Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Chicken Stir Fry

OK, no picture on this post, but I made up a recipe last night and thought it was easy and good...my two favorite "ingredients" for dinner.  It's been in the 90's all week ,so I was looking to keep the house cool as well.


1 cup brown rice, cooked according to directions
2 chicken breasts, cut into one  inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon garlic
1/4 cup fresh basil cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1/4 cup pico de gallo or salsa
12ounce bag of frozen veggies ( I used an Asian medley - pea pods, broccoli, carrots, and water chestnuts)

Sprinkle garlic salt, lemon pepper, and black pepper on diced chicken.  Heat oil in a large skillet, then add garlic and chicken.  Cook until chicken is no longer pink.  Add basil, hoisin sauce, pico de gallo, and bag of frozen veggies, cook until veggies are heated.  

Serve over rice and enjoy.

Grilled Corn Orzo Salad with Chili Lime Vinaigrette

Similar to my mom, I love sweet corn in the summer so when I saw this recipe on Iowa Girl Eats, I thought that it would be an awesome side-dish to my summer meal (which was Greek Chicken Pitas). This recipe served as a side dish for five people with plenty leftover.

This recipe was good in general, definitely a fresh summer recipe, but we felt like it didn't have quite enough flavor; if I were going to make it again, I would add more basil to the salad and/or chili powder and salt and pepper to the chili lime vinaigrette dressing.

Grilled Corn Orzo Salad with Chili Lime Vinaigrette 

Ingredients for the Salad:
  • 1 1/2 cup of orzo (uncooked)
  • 2 ears of sweet corn
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 1/2 of a small red onion (diced)
  • 3 tbsp of fresh basil (chopped)
Ingredients for the Chili Lime Vinaigrette:
  • 5 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp of honey
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp of chili powder
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  1. Grill the sweet corn in the husk; I would suggest following these directions for grilling. Soak the corn in the husk in water for 30 minutes to an hour prior to grilling. Put grill on high heat, and turn the corn frequently so that it gets evenly cooked, generally takes 15-20 minutes to be completely cooked. Once corn is cooked, let cool for about 5 minutes. 
  2. Cook the orzo in a large pot with salt (use time on the package - generally between 7-10 minutes). Once cooked, drain and rinse under cold water, then set aside.
  3. Cut corn off the cob, halve the tomatoes, diced the red onion, and chop the basil. 
  4. Combine the orzo, sweet corn, tomatoes, onion, and basil in a large bowl. 
  5. To make the dressing, combine all of the ingredients (olive oil, honey, squeezed lime juice, chili powder, and salt and pepper) in a small/medium bowl and whisk until combined. 
  6. Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat. 
  7. Serve chilled or at room temperature. 
The orzo salad (minus the corn) and dressing before being combined.

The corn; note there is more than just the 2 corn husks that I used because I served corn-on-the-cob as a separate side.

Mint Buttercream Frosting

I used this recipe to make frosting for the Mint Chocolate Cupcakes that I made and it was awesome!

Mint Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 stick of butter (softened to room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup of shortening
  • 2 tbsp of mint extract
  • 4 cups of powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp of cold milk
  • 2-4 drops of green food coloring (optional)
  1. Cream the butter and shortening together with a mixer.
  2. Add the mint extract and combine well.
  3. Slowly add the powdered sugar to the butter/shortening/extract mixture, taking breaks to mix it in with the mixer. 
  4. After all the sugar has been added, add the milk one tablespoon at a time, combining well with the mixer after each addition.
  5. Finally add the green food coloring and mix until the frosting is the desired consistency and color. 

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

I found this recipe on The Repressed Pastry Chef blog and modified it a little to make birthday cupcakes for Kathy (my future mother-in-law). Everyone really liked them; the cupcakes were fluffy and had good flavor! This recipe has no eggs in it.

This recipe makes 2 dozen cupcakes (24).

