"It's the company, not the cooking, that makes the meal!" ~Perilee 
(Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Chicken Chimi's!

My sister in law loves to cook and I love that she passes on her good finds. This is a recipe she got from her "Food Network Magazine".  We loved it! We don't have great Mexican restaurants near us.  I had fun preparing this one and Jack even joined me. We felt like want-to-be chefs in a kitchen.  We called the kids to dinner and welcomed them to a mexican restaurant. They thought we were so silly, but it was fun to enjoy this delicious dinner together.
 This is supposedly a copy cat of "Chi-Chi's" chimichangas 
* I didn't take a picture of this one until I had started chowing down so you get what you get! At least it has a picture I haven't been that ambitious for a while ;-)

Chi-Chi Copy Cat Chimichangas

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, diced (remove the seeds for less heat)
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Kosher salt
1 small tomato, chopped, plus more for topping
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 1/2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1/4 cup sour cream
1 (15 oz) can refried beans
4 (10-inch) flour tortillas (I used 10 fajita size and we thought they were perfect size! plus 2 10-inch)
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese, plus more for topping
Mexi-sauce, for topping (see recipe below)
Shredded lettuce, for topping
Mexican rice for a side

Preheat oven to 450. Melt the butter with 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil in a skillet; transfer to a bowl.  Heat the remaining 2 Tablespoons oil in the skillet.  Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeno and cook until soft, about 3 minutes.  Add the chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon salt, toast 30 seconds.  Add the tomato and cilantro and cook until slightly dry, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the chicken and sour cream and warm through.  Remove from the heat.

Brush a rimmed baking sheet with some of the butter-oil mixture. Spread 2 Tablespoons refried beans down the center of each tortilla, leave a 2-inch border on both ends. Top with 1 cup chicken mixture and 1/4 cup cheese.  fold in the ends and roll up.

Put the chimichangas seam-side down on the baking sheet; brush with the butter-ol mixture. Bake 8 to 10 minutes per side, brushing again after you flip.  Top with the sauce, more cheese, lettuce and tomato.  Serve with rice and the remaining beans.

CHI-CHI Mexi-sauce

Saute 1/2 cup chopped onion and 2 cloves of in a skillet with vegetable oil.  Add a pinch of chili powder, cumin, sugar, and salt. (I really used my "pinch" spoon here); cook for 30 seconds.  Stir in two  4-ounce cans chopped green chiles (drained and rinsed); cook 2 minutes. Add 1 cup chicken broth and simmer until thickened, then puree. Stir in 1/4 cup chopped cilantro.

Black Beans & Rice with Apple Salsa and Chicken

I got this recipe from Our Best Bites who got it from Bon Appetit, January 2012.  I modified it to use what I had on hand. My twins loved it. Hugh not so much.

Black Beans & Rice with Apple Salsa and Chicken (omit for vegetarian meal)

1 cup peeled and chopped Granny Smith apple-- I used 1 gala and one macintosh apple
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion (I usually use sweet onion for everything!)
2 limes (I used 2 teaspoons bottled)

1/3 cup finely chopped green bell pepper (I used red)
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 Garlic cloves, finely minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 (13.5 oz) can chicken broth (use vegetable base/broth for vegetarian)
2 (15 oz ) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 rotisserie chicken, or 4 grilled chicken breast
4-6 lime wedges (optional)

Combine apple, cilantro, 2 Tablespoons onion, and the juice of half a lime (i used 2 teaspoons lime juice from bottle). Sprinkle with a little kosher salt and black pepper and set aside.

Combine remaining onion, bell peppers, and oil in a large skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until completely softened, 6-7 minutes.  Add garlic, and next three ingredients; stir constantly for 2 minutes.  Stir in broth and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer briskly, mashing some of the beans with the back of a spoon and stirring often, until sauce is thickening, 8-10 minutes (or longer if needed). Season with salt and pepper to taste and  big squeeze of lime juice (I didn't add more). Divide rice and beans among plates. Top with some apple salsa and chicken if desired.  Garnish with additional cilantro and lime wedges. Serves 4-6 ( This fed my family of 6 with left overs for the next day. Granted Hugh and Daisy didn't eat an adult size portion.)

