Friday, October 31, 2008

Pot Pie - The Ultimate Comfort Food

The weather is finally chilly here and I was craving chicken pot pie for a while now. The only kind there has ever been around my house says Swanson's on the box. I found a recipe that uses puff pastry instead of pastry dough. I was not feeling adventurous enough to attempt dough from scratch, and since I had never worked with puff pastry, I was excited to try it.

The original recipe makes individual sized pot pies, however, I was unable to find my small dishes, so I used one 1 1/2 qt oval casserole dish, which worked just fine by using 1 whole sheet of puff pastry. I maybe have been too liberal with the egg wash, as the top browned a little too much. However, the dish was wonderful - the crust was flaky and tasted amazing dipped into the hearty chicken & veggie filling.

Individual Chicken Pot Pie
adapted from Williams Sonoma


8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken stock I used broth
1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme I used dried
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup peeled and chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped white button mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped red-skinned potatoes I used russet potatoes
1 cup chopped cooked chicken
1/2 cup cooked fresh or frozen peas
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Four 6-inch squares frozen puff pastry I kept the sheet whole
1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp. water


Preheat an oven to 400ºF. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture smells fragrant and nutty, 1 to 2 minutes.

Slowly add the stock, whisking until smooth, and bring to a boil. Add the thyme, bay leaf, onions, celery, carrots and mushrooms and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the potatoes, chicken, peas, salt and pepper and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and discard.

Divide the filling among 4 ovenproof bowls and place on a baking sheet. Brush the puff pastry squares with the egg mixture. Brush the rims of the bowls with water.

Place 1 pastry square on top of each bowl, pressing lightly on the edges. Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serves 4.

Greek Salad With A Popeye Twist

I mistakenly poached too much chicken for my chicken pot pie, so I had plenty to use up. I was feeling like pasta salad, but also wanted something light & fairly healthy. I love Greek salads and always have all the ingredients on hand, so why not throw in some spinach, use up that chicken..and ta da. It's Greek Orzo, Spinach & Chicken Salad!

Greek Orzo, Spinach & Chicken Salad

1/2 cup orzo
1/4 cup cucumber, chopped
1/2 cup tomato, chopped
3 tbsp crumbled feta cheese (more if desired)
1/2 cup baby spinach, roughly chopped or torn
3 tbsp red onion, diced
1/2 cup chicken, cooked & chopped
2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley (I added after I took the picture)
2 tsp of lemon zest

1. Cook orzo according to directions, drain. Put into a large bowl.

2. Meanwhile, mix all dressing ingredients, cover and chill.

3. In the bowl, add the remaining above ingredients to the orzo. Chill if not serving immediately.


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp dried oregano
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

An Eggstra-ordinary Sandwich

I've made this many times and never wrote anything down, or thought to blog it...but why not? There was a time when I couldn't cook at all or make the simplest of things, I have actually googled "how to make a hard boiled egg"...don't laugh. So here's my recipe for making a simple egg salad for a sandwich - it's easy, cheap & just plain good.

Easy Egg Salad

5 hard boiled eggs (Place eggs in a pot, add water, cover and bring to a boil. remove from heat, leave covered for 12-15 minutes. Let cool slightly and carefully peel)
1 celery, diced
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
3 tbsp reduced fat mayo
1 tsp onion flakes
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp Dijon mustard (or more to taste)
Sometimes I add a dash of paprika too

In a large bowl, break the eggs into smaller pieces using a fork. Mix all the above ingredients, cover and chill for at least an hour.

I put the egg salad on whole wheat toast and added some lettuce. The above makes about 4 sandwiches, depending on how much you put on each.

When It's Chilly - Make Some Chili

The Fall weather has arrived, and when I have all afternoon to cook, my obvious choice was to make some chili. I love trying different combinations of spices & ingredients, so here's another new recipe. I usually serve chili with garlic bread, but this time I made a cheesy beer bread to go with it. Great decision - it was a change, the flavors went well, and it was just plain wonderful!

