Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Halloween Tradition!

Dinner in a Pumpkin

1 medium (4 lb.) pumpkin
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 medium onion-diced
1 green pepper-diced
1 cup chopped celery
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar
small can of mushrooms
2 cups cooked rice

Cut off top of pumpkin and clean out seeds and goo.

Brown beef. Add chopped onion, green pepper, and celery. Cook until vegetables are soft.

Combine the remaining ingredients with the beef/vegetable mixture.

Pour mixture into pumpkin.

Bake at 350 for 1-1 1/2 hours.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Soup's On!

This is an amazing creation that came to me when I got home from my Thursday night class. Mark was feeling sick, so this hit the spot.

Potato Corn Chowder

2 Tbsp butter
1 small onion-diced
4 medium red potatoes-diced
1 can (1 2/3 cups) chicken broth
1 cup frozen corn
2 Tbsp flour
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp celery seed (optional)
2 cups milk
1 Tbsp chives
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese
1/3 cup bacon bits
dash cayenne pepper

Saute onion in butter on medium until soft.

Add potatoes and chicken broth; simmer on high for 15 minutes.

Add corn; continue to simmer on high for 5 minutes

Whisk flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed into milk. Add to soup. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add cheese, bacon, chives and cayenne pepper. Stir to combine.


No, seriously do.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

One Pan Baked Ziti

This will revolutionize the way you make pasta.

1 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 lb ground beef (optional)
1 14.5 oz can tomato sauce
Salt to taste
2 tsp dried basil (you can use fresh, but don't add it until the pasta has cooked)
2 cups water
2 1/2 cups penne pasta (any tube pasta will do)
1/4 cup heavy cream (I used 2% milk cuz it was all I had)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
pepper to taste
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Add oil, garlic, and red pepper flake to 10 inch skillet. Cook on medium for 1 minute. Add ground beef and brown. Add tomato sauce, salt, dried basil, water, and DRIED (yes dried) pasta. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium. Cook for 12-15 minutes (until pasta is soft), stirring occasionally. Stir in cream, parmesan, and pepper. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Cheesy Macaroni and Homemade Caesar Salad

Another great "throw-together what you have in the fridge/pantry" meal.

3 Cheese Macaroni: (ps, if you can't tell from the ingredients, this is not low-fat)

4-6 oz penne pasta (or you could use actual macaroni)
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup swiss cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese-divided
1/2 cup cheddar--divided
fresh cracked black pepper

Cook pasta according to directions on package.

Preheat oven to broil.

Return pasta to pot and melt butter into pasta. Add cream and stir. Stir in the swiss, half of the parmesan and half of the cheddar. Stir in Pepper. Add to oven-safe pan and top with remaining cheeses. Cook under broiler about 5 minutes or until topping is slightly browned.

Homemade Caesar Salad: (not as difficult as you might think)

6 large leaves of romaine lettuce
parmesan cheese
garlic crutons
Caesar dressing

Homemade Caesar dressing:
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 large clove garlic
1 tsp Dijon mustard
splash Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Homemade Garlic Crutons:
2 slices of bread (store-bought, sliced bread works just fine)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large garlic clove
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 350.

Cut bread into cubes-set aside.

Heat oil in small, oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and herbs and cook for 1 minute. Add bread cubes and saturate in oil.

Bake for 10 minutes or until dried-up and crisp, tossing occasionally. Let cool.

Assemble salad and enjoy.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

What to do with a FREE grill...

We scored a FREE barbecue grill on the side of the road about a week ago (thanks a bunch to our friends Jordon and Annie who spotted it on their way to our house). Don't worry, we didn't steal it; it was sitting on the side of the road with a sign that said "Free. Works great. Needs propane." So we used it for the first time yesterday and made some delicious grilled pork chops.

2-4 boneless sirloin pork chops
salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 splashes lemon juice
1 splash cider vinegar
1 splash Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp(ish) fresh tarragon (We have some in our back yard thanks to our earthy upstairs neighbor if you'd like to borrow it; fresh herbs are expensive and hard to find)
grill seasoning to taste

Mix all ingredients for glaze. Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Cook chops on grill and occasionally baste with glaze.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Fresh Summer Pasta Salad

Jordon and Annie wanted me to make a noodle salad to go with the buffalo roast that they cooked us for dinner (which was delicious, ps). I threw together what I had lying around. The lime juice, fresh mint, and veggies made it look and taste summery fresh.

penne pasta (or pasta of your choice)
yellow sweet bell pepper
red onion
fresh mint
parmesan cheese (feta would be better if you have it)

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup olive oil
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried basil (if you have fresh, use it and use more!!!)
1 Tbsp grill seasoning
1 Tbsp fresh mint
salt and pepper to taste

cook pasta according to directions on package. Drain and run under cool water.

chop vegetables and set aside.

whisk together all ingredients for dressing except olive oil. Slowly drizzle in oil while whisking the rest of the ingredients.

