Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Morning Casserole

Merry Christmas! Hope you're enjoying lots of good food over the next two days. I know I will be.

This casserole is a tradition in Mr. J's family, and I love it. You assemble most of it the night before Christmas and stick it in the fridge, so there's almost no work on Christmas morning. You can open presents while it's cooking and it will be ready by the time you're done. It's filled with sausage and cheese and eggs and french bread and all kinds of fatty goodness. It's definitely what I would call comfort food.

Christmas Morning Casserole


1 large loaf French bread, cut in thick slices
8 eggs
2 cups milk
1 t dry mustard
sliced mushrooms to desired amount
1/2-1 pound sausage, browned (I like it a little lower on the sausage, but Mr. J likes it heavier)
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk


Arrange bread slices in 9X13 pan. Beat eggs, 2 cups milk, and mustard, and pour over bread. Top with mushrooms, sausage, and cheese. Cover and let soak overnight in refrigerator.

In the morning, combine 1/2 cup milk with mushroom soup and spread over top of casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Latkes, Latkes, Good to Eat

{Photo from here. I am so annoyed because I took my OWN picture of these, but it got accidentally deleted. These look pretty similar to how mine looked. Except I put sour cream on top instead of applesauce.}

I found this recipe in a children's picture book I read to Dee called Latkes, Latkes, Good to Eat: A Chanukah Story. We picked it up at the library one day.

In the story, a girl is walking through the woods on the first night of Hanukah, and she comes across an old woman who gives her a magic pan frying pan. The woman instructs her to go home and say these words:

"Latkes, Latkes, good to eat. Cook me up a Chanukah treat!"

When she does, the pan sizzles to life with latkes (pronounced LOT-kuz) sizzling in oil--golden, savory, tender yet crisp potato pancakes. The story is short and sweet; Dee got a kick out of it and asked me repeatedly when we were going to make "Latkes, Latkes." There's a recipe in the back of the book, and we finally got to it tonight.

The Latkes are basically made from shredded potatoes, eggs, VERY finely diced onion, parsley, salt, pepper, and flour. They are typically served with sour cream and/or applesauce. I liked them with sour cream. We also had bacon and strawberry-banana smoothies.

So, even though I'm not Jewish and even though technically Chanukah is over this year, I'm glad I gave these yummy pancakes a try.

You can find the recipe from the book here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Divine Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie

{Sorry about the lousy pic. It was an afterthought when the pie was mostly gone. If you want a pretty picture, go to the original.}

This has to be one of my favorite pies ever. I've made it several times, and I never get as many pieces as I want because it goes so fast. It was the most popular out of four pies at our Thanksgiving dinner. If you are a chocolate and peanut butter lover, just trust me and make this pie. Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

Graham Cracker Crust:

12 to 14 whole graham crackers, crushed (about 1 1/2 to 2 cups crumbs)
6 tablespoons butter, melted
3 T sugar

Dark Chocolate Layer:
¾ cup heavy cream
4 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Peanut Butter Mousse Filling:
½ cup sugar
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups milk
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¾ cup creamy or chunky peanut butter

Topping and Decoration:
Sweetened whipped cream (I used Cool Whip)
2 tablespoons crushed peanuts
3 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

Prepare the crust: Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter, then press into the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 9- or 10-inch pie plate. Bake in the center of the oven for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the crust turns lightly golden. Set the pie crust on a wire rack to cool completely.

Prepare the chocolate layer: In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat until it just comes to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat, add the chocolate, and stir until melted and smooth. Pour the mixture into the cooled pie crust, smoothing it over the bottom and slightly up the sides. Freeze for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the chocolate layer is firm.

Prepare the mousse: In a heavy medium-size saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add ½ cup milk and whisk until smooth. Add the remaining milk and the egg yolks and whisk until smooth. Set the saucepan over medium-high heat and whisk constantly until the custard comes to a boil. Still whisking, boil for 1 minute until very thick. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla and peanut butter. Pour the mousse into the baked pie crust. Chill for 1 hour, or until firm.

Before serving, decorate the pie with whipped cream and sprinkle with the chopped peanuts and mini chocolate chips, if desired.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pumpkin Waffles

These are probably my favorite waffles ever. Everyone in our family devours them. I first had them eight or so years ago when my coworker made them at an office waffle party. (It seems a lifetime ago that I actually worked in an office.)

