Monday, October 24, 2011

Chicken Can-Cantina Soup!

I love soup! I am sure you know that about now but I do. It is cheap, warm, comforting and you can put just about anything in a broth and make it taste good. I came across a simple and yummy looking recipe for an easy chicken fiesta soup and decided to put my own spin on it, and I am glad I did! This is an easy soup that can simmer all day in the crock pot and is one that can be easily multiplied to feed the multitudes. I love the rich creamy texture and the heat it has from the chilies and the fresh bite of cilantro added for some bright texture. Put this one in the books folks, it's gonna be a keeper!
Chicken Can-Cantina Soup

1 can rotel - undrained
1 can sweet corn - drained
1 can black beans - drained and rinsed (so your soup doesn't turn purple or grey!! yuck!!)
1 can nacho cheese soup
2 chicken breasts - frozen or thawed
4 oz cream cheese
1 Tbsp ranch dry seasoning
1/2 Tbsp cumin
1 Tsp garlic salt
1 Tsp coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 Tbsp chicken soup base (better than bullion)
1/4 cup cilantro chopped

Dump all ingredients into either your crockpot if you are cooking it slow or stockpot if you are cooking it fast. Add to it two cans of water (I used the nacho cheese can so I could get out all of the goods. Something about bean water didn't sound so lovely. Crockpot - turn on low for six-8 hours, Stockpot, allow to come to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 min to an hour, stirring occasionally. Remove the chicken and shred it, then return it back to the pot. Right before serving, throw in cilantro and stir.
I like to serve this with a dollop of sour cream (because you didn't get enough with the cream cheese and nacho cheese) a wedge of lime and broken tortilla chips. You can also add fresh avocado and more cilantro or shredded cheddar.
Some jalapeno cheddar cornbread would be the perfect addition to serve with this.
Enjoy y'all!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Party On! - 21st Century Taco Salad

I don't know about you but we love to throw a good party! But, parties are expensive! I have thrown together many a party in my time and have served everything from spaghetti and meatballs to quick pantry throw together meals. We just enjoy opening up our home, no matter what shape it may be in, to those that we love. I believe that feeding others is really a way to nourish ones soul and I love pouring out my love to others through meals.
One of the classic party meals I remember from growing up was taco salads. You know the ones I am talking about, where items like Frito's, shredded coconut and Catalina dressing were part of the toppings. What a strange mix! We work with our youth at church and I believe that I if I tried to serve those items as part of a taco bar they might walk out on me. Well, I think I have found a solution to updating the old classic and still being very budget friendly!! Please welcome the burrito bowl. The idea comes from our new local joint, Chiptole. They are known for fresh food and flavors. My favorite meat on their menu is the pulled shredded pork, aka, carnitas. It has the perfect velvet texture when mixed with crunchy lettuce and creamy black beans. If you don't like pork, get over yourself. Kidding, you can use this cooking method on chicken I am sure...but you will be sorry :) That will probably cost you a lot more and will not be as lovely.
So drum roll please....I bring you Brooke's Burrito Bowl, aka, 21st Century Taco Salad!! (enough for 4 adults but can easily and quickly be multiplied)
(bear in mind, there are a few steps but they can quickly be done ahead of time and either quickly reheated or pulled from the fridge)

Fake Carnitas (you will notice that there is not a strong Mexican seasoning with this. I only used half of the butt that I bought so I mildly flavored it so that I can turn it into something else)
1-2-3lb pork butt (a 8-9 lb butt would serve 15-20, just double the cumin, pepper and garlic)
1 cup water
1 bay leaf
1 package of Lipton onion soup mix
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
(If you are using all of this meat for this dish and want to make it more authentic, add 2 chilies in adobo sauce chopped, 1 small can of tomato sauce and double the cumin to 2 tsp)
Throw all of this into a crockpot and let it simmer for 8 hours. Turn the heat off and let it rest, then remove from the pan and shred into a bowl. Spoon 1/4 cup of cooking juice over the top. Cover and wait for serving.

1 Can black beans- just open them up, pour them into a pan and add 1 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp cumin and 1/2 tsp garlic salt. Allow them to simmer on low. If you are serving a larger crowd then multiply as needed.

