Kitchen Concoctions: April 2012

Monday, April 30, 2012

Slow-Cooker Posole

Some days I have so much I could write about. Incoherent ramblings, food facts, cooking tips, ideas, goals for the future, questions for you. But then other days I can barely think of one word to write.

Today is one of those, barley able to think of words day. Me. Tongue tied. That’s an oddity in real life and in written form!

So I guess I will just get to it.

Lay it all down.

I have an exciting theme week for ya this week. Well exciting for me at least, maybe not you (Question: Do y’all like theme weeks?).

Can you guess the theme?

(beating drum, beating drum)

Well since Cinco de Mayo is Saturday and since we have Mexican food like once. A. week. I thought a Mexican food theme week would be perfect. Not to mention (I kid you not) I have like 8 Mexican food recipes I need to blog.

So this is perfect.

For me.

And you.

First up, Posole. Posole is a traditional Mexican dish made of pork, hominy, cilantro, and chili peppers. It is most commonly served as a thick stew but is also wonderful served on top of a bed of rice. This posole recipe is extremely easy, since it is made in the crock-pot, making it the perfect for Cinco de Mayo!

Classic. Spicy. Easy. Perfect Posole!

One Year Ago: Peanut Butter Banana Bread
Two Years Ago: Chicken Enchilada Pasta
Three Years Ago: Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes

Slow-Cooker Posole
Printable Version
Prep Time: 10 minutes Wait Time: 7 hours Serves: 6-8

1 (2.0 pound) boneless pork loin roast
2 (14.5 ounce can) enchilada sauce
2 (15.5 ounce can) yellow hominy, drained
1 small onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, deveined and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon each salt and pepper
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Place the meat in a 6 quart slow cooker. Pour the enchilada sauce over the meat. Top with the hominy, onion, jalapeno, garlic, cayenne pepper, oregano, salt and pepper.

Cover, and cook on High for 5 hours or on Low for 6-7 hours. Stir in the cilantro. Cook on Low for 30 minutes more. Before serving, use two forks and shred pork in sauce mixture. Can be served as a soup or over rice.

Adapted from Food on the Table

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Website Review: My Recipes

It's so sad to see another month pass us by! Mainly because that means I am getting older but also because that means the end of another featured website of the month. BUT to keep things positive, ending one month, in life and in this website of the month series, means we get to look forward to a new month, new activities, and of course a new featured website!

But before we move on to our new featured website for the month of May, let's wrap up and review the food site, My Recipes.

Here's what My Recipes is all about:

Pictures: Most recipes
Half of the recipes on My Recipes are submitted by community users just like you and me. Most of these user recipes do not have photos. The other half of the recipes on this site are from popular food magazines like Cooking Light, Southern Living and All You. Almost all of these recipes, from the food magazines, have good magazine quality photos to accompany them.

Prep Time, Cooking Time, and Number of Servings listed: Yes and No
Some of the recipes have this information provided but not all. This is a bit frustrating that this information is not consistently provided since this can be a determining factor for many if they make a particular recipe of not.

Nutritional Information provided: Yes and No
Again this is not consistently provided on all recipes.

Clear, easy to follow directions and ease of preparation: Yes and No
Of course the recipes from the food magazines have clear and easy to follow directions but might be a little more labor intensive depending on the recipe. While the user submitted recipes can be less intensive, they may not be written as well as the professional recipes.

Easily available ingredients and budget friendly: yes
I would say overall most of the recipes are pretty budget friendly. But if you are extremely budget conscience they have a whole collection specifically of budget friendly recipes.

Variety of recipes: All types of recipes
This site is huge and has tons of recipes. I mean like thousands. So anything you are looking for.

Meal Planning Feature: Yes
My Recipes has a selection of 'menus' for different occasions with suggested recipes. There is also the capability to add recipes to a menu and save that menu and recipes or print, you can also add additional ingredients to your shopping list (which is broken down by grocery department).

Source of recipes: Recipes are from popular food magazines, such as Cooking Light, Food and Wine, Southern Living, and others as well as submitted by members
You can view all recipes whither you have a My Recipes account or not but cannot add recipes or create a menu without setting up an account. With a membership you can also rate and review recipes, leave comments or personal notes, save and organize your favorite recipes, and create a menu.

Cost: FREE!

Special feature: There is so much to this recipe site, and I have only begun to scratch the surface of everything. One feature I love is that when you register for this site you are asked for your zip code. This is because once you register and submit your zip code the site will show you ingredients for each recipe that are on sale at various stores in your area. This is very helpful to save money and plan your weekly shopping trip. They also have an uber cool feature, where you can type in ingredients in your panty and then the site will pull up recipes that use these ingredients, so no more excuse as to 'what can I make for dinner'!

In case you missed it here are the recipes I made:

Disclosure: I am not compensated for this review. They are just my thoughts and opinions about a site I love and use!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Giveaway: Green Giant Weight Watchers Prize Pack- CLOSED

UPDATE (5/6/12): This giveaway is now closed! The winner chosen by is comment number 18, Julie! Congrats Julie! Julie please contact Kitchen Concoctions within 72 hours to claim prize. If winner has not claimed prize within 72 hours then their prize is forfeited and a new winner will be notified.

