Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mexican Rice

This recipe is one of our favorite sides to have with tacos or burritos. I've made my share of prepackaged mixes, and homemade is so much better! It's especially good with my refried black beans here. You can change the heat of the dish with the type of canned diced tomatoes with green chilies you buy.

Mexican Rice
2 TBSPs vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup uncooked white rice
2 cups chicken broth
1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles (undrained)
1/4 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder, or to taste
1 tsp salt

1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion, and bell pepper; saute until soft. Add rice; cook and stir until rice is lightly browned.
2. Stir in chicken broth and tomatoes. Season with cumin, chili powder, and salt.
3. Bring to a boil. Cover, and reduce heat. Simmer for 25 minutes, or until rice is cooked and liquid is absorbed.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Beef and Cheese Manicotti

So, this is my third manicotti recipe I've posted, but what can I say...I love cheese stuffed pasta! This version is more substantial, with a filling consisting mostly of ground beef. Another fabulous find to add to my collection!

Beef and Cheese Manicotti
Giada De Laurentiis
4 tsps olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 pound ground beef
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
14 (8-ounce package) manicotti
1 (15-ounce) container whole-milk ricotta
3 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup grated Parmesan
2 TBSPs chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 24oz. jar of marinara sauce
2 TBSPs, cut into pieces

1. Heat a heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, onion and ground beef. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until the meat browns and the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and cool.
2. Brush 1 teaspoon of oil over a large baking sheet. Cook the manicotti in a large pot of boiling salted water until slightly softened, but still very firm to the bite, about 4 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the manicotti from the pot to the oiled baking sheet and cool.
3. Meanwhile, combine the ricotta, 1 1/2 to 2 cups mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and parsley. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper to taste, and mix. Stir the cooled meat mixture into the cheese mixture.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
5. Brush the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil over a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Spoon 1 1/2 cups of the marinara sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. Fill the manicotti with the cheese-meat mixture. Arrange the stuffed pasta in a single layer in the prepared dish and spoon the remaining sauce over.
6. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese, then the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan over the stuffed pasta. Dot entire dish with the butter pieces. Bake the manicotti uncovered until heated through and the sauce bubbles on the sides of the dish, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let the manicotti stand 5 minutes and serve.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

I love an easy slow cooker dish! Using a good bottled BBQ sauce is the trick to making this taste amazing. I like to use Stubbs or Sweet Baby Ray's Sweet ’n Spicy. I think that a spicy, not sweet,  BBQ sauce works best in this recipe because the addition of brown sugar adds the sweetness. I also like to top my BBQ sandwiches with my cole slaw found here.

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken
adapted from
6 frozen skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 can of chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
1 (12 ounce) bottle BBQ sauce
1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 TBSPs Worcestershire sauce

1. Place chicken in a slow cooker. Pour chicken broth over the chicken, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Cook on low 6-8 hours.
3. Remove chicken from slow cooker, and drain the remaining liquid. Shred chicken and place back in slow cooker.
4. In a bowl, mix the BBQ sauce, Italian salad dressing, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over the chicken and stir to combine.
5. Cover, and cook on low 1 more hour.
Serve on buns or rolls and top with extra sauce, pickles, and or cole slaw.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dessert Idea - Ice Cream Pie

This dessert is so easy, there is no recipe required. All you need is a chocolate cookie crust, a tub of ice cream, and any fun toppings you like. I used mint chocolate chip ice cream, and to make it extra special, topped it with some pieces of mint Oreos. Let the ice cream sit out until it's soft enough to spread into the crust, then top with desired toppings. Freeze until firm, and remove from the freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Slow Cooker Apricot Chicken

When I first made this a couple of months ago, I was on the fence as to whether or not it should go on my blog. We had it for the THIRD time last night, and I determined that it does belong. It's easy, only takes a few ingredients, and everyone in my family likes it (all huge pluses). It has an interesting flavor and I will definitely continue to make it. Update: I have made this a bunch of times now. I do it a little differently than originally posted, and have changed the recipe. I decreased the dressing and jam amounts because there was so much excess sauce. I have also used Catalina and French dressings when I couldn't find Russian, and they taste about the same.

Slow Cooker Apricot Chicken
adapted from
6-8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (can be frozen)
1 cup Russian salad dressing
1 cup apricot jam
1 package dry onion soup mix

In a medium sized bowl mix the dressing, jam, and onion soup mix. Place the chicken in a slow cooker and pour the apricot mixture over. Cover and cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 8-10. Serve with rice.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Gooey Cookies and Cream Chocolate Cake Bars

This recipe has everything you could ever want in a dessert...cake, cookies, and chocolate! When I found this recipe online I had to try it because my husband has a thing for Oreos. It's easy (you don't even need a mixer) and has just a few ingredients. We all loved it, especially my husband. :)

Gooey Cookies and Cream Chocolate Cake Bars
1 devils food cake mix
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1  can (14oz.) sweetened condensed milk
14 Oreos, broken into bite size pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a 9×13 inch baking pan with foil sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Place cake mix, butter and egg into a large bowl, mixing to combine. Use your hands, it works much quicker. Press into prepared baking pan. Top with broken pieces of cookies.
3. Pour sweetened condensed milk over cookies and top with chocolate chips. Bake for 23-25 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from oven.
4. After 5 minutes of cooling, run a plastic knife around edges to loosen, this makes it much easier to remove from foil. Let cool completely, remove foil from pan, then cut into squares.
Makes 12 bars

Monday, August 1, 2011

Side Idea - Fruit Basket

If you're having fruit as a side dish at a party, or just want something fancy looking, try using a watermelon as a bowl. To make one like this, I cut the watermelon in half and made a zigzag pattern on the edge with a knife. Then I scooped out the inside with a melon baller and dumped the juice out. Add whatever fruit you like.