Monthly Archives: May 2012

Chicken Tortilla Casserole

Tonight’s dinner was a simple “what the heck do I do with what I have” kind of thing. I came home from work and looked at Daughter Number 2 and asked her what she wanted for dinner tonight. “Mexican”. “What kind of Mexican”, I asked. She didn’t care. She wanted Mexican food.

I noticed that the Hubs had gone to the store for “lunch” food today and come home with among other things – flour tortillas. I had cooked some extra chicken breasts last night, so I knew that whatever I made would have chicken. I went to the pantry and pulled out some random ingredients then did the same at the fridge. This is what I came up with. Everyone enjoyed it, and everyone had seconds.

Chicken Tortilla Casserole

  • 2-3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 1 can Ro-tel tomatoes, drained
  • 1 can beans, drained and rinsed
  • Corn (I used 2 cobs that I had cooked for dinner the night before, and cut off the kernels with knife)
  • ½ cup nonfat dry milk
  • ½ Tablespoon corn starch
  • 2 packets sodium free Chicken bouillon
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 package flour tortillas
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup nonfat sour cream
  • 3 Tablespoons Ranch dressing 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9X13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Combine chicken, tomatoes, beans and corn. In a small bowl or measuring cup mix dry milk, corn starch, bouillon, onion powder, basil, thyme, and water. Tear up flour tortillas, about 3, and place in the bottom of the baking dish. Pour 1/3 of the milk mixture over the tortillas. Add ½ of the chicken mixture. Top with 1/3 of the cheeses. Place another 1/3 of the tortillas, torn into pieces over the cheese. Gently pour another 1/3 of the milk mixture over the tortillas, followed by the remainder of the chicken mixture, 1/3 more of the cheese. Place the remainder of the tortillas, torn into pieces over the cheese, followed by the remainder of the cheese and milk mixture. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. While this is baking mix together the sour cream and ranch dressing. With 5 minutes left, remove the aluminum foil and spoon the sour cream mixture over the top. Bake uncovered for the remaining five minutes.

This was such a great use for the leftover chicken and corn from the night before. The biggest change I would make is instead of the kidney beans that I used (what I had on hand) I would use black beans. I might also omit the Ranch dressing from the topping. It didn’t add as much as I had hoped. 

All in all it was a good show, and I will be adding it to the “make again” pile. Not only because of how much it was liked, but also because of how quick and easy it was to make. Winner winner…

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Posted by on May 29, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Memorial Day – Rocky Road and Easy Barbecue Chicken

The other day Daughter Number 2 needed to take a snack to a swim party she was going to. Of course, she didn’t tell me this until about 2 hours before she had to leave and had not taken it on herself to make something. So, I suggested making white popcorn. I have posted this recipe previously…it’s very easy to make. Unfortunately, we only had 1 bar of white bark. We had 5 brand new packages of chocolate bark plus 3 bars. So, I suggested that she do a little of both. She did. She melted them separately and poured them over separate parts of the popcorn then combined them when they had dried. She (of course) had to try a little before going to the party and said that it tasted like Rocky Road Ice Cream. That’s when the bells went off in my head! I would make Rocky Road Popcorn!

I didn’t have the want to make it right then, so I waited until today. It is Memorial Day and I had the day off from work and the kids are home because school’s out for summer…(insert music by Alice Cooper here).

The Hubs had gone off to do some work somewhere away from the house and Daughter Number 2 had gone to the local pool for a bit with some friends. That gave me the perfect opportunity to spend time with the little girls. I asked Daughter Number 3 to help me pick the kernels out of the bag of popped popcorn that I had poured onto the counter on waxed paper. I poured one block of chocolate bark and about ¼ cup of white chocolate chips (already melted) over the popped corn. We added in some “Mallow Bits” and Ice Cream nut topping (finely chopped peanuts and pecans) and let it harden. When it had dried (mostly) we put it into a bowl and then chowed down while we watched a movie. Daughter Number 4 said it was too sweet and hurt her tummy. She is not the sweet eater that some of us are. Daughter Number 3 and I went ahead and finished it all. It’s definitely something to keep in mind! We really enjoyed it.

Rocky Road Popcorn

I had decided at the onset of the weekend that I was not going to make any grand plans for the weekend. I had a long week at work last week, and a long (several) months and was so glad that I didn’t have to do anything on someone else’s schedule, especially Sunday and today.