For my chicken because I didn't want to stand out and grill in the cold!
I used thawed chicken tenders sprinkled with coarse kosher salt and a little pepper. Broiled on (third rack down) on a low broil setting for 10-15 minutes until done and juice ran clear.

Asian Noodle Soup

We tried this Asian Noodle soup for a quick lunch this weekend and everyone enjoyed it. Jack loved the base of this soup and had many new variations he wants to try.

4 oz Shiitake mushrooms, stems removed (I used my dry Shiitakes and rehydrated them prior to adding)
2 cans chicken broth (14.5 oz each)
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons garlic, finely minced
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon ground dried ginger
1 cup angel hair pasta, broken into pieces (I measured mine out to 2.5 oz)
3/4 cup skinless boneless chicken breast, shredded or cubed tofu (4 oz) - (3 Costco chicken tenders)
1/2 cup carrots, julienned or thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced (optional)

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, combine chicken broth with 1 1/2 cups water, the soy sauce, garlic, and ginger; bring to a simmer.  Add mushrooms, pasta, chicken or tofu and carrots; simmer until mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in sesame oil, and desired green onions.

Recipe sources--Mushroom Council via Cooking.com

Pumpkin Cobbler

This tasty fall dessert has many names! Pumpkin Cobbler, pumpkin crumble, pumpkin pie cake, and more. If you like pumpkin pie it is almost guaranteed that you will enjoy this little piece of indulgence. I got this recipe from my talented friend Nicole. I modified it by cutting the melted butter down and added chopped pecans! I love nuts in my desserts.

Pumpkin Cobbler

3 eggs- beat until frothy
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2/3 cup sugar
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Combine all the ingredients and pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan.

One box (18.25 oz) Yellow cake mix (or I have seen white in other recipes)
1/2-1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
3/4 cup melted cup of butter.

Sprinkle pumpkin mixture with the try cake mix, followed by the nuts, and then drizzle with the melted butter.

Bake at 325, for 45-60 minutes or until the tope is golden brown and a knife o skewer can be inserted in the center and comes out clean.

Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a sweetened whipped cream.

Apple Crisp

Nothing says its fall like the smells of apples baking in the oven! Here is one of our favorite classics.

Apple Crisp

Apple Filling (What I use for my freezer apple crisp filling in the fall)
6 cups cored, sliced, peeled apples
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons All-purpose flour or 1 Tablespoon quick Tapioca
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8-1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Mix together all ingredients and pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan.

1 cup oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans, optional
1/2 cup butter, melted

Mix together well and crumble over the apple filling. Bake as desired-oven or crock-pot.

I put this in the oven at 350 for 45 minutes or in my crockpot for 2 hours on high or 4 hours on low.

Serve warm or cold, but at our house its always al-a-mode!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Scrambled Egg, Tomato, and Avocado Sandwiches

I made this for Jack's breakfast-in-bed Father's Day. It got a 5 Star rating from Jack and the kids. It has become a breakfast favorite for everyday as well as special occasions; we also love it for dinner.  We love the mayonnaise on other sandwiches too. (Thank you emeals.com for another great favorite!)

I love to use my English muffin bread from Bountiful Baskets for this sandwich too! This is a classic that you are bound to fall in love with if you love eggs for breakfast.

Mayonnaise spread:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (or more to taste our favorite is Sriracha)
1/2 teaspoon season salt

4 large eggs, beaten
8 slices of your favorite bread toasted
1 avocado sliced
1 tomato sliced

Spread mayo mixture on your toast, top with eggs, tomatoes, and avocado if desired. ENJOY!

Serve with a fruit salad side

1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup halved seedless grapes
1/4 cup blueberries
1 banana, sliced
2 Tablespoons sugar

Toss fruits together and serve.

Portobello Burgers

Jack discovered and prepared this tasty burger for us this summer. It has become a meatless favorite.

