Sunday, January 30, 2011

Superbowl Party: Seven Delicious Layers

It's that time again - Superbowl!!    For our Superbowl parties, I like to make finger foods. I have lots of dips, chips, mini green chili cheese burgers, mini tacos, tacquitos, fruit and veggie trays, brownies, cookies, cupcakes, just to name a few.  

This recipe for New Mexican Layered dip has seven layers and each layer compliments the other.  It requires very little time to make and is delicious.

New Mexican Layered Dip

1 cup of canned refried beans
1 package Taco Seasoning
1 cup finely shredded Mexican cheese
1-cup salsa
2-¼ oz can sliced ripe olives drained
1-cup guacamole
1-cup sour cream
1  jalapeno pepper chopped (seeds removed)
Tortilla Chips

1.   In a small bowl mix the refried beans and taco seasoning.
2.   In a glass  8x8 inch dish spread the refried beans.
3.   Sprinkle the cheese over the beans.
4.   Spread the salsa over the cheese. 
5.   Spread the olives over the salsa.
6.   Spread the guacamole over the olives.
7.   Spread the sour cream over the guacamole.
8.   Sprinkle the  chopped jalapeno over the sour cream.
9.   Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Note:  When working with jalapeno peppers it is a good idea to use gloves - like food service gloves.  

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Honey Roasted Nut Crusted Chicken Breasts

I am making chicken for dinner tonight.  In fact, it is already  made, I just need to pop it in the oven. I love recipes I can make ahead of time.

In this recipe I use Ann's House Honey Roasted Nut Medley.  If you cannot find it, just use your favorite honey roasted nuts or a combination.  I have made this recipe just using honey roasted  cashews or macadamia nuts, but I found Ann's House at Costco and decided to give it a try.

The chicken breasts are baked and have a nice tender moist flavor.  The sour cream with Dijon mustard is a must.  It enhances the flavor.

                        Crusted Honey Roasted Nut Chicken Breasts


1-1/2 cups Ann’s House Honey Roasted Nut Medley
6 skinless and boneless chicken breast halves
1/3-cup evaporated milk
2/3-cup sour cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard


1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.    Lightly spray a 13x9 x2 inch-baking dish.  Set aside.
3.    In a food processor finely chop the nuts. Distribute the ground nuts evenly in a 9-inch pie plate.  Set aside.
4.    Run the chicken breasts under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel.
5.    Pour the evaporated milk in a 9-inch pie plate. Take one chicken breast and dip one side in the evaporated milk then dip the other side in the evaporated milk.
6.    Dip the chicken breast in the ground nuts, first one side then the other.  Place in prepared baking dish.
7.    Repeat until all breasts have been prepared.
8.    Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the breasts from the oven and turn all breasts over with a spatula.  Bake for an additional 20 minutes.
9.    In a small pan, combine the sour cream and Dijon mustard.  Heat over low heat until heated through.
10.  Place a dollop of the sour cream mixture in the center of each plate.
11.  When chicken breasts are done, remove from oven and place a breast on top of the sour cream.  Serve.

Makes 6 servings

 Note:  The chicken breasts (not the sour cream mixture) can be made the night before.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  Bring to room temperature before baking.   

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Quick Saturday Night Dinner

Saturday's are days when we are going here and there and everywhere.  Instead of getting a quick pizza, sub, or hamburger, I made a meal at home.  Tonight, Beef Enchiladas.   In this recipe, the only real cooking you need to do is brown the beef, heat the beans, and bake.

These enchiladas are filling so you don't need to have a lot of other dishes.  I usually put out some chips and salsa so people can munch before dinner and serve Spanish rice (from a box) with the enchiladas.

If you have any leftovers, they taste as good the next day as the day you made them.

