Kitchen Concoctions: June 2010

Monday, June 28, 2010

One recipe, two ways

The second recipe from the Hershey cookbook was a little bit more of a success taste wise but was completely wrong for what the recipe should be called. You see I decided to try my luck at a chili recipe (even though Eric says I already make the best chili). I planned it all out to eat this 'chili' as Frito chili pie so that is how I served it. But after we started eating I decided that this 'chili' was more of the constancy and flavor of Sloppy Joe's. So the next day for lunch I took our 'chili' slapped some on a bun and ate it as a Sloppy Joe Sandwich. I liked it a whole lot better this way. But hey if you want to eat your Sloppy Joe's served over chips by all means do!

Notes: I pretty much followed the recipe except that I did add garlic powder, reduced the amount of tomato paste and cut the overall recipe in half (this makes A LOT and the original recipe made a whole lot MORE).

Secret Ingredient Sloppy Joe Chili
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 40 minutes Serves: 6-8

1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 tablespoon cocoa
1 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cans (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, untrained, unsalted
2 tablespoons tomato paste, unsalted
1/2 cup beef broth
1 can (15 ounces) dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Heat medium skillet over medium heat. Add meat and brown. Drain and return cooked meat to pain. Add onion. Stir in spices. Let cook for 1-2 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and beef broth. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer of 30 minutes.

Serve over chips as chili or on a bun as Sloppy Joes.

adapted from Hershey's

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Some cocoa with your chicken?

Ok so the first 'savory' recipe I tried from the 'Cocoa in Cooking and Baking' section of this cookbook wasn't as good as I had hoped. : ( Some of you may have been skeptical about using chocolate or cocoa in cooking of your savory dishes, but I have had savory dishes with chocolate before and it was amazing (duck with a chocolate sauce... fantastic). So I went into this spice rub with cocoa for chicken with high hopes. But some how the final product wasn't what I was expecting. I blame this partly on the recipe and do have to own up to some of it's unsuccessfulness myself.

First the original recipe was for a whopping 2 cups of the spice mix. Um I certainly did not have enough chicken to use this much spice mix and since I had never tried this recipe before did not want to have a whole bucket full of wasted spices if the recipe did not work out. So I (as carefully as I could) reduced the recipe in half and then in half again. I reworked my calculations twice to make sure I had them right but I was making this dinner pretty late at night after a long day and I was tired and hungry so who knows what could have happened. Second, even with the double halved recipe I did not have enough chili powder on hand.

The end result was a pretty bland chicken despite all the spices listed in the seasoning mix. Like I said probably partially my fault for running out of chili powder but then again when I went back and looked at the original recipe and the proportions for each spice the cocoa seemed to be a little bit 'heavier' on the pour compared to the rest of the ingredients. So the final product wasn't bad per say it just wasn't a spicy 'tex-mex' chicken that I thought it was going to be.

Notes: The recipe below is my reduced version of this spice mix, enough to season approximately 4 chicken breasts or 6-8 drumsticks. I have included the amount of chili powder the recipe calls for but have reduced the cocoa powder. Also the original recipe is just for the spice mix, so I have included instructions for preparing the spice mix with chicken.

Let's hope the remainder of the recipes from this book are good. Maybe I WILL just have to go on a sweet binge for the next week and eat chocolate as it should be... for dessert!

Tex-Mex Spice Rubbed Chicken
Prep Time: 12-15 minutes Cook Time: 40 minutes Serves: 4

2 tablespoons HEATH BITS 'O BRICKLE Toffee Bits
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1/2 tablespoon HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1/2 tablespoon coffee beans

3 1/2 tablespoons butter
4 chicken breasts or 6-8 chicken drumsticks

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place toffee bits in food processor or blender. Cover; process until toffee bits are very fine.

Combine toffee and remaining spice ingredients in medium bowl; blend well. Melt butter and pour over chicken. Rub spice mix into chicken. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes or until done. Place any leftover spice rub in airtight container. Store in cool dry place for up to four months.

adapted from Hershey's

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The cookbook that almost never was...

This was the month that I almost did not do a cookbook of the month. As I had mentioned at the first part of June I wanted to feature cookbooks that were more 'summer friendly'. I thought of a crockpot cookbook, a drink/smooth cookbook, a sandwich/salad cookbook, or even a cookbook full of no bake desserts. Back in May I started to look for these books. I finally found a crockpot cookbook I wanted to feature but I am waiting for it to be shipped to me. I then thought a salad cookbook would be great because of all the fresh fruits and veggies that are in season this time of year. I looked and looked and didn't find any that got my appetite agoin'.