Mix cooled pasta, vegetables and dressing together. Add parmesan cheese. Refrigerate. The longer it sits the better it will be.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fun with Thai

I ventured out of my cooking comfort zone today and made a Thai inspired noodle dish. My last few attempts at Asian cooking have gone sour, but I'm pleased to report that with this dish, I have got my Asian mojo back! It's good; so try it!

cooking oil
stir-fry vegetables (fresh or frozen. I used fresh onion and fresh celery and about a cup of a frozen blend with green beans, mushrooms, and broccoli. Use whatever you like and have on hand.)
4-6 oz. thin spaghetti noodles
1 breast of chicken

1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp peanut butter
1 1/2 tsp corn starch (this could have been a mistake?)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp red pepper flake
1 large clove garlic

*please note that these and all of my measurements for that matter are estimates, as I do not use measuring cups or spoons while cooking

For sauce, whisk all ingredients together and set aside.

Cook noodles according to direction on package.

Place chicken in plastic bag and pound until about 1/4 inch thick (I use my rolling-pin for this, but you could use the smooth side of a meat mallet). Slice chicken into strips and set aside.

Heat 1-2 Tbsp oil in wok or skillet on medium-high. Add vegetables and stir-fry for about 5 minutes. Remove vegetables and set aside.

Add 1 more Tbsp of oil to pan and cook chicken until slightly browned.

Add vegetables, noodles, and sauce to pan. Stir to combine.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Chicken Alfredo with Peas

This is really simple. I made it for my husband when he was sick per his request, and I let him eat it on the couch.

2 chicken breasts
grill seasoning (I prefer McCormic's Montreal variety)

4-6 oz dried linguine
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
fresh ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed

Season chicken and cook on grill (My stove top grill pan works great, but you could also use an outdoor grill or just a regular stove top skillet.)

Meanwhile, cook linguine according to directions on package. Drain and return to pan. Add butter to noodles and melt. Add cream, parmesan cheese, garlic, and pepper and stir. Stir in peas. Slice chicken and serve over noodles.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Slow Cooked Pork Chops

This is the brain child of my husband who said "you should try slow cooking pork chops." They were much more tender than your average pork chops, and a new take on your classic "pork chops and apple sauce."

4 thin cut pork chops
salt and pepper to taste
1 apple, peeled and cubed
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

Add onion and apple to slow cooker. Season pork with salt and pepper and place on top of onion and apple. Mix remaining ingredients in small bowl. Pour over pork. Cook on low for 4 hours. enjoy.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Beef Fajitas (the "j" is not silent)

Tired of feeling bound to McCormick when it comes to fajitas? Try these babies:

12 oz package stir fry beef

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp lime or lemon juice
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp red pepper flake
1/4 tsp season salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
dash cayenne pepper

1 Tbsp cooking oil
red onion
1/2 green bell pepper
1/2 red bell pepper

1 Tbsp corn starch
2 Tbsp water

black beans

Place beef in zipper bag and pound with meat tenderizer or rolling pin. Mix marinade in small bowl and add to beef in bag. Let stand for at least an hour and up to 24 hours.

Heat oil in 10 inch skillet over med-high. Add onions and peppers and saute for 3 minutes. Add marinaded beef and saute for 3-5 minutes. Combine water and corn starch and add to pan. Cook until sauce is slightly thickened.

serve in tortillas with the fixins of your choice.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

That's Amore

Monday night was Pizza night at the Hollingshead residence. For the crust, I used a basic dough recipe I got from my mom (which I also use for fry scones and pita bread). For the sauce, I added some seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic salt, sugar, oregano, parsley) to a can of tomato sauce. Then, I topped it with mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, onions, and green peppers--it was your pretty standard pizza.

Here's the dough recipe (my dough was a little yeasty. I'm sure it was the preparation not the recipe. Nothing a little trial and error can't correct.)

1 Tbsp yeast
1/2 cup warm water
dash of sugar

In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast and sugar into warm water. Let stand until bubbly.

In the bowl of a mixer add:

2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp. salt
4 cups flour
yeast mixture
1 cup warm water

Knead for 3-5 minutes or until dough is smooth.