Take Off The Chill Chili


1.5 lb ground round
1 stalk celery, diced
1 large onion, diced (1/4 of that reserved)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small-med Poblano pepper, diced (they only had mild)
15 oz tomato sauce
28 oz can diced tomatoes
14.5 oz diced tomatoes with jalepenos
3-6 oz tomato paste
1 can of spicy chili beans
1 can of dark kidney beans, drained & rinsed
1 bottle of beer (I used Michelob Porter, this beer had notes of chocolate & coffee, two ingredients often used as "secret" ingredients in chili)
1.5 tbsp Mexican chili powder
1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
1 tsp ancho chile powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1.5 tsp cumin
1 bay leaf
approximately 1 tsp Kosher salt & 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper (I used a mixture of black, white, red & green peppercorns)

Heat a skillet and cook beef until browned. Remove, drain but reserve some of the liquid in pan, and set beef aside.

Over medium heat, saute onions, garlic, Poblano and celery for a few minutes until softened. Add meat back to the skillet and combine the mixture. Add beer to skillet and simmer a couple about 5 minutes till slightly reduced. Add all the seasonings & stir to combine.

Meanwhile on another burner, heat a large pot and add all the tomatoes. Stir in the skillet mixture and bring to a boil. Check seasonings, adjust if necessary and reduce to low, cover and simmer. Put in the beans about 45-60 minutes before the end of cooking. I had the time, so I simmered it for about 3 hours. If needed, add more tomato paste to thicken. Remove bay leaf.

Serve with your favorite toppings - I like to have some of the following:
2 % shredded Mexican cheese
fat free sour cream
diced green & yellow onions
oyster crackers
beer or garlic bread
oyster crackers

Beer + Cheese = Delicious!

I normally serve garlic bread with chili....but I wanted to try something different. I saw this recipe for cheesy beer bread, it looked wonderful & would go perfectly with my chili. Even though I stole one of Jamie's Sam Adams Octoberfest beers to make this, he wasn't complaining!

Also, this was my first time making bread that wasn't banana, although I was a little nervous, it turned out perfectly and definitely deserves the "easy" part in it's title.

Easy Cheesy Beer Bread
Good Things Catered


2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour I used all white flour, I didn't have whole wheat
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
12 oz. bottle of lager or stout (I used Sam Adams Oktoberfest)
2 Tbsp butter, melted


-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare loaf pan for baking.

-In large bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and garlic powder.

-Whisk to combine well.-Add cheese and whisk to combine.

-Slowly add beer to dry ingredients and stir lightly until combined.

-Knead dough lightly until it just comes together.

-Place into prepared loaf pan and pour melted butter over top.

-Place in oven to bake for 55-60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of loaf comes out clean.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Wings With Some Zing

Saturdays in the fall mean college football (unfortunately for me). So I can escape by spending time in the kitchen, and Jamie enjoys what comes out of the kitchen. This time it was...big surprise...chicken wings. He requested some type of Asian wings - actually he wanted Asian Zing wings from BWW's, but I found this recipe, which I'm sure is healthier. Jamie gave it two sticky thumbs up.

Teriyaki Chicken Wings

2 dozen chicken wings, about 3 1/4 pounds, rinsed and patted dry
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted in a skillet over medium heat until lightly browned I used already toasted sesame seeds
Leaves from 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped I used 1/2 tbsp dried cilantro

Teriyaki Sauce:
1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 cup grapefruit juice
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 fresh, hot red chile, halved I used 2 tsp of crushed red chilies
5 garlic cloves, halved I used three minced garlic cloves
2-inch piece fresh ginger, smashed with the side of a large knife I used 2 tsp dried ginger

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Season the chicken wings with salt and pepper and drizzle a little olive oil on them to prevent sticking. Lay the wings in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until the skin gets crispy and the wings are cooked through. I baked them for about 35- 40 minutes, turning halfway through.

Meanwhile, combine the teriyaki sauce ingredients in a large saucepan. Simmer over low heat and reduce until slightly thickened. I added the wings into the sauce and simmered on low for about 10 minutes.

Pour the sauce into a large bowl. Dump the wings into the bowl and toss to coat them with the sauce. Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with the sesame seeds and cilantro. Serve hot.

One Crust, Three Pizzas

Here's another catch up post - I made this about two weeks ago while watching the Wings raise their latest Stanley Cup banner. They lost to the Leafs, but the Wings were probably just a little tired from celebrating all summer - the Leafs have been on vacation & relaxing since the end of April......sorry Leafs fans, I couldn't help it :)

I love it on pizza, but Jamie doesn't - so I decided to make mini pizzas that have different toppings which we like. It would have been even better with homemade dough, but I just didn't have the time, so I used a pre-made dough. And sorry for the dark pictures, my natural light was long gone - I really need to start cooking earlier.