1 cup white rice- cook according to package instructions adding in 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp lemon pepper seasoning and 1/2 tsp cumin.
Once it is cooked add in:
Juice of one lime
2-3 Tbps fresh chopped cilantro

1/2 cup thawed frozen sweet corn (double as needed)

1 head thinly sliced romaine lettuce

Sour cream
grated sharp cheddar
avocado slices
tortilla chips

Set all ingredients out for your buffet line. You can add any topping you want including sliced black olives or fresh chopped cilantro and sliced limes. The idea is to layer this way: Rice, beans, meat, corn, cheese, lettuce, sour cream, salsa and chips are on the side.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Little Bite of Happy - Mini Brie Phyllo Cups/ Mini Chocolate Caramel Cups

I love all things small. I live for holiday appetizer parties because I love them. There is something about neat little small one bite things that makes me want to squeal like a schoolgirl. Whether it is mini cheeseballs, blt bites, sausage balls, whatever...I love them! So, when I discovered the mini Phyllo cups in the freezer section a few years back I knew that we would be instant best friends. The crispy crunchy Phyllo is just asking to be filled with anything your mind can think up! I have filled them with everything from chicken salad to feta and asparagus but two of my favorite fillings I am going to share with you today. Because I love you. And I want you to squeal like a girl too after you taste the first bite. I promise, you will be the star of any party with either of these babies. Enjoy!!

Mini Brie Phyllo Cups- Makes 30 cups but can easily be doubled
1 package mini phyllo cups
1 small wedge of brie (don't buy the cheapest kind or it will not be the same)
1/2 cup raspberry preserves

Remove the phyllo cups from the package and place on parchment paper lined foil sheet. Next, place a spoon full of brie into each cup (approx. 1/2-1 Tbsp per cup) You may need to gently mash it into the cup so as it melts the brie doesn't spill everywhere. That would be bad. Next, place a tiny dollop(1/4 tsp) of raspberry on top of the brie. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes until the brie is soft and gooey. Serve right away.
*Variation- If I happen to not have raspberry preserves on hand I will sometimes use apricot preserves or just cook the brie in the cups alone then when they are warm give the whole pan a heavy drizzle of honey. Yum!

Mini Chocolate Caramel Cups
1 Pkg mini phyllo cups
1 jar caramel sauce (I like Smucker's or Hershey)
3/4 c chocolate chips (either semi sweet or bittersweet) I prefer ghirardelli at all times!!!
1/2 cup either chopped honey roasted or lightly salted peanuts or heath toffee bar pieces

Remove plastic cover from phyllo cups but keep them in their neat little package. Next, spoon is appox 1 Tbsp of caramel sauce into the bottom of each up.
Place chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and cook at 30 second intervals until melted, stirring in between. This should only take 1 minute total. Once the chocolate is melted, dip the end of a fork into the warn chocolate and drizzle over the caramel cups. Quickly sprinkle on either peanuts or toffee pieces (or both) and let the chocolate set before serving.
These will keep up to two days at room temp (if they can last that long!)

To smoke or not to smoke... - Un-Smoked, Smoked Pork Butt

We are a meat family. I am a meat girl, I married a meat man, we have meat children. We like meat. I am always up for a new and simple way to use meat but I typically revert back to my old ways with some things. This recipe I am going to share is one of those things that I always go back to. It is simple, delicious and you can't really mess it up at all which I love! This is perfect for a simple fall supper because you can stretch it out to feed as many as needed (within reason!) My husband is a big meat smoker but it is hard to find an extra 18 hours in the weekend to smoke these days. So, when you are in the mood from some good BBQ an don't have time for smoking, throw this baby in the oven and you will not be let down. Promise!!

Un-Smoked, Smoked Pork Butt (sorry, that is what it is)
1 6-9 lb pork butt. You can ask your meat man for this and he will know what you are talking about. It is the shoulder of the pork and has a large bone inside that will easily slip out once it is cooked.
2-3 Tbsp seasoned salt
1 Tbsp garlic Salt
1 Tbsp black pepper
1 Tbsp ground mustard
3 Tbsp liquid smoke
1 onion sliced
1 cup water
3 bay leaves
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Bottle of favorite BBQ sauce (we love Sweet Baby Ray's)

Depending on if you want to do this in your oven or crock pot, either place the meat in your crock pot or a large dutch oven or roasting pan. Sprinkle all of the dry seasonings (seasoned salt, garlic salt, black pepper and ground mustard) on the meat and rub it in, just like you would lotion on your legs. Next, pour in the smoke and Worcestershire sauce over the meat. To the side of the meat and around it place the sliced onion, bay leaves and water. If cooking in a crock pot, cover and allow the meat to cook on low for 8-10 hours (however long you plan on sleeping) If you are cooking this in an oven, cover your pan tightly with heavy duty foil and you can place on 350 for 4-5 hours or on 225 for 8-10 hours. Once you have finished cooking, remove the meat from the heat source (or just turn the crock pot off) and allow the meat to sit for at least one hour. This steaming process will continue to cook the meat and make it juicy. After an hour, remove the lid and place the butt in another pan or bowl so you can shred it. You can discard the onion juice. Shred the meat using two forks and slide the bone out. After you have shred the meat, squeeze 1/2 bottle of BBQ sauce over the meat and gently toss. You don't want the meat to become meat mush mash (got that? ) Cover until ready to serve.
I like to serve mine with sliced dill pickles and a good drizzle of BBQ sauce. Depending on where you live you might want to top it off with slaw. Your choice. Either way, you can't go wrong!

