Friday, December 7

Photo Friday: Close

Is this Friday's theme me, or what? I am a macro freak fanatic!

I linked up with Photo Friday: Close

Have a great weekend everyone and thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, December 5

Baked Tacos

I've said before how much we love tacos in this house. Once a week we normally have some sort of Mexican based dinner. Again, I have been trying to mix it up a bit by coming up with different versions but sticking with main ingredients we all like. 

These baked tacos are a great way to make tacos in bulk, easier. Good for a crowd as they are a great time saver and easy to put together.

2 lbs. ground beef
4 tsp. dried minced onion
3 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
8 oz. tomato sauce
16 oz. refried beans
2 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese
20 hard taco shells
sour cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine minced onion, chili powder, cornstarch, garlic powder, cumin, oregano and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Blend well and set aside.

Brown beef in a large skillet. Drain. Add tomato sauce, refried beans and set aside taco seasoning mixture. Mix well and heat on low for at least 5 minutes.

Spoon mixture into taco shells and place in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, standing up (they should all touch). Sprinkle tacos with shredded cheese evenly. 

Bake for 10 - 12 minutes or until cheese has melted on top. 

Serve with your favorite toppings.

Tuesday, December 4

Sloppy Joe Biscuit Cups

 recipe from

I have been having such great success baking with my muffin tin lately. I have of course been making muffins but have used my tin for less traditional finger foods much more. I think I have used that tin more this last year in my baking than in the last 10 years combined.

I find a lot of great ideas at Plain Chicken and she has never let me down. Here is another great idea for an appetizer or snack. Quick and easy that kids and adults alike will love.

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup ketchup
4 tsp. sugar
4 tsp. mustard
4 tsp. vinegar
4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 TBLS dried minced onion flakes
1 can 10 count regular refrigerated biscuits (not Grand's)
1/2 cup medium cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Slowly cook beef in a large skillet. Drain. Add ketchup, sugar, mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and minced onion flakes. Simmer over low heat for 1 minutes, allowing the flavors to blend.

Separate biscuits and place each in an ungreased standard size muffin tin. Firmly press the biscuit dough into the bottom and up the sides of the tins.

Evenly divide the meat mixture between the cups. Top each with the grated cheese.

Bake 18 - 20 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown and cheese is melted.

Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes before removing them from the tin. Use a knife to separate the cups from the tin if needed. 


Monday, December 3

Homemade Donuts ~ For Beginners

recipe from

I don't often eat donuts. If I do, I like them simple. No sprinkles please! I have been wanting to make my own for a while now and this recipe is a great way to start and is foolproof. I wasn't expecting much from the ingredients and method but was pleasantly surprised at how delicious these were. They were gone in no time!

 vegetable oil
canned biscuits - any kind but the flaky layer ones
4 TBLS melted butter

Mix together the sugar and cinnamon in a small shallow bowl. I like mine a darker brown color meaning more cinnamon than sugar. Make it the flavoring to your preference.

Fill up a large skillet with about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil. Heat on medium high. 

While oil is heating. open your biscuits. Separate them and cut holes into the center of each. I used star shaped cookie cutters. Any shape will do as long as you have cut a small hole in the centers.

Place donuts in the oil. When the sides facing the pan are golden brown, flip them and brown the other side. When both sides are browned, remove the donuts and place them on paper towel.
As soon as the donuts are cool enough to handle, use your fingers to dip one side in the melted butter. Shake them a bit to remove the excess butter and then dip them in the sugar/cinnamon mixture, coating them well. Them repeat the steps to cover and coat the other side until all donuts are finished.

Eat warm or store them immediately in an airtight container for later.

Easy and so yummy!!

NOTE: I also repeated the process for the donut holes after making the donuts themselves.

Thursday, November 29

Thursday Photo Challenge: Bottle

I am a caffeine junkie, although my vice of choice is Diet Mt. Dew. I drink so much of it, my veins must run green. I loved this old style Pepsi bottle and knew it would come in handy some day.

