Archive for the ‘recipes’ 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.

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.


Peanut Butter Balls

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Peanut Butter Balls…what an awesome snack. Healthy too. They are better the second day but good luck keeping them in the fridge that long to find out!

And, Peanut Butter Balls are so simple to make…

  • Peanut Butter Balls
    • 1 C creamy peanut butter
    • 3 C powdered milk
    • 1 C honey
    • toppings: crushed corn flakes, wheat germ or coconut
    • Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well blended. (No mixer necessary, clean hands work great)
    • Roll mixture into 1 inch balls.
    • Roll balls into topping; coat well.
    • Eat right away or chill in a covered container for at least 2 hours.
    • *makes about 30 balls

With a little arm work, you’ll be amazed how these come together and like I mentioned Peanut Butter Balls get better with time so try to wait awhile to let them get cold.

Starting out…

And then the arm work part begins.

Start stirring, swiveling, jabbing, mashing, and any other motion that accomplishes blending. You may feel intimidated at first, but keep with it. Remember The Little Engine That Could? Same concept totally applies here.

Pretty soon you will get this…

Looks kind of crumbly right?

Well I guarantee if you squeeze the mixture up a bit as the balls are rolled, it really forms nicely.

Crushed corn flakes, wheat germ or coconut are great candidates for rolling the Peanut Butter Balls in.

Personally, I’d say the crushed corn flakes are the way to go. Yum!

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.

Veggie Party Sandwiches

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

These sandwiches are a very easy and tasty combination of ingredients.

Veggie Party Sandwiches will work great for a party appetizer or as an awesome peek-in-the-fridge addition at home, but either way, they are going to go fast.

Here’s the recipe..

  • Veggie Party Sandwiches
    • 16 oz. cream cheese, softened
    • 1/2 large tomato, seeds removed, chopped as finely as possible
    • 1/2 green pepper, seeded, chopped as finely as possible
    • 1/2 medium onion, chopped as finely as possible
    • Olive oil to taste
    • Garlic salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 loaf 100% whole wheat sliced sandwich bread
    • Mix together the cream cheese, tomato, onion and pepper.
    • Add olive oil in small increments to soften the mixture until it’s in an easy-to-spread consistency.
    • Season with garlic salt and pepper.
    • Spread the mixture onto the one side of the sliced bread and assemble sandwiches.
    • Cut away the crusts and cut in quarters – either diagonally or vertical/horizontal.  It’s up to you.

Serve on a platter (or in a Ziploc in the fridge) and see them fly away.

With just a little mixture left, I ran out of whole wheat bread slices (without air bubbles) and opened a new loaf of much more dense whole wheat bread. Which needed to be compensated for, of course. Hence the super thickly-filled and colorful slices in the above picture.

More realistically, the spread can be a bit thinner and if the bread is square…triangles are great!

…because you know triangle sandwiches are way tastier. Yep.

The Best 7 Layer Dip.

Friday, February 6th, 2009

This 7 Layer Dip recipe that I’m about to divulge is simply the best. Even as I write this I’m wishing I had some. With at least a few hours in the fridge, the flavors become a medley of goodness that cannot be touched  by any 7 Layer Dip in the West…or something.

Serious.

With a flattish dinner plate as a base, let’s begin the layers.

Layer 1:

Layer 2:

Layer 3:

Layer 4:

Layer 5:

Oh yeah, there’s totally SEVEN layers!

Layer 6:

Completing the sweet, sweet combination…

Layer 7:

Tortilla Strips will take you furthest in leverage and coverage of all 7 layers in this 7 Layer Dip adventure!

  • 7 Layer Dip
    • 2 can jalapeno bean dip
    • 3 avocados, mashed (add lemon juice to reduce browning)
    • 2 oz. cream cheese, softened
    • 1 C. sour cream
    • 1/2 C. Miracle Whip
    • 1/2 pkg. taco seasoning
    • 1 can olives, sliced
    • green onions, thinly sliced
    • 1-2 tomatoes, chopped
    • 2 C. grated cheddar cheese
    • Spread bean dip evenly on plate.
    • Mix avocado and cream cheese together and spread evenly over bean dip.
    • Mix sour cream, Miracle Whip and taco seasoning until well blended.
    • Spread sour cream mix over avocado.
    • Sprinkle cheddar cheese over the top, then the tomatoes, olives and green onions.

10 Healthy Snacks for Kids (and adults)

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Kids love to snack! Unfortunately, what many kids consider snacks are often loaded with sugar, fat and salt, so concerned parents often discourage snacking. The real question however, should not be how often kids snack, but what they are snacking on. In fact, studies have shown that kids who snack between meals are usually slimmer and better nourished than those who are restricted from doing so.

