Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Italian Pasta Salad

Yep, yet another italian pasta salad recipe. I doubt it varies much from most others. But hey, at least the picture makes it look tasty!

Italian Pasta Salad
Serves: the hungry drunk boys who ate all the rest of the other pasta salad

+1 box (12 oz) tri color rotini, cooked according to the package and drained
+handfuls of sliced pepperoni (cut in half)
+1/2 can of black olives
+4 oz monterey jack or mozzarella cheese cut into tiny cubes
+1/4+ red onion, diced
+1/4+ green pepper, diced
+1/2 package grape tomatoes
+zesty italian salad dressing, to taste

1. Mix everything together. Add as much dressing as you need to coat it but not drown it. Tada.... difficult right?

Creamy Pasta Salad

The boys needed something to eat on their man weekend up north for Memorial Day so I made up a couple of pasta salads. Apparently they LOVED this one... go figure, the health nuts haha.

Creamy Pasta Salad
Serves: hungry drunk boys

+1 (12 ounce) package elbow macaroni
+3/4 package of thick cut bacon
+1 cup mayo (not miracle whip)
+1 packet dry ranch salad dressing mix
+1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
+1/2 teaspoon pepper
+1/2 cup milk
+1/2 package grape tomatoes
+1/2 can sliced black olives
+1 cup shredded colby jack cheese

1. Boil up a big pot of water and cook the pasta per the package. Drain and set aside to cool.

2. Cook the bacon until crispy. I find it easiest to cut up the package and the cook it in pieces in a pot. It works better than cooking then crumbling. Drain bacon on paper towel and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, mix mayo, ranch dressing mix, milk garlic powder, and pepper. Throw in the bacon, tomatoes, black olives and cheese in bowl and toss to coat with dressing. Pour over pasa and toss to coat. Refrigerate at least an hour before serving.

Oven Fried Honey Chicken Nuggets

Ok so I was mad, the dinner I planned on making tonight was gonna take a lot longer than I expected (since when does asian food take over an hour!?) so I tried out these nuggets from Lindsay . Lindsay, Molly, and Stephanie all gave them thumbs up. I thought they were pretty good... a little sticky and honey tasting for me personally. But they were easy and quick. Thanks girls.

Oven Fried Honey Chicken Nuggets
Serves: 2 the way I made it

* 1/2 cup honey
* 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
* 1 1/2 cups dried bread crumbs (I used Panko)
* Appx 1 lb fresh boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces (I used 2 regular sized chicken breasts)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Spray foil-lined baking pan large enough to hold all chicken pieces in one layer. (you will probably need a half sheet pan)

2. In shallow bowl, whisk together honey and vinegar. Set aside.

3. Place bread crumbs in a small saute pan and toast lightly over low heat for about 3-4 minutes until lightly golden brown. (I skipped the step.)

4. Pour bread crumbs a little at a time into separated bowl. Roll chicken pieces in honey mixture, then in bread crumbs; place in pan.

5. Bake for 30 minutes, or until cooked thoroughly. (I baked at 400 for 25 minutes)

Sauteed Apples

I needed to use up a granny smith apple and I needed a side dish... bingo. With more sugar and cinnamon and a little longer cooking time, this would be an excellent ice cream topping. It is a pretty standard recipe.

Sauteed Apples
Serves: 2

+1 medium granny smith apple, sliced thinly
+1 tablespoon butter (no substitutes)
+1 tablespoon brown sugar
+4 drops vanilla extract (the real stuff)
+sprinkling of cinnamon

1. In a small fry pan, heat the butter and vanilla until melted over medium heat. Toss in the apples and everything else. Saute for about 5 minutes (or until desired firmness). For a side dish, I recommend cooking briefly unless you like mushy apples.

