Saturday, August 29, 2009

Taco Salad

Source: All Recipes

This recipe is so embarrassingly easy it's almost...well, embarrassing to post it. But we all need super-easy recipes for those nights we're feeling lazy! This is also one of my husband's favorites, as it may be. Of course, something that takes me 15 minutes is his favorite! Sheesh.

The original recipe calls for French dressing in the meat/bean mixture, which I skipped. Reviewers on All Recipes also suggested Catalina dressing and using Doritos instead of plain tortilla chips. The recipe also calls for mixing EVERYTHING. I prefer to layer it, trying to save the salad will mean you have soggy chips the next day. Layering it allows me to save extra salad, meat, etc., separately. This recipe is very versatile, so change it up as you like!

Taco Salad

1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
1 (16 ounce) can chili beans
1 (16 ounce) bottle French dressing or Catalina dressing (optional)
1 head iceberg lettuce
1 (14.5 ounce) package tortilla chips
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup chopped tomatoes
4 tablespoons sour cream (optional)
1/2 cup prepared salsa (optional)

1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef and drain excess fat. Stir in the taco seasoning, chili beans and French-style dressing. Fill the dressing bottle 2/3 full of water and add to the skillet. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

2. Crush the bag of chips. Layer crushed chips on individual plates, then top with lettuce mixture. Top with meat mixture, and add sour cream or salsa if desired. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bacon-wrapped Jalapenos

Source: The Pioneer Woman

Hmmm. The jury is kind of out on these. Now, I like a little bit of spiciness in my food, but too much, and I feel it kills the taste of the rest of the dish (or appetizer, if you will). I felt that was the case with these, and you're thinking, Hey. The word "jalapeno" is in the title of the recipe. How stupid are you? Well, pretty stupid, I suppose. In reading PW's instruction, she said to clean out the jalapenos pretty good so they weren't too spicy. I cleaned those suckers out, and STILL they were pretty hot. However, I've seen nothing but raves for this recipe, so if you like it hot, go for it!

The recipe is fairly simple, all you need is package of bacon, a bunch of jalapenos, and a block of cream cheese. And toothpicks. And latex gloves. Make SURE to get the latex gloves! The process of cutting and scooping out 45 odd jalapenos, I have heard, will leave your hands tingling in pain. My hands were tingle-free!

Bacon-wrapped Jalapenos

1 package of bacon, cut into thirds (15 pieces of bacon = 45 pieces)
1 block of cream cheese
About 20-30 jalapenos

1. Cut jalapenos in half. Using a spoon, scoop out the innards.

2. Smear cream cheese on the inside of each jalapeno.

3. Wrap bacon piece around jalapeno, and secure with toothpick. Place on a pan with a rack and bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Source: Cook's Illustrated

Mmmmm, this was very tasty! This was also a snap to prepare. When I first tasted it right out of the food processor, I was a little disappointed, but surprisingly, the instructions to let it stand to allow the flavors to blend were right on. This makes about 2 cups, and can be refrigerated for up to 5 days after making.



3 tablespoons juice from 1 to 2 lemons
1/4 cup water
6 tablespoons tahini , stirred well
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil , plus extra for drizzling
1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas , drained and rinsed
1 small garlic clove , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1/2 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch cayenne
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro or parsley leaves


1. Combine lemon juice and water in small bowl or measuring cup. Whisk together tahini and 2 tablespoons oil in second small bowl or measuring cup. Set aside 2 tablespoons chickpeas for garnish.

2. Process remaining chickpeas, garlic, salt, cumin, and cayenne in food processor until almost fully ground, about 15 seconds. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula. With machine running, add lemon juice-water mixture in steady stream through feed tube. Scrape down bowl and continue to process for 1 minute. With machine running, add oil-tahini mixture in steady stream through feed tube; continue to process until hummus is smooth and creamy, about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.

3. Transfer hummus to serving bowl, sprinkle reserved chickpeas and cilantro over surface, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand until flavors meld, at least 30 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

Pita Chips

Source: All Recipes

I needed some pita chips, but couldn't find any in my grocery store. Then I remembered...pita chips come from PITA BREAD! Sometimes I surprise myself with how smart I am.

I cut the pita bread in half so it was still like a pita pocket, and then cut those halves into 4 pieces, so my chips ended up being double-layered. Next time, I will cut the entire pita in half lengthwise and then cut into 8 pieces so the chips are thinner. I had to cook them for double the amount of time to get them crispy.

I LOVED this particular blend of spices, but next time I think I'll get an oil sprayer. Brushing the olive oil mixture on the pitas meant more oil got on the pitas, which made them a little less crispy and makes them go soft within a couple of days if you have leftovers. Lastly, a reviewer on All Recipes had also said she sprinkled Parmesan on top of these, which I think would be divine! I served these with hummus, but these are also delicious all on their own.

Pita Chips


12 pita bread pockets
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

2. In a small bowl, combine the oil, pepper, salt, and basil.

3. Cut pita in half lengthwise, and brush with oil mixture, or spray with oil and sprinkle with herbs. Using a pizza cutter, cut each pita into 8 pieces.

4. Bake in the preheated oven for about 7 minutes, or until lightly browned and crispy. Watch carefully, as they tend to burn easily!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Lazy Man's Mojito

Source: Bon Appetite

I originally saw this on Scrambled and my oh my was this delicious! I love mojitos, but I don't have a muddler, so I never make them at home. This was like the slushy version of a mojito. I made this for a party and 2 pitchers were gone within an hour! If your blender doesn't handle ice well, add in a couple of batches. I will probably be making this for the rest of the summer...