I then saw a beautiful drink/smooth cookbook at the bookstore (after my umpteenth trip there, not that I am complaining...I love the bookstore). I got the book home and was so excited to start making some fresh and refreshing drinks when I realized my blender is broken. : ( So I have to go buy a new one but because I have been soooo busy 'playing' (and working) this summer I haven't had time to go shop around for a new one. So hopefully I can feature that book next month.

Well after all this (and some complaining from Eric that I haven't made him any sweet treats lately) I settled on this Hershey's Cookbook I received a few months ago from a friend. Now while the majority of the recipes in this book do require an oven for baking, there are a couple no bake desserts. I also chose this cookbook because although the majority of the recipes are desserts there is a section in this cookbook titled "Cocoa in Cooking and Baking" and features several main entrees and appetizers that use cocoa or chocolate in it. I thought this would be fun and interesting (not to mention give me some protein and actual meals) instead of trying to eat 5 desserts in just a few short days since the month of June is quickly coming to an end.

I like the set up of this cookbook. It is in a nice 3 ring-binder that opens easily so you could remove the recipe if you wanted or you could leave them in there and the books lays flat. This book is broken down into the following sections:

-Brownies, Bars and Cookies

-Cakes and Cheesecakes

-Pies and Desserts

-Cocoa in Cooking and Baking

-Holiday Treats

Since this is a Hershey's book each recipe does call for a Hershey brand product (you had to expect that). I also loved that not all the recipes are chocolate (what you might expect from a book titled "Hershey"). AND again I also like that it is not all about cakes, cookies, and brownies (not that all those things aren't bad... your talking to a girl with a major sweet tooth... but it was a nice surprise to see some breakfast treats and some hearty entrees and scrumptious appetizers too).

So stay tuned tomorrow to see how things go with this last minute cookbook of the month.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

First Ever Saturday's With Rachael Ray

I am so excited I finally have a new Rachael Ray recipe to share today as part of Saturday's with Rachael Ray! What is Saturday's with Rachael Ray? Well Deborah over at Taste and Tell Blog hosts a recipe exchange of sorts every Saturday. She blogs about about a Rachael Ray recipe and then has 'Mister Linky's' at the bottom of the recipe where fellow bloggers can link to their blogs and share their Rachael Ray recipes.

I like Rachael Ray and have had pretty good luck with her recipes but have not posted one in awhile. I love this chicken tortilla soup that I adapted from a Rachael Ray recipe and the first cookbook I ever did a review of was a Rachael Ray cookbook. I could have easily picked one of these recipes and re-blogged about it but I wanted something new to share. However, ever since Deborah started this fun little thing I have been too busy to look for any new RR recipes. Then a couple of weeks ago I tried a RR dessert and it was a total flop.

So then I was even more determined to find a RR recipe to share. This burger recipe is perfect for this time of year. Not only with it being Father's Day tomorrow but because it is grilling season and what is more perfect for the grill (or in my case the George Foreman) than a nice flavorful burger.

This burger was so tasty and flavorful. The cool avocado/sour cream topping paired perfectly with the spiciness of the meat. I also liked the fact that there were beans and rice mixed into the ground beef which helped stretch the meat without compromising flavor.

Notes: I did make a few adjustments to the seasonings used for this recipe based on what I already had on hand. My changes are expressed in the recipe below.

Have a great Saturday and for any new readers I hope you come back soon!

Beef 'n' Bean Burrito Burgers
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 4 minutes Serves: 5

1 pound ground beef sirloin
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed
1/2 cup leftover white or brown rice, cold
1 tablespoon fajita seasoning for beef
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon taco seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
1 avocado
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno chile or serrano chile, seeded and finely chopped
Grated peel and juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup sour cream
crusty rolls or hamburger buns, split
1 tomato, sliced

In a large bowl, combine the beef, beans, rice, 1 chopped garlic clove, chili powder, cumin, taco and fajita seasonings. Form into 5 patties. Cook on heated George Foreman grill (or your outdoor grill), for 3-4 minutes or until done.

While the burgers cook, in a medium bowl, mash together the avocado, onion, jalapeno, remaining garlic, lime peel and lime juice. Stir in the sour cream.