Portobello Burgers
Recipe courtesy Sandra Lee via Foodnetwork.com 

Prep Time:10 minInactive Prep Time: -- Cook Time:10 min
4 serving

4 portobello mushrooms, stems on
2 teaspoons grill seasoning
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup grated Cheddar
1/4 cup mayonnaise
4 hamburger buns, toasted
4 leaves romaine lettuce
1 tomato, sliced
Rub the mushroom caps with a damp cloth to clean. Remove stems and reserve for Round 2 recipe "Stuffed Zucchini".

In a small bowl combine the grill seasoning, oil, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and vinegar. Brush over the mushrooms making sure to coat completely. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the marinade for the aioli.

Heat a grill pan or outdoor grill on medium heat. Put the mushrooms, gill side down, onto the grill and grill about 4 to 5 minutes on each side. After you flip the mushrooms top each with 2 tablespoons of Cheddar.

While the mushrooms are grilling, make the aioli sauce by combining the remaining 2 tablespoons of the marinade with the mayonnaise in a small bowl. Spread each hamburger bun with aioli sauce. Remove mushrooms from the grill and serve on the toasted buns with lettuce and tomato slices.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com

Friday, May 10, 2013

German Chocolate Cookie Bars

I have so many recipes "pinned" that I want to try, but often don't get around to trying them because I haven't planned well enough that I have the items on hand.  These little bar cookies were a hit for my family! I had everything but the box cake on hand so it was easy enough to pick up one ingredient to give it a whirl! (This recipes came from www.favfamilyreipces.com)

German Chocolate Cookie Bars

1 box Devil's Food cake mix (not the kind with pudding added)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk (fat free works great too!)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 cup milk chocolate chip


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Greased a 9 x 13-inch baking pan; spray with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, mix together the cake mix, butter eggs, and press into the bottom of the prepared pan.  The crust should not come up the sides. Bale for 7 minutes and remove from oven. The crust will not look done.

While the crust is baking, mix together the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, eggs, pecans and coconut.  Pour evenly over the warm crust and sprinkle evenly with the chocolate chips.  Bake for 24-30 minutes, until the top is  light golden brown.  Remove from the oven and cool completely before cutting into squares.

Watch them disappear!


My little sister that lives in New York keeps me on my toes. Oh how I love her! We live far to many miles apart, which makes me forever grateful for the technologies of todays day and age. Am am grateful that she makes me feel so good by occasionally using my blog. She is a great editor by the way! She catches all my little mistakes and I love it!

We both inherited the "sweet tooth" gene! This morning she was asking for some good cookie recipes to take to her weekend filled with parties.  I starting thinking of all the yummy cookies and  bar cookies. Then I thought thats the last thing someone 36 weeks pregnant wants to do is stand in the kitchen making batches and batches of cooks.  So I gave her all my favorite no bake options.  I am grateful that she actually uses my blogs because she helps me discover my favorites that I don't have on her yet! So today I will post a few cookie recipes for her. These are always a huge hit no matter the occasion. I can't make them very often because I can eat the whole pan by myself one sliver at a time in about 24 hours! Serious.


1 cup Sugar
1 cup Peanut Butter
1 cup Corn Syrup
6 cups Rice Krispies (of Corn Chex for a gluten free version)
1 (6 oz) bag chocolate chips
1 (6 oz) bag butterscotch chips

In a large saucepan, combine sugar and corn syrup. Heat to dissolve sugar and bring to a boil; remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter. Add Rice Krispies and mix well until blended. Press into a buttered 9 x 13 inch pan. In small saucepan, melt together chocolate and butterscotch chips. Spread combined mixture over top of Rice Krispies mixture. Cut into 36 bars. More like 16 if I am eating them! 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Jack's Favorite Salad

We call this Jack's favorite salad for lack of knowing the real name. I think he got the original recipe from one of his sister Echo's cookbooks. In the 12 years I have been married to Jack I have always referred to it as his favorite. This salad is light and refreshing. It is one of those salads though that once you put the dressing on it, it must be eaten up or it goes extremely soggy and doesn't keep well.