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 3 cups of flour
  • 2/3 cups of Hershey's cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp of baking soda
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 2 cups of cold water
  • 2/3 cup of vegetable oil
  • 3 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp of mint extract
  • 2 tbsp of white vinegar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Stir together the dry ingredients in a medium size bowl: flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt
  3. Whisk together the wet ingredients in a separate medium size bowl: cold water, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, mint extract, and white vinegar. 
  4. In a large bowl, combine 1/3 of the dry ingredients and 1/2 of the wet ingredients. Once that is combined, add 1/2 of the remaining dry ingredients and all of the remaining wet ingredients and stir again. After that is combined, add the remaining dry ingredients and stir a little while longer until everything is completely combined. 
  5. Use a ladle to pour the batter into cupcake liners in a muffin/cupcake pan. 
  6. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, until you can stick a toothpick in the center of the cupcakes without any dough/batter coming out on it when you pull the toothpick out. 
  7. Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
  8. To frost, you can either buy store-bought chocolate frosting or use this homemade recipe that I used to make mint buttercream frosting. You can also add any sprinkles if you want after frosting.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Seven Layer Mexican Dip

This appetizer is a family favorite and is great to bring to gatherings.  We celebrated my dad's 80th birthday this weekend, so it was one of the dishes that I volunteered to bring.


1 can refried beans
16 ounces guacamole
16 ounces sour cream
1 package taco seasoning mix
1 large tomato, diced
1 cup salsa
2 cups cheddar cheese
3 green onions, chopped
1 can sliced black olives

Layer one:
Refried Beans

Layer two:
Sour Cream mixed with taco seasoning mix

Layer Three:


Layer Four: 
Diced Tomatoes and Salsa

Layer Five: Cheddar cheese

Layer Six:
Green onions

Layer Seven:
Sliced Black Olives

Serve with corn chips and enjoy!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Grilled Pesto Chicken and Tomato Kebabs

I found this recipe on a blog called Skinny Taste and modified it slightly; it's healthy and perfect for summer! The only change that I would make for next time is using a different vegetable (or vegetables) than tomatoes, which just get kind of smooshy when grilled. I would use peppers and/or onions next time. The flavoring of the chicken was awesome though! I served it with Caprese Quinoa Salad, fresh berries, and some Malbec... it made for a great meal!

Grilled Pesto Chicken and Tomato Kebabs

  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 3 boneless chicken breasts (chopped)
  • 1 carton of cherry tomatoes
  • 8 wooden skewers
  1. Combine basil, garlic, feta, and salt/pepper in a food processor until minced. 
  2. Add olive oil and pulse food processor again until smooth. 
  3. Chop raw chicken breast into bite-size pieces. 
  4. Combine the chicken pieces and pesto mixture in a bowl and marinate overnight or for at least a few hours. 
  5. Soak the wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes to prevent them from catching on fire; otherwise you can use metal skewers to avoid this step.
  6. Thread the chicken and tomatoes on the skewer; starting and ending with a chicken piece. 
  7. Heat the grill to medium heat (375-400 degrees).
  8. Place the chicken kebabs on grill and cook for 3-4 minutes, then turn and cook for another 2-3 minutes until chicken is thoroughly cooked.  
Step 1-2: Pesto being made

Step 4: Chicken marinating in the pesto

Step 6: Uncooked skewers ready to go on the grill

Step 8: Kebabs on the grill
The griller :-)

Finished kebabs

The whole meal ready to enjoy

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Shrimp, Chorizo, and Corn Salad

This is the season of fresh corn on the cob.  While I do love corn straight up, I also like to find other ways to take prepare corn while it's in season.  I was looking through my recipes torn from magazine pages and decided to try this one tonight.    The family vote was that this one is a keeper.


12 ounces large shrimp peeled
3 cups fresh corn kernels (about 6 cobs on the day I was making this)
1/3/ cup chopped green onions
1 1/2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
24 ounces chorizo sausage, browned
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, divided
15 cherry tomatoes
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Combine all ingredients through the chorizo sausage into a large bowl and mix thoroughly.  Add the 1/4 cup fresh basil and the cherry tomatoes and gently toss to combine with the rest of the ingredients.
In  a large skillet, add olive oil and swirl to coat pan.  Cook shrimp mixture until shrimp turn pink stirring frequently.