It's that time of year! Spring is here and summer is fast approaching! Time to buckle down and get ready for short and swimsuit season. (Yes I am totally going there!) But good thing I have a giveaway today that will help you get on the right tract.

Here are the details:

Whether you´re striving to watch your weight or simply helping your family to add more vegetables in their meals, with a little help from Green Giant® finding a delicious way to mix up your diet routine can be easy and convenient!

Available in a wide variety of flavors, there are nearly 30 varieties of Green Giant® frozen boxed vegetables endorsed by Weight Watchers®, including offering that feature decadent sauces and tasty seasonings.

•Available in the frozen aisle of your local grocery store, Green Giant is the only frozen vegetable brand to be endorsed by Weight Watchers®, and nearly all endorsed varieties have a 1 or 2 PointsPlus® value per serving

•Click here to download quick and delicious recipes that incorporate Weight Watchers® endorsed Green Giant Boxed Vegetables, with most coming in between only a 1 and 4 Weight Watchers® PointsPlus® value per serving - from "Broccoli and Chicken Topped Potatoes" to "Quick Corn and Black Bean Soup," this wide array is sure to satisfy every member of your family

•If you prefer a smaller serving size, try Green Giant Just for One vegetable trays which are also endorsed by Weight Watchers®

Want a printable coupon for $0.60 off the purchase of two boxes of Weight Watchers® endorsed Green Giant Boxed Vegetables? Click here to download and print!

The Green Giant Weight Watchers Prize Pack Includes:

  • (1) VIP coupon for a free box of Weight Watchers® endorsed Green Giant Boxed Vegetables any variety
  • Water Bottle
  • Lunch Bag
  • Mini Nutrition Tracker
  • Lunch to Go Kit
  • Solar Powered Pedometer
  • Mini Ice Pack


    You have SIX separate ways to enter the cookbook giveaway! (NOTE: Please leave a SEPARATE comment for each response below):

    1. Visit the Green Giant website and leave a comment on this post sharing which variety of Green Giant Boxed Vegetables you would like to try.

    2. Become a follower of Kitchen Concoctions through Google Friend Connect.

    3. Tell someone about this giveaway, whether it be on a blog, Facebook or Twitter and leave a new comment letting me know and sharing the link.

    4. For a fourth entry to this giveaway, head over to Kitchen Concoction’s Facebook page and click ”Like”. Then come back here and leave a separate comment letting me know you did.

    5. For a fifth entry follow Kitchen Concoctions on Twitter. Then come back here and leave a separate comment letting me know you did.

    6. And last but not least I finally broke down and joined the Pinterest craze! For a sixth entry head over and follow me on Pinterest and leave a comment letting me know!

    This give-away closes Friday, May 4, 2012 at 11:59 PM CST. Winner will be chosen at random (by and will be announced sometime shortly after the give-away ends. Winner must contact Kitchen Concoctions within 72 hours at kitchen_concoctions at hotmail dot com to claim prize. If winner has not claimed prize within 72 hours then a new winner will be notified. Giveaway for US residents only.

    NOTE: Please check back shortly after giveaway closing to see if you are a winner. As much as I would like to run all over the Internet world looking for you, I do not have the time. So you as the winner MUST contact me with your information.

    "Disclosure: The coupons, information, and additional gift pack have been provided by Green Giant® and Weight Watchers® through MyBlogSpark."

    Wednesday, April 25, 2012

    Website Wednesday: Barbecue Fries

    I make homemade French fries all. The. Time. I mean when you have burger night a few times a month, and who am I kidding in the Spring and Summer every week, you get to be a pro at it.

    Since we eat our fair share of homemade burgers and fries, I am always looking for new recipes for both of these things. So when I got the urge to make burgers this past week (ahhh….. Spring!) I decided I need a new fry recipe to try!

    Today’s website recipe is one that looked great on paper and tasted good in the end but I had a little difficulty executing. I liked the flavor but because I forgot to spray my pan and my fries stuck, bad. Another issue I had was because of the bbq sauce, some of the smaller fries really started to burn before the larger ones were done; so be sure and cut your fries in a uniform size. Oh and don’t expect a ‘crispy’ fry, because of baking these in the sauce they came out more on the softer side, like a sweet potato fry. But as for the flavor, these are spot on!

    One Year Ago: Couscous Salad with Chickpeas
    Two Years Ago: Mexican Chicken Salad and Tortilla Crisps
    Three Years Ago: Gooey Cheese and Chicken Enchiladas

    Barbecue Fries
    Printable Version
    Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 25-30 minutes Serves: 4

    3 tablespoons olive oil
    6 tablespoons barbecue sauce
    1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
    1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper
    1/2 teaspoon paprika
    1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
    2 pounds russet or baking potatoes (3 large potatoes), scrubbed

    Heat oven to 450° F. Line baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.

    In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except potatoes.
    Cut each potato lengthwise into 8 to 10 wedges. Add them to the bowl and toss. Spread the potatoes in a single layer on the prepared sheet.

    Bake, turning once, until golden and tender, 25 to 30 minutes.

