Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Chili Cheese Dip

Each October, my sister and her husband throw a great Halloween party in their huge garage (a.k.a. The Man Cave.) She makes an enormous pot of yummy chili and the party guests each bring a dish to share. There's a pumpkin carving contest, doughnut eating contest,

a costume contest (we won the "best family costume" category!), and a cookie decorating table - all of the great things we all love about Halloween parties.

Last year I made a chili cheese dip and by the time the party was over the dish was licked clean. So I decided to bring the same dip this year. You would think after two years of making the same great cheesy goodness, that I would think to photograph it for my blog - but NO! So sorry. You'll have to use your imagination.

Chili Cheese Dip
The flavors and consistency of this dip can vary depending on which salsa and chili you use. I prefer a mild chili and a thick medium-hot salsa. Then I can add heat with Tabasco sauce at the end.

16-oz Velveeta, cubed
16-oz Sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 can chili
8-oz sour cream
16-oz salsa
Tabasco sauce to taste

In a large saucepan, melt Velveeta and shredded sharp cheese over low heat. Stir often so it does not burn. Drain salsa and chili into a separate bowl and keep the juices.

When cheeses are mostly melted, add chili, sour cream and salsa. Continue to cook over low heat until cheese is fully melted and creamy, and all ingredients are incorporated. If sauce is too thick, add juices from chili and salsa.

Taste, and add Tabasco sauce if desired. To serve, I like to transfer it to a crock pot on low heat. Be sure to stir it every once in awhile so it continues to look appealing to the masses. Oh - and serve with your favorite tortilla chips.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Panko Crusted Salmon with Fruit Salsa

As requested, here is #6 from this post. I've made this recipe twice now. The first time, my son took a bite and proclaimed, "mom, this is great chicken!" The second time, I plated it up and he said, "Oh this is my favorite chicken!" He ate it so well, I couldn't bring myself to tell him that it's not exactly chicken.

I have served this salmon with two different fruit salsas. The first time I made this recipe, I topped it with the Pineapple Tomato Salsa (recipe below). I thought it was just okay, so the next time I tried the Peach Salsa (recipe also below) and I enjoyed it much more. The crunch of the Panko crusted salmon contrasted nicely with the soft, sweet peaches. Alas, the amazing fresh peaches are no longer in season.

Panko Crusted Salmon

1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tsp lemon pepper
salmon fillets, skinned
1 tsp canola oil

(this is enough to coat 4 or 5 fillets)

Line a baking sheet with foil. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine salt, panko and lemon pepper on a dinner plate.

Add oil to a large non-stick skillet and heat to medium-high. Dredge the skinned side of salmon fillets in bread crumb mixture. Add the salmon to the pan, crumb side down. Cook 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer salmon (now crumb side up) to the foil lined baking sheet.** Bake for 6-8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets. When testing for doneness, salmon should flake easily with a fork. Serve crumb side up and garnish with fruit salsa.

**note: I use an oven safe skillet, so instead of transferring fish to baking sheet I just turn the fish to crumb side up and place the whole skillet into the oven for 6-8 minutes.

Peach Salsa

2 peaches, peeled & diced
1/2 cup red onion, minced
1 Jalapeno (remove seeds), minced
1 lime, juiced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Combine in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. note: I used only half of the Jalapeno at first. (You can always add more later, but you can't take it away if it's too hot for you.)

Pineapple Tomato Salsa

3 Tbsp shallots, diced
1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple
1/2 cup diced tomato
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup lime juice
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp granulated sugar
salt and pepper

In a bowl combine shallots, pineapple, tomato and basil. In a separate small bowl whisk together lime juice, olive oil, soy sauce and sugar. Pour over pineapple mixture and toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Week 75 Menu

Monday - Robyn's Meatloaf & baked potatoes
Tuesday - Roasted Butternut Squash soup & Pan Bread
Wednesday - Vegetarian Chili & cornbread
Thursday - Chicken Tikka Masala & Naan
Friday - pizza
Saturday - leftovers
Sunday - Chicken Parmesan, angel hair pasta & steamed broccoli

This week's treat:
Cranberry Upside-Downer

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What I Learned From My Mother (and Rachael Ray)

I must begin this post with a disclaimer. I am not a Rachael Ray fan. I am also not a Rachael Ray hater. My biggest beef with her is that she counts in a strange way (more on that later). I must credit her with something however, that has changed the way I cook - or more precisely how I prepare my food.

Years ago, just as good ol' Rach was becoming the next big thing, my mom mentioned her to me. She told me she had watched a few of her shows and thought she was entertaining. Then she told me about the garbage bowl concept. At first I thought, "What a bother. Why not just throw-as-you-go?" Now however, I'm a believer. As I prep most meals, you can find a medium sized bowl on my counter full of food-garbage. It's mostly filled with veggie peels, onion skins and maybe a small wrapper or two. I don't use my garbage bowl to drain cans of food like Rachael does (my sink is not that far away) but it sure is handy for all of the other little bits of stuff. It keeps the mess off of my cutting board and makes clean up so much easier.

Thanks, mom for passing on that great tip to me. It would have taken me awhile to catch on to that one since I don't really ever watch her show.