The recipe makes quite a lot of batter, and I just refrigerate whatever batter doesn't get used and make more the next day. It works perfect--much better than reheating day-old waffles.

Ingredients (it looks like a lot, but most of them are just spices):

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I use at least one cup of white whole wheat)
1 T baking powder
2 t cinnamon
1 t ginger
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 t nutmeg
1/4 t cloves
4 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk (I use the vinegar/milk substitution)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 t vanilla extract


Preheat waffle iron. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cloves in a large bowl. Whisk together eggs, buttermilk, pumpkin puree, sugar, butter, and vanilla in another large bowl. Add to flour mixture and blend until smooth. Coat waffle iron with cooking spray and cook waffles about three minutes or according to waffle maker's directions. Yum!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

After 10 days of vacation, I'm ready to get back to our routine, and of course that includes menu planning. I'm also trying to tighten up my grocery budget, so we'll see how that goes this week. Here's what's for dinner:
  • Creamy potato soup using this base, cornbread (*Reminder: bake some potatoes the day before)
  • Brazilian Fish Stew, rolls
  • Pizza (take out for Mia's birthday celebration)
  • Chicken Tandoori (my sister-in-law's recipe) (*Reminder: prepare spices and marinate chicken the night before)
  • Ground beef (actually turkey) enchiladas
  • Breaded chicken and mashed potatoes
  • Slow cooker black beans, rice patties (*Reminder: start beans the night before)
Non-dinner recipes on the menu:

Sour Cream Lemon Pie

Friday, October 1, 2010

Southern Peach Cobbler

The peach cobbler was a success! Here is the recipe I used (taken from here):


For peaches:
  • 8 fresh peaches - peeled, pitted and sliced into thin wedges
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
For topping:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
To sprinkle on top:
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, combine peaches, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Toss to coat evenly, and pour into a 2 quart baking dish. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine flour, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Blend in butter with your fingertips, or a pastry blender, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in water until just combined.
  4. Remove peaches from oven, and drop spoonfuls of topping over them. Sprinkle entire cobbler with the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Bake until topping is golden, about 30 minutes.


The only things I did differently were: only including 6 peaches (that's all I had - it would have been even better with 8); and not sprinkling ALL of the cinnamon/sugar mixture on top - it seemed like a bit much so I will make less of it next time.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Menu Plan Monday ... on Tuesday

As you can see, this week I'm trying keep it simple, and to use stuff from my freezer.

- Southwestern BBQ Chicken Salad
- Chicken Milano (already pre-cooked a bunch of chicken in the crock pot so I'm going to use that)
- Sweet and Sour Meatballs over rice (meatballs already made in freezer)
- Taco Soup (leftover in freezer), cheese crisps
- Potatoes and/or cornbread with chili, salad
- Crock pot pork (The pork is in the freezer--this has been on my list for several weeks and I still haven't made it), mashed potatoes, veggie
- leftovers/out to eat/Papa Murphy's

Other non-dinner items on the menu:

Peach cobbler (peaches were on sale so I bought a bunch plus vanilla ice cream ... anyone have a favorite peach cobbler recipe to share?)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Here's what's on the menu this week:

Chicken Korma (with pre-made, jarred simmer sauce) over jasmine rice
Crispy Southwest Wraps (vegetarian)
Meatball subs, spinach salad
Roast pork (carry-over from last week)
Asian turkey lettuce wraps and fried rice and/or (if I'm ambitious) easy egg rolls
leftovers/freezer meal

And now since Dee is at preschool and Mouse just got up from his nap, I'm going grocery shopping with only ONE kid in tow (woo hoo!).

Friday, September 17, 2010

Beautiful burger buns

Yes, homemade burger buns. You read that right. How come no one ever told me that making buns was super easy (easier than rolls and breadsticks) and that they taste SO much better than store bought? I don't know if I'll ever go back. Oh yes I will, but maybe only in a pinch.

So here are the buns that have been gracing our table the last few months whenever we have had a need for buns. Original recipe here.

