Archive for the ‘dinner’ Category

Easy Spanish Rice

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

This is a recipe I came across while looking for a way to use a new bottle of McCormick Smoky Sweet Pepper Blend. McCormick says: Flavorful and versatile, our signature Smoky Sweet Pepper Blend will inspire creativity in your cooking.

Among the recipes I found at McCormick.com, this one stood out for a few reasons:  family-friendly ingredients, on-hand ingredients and easy was in the recipe’s name.

So, to begin with, I chopped some onion then cooked and stirred it in heated oil.

Just one Tablespoon of olive oil and 1/2 Cup onion is needed. Easy, right?!

Then I added the rice and Seasoning, stirred it all up and cooked for a couple minutes.

After that, I stirred in chicken broth, bringing the mixture to a boil. As requested, I covered the pan and simmered the broth for 15 minutes. And this is where I remove easy from Easy Spanish Rice…

True, it wasn’t difficult, but surely Easy Spanish Rice cannot qualify as a time saver or anything of that nature because once I was done watching the simmering pot for 15 minutes, I stirred in diced tomatoes and simmered for another 8-10 minutes.

What would happen if the tomatoes were simmered with the rice for the whole cooking time?!  Would it taste too tomato-ey?! Would the tomatoes be mushy?! I think not…but I shall continue…

  • Easy Spanish Rice
    • 1 Tablespoon Olive oil
    • 1/2 Cup chopped onion
    • 1 Cup long grain rice
    • 3 Tablespoons McCormick Smoky Sweet Pepper Blend
    • 2 1/2 Cups reduced sodium chicken broth
    • 1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained
    • Heat oil in large skillet on medium heat.
    • Add onion, cook and stir 2 minutes or until softened.
    • Add rice and Seasoning; cook and stire 2 minutes.
    • Stir in broth. Bring to a boil.
    • Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 15 minutes.
    • Stir in tomatoes.
    • Cover and simmer 8-10 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.

Not what I was hoping for. Everything was a little mushier than I had imagined. The rice ended up a bit clumpy and everything else was just…regular. This was a bland tasting Spanish Rice regardless of the use of Smoky Sweet Pepper Blend. I didn’t dislike the rice, but it was not worth the time used to prepare it. I could have made something much better in 25 minutes. I can get the same taste from a package of Knorr Spanish Rice and it cooks in just 7 minutes.

Last thought – McCormick Smoky Sweet Pepper Blend is awesome to shake on refried beans during heating. It adds extra flavor that wouldn’t have been there otherwise. I guess that’s where the rest of my bottle will go.

Cheeseburgers rock!

Monday, October 26th, 2009

I haven’t posted dinner in quite awhile and I apologize for that. I’ve taken pictures faithfully, but sometimes the same old thing for dinner doesn’t feel worth showing.

The Food Presentation Police would probably scold me for this wonderful cheeseburger plate. Hmm, I’ll call it The Yellow Plate. Upon first glance one might think that all the yellow foods look boring. This was surely not the case.

Onto The Yellow Plate went one of the tastiest cheeseburgers I have had all year…not something I normally seek in everyday life, but it happened and was amazing.  A heavy sprinkling of black pepper and seasoned salt helped set this burger up for a win. Then the burgers were grilled and eventually topped with a slice of Colby Jack cheese and some sauteed, sliced mushrooms.

The Yellow Plate:

This perfect cheeseburger needed some more yellow to accompany it, so of course I had to squirt on some mustard. Velveeta Shells and Cheese and boiled corn on the cob completed the plate.

Cheeseburgers rock!! This one so much that I didn’t even miss the bacon!

Review: New York Pizza Dept.

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

New York Pizza Dept. says:  What makes us different is that we start by making our own dough from scratch each and every day. We use New York filtered water and yes…it really makes a difference. Our pizza sauce is homemade using only the finest California vine ripened tomatoes and our secret blend of spices. We then use whole milk mozzarella that is made for us exclusively. It’s guaranteed to be tasty and stringy. We don’t skimp – we use a whole pound of it on an 18” cheese pie. We use fresh produce and the best meats available. We even hand chop our basil that is grown locally.

Ten years ago this family owned and operated business moved from Long Island, New York to Arizona. And yesterday we discovered that they deliver!

