What do you call lunch at 3:30?

Today has been the strangest day!  First off, matt and I are both home.  Second, we woke up to the sound of a transformer being blown across the street.  Thus, we had no power and went to McDonald’s for breakfast 🙂  We left to do our errands at almost noon, and weren’t hungry at all, so it’s no surprise that lunch didn’t happen until 3:30.  But, can I tell you it was amazing.

I checked out my archives, and I am fairly certain that I haven’t shared this one with you guys yet 🙂  But, it’s oh so delicious!  We had coconut chicken with sweet chili sauce from Budget Bytes, which if you haven’t noticed, is one of my favs!

I followed Beth’s recipe with two alterations.  1.  I added a good pinch of ground ginger to the flour.  2.  I BAKED at 450 degrees for 14 minutes.  It’s not as brown and pretty, but it’s tasty!

The thing that really blew my mind today was my side dish.  With the coconut chicken you need to have something fairly mellow on the side so that the coconut flavor is able to shine.  Trust me.  I served with a garlic roast potato before and is was a serious fail.

So, here’s what I did….

Cheezy Ginger Orzo

  • 1 1/2 cup orzo pasta
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • ground ginger

I put the orzo and broth into my rice cooker, and set to go right before i start breading my chicken.  When complete, add butter, a couple tablespoons of cheese, 13 cracks of pepper, and a good pinch of ginger.  Mix taste, adjust, love!

PS… Penzey’s ground ginger could possibly be substituted for the real deal, it’s amazing!


Naan pizzas

Last weekend, we went out to Trader Joe’s, and scored some ingredients to make these yummy Naan pizzas… they were soft and chewy, yet the bottom got crispy… it was heavenly!

Here’s what I started with:

  • Naan… and Indian flatbread
  • Sweet Italian pork sausages
  • Nectarines
  • Havarti Cheese
  • Black Pepper Parmesan

I brushed the naan with olive oil, and seasoned with garlic powder, rosemary, and cracked black pepper.

Then layered on my ingredients.. starting with a bit of cheese on the bottom, and ending with the rest of top

And, baked for 10 minutes at 425.  Easy Peasy 🙂

I absolutely loved the combo with the sausage and nectarines, but I can’t say that matt was a huge fan of the warm nectariney goodness.  You can’t win them all.  In the future, I’m definitely going to make these again, but I may or may not make any one of a million regular pizza recipes!


Green Bean Smashed Potatoes?

I’m sitting here, the window open, a little bit chilled and sipping a nice warm cup of:

Yes, Nutella Hot Chocolate 🙂  Thank you pinterest!

. Nutella Hot Chocolate -1 cup of milk (any kind of milk will work) -2 spoonfuls of Nutella (this is my preference, but feel free to add as much or as little as you like) -whipped cream -mini marshmallows Directions: Pour about 1/4 of the milk into a saucepan on medium-low heat. Add the Nutella and whisk until blended. Slowly stir in the remaining milk. Add a pinch of cinnamon and whisk until hot and frothy.

yum.  yum.

This spring when our broccoli was in full swing, I HAD to figure out a way for my dear, sweet husband to eat more of it… which proved to be difficult because he is not a fan of cooked broccoli.  I ended up throwing together come broccoli cheese smashed potatoes, and they were a hit around here!

Flash forward to last week, and the broccoli is in a sad, sad state right now 😦  So, I improvised and decided to make my dish with some end of season green beans


Let me tell you, these were a WINNER!

You’ll have to forgive me here, this isn’t going to be one of those exact recipes… mashed potatoes never are.  It’s the kinda thing where you dump and mix and taste.  But, I’ll give you a few of my tips and tricks since you asked.

