Thursday, January 28, 2010

Easy Weeknight Meals

One of these recipes is a new recipe and the other is an old favorite, but both are super easy. The hardest and most time consuming part of both recipes is cooking and cutting up the chicken. I bought enough chicken for both recipes and cooked it all at one time in an effort to save time. Both recipes make a lot of food, so if you are cooking for two you will have plenty of leftovers (yes, mom and dad you heard that right, I do eat leftovers!).

Chile Chicken Enchiladas

I like Mexican food, but I don't really like to go to Mexican restaurants because you never know what they will put in their food and to be honest their chicken kinda creeps me out sometimes. So, when I saw this recipe I thought it would be good to try. Plus it came at Laura's recommendation and she is almost as picky as I am, so I figured it couldn't be too bad. This recipe came from

1 can (19 oz) enchilada sauce (any variety)
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (6 oz)
1 cup sour cream
1 can (4.5 oz) chopped green chiles
1 package (11 oz) flour tortillas for burritos (8 tortillas; 8 inch)
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (4 oz)
Chopped avocado or green onions, if desired

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom of 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1/2 cup enchilada sauce in bottom of baking dish. In medium bowl, stir together chicken, Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream and chiles.

Spoon about 1/3 cup chicken mixture down center of each tortilla. Roll up tortillas; arrange, seam sides down, in baking dish. Top enchiladas with remaining enchilada sauce. Sprinkle with Cheddar cheese. Spray sheet of foil with cooking spray; cover baking dish with foil, sprayed side down.

Bake 35 minutes. Remove foil; bake 5 to 10 minutes longer or until hot and cheese is melted. Top with avocado or green onions. If desired, serve with lettuce, chopped tomato and additional sour cream.

We omitted the chiles because I am not big on spicy food, but we both agreed it needed something to give it a little bit of a kick. Next time I think I might add some taco sauce or a little hot sauce or maybe even a little pepper jack cheese just to give it a little something extra. I also wanted to try a recipe I have for apple burritos for dessert, but Scott gave me a lecture about how we need to start eating healthier, so those will have to wait until another day.

Classic Chicken Pot Pie

I usually work a lot of long hours during the months of January and February (joys of being an accountant at year end), so easy to make meals are a must. I made the pot pie this past Monday, but made the filling for it Sunday night (while the enchiladas were baking). Then when I got home on Monday all I had to do was unroll the premade crust, dump in the filling, top it with the second crust and pop it in the oven, it literally took me less than five minutes. I almost think it tasted better by making the filling the night before because it gave all the flavors time to mesh together. This recipe is courtesy of

1 box Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box

1/3 cup butter or margarine
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 3/4 cups chicken broth (from 32-oz carton)
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken or turkey
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed

Heat oven to 425°F. Make pie crusts as directed on box for Two-Crust Pie using 9-inch glass pie pan.

In 2-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until well blended. Gradually stir in broth and milk, cooking and stirring until bubbly and thickened.

Stir in chicken and mixed vegetables. Remove from heat. Spoon chicken mixture into crust-lined pan. Top with second crust; seal edge and flute. Cut slits in several places in top crust.

Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. During last 15 to 20 minutes of baking, cover crust edge with strips of foil to prevent excessive browning. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

You can use whatever type of frozen veggies you desire. We used a bag with carrots, peas, corn & green beans, but Scott insisted we pick all the green beans out since he doesn't like them and I only eat the corn any way.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Monday Night is Calzone Night!

Scott tends to get on kicks with food where he likes to eat the same thing over and over again for weeks. It got so bad with chicken tacos that his sister (and my former roommate) Laura refuses to ever eat them again. So, one day I bought some Trader Joe's pizza dough and decided to try to make some calzones. They were so delicious that we craved them all the time. Eventually Scott named Monday night as calzone night and we eat them while we watch Big Bang Theory (the best show ever!) and the other CBS Monday night shows (the only shows we can agree on!).


There really is no recipe for these, you just throw everything together. I highly recommend the pizza ingredients from Trader Joe's. Their pizza dough, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni and pizza sauce are all excellent and very reasonably priced. The dough is premade and in a bag and can be found in the refrigerated section by the cheese. We use the pizza sauce in a jar, not the refrigerated stuff.