New York Pizza Dept. has been a favorite for awhile, but the option of delivery was never available. New York Pizza Dept. pizza is not your average Papa John’s quality delivery pizza. This pizza is hardcore goodness and I was curious as to what the results would be. We are riggght on the border of their delivery zone, but that’s OKAY.

An amazing 45 minutes later and over 5 miles of driving time, (faster than Papa John’s delivery, 1.5 miles away) the 18 inch Pepperoni Beauty arrived…as lovely and hot as it would be delivered to your table.

I have never eaten real New York Style pizza, but my guess is this is pretty close to the real deal. There are 8 huge slices on a very thin crust. Everything above the crust is a wonderful mesh of  fresh ingredients and greasiness. The crust itself unleashes its qualities of being made from scratch.

One slice fills up the majority of a dinner plate. It also fills the majority of my stomach.

“To protect and serve great pizza.” Oohh..

Well, however they protected the great pizza before we got it is beyond me, but they surely served a delicious pie with a very polite deliveryman. (free fridge magnet…woo hoo!)

I would say in the end, being out $18 for an 18 inch wonder-of-a-pizza, is pretty much breaking even.

[Rating:4.5/5]

Biscuits, Gravy and Mariah Carey

Monday, July 13th, 2009

Biscuits and Gravy are an awesome comfort food. They are all things good and bad. Pork and requisite pork fat, starch in two forbidden forms, dairy and milk fat. Biscuits and Gravy are great on a wet winter morning when you just want to stay inside where it is warm. What?! I’m talking crazy now. I can’t even muster up the mental imagery needed for that thought. (Mmm winter!) Anyways, the 110+ degrees didn’t stop me from whipping up a batch of sausage gravy and calling it comfort.

I don’t have an actual recipe, but I’ll share how I made the gravy.

Crumble and brown 1 pound of pork sausage over medium heat.

Once browned, add 4 heaping tablespoons of flour to the sausage and stir so that all the sausage pieces are covered. The flour will begin to brown. The longer you let it brown, the darker your gravy will be.

Slowly add 2 cups of milk, stirring constantly. A pinch of salt and pepper can be added to taste. Once all the ingredients are incorporated, the gravy looks like this…

Almost immediately the mixture begins to thicken. Cook it until you are personally satisfied with the thickness you created or until you can drag a spatula across the bottom of the pan and leave a trail.

This gravy was a little on the brown side, but I refuse to believe that its color was due to me over-cooking the flour. I barely mixed the flour around before I stirred in the milk. I think it was because I didn’t drain the extra grease from the pan.

Oh yeah…the biscuits. I guess I cheated as far as comfort foods go and baked biscuits from a can rather than scratch. I blame Pilsbury Grands! for being so handy and delightfully fluffy.

The final result was delicious.

Now can someone get me a popsicle?

Last but not least…Mariah Carey. There is no way to tie this into a post about Biscuits and Gravy besides saying, “While we’re on the topic of comfort…”

Mariah’s ballads, style, and grace seems to be infinite. Apparently she doesn’t age either, which I think is neat. Her most recent performance was at Michael Jackson’s Memorial singing “I’ll Be There.”  What a touching performance that was! If you haven’t seen the video, take a look. (skip ahead to 2:40 to hear a man’s voice who can nearly reach Mariah’s vocals. Almost comical. Great duet. Good stuff!) If you have seen it, it’s worth a re-watch. And that’s a fact. (hey, it’s my site!)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8yKcmru0JM[/youtube]

Chicken Fried Rice

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Chicken Fried Rice is a tasty and simple dish to throw together that will please almost anyone.  Whether it’s just you or a troop full of hungries, this versatile recipe is ready to fulfill your evening meal needs.

Cooking with leftovers or going from scratch, your choice.

With many imaginatory ingredients in mind, (snow peas, chopped carrots, spinach leaves, mushrooms, peas…the possibilities are endless, really….why am I sticking with TWO?) I made this batch with several stalks of green onion and a bit of broccoli. Fresh broccoli would be the better choice, but I settled for some frozen broccoli cooked for a couple minutes in a tablespoon of water. The semi-crisp broccoli seemed to work out fine. I put it in the pan with the green onions and hot oil..

I cooked it on medium-high heat for a minute or so, then added the chicken..

and lastly the rice to stir fry for another couple minutes…

After two minutes, add the soy sauce and stir the ingredients around so all the rice is adequately covered. Then stir fry for another minute or so.