Oh yeah, and you want to know why I don't like to watch her show? I know it is going to sound ridiculous. When Rachael counts or needs to emphasize the order of things (as in "first we saute the onions in a little EVOO, then we add in the tomatoes and finish off with the salt and pepper") , she starts with her thumb, then her index finger. Who uses the thumb as #1? Everybody knows the index finger is #1. Watch any sporting event in the country. See those big foam fingers waved around by the crazy fans? What finger is pointing up? That's right - not the thumb.

Sorry Rachael. You count funny. But thanks for the garbage bowl idea!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Yogurt Advice, Please

I need some help. I am getting bored with my breakfasts lately (I'm currently an Eggo Waffle addict) and I've been craving some fabulously creamy yogurt. The problem is that I am not sure where to find said fabulously creamy yogurt. Any suggestions? I prefer a plain or vanilla flavor, but I'm open to anything. Do you have a favorite brand that you always buy and cannot live without?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Week 74 Menu

Monday - Chicken Noodle Soup & grilled cheese
Tuesday -
Fiesta Rice & cheese quesadillas
Wednesday - BBQ chicken sandwiches & green salads
Thursday - Robyn's Meatloaf & baked potatoes
Friday -
eat out
Saturday - leftovers
Sunday - Baked Penne & some yummy bread

Friday, October 10, 2008

I Want My Brain Back

I have had a craving for some of my childhood favorite no-bake cookies. When I decided to try and make a batch, I had no idea what kind of ordeal I was getting myself into. First I had to dig the recipe out of my old recipe box, which involved first finding my old recipe box, and then searching through 67 (yes, I counted) well used recipe cards from the dessert section of the box. Of course, I missed it the first time through the stack because while I refer to them as "no-bakes" the recipe card calls them "Chocolate Drop Cookies."

Ok. Recipe located. Now to gather ingredients. There's only seven of them so it should be simple enough. Margerine...check. it. there it is. Vanilla...yep. Now sugar. Uh-oh, not enough in the canister. Better refill it. I drag out the big 5 gallon bucket that I keep my sugar in and refill my canister. Next on the ingredient list is peanut butter. Oops - used the rest of it to make my son's lunch this morning. No problem, I have more downstairs in my food storage. Last is the oats. Now I KNOW I have oats. They're here somewhere. I look through my pantry. Nope. Hm. Try downstairs again. I look and look. I move cans, jars, bottles, jugs, tubs - still cannot spot the oats. I come upstairs and look in the pantry again. At this point I wonder if I really do want these cookies. Yes, yes I do. So I go back downstairs, more determined than ever to find those oats. I decide to look again on the very bottom shelf. I move aside a few things then stand up - frustrated. As I stand there hands on hips, trying to remember where on earth I put the oats. I look in my left hand. Oh there they are. In my search for the stinkin' oats, I must have touched them at least 5 or 6 times. Where is my brain?

Chocolate Drop Cookies
(a.k.a. No-Bake Cookies or Gorilla Poop)

1/2 c. margarine
2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. milk
3 Tablespoons cocoa
1/2 cup peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
1 tsp vanilla
3 c. quick oats

In a large sauce pan, bring margarine, sugar, milk & cocoa to a rolling boil. Boil for at least 2 minutes or the cookies will not set. For a drier, crumbly cookie boil for up to 4 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in peanut butter, vanilla and oats. Drop by spoonful onto waxed paper and let cool 1 hour.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Hungarian Chicken

Tired of your same ol' chicken recipes? We tried this new recipe and loved it. It's from my sister-in-law's-sister-in-law's-cousin (hm - or maybe just my sister-in-law's cousin by marriage? How does that work?) Anyway - I'm glad she shared it with me, and it's now in my "favorite recipes" folder.

In her recipe she gives two cooking options. I used the stove top method (for 1 1/2 hrs), but next time I'll try the crock pot. If anyone tries the crockpot option, email me (or leave a comment) and let us know how long and on what temp.

Click here for printable version

Hungarian Chicken
Heidi Davies

1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
1/2 tsp ground pepper
4 Tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 Tbsp butter
1 cup diced white onion
4 drops garlic juice, or 1 tsp garlic powder
1 can tomato soup
4 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp prepared mustard
1/2 tsp paprika
chicken pieces

Mix everything together (can be in a crockpot or in a pot on the stove) then add the chicken. Cook on medium heat until the chicken is tender (at least an hour). We serve it with rice and any vegetable.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Last Week's Winners

From the comments and emails I received last week, it looks like I'll be posting the recipe for # 6 first, then 4, 3, 2 and then the foil dinners. Thanks for your help in deciding the order, and stay tuned (or subscribe by email!) for the recipes.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Week 73 Menu

Monday - Mom's Potato Soup & rolls
Tuesday - oriental ribs, rice & sauteed snow peas
Wednesday - Sweet & Sour Meatballs & Herb Green Beans
Thursday - Chicken Cordon Bleu Crepes & steamed carrots
Friday - eat out
Saturday - Yo-Yo Dinner (it's a busy day!)
Sunday - Baked French Toast & fresh fruit