In shallow bowls, put 1/4 of the shrimp mixture, top with 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind, 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon chopped basil.  Enjoy!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Ramen Noodle Salad

This recipe is an oldie, but a goodie.  There are many versions, but the one I like best it pretty straight forward.  This salad went well with the potstickers I made as well.

Ingredients for salad:

4 cups cole slaw mix
2 green onions, chopped
1 package Ramen noodles, chicken flavor

Ingredients for Dressing:

Ramen noondle chicken broth mix
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sugar

Mix cole slaw mix, green onions and ramen noodles crunched up together.  

Mix the dressing ingredients together.  When ready to serve pour dressing on the salad ingredients and toss.  

If you'd like an additional crunch to the salad, add 4 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds or sunflower seeds.

Turkey Potstickers with Hot and Sour Sauce

I've had this recipe in my folder for several years now.  It takes some time to put these together and cook, but I always love the results.  This is another one of those recipes where I double everything and then quick freeze each of the potstickers so I can have another meal later without going through all the original fuss.

Ingredients for pot stickers:

2 1/2 cups cole slaw mix (or grated cabbage)
1 teaspoon salt
8 ounces ground turkey
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 tablespoon green onions chopped
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
1/2 teaspoon white pepper

30 potsticker wrappers
3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
2/3 cup water, divided

Ingredients for Sauce:

3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons green onion, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh cilantro, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced

To make sauce:

Combine all ingredients and set aside.

To make potstickers:

Sprinkle cabbage/cole slaw mix with salt and let stand for 15 minutes.  Squeeze cabbage tightly in your fists to remove all excess liquid.  While waiting for the cabbage mixture, brown the ground turkey so that it is no longer pink.  Add the turkey to the cabbage mixture.
Add remaining ingredients through to white pepper together and combine thoroughly.

Fill each round wrapper with a teaspoon of filling.  Dip your finger in water and brush the edges of the potsticker, then press edges to seal tightly, making sure no air is trapped.  Set seam side up on a baking sheet and cover to keep from drying out.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat until hot.  Add 1 1/2 tablespoon oil and swirl to coat pan.  Add half the potstickers and cook until bottoms are golden brown, 3-4 minutes.  Add 1/3 cup water , reduce heat and cook until water has evaporated, 5-6 minutes.  Remove potstickers and keep warm.  Wipe out pan with a paper towel and then repeat to cook the other half of the potstickers. 

Toss warm potstickers with sauce to coat.

Sauce ingredients all mixed together
Potsticker Ingredients

Ingredients all mixed together

Teaspoon of potsticker ingredients added

Wet edges of potsticker wrapper with water

Seal edges of potsticker wrapper together

Potstickers ready to be cooked

Steaming the potstickers after browning the bottoms

Tossing the potstickers with sauce.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Blackened Chicken, Mango, and Avocado Quinoa Salad

We found this recipe in Men's Health and made a few modifications. It was delicious! Probably my new favorite quinoa salad.

Blackened Chicken, Mango, and Avocado Quinoa Salad

  • 2 cups of quinoa
  • 3 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 jalapeno 
  • 3 cups of baby spinach
  • 4 green onions 
  • 2 tbsp of cilantro
  • 2 tbsp of mint
  • 3 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp of all-spice
  • 1 tsp of paprika
  • 5 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1 mango (chopped)
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • 1 avocado (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup of feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup of plain Greek yogurt
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  1. Combine the quinoa in the chicken or vegetable broth in a pot. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until quinoa is cooked.
  2. While quinoa is cooking, combine the jalapeno (de-seeded and sliced into strips), spinach, green onions, cilantro, and mint in a food processor until it is thoroughly minced.
  3. Season the chicken with the all-spice and paprika. Beat the chicken so that it is thinner. 
  4. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Add the chicken and peppers (chopped), cook for 3-6 minutes on each side until the chicken is blackened and thoroughly cooked and the peppers are tender. 
  5. Transfer cooked quinoa to a large bowl and combine with the minced spinach mix. 
  6. Squeeze the fresh lime juice and drizzle the remaining olive oil over the mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
  7. Chop the mango and avocado then add to the quinoa mixture. 
  8. When chicken is cooked, slice the chicken. Top the quinoa mixture with the chicken, pepper, and any remaining juices from the skillet. 
  9. Add feta to the top. 
  10. Serve with Greek yogurt... it can be eaten on the side or mixed in with the salad. 
All the ingredients

Step 2: Mincing the spinach mixture in the food processor.