First off:  the potatoes.   I’ve come to use exclusively red or gold potatoes.  Why?  Because they aren’t as starchy as your run of the mil russet, and are better for you.  These are particularly awesome for fried or roasted potatoes!  They aren’t as fluffy for mashed, but I like to leave the skins on and leave ”em kinda chunky anyways 🙂

Now, I think the crucial part to mashed potatoes comes before you cook them.  First, your scrub those babies down.  Then, cut them, and put them into a pot of cold water.  When i have cut all my potatoes, I then drain out all the water, and put fresh, cold water in the pan.

At this point, I liberally salt the water and put on the stove to boil.  Why do I salt at this point?  Truthfully it’s the only time I add salt, and somehow int he cooking process it perfectly seasons my potatoes.  If I wait until afterward, I feel like I’m trying to cover up a bland potato.  The salt really draws out the flavor during cooking, trust me.

Once your potatoes are falling apart when you pick them up with a fork, you’re going to drain, and return to your pan.  Add a liberal amount of butter.  I man the real deal.  Then, you want to smash up those spuds.  Once they are all broken up pretty well, add seasonings:  pepper, garlic, rosemary, and add a few splashes milk.  Then mix it up with your masher until they start to come together.  Add a little milk at a time until you get the consistency you desire….  little by little is the way to go, and the way to avoid runny and thin potatoes!

At the very end, toss in steamed and seasoned green beans, and serve!


Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu

This is seriously one of my new favorite meals… I have had to make a point to self-edit, and refrain from buying the ingredients every time we grocery shop!  Matt told me this week that it reminds him of one of those dinners in a box that he used to buy all the time and loved… I think it was a compliment?

Regardless, this is the easiest thing ever.  I made a double batch this time, and will be showing you that, but will give you the original recipe with four servings.

We’re going to start with a couple chicken breasts.  Cut them in half (I have a really sharp knife and do this horizontally, you can do that or the other way and pound them out a little.)  You’ll want to put them into a casserole, and season with some salt and pepper

Sorry if you are offended by raw meat… I should have warned you.  Next, you will cover each chicken piece with 1-2 slices of ham…  we use small deli slices so I use two.  Then, top with half a slice of swiss cheese.

This next step is really complicated.  Are you ready?  You are going to open a can of cream of chicken soup.  You will then pour it into a bowl, and add one tablespoon of dijon mustard, and you will mix it up.  Please, for the love of you tasste buds, by the Campbell’s brand.  You will be glad you did.

Seriously, I have made the recipe with both generic and with name brand.  I can taste the name brand difference.  Anywho, next you will pour the soup mixture over the chicken, ham, and cheese.  Then, you will top it all of with a box of Stove Top Stuffing mix already prepared…

Finally, you bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  And, viola!

Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu

  • I box prepared stuffing mix
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 T dijon mustard
  • 4 chicken breast halves
  • 4-8 slices ham
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese

Prepare stuffing as directed.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Arrange chicken in a greased casserole.  Top with ham and cheese.  Mix soup and mustard.  Spoon onto top of chicken/ham/cheese.  Cover with stuffing.  Bake at 400 for 30 minutes until meat is cooked, reading 160 degrees on a meat thermometer.

Note:  if you are going to double this, add about ten minutes to baking time.

Now, I will be going… I made bacon in the oven, and will be needing to get it out now 🙂  I’m making chili!!!


Bacon Cheeseburger Quesadillas!

Yes, I am sorry…today is Wednesday and I promised you these on Monday.  It’s just the melon vine happened, and my mom stayed with us last night, and you know how it goes, right?

Let me tell you, though, Matt has declared these to be his new favorite quesadilla 🙂 I was pretty pleased when he made that statement…. and even that he wasn’t eating one at the time, he was just thinking about having eaten one 🙂  SCORE.

If you didn’t already know this about me, I have worked in a number of pizza joints over the years.  So, I took what I know about bacon cheeseburger pizza… and I mean a GOOD bacon cheeseburger pizza and turned it into quesadilla awesomeness!

We start out wit the fillings:

From the top left:  seasoned ground beef with onions, bacon, cheddar cheese, diced up pickles, ketchup & mustard.  And,tortillas, I use the smaller mission ones.