Potato Pizza Casserole

This was another I-need-to-use-up-the-hamburger casserole. It was pretty tasty! Matt thought the potatoes were strange instead of pasta, but I liked it! Another find on

Potato Pizza Casserole
Serves: 4

+1 pound ground beef
+1 small onion, chopped
+salt and pepper to taste (I used montreal steak seasoning instead)
+1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (see above)
+5 cups peeled and thinly sliced potatoes (I used about 4 large red potatoes... or one good layer in th 9x13 pan)
+1 (3 ounce) package chopped pepperoni (I used slices... 1 layer in the pan)
+1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed tomato soup
+1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed Cheddar cheese soup
+1/2 cup milk
+1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (I omitted)
+1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning (I used more)
+1/2 teaspoon brown sugar (I omitted)
+8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Cook the ground beef and onion in a large skillet over medium heat until evenly browned. Drain off grease. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

2. Spread the sliced potatoes in a layer on the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Spread the ground beef and onion over the potatoes. Place slices of pepperoni over the ground beef. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the tomato soup, Cheddar cheese soup, and milk. (I did this in a 4 cup pyrex measuring cup in the microwave) Season with oregano, Italian seasoning, and brown sugar. Mix well, and cook until heated through. Pour over the contents of the baking dish.

3. Cover the dish with aluminum foil, and bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove the aluminum foil, sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the top, and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Parm Garlic Potatoes

I found this recipes on, one of my favorite sites for recipes or inspiration for my own recipes. I thought these were decent, but I am not a huge fan of parmesan. They made an easy side dish and I needed to use up some potatoes =)

Parm Garlic Potatoes
Serves: 3-4

2 pounds red potatoes, quartered (I used about 5 large cut into bite sized pieces)
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Place potatoes in an 8x8 inch baking dish.

3. In a small bowl combine melted butter, garlic, salt and lemon juice; pour over potatoes and stir to coat. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over potatoes.

4. Bake, covered, in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until golden brown. (I found that I needed more like an hour to get them to the texture I wanted).

Monday, May 18, 2009

Corn on the Cob

I loooove corn on the cob, even if I have to floss 10 times afterwards. I think this easy little recipe makes the corn even better!

Corn on the Cob
Serves: 2-4

1. Shuck the corn and clean off all the silky things... gross. Get a big pot of water boiling. Once boiling add 3 tablespoons of Old Bay fish seasoning. Put the corn in the pot and boil for 15 minutes. Yes, that's how long I like my corn boiled.

2. Remove corn and place on a platter/place. Melt a tablespoon or two of butter and add 1/4 teaspoon of old bay. Drizzle over the corn and serve. Yum.

Hellfire Chicken

This is a spicy rub for chicken. You can obviously adjust the heat on this pretty easily, but below is just a standard mixture.

Hellfire Chicken
Serves: 3-4

-4 thin sliced chicken breasts (these work best, but you can use regular breasts or tenderloins)
-1 tablespoon paprika
-1 tablespoon garlic powder
-1/2 tablespoon salt
-1/2 tablespoon onion powder
-1/2 tablespoon thyme
-1/2-1 tablespoon cayenne pepper (depending on your desired heat level)
-1/2 tablespoon black pepper

1. Mix the spices up on a paper plate. With some tongs, throw the chicken breasts onto the seasoning and flip over to coat each side. Shake off excess. Repeat with remaining breasts.

2. In a pan, heat a couple tablespoons of veggie oil over medium-high heat. Place the breasts in and cook for about 3-4 minutes per side (until chicken is no longer pink).

**Note: These can also be grilled, but I would use regular breasts then.

Beefy Casserole

Yet another recipe to use up ground beef. It was pretty good. Matt added a spice pack yet again. He loves that stuff on pretty much everything haha.

Beefy Casserole
Serves: 4-6

-3/4-1 pound of ground beef
-2 1/2 cups of elbow macaroni (uncooked)
-1 cup sour cream
-4 oz cream cheese, softened
-half onion, diced
-1 can tomato sauce
-handfuls of shredded cheese (colby jack or cheddar)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Get a pot of water boiling and cook the macaroni per package directions. Drain and dump into a 9x13 baking pan.

3. Meanwhile, brown up the beef and onions. I added a little Montreal Steak Seasoning. Drain the grease. Dump in the tomato sauce and cream cheese, reduce heat and cook until the cream cheese is pretty much melted in. Add the sour cream and stir.