                                Beef Enchiladas Supreme

1-pound lean ground beef
1 package Taco Seasoning
1-15 ounce can enchilada sauce red or green your preference
1-16 ounce can of refried beans
6-flour tortillas 8-inch diameter
2 – cups shredded Mexican Cheese
½ cup salsa
Sour Cream
Shredded iceberg lettuce
Diced tomatoes

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  1. In a medium skillet brown the ground beef.  Add taco seasoning and cook for two minutes.  Drain on a paper towel.
  2. Lightly spray a 13x9x2 inch-baking dish.  Pour a small amount of the enchilada sauce just to cover the bottom of the dish.
  3. In a small saucepan heat the refried beans.  Set aside.
  4. Place tortilla on a plate. Spread ¼ cup of refried beans down the center of a flour tortilla.  Next, place ¼ cup of the ground beef over the beans followed by 1 tablespoon salsa and ¼ cup cheese.
  5. Roll the tortilla like a jellyroll. Place seam side down in the baking dish.
  6. Repeat until all enchiladas are made.  Pour remaining enchilada sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle with  the remaining cheese. Cover with foil.
  7. Bake in a 350-degree oven covered for 25 minutes.  Remove foil and cook for an additional 7 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes.
  9. Serve and garnish with a dollop of sour cream, lettuce and tomatoes.

Serves 6

Note:  If you have any leftover ground beef use it for tacos.  

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Just Say Cheese

Last night for dinner, I made White Cheddar Cheese Soup.  It  has a robust cheese flavor  with just a hint of spiciness. I set a bottle of Tabasco on the table just in case someone wants a spicier  flavor.  Most cheese soup recipes call for ale, but I have found using lager enhances the cheese flavor.  However, if you prefer ale, use it.

A bowl of this soup served with bread  (I use homemade  Soft Pretzels)  and a salad make a nice quick and satisfying meal.

White Cheddar Cheese Soup

¼ pound smoked bacon finely chopped
1 cup diced white onion
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
1 clove garlic minced
1/4  cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt plus more if needed after tasting
1-quart chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1-cup heavy cream
14 ounces shredded extra sharp white cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 cup lager or ale
Fresh chives snipped


1.   In a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat cook the bacon until limp but not brown.
2.   Add the onion, carrots, celery and salt. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes stirring occasionally or until vegetables begin to soften and bacon is crisp.  Add garlic and cook till fragrant.
3.   Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook for 2 to 3 minutes stirring constantly.
4.   Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low.  Add the  bay leaf.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
5.   Remove the bay leaf.  Stir in the heavy cream. 
6.   Remove the soup from the heat. Either with an immersion blender or a conventional blender puree the soup mixture. If using a conventional blender process in small batches.
7.   If using a conventional blender, return the soup to the pot.  Gradually whisk the cheese into the soup, one small handful at a time.  Do not add more cheese until the prior handful has melted.
8.   Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, white pepper, and lager. 
9.   Taste the soup and add more salt if needed.  If the soup needs heating return to a low heat until warmed through.
10.    Top bowls of soup with a pinch of fresh-snipped chives.

Makes 6 servings

Saturday, January 15, 2011

What's for Dinner?? Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Today is one of my busy days. On days like today, I look in the freezer the night before and see what I have made ahead of time.   Last night, I pulled out Chicken Enchiladas - a family favorite.  

Chicken Enchiladas are easy to make and you can enlist the help of your kids.  My kids like to tear the corn tortillas into pieces and scatter them in the casserole.    They also like to sample the cheese.

These Enchiladas have a nice mellow southwestern flavor.  If you want a spicier version, use a hotter enchilada sauce.

You can make the casserole and have it for dinner or freeze it for it later.   If you want to freeze the enchiladas I have a note below the recipe telling you how to do it.