I linked up with Spun with Tears

Wednesday, November 28

Photoblog Challenges: B&W with Toning

Here I am again with another angel shot. I have decided at some point I would like to do a series of angel photos to help with my fear fascination of them and their watch. Maybe frame them and put them on them on display? It's a project I have given myself, one that may take or last years but I am looking forward to it.

I linked up with Photoblog Challenges: B&W with Toning.

Tuesday, November 27

Cranberry Streusel Muffins

These are Thanksgiving inspired muffins. You see, I love most fruits but I don't necessarily care for them "in" foods. Whole that is. As a sauce or flavoring, I am fine, even a topping...but chunks of fruit in a recipe and I rarely will even sample it. Weird? Probably.

These muffins have cranberry sauce without the whole cranberries in them. Simple to make and delicious!

1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp.salt
1 cup cranberry sauce

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a standard muffin tin with cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a larger bowl, combine melted butter, sugar, sour cream, milk, eggs and vanilla. Then mix in the baking powder & soda, and salt. Stir in the flour until just combined. 

Fill each cupcake liner about 1/3 full with the batter. Spoon 1 TBLS. of the cranberry sauce over each 1/3 filled liner. Sprinkle each with a little of the brown sugar mixture you set aside at the very beginning. Spoon remaining batter over each liner. Then top with remaining brown sugar mixture.

Bake for 20 minutes or until muffins are lightly browned on top. 

Cool for a few minutes and serve.

Monday, November 26

Photoblog Challenges:Many

Good morning everyone! Are you recovered from Thanksgiving and Black Friday? It might take me a few more days to do so. 

Simple post from me today. I am even feeling too lazy to add a quote. 

Have a great Monday. :)

I entered Photoblog Challenges: Many

Wednesday, November 21

Cheese Bread

recipe from

I can include myself among the many people who go crazy for Red Lobster's garlic cheese biscuits. You may remember when I posted the copycat recipe here. I was super excited when I found this recipe on Pinterest and couldn't wait to try. It does not have the same texture as the biscuits, of course, and for whatever reason the garlic was all together left out. I decided to try it as is. 

While this did not taste like Red Lobster's Cheddar Bay Biscuits, it when right to the top of my list for breads anyway. Gooey cheese, dense doughy bread and a whole loaf to enjoy!!! 

I will make a the one alteration of adding some garlic next time only because I am a garlic freak.You may find this perfect the way it is.

Delicious warm with a little butter smeared on each slice.

3 cups flour
1 TBLS. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. black pepper
4 oz. medium cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/4 cups milk
3/4 cup sour cream
3 TBLS. butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease or spray a 9 x 5 loaf pan. 

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper. Carefully stir in the cheese cubes until the cubes are covered. 

In a separate bowl, mix milk, sour cream, melted butter and egg. Fold the wet mixture into the dry mixture until just combined. Do not over stir!

Pour mixture into loaf pan and bake for 45 - 50 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan (I find using a knife around the edges to loosen it up helps if it's not cooperating). 

Cool 1 hour on a baking rack before slicing.

Tuesday, November 20

Mexican Chicken & Rice

This is a super easy weeknight recipe. Cheesy, slightly zesty and the leftovers are great the next day.

You can even make this faster by preparing the chicken ahead of time. Just follow the instructions below for cooking the chicken. Cool and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use and then pick back up in the recipe where you left off.

chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces (I used 3)
1 packet taco seasoning
1 can (10.5 oz) cream of chicken soup
1 1/3 cups water
1 cup Minute rice, uncooked
3/4 cup Mexican blend shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook chicken pieces with just a sprinkling of the taco seasoning until cooked through. I sprinkled the enough to coat the tops of the chicken after adding it to the skillet.

While the chicken is cooking, mix chicken soup, water, the remainder of the taco seasoning, rice and 1/2 of the cheese in a large bowl. Stir in cooked and seasoned chicken. Pour mixture into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Top with remaining cheese.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake up to an additional 10 minutes or until cheese on top is melted. 

Serve with tortilla chips.