Pizza Trio

1 roll Pillsbury Thin Crust Pizza Dough

Preheat the oven to 350. Roll out the dough on a baking sheet sprayed lightly with non-stick spray (I like olive oil flavored). Cut dough into three equal portions and spread apart slightly so they don't touch.

Put the crust in the oven for about 5 minutes to pre-bake, this will make the crust a little crispier. Remove and put on the toppings:

Pizza 1:

basil pesto
goat cheese
roma tomato, thinly sliced

Easy Basil Parsley Pesto

1.5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves, packed
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons pine nuts
3 garlic cloves, finely minced

Combine herbs, pine nuts & garlic in a food processor and pulse until chopped. Add 1/4 cup olive oil and continue to blend and slowly add the rest of the oil until mixture is smooth. Stir in the Parmesan cheese.

Spread a thin layer of pesto on the dough, add cheese and toppings.

Pizza 2:
shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
shredded aged white cheddar cheese
thinly sliced Baby Bella mushrooms
thinly sliced red onion

Spread a thin layer of pizza sauce over dough, add cheeses, and top with veggies.

Pizza 3:
basil pesto
shredded part skim mozzarella
thinly sliced Baby Bella mushrooms
thinly sliced red onion
pizza sauce I cut my recipe in half and reserved the rest for later use

Garlicky Pizza Sauce

6 oz tomato paste
1/2 cup (or more if required) of water
4 cloves garlic, minced1 tbsp oregano
1.5 tsp dried onion
1.5 tsp dried basil
dash of sugar
kosher salt & pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a bowl & let flavors blend. It makes enough for 2 large pizzas.

Mix together some pesto and pizza sauce, spread a thin layer over dough, then layer mozzarella cheese and toppings.

Return to the oven and bake for approximately 8-10 minutes, until crust is golden and cheese is melted.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Chicken Soup For The Sick Cook's Soul

I've been sick all week, and was craving some homemade soup. The weather finally feels like Fall here, and I've wanted to make this ever since seeing this recipe in the latest issue of Cooking Light. We both loved it - even though I usually make chicken soup with homemade stock, this turned out wonderful and had that homemade feel; I think having the fresh herbs in the soup as well as in the dumplings helped.

There were a couple of firsts in this recipe for me - I've never made/had chicken thighs, nor have I made dumplings without Bisquick. I'm definitely a white meat-type person, but the thighs added great flavor, so I'll keep adding them to my soup, and the dumplings were so easy and used only a couple of ingredients that I already had, I don't need to buy Bisquick again.

For some of the broth I used White Wine & Herb chicken broth, and I think it added a lot of great flavor. If you can't find that, I'm sure even adding a little white wine to regular broth would have a similar effect.

And one final piece of advice - make more dumplings than the recipe states - they are wonderful and you'll want to load your bowl up and there won't be any left when you go back for seconds!

Herbed Chicken and Dumplings
from Cooking Light

Yield: 2 servings (serving size: 2 cups) I doubled the following amounts, plus more flour, salt & parsley to make a larger amount of dumplings


Cooking spray
8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces I used 6 chicken thighs and two chicken breasts
3/4 cup (1/4-inch) diagonally cut celery
1/2 cup (1/4-inch) diagonally cut carrot
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme I used about 1 tsp of thyme
3 parsley sprigs
1 bay leaf
3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth I used 5 cups of fat-free stock and 1 cup of College Inn White Wine & Herb broth
2.25 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup 1% low-fat milk


1. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm. Add celery and next 5 ingredients (through bay leaf) to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Return chicken to pan; cook 1 minute. Add broth to pan; bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.

2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, chopped parsley, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add milk, stirring just until moist. Spoon by heaping teaspoonfuls into broth mixture; cover and simmer 10 minutes or until dumplings are done. Discard parsley sprigs and bay leaf. I removed the parsley and chopped it in smaller pieces and put back in the soup.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Easy As Mexican Pie

I was feeling like Mexican, but didn't want plain old tacos. After browsing through some blogs, I found a recipe that sounded great. I had the ingredients on hand, and it meant that my poor, rarely used springform pan would get some action time in the oven. We loved this dinner, layers of tortillas, Mexican seasoned beef, black beans, enchilada looks impressive, but it so easy...what's not to love? And the leftovers are just as good. I made some changes to the recipe, the original ones can be seen in the links below.

Before.... and trying to wait patiently for 25 minutes....

After...25 minutes are up, time to dig in!