Then you do a little bit of this action….

Mix that ketchup & mustard together!

Place a dollup of your sauce on the center of a tortilla and spread it around.  This doesn’t really make for a saucy mess, but gives that flavor to your bacon cheeseburger quesadilla

Then, pile on your toppings!  I start with a little cheese, the the rest, and finish with a little more cheese 🙂

Then, you simply pop these bad boys ina frying pan and cook until golden brown, delicious, and melty!  I served with tater tots… it seemed like a no brainer 🙂

Bacon Cheeseburger Quesadillas

  • cooked, seasoned ground beef with onions
  • 4 slices chopped bacon
  • cheddar cheese
  • copped pickles, or relish
  • ketchup & mustard sauce
  • tortillas

Mix 4 parts ketchup to 1 part mustard, and spread lightly on tortillas.  Top with cheddar cheese, toppings, and cheddar.  fold over, and place in a skillet heated to medium or medium high, you know your pan/stove top.  Cook until golden brown, and melty, flip and repeat.


Roasted Zucchini & Bow-tie Lasagna…

I am so glad zucchini is back in season!  I had all of these wonderful ideas of what do with them… when I was planning on having a plethora to pick from my garden.  Sadly, the zucchini plant is long since dead.

Last night, I combined two ideas into this most delicious Roasted Zucchini & Bow-tie Lasagna…

The seed for this idea started many months ago, when I made lasagna the last time…. and has been reinforced every time I open my pantry to see the box of lasagna noodles with four remaining noodles in it!  I mean, seriously, what are you supposed to do with the unused noodles?  There isn’t enough to make another pan, but I feel bad throwing them out!

So, I thought to myself, “Maybe you should use bow ties!  I mean, they are flattish and you could use the whole darn box.”  Living on the edge, I know.  When I was meal planning, I figured that I couldn’t go wrong by adding some slices of zucchini to the mix, and boy was I right!!!!  Here’s how it went…

I sliced up three small zucchini with my mandolin, arranged them in a single layer on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Then, I splashed on a little olive oil, and some cracked black pepper and kosher salt.  They went into the oven at 425 for 10 minutes or so, til they were cooked, but not soft.

Meanwhile, I cooked bow tie pasta to al dente, or even just a little firmer.  And, I browned a pound of beef with an onion, black pepper, and Penzey’s Old World Seasoning.  While all that was going, I opened two jars of spaghetti sauce, and added garlic powder, turkish oregano, basil, and red pepper flakes.

Basically from this point, you layer!  If I were to do this again, I would use a slightly bigger than 9×13 pan if you have one available.

Start with a little sauce to cover the bottom and keep the noodles from sticking, the spoon on a layer of bow ties.  Follow that with a layer of zucchini slices sorta like this:

Thee, you add the meat to your sauce cause you forgot earlier.  Oh, and don’t forget to save a little out for some yummy bacon cheeseburger quesadillas you are going to try for lunch tomorrow…

Where were we?  Layering… so, then add some sauce, a cup of cottage cheese, and some mozzarella.  And, yes, I said cottage cheese.  I’m from Iowa and I’m not that fancy, and my husband likes the lasagna with cottage cheese.  It works for us.  Use ricotta if you’re into that sorta thing  I won’t hate you.

Okay, so if you’ve made lasagna before you know the drill, do that whole thing again, then again, but leave out the cottage cheese and sprinkle on some parmesan. Then, you wanna bake it covered at 375 for about 45 min.  Take off the cover, and finish baking until bubbly and the cheese is melted and golden and delicious!  Let rest at least 10 minutes before serving.  The first night, it might come out kinda like a pile of pasta, this photo is from the day after leftovers… which is what I intended when I made it anyways, cause I didn’t start cooking til 9:30 last night!