Here's what you need:

pizza dough
pizza sauce
mozzarella cheese
your favorite pizza toppings

If you are using the Trader Joe's dough, divide the dough into 4 pieces. Roll out each piece on a flour covered surface, or you can carefully stretch it with your hands. Layer your pizza toppings, a little cheese and a spoonful of sauce on one half of each piece of dough. Fold the dough in half and pinch the sides to seal. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake according to the pizza dough directions. Heat up some extra sauce to dip your calzone in as you eat it.

Scott likes his with hamburger, onion & pepperoni. I like mine with pepperoni, but prefer just cheese. We usually cook the pepperoni in a skillet first so that they aren't so greasy. I also cook a pound or so of hamburger at a time with some onion and garlic and keep it in the freezer, so it is faster to put the calzones together. Hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Soft Pretzels

This past Monday, Scott insisted we buy extra pizza dough and try to make soft pretzels, even though we had no idea how to make them. I divided the dough in pieces and rolled and shaped the dough with my hands, but it is so stretchy it was hard to maintain any kind of shape. We brushed them with melted butter and sprinkled them with a little coarse salt. We then baked them according to the dough directions.

Neither one of us cared for them that much. It pretty much just tasted like a buttery, salty breadstick. Later I found a recipe that said to brush the dough with a beaten egg, rather than butter, so maybe we will try that next time.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Game Night

I hosted a game night for my friends at my house over the weekend and needed to feed 13 adults and 6 kids. I figured the easiest way to feed this many people was to make a big pot of chili and potato soup (the kiddos got chicken nuggets and french fries). Both recipes are very easy and everyone enjoyed them. I will have to take their word on the chili since I don't eat it. ;)


I found this recipe on, one of my favorite recipe sites!

2 pounds ground beef
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced (I usually throw in a little extra)
2 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp salt
2 tsp dried oregano
4 (14.5 oz) cans stewed tomatoes (I use crushed tomatoes)
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans with liquid (I actually used 3 cans kidney beans and 3 cans chili beans, you can also use black beans if you desire)

Combine ground beef, onion and garlic in large stockpot. Cook and stir over medium heat until beef is brown. Drain.

Stir in chili powder, salt, oregano, tomatoes and tomato sauce; break up tomatoes while stirring. Heat to boiling, reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally for 1 hour.

Stir in beans. Simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes; stir occasionally.

Smashed Potato Soup (aka No Chunk Potato Soup)

This recipe came from the Pampered Chef "It's Good for You" cookbook

1/2 cup coarsely chopped carrot
1/2 cup coarsely chopped celery
1 package (1 pound, 4 oz) refrigerated mashed potatoes
1 can (14.5 oz) 99% fat free chicken broth
1/2 cup fat free milk
1 garlic clove, pressed (I use 3 or 4)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
2 tbsp snipped fresh parsley (optional, I don't use it)

Optional toppings: sliced green onion, reduced fat cheddar cheese, crumbled turkey bacon

Coarsely chop carrot & celery using food chopper. Place mashed potatoes in medium saucepan. Gradually add broth and milk, whisking until mixture is smooth. Stir in carrot, celery, garlic, salt and pepper. Bring to boil, reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes.

Remove from heat; stir in sour cream and parsley. Ladle soup into bowls; top with desired toppings.

Yield: 4 servings

I think the soup is a little bland, so I add extra garlic and onion powder while it is cooking and some cheddar cheese at the end. For those of you with a pantry full of Tastefully Simple products I like to use Garlic, Garlic and Onion, Onion. When I made the soup for game night I didn't have enough sour cream, but did have ranch dip on hand, so I used part sour cream and part ranch dip. I also think this is a recipe that tastes better the next day after it sits in the fridge for a while.

Last but not least....

No meal is ever complete without dessert! I got the Wilton Giant Cupcake Pan for Christmas, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try it out. The instructions on the box said it takes more than one cake mix if you are using the box mix. I ended up with the giant cupcake and 48 mini cupcakes and still had batter left over. Next time I think I will stick with one box of mix.

