Monday, March 26, 2012

Sun-dried Tomato Stuffed Burgers

This loaded burger was bursting with flavor!  It didn't need much in the way of dressing it up, but it really depends on your tastes.
This is a really 'loose' recipe, meaning I didn't measure much more of an estimation.

1/2 cup goat cheese
3 Tbs sun dried tomatoes (packed in oil) chopped
1 Tbs basil
2 lb. ground beef
4 cloves garlic
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Mix the cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and basil together.

2.  In a separate bowl mix your ground beef, garlic, salt and pepper together.

3.  Divide your beef mixture into 8 equal sections.  Take one section, split it in half, and form one half into a thin patty.  Put some of your cheese mixture on top, then form the other half of the beef into a patty and place on top, sealing the edges well.

4.  Grill to perfection, top with your favorite toppings and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

St. Patricks Day Mystery Diner Part 2

In honor of St. Patricks day coming up, please enjoy this re-post.  This particular St. Paddy's day was one of my favorites because not only was it just plain fun, but it was 80 degrees in Michigan!  Unheard of in March!  

Finally, I'm posting about our wonderful celebration!  I've just been too busy soaking up the sun, running the household.  :D  If you missed Part 1 or our Mystery Dinner, you can see it here.
So, we had our lovely friends The Lubberts over for dinner.  They were great sports and totally up for our Mystery Dinner.  A good time was had by all.

Here's my daughter, all decked out in her green.  She was even wearing green corduroy pants--and it was 80 degrees here in Mi.
also very excited about her stick-on earrings.

Originally, it was just going to be for my family, but when we added our friends, I changed a few of my ideas really just to make it easy on myself.  You'll notice some changes here from my Part 1 post.  Things have to be ready to serve up, so, I did prepare some things in advance (and prepared easy things)

Here's what we had:
Shamrock Shake:  Pour the dressing on the veggies and shake her up!  (kids totally dig this)

Leprechaun Pie (recipe here
Spoon Bread   (recipe here)

Taste a Rainbow

Emerald Isle (recipe here)

U-Pick Clover (sour cream cookie recipe here)  This was a decorate your own cookie dessert.

Irish Kiss (napkin)
Blarney Stone (fork)
St. Pat's Sword (knife)
Digging for Gold (Spoon)

As you can see, some of the menu items are your utensils.  This keeps it really interesting!  
Here's our Menu's:

The first thing we do is fill out our menus.  You'll want each person to keep a copy and give a copy to the chef.  All the fun names are listed and 3 courses.  We all eat 1 course at a time, then I serve up the next, and so on.  

How do you celebrate St. Patricks Day?  Or don't you?   I would love to hear from you!  Please share your traditions in the comments.  

I hope you find a reason to celebrate today!


Emerald Isle

This was our St. Patricks Day Beverage.  You could do this in a punch bowl for a party, but we did it in individual cups so we had just the right amount.

Lime sherbet

Pour equal parts Lime aid and 7-Up in a glass and top it with a scoop of Lime Sherbet.  Enjoy!

If you are doing the Punch bowl thing, just do 1 bottle of Lime-aid (I buy Simply Lime-aid) and 1 2-liter of 7-Up, and top with several scoops of Lime Sherbet.

Spoon Bread (corn)

This recipe comes from Deep South Dish.  I love corn bread, and had been on a search for a really good one.  And I found one.  Then when I went to make it for our St. Patricks Day mystery dinner, I couldn't find my recipe!  Thank goodness for the internet!  This recipe is real close to the one I had.  We all thought it was really good.  Another thing I love about it...You can use Jiffy corn bread mix, OR she gave a substitute (made from scratch) for the mix, which is what I did.


1/2 cup of yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 Tbs baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
2 cups of frozen corn
1 (15 ounce) can of cream corn
1 cup of sour cream
1/4 cup of milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup of shredded mild cheddar, Monterey jack, or your favorite cheese, optionalInstructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or spray a 9 x 13 inch dish

Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, salt, pepper, and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the frozen corn and remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into prepared casserole dish, and bake uncovered at 350 degrees F for 30-45 min. (start checking at 30 min) or until golden brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve immediately.

Here's the original recipe:

Monday, March 19, 2012

Secret Recipe Club: Aspen Power Bars

It's time for another Secret Recipe Club post.  If you are not familiar with The Secret Recipe club, be sure to check them out here.  Basically, each month I am assigned a blog, where I get to choose a recipe from that blog to cook and blog about it on my blog.  And, someone else is assigned my blog to do the same.  It's really fun, and I find tons of awesome food blogs.  This month I was assigned Allies Clean Plate Club.

 Allison is a fellow Midwest girl, originally from Illinois and now in the craziness of theWest Coast (her words).  Although I'm not from Illinois, I'm just a few hours away in Michigan.

Well, it was really hard to choose a recipe!  She has so many recipes that I'd love to try.  But, I finally decided on the Aspen Power Bars.  She had mentioned that the inspiration for these was a request from her cross training husband.  That really drew me in because my husband is always training for something.  So, I knew he would love these.  Plus we are just granola eating people, I always make my own, so a granola bar was the perfect choice.  I made a couple changes and they are noted in the ingredients.  Plus I added a couple Tbs of flaxseed meal, simply because it's good for you.

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons rolled oats
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
Heaping 1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup nuts or sunflower seeds (I used 1/2 cup seeds and 1/4 cup chopped walnuts)
3/4 cup powdered milk
1/2 cup  raisins  (I used dried blueberries)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon peanut butter--chunky is best (I didn't have chunky, so I went with creamy)
1 1/8 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon raspberry jam

Preheat the oven to 400.  Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.  