Jack's Favorite Salad

1/2 cups sliced almonds
3 Tablespoons Sugar
1/2 head Iceberg lettuce
1/2 head Romaine lettuce
1 cup chopped celery
2 green onions
1 (11 oz) can mandarin oranges

1/2 teaspoon salt
dash pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil (we always use canola)
1 Tablespoon Fresh Chopped parsley (can be made without if you don't happen to have it).
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons Vinegar
Dash Tabasco sauce (to taste) {I put for shakes/drops in the last time me made it and it gave the salad a bite. I recommend 1 -2 drops being the best results).

In a small sauce pan over medium heat cook almonds with sugar stirring constantly (5-8 minutes.) Cool and store in airtight container. *Don't put them in plastic containers it will melt because the nuts are so hot!

Mix salad dressing and chill until ready to serve. Add almonds, oranges, and dressing just before serving.

Chess Squares

Recently a group of friends gathered for a surprise birthday party for Nicole. Nicole's mother did a bang up job with a pasta bar and dessert bar menu for everyone. Sharla brought these "Too-licious" dessert bars. I have to admit I ate more than one! They look very similar to a lemon bar. The texture is much the same as well. They are sweet and heavenly. My family loves them. Cameron was begging for me to get the recipe from Sharla so we could have them again.  I finally did it and we served them at our weekly Sunday family dinner. My niece who hates lemon bars, loved these and gave them a BIG 5 stars! Thank you Sharla for finding and sharing this recipe with us.

Chess Squares

1 box yellow cake mix
3 eggs
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, melted
4 cups (1 lb) powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 300 F degrees and spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.  Mix cake mix, melted butter, and one egg into a soft dough.  Press into the bottom of the pan. Mix powdered sugar, soften cream cheese and remaining two eggs until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Pour on top of crust.  Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the top is a golden brown.

(Mine seemed to take closer to an hour and I had my oven at 325. Just go for the nice golden color and you should be fine.)

Gingerbread Cookie

Quin loves gingerbread! It's hard for me to believe that a young kid can love the ginger flavor so much. It was an acquired taste for me that took a few years. But he loves a real strong flavored gingerbread-to strong for my taste at times. But I am glad he knows what he loves!

These are a cookie that we all love. They are a soft gingerbread cookie not crunchy. I found the recipe from my "pins" for cookies and desserts. It comes from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. We leave the white chocolate step off and enjoy them all the same. I think that it would be just as easy to put a white "kiss" on top too.

Gingerbread Cookies
 (www.culinaryconcoctionsbypeabody.com who adapted it from McCormick and Company Inc.)
**plan ahead needs 4 hours to overnight to chill before baking.**

3 cups flour
2 teaspoons Ginger, ground
2 teaspoon Cinnamon, ground
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg, ground
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup white chocolate chips

Mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in large bowl.

Beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl with mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add molasses, egg, and vanilla; beat well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Press dough into a thick flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar. Place 2-inches apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges of cookies just begin to brown.  Immediately press about 5-6 white chocolate chips into venter of each cookie. Remove to wire racks; cool completely. Store cookie in airtight container up to 5 days (they never last that long around here!)

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

This cookie is delicious! I got it out of my "The New Best Recipe" book. It is like eating a cookie from a gourmet cookie shop. They add an extra egg yoke and melt the butter, which they say is what helps the cookie keep its soft texture. Like all cookies they are best hot out of the oven. We made a double batch and froze them individually wrapped for school lunches and they were just as tasty.

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies "The New Best Recipes", p.776)

2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons (10 5/8 ounces) Flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until just warm
1 cup packed (7 oz) light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) granulated sugar
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Adjust the oven racks to the upper and lower middle positions and heat the oven to 325 F degrees.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

Either by hand or with an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended.

Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined.  Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in the chips to taste.