Form into ball and place in greased bowl. Let rise for 30 minutes to an hour (until doubled in size).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Punch dough and divide into two equal portions. Each half will make one 16'' pizza. If there's only a couple of you, wrap one half in plastic wrap and freeze for later use (when you're ready to use it, place frozen dough in greased bowl and let thaw for 8 hours). Roll dough into a flat circle. Place on baking pan and top with ingredients.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Eat Your Heart Out, Cafe Rio

Last Sunday I made slow-cooked sweet pork that my husband said was even better than Cafe Rio's. I got the basic idea from my mother-in-law, but put my personal Veda twist on it. It also fed us for 3 whole meals, which we didn't mind in the least.

medium sized pork roast
1 clove garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste
1 onion, roughly chopped
1/4 cup vinegar (I used regular distilled, cuz it's all I had, but cider vinegar would work well)

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup vinegar (cider or plain distilled)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard (or 1 Tbsp dry mustard)
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp chili powder

Place onions in bottom of slow cooker. Season pork with salt, pepper, and garlic and place on top of onions. Add vinegar. Cook on high for 3 hours or low for 5-6 hours. Shred pork, mix sauce ingredients together and add to cooker. Cook on low for another 2-3 hours. Serve in tortillas with rice and black beans. Cover with enchilada sauce (I recommend my homemade sauce found here) and cheese and microwave for 30 seconds. Serve with sour cream and lettuce.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

June Cleaver Called; She Wants Her Dinner Back

Yes, that's right, I made meatloaf. My husband was raised on the stuff, and, well, I wanted to impress him. I got the slightly updated recipe from Food Network star, Bobby Flay. I made it my way of course, mostly because I didn't have all the ingredients it called for. It was a success and my husband still loves me.

Here's the exact recipe I used tonight. It made enough to feed 3-4. (leftover loaf, here we come!)

Balsamic Glazed Meatloaf

1 Tbsp olive oil
¼ medium onion, finely diced
1 celery rib, finely diced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large or 2 small cloves garlic
¼ tsp crushed red pepper
1 egg
1 Tbsp parsley
1 tsp thyme or savory
1 lb ground beef
½ cup plain bread crumbs
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup ketchup, divided
¼ cup balsamic vinegar, divided

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Heat oil in a small skillet over med-heat. Add onion, celery, and salt and pepper; cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove from heat and cool.

In large bowl, beat egg with parsley and savory, and more salt and pepper to taste. Add beef, bread crumbs, cheese, ¼ cup ketchup, 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, and vegetable mixture. Gently mix with hands until combined. Form into loaf shape and place on baking dish. In a small bowl, mix ¼ cup ketchup and remaining balsamic vinegar. Brush glaze over loaf. Bake for 45 minutes. Serve with mashed potatoes and peas.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Variation on a Theme: Chicken Cordon Bleu

I've made traditional Chicken Cordon Bleu many times. It is simple, yet can be very time consuming. Last Saturday, I was jonesin' for a little Bleu but was hardly in the mood to slave over a hot stove, so I created this casserole version of the famous dish. It's pretty decent if you're into quick and easy meals.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can water
½ cup milk
¾ cup short-grain/arborio rice
¾ cup Swiss cheese
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
½ cup cubed ham (or 8 slices deli ham, sliced into strips)
2 chicken breasts, uncooked and cut into 1 inch cubes
Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Transfer to 9x9 baking dish. Bake for 35 minutes. Stir and bake for another 10 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with green beans or asparagus.

Here's my traditional recipe:

Chicken Cordon Bleu

2 chicken breasts
4 slices Swiss cheese
6 thinly sliced deli ham
2 Tbsp olive oil
½ cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten
1 cup plain bread crumbs, seasoned with 2 tsp fresh or dried thyme and 1 tsp grill seasoning

2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups milk (or 1 cup milk and 1 cup chicken broth)
2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
¼ cup swiss cheese (optional)

To prepare chicken:
Preaheat oven to 350.

Pound chicken using the flat side of meat tenderizer or a rolling pin until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Roll or fold chicken around divided ham and cheese. Secure chicken rolls with toothpicks.

Heat oil in a 10 inch skillet over med-high heat. Meanwhile, prepare a 3-dish breading system: 3 shallow dishes, one filled with flour seasoning, one with beaten egg, and one with bread crumbs and seasonings. Dip chicken first in flour, then in egg, and finally in bread crumbs, making sure chicken is coated thoroughly. Transfer chicken to skillet and fry each side for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown.

Transfer chicken to a small baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Serve with sauce, rice, and asparagus.

