil off chicken on paper towels, season with salt,  and make the honey dip. Dip each piece of chicken in the honey and serve!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Roasted Marshmallow Strawberries

Roasted Marshmallow Strawberries

These are as easy as can be for a quick dessert or campfire treat during the summer. I didn't make my own mallow but used the store kind in the jar. Make sure to wipe all the water off your berries to make the mallow stick I used a spoon to get the mallow on the strawberries and then a metal skewer over the stove burner. If you are really fancy, you could use a blow torch for more control. I am a love burnt marshmallows though!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Homemade Gnocchi

We love gnocchi here and usually end up buying the dried kind from Woodman's. Today I gave making my own from scratch. Lydia Bastianich makes it look so easy. How hard could it be right?  I got a new toy today too, a potato ricer. I boiled 3 lbs or so of potatoes on the stove and they are cooking. I am going to peel them rice them, and then let them cool before I attempt this dough. You can make your own pesto like I did in this recipe (my herbs just started to grow)  or you could buy the Classico brand like I did today.

Lydia's Gnocchi

6 lg potatoes
2 TBSP plus 1 tsp salt
3 eggs beaten
3 cups flour
grated Parmesan approx. 1/2 cup
Classico Pesto sauce or the sauce of your choice

Peel and rice the potatoes. (I got my potato ricer at Bed Bath and Beyond for $12.99)  Let them cool completely and make a large circle with the flour and potatoes. Leave  a well in the center. Place the eggs, a tsp of salt,  and a pinch of pepper. Move the flour from the outside of the well into the eggs. Incorporate until the dough becomes to come together. Flour hands and divide dough into 6 portions. Roll each portion into a rope 1/2 inch thick. Cut rope into smaller portions and mark with a fork. This helps the sauce adhere to the dough. Boil a huge pot of water, add two TBSP of salt. Add the gnocchi and boil until the gnocchi float to the top 2-3 minutes. Drain and top with your favorite sauce.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Crock Pot Adobo Chicken Wings

My friend George posted this recipe the other day and it looked yummy! Filipino Adobo Chicken. It's got vinegar for acidity and some soy sauce which makes for a rich sauce.

Adobo Chicken Wings

3lbs defrosted chicken wings
3 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 cup vinegar
2 tsp. black pepper
3/4 cup soy sauce
2 medium potatoes cut into chunks (optional)

I defrosted a bag of chicken wings and broiled them on a tin foil lined pan for 25 minutes. This helps brown the chicken and prevents it from falling apart in the crock pot. I added the soy sauce and vinegar along with two bay leafs. I also threw in 2 tsp pepper and some salt. I put the entire thing on high in the crockpot for three hours. I poured the sauce out and reduced it on the stove to about half. I served the chicken over white rice. The family loved it!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Crock Pot Beef and Broccoli

Crock Pot Beef and Broccoli

1 head of broccoli
1 can of sliced water chestnuts drained
1 lg onion quartered
2 TBSP flour
1 cup beef stock
1 lb stir fry meat or tenderized round steak (found in meat dept)
2 TBSP oil
4TBSP soy sauce

This is a crowd pleaser and you can make this with very little effort. Perfect for Mom's Day! The only cooking you will be doing on the stove is browning the meat.  Take the meat and cut down into strips. Be sure to cut across the grain. Roll the beef around in the flour. (You could also use corn starch here also)  Season the meat with salt. Add to a frying pan that has been heated with 2 TBSP of oil. Brown the meat on all sides. Once the meat is browned place it in the crock pot.

To the frying pan add  the beef broth and soy sauce.  Use a spatula to scrape all the brown bits up. Add the florets to the crock pot along with the water chestnuts. Top with the sauce. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or low for 4 hours. Add more soy sauce to taste. Serve over white rice.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Chicken and Mole' Enchiladas

The Chicken and Mole' Enchiladas are a great weekend dish. You could use the crock pot during the week day and have the chicken en mole' waiting for you. Then all you would need to do is prepare a baking dish with the sauce, roll up the enchiladas with 2-3 TBSP of the topping and a little cheese. Then spread the rest of the topping over them and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. You could get all of the ingredients ready the night before and put the crock pot on right before you go to work in the morning. Either way, this is a delicious sauce! I chose to use bone out breasts in this recipe which can cook in as little as 25 minutes. The bone in with skin thighs may take up to 35 minutes.

Chicken and Mole' Enchiladas


16-24 ounces of chicken broth
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce chopped
4-5 squares Ghirardelli 60% Cacao chocolate chopped
1/4 cup peanut or almond butter
1 small box of raisins
2 Guajillo or New Mexico dried chili peppers (see below)
1/4 cup toasted  pumpkin seeds
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. salt and pepper
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 TBSP sesame seeds (toast if fresh)
3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts thawed
5-10 shakes of hot sauce(optional)

for the Enchiladas
4 oz cheddar cheese reserve half
1 pkg flour tortillas medium sized

Pan Method

Take the dried chilies and toast them in a dry frying pan until you can begin to smell them. Cool them down for a minute or two and then make a slit with a knife and remove all of the seeds and stem. To a very large frying pan add all of the other ingredients up to the chicken. Stir the sauce until the chocolate and peanut butter are melted. Add the defrosted chicken breasts and cook on medium heat for 25-30 minutes.  Shut off the sauce and remove the chicken to a clean plate. Let cool down for 5-10 minutes. While that cools down use a blender or hand blender to smooth out the sauce. You may leave some of the tomatoes chunky but may have to remove the dried peppers.