Beautiful Burger Buns


1 cup warm water
2 T butter, softened
1 large egg
3 1/4 cups flour (I use 2 1/4 cups white, and 1 cup white whole wheat)
1/4 cup sugar
1 t salt
1 T quick-rising yeast
1 t onion powder
1/2 t dried onion flakes

  1. Combine all the ingredients and mix and knead them together, by hand or by mixer, until you have a soft, smooth dough. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hour. (I just throw the ingredients in my bread maker and run the "dough" cycle.)
  2. Divide the dough into 8 pieces and shape each piece into a flattened ball; place the buns on greased baking sheets, cover and let rise 30-40 minutes, until they're puffy.
  3. Preheat oven to 375°.
  4. Bake the buns for 12-15 minutes, until they're golden brown; remove from oven and baking sheet and cool them on a rack.
  5. Slice in half with a serrated knife and use for burgers or sandwiches.
  6. (Optional) For burgers, butter the split sides and fry them, buttered side down, until they're golden brown and warmed through.
(Talk about poor presentation. Yes, I know my pan looks awful! Someday I will replace it.)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

It's that time again ... already! Here's what's on the menu this week:

Chinese Chicken Salad - this is a carry-over from last week - and fried cream cheese won tons

Crab Salad on buns/rolls

Chicken Parmesan (I'm using leftover frozen sauce from this recipe), pasta, veggie

Easy Roasted Pork, mashed potatoes

Pizza (Margherita on half, Pepperoni/cheese for the picky eaters)

Grilled Grande bowls (this is my take on one of my favorite menu items at Rubios)

Other items I'm making this week:

Peanut butter cookies
hummus for dipping veggies
banana honey muffins

Friday, September 10, 2010

What's in the Lunch Box?

{These are my girls' lunch boxes, packed and ready to go}

This year is my first year packing school lunches. Last year Mia was in half-day Kindergarten and there was no need. And since Dee's new preschool is three mornings a week and dismisses right after lunch, I now have two lunches to pack. I admit the novelty hasn't worn off yet and I still think it's kind of fun. I like to pack healthy foods that I know they will like and that will remind them of home.

My take on the school cafeteria lunch (an option for Mia) is this: I'm okay with it now and then, when there's something she really likes on the menu. But I feel that the nutritional value of the food I'm sending with her is higher than the cafeteria food. Luckily she's usually only interested in what they are serving in the cafeteria about once a week, so it works out fine.

On thing that complicates lunch packing is that my girls could hardly be more opposite when it comes to their taste in foods. There are lots of things on my list that Dee will eat and Mia won't, and vice versa. And at Dee's preschool they will heat up food, but Mia doesn't have that option.

To help prevent lunch-packing burn-out, I have compiled this list of yummy, healthy, lunch-box friendly foods that I can refer back to:

  • Sandwiches of course - PB & J or PB & H usually - on whole grain bread
  • granola (with yogurt)
  • mini bagels with cream cheese
  • tortilla wrap (with meat/cheese or pb&j)
  • 'healthy' crackers like whole grain Ritz or goldfish, triscuits
  • leftover dinner rolls or breadsticks
  • homemade baked goods - muffins, banana bread, etc.
  • granola bars
  • pretzel chips
  • whole grain dry cereal
  • Yogurt (I like this kind) and granola
  • string cheese or cheese cubes
  • cheese rolled up with meat and and secured with toothpicks
  • hard boiled egg, peeled and sliced
  • milk
  • cream cheese (on bagels - I'm also going to try on cucumber slices)
  • Nuts: pistachios are a big favorite, peanuts, cashews, trail mix, etc.
  • hummus (for dipping veggies or pretzel chips)
  • turkey dogs
  • chicken nuggets
  • lunch meat (turkey usually) rolled up with cheese and secured with toothpicks
  • peanut butter (on a sandwich or as a dip for carrots/apples)
Fruit/Veggies (sometimes I'll include ranch dressing for dipping the veggies):
  • carrot sticks
  • cucumber slices
  • radish slices (weird but true)
  • lettuce
  • cherry tomatoes
  • apple sauce
  • blueberries, strawberries
  • grapes
  • slices of cantaloupe, watermelon, pineapple, apple
  • clementines or orange circles
  • raisins/Craisins
  • bananas
  • fruit leather or "simply fruit" fruit roll-ups
  • granola bars - homemade or store bought
  • muffins
  • trail mix
  • pretzel chips
  • tortilla chips
  • 'healthy' crackers like whole grain Ritz or goldfish, Triscuits
  • peanut butter crackers
  • graham crackers
  • pop corn/kettle corn
Once in a while I will stick in a couple of cookies, a handful or M&Ms or a couple of Starburst for a treat. But not every time.