Monday, November 19

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake Bites

recipe from

Raspberry and cheesecake. What a combo! I saw these on a fellow food blogger's post and couldn't resist making them. They are nothing short of amazing! I thought these were so much fun to make too. 

I have only one regret. After pulling these out if the oven to cool, I set them on a wire rack right in line of my air conditioning. They cooled down much too quickly causing them to sink in on the tops. If you want them to have the full rounded top, make sure they are set somewhere warmer than I did. The flavor (which was spot on) was not affected in any way, which is what really matters.

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
4 TBLS. unsalted butter, melted
3 TBLS. sugar

For the raspberry swirl:
6 oz. fresh raspberries
2 TBLS. sugar

For the filling:
2 lbs. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line cupcake pan with paper liners. In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar. Stir with a fork until well blended and all the dry ingredients are moistened. Press 1 tablespoon of the mixture into the bottoms of the cupcake liners. Press the crumbs down with the bottom of a drinking glass. Bake until just set, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack.

To make the raspberry puree, combine the raspberries and sugar in a blender. Process until smooth.

To make the cheesecake, beat the cream cheese on medium high speed in a bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. Blend in the sugar until smooth. Mix in the salt and vanilla. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after adding each one.

To assemble, spoon 3 tablespoons of the cheesecake batter over the crust in each cupcake liner. Dot 1/2 teaspoon of the raspberry puree in a few dots over the cheesecake filling. Use a toothpick to lightly swirl and create a marble effect.

Bake until the filling is set, about 20 - 22 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Let cool to room temperature.

Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before serving.

Tuesday, November 13

Skillet Tacos

recipe from

It's Taco Tuesday and we sure love tacos at this house. This is a super easy and delicious dinner for those busy days. Ingredients you probably already have on hand. From the stove to the table in under 15 minutes. What's not to love?

1 lb. ground beef
1 small red onion, chopped
1 1/2 cup frozen corn
10 corn tortillas (6 inch), cut into 1" pieces (pizza cutter works great)
1 8 oz. bottle taco sauce
1- 1/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided

In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat. Drain

Rinse frozen corn in a colander with warm water. Drain

Add the drained corn, taco sauce and 1 cup of the cheese to the beef mixture.

Stir in tortilla pieces and heat through.

Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Garnish with sour cream if desired.

Monday, November 12

Philly Cheesesteak Rolls

recipe from

I have not worked with puff pastry before. I wanted to give it a try and when visiting their website, found this interesting recipe. I have to say that I am impressed by their flaky texture and slightly buttery taste. I am not a huge fan of Philly Cheesesteak but found this sandwich version quite delicious!

all purpose flour
1/2 of a 17.3 oz pkg. puff pastry sheets ( 1 sheet), thawed
1 tsp. olive oil
1 cup onion, sliced
1/4 of a 24 oz. pkg. frozen sandwich steak (4 portions) cut into thick strips
4 slices American cheese
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Sprinkle flour on a clean dry surface. Unfold the pastry sheet and roll into a 10 inch square. Then cut the square into 4 equal parts.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until tender. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Increase the heat to medium high. Add sandwich steak and cook for 3 minutes or until cooked through. Stir occasionally.

Spoon 1/4 of both the onion and sandwich steak on the bottom of each puff pastry. Top each with a slice of cheese. Fold 2 opposite sides over the filling. Roll jelly roll style. Brush with egg. 

Place pastries on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until pastries are golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Cut each pastry diagonally before serving.

Friday, November 9

Eclair Cake

Good morning and happy Friday!

I am revisiting a recipe I posted years ago. One of the first desserts I made that didn't come from a box or package mix. I am sharing it again as I have tried the countless versions of this I have found on Pinterest and they all come up short in some way. I got this recipe from a friend of my stepmom's who has her own resort/restaurant. Every time I make it, someone asks for the recipe. Layers of vanilla pudding, graham cracker cake and topped with rich chocolate, who can resist?

