Monthly Archives: February 2015

Texas Gold

Family came into town this afternoon and I was racking my brain to come up with a side or dessert that wasn’t the “norm” for them.  I think I did well.

A.  I enjoy cooking B. Out-of-stater’s need to have a memorable meal. In conclusion, my husband decided to cook a brisket for 10 hours , while I made the sides and dessert.  Happy compromise (especially considering it’s about 24 degrees outside right now) for us.

Hmmmm?  Should I stay inside and ‘prep’ & ‘bake’ with a glass of wine oorrrr stay outside in mittens, a sleeping bag and ear muffs??  Yeah……

Given our family LOVES sweets, this was a given. Indulgent? Yes!  Tasty? Absolutely!  …most importantly though, is it easy?? You know it!!!!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (separate, melted)
  • 1 8oz block of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 eggs, room temperature 
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 box (16oz) powdered sugarimage

*Preheat oven to 350degrees*

In bowl, with a hand-mixer (or stand mixer) combine the cake mix, 1 egg and 1 stick (8oz) melted butter.

After mixed together (2-3 minutes), it will be a mealy mush.  Sounds appetizing doesn’t it?  I swear it ‘s yummy, just keep with me….press this delightful concoction into a lightly greased or non-stick sprayed 9×13 baking dish.

Next bowl…or you can just reclean the one you previously used, like I did.

Add in the softened cream cheese and beat till a creamy consistency.  Next, add in the 2 eggs, vanilla and the remaining stick of melted butter.  The visual results are not very inticing, but just keep with me.  It’ll ALL be worth it!

Yeah, I agree..not the most appetizing look at the moment, BUT once you (slowly) add in the bag of powdered sugar, you are really in for a treat!  Some call it a diabetic coma.  To each their own.

After your done licking the specks of deliciousness that flew out of the bowl, you simply spread (your leftovers) evenly over the pressed in cake mix.

Once evenly spread over the ‘crust’, pop this baby into the oven for 40-50 minutes.  Though obvious, I do the middle-man of 45 minutes, and it’s always perfect!!  *you do want the middle slightly “jiggly” as to not over cook.  It is to be gooey after all.  This delight will also continue to cook once set.

I like to add even more sugar, yep, I said that.  I like to sprinkle a bit of powdered sugar over each piece before I watch them get devoured by the helpless and weak…

Roasted Veggie & Balsamic Steak Quesadilla

When I like to eat “healthy” a piece of fish & quinoa doesn’t always cut it…unless a large basket of French fries is to follow.  Wouldn’t that be something??  

While I do not claim this to be a diet-healthy meal, I DO KNOW that it also isn’t my Mac n Cheese.  You’re safe(r) with this one.   It’s indulgent in the right ways and easily substituted with poultry or just roasted veggies alone!  My husband refers to it as “Scottsdale Bar Food”.  It so is!  Without the price tag I mean!

The Starting Lineup
•Red Bell Pepper
•Red Onion
•2 cuts of steak (i.e. ribeye, sirloin, petit sirloin)
•Goat Cheese Crumbles
•Tortillas (burrito size)
•Balsamic Vinegar
•Salt & Pepper  (I love the McCormick Sea-salt & Pepper grinders and/or kosher salt)
•Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Take steaks out of fridge (to get to room temp for even cooking.). Coat each side of steak with a hefty pinch or two of salt & pepper.  Drizzle each side with 1-2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 425*.  Line two baking sheets with foil.

Slice veggies into 1/2″ thick slices/strips.  Spread out evenly on baking sheets and drizzle olive oil over top.  Sprinkle decent amount of salt & pepper over top. Toss veggies around to coat.  Place both baking sheets in oven for 20min.

Meanwhile get your pan very hot, med-high heat (I use a cast iron skillet till it’s about smoking).  Coat the resting steak with olive oil on each side and place in pan.  Cook till desired doneness.  Remove from pan to plate, tent with foil and let rest for 5-10 minutes.  Slice into strips across the grain.