Right after I took these pictures I dropped 6 mini cupcakes, 3 landed right on top of the giant cupcake and 3 on the floor. Oh well....I don't think anyone noticed ;)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Favorite Party Recipes

As the Super Bowl approaches I thought I would post some of my favorite party recipes. I make these three recipes almost every time I have people over. I made all three for New Year's Eve, but that was before I got the idea to start this blog. Next time I make them I will take a picture and update this post.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

I got this recipe off of It was one of the winners of a contest they ran before the Super Bowl last year. I made it for the Super Bowl party we went to because it sounded easy to make. When I told Scott what I was going to make he could not grasp the concept and kept asking me what he was going to dip his chicken wings in. The guys at the party devoured the dip and I barely got a taste. Scott even makes it for himself now and eats it as a meal.

1 - 8oz pkg cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup ranch dip
6 to 8 tbsp hot sauce (we use Frank's Red Hot - 6 tbsp is plenty for me because I am not big on spicy foods)
2 cups Oscar Meyer cooked chicken, finely shredded (we buy chicken breasts and cook it ourselves)
4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
tortilla chips or crackers

Place cream cheese and ranch dip in medium bowl and stir to combine. (Scott swears it tastes better if you use a mixer, I can't tell a difference.) Add hot sauce. Fold in chicken. Spread over the bottom of pie plate & top with cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 to 25 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.

We usually double the recipe so there are leftovers. :)

Mexican Dip

I got this recipe from a coworker and it is one of those recipes where it was good I tried it before I knew what was in it. I normally don't like cottage cheese, but you can't even tell that it is in here. Every time I make this recipe for someone new they ask for the recipe.

8 oz cream cheese
16 oz small curd cottage cheese
1 packet taco seasoning
8 oz jar chunky salsa
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
about 1/4 cup sour cream
about 1 cup shredded lettuce
3 diced roma tomatoes
3 diced green onions
1 small can sliced black olives-drained
tortilla chips

Cream cream cheese, cottage cheese and taco seasoning with a mixer. Spread in 9x13 dish and chill overnight. Spread salsa over cheese layer and top with shredded cheddar and drizzle with sour cream. Top with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, green onions and black olives. You can also add jalapeƱo peppers on top if you like, or you can omit a topping you don't like, very versatile.

*I usually divide this amongst two 8x8 dishes that way I can keep one cold in the fridge while the other sits out during a party. I never put the black olives on it anymore because we experimented one time and put black olives only on half and no one touched that half, so I came to the conclusion that none of my friends like black olives. ;)

Party Mix

This recipe also came from one of my coworkers and I have to warn you that it is very addicting. Once you start eating it it's hard to stop! I don't follow the recipe exactly, but it is very versatile, so you can add or omit whatever you like. Don't get weirded out by the brown paper bag! Here is how I make it:

2 - 1oz envelopes ranch salad dressing mix (the powder stuff - I use Hidden Valley that comes in a two pack)
4 tbsp dried dillweed
1 box Krispix cereal
1 bag oyster crackers
1 bag pretzel sticks
1 container peanuts
1 box Cheez-its
1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
brown paper grocery bag

In a very large bowl (I just use the paper bag), combine all snack items. Toss to mix. Sprinkle with dressing mix and dillweed. Toss to coat. Drizzle oil over mixture and toss to coat. Place mixture in brown paper bag and fold top of bag to secure. Let stand 2 hours moving bag to different sides every 15 minutes. (You may want to put something underneath the bag.) Store in airtight container.

You can use whatever types of snacks you like, Cheerios are good too!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Cakes (before any training)

I enjoy decorating cakes or making "festive" desserts for holidays. I have never had any kind of training for it, but I hope to start taking classes in February. These are some cakes I have done in the past.

This one was for the Super Bowl a few years ago

Super Bowl in Jan 2009, this time Scott insisted we added the goal posts.

This was Tara's birthday cake in July 2007

A birthday cake for work

Another birthday cake for work