As a side note, I try to use a lot of tupperware as opposed to baggies that have to be thrown away.

And for fun, here are a few other moms' takes on what to pack in the lunch box:

Trainer Momma

Salt and Chocolate (lots of great comments)


Weekly pictures of lunches from Wendolonia

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Oh. My. Yum.

That Julia Child really knows what she is talking about. Yesterday I made the Supremes de Volaille a Blanc (Breast of Chicken with Cream) from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. There are several variations of the dish and I made the one "aux Champignons" - with mushrooms. The chicken was so flavorful and the cream sauce sent me over the moon. I served it with angel hair pasta and a side of fresh asparagus sauteed in butter with garlic and onions. I was oohing and ahhing and tooting my own horn all through the meal. Everyone else cleaned their plates too. (It might have helped that we told the kids they had to clean their plates before we could go swimming at the YMCA--but still, they didn't complain which speaks volumes.)

Overall, this is really quite a simple dish. If you're interested in the recipe, HGTV did an article that includes it here. They include a few more veggies and a rice dish, but basically the chicken and sauce is the same. I made a few minor changes such as using basil instead of parsley on top, and cooking it a little lower for a little longer.

This more than makes up for Tuesday night's flop. It felt good to redeem myself!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Witching Hour

This morning at 6 a.m. I was checking my Google Reader from my iPhone on the couch while 11 month old Mouse played on the floor (much too energetically for 6 a.m.). I came across an article on Simple Mom called "How to Bring Peace to the Witching Hour" - the witching hour, of course, being that hour before dinner when kid neediness is at its peek and adult patience as at its low.

The article was just what I needed after yesterday's very cranky witching hour at our house. I spent way too long in a steamy kitchen (cursing the heat and the never ending summer) making food that it turned out none of us liked, all the while three kids were having meltdowns about various things.

Not good.

I'm realizing that now is not the stage in my life for fancy dinners. I'm realizing that I need to not only plan the meals a week in advance (simple meals at that), but I need to do some of the dinner prep earlier in the day, and I need to spend the witching hour giving my kids the love and attention they need most during that time.

I love food and experimenting in the kitchen, but not at the expense of peace in our home. Hopefully I can find a balance! If you have any tips on what works for you, I'd love to hear them.

P.S. If you're wondering which recipe I made last night, it was the sweet potato ravioli. I liked the filling, and I liked the sauce, but together and with the ravioli, it just didn't work for us!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Last week I finally got a copy of Julia Child's famous Mastering the Art of French Cooking from the library--I was on the hold list for months! I've been browsing through it and everything is butter this and cream that, and the recipes are named beautiful things like Gateau de Crepes a la Florentine and Caneton a L'Orange. Mmmmmm. Admittedly, I'm a little overwhelmed by it all, but I'm going to include at least one recipe from the book this week, and then when I have a chance to look through it in more depth, I'll hopefully try a few more the next week.

So, on the menu this week:
  • Sweet Potato Ravioli with Asiago Cheese - This was on the menu last week but I never got to it. I'm planning it for tomorrow!
  • Supremes de Volaille aux Champignons (Chicken Breasts with Mushrooms and Cream) from Mastering the Art of French Cooking with pasta and a salad
  • Chinese Chicken Salad - this is a recipe my mother-in-law emailed to me. If it's a winner at our house, I'll post it!
  • Grilled burgers (have some leftover in the freezer) with homemade buns, cole slaw, corn on the cob
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches and Carrot-Tomato Soup
  • Breaded, fried chicken tenders with mashed potatoes, gravy, and a veggie
  • Out to eat/leftovers
Happy cooking!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Homemade Dinner Rolls

No recipe blog of mine would be complete without my go-to dinner roll recipe. I loooove these rolls, and I love that I can bring a little bit of happiness to family and friends just by making them. I've made them so many times that I have them down almost without having to consult the recipe. They are simple too and they always impress people, which is fun. :)

First, pull out your bread maker or dough mixer (or your good old fashioned bowl and wooden spoon).
Next, get out your ingredients:

1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
1/2 cup warm milk
1/3 cup white sugar
1 t salt
1 egg
1/3 cup butter, softened
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I use whole white wheat flour for ONE of the cups but if you don't have it just use white)
2 1/4 t (or one .25 ounce package) active dry yeast
1/4 cup butter, softened

Place all ingredients (except for final 1/4 cup butter) into bread machine, mixer or bowl. At this point I just run the dough cycle on my breadmaker. If you're using a mixer you can mix until a soft dough forms, and then let it rise in an oiled bowl for about an hour. (Or, if you're using a bowl and wooden spoon/your hands, do the same. And let me know how it turns out!)