In the same pan, now on med-low, add a small amount of butter.  Lay tortilla in pan and on 1/2 of it layer some of the veggies, steak strips and goat cheese crumbles. Flip untouched side of tortilla over, creating half circle shape.  After one side browns, carefully flip quesadilla over to brown other side.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.  This made 3 fully filled ones for me. We were stuffed!

*you can use any method to cook your steak (grill, broil, cast iron, nonstick)
*my steaks were about 1″ thick.  I cooked each side for 1-2 minutes max and then let rest for a cool pink center after resting.
*optional: shredded Parmesan cheese.   I often top my veggies after roasting with this for a bit more salty flavor.
*if you can’t find goat cheese crumbles, the soft log version would work too.  Just make sure to spread on tortilla first before putting it in pan.
*i also like to lightly sprinkle the tortilla while in pan cooking with a but of chili powder or something similar.

Sweet & Salty Crack Cookies

No, the name of my ‘famous’ cookies may not be kid friendly.  I guess that just means more of this yummy treat for you, since you may not want to explain why they’re like ‘crack’.  The boring, kid-safe name for them can just be Brown Sugar, Pecan, Chocolate & Sea Salt Cookies.  Perfect.

Largely known fact, I’m not into sweets as much as my husband.  You’re more likely to catch me with a huge platter of chips, salsa & guacamole while he munches on a chocolatey Nutty Bar.  However, these cookies are a perfect mix of sweet & salty.  Even I admit to sneaking a few too many.  I think we all do in this household, because two dozen never last the entire day.

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 1/4 cup of All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda (or 1/2 tsp baking soda + 1/2 tsp baking powder for chewy and crisp)
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 stick Butter, softened to room temp (I actually like salted variety here)
  • 1/2 cup of Dark Brown Sugar
  • 6 Tbsp of Granulated Sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temp
  • 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 cups Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 cup Pecans, chopped
  • Coarse Sea Salt, to taste

*Preheat oven to 350

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (foil would work too).

•In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda & salt.

•In another larger mixing bowl, beat the softened butter, dark brown sugar & granulated sugar till creamy (med speed for about 2 minutes).

•Add in the egg, vanilla and mix on low till blended in.

•Slowly add in the flour mix till incorporated.

•With a wooden spoon, carefully stir in the chocolate chips & pecan pieces.

•Place cookie dough mounds (use large spoon or small ice cream scoop) about 2″ apart on the baking sheets.

•Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Take out of oven and lightly sprinkle tops with sea salt.

•Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

*makes appx 24 cookies

*if you don’t have a stand mixer or a hand mixer, you can absolutely use a wooden spoon for all of this.  

Crockpot Southwest Chicken Chili

It is a cold day here in Texas.  Rainy, sleet, windy, COLD.  Yesterday was breezy and you could wear shorts and by weeks end I bet it’ll be 85.  Such is life (weather) here in Texas.  *I actually love it.Rainy Day

That being said, I was not about to leave our warm home today (nor get out of bed…but I have kids, dang it).  I am, however, still in my Jammie pants and have raided our kitchen for an in-home episode of Chopped. (You’ll find I play this ‘game’ quite often.).  After what I believe to have been a truly successful pantry raid, I found the below ingredients to make a creamy Arizona inspired chicken chili!  Do you know what’s even better??  It’s crockpot material! AND it’s Sunday! Basically a set it & forget it while my warm home fills with delicious smells and I can listen to the rain alllll day. Excellent.

The Starting Lineup

  • 1lb chicken breast (frozen fine)
  • 1 can chili ready tomatoes
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 package cream cheese (reduced fat ok)
  • 1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 cup+ corn, (roasting & honey optional)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 chopped Chipotle in Adobo sauce peppers, plus 1 tbsp sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1Tbsp cumin
  • 2tsp chili powder
  • Salt & Pepper

Toppings (optional, but a must have in my eyes)

  • Cooked, crispy bacon
  • Shredded cheese
  • Green onions, sliced
  • Sour cream

Southwest Chicken Chili

You could make this recipe the easy route and literally toss every ingredient in the crockpot and walk away. I am NOT above that! Basically, that is what I did with just one exception (plus toppings).