As dinner time neared I started thinking about what we would be eating on this Memorial Day. I knew that the Hubs had been working in his office most of the day and the 93 degree heat did NOT lend itself to me wanting to go outside and grill. I still wanted to serve something that fit the day. So Daughter Number 2 and I together decided on a menu of barbecue chicken on buns, coleslaw, corn-on-the cob and fresh strawberries. Oh, and she wanted vanilla pudding. I didn’t make my own coleslaw, but bought the shredded cabbage and a jar of coleslaw dressing. The corn was already shucked and cleaned from earlier in the week. All I really had to do was cook the chicken, shred it, sauce it, and serve it! Oh, and clean some strawberries. Such an easy meal but the girls all really enjoyed it. It was a little different than what I normally cook and it still had that summer feeling. I realize that anyone who reads this expecting a recipe for real barbecue is going to be disappointed and maybe a little bit annoyed with me. Trust me. I know the difference between grilled and smoked (barbequed) and throwing some sauce in with some meat (barbecue).

Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches

  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Water
  • Buns

Thoroughly wash chicken breasts and place them in a large sauce pan or dutch oven. Cover with water and cook on medium low until cooked through. Drain water off of chicken and cool slightly. Using two forks, shred chicken. Add barbecue sauce and a little water and cook over medium low heat, continuing to shred until all chicken is finely shredded and coated with sauce. Serve on buns.

 Sometimes I use barbecue sauce that I buy at the grocery store. I don’t have any allegiance to a particular brand. Sometimes I make my own. Barbecue sauce at its root is tomato paste or puree, although many people start with ketchup. That’s what I used tonight. Then vinegar is added. I like using cider vinegar to make my barbecue sauce. A sweetener is then added, like brown sugar or molasses. I chose molasses tonight. I also used a little bit of garlic powder, onion powder, and liquid smoke. At 9 and 7 Daughters 3 and 4 are not connoisseurs of barbecue sauce and Daughter Number 2 can’t eat barbecue so she had no critiques. Daughter Number 4 said the sauce was very tangy. This is strange, considering I added very little vinegar and almost half as much water as sauce. Well, she is 7… 

I hope that everyone else has kicked off summer with some lovely summer fare or time outside. Most of all I hope that everyone has taken a moment to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice protecting our freedom as Americans with their lives, the fallen members of the United States Armed Forces.


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Posted by on May 28, 2012 in Uncategorized


Barbecue Chicken Sandwich

Barbecue Chicken Sandwich

Easy Barbecue Chicken Sandwich

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Posted by on May 28, 2012 in Uncategorized



After my success with pizza the other night, I decided to try my hand at Calzones. I used the same pizza dough recipe and many of the same ingredients that I had used for the pizzas. Because the girls only like cheese, that was easy. I made one big Ricotta and mozzarella calzone. Daughter number 2 was at a pool party so we didn’t have to make dinner around her eating ability. The toppings on our pizza were so good the other night I decided to use very similar filling for our Calzones. I sautéed some chopped onion in olive oil and then added some frozen spinach. When the veggies were cooked through I finely chopped and added some of the chicken breast I had marinated and cooked previously. I cooked that until it was warmed through. I included mozzarella, Ricotta, and Parmigiano Reggiano in the filling, too. It was a tasty combination!

Chicken and Spinach Calzone

The girls had never had Calzones and were kind of intrigued on the process. When I was making them they of course thought I was making pizza. They were really excited to try them. They were not disappointed. The ooey gooey cheese was not only delicious, but they had fun stringing it out of the calzones and seeing how far it would stretch. Fun with food!

I asked the hubs for his input after he had eaten half of one. In his opinion he thought I should have made more of them. I only made three…

Here is the “technique” that I used to make my calzones.

I used half of the Pizza Dough recipe that I had previously halved from Jamie Oliver’s Pizza Dough recipe.


  • ½ Pizza Dough Recipe
  • Pizza Sauce
  • Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Ricotta Cheese
  • Parmigiano Regianno
  • 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Onion, diced
  • Spinach, frozen
  • Cooked chicken breast, diced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon Garlic powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Onion powder
  • ½ Tablespoon Italian Seasoning

 Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place pizza stone on lowest rack of oven and cover lightly with corn meal. Sauté onions in a large skillet in olive oil until translucent. Add spinach and cook until soft and heated through. Add cooked chicken breast and heat through. Remove from heat. Mix together Ricotta and Mozzarella. In a small bowl, mix together garlic powder, onion powder, and Italian Seasoning. Set aside. The amount of cheese is dependant on how many calzones you are making and how cheesy you want them. Using 1/3 to ½ of this dough recipe (depending on the size of calzone you want) roll it out into a circle, just as you would if you were making a pizza. Lightly spread sauce on the entire circle, leaving about ¼ inch edge for folding. Lay fillings on half of the dough, again leaving about ¼ inch edge. Fold the unfilled side of the dough over the filling. Leave a small amount of the bottom crust showing. Brush beaten egg on the edge of the dough on the side with the filling. Fold the unfilled side of the dough over the filling. Leave about 1/8 inch of the bottom dough showing. Fold the bottom edge of the dough that is showing over the top, pressing to seal. Use a fork to crimp the edge together. Brush the top with beaten egg. Lightly sprinkle garlic powder mixture over the top. Place calzone on a small piece of parchment paper. Place onto preheated pizza stone. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Remove from pizza stone and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving. The filling will be extremely hot.

We gobbled these up! They were so delicious that I almost want to make them again today. Ooooh, or I can whip up something else! The excitement of it is almost more than I can stand!

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Posted by on May 27, 2012 in Uncategorized


Pizza Perfection

Pizza is another one of those things that I’ve grown up with. I can remember my dad making homemade pizza when I was a very young girl, and before homemade pizza was “cool”. At that age, my job was helping my mom make the sauce and getting to spread it on the pizza dough.

Pizza is still a very integral part of my family’s life and tradition. (No, I’m still not Italian). Our traditional Christmas dinner at my parents’ house is homemade pizza. Our pizza skills have grown considerably and so have our palates. I really like veggies on my pizza but don’t care for greasy meats. No pepperonis or sausages for me, please!

The older brother with the mad cooking skills actually makes homemade pizza weekly for his family. They love being able to whip up their favorite basic pizza and he loves being able to try new toppings for himself.

Pizza is so amazing for that reason. It lends itself to so many awesome toppings.

Yesterday was the last day of school for my girls this year. I made homemade pizza. They all love it, so even though it’s not an unusual occurrence, it’s still a treat for them. They like it with cheese and cheese – light on the sauce, but heavy on the cheese.

I have been trying out new pizza dough recipes lately. I just wasn’t thrilled with the one I had been making (for most of my life). It wasn’t as flavorful or as crisp as I like. I have tried several whole wheat crust recipes, thinking that would give me the flavor and crunch I wanted. They did not. So, I kept searching. I talked to my aforementioned brother about pizza dough, and he said the key is better flour. As I was looking at pizza dough recipes yesterday I came across one from Jamie Oliver, the naked chef. I liked it; well, most of it. I also read several different things about pizza making that had eluded my previously. So, with recipe in hand and tips to try out, I was excited to try it all out.

The results were phenomenal! The crust was thin and crisp with fantastic flavor. It was the perfect foundation for building a delicious pizza. Which I did. The hubs and I both agreed that the pizza I made for us (remember the girls just like cheese) was the best I have ever made. I even took a piece down to my mother, who seemed skeptical at the sight of it. She agreed that it was very good. On the grown up pizza I used a very, very light amount of pizza sauce followed by Ricotta Cheese and Mozzarella. I added some thinly sliced chicken breast that I had marinated and cooked in my grill pan. I followed that with caramelized onions and finished with some grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Other than the new recipe I did a couple of things differently. Even these slight differences were noticeable. First, I turned my oven to a hotter temperature. I cranked my oven up to between 450 and 500 degrees F. The next thing was the use of parchment paper. My usual style is to use my pizza stone dusted with corn meal. I came across a couple of suggestions to use parchment paper in the bottom of pizza pans and a discussion board talking about using parchment on the stone. The transfer of the pizza to the stone has always been a struggle for me. I don’t own a paddle, and even with a paddle (which I have used at my parents house) I struggle. I rolled out the dough on the parchment, topped the pizza, and scooted the parchment onto the back (upside down bottom) of a baking sheet, then carefully sliding the parchment onto the stone. Voila! It worked like a dream. It was just as simple to take off of the stone using the parchment onto the back of the baking sheet and then cooling a few minutes on that before removing to the cutting board.

Here is the recipe that I used, with the changes that I made. I also halved the recipe from its original. I got 4 crusts out of the recipe I made. It was perfect! I also used my Kitchen Aid with dough hook to make the dough. Mwah.