To prepare Sauce:
Melt butter in small sauce pan over med-heat. Add flour and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add seasonings and liquid. Cook until mixture simmers and thickens. Add mustard and cheese.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

My Idea of Health Food

Pasta Primavera

makes 2 servings

8 oz. linguini or pasta of your choice
2 Tbsp olive oil
½ medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small carrot, shredded
1 small zucchini, diced
1 can diced tomatoes
½ can tomato paste (about 2 Tbsp)
1 ½ tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flake (adjust for desired spiciness)
Salt and pepper to taste
parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to directions on package.

Heat oil in a 10 inch skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic; sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add carrot and zucchini; sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. (Some canned tomatoes are thicker than others; if the sauce seems really thick and is having a hard time simmering, add a ladle or two of pasta water). Stir cooked pasta into sauce and warm for a minute or two. Serve with fresh parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Mixing it up with Pork

Since our wedding in March, I've cooked with chicken and ground beef and chicken and ground beef. I was definitely in a slump, so, as per my husbands request, I splurged on pork chops. I found this great (and super easy) recipe on

Dijon Pork Chops

1 Tbsp olive oil
Grill seasoning
4 small pork chops or 2 large ones
½ medium yellow onion – sliced
3 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
3 Tbsp Italian Dressing
Black pepper

Heat oil in 10 inch skillet on med-high heat. Season pork with grill seasoning. Brown pork chops on each side for 3-5 minutes. Remove chops from pan and add onion. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Mix Dijon, dressing, and black pepper to taste. Add chops back to pan and spread sauce over them. Cook at med-low for 15 minutes.

I served it with roasted red potatoes (4 red potatoes-chopped, olive oil, grill seasoning, bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes) and frozen peas. But it would also be great with mashed potatoes and any other more creative vegetable.

Monday, May 5, 2008

!Feliz Cinco De Mayo! A Guide to Mexican Fare...

The original recipe I used for Mexican Lasagna back in 2003 came from the “Good Things Utah" Cookbook. Since then, it has been through many adaptations. I’ve made it with chicken, beef, and taco meat. I’ve put rice in it. I’ve put corn in it. I’ve made it with and without beans. It’s more of a method really, than an exact recipe.

The original recipe (which is delicious in its own right) resembles something like this: (It feeds 6-8—if you’re cooking for a smaller crowd, cut it in half)

1 lb ground beef or cooked and shredded chicken
½ medium yellow onion
½ green pepper
10 oz can enchilada sauce
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 package soft tortillas
8 oz shredded Colby jack cheese
16 oz can refried beans
4 oz can green chilies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make sauce, brown beef in 10 inch skillet on med-high heat and drain. Add onion and pepper and sauté until onion is soft and translucent. Add enchilada sauce and creamed soups. (If using chicken, just saute the onion and pepper in 1 Tbsp oil and add the chicken at this point.)

Begin layering by spreading ¼ cup of the sauce mixture into the bottom of a 9x13 lasagna dish, and then add tortillas, tearing them if necessary to make one complete layer, next. Spread 1/3 of the refried beans on top of the tortillas, and then pour 1/3 of the sauce mixture on top of that. Finally sprinkle 1/3 of the shredded cheese on top of sauce. Repeat this 3 times, topping with cheese and green chilies.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. Serve with sour cream, Spanish rice, and corn.

Tonight's Adaptation

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I wanted to be as authentic as possible, so I threw out the canned soups, found myself an authentic enchilada sauce recipe, and made homemade black refried beans. Here is that recipe: (this is much more our size; it made enough to feed four, providing us with leftovers to take to work tomorrow)

Enchilada Sauce: (This sauce can be used instead of canned enchilada sauce in any recipe, and it is delicious)

1 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup minced onions
2 ½ teasopoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cyane pepper
¼ cup salsa
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 ½ cups water

2 chicken breasts (frozen is fine, and bone-in chicken would probably add even more flavor)

2 Tablespoons sour cream

Refried black beans: (a healthy and delicious alternative to regular frijoles refritos)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup minced onions
1 can black beans, drained
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp honey

3 soft tortillas

2 cups shredded Colby jack cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To prepare sauce, heat oil in 10 inch skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and stir. Bring to a boil. Add whole chicken breasts and simmer at med-low heat until chicken is cooked. Shred chicken and add sour cream.

To prepare beans, heat oil in a medium-sized frying pan over med-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until onion is soft and translucent. Add beans, sugar, and honey. Continue to cook and mash with fork. Cook for 3-5 minutes.

Begin layering by adding ¼ cup of sauce to the bottom of a 9x9 baking dish. Layer 1 and ½ tortillas to cover sauce. Spread ½ of the beans onto tortillas. Cover with ½ of the sauce and sprinkle with ½ of the cheese. Repeat layering once more. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Serve with sour cream, corn, and shredded lettuce.