The Lazy Man's Mojito

1 12-ounce can limeade (found in grocer's freezer)
9 ounces vodka ( a little more than a cup)
1/2 cup mint leaves, loosely packed
4 1/2 cups ice cubes.

Blend and enjoy!

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Source: The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Meatloaf is comfort food at its best. It's actually been a long time since I've had meatloaf, and I've never made it with ground turkey, either! I found the result very tasty, but also DRY. I halved this recipe, and left it in the oven for the full amount of time. When I checked, it was about 15 - 20 degrees over the 160 mark, which probably accounts for its dryness. I loved the actual taste of it, so just make a note to check the temperature within the last half hour of cooking.

Half of this recipe was plenty to feed 4 people, we have leftovers spilling out of our fridge!

Turkey Meatloaf

3 cups chopped yellow onions (2 large onions)
2 tablespoons good olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
5 pounds ground turkey breast
1 1/2 cups plain dry bread crumbs
3 extra-large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup ketchup

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

1. In a medium saute pan, over medium-low heat, cook the onions, olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme until translucent, but not browned, approximately 15 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, and tomato paste and mix well. Allow to cool to room temperature.

3. Combine the ground turkey, bread crumbs, eggs, and onion mixture in a large bowl. Mix well and shape into a rectangular loaf on an ungreased sheet pan. Spread the ketchup evenly on top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours until the internal temperature is 160 degrees F. and the meatloaf is cooked through. (A pan of hot water in the oven under the meatloaf will keep the top from cracking.) Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold in a sandwich.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Molten Chocolate Cake

Source: Kraft Foods

My husband and I once ordered something like this at Applebee's. At the time I thought it was SO good, but never thought it was something I could make at home! I love this because not only is it full of chocolately deliciousness, but you essentially make single servings! I halved it for just the two of us, no leftovers! It's so easy, make this today!

Also, it's more fun if you're making this for someone who's never had it - don't tell them they're molten cakes!

Molten Chocolate Cake

4 squares BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate (1 ounce each baking chocolate)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
6 Tbsp. flour
1/2 cup thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping


1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray 4 custard cups with cooking spray. Place on baking sheet.

2. Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1 min. or until butter is melted. Stir with wire whisk until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar until well blended. Blend in eggs and egg yolks with wire whisk. Stir in flour. Divide batter among prepared custard cups.

3. Bake 13 to 14 min. or until sides are firm but centers are soft. Let stand 1 min. Carefully run small knife around cakes to loosen. Invert cakes onto dessert dishes. Serve immediately, topped with whipped topping or ice cream on the side.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Steak Au Poivre with Brandied Cream Sauce

Source: Cook's Illustrated

As I've said before, I'm not an overwhelming fan of red meat. However, the past few times I've made filets or the like, I've realized I'm just not good at cooking red meat. It seems like it would be pretty easy, but the combination of searing plus oven-cooking usually stumps me. And I know it's a crime to like a filet medium, but it skeeves me out when blood seeps out on my plate as I cut into my steak.

Well, now that you're hungry!

This recipe was right next to my seared filet recipe in my trusty New Best Recipe, and where there's a sauce that includes cream, butter, and alcohol, count me in. I ended up using thin-cut New York strip steaks, which I found easier to gauge the doneness. The peppercorn crust combined with the sauce is...heavenly, to say the least. Of all the steak recipes I've made, this one is my favorite! Additionally, you usually find a recipe with a title this long is a little complicated. Au contraire, I found this very easy to make!

Put the peppercorns in a bag and pound them with a rolling pin or meat mallet while the sauce is reducing.

Steak au Poivre with Brandied Cream Sauce



4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium shallot , minced
1 cup low-sodium beef broth
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup brandy
1 tablespoon brandy
1 teaspoon lemon juice or 1 teaspoon champagne vinegar
Table salt


4 strip steaks (8 to 10 ounces each), 3/4 to 1 inch thick and no larger than 3 inches at widest points, trimmed of exterior gristle
Table salt
1 tablespoon black peppercorns , crushed


1. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat; when foaming subsides, add shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add beef and chicken broths, increase heat to high, and boil until reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 8 minutes. Set reduced broth mixture aside. Rinse and wipe out skillet.

2. Meanwhile, sprinkle both sides of steaks with salt; rub one side of each steak with 1 teaspoon crushed peppercorns, and, using fingers, press peppercorns into steaks to make them adhere.

3. Place now-empty skillet over medium heat until hot, about 4 minutes. Lay steaks unpeppered-side down in hot skillet, increase heat to medium-high, firmly press down on steaks with bottom of cake pan (see illustration below), and cook steaks without moving them until well-browned, about 6 minutes. Using tongs, flip steaks, firmly press down on steaks with bottom of cake pan, and cook on peppered side, about 3 minutes longer for rare, about 4 minutes longer for medium-rare, or about 5 minutes longer for medium. Transfer steaks to large plate and tent loosely with foil to keep warm.

4. Pour reduced broth, cream, and 1/4 cup brandy into now-empty skillet; increase heat to high and bring to boil, scraping pan bottom with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Simmer until deep golden brown and thick enough to heavily coat back of metal tablespoon or soup spoon, about 5 minutes. Off heat, whisk in remaining 3 tablespoons butter, remaining 1 tablespoon brandy, lemon juice or vinegar, and any accumulated meat juices. Adjust seasonings with salt.

5. Set steaks on individual dinner plates, spoon portion of sauce over steaks, and serve immediately.