Tortilla and Black Bean Pie
adapted from Delicious Meliscious & Liz's Cooking Blog


1 lb lean ground beef
1 small jar enchilada sauce
4 (10-inch) flour tortillas
1 large onion, diced
1 can fire roasted diced green chilies
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ancho chili powder
2 tsp Mexican chili powder
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
12 ounces Mexican beer
8-10 oz frozen corn
4 scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
2 1/2-3 cups shredded Mexican or cheddar cheese
1 tomato, seeded and diced
sour cream and salsa, for serving


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a paring knife, trim tortillas to fit a 9-inch springform pan, using the bottom of the pan as a guide. Set aside.

Brown ground beef and drain fat.

Add onion, diced chilies, garlic, cumin and chili powders; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 5 to 7 minutes.

Add beans and beer to skillet, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until liquid has almost evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in corn, and remove from heat.

Fit a trimmed tortilla in bottom of springform pan; layer with 1/4 of the meat & beans, spoon some enchilada sauce over top (maybe 3-4 spoonfuls) and 1/2 cup cheese.

Repeat three times, using 1-1.5 cups of cheese on top layer. Bake until hot and cheese is melted, 20 to 25 minutes. Unmold pie; spoon any extra enchilada sauce on top, then sprinkle with scallions & diced tomatoes.

To serve, slice into wedges and serve with sour cream and salsa if desired.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Not Quite From The Blue Box....

Since we were out much of the weekend, I didn't really plan dinner this past Sunday night. I wanted something quick and on-hand, so the thought of Kraft Mac & Cheese was pretty appealing - hey - every meal can't be homemade/gourmet/healthy! I was disappointed to discover that there was none in my pantry - I didn't have enough "real" cheese on hand, nor the patience to find a recipe for homemade mac & cheese. However, I discovered some Velveeta and elbow noodles, and 30 minutes later - presto - mac & cheese. It doesn't compare to using "real" cheese, but it sure was good & quick!

Velveeta Down-home Macaroni & Cheese
from Kraft

Prep Time:20 min
Total Time:40 min
Makes:5 servings, 1 cup each

What You Need

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, divided
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk I used skim
1/2 lb. (8 oz.) VELVEETA Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups elbow macaroni, cooked, drained
1/2 cup KRAFT Shredded Cheddar Cheese I used 2% Milk Medium Cheddar
6 RITZ Crackers, crushed I omitted

Make It

HEAT oven to 350°F. Melt 3 Tbsp. butter in medium saucepan on medium heat. Whisk in flour; cook 2 min., stirring constantly. Gradually stir in milk; cook until mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly. Add VELVEETA; cook 3 min. or until melted, stirring frequently. Stir in macaroni.

SPOON into 2-qt. casserole sprayed with cooking spray; sprinkle with shredded cheese. Melt remaining butter; toss with cracker crumbs. Sprinkle over casserole.

BAKE 20 min. or until heated through.

Menu - Week of October 12th

I'm trying to use up items from around the house & eat cheap this week:

Sunday - Mac & cheese

Monday - Leftover pasta & salad

Tuesday - Beef & black bean Mexican tortilla pie

Wednesday - Breakfast for Dinner - Jamie is cooking, my night off in the kitchen

Thursday - Herbed chicken and dumpling stew

Friday - Pretzel chicken w/honey mustard dipping sauce, roasted red potatoes & asparagus

Saturday - Watching sports - tacos, chicken wings and artichoke spinach dip

Friday, October 10, 2008

I Love My (Pumpkin) Kisses Spicy!

New to Halloween and Fall this year, is Hershey's Pumpkin Spice Kisses. (Hint - I've only been able to find them at Target) I wanted to make a dessert for the big tailgate party for the U of Michigan game, and to make something with these little treats, so these Pumpkin Spice Brownies fit the bill.

But I'll confess - this was the second batch - the first one turned out kind of dry. I'm still pretty new to baking, and this was my first attempt at plain brownies (I've made ones with cheesecake before). If you love pumpkin, you'll love these. I'll definitely be making these again - I better head to Target and stock up.