THEN…

dish into plates or bowls of your choice and watch silence unfold. ;)

Nothing was truly measured here and eggs were left out tonight, but here is the recipe in a couple variations:

  • Chicken Fried Rice for ONE
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 Tbsp. margarine
    • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
    • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
    • 1 Cup cold cooked rice
    • handful of any leftover cooked meat, chopped small
    • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
    • In skillet, on medium heat, melt margarine & lightly scramble egg. Remove egg from skillet & set on plate till later.
    • In same skillet, heat oil on high heat till very hot. Add green onions & stir 1 minute.
    • Lower heat to medium.
    • Add rice & meat. Stir fry until meat & rice are hot. (approximately 2 minutes)
    • Add soy sauce and scrambled eggs. Stir & fry 1 more minute.
  • Chicken Fried Rice
    • 4 eggs
    • 2 Tbsp. margarine
    • 2-3 tbsp. vegetable oil
    • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
    • 3-4 Cups cold cooked rice
    • 2 Cups cooked meat, chopped small
    • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
    • Any other ingredients you choose.
    • In skillet, on medium heat, melt margarine & lightly scramble egg. Remove egg from skillet & set on plate till later.
    • In same skillet, heat oil on high heat till very hot. Add green onions & stir 1 minute.
    • Lower heat to medium.
    • Add rice & meat. Stir fry until meat & rice are hot. (approximately 2 minutes)
    • Add soy sauce and scrambled eggs. Stir & fry 1 more minute.

Macaroni Salad that will Cure a Case of the Mondays

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Peter Gibbons: Hey, guys.
Michael Bolton: What’s up, G?
Peter Gibbons: Want to go to Chotchkie’s? Get some coffee?
Samir: Oh, it’s a little early.
Peter Gibbons: I gotta get outta here. I think I’m gonna lose it.

Female Temp: Uh-oh. Sounds like  somebody’s got a case of the Mondays.

Oh noes…a case of the Mondays is not good! Not on any day!

This macaroni salad on the other hand is good

Good enough to cure a case of the Mondays! (to those who don’t recognize the lines above, that was a quote snag from the movie Office Space.)

It’s so easy and has very pleasing results. Be gentle with the eggs unless you are a pro. If you don’t have a handy dandy egg slicer which, might I add, would not prevent you from having to slice the opposite direction anyways, then a patient hand is the key. Dice and cut the eggs how you please. None of the eggs will stay completely intact through the stirring process. Finely chop the celery stalks and green pepper too. Onion powder saves the day in this recipe, although some freshly cut red onion could add some more color and crunch.

Behold my chopped celery disguising as chopped green pepper and my beautifully yellow egg yolks next to their little chopped egg white pals.

Add 4 cups of mayo and you’re set.

I have never prepared macaroni salad before, so I misjudged mayo requirements while at the store. I also forgot my neat table for metric conversions and such so I thought this container would be plenty.  ;)

This container of mayo falls just short of 4 cups by the way.

But you know what? It’s Monday and it does not matter!

This makes a lot of salad, but if sealed properly could last up to 4 days in the refrigerator.

  • M-m-m-macaroni Salad
    • 1 lb. uncooked elbow macaroni
    • 6 hard-boiled eggs
    • 3 celery stalks, chopped
    • 1 green or red bell pepper, chopped
    • 4 C. real mayonnaise
    • 3 Tbsp. prepared yellow mustard
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/4 tsp. pepper
    • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
    • Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until tender.
    • Drain and set aside to cool. (rinse with cold water and set aside)
    • In a large bowl stir together the eggs, celery and pepper.
    • In a small bowl stir together the mayonnaise, mustard, pepper, salt and onion powder.
    • Combine into the bowl with the eggs and vegetables and stir macaroni until well blended.
    • Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

I think this is the best macaroni salad I have ever eaten and I swear I’m not just saying that because I made it. I didn’t use level tablespoon measurements when dispensing the mustard, but I enjoyed the outcome. Four tablespoons of mustard must be when the magic happened. If you like the taste of mustard potato salad, then you’ll love over-lapping the three mustard tablespoons. I think I recreated that taste in macaroni salad form, but I liked it!

And with that, enjoy a Milton clip. That poor guy couldn’t even enjoy my M-m-m-macaroni Salad if he tried. Give the brother a slice of cake!!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWp-Rj5o9uA[/youtube]

Hot Diggity Dog!

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Of all the simple to make foods that have been shown on whatsinmypot, I was shocked to think hot dogs weren’t featured anywhere.