    Adapted from

    Tuesday, April 24, 2012

    Tips and Tricks to Perfect Crock-pot Meals

    I have always been open about my love for my crock-pot. I had a jaw dropping moment recently when I found out several people I know don't even own a crock-pot or have never used one. Seriously people? My crock-pot is essential on my super busy days when I won't get home until late and don't want to fuss with dinner and don't what to succumb to the dreaded fast food line.

    So today I am sharing some crock-pot cooking tips and tricks (and of course a whole slew of delectable crock-pot recipes) in an article that I actually wrote some time ago for meal planing/recipe site Food on the Table. So lets get slow cookin'!

    Your crock pot or slow cooker is one of the best time and money saving appliances in the kitchen. Cooking with a slow cooker is great for beginner cooks or individuals with busy schedules. For most slow cooker recipes, all you have to do is put the ingredients in the cooker, turn it on and hours later dinner will be ready!

    Since the slow cooker typically cooks meats in a liquid over a long period of time, it is great to use for the cheaper and ‘tougher’ cuts of meat. Due to this cooking process the end result of the meat will be tender, rich and flavorful.
    To make sure you are getting the most from your slow cooker follow these simple tips:

    Purchasing a slow cooker. When buying a slow cooker look for one with a removable liner. This makes clean up easier since the liner is dishwasher safe. If you already own a slow cooker without a liner, use disposable cooking bags. These bags are inexpensive, and allow you to throw out the used bag after your dinner is ready!

    Prepping your food. Remove skin from poultry, and trim excess fat from meat. Fats melt with long cooking times and too much fat will result in a greasy and unpleasant texture in the final meal. Also, most meats do not need to be browned before adding to the slow cooker. However, browning your meat or poultry in a skillet before adding them to the cooker will add color and give the meat a more developed texture and taste. For best results, ground meat should definitely be precooked before adding to the slow cooker. Ground meats may develop an unappetizing gray color and chewy texture if not pre-cooked.

    Layer appropriately. Most vegetables, such as carrots, potatoes, and bell peppers take longer to cook than meat and should be placed at the bottom of the slow cooker. However, tender vegetables like tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini should be added during the last 45 minutes of cooking time so they don't overcook.

    And whatever you do, don’t peak! Don't lift the lid to stir, especially if you are cooking on the low setting, unless the recipe calls for it. Each time you lift the lid, enough heat will escape that the cooking time will need to be extended by 20 minutes!

    Since I love my crock-pot so much it was hard selecting just a *few* crock-pot recipes to feature with this article. Here are some of my top faves that I am currently drooling over.

    Crock-pot Pizza Soup (Kitchen Concoctions)
    Slow Cooker Chicken Fettuccine (Taste and Tell Blog)
    Classic Red Beans and Rice (Kitchen Concoctions)
    Hot Fudge Peanut Butter Pudding Cake (Mel's Kitchen Cafe)
    Texas Style Chili (Kitchen Concoctions)
    Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Chicken (Real Mom Kitchen)
    Buffalo Chicken Lasagna (Kitchen Concoctions)
    Joyful Almond Oatmeal Recipe (Apron Strings)
    What is your favorite crock-pot recipe? Do share!

    Monday, April 23, 2012

    Broccoli Francaise

    Ok. I’ve decided to start titling my posts the title of the recipe, article, how-to, etc. that I will be sharing that day. If you recall, I mentioned last week that I had this major war going on in my head about what is the best way to title a blog post on a cooking blog.

    I have long loved titling my recipes fun a quirky titles based on the subject matter of my often off the wall ramblings. I felt like this challenged my thinking cap called a brain and pushed my writing skills.

    But. I have been working to update this blog and make it more user friendly (maybe more selfishly for me but you too!) I hope to do a long overdo redesign and have been working for weeks to create a much needed recipe index. I think that if I had been titling the blog posts by recipe title in the first place then maybe this task of organizing them and categorizing them wouldn’t be so tedious.
    So. I guess better later then never! I hope that this helps when searching for recipes and the overall flow of the site. But don’t be mad if next week I change my mind and go back to my sarcastic, witty titles. I know. I have issues.

    And. If you have followed this blog for any length of time you know that the only vegetable Eric eats is broccoli. I love my tried and true recipe for roasted broccoli but I’m a girl who needs variety (most defiantly when it comes to food), especially if we are eating broccoli at every. Single. Meal.

    You gotta love this dish because of its freshness, simplicity, and use of pantry staples to transform this overused lovely spring veggie!

    One Year Ago: Article: Aspire to Eat Asparagus Recipe: Asparagus with Garlic Vinaigrette
    Two Years Ago: Cajun Popcorn
    Three Years Ago: Gooey Cheese and Chicken Enchiladas

    Broccoli Francaise
    Printable Version
    Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 5 minutes Serves: 4

    1 1/2 tablespoons butter
    2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
    2 tablespoons grated onion
    1 lemon, lemon zested and juiced
    1/2 teaspoon each black pepper and salt
    1/3 cup vegetable broth
    1 teaspoons cornstarch
    2 heads broccoli florets, stalk removed and chopped

    Melt butter in 1-quart saucepan over medium-low heat add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 1 minute. Stir in lemon juice, lemon peel, salt, pepper, broth and cornstarch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes.

    Meanwhile, heat water in a double boiler and steam broccoli for 3-4 minutes until crisp-tender. Pour sauce over hot cooked broccoli and garnish, if desired, with additional lemon wedges.