Snacks can and should be healthy. They should offer your child the same good nutrition as the regular meals you serve. Snacks should not be an excuse to eat poorly, rather, think of snacking as the perfect opportunity to put additional nutrition into your child’s diet.

The best bet for healthy snacks are fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products (such as milk, yogurt and low-fat cheese) and whole grains, nuts and seeds.

You’ll notice many of these are fruit oriented…which is my personal way of not offending the cheese hating from my own kid, but at the same time touching what others may like as well.

1. Mini “Pizzas”

America’s favorite snack doesn’t have to be made from junk food if made from nutritious ingredients. Make these with whole grain crackers, (wheat or rye) your favorite pizza sauce and grated low-fat mozzarella cheese. Spread about one-half to one Tablespoon of pizza sauce on each cracker. Sprinkle with cheese and add Italian seasoning if desired. Bake on a cookie sheet at 350° for about 5 minutes or until cheese melts.

2. Orange Shake

Place one cup of orange juice, one cup of ice cubes and 1/3 cup non-fat dry milk powder in a blender. Blend until smooth. (serves one)

3. Frozen Bananas

Peel bananas and cut in half crosswise. Insert wooden popsicle sticks. Freeze banana plain or roll in chopped nuts or carob sprinkles. Wrap banana in plastic wrap or small plastic bags . Freeze until firm.

4. Quesadilla Quickie

Place a small corn tortilla in a frying pan. Sprinkle a little grated jack or cheddar cheese on one half of the tortilla and your choices of chopped onions, tomatoes, chilis or salsa on the other. Heat until cheese melts, then fold and eat!

5. Peach Yogurt

Drain a 16 ounce can of unsweetened sliced peaches and spread fruit on a cookie sheet. Freeze until hard (about 2 hours). Put peaches in a blender with one cup of plain yogurt. Blend until smooth and eat at once. (serves 2)

6. Frozen Yogurt Squares

Mix 2 cups of fruit yogurt with one cup of cut up fruit and 2/3 cup of non-fat dry milk powder in a blender until smooth. Stir in 1- 1/2 cups of unsweetened granola or Grape Nuts cereal. Pour mixture into an 8″ square pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup more granola or cereal, pressing in. Freeze until firm (about 4 hours), then cut into squares and serve.

7. Pita Melts

Cut whole wheat pita bread rounds into halves and stuff with (low-fat) grated cheese. Heat in oven at 350° for about 3-5 minutes.

8. Sardine Snacks

Yeah, that’s right we all beat down sardines with words but they are pretty healthy for you. Sardines are loaded with protein and omega 3 fish oils, as well as high calcium, vitamin D and iron . Top whole grain bread or crackers with a sardine or two.

9. No Fat-No Salt Nacho Chips

Cut four 6″ corn tortillas into eighths. Spread out on a cookie sheet and bake at 400°  about 7-8 minutes or until crisp. Remove from oven and dip into salsa or top with grated cheese.

10. Banana-OJ Slush

Place one cup ice cubes, 1/2 cup banana and 1/2 cup orange juice. Blend until smooth.

Our top snacks around here seem to lean more towards the fresh fruits rather than vegetables and cheese. Which don’t get me wrong, vegetables, steamed or cooked any other way go over quite well nowadays, but if you have a picky eater in your home that dislikes cheese, then my top 10 list will will leave you partially, if not fully satisfied…and don’t you forget it!

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Ah, spaghetti and meatballs…

A very warm and pleasing meal.

My only problem with spaghetti and meatballs is that I have never dished out a serving that is even close to the stomach size of the recipient. Meaning, the pile of noodles is massive, and the need to cover those noodles with sauce is a necessity.

In a way that is what spaghetti is all about though.

A bottomless pit of noodles and sauce…and that’s how I make it.

You can go in feeling like a champion, but no matter if you came to the table ready to eat a horse or not, you will still probably feel a little bit ashamed, seeing as your pile of spaghetti is not decreasing.

This picture doesn’t quite give a proper taste of the humiliating bowlfuls I served to my family, but this was our dinner.

  • Easy Meatballs
    • 1 lb. ground beef
    • 1 egg
    • 1 C. breadcrumbs
    • 1/2 C. onion
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • Preheat oven to 375°
    • Combine all ingredients.
    • Roll meat mixture into 1 inch balls.
    • Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes, flip and bake for 10 minutes on other side.

Prepare these meatballs and add to any sauce you’d like.

No breadcrumbs? Simply toast one piece of bread and crumble and chop if needed.

No fresh onion? 2 Tablespoons minced onion and 2 Tablespoons water equals 1/2 Cup onion.

And a garlic trick for those without a cool Trudeau Garlic Press – use the flat side of a wide knife to mash the garlic clove before mincing.



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