Roasted Zucchini & Bow-tie Lasagna

  • 3 small zucchini sliced
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt & black pepper
  • 1 lb bow-tie pasta
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • black pepper & seasoning salt
  • 2 (28 oz) jars spaghetti sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, oregano, and basil
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  • 2 cups cottage cheese
  • 3 cups mozzarella cheese
  • grated parmesan

Roast zucchini slices in olive oil and salt and pepper at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes until tender, but not soft.  Boil pasta in salted water til just under al dente.  Brown beef & onion, season with salt & pepper. Add beef, garlic, oregano, basil, and red pepper flakes to sauce.

In a greased 9×13 pan, or a little larger if available.  Start with a scant amount of sauce to lightly cover bottom, then layer noodles, zucchini, sauce, half of cottage cheese, 1 cup mozz.  Repeat layer.  Then, once more with pasta, zucchini, sauce & mozz.  Sprinkle with parmesan.

Bake covered at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake 15 more minutes until cheese is melted, and sauce is bubbly.  Rest 10 minutes before serving!

Anyone else out there have a great zucchini idea?


Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas, take one!


Yes, I said it:  Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas…. yum!  I stumbled upon this idea while eating some of these yummy enchiladas and thinking about these outrageously wonderful buffalo chicken egg rolls.  Thankfully, I had a personal vision about this because after googling last night to see if someone else has gone there, and what route they took I was sadly disappointed with the recipe I found!  Mainly for the use of cream of chicken soup.  Now, don’t get me wrong…. cream of chicken soup isn’t the devil.  It has its place in the world and in many a casserole, but I just don’t see it here!

Anyway, I digress.  Here lies the cast of characters for the filling:

Oh, and I forgot the chicken since it was already in the frying pan on the stove along with all these tasty ingredients!  I used a couple of stalks of celery, about a quarter of one of those behemoth onions, a package of reduced fat cream cheese, about half a cup of light sour cream, and a packet or 3 tablespoons of ranch seasoning.

Yes, ladies (and gentlemen?)  That is a LARGE and in charge shaker of Ranch seasoning mix.  It was misleadingly marked at Wal*Mart for 2.97.  It was, in fact, actually 7.92.  After disputing the matter, and being somewhat disgruntled, I decided that at nearly eight bucks, it was still a bargain, and I still WANTED it!!!!  And, let me tell you:  I have enjoyed my time with a bountiful supply of ranch seasoning!  It goes on roasted potatoes, popcorn, eggs (yeah, I went there), and of course chicken.

Moving on, bring in the Buffalo Sauce!

For the sauce, I used a cup of tomato sauce, and a cup of Frank’s Red Hot, original.  Now, if you are into spicy this proportion will work for you.  If you are not into spicy you might want to go 2 parts tomato sauce to one part frank’s.

Begin assembly!  I spooned some sauce in the bottom of a greased 9×13, and began to fill my enchiladas.  I ended up with about 12 of them 🙂  Then, covered with sauce, and cheese, and some celery slices, and baked at 375 for about 20 min.   Oh, yum!

When finished, I served with a few celery sticks, and some cheesy orzo 🙂

Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas, take 1

  • 2 lbs shredded chicken
  • 3 celery ribs
  • onion
  • 8 oz red fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1 package Ranch seasoning mix
  • 1 cup Frank’s RedHot
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 12 tortillas, six-inch width
  • Monterey Jack cheese

Saute onion and celery til soft.  Add cooked, shredded chicken and cream cheese.  Cover and cook til cream cheese is melted, stirring occasionally.  Add sour cream, and Ranch seasoning.  Meanwhile, mix tomato sauce and Frank’s in a small bowl.  Grease a 9×13 pan, spoon about 1/4 cup sauce into the pan, and distribute.  Then, begin to fill tortillas with chicken mixture and place seam side down in pan.  When assembly is complete, cover with remaining sauce, and sprinkle with cheese and celery slices.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, let rest five minutes before serving, and enjoy!