4. Dump the mixture over the macaroni. Cover with handfuls of cheese and bake for about 15 minutes. I broiled it for an additional 2 minutes to get the cheese all bubbly and browned.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cakes

Molly gave me this suggestion for Easter/mom's birthday. Everyone loved how cute and bite sized these little cakes were. It was a huge pain in the butt having only one 12-mini muffin pan so I suggest having more than that if you plan to do them this size. Yes you can use regular muffin pan size, just increase everything accordingly.... but they won't be this cute and bite sized!

Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cakes
Yield: About 48 cakes?

2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 (18.25 ounce) package pineapple cake mix (Duncan Hines has a Pineapple Supreme flavor)
3 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
maraschino cherries, quartered

1. Preheat the oven to 350. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and butter; mix well. Spoon a tiny bit into greased mini muffin cups. Place a small piece of cherry in the center of each cup. Spoon a little bit of pineapple around each cherry. Yes mini muffin cups are tiny... so you only need a tiny bit of everything.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs, oils and mix well. Spoon over pineapple, filling each cup almost full. Bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Watch them!! Time may need to be adjusted for the size of the cup.

3. Immediately pop out onto wire racks to cool. This can be messy and you can burn your hand if you don't have mad baking skillz like I have. Yes these will be a bit sticky... what can you expect from sugary pineapply goodness?

**I made one larger cake in my 4" round pan with a full sized pineapple ring and cherry to place in the center of the tray with all the mini cakes around it. Super cute.

General Tso's Shrimp

Confession: I cannot make asian food from scratch. I can't make it well anyway. So I cheat and use seasoning packets. This one Matt really liked. Yeah yeah, it is supposed to be General Tso Chicken... but I didn't feel like it.

General Tso's Shrimp
Serves: 2-3

-12 large shrimp, thawed and tails cut off (yeah yeah I know I didn't)
-1 can of La Choy stir fry veggies, drained
-1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
-1 packet of Sun Bird General Tso's Chicken seasoning

1. Prepare the shrimp per the chicken directions on the packet. They only need to cook briefly. When they are just about done, dump in the veggies & chestnuts and cook until hot.

2. Serve with rice and eggrolls.


I have mixed feelings about these. I am not sure I will do them again because I think it is just easier to get premade that taste better. Matt liked them but I was kind of neutral. So I will post this anyway.

Won Ton Ravioli
Serves: 3

-1 package won ton wrappers (I found them at Meijer by the refrigerated bagged salads & mushrooms)
-Filling of your choice (I just made a lasagna filling of beef, onion, ricotta, and seasonings)

1. Get a large pot of water boiling. Turn down the heat to a slow boil.

2. Lay out half a package of won ton wrappers in a single layer. I used my cookie scoop to place a small scoop of the meat mixture in the center of the wrapper. Take your finger and dip in some water and paint any exposed edges of the wrapper. Place another wrapper on top and press down to seal. It is important to seal it otherwise you will have a ravioli explosion in the pot of water and make a mess.

3. Drop the ravioli a couple at a time into the water. Lightly boil for a couple minutes. They will float when they are done. Carefully scoop out and drain and place on a plate. Top with sauce and cheese as desired.

Plantain Chips

I was making one of our favorite semi-Cuban style sammiches
and I wanted something more fun that fries or tater tots to go with them. I have seen plantain chips on many cooking shows and decided to give them a try. Matt said "I would definitely eat these again" so I guess that means success! Please be advised... plantains are not the same thing as bananas... so buy the right thing and don't take a bite of one thinking it will taste the same.

Plantain Chips
Serves: 2

-1 large plantain (should be kinda green still)
-Veggie oil
-salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper
1. In a small fry pan, heat up enough veggie oil so it covers the bottom of the pan about 1/4" deep. Medium high heat should work.
2. Peel the plantain (you will need a knife, cut off the end and carefully slice the length of the peel). Slice in very thin slices... thin as you can get without being like paper. Place the slices in the oil (carefully!) a few at a time. Fry for about 2-3 minutes and flip over and repeat. You want them to be browning but not blackened.
3. Drain on a paper towel and season with salt, pepper, and cayenne to your tastes.