Jamie Oliver’s Pizza Dough Recipe

  • 3 ½ cups bread flour
  • 1 ½ to 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 ¼ cups lukewarm water

Add the flour and salt to the bowl of the mixer, making a well in the middle. Heat the water to lukewarm in a large microwave proof measuring cup, add the yeast, sugar, and olive oil and leave for a few minutes. Gently mix the ingredients in the measuring cup with a fork, the pour gently into the middle of the flour. Mix at a slow speed until the liquid starts to incorporate into the flour. Increase the speed on the mixer gradually. Once all of the ingredients have become mixed, turn the speed up to medium and mix for 5-7 minutes. The dough will pull away from the sides and bottom of the bowl and become smooth and springy. Lightly oil the bottom of the bowl with olive oil and cover with plastic wrap. Let it sit in a warm area until doubled in size.

When the dough has doubled in size, dump it onto a floured surface and punch down the dough. This is a quick kneading to get the air bubbles out of the dough. Form the dough into a large ball. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into fourths (I was able to get 4 good sized pizzas using this recipe). Make balls of the cut dough, placing 3 back into the bowl. Cover with the plastic wrap.

On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough to desired thickness. For yesterday’s pizzas I started on a well floured surface, then put down my parchment on the floured surface and finished rolling on the parchment.

Top your pizza dough with sauce, cheese, and any wonderful things that you desire. Bake at a very hot oven for 6-10 minutes, until the edges of the crust are lightly browned and the cheese is melty.

For a full description of the original recipe go to

Have fun with your pizza building and pizza EATING!



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Posted by on May 25, 2012 in Uncategorized



Grilled (macaroni and) Cheese Sandwich

April is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich month. One of my brothers told me about a Grilled Cheese Sandwich contest. I sat down with the Hubs and brainstormed what we thought would be an awesomely amazing grilled cheese sandwich. We tossed around several ideas. I decided to try this one first, and when I did we decided this would be our “entry” sandwich. It was simply unbelievable!

Well, today I noticed a similar sandwich on the contest site. Not the same, but similar. I weighed in my head whether to enter the sandwich recipe into the contest or post it to my blog (I can not publish it if I enter it). You can see my decision.

This sandwich it just too awesome to give the rights to someone else…

The thickness of the sandwich, along with the crunch of the grilled sourdough is perfect. The macaroni and cheese give a wonderful texture to the sandwich, also. It isn’t just oozy cheese – it’s oozy cheese with some structure!

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!


Grilled Macaroni and Cheese Sandwich

Per sandwich:

  • Sourdough bread, 2 slices medium thickness
  • Smoked Provolone, thinly sliced
  • Homemade Macaroni and Cheese (recipe follows)
  • Unsalted Butter

Preheat griddle or skillet. Cover one slice of bread with provolone. Cover provolone with macaroni and cheese. Top with 2nd slice of bread. Cover outside of top slice of bread with butter. Gently lay sandwich butter side down on heated griddle or skillet. Butter the top of the bread. When the bottom slice of bread is light brown, carefully flip the sandwich. Grill until lightly browned.

Recipe for Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

1 pound uncooked large elbow macaroni

8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook macaroni until tender. Drain and set aside. Melt butter over medium heat and whisk in flour to make a roux. Add milk, whisking until smooth. Add cheese and stir until melted. Add Worcestershire sauce and continue to whisk until thickened and smooth. Add alt and pepper to taste.

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Posted by on May 12, 2012 in Uncategorized


Root Beer Float Muffins

I hadn’t made muffins for awhile and was feeling the need. So, I asked Daughter Number Four what kind of muffins I should make. Without hesitation and a completely straight face she said “root beer float muffins”. So, since she seemed so sincere in her request I thought, why not.

I also knew I had read recipes in the past about using ice cream to make cakes or muffins so I thought “hmmmm, this would be a great chance to try it out”.

The result was a very light and high vanilla muffin. They did not taste much like root beer floats but did go well with root beer floats! If I choose a second attempt at root beer float muffins I will probably use root beer extract and more sugar. They didn’t have a very root-beery flavor, but were very vanilla-y. They could have been a tad sweeter, too.

 Root Beer Float Muffins

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups softened vanilla bean ice cream, softened
  • ½ cup root beer

 Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners and lightly spray bottoms with nonstick spray.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl with a whisk. Add egg, vanilla and ice cream and mix to combine. Slowly add root beer to thin the mixture. Mix until combined. Do not overmix. Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full with batter. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before removing from pan to continue cooling on rack.


To quote Daughter Number Four as she was trying to hide her disappointment in the muffins not tasting more “Root Beer Float-y”, “well, at least we had fun making them”. And that my friends, is sometimes the best part!


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Posted by on May 6, 2012 in Uncategorized