                        Chicken Enchilada Casserole


1-15 ounce can red or green enchilada sauce
1-10 3/4 ounce cream of mushroom soup
½ cup chicken broth
1-tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
8 corn tortillas
2 cup cooked shredded chicken breast
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese.
Shredded lettuce
Diced tomatoes

  Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.
1.  In a medium saucepan, combine the first five ingredients.  Stir to combine ingredients.   Heat over medium heat until mixture just begins to bubble stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and set aside.
2, Cover the bottom of an 8x8 inch-baking dish with a small amount of the soup mixture.
3.  Tear 2 of the corn tortillas into pieces and cover the sauce with the pieces.
4.  Take 2/3  cup of the chicken and distribute evenly over the tortilla pieces.
5. Sprinkle ¼ cup of the cheese over the chicken.
6.  Tear 2 corn tortillas into pieces and place over the chicken.
7.  Pour  1/3 of the soup mixture evenly over the tortillas.
8.  Repeat steps 4 through 7 two times.
9.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the soup mixture.
10.  Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes.  Remove from foil and bake an additional 10 minutes or until bubbly.
11.  Remove from oven and cool for ten minutes before serving.
12.  Garnish with shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes.

Makes 6 servings
 Freezing Note:
1.  In a medium saucepan, combine the first five ingredients.  Stir to combine ingredients.   Heat over medium heat until mixture just begins to bubble stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Line an 8x8 inch-baking pan with heavy foil leaving a large over hang.
3, Cover the bottom of an 8x8 inch-baking dish with a small amount of the soup mixture.
4.  Tear 2 of the corn tortillas into pieces and cover the sauce with the pieces.
5.  Take 2/3  cup of the chicken and distribute evenly over the tortilla pieces.
6. Sprinkle ¼ cup of the cheese over the chicken.
7.  Tear 2 corn tortillas into pieces and place over the chicken.
8.  Pour  1/3 of the soup mixture evenly over the tortillas.
9.  Repeat steps 4 through 7 two times.
10.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the soup mixture.
11. Cover the casserole with the foil.  Put in the freezer.
12.  You can remove the casserole from the freezer when frozen and remove from the pan. Be sure to wrap the casserole well with foil to prevent freezer burn.  Label and date the casserole.  When ready to use thaw in refrigerator overnight and bake in the baking dish originally used.
13. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake covered with foil for about 30 minutes.  Remove foil and cook an addition 15 minutes or until casserole is bubbly.
14.  Let casserole rest for 10 minutes before serving.
15.  Garnish with lettuce, tomatoes and serve.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

An All-Time Favorite - Banana Bread

I have a loaf of Banana bread baking in the oven.  I love the smell, taste, and texture of this banana bread recipe.    It uses overripe bananas, ground golden flax seed, ginger, and vanilla.  The taste is banana rich, nice moist texture with a hint of ginger and nutty goodness.

Some of my favorite things to do with  banana bread are making terrific PB&J's, toast, and having  as a side with my salad.  It is also great for a quick snack - slice and go.   Banana bread also freezes well.  Just wrap it up in plastic wrap and place in a freezer zip loc bag.  When you are ready to use, just thaw  and enjoy.

                           Gingery Banana Nut Bread


3 overripe bananas
1-cup sugar
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1/3-cup ground golden flax seed
1-teaspoon baking soda
1-teaspoon salt
1/2-teaspoon ground ginger
8 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled
2 eggs
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x5x2 ½ inch loaf pan.  Set aside.
3.  In a medium bowl, mash the bananas with a potato masher until smooth.  Add sugar to the mashed bananas and stir until sugar is dissolved.  Set aside.
4. In a large bowl, add the flour, flax seed, baking soda, salt and ginger.   Gently whisk the ingredients together.   Set aside.
5.  In a medium bowl beat together the eggs, butter, and vanilla extract until incorporated. 
6.  Add the egg mixture to the banana mixture.  Stir well.
7.  Add the banana and egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until the mixtures are incorporated.  Fold in the pecans.
8.  Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan.  Bake on the center rack in the oven for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out relatively clean.
9.  Cool bread in pan for 15 minutes.  Remove the bread from the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Makes 1 loaf

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Baby It's Cold Outside - Soup's On

It is bitterly cold outside.  On days like this I like to eat something that will warm me from my head to my toes.  The perfect food is soup.  The soup I am making today is rich and hearty  a stick-to-your-ribs type of soup.  It is packed with lots of good vegetables, meat, and barley in a delicious broth.