    Adapted from Country Crock

    Friday, April 20, 2012

    In Season: Radish

    Honestly! I swear I hadn't planned on this week being a theme week but some how 3 of the 4 blog posts I shared this week contained radishes! I guess since radishes are in season RIGHT NOW and have been at rock bottom prices, I have been gobbling them up like crazy!

    Below is an article I wrote for meal planning/recipe site Food on the Table all about, you guessed it, radishes. Check out all the great information, tips, tricks and of course recipes involving this ruby red root veg!

    Spring is here and it is the perfect time to rediscover ruby-red radishes. Radishes, although available year round, are fresh and in season from April through October. Along with cabbage and cauliflower, radishes are a member of the Brassica family. Radishes mature very quickly and only take three to four weeks from planting to harvesting. Radishes are a root vegetable with a crisp texture and slightly peppery flavor. Spring radishes are much milder than late summer radishes which tend to have a sharper bite.

    The most popular radishes are small red skinned, turnip shaped vegetables, which are sometimes called Cherry Belle. However, radishes come in many different shapes and sizes. Other common varieties of radishes include Black Radishes, Daikon Radishes, Watermelon Radishes, and of course Horseradish.
    Radishes are an extremely low fat, low calorie food. They are cholesterol free and are a great source of Vitamin C and folic acid.

    When purchasing radishes, choose radishes that are firm with the leaves still attached. Avoid radishes with cracks and bruises or wilted leaves, as this is a sign of mealy radishes. Once home, remove the green tops and store radishes in a plastic bag in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator. If stored properly, radishes should keep for about one week. However, if radishes become slightly soft after a few days, crisp them by placing them in a bowl of ice water for one hour before serving.

    Both the radish root and green leaves can be consumed. The greens have a mild flavor and can be wilted like other leafy greens, added to soups or eaten raw in salads. The radish roots can be eaten raw as a snack or added to salads, sandwiches, slaws, or wraps for a nice crunch. Radish roots can also be cooked or braised with other vegetables for a nice earthy element.

    Radishes are an inexpensive grocery store find. A bunch usually only costs fifty cents to a dollar and can help stretch a salad or slaw. Below are six crunchy radish recipes from around the web:

    Spring Chicken and Pasta Salad (Kitchen Concoctions)
    Radish and Avocado Wraps (Mother Thyme)
    Radish Chips (Kitchen Concoctions)
    Cilantro-Lime Sweet Potato Slaw (Back To Her Roots)
    Cuke & Radish Sandwich with Lemon-Herb Goat Cheese Spread (Perry's Plate)
    Salad of Radish, Carrot and Beet tops with Vermouth Vinaigrette (White on Rice Couple)

    Thursday, April 19, 2012

    Who knew?

    To me, bright bold ruby red radishes seem like they belong on the pages of a colorful children’s book. I can totally picture the Whos of Whoville chomping down on this whimsical vegetable. But despite their cartoon like appearance it might be hard to get your child (heck even your picky man) to give radishes a whorl!

    Enter in these simple radish chips. I mean seriously simple, people, a five year old could do it! No cooking required AND only 3 ingredients. The creamy cream cheese and sweet honey pairs perfectly with the crunchy and slightly spicy radish. No one will be able to turn these down and did I mention that they are easy peasy.

    PS: They are healthy too! I went ahead and calculated the nutrition info and included it at the bottom of the recipe. You’re welcome. ; )

    One Year Ago: Week of: Egg Recipes
    Two Years Ago: Cookbook Review: Family Circle All Time Favorite Recipes
    Three Years Ago: Toasted Almond Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting

    Radish Chips
    Printable Version
    Prep Time: 10 minutes Serves 4

    1 bunch radishes
    4 tablespoons low fat cream cheese, at room temperature
    Honey, as needed

    Tear off green leaves and throughly wash radishes. Slice radishes and place on serving plate. Spread each radish slice with 1/4 to ½ teaspoon soften cream cheese. Top cream cheese with a drop of honey. Serve.

    Nutritional Information (calculated on Spark Recipes): Serving size: 1/2 cup prepared radishes Calories: 59.9g Fat: 2.7g Carb: 7.3g Fiber: .9g Protein: 1g Sugar: 5.6g

    Adapted from Cook, Learn, Grows

    Wednesday, April 18, 2012

    Website Wednesday: Lemmon-and-Dill Green Beans

    I never realized until recently how much I love dill. I have my favorite go-to homemade ranch dressing recipe (that I recently reinvented to be *healthier* (don’t worry recipe coming soon!)) that has dill and in my eyes makes it over the top. Then these carrot fries would not be the same without the sprinkling of some what? Dill, of course!

    So considering my huge love affair with dill recently, it was no wonder I was drawn to this recipe. Not to mention I am always looking for quick and easy sides to change up my regular side dish routine (a whole other issue in itself).

    Since green beans are in season RIGHT NOW, be sure to grab some up and make this fresh, easy side dish. Perfect with salmon, chicken, or even pork!