Roll a scant 1/4 cup of the dough into a ball. Hold the dough ball with fingertips of both hands and pull into 2 equal halves.  Rotate the halves 90 degrees and , with jagged surfaces facing up, join the halves together at the base, agin forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth the dough's uneven surface. Place the formed dough ball on the prepared baking sheets, jagged surface up, spacing them 2 1/2" inches apart.

Bake until the cookies are light golden brown, the outer edges start to harden, and the centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time.  Cool the cookies on the sheets. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets with a wide metal spatula.

In my convection multi-rack setting of my oven I bake it at 325 convection for 13 minutes and do not rotate my pans.

Grilled Teriyaki Salmon

This recipe is one inspired from my recent Turbo Fire program menus. This marinated fish with a homemade Teriyaki sauce was to die for fish! This like all the fish we grill at home beats most fish dishes we have had at most restaurant for the fraction of the price!

If you enjoy fish. You are going to LOVE this recipe! It was worth standing in the snow and the dark to enjoy this healthy and tasty fish. The marinade is not over powering and gives the fish a well balanced dose of Teriyaki. (Sometimes Teriyaki dishes can be to sweet for me, but this was perfect.  I am going to try it on other meats as well.)

Grilled Teriyaki Salmon

Salmon fillets (fresh or frozen)
If fish is frozen thaw prior to placing in marinade

For the Marinade (from allrecipes.com)

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
3 Tablespoons white sugar
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 1/4 teaspoon white vinegar
2 1/4 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon dried onion flakes
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon grated (or minced if you hate cleaning the grater ;-) ) fresh ginger

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together until sugar dissolved. ( It was taking to long for me to dissolve that sugar so I put it in the microwave for 30-60 seconds to heat it up a little. This did the trick.)
Voila- homemade marinade!

I used half the marinade and poured it into a gallon ziplock bag over my thawed fish.  (I used 3 frozen salmon fillets from Costco). Let fish marinade at least 1 hour. (You can let it marinade over night too.)

Grill the fish for 5 minutes on each side.

Grill canned, drained pineapple rings for two minutes and sear.

Serve grilled fish and pineapple with your favorite side of rice and vegetable.

 **Again no picture! Keeping up with my new business jillcarpenter.myitworks.com, my four darling munchkins and my handsome hubby. I am finding less and less time to take my pictures and blog about our good eats. (Which seem to be random at best lately too. Enjoying the season of life which I am in is my goal at this point and time in my life.)

Black Rice with Sweet Potatoes

So this recipe is one my Cameron LOVES! He is always asking, "Mom, can we have black rice?" We bought a bag of Natures Earthly Choice Black Rice from Costco last fall. It was only a small 4 lb. bag. I have been rationing when we make it because like many items at Costco you see them once and may not see them again for a while. At least that's how it goes for us.

I don't have a picture of this new favorite but wanted to be sure to get it on my blog before my next trip to UTAH.  Who knows maybe the Utah Costco's will have some that I can pick up.

This recipe is a quick and simple recipe. Cooks in roughly 35-45 minutes.

Black Rice with Sweet Potatoes

3/4 cup Black Rice
1 1/2 cup water
3/4 teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
3/4 cup scallions ~ 1 bunch (I use sweet onions if I don't have scallions I think I like it this way best.)
1 Tablespoon Fresh Ginger, peeled and minced
1 Sweet Potato, Large (12-14 oz) Peeled and diced

Bring rice, water, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to a boil in 1.5-2 Qt. sauce pan, then reduce heat to low and cook rice covered until tender and most of the water is absorbed (about 35 minutes).

Let rice stand covered, off the heat for 10 minutes.  While rice is cooking, heat oil in a 12", nonstick skillet over moderately high heat. Saute scallions, ginger, and sweet potato stirring until coated well about 2 minutes. REeduce heat to moderate and add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste, then cook covered stirring occasionally, until potato is just tender, about 12 minutes. Add rice and toss gently to combine.

Serves 4 (For our family of 6 I increase the rice to 1 cup and water to 2 cups. The normal rice ratio ;-) )