Pumpkin Spice Brownies
from My Yummy Goodness & Dinner & Dessert


1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces, at room temperature
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
45 Hershey’s Pumpkin Pie Spice Kisses, unwrapped

Getting ready:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil and place the pan on a baking sheet.Whisk the flour, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon together.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate melts. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring until it melts. It’s important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. However, if the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back over the still-hot water for a minute. If you’ve got a couple of little bits of unmelted butter, leave them-it’s better to have a few bits than to overheat the whole.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter mixture, mixing only until it is incorporated-you’ll have a thick, creamy batter. Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds-the dry ingredients won’t be completely incorporated. Then finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula. Fold in the raisins, along with any liquid remaining in the pan. Scrape the batter into the pan.

Place the unwrapped kisses in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on HIGH for 1 minute. Stir until smooth, and then drop by spoonfuls into the brownie batter. Using a knife, swirl the batter to create a marbled effect.Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool to warm or room temperature.

Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Menu - Week of October 5th

I really need to get back to posting my menus on time. I've been out of town a lot recently, so we haven't always ate at home, or ate quickie non-blog worthy meals. However, three of this week's meals included things I previously made and froze.

Sunday - Whole wheat rotini with marinara (homemade from the freezer) & salad

Monday - Turkey burgers, corn, and oven fries

Tuesday - Black bean and chicken quesadillas

Wednesday - Homemade chicken potstickers, vegetable fried rice and steamed veggies with ginger-orange soy sauce

Thursday - It's Red Wings game watching night (Beat the Leafs!!!) - homemade pizza & chicken wings, still deciding on the exact toppings, but I know goat cheese will be involved...and of course some beer - we're loving Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale

Friday - baked ziti (under Italian & Pasta in my blog), salad and roasted garlic bread

Saturday - Going to the Nashville Predators season opener & eating downtown

Sunday - something healthy to make up for the naughty eating the previous three days

Guilt-free Mexican

Jamie and I both love quesadillas, I don't know why I don't make them more often! This was a perfect light meal, and I made it with staples I always have on hand in the freezer, fridge & pantry. When I go to a restaurant for Mexican, or Tex-Mex, it's often so greasy and loaded with cheese, I didn't feel bad about eating this meal.

Also, it was the first time I grilled the quesadillas, which added a different crispiness than cooking it in a skillet. This will definitely be on the menu again. I grilled them on my Cuisinart griddler, so it looks a little darker than it would on an outdoor grill (they weren't burnt, I swear!)

Grilled Chicken and Black Bean Quesadillas
adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride (mostly the rub)

Grilled Chicken Quesadillas

1 lb chicken tenders
6 fajita sized tortillas
vegetable oil, for brushing
1 1/2-2 cups 2% Mexican blend shredded cheese
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 tomatoes, diced & seeded
1/2 medium onion, diced

Wet rub (adapted from My Husband Cooks)

1 Tbsp Mexican chili powder
3 tsp dried cilantro fresh would be better, I didn't have any
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
juice of 1 lime

Heat grill to medium-high. Whisk wet rub ingredients in a glass bowl, add chicken, and turn to coat. Let sit in fridge for 20 minutes. Place chicken on the grill and cook until the juices run clear (about 6-7 minutes per side). Remove from grill and let rest 10 minutes.

Cut the chicken breasts into 1/2-3/4 inch cubes. In a skillet, heat a little oil and saute the onions and black beans (I mash them a bit with a fork),tomatoes and chicken till heated through, and softened, about 3-5 minutes.

Lightly brush one side of a tortilla with oil and flip over. Top the tortilla with chicken mixture and cheese and place another tortilla on top half pressing down lightly. Brush the top of the quesadilla with oil and place on the grill. Grill 5 minutes on each side - depending on your grill, I used a Cuisinart Griddler, so it was a little longer than an outdoor grill. Otherwise it may only need 2-3 minutes per side.

Remove from heat and serve with salsa, fat free sour cream or whatever you like.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Suck It Up

Keep the kids away from this jello!!!

The Ultimate Tailgate Party jello shots are semi-famous (or infamous?) Someone usually over indulges in these, as well as all the other libations, and we lose a couple of tailgaters before the game, but not this year. People must have learned better, or maybe I am losing my touch. Either way, I love to try new combinations of flavors every year for this occasion.

Ultimate Jello Shots

Note - I bought the Jello in Canada, not sure if the same flavors can be found in the US, and the pina colada was a limited flavor that I stocked up on

3 oz pina colada Jello
3 oz strawberry-banana Jello
3 oz orange-pineapple Jello
3 cups hot water, divided
1 cup Banana flavored Malibu
1 cup Coconut flavored Malibu
1 cup Mandarin Orange Absolut vodka

Boil 3 cups of water. In three large separate bowls, add the 3 packages of Jello by adding one cup of boiling water to each and stir to dissolve.