    One Year Ago: Bird Nest Cookies
    Two Years Ago: Monkey Bread
    Three Years Ago: Toasted Almond Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting

    Lemon-and-Dill Green Beans
    Printable Version
    Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes Serves 4

    1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
    1 tablespoon butter
    1 teaspoon minced garlic
    1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    ½ lemon, juiced and zested
    1/4 cup slivered almonds

    Cook beans in boiling water to cover 5-8 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process; drain.

    Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add garlic, and sauté 1 to 2 minutes. Add green beans, dill, and next 3 ingredients; sauté 1 to 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat; sprinkle evenly with almonds.

    adapted from

    Monday, April 16, 2012

    Recipe Name vs Fun Creative Title

    So long weekend.

    Hello brand new week.

    To get the juices in your brain flowing (or to drain them even more if you have spent the whole weekend agonizing over your taxes as you frantically try to get them done) I have a life changing question to ask you.

    Ok this question might not be life changing for you but it will be for me and I would like to hear your thoughts.

    So here goes. Up until now, every single recipe I share, I create a *fun* title for the blog post. Usually something related to what I write about for that day (like the title above). But for more formal, informational posts or how-tos I always have a direct formal title like, In Season: Arugula or How-To: Valentine's Day Candy Cards.

    But here is my question, do you as a reader prefer blog post titles to be the title of the recipe for the day, for example today's would be Spring Chicken and Pasta Salad, or do you find the *fun* *creative* titles interesting and amusing? I have always had a good time coming up with the creative titles and have always thought that they are a great way to get your interests perked. However, titling the blog posts based on the title of the recipe I think would make it easier for you and me both to search for recipes we need.

    And this (not my taxes), people, is what has caused many a sleepless nights for the past few weeks!

    So, my friends, what do you think? Creative and witty blog titles? Or simply the title of the recipe?

    Well speaking of recipes, today's is a simple yet fresh pasta salad. I have my Greek Pasta Salad that I absolutely love and make often for events. But my Greek version uses things like olives, capers, and sun-dried tomatoes, all things I love dearly. But I what I like about this springtime pasta is all the fresh spring veggies. Radishes, carrots, cucumbers. I think even some grape tomatoes or bell peppers would be nice too. I also liked serving this on a bed of chopped romaine lettuce for added freshness. While I did add the chicken to this (so that Eric would eat it) I totally think this would make a great vegetarian meal!

    One Year Ago: Egg Salad Sandwiches
    Two Years Ago: Monkey Bread
    Three Years Ago: Restaurant Review: Garcia's Cafe

    Spring Chicken and Pasta Salad
    Printable Version
    Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 30 minutes Serves 6
    6 large eggs
    1 (16.0 ounce package) bow tie pasta
    1 pound chicken thighs
    1 large cucumber, sliced
    1 bunch radishes, trimmed and sliced
    2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
    ½ medium red onion, chopped
    2/3 cup Italian-style salad dressing
    4 leaves romaine lettuce, thinly sliced
    salt and pepper, to taste

    Hard boil the eggs by placing them into a saucepan in a single layer. Fill with water to cover the eggs by 1 inch. Cover the saucepan and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, remove from the heat and let the eggs stand in the hot water for 12-15 minutes. Pour out the hot water, then cool the eggs under cold running water in the sink. Peel once cold.

    Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, stir in the bow tie pasta and return to a boil. Cook the pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite, about 12 minutes. Drain well in a colander set in the sink, and rinse with cold water.

    Meanwhile, heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken, seasoned with salt and pepper, and cook until no longer pink inside, about 4 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pan, and set aside to cool.

    Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Slice the eggs. Combine the cooked pasta, chicken, eggs, cucumber, radishes, carrots, and red onion in a salad bowl, and pour the Italian dressing over. Toss lightly to mix. Serve as is or serve on top a bed of romaine lettuce.

    Note: Pasta salad can be served at room temperature or chilled.

    adapted from Food on the Table

    Saturday, April 14, 2012

    Weeknight and Weekend Meals

    Like most of you, we live pretty busy lives during the week. The weekends are still pretty busy but a tad slower pace.

    Because of life we have our weeknight meals that are usual staples that whip up in 30-40 minutes and use a handful of ingredients or pantry staples. Meals like Lemon Peppered Chicken, Sausage and Pepper Arrabbiata, Pineapple Teriyaki Salmon, tacos, or even breakfast for dinner.
    During the week we also strive to eat relatively healthy (you know that darn thing called summer IS fast approaching).

    But the weekend is totally different. A little more time to play around in the kitchen and spend making dinner. And usually a time to splurge and eat a little more rebelliously and eat those comfort foods I love; like Smoked Turkey and Sausage Gumbo, Cajun Chicken Pasta, Greek Burgers, and Buffalo Chicken Lasagna.

    Oh and chocolate. Lots, and lots of chocolate.

    Today’s recipe is defiantly a weekend meal. The ingredients and directions seem long and lengthy (and they are) but this recipe is not difficult, it just requires some time to make. But take my word for it, it. Is. All. Worth. It.

    This dish is rich and hearty. The biscuits themselves are totally something to ‘write home about’ and I will make often in the future because they are so flaky and full of flavor.

    Pure. Comfort. Food.