Mojito Punch

My mom is the punch queen. Problem with that... the queen doesn't use any recipes. She always tells me the ingredients and says "I dunno, just mix it til it tastes right". This is one of those recipes.... good luck! =) This is definitely trial and error. I personally dislike lime, so I can't really tell you if this is anything like a mojito or if it is any good haha.

Mojito Punch
Serves: a party

-1 can frozen limeade
-club soda
-drops of mint extract
-lime slices and mint leaves for garnish
-light rum if you want to make an alcoholic punch

1. Dump in the mostly thawed limeade. Add a bottle of club soda and a couple drops of mint extract. Taste. Repeat as necessary until "it tastes right".

2. Add the rum, lime slices, and mint leaves as desired.


Mmmmm Cinco de Mayo... the one day a year I can make mexican food and Matt cannot complain. I just tell him to kick back with some mexican beer and eat whatever I make. My parents recently went on a trip to New Mexico and brought back a packet of enchilada sauce mix and it sounded delicious....... so I made a New Mexico style enchilada dish. This is not your rolled up variety. My sorority big sister LeighAnn made this style a lot, but I am sure hers are a lot better. By the way... the enchilada sauce was so friggin hot... wow. So I am just going to recommend using something else.

New Mexico Style Enchiladas
Serves: 2

-6 small soft taco sized tortillas (corn is best, but I like flour)
-Pre-made red enchilada sauce (1 can should be fine)
-1/2 pound ground beef
-1/2 onion, diced
-Shredded mexican blend cheese
-Fried egg or sour cream to top it (optional)

1. In a small pan, heat up a little veggie oil. One at a time, place a tortilla in for about 30-60 seconds and flip it over and repeat. You want it lightly fried but not super crispy. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

2. In another pan, cook the beef and onion together until done. Drain the grease.

3. In yet another pan, heat up the enchilada sauce. You can get fancy and make your own, but canned will suffice if you are feeling lazy.

4. Place one tortilla on a plate and top with a little meat and a little cheese and a little sauce. Layer again with a tortilla then meat, cheese & sauce. Repeat once more. Traditionally, it is topped with a fried egg, but I don't like those so I used sour cream. Make a second stack on another plate. Serve with rice and/or beans. Yum.

Easiest Chicken Ever

This is seriously the easiest thing ever.... and is actually pretty tasty. It is great when you have chicken to use up and you don't have much else in the house.

Easiest Chicken Ever
Serves: 2-4

-1 package chicken (1 pound-ish tenderloins, thin sliced breasts, regular breasts... whatever)
-2 tablespoons butter, melted
-1 packet dry soup mix (Lipton onion flavor is the BEST, but I happened to have a garlic & herb packet this time)

1. Preheat the oven to 350. In a baking dish large enough to accomodate however much chicken you have, lay out the chicken in a single layer.

2. Dump the melted butter all over the top of the chicken. It shouldn't be swimming in butter, but the top should be coated. If you have more or less chicken, you may need more or less butter.

3. Sprinkle the soup packet over the top. I usually use about 1/2 packet for the onion flavor since it is strong, and at least 3/4 packet for the garlic & herb.

4. Bake until the chicken is done... depending on the cut it could be 45-90 minutes. Ta da!

Itali-Mexi-Nese Skillet

This was just a concoction I made up with stuff around the house... we were hungry and needed to eat. It actually turned out pretty tasty despite the fact it has italian, mexican, and chinese ingredients haha. You can definitely adjust the proportions based on what you have to use up. I didn't measure anything... so everything below is a guess.

Itali-Mexi-Nese Skillet
Serves: 3

1/2-3/4 pound ground beef
1/2 onion, diced
1/4 cup soy sauce (or less)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 box of shaped pasta (I used rigatoni)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon butter
8 oz. cheese (I used monterey jack and cheddar blocks, 4 oz. cubed each)
1/2 cup salsa

1. In a large skillet, cook beef, onion, soy sauce and garlic. Drain.

2. While beef is cooking, boil some water and cook your pasta according to package directions.

3. Throw the butter and cheese into the beef mixture to melt (smaller cubes are better). Add the salsa and sour cream until hot. Then stir in the pasta. Top with some extra shredded cheese if you like, serve.