Make sure you follow the directions by chilling this overnight or for a minimum of 8 hours. If you don't, the graham cracker layers don't soften into a cake like texture and that is really the key to this being so delicious! Most people have no idea the recipe even contains graham crackers. 

Easy to make and even more fun to eat!

Ingredients for the base:
1 box graham crackers
2 pkg. French vanilla instant pudding
2 3/4 cups milk
1 (12 oz) Cool Whip, thawed

Mix instant pudding with milk as directed on package EXCEPT use 2 3/4 cups milk where it is called for on the package. Add cool whip and mix well. Place a single layer if graham crackers on the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan. Do not crumble, leave whole. (you may  have to break off sections to make a full layer) Spread 1/2 of the pudding mixture over the graham crackers. Cover with another layer of graham crackers and then the remainder of the pudding mixture. Top with a third layer of graham crackers.

Ingredients for frosting:
2 pkgs. premelted unsweetened chocolate
2 TBLS. margarine, softened
2 TBLS. white Karo syrup
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 TBLS. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Beat all ingredients until smooth. Spread evenly over the top layer of graham crackers.

The frosting should make just enough to cover the top. Refrigerate overnight. 

Thursday, November 8

Taco Stuffed Pasta Shells

Here's an interesting twist to traditional tacos. I like to experiment with different ideas so my meal plan doesn't become boring or predictable. We all are taco lovers in this house and Spencer and I love our pasta too. We thought these were delicious. They certainly won't replace tacos or Italian stuffed shells but they will be a fun way to have both at once.

1 lb. ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning
4 oz. cream cheese
12 large pasta shells
1 cup salsa
1 cup taco sauce
1 cup shredded medium cheddar cheese
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese
1 1/2 cups crushed tortilla chips
sour cream, to garnish

In a large skillet, brown ground beef. Drain. Add taco seasoning packet and let simmer 7 - 10 minutes to blend the flavors. Add cream cheese, stirring to blend as it melts. Set aside when done and let cool completely. (or it gets quite messy!)

While beef is cooking, make pasta shells according to package directions. Drain and toss with butter. Let cool along with beef.

When beef and pasta have cooled, evenly distribute salsa on the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stuff each pasta shell with meat mixture. Place the shells on top of the salsa and cover with taco sauce. 

Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Then remove from oven and cover evenly with the crushed tortilla chips and both cheeses. Cover again and bake for another 10 - 15 minutes or until cheese is melted. 

Cool slightly and serve with additional chips, sour cream or any other topping you may want.

Wednesday, November 7

Chicken Roll-Ups

Crescent rolls. I use them a lot these days. They are so versatile and easy, not to mention delicious. We had these for a weeknight easy dinner but they would make great appetizers too. I wouldn't recommend adding any extra spicing as the bacon bits and ranch add enough on their own. 

rotisserie chicken (only because they are so tender but chicken breasts would work fine)
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
crescent rolls (original or butter 8 count)
1 pkg. real bacon bits
1 1/2 cups medium cheddar cheese
1 pkg. dry ranch dressing mix

Shred cooked chicken with 2 forks. Mix all ingredients together except of course the crescent rolls.

Unroll crescent rolls and equally divide the chicken mixture between them, scooping spoonfuls onto the wider edge. Roll up crescent rolls and seal the edges so the chicken mixture is completely covered.

Bake for 12 -15 minutes or until crescents are golden brown.

Let cool about 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, November 6

Wednesday, October 31

Breakfast Tater Tot Casserole

Happy Halloween! Hope you have a fun and safe day.

I am sharing another one of our breakfast for dinner ideas. Quick and easy for a busy weeknight. Leftovers are just as yummy and you can even make it the night before to save time if you aren't weird like us and actually have breakfast in the morning.

1 lb. cubed ham
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups milk
4 eggs
2 lbs. frozen seasoned tater tots
Lawry's seasoning

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread the ham evenly on the bottom of a 9 x 13" pan. Top with shredded cheese. 

In a large bowl, beat together the milk and eggs. Pour over the cheese. (If you making this ahead of time, stop here and refrigerate. Continue here in the morning.)

