Sunday, January 16, 2011

We Have a Winner!

We have a winner of the $35 gift certificate to!!

I input numbers 1-46 on my number generator and out of 1-46, it chose #6!!!

Congratulations to grandgiveaways who made the 6th comment on the giveaway posting. Thanks to grandgiveaways for their daily commenting and commitment! 

I sincerely appreciate everyone's commenting and support of this little blog. I know it's nothing compared to PioneerWoman or Annie's Eats, but I'm working on it! Your support means so much! 

I also want to encourage everyone to keep checking back for daily recipes and to keep your eye out for an announcement about a brand new website I'm in the process of creating! Although the design will look much like the current design of this blog, it's an actual .com website and I am really looking forward to revealing it to everyone once it's finished! 

Congratulations, again, to grandgiveaways! I'll be e-mailing you with your gift certificate code!!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cherry Crisp

Remember! Today is the LAST day you have to leave a comment on the January 8th post titled "Another Giveaway From CSN Stores!" You have until 11:59 p.m. tonight to leave a comment to be entered into the drawing for the $35 gift certificate to use any way you want at the CSN Stores website! Good luck and thanks for your support!

I thoroughly love my Blueberry Coconut Crisp, but I wanted to change things up one night. I had an extra can of lite cherry pie filling in my pantry and, in the midst of my recent cleaning sprees, I pulled it out knowing I needed to get it used up and clear up the space on my shelf. I knew I also wanted to try to cut out some of the calories so I decreased the amount of butter in the original recipe. The result was, I have to say, as equally delicious as the blueberry crisp. In a rush, I forgot to decrease the amount of flour, oats, and brown sugar to match the decrease in butter. The crisp topping was not as crispy this time, so I have made those modifications in this recipe. I would definitely make this again and am looking forward to switching things up with other fruits!

Cherry Crisp
Source: Me
Yields: one 8x8 dish

1-20oz can of lite cherry pie filling
3/4 cup flour (I used whole wheat flour)
3/4 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, toss together the flour, oats, and brown sugar. Cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles small peas. Press half of this mixture into the bottom of a greased 8x8 glass baking dish. Cover with all of the cherry pie filling. Cover with the rest of the brown sugar mixture. Bake in oven for 30 minutes until the cherry pie filling is bubbly. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Broccoli Mac n Cheese

Remember, you have just today and tomorrow to enter the drawing for the $35 gift certificate to CSN Stores! Enter the drawing by leaving a comment on the post titled "Another Giveaway from CSN Stores!" dated January 8th! Good luck and thank you for your support!

I knew I wanted a really simple and quick, yet satisfying side dish to accompany my Oven BBQ Chicken from yesterday. I came across this particular mac n cheese from Stephanie Cooks, and really liked that it was similar to other Mac n Cheese recipes I've used before and have enjoyed. I have always thought that adding broccoli to mac n cheese would be good, but I just never tried it. I decided to do so on Oven BBQ Chicken night! ComputerMan was less than thrilled that there were vegetables in his mac n cheese; I, however, thoroughly enjoyed it. He always tells me he doesn't like his broccoli cooked. Somehow I always "forget." Oops. One thing I will say about the broccoli, though: don't be a cheapskate like me and get the frozen bag of broccoli "cuts" which has the tops as well as the stem parts. Some of the pieces were just too tough. I'll splurge next time and spend the extra 50 cents to get just the broccoli tops! 

Broccoli Mac n Cheese
Serves: 4-6

2 T butter
2 T flour
2 cups milk
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese (I like medium sharpness)
salt and pepper to taste
10 oz frozen broccoli, defrosted and roughly chopped
8 oz pasta shapes (I used shells, but any short shape would work)
1/2 cup grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 350. Bring a large pot of water to boil on the stovetop. Cook pasta according to package directions. Once the pasta is almost done, throw in the broccoli and allow the water to come back up to a boil. Boil the broccoli and pasta together until the pasta is done and the broccoli is just starting to become tender--you just want to take a bit of the bite off. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a pan over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour and cook together for a minute. Slowly whisk in the milk and bring to a boil for 5 minutes until it starts to thicken up. Add in the shredded cheese and melt it, stirring in a figure-8 motion. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn off heat. Add in the broccoli and pasta and toss to combine. Transfer to an 11x7 greased baking dish. Top with the grated parmesan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until it's bubbly and heated through! Enjoy!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Oven BBQ Chicken

You only have a couple of more days to enter the $35 gift certificate drawing! Just scroll down (or click 'older posts' if necessary) to find the post titled "Another Giveaway from CSN Stores!" and follow the directions given. Good luck and thanks for your support!