Spray your crockpot with nonstick.  Add in the chopped onion, chicken (frozen works), rinsed black beans, cubed cream cheese, diced chipotle peppers and sauc e, can of chili ready tomatoes, garlic, cumin & chili powder, S&P.  Cover with lid and put on low for 8-10hours or high for 4-6hours. *here is where you can also add in your corn OR do it this way….

About 2 hours before the meal is done, line a baking sheet with foil.  Cut the corn kernels off the cob/or frozen corn and lay on baking sheet.  Drizzle EVOO, mix with hand to spread over kernels and evenly over pan.  Place under broiler, watch and turn periodically to achieve desired roast (5-10minutes).  Remove baking sheet and drizzle with Tbsp of honey, toss to combine.  Add to crockpot, cover and wait (impatiently till finished).Roasted corn image

You’re almost there!  If you’re lucky, you’ve been out & about not smelling the yummy goodness wafing through the air.

At about 30 minutes till your ready to enjoy, start the bacon.  Once crispy, chop it up.  Slice some green onions, shred some cheese and pull out that sour cream!  It’s on!!  Southwest Chicken Chili (served with corn fritters)SW Chicken Chili

Bacon Quiche

Funny how I let everyone know that I’m not the biggest breakfast eater and what are my last two entries about??  Ok, maybe the morning meal isn’t soooo bad.  This fancy looking dish is surprisingly easy and is sure to impress!!  It gives all women an excellent excuse to ‘do brunch’ and have bottomless mimosas!!  …at least that’s what I do.  Even if I’m by myself 😉 *note champagne glass in background…xoxo

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 pie crust (unbaked, premade is fine)
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 package bacon
  • 2 onions (yellow or sweet), sliced
  • 1/3 cup green onions, sliced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

In large pan, melt the butter then add in all the onions.  This may seem like a lot of onions, especially once sliced, but after you let them caramelize in that butter for about 20minutes they’ll reduce way down.  Stirring ever so often, the onions will develop a nice golden brown color and the natural sweetness will come out.  Transfer the caramelized onions to a dish and set aside to cool.

*preheat oven to 400degrees*

In same skillet that you cooked the onions, add in the bacon and cook to desired doneness.  I personally prefer mine crispy, but to each their own!  Once finished, chop up and also set aside to cool down.

Now to get the baking dish ready!  Again, you can make this your own.  I prefer a springform pan for mine, while others like the look of a deep dish tart shell or pie pan.  Whichever you decide to go with is fine.  Take out your pie dough, roll out with a light dusting of flour if necessary, and gently press into the pan of your choosing.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the heavy cream and S&P.  Add in the rest of the ingredients to the egg mix (cooked onions & bacon, green onions, red bell and cheese).  Pour entire bowl directly into the unbaked pie crust.

To avoid spillage, place your quiche onto a rimmed baking sheet.  Cover the top of your dish lightly with aluminum foil.  Allow to bake for 45-50 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes.  The quiche should just be just slightly jiggly if anything once time is up.  If still very wet looking, continue to cook checking often.  *all ovens can be different.

Remove from oven and cover lightly with the foil for 15 minutes, till ready to eat.  The quiche will continue to set.

If using a springform or tart pan, remove sides and display on a pretty cake stand.  Cut into pie like wedges and enjoy!!

Roasted Stuffed Breakfast Poblano

Now most that know me, know of this little tidbit….I don’t do breakfast.  At least willingly.  As a matter of fact, this morning out of sheer laziness and maybe a few too many glasses of wine last night, I opted for Jack n the Box for my breakfast hungry family.   JITB was my choice because the boys could have their breakfast Jacks while I ate a burger, fries and 2 tacos.  Yes, I ate all of that for the “most important meal of the day”.  You can call me disgusting in the comment section below.

ANYWAY, when you make any meal spicy with a Mexican twist I’ll give it a go!  This recipe is the happy medium winner that I made for my breakfast loving husband & boys….and myself.