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, coconut, salt, nuts, seed, powdered milk, raisins and cranberries.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Stir in the honey, peanut butter, vanilla extract and jam until melted and fully incorporated.  Remove from heat.

Pour the melted ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until fully mixed (I found the easiest way was with my hands). Press the mixture into the pan, compressing it as much as possible.  Bake until golden, about 12-19 minutes.

Remove from heat and cool completely on a wire rack.  Once cooled, run a knife along the edges to loosen from the sides.  Then invert the pan onto a large planner or cookie sheet.  Cut into bars with a large knife. 


Friday, March 9, 2012

Slow Cooker Orange Chicken

I have been looking for a great slow cooker orange chicken.  I saw a couple on pinterest, and I found the comments (on the actual blog post) to be very mixed.  People either loved it or hated it, it was too orangey, it was bitter, chicken was soggy, chicken was dry, etc.  So, I decided to google for a recipe.  I looked at probably 15-20 different sites and every single recipe was identical!  Interesting thing is, if a source was noted on any of the posts, they didn't match the others.  So, although the same recipe is out there, they don't lead back to one source.  So, I allowed that to be my inspiration and tried to create my own.  This is what we came up with.  We loved it.  My daughter, who doesn't like chicken, had 3 helpings!  I understand everyone has preferences, and I do love to hear feedback on my recipes, so even if you don't like it, it's okay.  Cooking is an Art right?  We can change things to our likings.

One reason we all love the crock pot is because we can basically turn it on in the morning and let it go all day.  I think that this recipe will NOT work that way.  It's just too long.  For me, I love having dinner set to go when the kids come home from school.  I want to hear about their day and be available to them without having to multi task and make dinner at the same time.  So, even though this isn't an all day slow cooker recipe, it was still very helpful for me because it gave me that time with the kids.

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
canola oil
1/2 cup pineapple orange juice concentrate, thawed  (100% juice)
3 tbs ketchup
1/4 cup honey
2 tbs low sodium soy sauce
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1- 1 1/2  inch of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
1 onion, cut into chunks
2 celery stalks sliced
1 red bell pepper cut into chunks
1 green onion thinly sliced for garnishing

Mix the flour, salt and pepper together in a bowl.  Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour mixture.

Heat oil in a fry pan.  Brown the chicken pieces, working in batches if necessary.  Don't crowd the pan.  The chicken does not need to be cooked through because it will be going in the crock pot.  Your pan should be very hot before you brown your chicken, then it will not stick and you will get a nice golden color with some crispiness.  Make sure you use canola oil, or another oil that can stand high temperatures, olive oil will not due here.

Once you brown all your chicken, place it in the slow cooker.

In a separate bowl combine the juice, ketchup, honey, soy sauce, garlic and ginger.  Whisk to combine well.

Pour over the chicken add your vegetables* and stir.  Then set your crock pot on low for 2 1/2 hours

This recipe is definitely a little more prep than a typical set it and forget it recipe.  But it was well worth it  for me.  If you work, I would do this recipe on the stove top, it will go relatively quickly.

*I added my carrots, celery and onions right away, and my peppers a little later so they wouldn't be mushy.  Almost any veggies would work in this, or no veggies.
Also, if you like heat, I would definitely add some red pepper flakes.

Would love your feedback!

St. Patricks Day Mystery Dinner (pt. 1)


It's about a week away from St. Patricks day!  I am not irish, but I love a reason to celebrate.  :-)  Last year we did a mystery dinner with the kids for Valentine's Day.  They loved it so much they asked to do it again, so this year, we are doing it on St. Patrick's day.

I will post many more pictures after the event, but I will try to give you a good description here.

Here's our menu so far:

Shamrock Shake  (this will be a green veggie salad in a jar w/dressing that they will shake to mix)
4-leaf clover         (mini-pizza in a clover shape, I'll use a cookie cutter)
Leprechaun Pie    (shepherds pie, recipe found here)
Pot of gold           (lemon jello in a lime pot)
over the rainbow   (fruit kebab in the colors of the rainbow.  strawberry, cantelope, banana, kiwi, blueberry
emerald isle           (green punch)
digging for gold     (spoon)
Blarney Stone       (fork)
St. Pat's sword       (knife)
Irish kiss                (napkin)

Dessert is yet to be determined, both what it is and what I'll call it.  Although, I may just do it as it.  There is alot of balance here, vegetables, starch, meat, fruit, etc.    I will be making a menu with all the fun names, and a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd course.  The kids will put the items they want in which course.   You'll notice some of the items are utensils!  It's always fun to see how it all ends up.  I will definitely keep you posted as we get closer to the event!

Irish blessings to you all.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

BBQ Chicken Quinoa Salad

This Salad was sooo yummy!  I really like quinoa, but I haven't done a ton of things with it, so I'm always looking for ideas.  Plus, I bought a giant bag from Costco.

This recipe comes from What's Gaby cooking.  It calls for bbq sauce, but I have to say, I didn't actually use it because my chicken was plenty bbq.  I hope you enjoy!

1 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup corn
1/2 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup shredded BBQ chicken
1 avocado, chopped
2 tbsp White Cheddar cheese, shredded
2-4 tbsp BBQ sauce
2 scallions, chopped
cilantro for garnish

In a large bowl, toss together the quinoa, corn, black beans, chicken and avocado. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer mixture onto a bowl and top with shredded cheese, BBQ sauce, scallions and cilantro.
Serve warm or at room temperature