Layer each roll bottom with a lettuce leaf, a tomato slice, a beef patty, guacamole and a roll top.

adapted from Everyday With Rachael Ray March 2009

Friday, June 18, 2010

Passed Down From One Generation To The Next

I'm a girl who loves to try all kinds of food. I live by the philosophy that you have to try something at least once before you can say you don't like it! But no matter how fancy or fofo or exotic the food is I still love the simple (and yes sometimes semi-homemade) food that I grew up eating. Comfort Food. Simple delicious food that you come to expect as part of certain family get togethers or when you are sick or just want some good ole' love and comfort that you can eat! : )

This fruit salad is one of those food for me. And I am sure that each one of you has this recipe or a version of this recipe that you too make for family get togethers or potluck lunches. It is simple and easy. My family has been eating this fruit salad for generations; passed down from my great-grandmother to my grandmother, to my mom and now on to me. This is the perfect salad for any meal anytime. We have eaten it at Thanksgiving, Easter, summer BBQs, breakfasts and brunch. And if there are ever any leftovers I will eat this salad as a snack.

Like I said this is the version of the salad that I grew up eating and still enjoy today.

Peach Pie Fruit Salad
by Heather of Kitchen Concoctions
Prep Time: 12 minutes Refrigeration Time: at least 1 hour Serves: 8-10 as a side

1 (21 ounce) can peach pie filling
2 can (20 oz.) pineapple tidbits or pineapple chunks, drained
2 can (15 oz.) mandarin oranges, drained
1 pint strawberries, washed and sliced
1 cup pecan halves
3 bananas, sliced

Mix all ingredients, except the pecans and banana, in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. Right before serving stir in the pecans and sliced banana. Serve chilled. Note: You can add more or less of any of the fruit or nuts just depending on your tastes or what you have on hand.

And WAIT I can't leave without announcing the winner of the Kroger Co. Family Stores $30 gift card. I apologize for not announcing this sooner (and not blogging very much at all lately) but I have been fighting a cold. The winner is (chosen randomly from is:

True Random Number Generator Min: 1 Max: 16 Result: 12 Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Dana please contact (email) me with your mailing address.

Thank you to all of you who entered and helped with the pound for pound challenge.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Summertime "Not So Guilty" Pizza

I am still trying to pick out a cookbook to review for the month of June (I am keeping my fingers crossed that I will find a good one that will allow me to keep to my goal of not using my oven this summer). But in the meantime I thought I would share the Pillsbury calendar recipe for June (unfortunately it does require the use of my oven but good thing it was a 'cooler' summer day the day I decided to make this which meant it was only in the upper 80's).
These Artichoke 'n Bacon Pizza Squares were so good and so versatile. They could be eaten as a light lunch or dinner (as we did) or as a brunch item or appetizer. The original recipe does call for bacon (and that is what I used) but next time I will use Prosciutto. This little pizza would also be great without the bacon which would totally make this a vegetarian meal that is still tasty and filling because of all the veggies. This was a fast and easy meal and one I loved because it was so loaded with veggies (kinda makes you feel not so bad about eating pizza)!

Notes: The original recipe had this more as a room temperature/cold appetizer and used the crescent rolls for the crust. I added the Italian cheese, used a pizza crust and served this delicious 'pizza' hot to serve on our regular pizza night.

Artichoke 'n Bacon Pizza Squares
Prep Time: 15-20 Minutes Cook Time: 20-25 Minutes Makes: 6-8 entree size servings

1 can refrigerated pizza dough or crescent rolls
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon mayonnaise or salad dressing
1 jar (6 to 7 oz) marinated artichoke hearts, drained, coarsely chopped
6 slices bacon, crisply cooked, crumbled
1/2 cup seeded diced plum (Roma) tomatoes
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1 cup Italian blend cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh spinach

Heat oven to 375°F. Unroll dough. Place in ungreased cookie sheet. Press in bottom and up sides of pan to form crust.

Partially bake for 10 minutes or until starting to turn golden brown. Cool slightly.

In small bowl, beat cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, parsley and mayonnaise with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Spread crust. Top with remaining ingredients, except spinach. Place back in oven and cook another 8-9 minutes until crust is a nice golden brown and cheese is melted. Remove from oven and top with prepared spinach. Serve immediately.

recipe adapted from

Monday, June 7, 2010

Biggest Loser, Kroger, General Mills, Giveaway

You may not know but 3 things I love are: the show The Biggest Loser (how awesome was the finale the other week and seeing how much weight all the contestants lost), Kroger (LOVE Kroger brand Banana Popsicles), and General Mills products (Cheerios (Hunny Nut or original) are my all time favorite cereals).