Step 3: Seasoning and flattening the chicken
Step 5: Quinoa all cooked and ready to be transferred to the bowl.
Step 5: Quinoa and spinach mixture combined.

Final product with feta on top and Greek yogurt on the side. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

BBQ Chicken Pizza

This was something that we just made up based on a lot of barbeque chicken pizzas we've had over the years and not only was this the best BBQ chicken pizza we ever had, it was probably the best pizza pizza we had, period.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 cup of BBQ sauce
  • 1/3 cup of orange juice
  • 1 pizza crust (either premade or homemade)
  • 2 medium tomatoes (chopped)
  • 1/2 red onion (chopped)
  • 1 tbsp of fresh basil (minced)
  • 1 tbsp of fresh oregano (minced)
  • 1 tbsp of fresh sage (minced)
  • 2 cups of cheese: Formaggio with Roasted Garlic, Tomato, and Basil (shredded)
  1. The night before or a few hours before, marinade the chicken breast in 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce and 1/3 cup of orange juice; the orange juice is a trick Will taught me that helps meat absorb more flavor due to its acidity. 
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  3. Cook chicken for 20-25 minutes or until done. 
  4. While the chicken is cooking, chop the tomatoes, onions, and fresh herbs and shred the cheese. 
  5. Place the pizza crust on a pizza pan.
  6. Spread the remaining 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce over the pizza crust. 
  7. Sprinkle the tomatoes and onions over the pizza crust.
  8. Once chicken is done cooking, turn the oven up to 375 degrees for the pizza.
  9. Shred the chicken into bite size pieces and sprinkle it over the pizza crust. 
  10. Sprinkle the herbs over the pizza crust. 
  11. Finally, sprinkle the cheese over the whole pizza. 
  12. Cook the pizza for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is golden. 
  13. Cut into slices and serve!
Preparing the pizza

Pizza without the cheese

Finished pizza

The whole meal with amber beer and fresh berries

Monday, August 5, 2013

Tinfoil Campfire Meals: Lumberjack Breakfast, Thanksgiving Dinner, Apricot-Glazed Pork Chops, Nachos, Potatoes and Vegetables, and Banana S'More Dessert

Will and I were camping this past week and we made some delicious meals over the campfire using tinfoil. The amount of ingredients will vary depending on how many people you're cooking for and preferences. We ended up with a lot of food for two people at every meal so the ingredients listed below may be better suited for 3-4 people.

Note: All of these meals can be made on a campfire or a grill.

Lumberjack Breakfast Packet

  • 4 sausages or bacon strips
  • 1/2 pack of frozen hash browns
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes with onions/garlic
  • 1 cup of cheese (cheddar, Colby Jack, or whatever your preference is) 
  1. Spray tinfoil with cooking spray.
  2. Lay sausages or bacon on the bottom followed by the potatoes because the meat and potatoes take the longest to cook and the things at the bottom of the packet receive the most heat.
  3. Place the egg, tomato, and cheese on top of that.
  4. Fold tinfoil packet into a tent: bring the two long ends together and fold a number of times, then fold the short ends together, at the end, pull up on the middle of the foil to create the tent-shape while keeping the package completely sealed.
  5. Arrange campfire so that there are hot coals to lay the tinfoil packets on. 
  6. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the meat is thoroughly cooked. 
This should make 3-4 breakfast packets.
Enjoying my Lumberjack breakfast