Let cook slightly before adding the alcohol. Add 1 cup of Banana Malibu to the strawberry-banana Jello bowl; add 1 cup of Coconut Malibu to the pina colada bowl; and add 1 cup Mandarin Orange vodka to the orange-pineapple bowl, and stir.

I filled 2oz plastic cups about halfway (or a little more) full. Unfortunately I can't remember how many each batch made, but it'll all depend on how big your cups are and how much you fill them.

Everything Is Better With Cheddar...& Beer

This past weekend, we held the Third Annual Ultimate Michigan tailgate party in Ann Arbor before the University of Michigan vs Illinois game. Unfortunately, the Wolverines lost, but there were plenty of food, drinks and wild times.

Amongst the great food, was this cheddar ale spread. It was packed with flavor, and was rich and creamy. I had some technical difficulties making it - I was out of town and forgot to pack my food processor (how could I have forgotten that??), so I tried to make it with a friend's smoothie maker, not a good idea, it kept draining the beer out - then a mini chopper which was far too small. In between switching the mixture back and forth between the appliances, I finally made it work. Although I had to use more beer than the recipe called for to make it blend, it was a hit, and besides, you would never hear from Canadians that there is too much beer! In honor of the guests, I used Labatt's Honey Brown lager, even though the recipe called for ale.

I served it with carrots (as depicted in the action shot below), pretzels, celery sticks and tortilla chips. It makes a lot, so if it's for a small gathering, I would cut the recipe in half.

Cheddar Ale Spread

8 oz. cream cheese
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard I used 1.5 tbsp Dijon
2½ cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese I used Canadian old cheddar
2 tablespoons heavy cream I used half & half cream
¼ teaspoon salt I used 1/2 tsp freshly ground red, white and black peppercorns
¼ cup beer (pretty much anything but a light beer) I used about 3/4 of a bottle of Labatt's Honey Brown Lager but that may be too much if you are blending it properly
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley I used 3 tbsp
I added 2 cloves garlic

Combine the cream cheese, mustard, cheddar cheese, cream, and salt in a food processor. Process for 30 seconds, add the beer, and continue processing until very smooth. Pulse in the parsley until just dispersed.

This can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. You will want to take it out an hour before serving if you do refrigerate.

Monday, October 6, 2008

And The Awards Go To......

I've been out of town quite often recently, and I'm waaaaay behind on my blogging. I'm trying to play catch up, and the first order of business is that I been given the E award 3 times.

I would like to give a great big thank you to the following ladies:

Rachel of Culinary Kicks - She makes a variety of different dishes and things that I enjoy & want to make myself.

Melissa of Delicious Meliscious - Besides having the most wonderful name in the world....her cakes are AMAZING, and I would never try and make one in a million years, so I'll just enjoy the pictures :)

& Maci of My Yummy Goodness - She's new to food blogging & is a fellow Tennessean like myself. She's a great baker that makes a variety of things, and hopefully I can learn many things from and become better myself.

With the "E" awards, the following is the "official" rule, but sometimes rules are made to be broken...yeah I'm a rebel, so I'm just picking five ;)

** Please find at least 10 more blogs, of any kind that you love to read. Write a post about the blogs you picked, linking back to me and to them. Once you’ve posted, return here to let me know your post done and be sure to let them know too!!! (If you don't come up with 10, that's fine too!)
I'm bestowing the E is For Excellent honors to:

Kelsey of Apple A Day - She has a lot of healthy recipes that I should be eating more of, and I need to start cooking more healhty things again.

Mollie of reading,riting and recipes - I recently made her version of the famous Yogurt Chicken, and loved it, and she has an adorable dog.

Stephanie of Fun Foods On A Budget - Unfortunately I don't have an unlimited budget for two of my favorite things - cooking and shoes. Stephanie's blog is about finding ways to cook great meals on a budget and she has fun info on important other food related things...namely that October is National Pizza Month!

Lisa of Lime In the Coconut - I just love the name of her blog, and it's not just about recipes, she also has restaurant reviews. And we have two things in common - we both love cats and drinking wine :)

Colleen of Cooking This And That - She has great pictures and some seasonal Fall recipes that I'm ready to try...just as soon as the weather starts catching up with what's on the calendar....87 degrees doesn't exactly scream Fall.