Here is my dough after rising for an hour:
Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and divide it in half:
Use a rolling pin to roll each half into a 12 inch circle, then spread with the 1/4 cup butter (I usually save some of the butter to spread on top after the rolls bake).
Dee was helping me and as you can see her dough is not in a perfect circle. This is perfectly ok - don't stress about it. The rolls will still taste just as good.

Then, use the blunt side of a butter knife to carefully cut each circle into 8 wedges (obviously this is only partway into the process):
Roll each wedge starting at wide end. Use both hands, not like me in this picture:I always make my rolls in crescent shapes like this because I get the best results this way. If round rolls float your boat, by all means make circles instead.

Place crescents point side down on a cookie sheet:Cover with a slightly dampened clean kitchen towel or sprayed plastic wrap. Let rolls rise double. Toward the end of rising time, preheat oven to 400 degrees. The rolls should look something like this after rising:
Bake 10-15 minutes, until golden. Oven temperatures vary, so if you're making these for the first time, just keep an eye on them so they don't burn. My old oven cooked hot and fast, so I used to have to cook them on 375. They bake just fine at 400 on my new (more accurate) oven.

Take a moment to stop and appreciate the beauty and the mouth watering smell that has entered your kitchen.
Go ahead and take a bite. Try not to burn your tongue.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Click the image above to participate and see lots of other great menu plans!

Just got back from the grocery store with Dee and Mouse, and somehow I managed to spend $120 for the week. That's a lot, in case you were thinking I was bragging about being frugal. Good thing this isn't a blog about how to stretch your dollar. Although to be fair I did stock up on a few staples and household items.

I've only got five meals planned this week, because we are definitely going out to eat for my birthday later in the week, and with Labor Day weekend I'm not sure what our plans are yet. Anyhow, here's what's on the menu:

Green chile chicken enchiladas (yum) and corn on the cob
Sweet potato ravioli (this is a new to me recipe, and my prediction is that I will love it but everyone else at the table will shake their heads. Too bad for them!)
Loaded Baked Potato Soup
Baked Ziti (I'll use the penne in my pantry) and a salad
Orange chicken (from a bag in the freezer) and rice

Here are a couple of non-dinner recipes I'm also planning to make this week:

Coconut Avocado Smoothie
Homemade Granola Bars

Saturday, August 28, 2010


I was skeptical about making breadsticks because I've tried a couple of recipes that were total flops. Then I saw this recipe on My Kitchen Cafe (which is an awesome recipe blog), and I decided to give breadsticks another chance. I'm so glad I did, because I've made these three times now, and they have turned out great every time! Mia, who is the biggest bread lover in the family, is always asking me to make them.

Divine Breadsticks

*Note: start making the dough about an hour and 20 minutes before you want to serve these.

1 ½ cups warm water
1 tablespoon instant yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
3 ½ cups flour (I use white whole wheat flour for one of the cups and all-purpose for the rest)
½ teaspoon salt
dried herbs - rosemary, basil, and thyme (or whatever you have/prefer)
3 tablespoons butter, melted (for the baking sheet)

Mix all ingredients except melted butter in a large bowl or electric mixer and knead for three minutes. I use my food processor with the dough blade attachment. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Spread melted butter onto an 11X17-inch baking sheet (jelly roll pan). Roll out the breadstick dough about 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick and cut into strips with a pizza cutter. Twist slightly and place about 1/2-inch apart on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with garlic salt, herbs, and parmesan cheese.

Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise 30 minutes. Preheat oven during rising time to 375 degrees.Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Serve alongside pasta, preferably with sauce to dip them in!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Sauce

This is a super healthy, fresh pasta sauce that will make your kitchen smell heavenly. I found it quite a while back on A Thousand Words, where Jen blogs about organization, decor, fashion, and her life in England. You'll love it.