I really, really love the taste of BBQ chicken done on the grill. The taste of the smoke mixed with the rich, bold flavors of the barbecue sauce means serious comfort food in my book. My dad is King of the Grill so when ComputerMan brings in food off the grill it brings back so many fond memories of countless grill meals my parents made together growing up. I still look forward to getting to my parents' house and having Dad's food fresh from the grill. I hate the heat of summer, but it's all worth it when you get to bite into a juicy burger or steak, a tender chicken breast, or even a perfectly cooked hot dog straight from the grill.

Since Southern California has been experiencing some weird amounts of rainfall and exceptionally low temperatures, the desire to get out to the grill definitely has not been at the top of ComputerMan's list lately. Plus, we're out of propane and don't feel like going to the store to get some more! I still love the taste of BBQ in the winter, so I knew I needed to find a good oven BBQ recipe to help hold me over till summer. This definitely was a winner for both of us; it's simple and delicious all at the same time. ComputerMan suggested that it be added to the menu rotation! Enjoy!

Oven BBQ Chicken
Source: adapted from
Serves: 2-4

2 large chicken breasts, cut in half or thirds
season salt
garlic salt
1 T Worcestershire
1/2 cup favorite BBQ sauce (we use KC Masterpiece or Sweet Baby Ray's)
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup flour

Preheat oven to 400. Coat the cut up chicken with the Worcestershire sauce in a large bowl or zip lock bag. Season with the season salt, garlic salt, and pepper. Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Coat the chicken the flour. Transfer the chicken to the hot oil, shaking off excess flour. Fry until the chicken is golden brown (it won't be totally done in the middle--that's okay). Transfer the chicken to a 9x13 baking pan lined with aluminum foil (makes clean up a whole heck of a lot faster). Mix the honey and BBQ sauce in a bowl. Drizzle half of the sauce mix over the chicken, coating both sides. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and the remaining sauce over the chicken, coating both sides again. Bake for 10 more minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Creamy Citrus Ginger Salad Dressing

Before I start, don't forget to enter Saturday's giveaway for (see posting titled "Another Giveaway from CSN Stores!" dated January 8th!)

Sometime long, long ago I received this nifty little salad dressing bottle with some quick and easy dressing recipes on the bottle and a lines for measuring ounces of liquids. This bottle has kind of been one of those things I've put in and taken out of the "donate" box when I get into a cleaning mode. It takes up space on a shelf that could use some more room, but I always think that "one day it'll come in handy." One day I just decided to mix up one of the dressings and go for it since I had some yummy croutons (see yesterday's post) to go atop my lunch salad. This dressing came together really quick and was definitely a great alternative to my typical red wine or balsamic vinaigrette that I usually use. If you don't have a nifty salad dressing bottle, just measure out the ingredients in a glass measuring cup and whisk everything together, or measure everything out and mix together in a mason jar. I'll let you know when I try the other recipes from my bottle!

Creamy Citrus Ginger Salad Dressing
Source: My Nifty Salad Dressing Bottle
Yields: 6 oz dressing

2 oz. non-fat plain yogurt
4 oz. orange juice
2 T lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp sugar
1/2 to 1 tsp ground ginger (I used 1/2 tsp because I was worried it would overpower the dressing--it didn't; I'll use 1 tsp next time)
1 tsp ground pepper
dash or two of salt

Measure everything in a glass measuring cup and whisk together rapidly. Serve immediately. OR Measure everything in a glass measuring cup, transfer to a glass mason jar, screw on the lid and shake vigorously to mix. Serve immediately.

The salad I made was with green leafy lettuce, big slices of tomato, sliced turkey lunch meat, some shredded Mexican cheese, shredded carrot, and a big handful of yesterday's Herbed Croutons!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Herbed Croutons

Before I start, don't forget to enter Saturday's giveaway for (see posting titled "Another Giveaway from CSN Stores!" dated January 8th!)