Shred the chicken. (Discard the skin if using skin on) Reserve 1/2 of the sauce for the topping before adding the chicken back in the sauce. Take one cup of the sauce and place it on the bottom of the baking dish(9x13). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lay one tortilla in the sauce and add 1-3 TBSP of the filling. Add a pinch or two of the cheese. Push the filling to one side and roll. Place seam side down in the dish and keep on going until the dish is full. You may have to put a few sideways. Top with the remaining cheese and bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melted.

Serve with your favorite toppings. I like avocado and sour cream.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Puerto Rican Rice and Pernil or Roast Pork

I have been so busy with school this semester that I hardly have time to think. Sunday is both "Special Breakfast Day" for us and "Special Dinner Day."  It's the one day of the week I can put a long cooking chicken or roast in the oven and sit around. Ok I did do some errands today but now I am relaxing before I have to study. This dish is pretty much set it and forget. The rice comes together in 20 minutes. Together they are a marriage made in Heaven. 


Early in the morning take the roast out of the fridge. Use a knife to make little slits on the top of the roast. My roast had a thin layer of  fat. If you have a thicker layer of fat, use a knife to get under the fat and then make the slits on the roast. Mine was a 4lb sirloin pork roast. To the slits add minced garlic. I use the pre-cut one from a jar. (Travesty I know!) Next salt the entire roast and use two packets of Sazon with Achiote and Cumin and rub it on the outside and underneath the roast.
roast marinated

 Place in a small pan and cover with foil. Let marinate for a few hours. I started my roast around 1PM. I added water to a large roasting pan and then the roast. (It's important to keep the pan covered with water or you will have smoke!) Season  the roast with Adobo with cumin and cover the entire roasting pan with foil. Add to a preheated 350 degree oven. 

I baked the roast for 3 1/2 hours. I increased the oven temp. to 450 degrees.  It was now time to crisp the skin.  I removed the roast from the oven, removed the tin foil, and placed a marinade of 2 TBSP oil, 2TBSP lemon juice, and 1 tsp. Oregano, salt, and pepper.  Bake for 20-25 more minutes. The roast should measure 160 on a meat thermometer. Some say less  but I like to be sure it's done. 

Puerto Rican Rice

This is the rice I normally make in my Arroz con Pollo or chicken and rice. My youngest daughter goes wild for this! My only different addition was a pack of Sazon and some ham. You will love this rice too! I had black beans on hand but you can also use gandules or green pigeon peas. 

2 cups long grain rice
4 cups chicken broth
1 small onion diced 
1 tsp minced garlic
2 TBSP tomato paste
1 pack Sazon
10 green olives 
2 thick pieces ham
1 TBSP chicken bouillon (optional)
olive oil 

Add one to two TBSP oil to the bottom of a large stock pot. Brown the onions for 3 minutes or so and add the tomato paste. Again brown for another 2-3 minutes. Add the two cups of rice and once again brown in the oil for another few minutes. You are coating and browning the rice. Add the broth, garlic, Sazon, olives, diced ham, and chicken bouillon. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Cover with a lid and no peeking for 15-20 minutes. Let sit on the stove top for 5 minutes before serving.  Add additional bouillon if needed. At the last minute I also add the beans before serving. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Crock Pot Beef Osso Buco with Polenta

Are you looking for a good stick to your ribs dinner for this unbelievable cold outside?  This Crock
Pot Beef Osso Buco can be waiting for you when you come home from work. The price is under $9.00 and can feed a family of 4 off of two large shanks. I purchased mine at Woodman's. I was looking at oxtails but for some reason they are crazy expensive right now. With the addition of polenta as a side, you have a delicious, filling meal.

Osso Buco

You need the stove for the first part, but I swear, the rest is easy peasy. Firstly, season and brown both sides of the beef in about 2 tablespoons of oil. You want a nice crust to form. Even brown the sides. Remove the beef to the crock pot. Add the mushrooms and onions and saute until golden.  In the same pan, add one cup of red wine. I used Rex-Goliath Merlot. Use  a wooden spoon to push up the brown bits from

the pan. Reduce for 5 minutes. The alcohol will cook out. Pour over the beef shanks. Add a pinch of Thyme, a teaspoon of minced garlic, a bay leaf, season again with salt and pepper. Add two tablespoons tomato paste and one can drained fire roasted tomatoes to the crock pot. Instead of adding more broth at this point, I added 2 beef bouillon cubes to keep the water content down.

You can add root veggies like turnips, potatoes, and carrots. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. The meat will be fall off the bone. Remove the sauce to a sauce pot on the stove. Add corn starch mixed in water to thicken. Serve over your favorite side. For the polenta I used a tube version that I mixed chicken stock with until it was grit consistency.