This soup also freezes well.  Just put the soup in a freezer container and when ready to use thaw and heat.

Hearty Beef and Barley Soup

1-1/2 lbs stew meat cut in bite-size pieces browned
2 quarts beef broth
1 cup diced potatoes
1 cup sliced carrots
½ cup diced onion
1 clove minced garlic
1 cup diced celery
1 cup corn
1 cup green beans
1 cup sliced baby Bella mushrooms
½ cup  barley
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon rubbed sage
¼ teaspoon thyme
1 ½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon steak sauce


1. Put all of the ingredients in a 7 ¼ quart Dutch oven or stockpot.  Bring to a boil.   Reduce heat and simmer for 60 minutes.
2.  If necessary adjust seasoning.
3.  Remove bay leaf and serve.

Makes 8 servings

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Going Green Smoothie

I want my family to eat healthier this year so I have been playing around with different ways to incorporate "healthiness" in their diet.

One of my favorites for breakfast, lunch, or a quick snack is a smoothie.  It takes minutes to make and you can take it on the road and the kids can drink it as you are taking them to school, sports practice, music, etc.  It is also great for mom.

I usually put fruit in my smoothies.  This year, I thought I would be creative and try fruit and veggie combinations.

In the Going Green Smoothie, I used pineapple,  banana, apple juice, and spinach. The result was a drink packed with flavor and nutrition.

                             Going Green Smoothie


1-cup pineapple tidbits fresh or frozen
1 ripe banana broken into chunks
1-cup vanilla yogurt
1-cup baby spinach leaves
1-tablespoon wheat germ
1-cup apple juice


1. Put all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
2. Pour in glasses and serve.

Make about 3 eight ounce servings

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Veggie of the Month: Spinach

Spinach is a very healthy vegetable.  It is rich in vitamins and minerals. It is concentrated in health promoting phytonutrients -  beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.  It also contains flavonoids to provide you with antioxidant protection.

Spinach also contains health-supportive nutrients called glycoglycerolipids. Recent studies have shown glycoglycerolipids can help protect the lining of the digestive tract from damage related to unwanted inflammation.

When you are buying spinach be sure to pick leaves or packages of spinach where the leaves are vibrant in color.  They will have greater concentrations of  vitamin C.

Spinach is easy to incorporate in our diets.  Instead of putting lettuce on your sandwich or hamburger, put spinach.  Throw some  baby spinach leaves in your salad.    Put some chopped spinach in your scrambled eggs.  Make a side dish with spinach.

Here is a recipe for a Three Cheese Spinach Bake I made for New Year's Day.  It was delicious.

                            Three Cheese Spinach Bake


½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
4 eggs
1-cup milk
1-teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon white pepper
Small pinch of salt
1 ½ pounds fresh spinach steamed and chopped
2 cups cottage cheese
2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese
½ cup shredded Gruyere cheese


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease an 8x8-baking dish.  Coat the bottom and sides of the baking dish with the breadcrumbs.  Save any excess crumbs for later. 
3. In a medium mixing bowl beat together the eggs, milk, onion powder, white pepper and salt.
4. To the egg mixture add the spinach, cottage cheese, white cheddar cheese, any remaining breadcrumbs, and ¼ cup of the Gruyere cheese.  Stir until well mixed.
5. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.  Top the spinach mixture with the remaining Gruyere cheese.
6. Bake for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
7.  Cool for ten minutes.  Cut and serve.

Makes 9 servings

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

Happy New Year.  I hope you have a safe and prosperous New Year.

My New Year's resolution is to eat healthier in 2011.  I hope you will join me for upcoming healthy bites.