After making the Baked Apple French Toast  for our special breakfast guest, I had the ends of the French bread, as well as a slice from the middle, leftover and definitely did not want it to go to waste. These days I'm using the very last of everything to make sure I'm not wasting any money at all. I was able to get a good little pile of bread cubes from the bread ends and knew I could quickly make some croutons while getting ready to head out to run a few errands. These are so simple, quick, and adapt easily to suit your tastes. I used these in a big salad I'll show you tomorrow!

Herbed Croutons
Source: Me
Yields: about 1 1/2 cups of croutons

2-4 slices day old French bread
garlic salt
dried thyme
olive oil for drizzling

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the bread cubes in a single layer on a metal baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil making sure you have enough to coat the cubes well. Toss the bread cubes so that all the sides receive olive oil. Sprinkle pepper, garlic salt, and dried thyme on to suit your tastes. Toss cubes together again to evenly distribute seasonings. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the bread cubes are toasty golden and crunchy. Once they are done, transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to cool and store in a ziplock baggie for a couple of days!

Other good seasonings would be oregano, onion powder, Italian seasoning, parmesan cheese, or rosemary! Get creative!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Twice Baked Potatoes

Before I start, don't forget to enter Saturday's giveaway for (see posting titled "Another Giveaway from CSN Stores!" dated January 8th!)

So, yeah, this idea also came from Summer of The Wannabe Ranch Wife! I really do have my own ideas--I promise! She just has so many good ones that it's hard to ignore them and try to be creative on my own sometimes! And, yes, we do spend a TON of time together! But, that's the way we like it and we don't plan on changing things, so don't make us! Plus, Mario gets along so well with her boyfriend, Zak, that it just makes life easy. In fact, they are eerily similar in ways that always shock us! But I digress. Shocker, I know. These twice baked potatoes are the perfect snack or simple meal for those evenings when you don't feel like having a big dinner (a very rare occasion in my house). During our late night baking extravaganza, I started to get munchy and  asked Sum if she had anything I could snack on. Since the oven was already on, she threw a couple of these in for me and they totally hit the spot! I had a bag of potatoes I needed to get used up before they grew too many of those weird root things, and it was a total success! Thanks, Sum! Enjoy these!

Twice Baked Potatoes
Yields: this is for 6 large potatoes, or 12 halves
Source: Summer

6 large Russet potatoes, scrubbed clean
some olive oil
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup to 1 cup milk
2 to 2 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend, but you can use just cheddar if you want)
1 tsp garlic salt (or more to suit your tastes)
salt and pepper to taste
diced green onions for garnish and ranch for dipping

Preheat oven to 375. Once potatoes are scrubbed clean, pour some olive oil in your hands and thinly coat the potatoes. Arrange the potatoes on a large metal baking sheet and bake for about an hour, or until a fork can easily be inserted and removed from the middle of the potato ("fork tender").

Allow potatoes to cool slightly and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the insides of the potato into a large mixing bowl. Be careful to not scoop right through the skins, those need to be left in tact. I leave a very thin (1/8 - 1/4") layer of potato in the skin.

Once you've scooped all the insides into the bowl, add in the butter, 1/2 cup milk, 1 cup of the shredded cheese, garlic salt, and salt and pepper. Mix together using a hand mixer until the potatoes are creamy (like mashed potatoes). Add in more milk if they aren't creamy enough, adjust your seasonings, and mix together well. (The picture below is PRE-mixing.)

If you're willing to part with a large zip lock bag, transfer half of the mashed potato mixture to the bag, press out the air, seal shut, and cut off the tip of the bag so you have about a 1-inch opening. Evenly pipe the potatoes into the skins. Fill your bag up when needed and repeat until all the skins are filled.

Use a spoon or knife to spread the mashed potato mixture into all the crevices of the skin and to create a flat surface for the cheese.

Top the filled skins with as much cheese as you want (clearly, I like A LOT of cheese).

At this point, you can do one of two things. You can put them back into your oven at 400 degrees and allow them to heat back up and melt the cheese. Serve immediately with diced green onions (some crumbled cooked bacon would be good too) and ranch. OR, you can put them in the freezer without baking and all them to freeze individually overnight. The next morning, transfer them to a large zip lock bag and keep them in the freezer until you're ready to eat them. When you are, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and pop the frozen potatoes into the oven and allow them to fully reheat and melt the cheese--about 45 minutes to an hour. Serve with diced green onions, crumbled bacon, and ranch, or whatever other toppings/dips sound good!!


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