Anyway, back to the recipe. You start with some fresh veggies:
Rinse them off good:
(My daughter Dee is my best kitchen helper)
Dice them, then stick them in a large (or two regular) roasting pan with some spices and olive oil:
Roast them in the oven for about an hour (this is the part where your kitchen smells divine):
Add some canned tomatoes, serve over pasta, and devour.
If you have picky eaters like mine, you can pulse some in the blender to make it smooth, like "regular" spaghetti sauce:
Which is also great for dipping bread sticks. I ate mine chunky (although I will make the chunks a little smaller next time):
(Delicious bread stick recipe to come.)

Here's the full recipe. Original recipe here.

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Sauce

1 eggplant
2-3 zucchinis
1 red onion
3 red bell peppers
fresh basil
garlic powder (to taste)
1-2 T olive oil
1 t balsamic vinegar
3-4 cans diced tomatoes

Preheat your oven to about 350°F. Dice the vegetables into small chunks, between half an inch and an inch in size, and put them in a large bowl. Sprinkle on chopped fresh (or dried) basil, ground garlic powder, olive oil, and vinegar. Place vegetables into roasting pan(s) so they aren't layered too deeply. Bake for 50 minutes, stirring once halfway through, or until soft but not too blackened (a little bit of singeing is ok).

Remove from the oven, add tomatoes, and stir. Return to oven for 10 minutes until warmed through. Serve over pasta or rice.

Note: This makes a LOT. I recommend feeding an army, or freezing some in batches (a great quick lunch later). Jen also recommends sometimes skipping the tomatoes, and just adding the roasted vegetables to cooked, cooled pasta with a drizzle of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and feta cheese for a wonderful summer salad. That sounds awesome to me, minus the feta, plus a different kind of cheese. I don't do feta.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Southwestern BBQ Chicken Salad

I think I have a new favorite salad--one that is definitely going into the regular dinner rotation. I made this last night and WOW it was delicious! The barbeque and cilantro flavors worked surprisingly well together, the tortilla strips added the perfect crunch, and the whole thing just tasted so fresh. Perfect for a summer day. Original recipe found here.

Southwestern BBQ Chicken Salad

2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 cup BBQ sauce (to taste)

1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped
1 ear of corn (or 1 can, drained)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 green onions, chopped
1/3 bunch cilantro, chopped
3 tomatoes, diced
2 avocados, diced

thin corn tortilla strips, fried in oil

Boil corn for 4-5 minutes, then remove from heat and rinse with cold water. Cut kernels from cob and chill. Fry corn tortilla strips in a deep fryer or skillet, then drain and salt. Stir shredded chicken in with the BBQ sauce until well coated. Layer in a large bowl (or on separate salad bowls) lettuce, cilantro, corn, beans, onions, tomatoes, avocados, and chicken. Top with tortilla strips. Drizzle ranch dressing over the top and enjoy!

My notes:

Because of the time it takes to chop up the veggies and prepare the salad, it helps me to have pre-cooked chicken on hand. Last time chicken was on sale, I slow-cooked a whole bag of it with some broth, seasoned salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Then I shredded it and froze it in batches. For this salad I took a bag out and mixed the BBQ sauce right into the bag.

You could easily used canned or frozen corn and I probably will on some occasions. If you want to be healthier you can also bake the tortilla strips (sprayed with cooking oil) instead of frying, as in the original recipe. But I love the deep fried strips.

Also, because of picky eaters, I kept all the toppings separate and just put them out on the table so everyone could build their own salad. I think I am the only one who put on every single topping. And I LOVED it.

Food Blog!

I find myself blogging a lot about food. I like to post my weekly meal plans when I can, and I'm also finding a need for more organization when it comes to my favorite recipes. Thus, the decision to start Janell's Kitchen blog. {I love that my name is uncommon enough that the blog URL is not already taken.}

Most of what I make is not original, but I do tend to modify recipes to my own tastes. I will post the recipes as I make them, and if there is a web site for where I got the original recipe, I'll link to that to. Pictures will be my own or I will cite their source.

So, welcome! If you make any recipes from this site, I hope you will comment and let me know what you thought!