    One Year Ago: Southwestern Cobb Salad
    Two Years Ago: Monkey Bread
    Three Years Ago: Restaurant Review: Garcia's Cafe

    Beef and Vegetable Pot Pie with Rosemary Biscuit Crust
    Printable Version
    Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 55 minutes Serves 6

    For the Pot Pie Filling:

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 pound stew beef, cut into bite sized pieces
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon pepper
    1/2 large yellow onion, diced
    2 stalks celery, chopped
    2 parsnips, peeled and chopped
    2 red potatoes, cut into bite sized cubes
    1/3 cup beef broth
    1 cup frozen peas and carrots
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1/4 teaspoon crushed bay leaves
    1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

    For the Sauce:

    3 tablespoons butter
    1/2 cup flour
    1/3 cup milk
    2 cup beef broth
    1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

    For the Biscuits:

    2 russet potatoes
    2/3 cup buttermilk
    1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    2 tablespoons corn starch
    1 teaspoon sugar
    2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon dried rosemary
    8 tablespoons (1 stick) very cold or frozen butter

    For the Pot Pie Filling:

    In a large pan, heat the olive oil. Add the beef, season with salt and pepper and cook over medium-high heat until it is browned on all sides. Remove and set aside on a plate.
    Add onion, celery, parsnips, and potatoes to the pan, adding additional oil as necessary, and saute for 5-8 minutes.

    Return beef to the pan and add the broth to deglaze, taking care to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Stir in the garlic, peas and carrots, and seasonings. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.

    Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. In a medium saucepan, add the butter and melt. Whisk in the flour. Then whisk in the milk and broth. Bring to a boil and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.

    Pour prepared sauce into vegetable mixture and stir to combine. Pour ingredients into a large casserole dish and top with the uncooked biscuits. Bake in a 400 degree preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before serving.

    For the Biscuits:

    Wash potatoes and pierce with a fork. Place potatoes in microwave and cook for 5 minutes. Remove and let cool until able to handle.

    Remove the flesh from the baked potatoes. Mash it with a fork or press it through a potato ricer. In a small mixing bowl, combine the 1/2 cup potato with the buttermilk. Whisk until smooth and set aside.

    In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and dried rosemary. Whisk until well sifted. Cut the butter into the flour mixture using two knives, a pastry blender, or your fingers.

    Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the buttermilk potato mixture. Stir until combined, and then when you can't stir it anymore, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead until you can form a rough ball.
    Flatten the dough into a circle about 1/2 - 3/4 inch in thickness. Using a biscuit cutter or a drinking glass (about 2 1/2 - 3" in diameter for the listed baking time) turned upside down, cut as many rounds as you can. Using the dough scraps, form another circle of the same thickness. Repeat cutting until you have used all the dough.

    Adapted from Good Life Eats

    Note: This recipe is part of my contest submission to March's Kitchen Play project, a a virtual progressive dinner among bloggers and sponsoring companies. This month's sponsor company is the U.S. Potato Board and all recipes feature two types of potatoes. To find out more information about participating and contest rules, click here. All opinon's are my own.

    Wednesday, April 11, 2012

    Website Wednesday: Pineapple Teriyaki Salmon

    I read an interesting article recently about how to give proper credit and attribution to recipes you use that are not your original idea. This really got me thinking. Are there ANY original recipes out there now? I mean with people eating food since the beginning of time and more recently the last 100 years people writing recipes down and the last 40 or so years people becoming ‘known’ for their recipes and the last 25 years with the onset of TV chefs and now bloggers and Pinterest, there are a lot of recipes out there!

    But what I do know (and what this article states) is that I would not want work that I have done (a recipe/article I have written, a photograph I have taken, or anything else I have poured my heart and soul into) to be taken and not properly given credit for. Since that is how I want to be treated that is how I treat others. I always state where I get recipes from and link back to that site, book on, etc. Of course if it is my very own idea/recipe I proudly state that too!

    Most of the time I use the words ‘adapted from’ when listing a source of a recipe because it is in my blood to never follow a recipe exactly. But this article states that if you make several substantial changes but keep the base of the recipe the same it should be labeled ‘inspired’, which means you used that recipe for ‘inspiration’ to get the final product.

    Today’s recipe falls into that ‘inspiration’ category. Since it is Wednesday, this recipe comes from April’s website of the month, I had planned on making it very similar to the original but then realized after all was said and done, I had changed up the recipe quite a bit. So this recipe is an ‘inspiration’ and a damn good one at that!

    So what are your opinions on this subject? I would love to hear!

    One Year Ago: Classic Deviled Eggs and Article About The Tradition of Dying Easter Eggs
    Two Years Ago: Cookbook Review: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes From An Accidental Country Girl
    Three Years Ago: Butterscotch Sweet Potato Cookie Sandwiches

    Pineapple Teriyaki Salmon
    Printable Version
    Prep Time: 10 minutes Wait Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 20-25 minutes Serves 4

    1 tablespoon brown sugar
    1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
    1 orange, zested and juiced
    2/3 cup crushed pineapple
    1 clove garlic, minced
    ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
    1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
    4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)
    Orange segments and rind, optional garnish for serving

    Preheat oven to 400°.

    Combine first 6 ingredients to form marinade. Set aside.

    Place salmon fillets in 9x13 inch baking dish. Season each fillet with salt and pepper. Pour marinade over salmon. Let salmon marinate for 10 minutes.