Friday, October 7, 2011

It's Fall Y'all! - Roma's Meat Marinade

So, whatcha cookin' this weekend?? We are headed out on a retreat with our youth group for the weekend! I can not wait to sit around a campfire eating s'mores, drinking hot cocoa and singing worship songs! It is going to be beautiful!!! We are going to head up a bit early to help get lunch on the table (go figure) and on the menu is marinated chicken for Saturday night. This recipe I am going to share with you is not my own but I must be shared. It is delicious for pork tenderloin, pork chops, chicken....anything that walked on this earth (sorry to any of you vegetarians out there!) The meat is best if it has soaked up this love for two days, repeat, two days. And, it is best to grill the meat that has been in this lovely marinade. So, drum roll please.....
Roma's Meat Marinade

1 Part Newman's Own Oil and Vinegar Salad Dressing
1 Part Allegro Meat Marinade (in the marinade section, it is the bottle with the Gold foil lid. Fancy!)
1/2 part lemon juice
2-3 springs rosemary (my extra special touch)

Place meat and marinade in a bowl and allow it to soak for up to two days. This marinade can be doubled as much as needed and it is always delicious!! Take your meat out and let it rest before throwing it on a hot grill. Any meat that is cooked in this marinade is good served with a creamy horseradish sauce.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Feel Bad- Chicken Malano

I feel bad, I can't help it. I just looked and there were almost 70 of you last month who checked the site for something new and I let you down. I am sorry! Last a month that I will not soon forget. I really had to tell myself to stop so I could catch my breath! I officially launched my cake business so I made about 400 phone calls regarding that, filled several orders and participated in two shows, not to mention I hosted my own version of cupcake wars with some of my best girlfriends that lasted until 1:00AM! I hope to keep blogging regularly, I love it, I long for it. I think if things constantly I want to write and share with you but finding the time to sit is always tricky. So, today I am going to share with you a simple quick and easy recipe for those of you who are in a time crunch like me. I know three people who just had babies and several who have had other life drama so I am needing things I can throw together to quickly wrap up and deliver to someone in need. This is perfect for that quick meal. Ingredients are usually super cheap when you hit them on sale and as much as I don't like to buy things "bottled", I couldn't resist how easy this was.
I hope you will enjoy. My little ones ate this up! This is enough to for 6-8 adults. Enjoy!

Quick and Easy Chicken Malano (from Macaroni Grill)
3-4 chicken breasts
1 cup bottled Italian salad dressing
salt and pepper
Pour the above in a bowl and allow to marinade for at least 30 minutes.
1 box pasta (I like bow tie for this but you can use any long noodle, just preferably nothing hollow)
1 jar classic Alfredo sauce (I know, just go with me)
10-15 sliced mushrooms
1/4-1/2 cup half and half, heavy cream, milk
6-8 sun dried tomatoes diced
1 box frozen spinach thawed and squeezed dry
3-4 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
2-3 Tbsp prepared pesto (I used trader Joe's brand and it rocked)
Bring 2 quarts water to a boil, add 2-3 Tbsp salt, dump in pasta and let it cook until al dente (not total mush!)
In a large saute pan, drizzle in 2-3 Tbsp olive oil. Toss in mushrooms and allow them to simmer 5-6 minutes. Meanwhile, go heat up your grill and start grilling the chicken breasts, approx ten minutes per side until cooked through. Bring them in and allow them to rest.
Back to that saute pan, to the mushrooms add the sun dried tomatoes, spinach, Alfredo sauce, and 2-3 Tbsp of the Parmesan cheese. Throw in a good dash of salt and a good heavy turn on fresh cracked black pepper(because you should have no other kind in your pantry. When I mean heavy I mean a good 10-13 turns) Turn the heat to low, stir then slowly stir in cream.
Once the pasta has cooked, quickly drain and return to the pot. Pour over cream sauce. Thinly slice chicken that has rested and add to pasta, stirring to coat. If it seems a bit dry, ad a splash more cream. Pour into individual plates or large serving bowl and drizzle with pesto and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. If you have fresh parsley on hand you can chop some and sprinkle on the top. Yummy!!