I mean hot dogs! A fun, summertime food that is so easy to make, whether you are feeding yourself or a large group…fried, steamed, grilled or broiled, a piping hot dog in a warm roll is a tasty treat no matter how you top it.

I topped mine with a thin layer of mayo, shredded lettuce and salt & peppered tomato slices. Then, of course, mustard…a definite hot dog must.

Tasty!

And to accompany the dogs were some Bush’s Original Baked Beans.

One thing I will admit is liking to get the “prize” of the little lardish mystery bit in a can of beans. No one else really wants it. This can was extra intriguing when the mystery bit looked like bacon, not to be confused with Beggin’ Strips, which also look like bacon. I thought I was going to win with this fancy-looking bit of lard. Nope. The three sections on the right dissolved instantly when the chunk was placed on tongue. That fourth section was so odd. Odd enough to make me reference Beggin’ Strips once again. The fourth section was almost unchewable, but I think with persistence it would have gone down the throat. I didn’t stick with it long enough to completely know for myself because the flavor was bland.

Regardless, Bush’s Baked Beans are a tasty canned bean to satisfy a need for a quick side item. Just don’t eat the mystery bit!

And here is a video that I want to share not only because BBQ Pit Boys is a cool name, but because the video is as sedating as it is motivating. You’ll have to watch the video to see what I mean. In the end you are definitely hungry.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBFI_pW8z9g[/youtube]

And a neat camping trick with hot dogs…

All you need is ten minutes, a knife and some roasting sticks. Cut the ends of each hot dog into quarters leaving about 1-1/2 to 2 inches in the middle uncut. You want to leave enough uncut to stick the fork in. Roast the dogs over the fire or hot coals in a grill. The “legs” will curl out as the hot dogs cook. You can also do them in the kitchen at home over a hot stove burner.

Last but not least, here is a recipe for barbequed hot dogs  that may be the change of pace your dogs are looking for, but you better have quite a few hungry mouths awaiting…

  • Barbequed Hot Dogs
    • 3/4 C. chopped onion
    • 3 Tbsp. butter or margarine
    • 1-1/2 C. chopped celery
    • 1- 1/2 C. ketchup
    • 3/4 C. water
    • 1/3 C. lemon juice
    • 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
    • 3 Tbsp. vinegar
    • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 Tbsp. yellow mustard
    • 2 – 8 count packages of  hot dogs
    • 16 hot dog buns, split
    • In a saucepan over medium heat, saute onion in butter until tender.
    • Add celery, ketchup, water, lemon juice, sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and mustard; bring to a boil.
    • Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
    • Cut three ¼ inch deep slits on each side of hot dogs; place in a 2-1/2 quart baking dish.
    • Pour the sauce over the hot dogs.
    • Cover and bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until heated through.


Chipotle Pepper Chicken

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

When I noticed Chipotle Pepper Marinade at the store, it intrigued my  taste buds.

I know I like the flavor of chipotle peppers, and I was pretty confident that this marinade seasoning mix would not be too peppery for my family to handle.

Grill Time Chipotle Pepper Marinade Seasoning Mix is the store brand equivalent to Grill Mates Chipotle Pepper Marinade, so it was a bit cheaper.

I grab a three pack of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and dinner is set.

Back at home, I’m reading through the ingredients on the back of the package of marinade mix and I got a little bit bothered.

Silicon Dioxide…yum. It is one of many anti-caking agents found in many commercial salts, dried milks, sugar products and flours, in case you never looked. Reminded me more of Chemistry class than dinner. I don’t want to think of anti-caking OR silicon dioxide, while enjoying the smell of a marinade.

Get out of my marinade, you!! How come Grill Mates doesn’t need the anti-caking stuff? Huh? Huh?

I went through with the marinading which only took 30 minutes and out to the grill the chicken went.

As always, (and I think I have the backing of the household on this one) these Chipotle Pepper chicken breasts are very nicely charred, with just the right amount of crispy grilled edges.

I continue to get heart-shaped food and yes it is going to my head.  : )

I enjoyed my Chipotle Pepper chicken with some very tasty Spaghetti Salad, and some jasmine rice for the extra energy I need for Olympic Training…heh. Carbolicious night I suppose.

Grill Time Chipotle Pepper Marinade Seasoning Mix produced a gentle, chipotle pepper taste that was pleasing to the palette, but not to the brain. Anti-cake someone else Grill Time, because I liked your flavor, but I won’t be purchasing you again.