Top with frozen tater tots. Sprinkle top with desired amount of salt, pepper and Lawry's.

Bake for around 45 minutes or until tater tots are browned and cheese is melted. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, October 30

Scarecrow Treats

recipe from

These Halloween cookie bars, topped with candy corn, are chewy and delicious. Oh, and contain peanut butter! Need I say more?

Ingredients for crust:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (18.25 oz) pudding in the mix yellow cake mix (box will say moist)
1 egg
3 cups miniature marshmallows

Ingredients for topping:
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups crisp rice cereal
2 cups salted peanuts
1 cup candy corn

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine butter and cake mix in a large bowl. Beat on low speed until well combined. Add egg and mix well.

Press onto bottom of 15x10x1" pan. Bake for about 15 minutes or until edges are slightly browned. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle marshmallows over hot crust. Return to the oven and bake an additional 1 -2 minutes or until marshmallows puff.

Combine corn syrup, sugar and brown sugar in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring until it comes to a boil, about 2 - 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla until smooth. Stir in cereal, peanuts and candy corn. Immediately spoon over marshmallow layer; spread to cover. 

Cool completely and cut into bars.

Monday, October 29

Spooky Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

recipe slightly adapted from

Go ahead and laugh. It's ok. I had a typical "me" moment the other day while making these. Short on time, I went to decorate these before work and realized I had bought regular sized chocolate chips instead of minis. The result is quite silly looking! I am still chuckling now looking at them.

Despite my googly eyed ghosts, these pumpkin cheesecake bars are absolutely amazing. Like lick the fork and maybe even your plate amazing. Creamy pumpkin with an oreo crust and topped with cool whip. Everyone who tried them loved them.

Ingredients for crust:
20 creme filled sandwich cookies
2 1/2 TBLS. unsalted butter, melted

Ingredients for filling:
2 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin pie filling
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 TBLS. all purpose flour
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 9 inch square pan with foil so that it overhangs on the sides. Mist with cooking spray.

To make the crust: process the cookies in a food processor until ground. Pulse in butter. Press evenly into the pan. Bake until firm, 10 - 12 minutes. Cool slightly.

To make the filling: Beat cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth, about 2 minutes. Beat in   pumpkin.Then eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in vanilla, flour, spice and salt until just combined.

Pour mixture over the slightly cooled crust. Put the pan in a large rimmed baking sheet and put in the oven. Pour hot water into the larger baking sheet until it's nearly filled. (This will prevent your cheesecake from cracking) Bake cheesecake until set around the edges but jiggles slightly in the center, about 40 - 45 minutes. Remove pan from sheet and cool completely on a wire rack. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until firm. At least 3 hours.

To make ghosts, pipe whipped cream onto bars in a circular motion. Use MINI chocolate chips for eyes.

Thursday, October 25

Chocolate Lovers: Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

I know I should have posted this earlier in the season. If you love chocolate as much as I do, you'll understand. I have made traditional and chocolate zucchini bread before and love them both. But as Emeril says, "Let's kick it up a notch!" Or two or three.

This moist double chocolate, dark chocolate chip bread is a chocolate lover's dream. I added just a few chocolate chips so it wasn't overwhelming. They add a punch of flavor here and there. 

This might not be for everyone. It sure was for me!

2 cups shredded zucchini
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup dutch process cocoa powder
3 large eggs
2\3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To remove the excess moisture from the zucchini, squeeze between two paper towels until most of the liquid is gone. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla and butter. Stir in zucchini. Gradually whisk in the flour mixture. Fold in the chocolate chips. The batter will be thick.

Grease or spray a 9 1/2" x 5 1/2" loaf pan. Spoon in the mixture. 

Bake for 55 - 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 

Remove from oven and cool about 1/2 an hour before removing from pan. Place on rack and cool completely before slicing.

Wednesday, October 24

Fiesta Chicken & Rice

recipe from

Chicken and rice are rarely a miss in this household. I saw this recipe on Pinterest and was taken in first by it's simplicity of using one skillet for the whole meal. I also liked the "fiesta" concept and of course how great it looks when serving!