What do all these things have in common you might ask, well all through this past season of the Biggest Loser they have encouraged viewers at home to get up and get motivated and sign up for the Biggest Loser Pound for Pound Challenge. For however many pounds that we at home pledge to lose the Pound For Pound Challenge will donate 14¢ to Feeding America® - enough to deliver one pound of groceries to a local food bank. Each year the Feeding America network provides assistance to more than 25 million low-income people facing hunger in the United States, including more than 9 million children and nearly 3 million seniors.

So far 6,053,677 pounds have been pledged!! WOWIE that is $847,514.78 worth of food that has been donated to food banks all across the country!

And even though the Biggest Loser is over for this season The Biggest Loser, Kroger Co. Family of Stores, and General Mills have challenged America to try and pledge and loose even more pounds by the end of June.

To get everyone off on the right start and help purchase some healthy groceries Kroger is giving one lucky Kitchen Concoctions reader a $30 Kroger gift card. This gift card is good at all Kroger brand stores which include: Kroger, Fred Meyer, Ralph´s, King Soopers, City Market, Dillon's, Smith´s, Fry´s, QFC, Baker´s, Owen´s, Jay C Food Stores, Hilander, Gerbes, Food4Less, Pay Less Super Markets and Scott´s Food & Pharmacy.

I know this pound for pound challenge is perfect for me since I have slacked in the whole working out and eating healthy department the last few weeks and since swim suit season is here and in full swing this challenge is great to get me back on track (and try and loose those extra few pounds and get in shape and be healthy)!

Registration takes only seconds and the Pound For Pound Challenge website provides free tools and information (including recipes) to help reach your goal. A lot of people need assistance out there and signing up and pledging for this challenge is a super easy way that ANYONE can participate to help end hunger in America!

You have FOUR ways to enter the $30 Kroger Co. Family of Stores gift card giveaway:

1. Head over to the official Pound for Pound Challenge website. Check it out. Whether or not you pledge please go check it out and come back here and leave a comment letting me know (but it would be great if you did pledge).

2. Become a follower of this blog and come back to this post and leave a comment letting me know. And if you are already a follower just leave a comment letting me know that too.

3. Tell someone about this giveaway, whether it be on a blog, Facebook or Twitter. Then come back here and leave a new comment letting me know.

4. And for this give-away there is a 4th way you can enter. Not only can you receive an extra entry for blogging, Tweeting, or Facebooking about this giveaway, you can get a 4th entry if you specifically blog, Tweet, or Facebook about the Biggest Loser Pound for Pound Challenge. After you do just come back here and leave a comment letting me know.

This give-away closes Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at midnight CST. Winner will be chosen at random and will be announced sometime shortly after the give-away ends.

Please note that the Kroger Family of Stores gift card, information, and giveaway were all provided by the Kroger Family of Stores and General Mills through MyBlogSpark.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Perfect Way To Celebrate BBQ

I had so much fun 'grilling' from May's CBOM. It was a perfect way to kick off the summer and coincidentally May is National BBQ month so that made it even more perfect!

I really like Sandra Lee cookbooks because they are easy to use and easy on the eyes because of all the pictures. Her books are organized well with a variety of different chapters or sections which really helps break the book down. I also like her cookbooks because she goes over 'the basics' (relative terms, what to stock you pantry with, etc) that pertain to the 'theme' of the cookbook (grilling, desserts, etc.).

All her cookbooks have tons of photos, prep time, grilling time, and number of servings listed. I don't know about you but all this info is a great plus in a cookbook for me. Another thing I loved about this cookbook was that it had directions on how to prepare the dishes on either the grill or an alternative cooking method such as crockpot, oven, etc. This is great if you don't have a grill or want to enjoy these dishes in the non-typical grilling time of year.

I love pitas, caesar salad and pizza. So why not combine them all together in this Chicken Caesar Pita Pizza. This was an easy and fast meal, perfect for a busy night.

These Cheesesteak Subs were to die for. It is a toss up between these and the Memphis Style BBQ Pork Sandwiches as to which one was my favorite recipe from this cookbook that I have made so far. These were so easy and the simple marinade gave it an extra flavor. These will defiantly be made again on those 'I need a quick, tasty, and filling dinner' nights!

The side dish I chose to feature from this cookbook was Hopin' John Salad. This salad is traditionally eaten in the South on New Year's Day to bring good luck but who says you can't eat it year round. And don't worry if you are not a black-eyed pea fan there are so many different flavors and textures in this 'salad' that the black-eyed pea is transformed and not your typical tasting black-eyed pea.