    Place salmon in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with fork.

    Serve topped with orange segments and rid if desired.

    Recipe Notes: This recipe only uses a partial can of crushed pineapple. Which is great if you have leftovers from another recipe if not spoon the remaining pineapple into ice cube trays and freeze for smoothies.
    Side dish suggestion: Rice, green beans, asparagus, couscous.
    inspired by

    Tuesday, April 10, 2012

    In Season: Arugula

    Yesterday I shared a fab recipe using arugula and talked about visiting the farmer's market. Since we are on the subject of arugula and since arugula is a popular produce item found at many spring farmer's markets and the grocery store, I thought I would give you to run down on arugula.

    Today, I am sharing an article I wrote for meal planning/recipe site Food on the Table, all about arugula. Be sure to read all the way down because at the bottom of the article I share several recipes using arugula from around the web! Enjoy!

    Spring has certainly sprung for most of the country and with the warmer temperatures, flower blossoms, and spring showers also comes fresh spring produce. Arugula is fresh and in season in the cooler, yet slightly warmer months of early Spring and Fall.

    Arugula’s vernacular name is garden rocket, and is also known as roquette, rugula, and Italian cress. It is a leafy green that is a member of the cabbage family. Arugula is native to the Mediterranean region and is often found in Italian cuisine.

    Arugula is nutrient rich and extremely low in calories, making it an important super food. Arugula is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K, folate, calcium, beta-carotene, lutein, magnesium and manganese. Studies have shown that a diet rich in these vitamins can promote healthy eyes, stronger bones and a stronger immune system.

    Arugula is typically sold loose in bins or in bunches with the roots still attached. When purchasing arugula at the grocery store or farmer’s market, look for arugula with bright, fresh green leaves; avoiding leaves with holes, tears, or yellowed edges. Larger leaves will have a stronger flavor than smaller ones.

    To store, arugula should be wrapped tightly in plastic and be kept in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator. If properly stored, arugula will keep for 3-4 days. Once ready to eat, rinse the arugula leaves thoroughly in cool water, as the leaves tend to be gritty, and dry on a paper towel.

    Arugula is a versatile ingredient in the kitchen. It is considered a salad green, leaf vegetable, and annual herb. Arugula has a spicy, peppery, mustard flavor that can sometimes be bitter if not in season. Arugula is a flavorful addition to salads, adds freshness to soups, a finishing touch to pizza, or can be substituted for basil to create a spicier pesto. If arugula is not available, watercress can be substituted for a similar peppery flavor. Spinach can also be used to lend similar texture and nutrients but will lack the distinct robust flavor of arugula.
    Arugula makes a wonderful addition many dishes. Below are a few awesome arugula recipes from the web, but what is your favorite way to use arugula?

    Penne with Chicken Sausage and Arugula (Kitchen Concoctions)
    Fontina Grilled Cheese with Arugula & Truffle Oil (The Novice Chef)
    Arugula Pesto and White Cheddar Mac and Cheese (How Sweet It Is)
    Watermelon Arugula and Feta Salad (Skinny Taste)
    Arugula Chickpea Salad with Feta and Balsamic-Tahini Vinaigrette (Kalyn's Kitchen)
    Arugula Parmesan Prosciutto Pizza (Simply Life)
    Arugula and Orzo Salad (A Fit and Spicy Life)

    *photo credit: Suat Eman, via

    Monday, April 9, 2012

    Farmer's Market Finds

    So I spent all morning working on today's blog post. Editing the photos, typing the recipe, typing a rather lengthy, thought provoking blog post (ok not really thought provoking but interesting rambling). Then as I read it I realized that all those words had nothing to do with today's recipe.
    And even though I have been known to ramble on a bit in my blog posts (sometimes informative sometimes just silly ramblings), I decided to scratch those random words and redo everythang.

    So here I am with not much more to say except that today's recipe is perfect for spring. Fresh arugula from the farmer's market, check. Plump juicy cherry tomatoes, check, check. Other favorite ingredients that make me drool: pesto, feta, and pasta. Oh. my. gauwd. Please!

    This recipe is simple yet packed full of flavor from ingredients found at my local farmers market. Spring is the perfect time to head to your local farmer's market and find beautiful, flavorful fresh local produce. So if you haven't been yet you are really missing out!

    One Year Ago: Carrot, Tomato, and Spinach Quinoa Pilaf
    Two Years Ago: Cowboy Calzone and Homemade Pizza Dough
    Three Years Ago: Butterscotch Sweet Potato Cookie Sandwiches

    Penne with Chicken Sausage and Arugula
    Printable Version

    Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 25 minutes Serves: 4

    1 pound penne pasta
    4 links chicken sausage
    2 tablespoon olive oil
    1/2 medium onion, chopped
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    2/3 cup prepared pesto
    1/2 cup white wine or chicken broth
    3 cups torn arugula leaves
    2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
    1/4 teaspoon salt, to taste
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper, to taste
    1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

    Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Place penne in the pot, cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente, and drain.

    In a skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil and cook the sausage until evenly brown and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. Cool and slice.