We really enjoyed the added pop of flavor that the fiesta rice brought along with the moist tender chicken. Creative and delicious!

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup long grain rice
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. chili powder
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 1/4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup shredded Mexican style cheese
4 scallions, thinly sliced

Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a 12" skillet on medium - high and add the oil. When it starts to shimmer, add the chicken and cook on one side until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate, leaving the fat in the pan.

Add the rice, onion and 1/2 tsp. of salt to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until rice is toasted and the onions begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, chili powder and cayenne, cooking just until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add in the tomatoes, green pepper and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan to bring up any brown bits. Add the chicken back to the pan, browned side up. 

Cover the pan and reduce to low heat. Cook until chicken is cooked through, about 12 minutes.

Transfer the chicken alone to a cutting board. Give the rice a quick stir and replace cover cooking it until tender and liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile cut the chicken into 1/2 inch slices.

Turn off the heat under the pan and arrange chicken slices on top of the rice. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and scallions. Cover the pan and wait a few minutes for the cheese to melt. 

Serve right from the skillet. YUM!

Tuesday, October 23

Creamy Beef Sandwiches

recipe adapted from taste of home

I couldn't resist adding this no fuss sandwich to my weekly menu. I adapted the amount of beef added after following the original recipe simply because it was much more like a salad between two pieces of bread and I wanted more filler. Of course after bulking it up, it reduced the mayo/ranch flavor, so I adjusted that too. They went fast!

Ideal for lunch on the go!

3/4 cup mayonnaise
4 TBLS ranch dressing
6 oz. thinly sliced deli beef, chopped
1 cup medium cheddar cheese
12 slices bread (I used split top butter)

In a small bowl, combine the mayo and ranch dressing. Stir in the beef and cheese. Spread about 1/3 cup of spread on six sandwich slices and top with remaining bread slices.

You can also top these with lettuce but my picky eater won't touch it, so I opted to leave it out.

Monday, October 22

Photoblog Challenge: Pink Flowers

pink aster

“The earth laughs in flowers.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Good morning friends! Hope your day is a good one.

Wednesday, October 17

Baked Broccoli Chicken Penne

recipe adapted from

I have been trying to incorporate more veggies into our meals lately as it seems to be the one food group we miss the most. I find it easier to add them to our main dish rather than as a side. This way the flavor of the meal blends the distinct taste most vegetables give and somewhat fools my family into healthier eating. We all love broccoli and it's so easy to add to a number of recipes. 

The addition of mozzarella and sun dried tomatoes to this pasta sets it apart from the rest. Delish!

1 bunch broccoli, florets only - cut into 1" pieces
12 oz. penne pasta
2 TBLS. olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
6 medium garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
3 oz. shredded mozzarella
8 oz. jar oil packed sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped

3/4 cup bread crumbs
2 TBLS. butter, melted

Make the topping first by combining the bread crumbs and butter in a small bowl; set aside. 

Lightly grease a  9 x 13 inch baking dish and also set that aside.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a large pot, bring water to a boil for the penne. Stir in broccoli. Boil for 1 minute, until the broccoli is bright green. Quickly remove the broccoli with a slotted spoon and set aside on plate. Return the water to a boil and add penne. Boil penne until al dente (1-2 minutes less than you normally would as the pasta will cook a little more when you bake it). Drain and toss with 1 TBLS. of the olive oil. Set aside.

Wipe the pot dry, add the remaining TBLS. of olive oil and return to medium heat until oil is shimmering. Add the onion and cook until softening and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and dried thyme, cooking until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add flour and cook stirring constantly until golden, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the broth and cream, bringing them to a simmer, stirring often. Add the chicken and cook through, about 7 minutes. Stir in the sun dried tomatoes and mozzarella.

Add the cooked pasta and broccoli to the sauce, stirring to combine. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the topping you set aside earlier. 

Bake about 15 minutes or until the top is bubbling and crumbs are lightly browned.