The Starting Lineup 

•2 large poblanos
•1 cup potatoes (cubed or even hash brown style)
•4 eggs
•Breakfast sausage links (about 4-5)
•Green onions
•Red onion
•Cotija cheese
•Salt & Pepper
•Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Coat poblanos lightly in olive oil and place on baking sheet under broiler, turning as they char. Once charred & bubbly place in paper bag (school lunch style) and close. Let rest for at least 15 min. You can also place peppers in bowl covered with Saran Wrap.

Meanwhile, add potatoes to a hot pan with a bit of oil & butter and season with a salt, pepper and cumin to taste. Let it get nice and crispy. Cook sausage links according to package (pan or even microwave) and slice into pieces.

While potatoes cook, dice all the veggies and prep the poblanos (peel the waxy skin off, it will come off easily, and carefully slice a slit on one side of pepper and scrape out seeds. Crack eggs into bowl and beat till frothy with a splash of milk.

Once potatoes are cooked, add the eggs right in same pan and scramble with potatoes. Also add in the cooked sausage, onions, tomatoes & jalapeños.

When eggs are almost cooked through take off heat and spoon mix into the peppers. Place filled poblanos on baking sheet and sprinkle the cotija cheese over top. Place in a 375* oven for about 10min.
Garnish with the cilantro and salsa 🙂

Roasted Stuffed Poblano Pepper

Beer Braised Pork 

I must of had an idea the other night that I wanted to feel fuller than ever before while enjoying some flavors of the south.  Those ‘fat thoughts’ made me think of a real gooey cheesy mac n cheese.  I then thought if it could possibly get any better than that….and it could!  Why not top the already decadent dish with some braised pork and maybe a tangy & sweet bbq sauce?!!  Genius!

…and yes, I am full.  Had seconds. Thirds.  And I am now onto ‘skinny thoughts’.

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 3-5lb pork shoulder/butt roast (excess fat trimmed)
  • 1 12oz beer.  (Your pork, your choice)
  • Low sodium chicken broth/stock (at least 24oz)
  • 2-4tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1tbsp unsalted butter
  • Onion, quartered
  • Serrano Chili, cut long vertical slit through half (stem to tip) but leave intact
  • BBQ sauce of your liking.

Dry Rub

  • 2tbsp chili powder
  • 2tbsp ground coriander
  • 1tbsp brown sugar
  • 1tbsp paprika
  • 1tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1tbsp cumin
  • 1tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2tbsp black pepper

Take out your pork roast and trim off any excess fat if needed.  Set aside.  In a shallow dish combine all of the spices thoroughly together to make the dry rub.  Place pork roast in dish and evenly distribute the spices and gently press into the meat on all sides.  Cover the roast in dish with plastic wrap and let sit in fridge for at least an hour if not overnight.  Take the roast out of the refrigerator about 20 minutes before you’re ready to start cooking.

*Preheat oven to 300degrees* On med-high, heat an oven safe Dutch oven on your stove top (I love my enameled Lodge cast iron for this).  Add in the EVOO & butter.  Once the butter has melted place the roast in the pan and sear on all sides.  Typically takes about 8-10minutes.  Set roast aside on plate and pour in the chicken broth.  With a wooden spoon, scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of pot.  This is the GOOD stuff.  It will greatly enhance the flavor of your meal.  Like one of my favorite chefs, Carla Hall, always says, “there’s flavor in the brown!”.  Add the pork roast back into the broth filled pot along with the onion, Serrano and pour in that can of beer.  I personally like to keep a swig or two for myself ;). The liquids should come up to a little over half of the meat.  You do not want it completely covered.

Cover the pot with its lid and place into the 300degree oven.  After 30 minutes I drop the temp down to 250 and 30minutes later down to 225degrees.  Now you can walk away from the oven for a good 4 hours and let that pork roast get flavorful and ridiculously pull apart tender!

We like to serve ours over my easy, creamy Mac n Cheese with a drizzle of Franklin BBQ sauce!  You can purchase it here in Texas at your local HEB Grocery Store (my fave!!)

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