Thanksgiving Dinner Packet

  • 1 turkey cutlet (if you can't find turkey cutlets, you can cut up a larger portion of turkey)
  • 1/2 cup of prepared stuffing
  • 1/2 cup of frozen hashed browns or cubed potatoes
  • 1/2 cup of turkey gravy
  • 1/2 cup of green beans
  • 1/2 cup of dried cranberries
  • Salt, pepper, and thyme (to taste)
  1. Spray tinfoil with cooking spray.
  2. Place turkey on the bottom because meat takes longer to cook and the bottom receives more direct heat.
  3. Place hashed browns/potatoes on next, followed by the stuffing, then the green beans.
  4. Pour the turkey gravy over everything.
  5. Add cranberries and any seasonings desired. 
  6. Fold tinfoil packet into a tent: bring the two long ends together and fold a number of times, then fold the short ends together, at the end, pull up on the middle of the foil to create the tent-shape while keeping the package completely sealed.
  7. Place the packet on hot coals.
  8. Cook for 20 minutes until meat is done. 
This makes one packet.
Preparing the meals

Cooking over the hot coals

Apricot-Glazed Pork Chop Packet

  • 1 boneless pork chop
  • 1/3 cup of apricot preserves
  • 1 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 1/2 package of frozen stir-fry vegetables
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  1. Mix apricot preserves, soy sauce, and salt and pepper (if desired).
  2. Place pork chop in the center of the tin foil.
  3. Spread half of the apricot sauce on the top of the pork chop.
  4. Put the vegetables on next.
  5. Pour the remaining apricot sauce over the top.
  6. Fold into a tent pack by bringing the two long ends together and folding a number of times, then folding the short ends together, pulling up on the middle of the foil to create the tent-shape while keeping the package completely sealed.
  7. Place the packet on hot coals.
  8. Cook for 20 minutes or until meat is done. 
This will make one packet.

Nacho Packet

  • 1 bag of tortilla chips
  • 1 small container of taco sauce
  • 1/2 lb of ground beef
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (with garlic/onions)
  • 1 can of Mexicorn (corn mixed with peppers)
  • 2 cups of cheese (cheddar, Monterey Jack, or whatever your preference is)
  1. Spray tinfoil with cooking spray. 
  2. Spread tortilla chips in the center of the tinfoil.
  3. Place ground beef on top, followed by 1/2 of the taco sauce.
  4. Add black beans, tomatoes, Mexicorn, and cheese to the top. 
  5. Drizzle the remaining taco sauce over the mixture.
  6. Fold packets into tent-shape by bringing the two long ends together and folding a number of times, then folding the short ends together, pulling up on the middle of the foil to create the tent-shape while keeping the package completely sealed.
  7. Place the packets over hot coals.
  8. Cook 10-15 minutes until meat is cooked and cheese is melted. 
This would serve about 4 people.

Potatoes and Vegetables Packet


  • Bag of red potatoes (chopped)
  • 1 lb of brussel sprouts (chopped)
  • 1 lb of baby carrots (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1 packet of seasoning (your choice but we used McCormick's Grill Mates: Garlic, Herb, and Wine Marinade)

  1. Wash and chop the potatoes, brussel sprouts, and baby carrots.
  2. Place the potatoes on the tinfoil first, followed by the carrots, then the brussel sprouts.
  3. Drizzle olive oil over it.
  4. Sprinkle the seasoning on top.
  5. Fold tinfoil packets into tent-shape by bringing the two long ends together and folding a number of times, then folding the short ends together, pulling up on the middle of the foil to create the tent-shape while keeping the package completely sealed.
  6. Shake the packet around a little to distribute the seasoning and olive oil. 
  7. Place on hot coals and cook for about 20-30 minutes or until the potatoes and vegetables are soft.
These packets would serve about 4 people. 

We enjoyed the potatoes packets with BBQ ribs.

Banana S'More Dessert Packet

  • Banana
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Spray tinfoil with cooking spray.
  2. Slice the banana peel vertically (from stern to bottom), then slice the banana horizontally within the peel.
  3. Stuff marshmallows and chocolate chips (as many as desired) into the banana peel with the sliced banana.
  4. Wrap the banana in aluminum foil. 
  5. Place packet over hot coals.
  6. Cook for about 5 minutes (or until chocolate and marshmallows are melted). 
  7. Once cooked, open banana peel and eat with a spoon.