I love lemon flavored desserts and I love cheesecake so these Lemon Cream Bars where right up my alley. Minus chilling time these are a fast and easy 'cheesecake'. Cutting them into bars makes them easy to serve at a party or get together (or to share with neighbors or friends).

Like I mentioned before these Memphis Style BBQ Pork Sandwiches were heaven. Throw everything in the crockpot to have delicious multi flavor sandwich that takes a simple BBQ sandwich to the next level. This is another meal that I will defiantly make again because it was so flavorful (even without the 'semi' homemade BBQ sauce), it was easy and served a crowd (or a hungry family of 6). These went perfectly with this Potato Salad (pictured).

Because summer is here and it gets pretty darn hot here in Texas I try to avoid using my oven as much as possible. So I thought for the cookbooks I decided to feature for June, July, and August I would try and pick ones that don't require the use of my oven (because using the oven translates into a ridiculous electric bill trying to run the AC to cool down a house while the oven is running). I am defiantly going to feature a crockpot cookbook of sometime (which I think is perfect for summer) and then for the other two months I can't decide. I was thinking maybe a frozen or no bake dessert cookbook, or a salad/sandwich cookbook (salads and sandwiches are also perfect meals for summer), or maybe a drink/smoothie cookbook. Any suggestions? Please help I have to hurry and pick something for June since the time is already a tickin'!

Friday, June 4, 2010

A long time coming...

I have been trying to post this recipe and blog entry for 6 days. SIX. Every time I have sat down to write this and get the photos ready something has prevented me from doing so.

The recipe I am featuring today (and the last recipe for May's CBOM) I actually made Memorial Day weekend for a get together on Sunday with friends and family. I was going to have it all up and ready to post on the blog on Monday for a last minute Memorial Day BBQ idea but was then invited to a last minute BBQ with Eric's family so it didn't happen. And then I was going to do it Tuesday night after work but that didn't happen either because I was trying to recover from too much sun and food and fun from the long weekend. And then on Wednesday I was all ready to get this up and we had a very bad thunderstorm and lost power. Thursday I had to go out of town and well it is now Friday and I am finally getting this recipe up... and as always it is a new month and I am still trying to wrap up the old month! lol!

These pulled pork sandwiches were an absolutely perfect way to celebrate the weekend. So many different levels of flavor. The pork was heavenly after it cooked and was just falling apart with just the flavors of the rub... then top it with a (semi) homemade BBQ sauce and they were taken up a notch. I stuffed myself silly.

Notes: Of course the original cooking directions used the grill but I threw it in the crockpot which made for an easy BBQ dinner after a long day at the pool. Also the original recipe calls for whiskey to be added in the cooking liquid but I just added more apple cider. One last note; the recipe calls to rub the pork with a all-purpose rub, which a recipe is listed in the book. However I just adapted my own with what ingredients I had on hand (this recipe is listed below).

Memphis Style BBQ Pork Sandwiches
Prep Time: 15 minutes Curing Time: 1 1/2 hour Cook Time: 7-8 hours in crockpot Serves: 6

3 1/2 pounds pork shoulder, loin, butt, ribs (any of this type of meat will taste good and cooks well in the crockpot and falls apart easy to be shredded for these sandwiches)
1/4 cup all purpose rub (recipe below)
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 cups apple cider

2 cups BBQ sauce
1 cup Dr. Pepper
1/2 cup yellow mustard
1/2 cup steak sauce

Rinse and pat pork dry. In a bowl combine the all-purpose rub and dry mustard. Rub meat with rub/dry mustard mixture and canola oil. Cover and let cure in the refrigerator for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let meat come to room temperature.

Place prepared pork in a 5-quart crockpot. Pour apple cider over pork. Cover and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or on high heat for 3-4 hours (meat should fall apart easily).

Mix ingredients for sauce in a medium bowl. When pork is ready remove from crockpot and shred. Toss shredded pork with 1/2 cup to 1 cup sauce (depending on how 'wet' you want it). Serve on buns or Texas toast.

adapted from Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Grilling

All-Purpose Rub
recipe by Heather of Kitchen Concoctions
Prep Time: 5 minutes

2 packets (1.25 ounce each) chili seasoning
1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 1/2 tablespoons onion powder
1 1/2 tablespoons seasoned salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Use on chicken, pork, beef, vegetables. Store leftovers in an airtight container in a cool, dry place or the freezer.

Oh before I forget the winner of the Sandra Lee Grilling Cookbook is:

True Random Number Generator Result: 4 Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Congratulations Rebecca please e-mail me with your information.
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