    Heat the remaining oil in a large pot over medium heat, add onion and cook 2-3 minutes, until lightly browned. Add in garlic and cook one minute more. Mix in cooked sausage, pesto, and white wine. Cook and stir until heated through. Mix in arugula, and cook until arugula is wilted. Stir in the tomatoes, and cook until heated through. Toss with pasta, season with salt and pepper, and top with goat cheese to serve.

    adapted from Food on the Table

    Saturday, April 7, 2012

    Week of: Easter Recipes

    Easter is tomorrow, are you ready? Well I have had fun this week sharing some Easter recipes, crafts, tips, tricks and how-to's. I hope that you all have a great Easter holiday with all your friends and family!

    In case you missed all the fun here is a recap of all those Easter treats:

    PS: The winner of the cookbook giveaway was announced yesterday. Lisa (comment number 10) please contact me by the end of the day tomorrow to claim your prize, if not a new winner will be chosen and notified. Thank you to all who entered!

    Friday, April 6, 2012

    How Cute Is Spring!?!

    There is no question that I love all holidays! The celebrations, the family time, the cute decorations, the traditions. I look forward to every holiday and always do something big to celebrate.

    A few weeks ago, as I sat and thought about the upcoming Easter holiday and what I wanted to do as a special Easter theme week here on the blog, I had so many ideas. As I mentioned on Monday, I could have done almost three weeks worth of Easter related posts. The ideas just kept coming.

    Cute Easter treats, goodies, and crafts. A whole week of Easter dinner ideas and tons of ways to use up all those hard boiled eggs! But as usual time slipped away from me.

    But one thing I couldn't get over was how utterly cute Easter/Spring is! Baby birds chirping in nests in the trees outside my window, beautiful Texas bluebonnets, little baby rabbits hopping in the field next to my house, and of course all the frenkin' adorable Easter crafts and decorations at the stores and all over the web.

    I heart Spring!

    This 'Bunny Bait' is cute as is, purely by it's name, but would be even more adorable packaged up in some colorful packaging and added to Easter baskets or handed out as a last minute Easter gift to neighbors. And did I mention this recipe whips up in less than 10 minutes and only uses 5 ingredients!

    One Year Ago: Penne with Spinach and Chicken Sausage and Pecan Crusted Chicken Breasts
    Two Years Ago: Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf with Tomato Gravy
    Three Years Ago: Butterscotch Sweet Potato Cookie Sandwiches

    Bunny Bait
    Printable Version
    Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 5 minutes Makes approximately 3 cups

    1 bag microwave popcorn
    6 oz. white chocolate candy coating or white chocolate chips
    1 cup Easter M&M's
    1 1/2 cups pretzels, broken into pieces
    colorful Easter sprinkles

    Cook popcorn according to package directions. Let cool and remove any unpopped kernels. Place the popped popcorn in a large bowl with the broken up pretzels and M&M's.

    Heat the candy coating in a microwave safe bowl and microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each time, until melted and smooth.
    Drizzle the candy coating over the popcorn mixture and stir to coat, making sure everything is evenly coated.

    Spread chocolate covered popcorn mixture on a large piece of wax paper, top with sprinkles and let cool. Break into pieces and serve.

    adapted from Sing For Your Supper

    Thursday, April 5, 2012

    When Life Gives You Easter Eggs...

    Make deviled eggs! Lol!

    I couldn't give you a recipe for naturally decorated hard boiled eggs and not give you a recipe for deviled eggs!

    Even though deviled eggs remind me of Tupperware parties from 1950-something and seem like they should ONLY be eaten at Easter because after dying, well, like 4 dozen eggs, what else are you supposed to do?

    Well folks, even though deviled eggs DO remind me of poodle skirts and bobby socks and brightly colored Easter eggs, I am here to tell you that deviled eggs are making a come back!

    Deviled eggs can be dressed up with so many flavor combinations and pretty plate presentations. Like, take the recipe today... with lemon juice, capers, and Dijon mustard; these ain't yo' Mama's deviled eggs!

    One Year Ago: Penne with Spinach and Chicken Sausage and Pecan Crusted Chicken Breasts
    Two Years Ago: Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf with Tomato Gravy
    Three Years Ago: Butterscotch Sweet Potato Cookie Sandwiches

    Lemon Caper Deviled Eggs
    By Heather of Kitchen Concoctions:
    Printable Version
    Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 12 minutes Makes 24 half eggs

    1 dozen large eggs
    2 tablespoons grated onion
    2 cloves garlic, grated
    2 tablespoons minced capers
    ½ tablespoon lemon juice
    2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
    ¼ - ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper, to taste
    1/2 teaspoon paprika (plus more for garnish)
    2 tablespoons mayonnaise
    1 tablespoon whole capers, for garnish

    Place eggs in a pot, cover with water and bring to a full boil. Turn off heat, cover pot and let stand for 12 minutes. Drain water and run eggs under cold water.

    Crack and peel eggs. Slice eggs in half and remove yolks.
    Place egg yolks in bowl. Add grated onion, garlic, minced capers, lemon juice, mustard, hot sauce, salt, pepper, paprika, and mayonnaise. Mash all ingredients until smooth, adding a bit more mayo if too dry.

    Cut a corner off a plastic bag and fill with the mashed yolk filling. Pipe into egg whites and garnish with a 2-3 capers and a dash of paprika.

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