Cinco de Mayo

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

The holiday of Cinco De Mayo, The 5th Of May, commemorates the victory of the Mexican militia over the French army at The Battle Of Puebla in 1862. It is not, as many people think, Mexico’s Independence Day, which is actually September 16.

Do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo? How do you celebrate?

I thought to myself, “What better way to celebrate than get Mexican food take-out.”

Not just any ole take-out, though.

Burrito Express, a true family run business and as importantly, home of the Best Bean and Cheese Burrito in Chandler for it’s price.

Sorry Elmer’s Tacos. You were a childhood, high school and adulthood favorite who never did me wrong, but you are no longer the best bean and cheese burrito in Chandler. Regardless, Elmer’s…you still rock.

Where was I? Oh yes…

The Best Bean and Cheese Burrito in Chandler…

For $2.75 you surely cannot find a tastier bean and cheese burrito to fill your belly. Each bite contains exactly what it should. Hearty, homemade refried beans and cheese.

FOUR bites wide of bean and cheese burrito!

Enjoying the lovely picture of eaten food?

Oh my goodness, it was good!

I think the very best part of Burrito Express’ bean and cheese burrito is the tortilla. Its not too thick and not too thin, with a right off of the griddle taste. The little blackened parts on the tortilla add a perfect smokey flavor to this soft and chewy wrap.

This is where I get into trouble.

I should have warned you first.

I can usually only make it halfway through the burrito before I start unfolding all the extra tortilla goodness and pulling off the excess for consumption. The excess is always there for a reason, but I can’t seem to stop grabbing for just one more super chewy piece before I wrap the burrito back up. Then a few bites later, the ultimate blowout comes, but it was my fault.

For under $3, Burrito Express’ Bean and Cheese Burrito is the BEST in Chandler. It is fully satisfying, especially if you are craving Mexican food.

Lastly, what kind of Cinco de Mayo doesn’t include Selena?! Here’s a really fun tune that’s worth a listen, especially if you haven’t heard it for awhile. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qm8JdfOcQwc[/youtube]









Slow Cooker Chicken Curry

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

In all of  my 32 years, I have never prepared anything with curry in it.

And amazingly, among the various unused spice bottles, there was no curry in sight either.

This very simple Slow Cooker Chicken Curry recipe that will follow was the whole reason I have now added curry to the collection…of unused spice bottles.

Only five simple and mostly on hand ingredients are required.

I had A LOT of chicken. I used two packages of boneless, skinless chicken thighs (16), Ortega Thick and Chunky Salsa and a brown onion.

Slow Cooker Curry Chicken recipe was adapted from kraftfoods.com

  • Slow Cooker Chicken Curry
    • 16 skinless chicken thighs
    • 1 Jar (16 oz.) Thick and Chunky Salsa
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 2 Tbsp. curry powder
    • 1 C. fat free sour cream
    • Place chicken in slow cooker.
    • In a bowl combine salsa, onions and curry powder; pour over chicken.
    • Cover with lid.
    • Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or on HIGH for 5 hours.
    • Remove chicken to a serving platter; cover to keep warm, if needed.
    • Add sour cream to slow cooker; stir until well blended.
    • Serve over the chicken.

In the end, the chicken is so moist and ready to be eaten, but the sour cream sauce is an interesting addition.

The plan was to have a bunch of artfully placed chicken thighs on a platter. So with a master plan in mind and with tongs in hand, I went for the chicken. The more I tried to become one with the chicken, the more it hesitated, hence the splatters and fallen apart, moist chicken.

Here’s the huge pile of Slow Cooker Curry Chicken without sauce.

I served this with white rice which left plenty of room for imagination with sauce usage.

My husband put his chicken on his pile of rice and poured the sauce over both. I poured sauce over my chicken and enjoyed my rice mostly plain. My son wanted no part in the sauce.

Here’s an embarrassing little picture of my plate…

Okay, so now I’m going to break it down.

If you love the taste of curry powder, you’ll love this Slow Cooker Curry Chicken. I am undecided on the matter.

I now know 2 Tablespoons of curry powder was too large of an amount to introduce curry in.

I am a curry newbie. I’m discovering there are so many more kinds of curry than just curry powder. It’s quite amazing.

Some time I will be up for trying some real curry, but not for awhile though. I need a curry break.



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