Friday, September 30, 2011

Crockpot Oriental Beef & Broccoli

Since we moved to Arizona, I've kept my eye out for slow cooker recipes to reduce the amount of heat coming from my kitchen. I scored this one out of the Better Homes and Gardens Biggest Book of Slow Cooker Recipes. I'm always a sucker for Chinese recipes, and this dish did not disappoint. It was really easy and we enjoyed it very much. I couldn't find a "beef gravy" mix at the store, so I used a brown gravy mix packet and it worked fine. The meat turned out tender the flavors were really good. If you wanted, you could throw in a little bit of crushed red pepper flakes if you want a slight "kick" to the dish.

Oriental Beef & Broccoli

6 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium onions, cut into wedges (I used about 2 Tbl dehydrated onion flakes)
1-1/2 lbs beef round steak, bias-sliced into 1/2 inch strips
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger (I used about 1 tsp ground ginger powder)
2 cloves garlic, minced (I used my garlic press)
1/2 c. water
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1, 3/4 oz. envelope of beef gravy mix
4 cups broccoli florets
3 cups hot cooked rice

1. In a 3-1/2 to 4 quart slow cooker, place carrots, onions, beef strips, ginger and garlic. Stir together water, soy sauce, and beef gravy mix. Pour over meat and vegetables in cooker.

2. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours.

3. If using low-heat setting, turn to high-heat setting. Stir in broccoli florets. Cover and cook 15 minutes more oruntil broccoli is crisp-tender. Serve over hot rice.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Shrimp Orzo Skillet

This dish comes from the Pampered Chef cookbook, 29 minutes to dinner. It was fast and easy, and my husband loved it- unfortunately, my boys refused to try it. Otherwise, a delicious, healthy, quick dinner!

Shrimp Orzo Skillet


8 oz. large uncooked shrimp (21-25 count per pound)

1 Tbsp. fegetable oil

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/8 tsp. sugar (it brings out the sweetnes in the shrimp)


8 oz. orzo pasta

1 garlic clove, pressed

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup clam juice (I used chicken broth)

1 lemon

1 Tbsp thinkly sliced fresh mint (I left out and sprinkled in dry parsley with the orzo)

1 cup frozen peas

1 Tbsp butter

1. For shirmp, peel and devein shrimp. Add oil to large skillet. Heat over medium-high heat 1-3 minutes or until simmering. As skillet heats, comine salt, pepper and sugar in small batter bowl; add shrimp and toss to coat (I threw everything in a ziploc baggie and tossed it that way).

2. Arrange shrimp in a single layer over bottom of skillet and cook about 1 minute or until one side is browned and edges are pink. Remove skillet from heat and turn shrimp over; let stand an additional 30 seconds or until centers are opaque and shrimp is cooked through. Remove shrimp from skillet and set aside.

3. For orzo, in same skillet, combine orzo, pressed garlic, broth and clam juice. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook 10-12 minutes or until orzo is cooked through (there will still be sauce in the pan).

4. As orzo cooks, zest lemon to measure 1 Tbsp. and juice lemon to measure 1 Tbsp juice. Thinkly slice mint.

5. Remove skillet from heat and stir in peas, butter and lemon juice. Arrange shrimp over orzo; cover and let stand 3-5 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with lemon zest and mint before serving.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Chicken Club Pizza

My husband and I dined in on our anniversary this year, and this is what we made. We both loved it. My husband usually eats his vegetable grudgingly, but in his words, the tomato and lettuce on the top add a "nice crunch" and give it texture. I like this recipe, too, because I usually have everything on hand, except for maybe the bacon, so it's pretty easy to throw together. I made my own pizza crust instead of using store bought. If you use your own pizza dough, just make enough to cover an entire cookie sheet, or just use the topping ingredients to taste if you want to make a smaller pizza. The other thing I would suggest is that if you are going to have leftovers, leave the lettuce, tomato, and extra ranch off to be added onto the pizza as needed. That way the veggies don't wilt. This recipe came from a Kraft foods magazine.

Chicken Club Pizza

1 can (13.8 oz) refrigerated pizza crust (I made my own)
1/4 cup mayo (left this out)
1/2 cup Ranch Dressing, divided (I used probably close to 3/4 cup to 1 cup to make up for the mayo)
1-1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used cheddar)
1-1/2 cups finely chopped cooked chicken
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (don't cook it too crispy since it will also bake in the oven a little)
1-1/2 cups finely shredded lettuce
1 tomato, finely chopped (I also seeded my tomato)

Heat oven to 400*F.

Unroll pizza dough on baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray; press into 15x10-inch rectangle. Bake 10 minutes. (If using your own dough, I would just roll the dough out top it as you would a normal pizza and bake it until the crust is done and the cheese is melted and bubbling.)

Mix may and 1/3 cup dressing; spread onto crust. Top with half the cheese, chicken, remaining cheese, and bacon.

Bake 5 minutes, or until crust is deep golden brown and cheese is melted. Top with lettuce and tomatoes; drizzle with remaining dressing.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Blueberry Muffins

I made these muffins to use up some blueberries I had in the freezer, and I was surprised how fast my 3-year old gobbled these up. We will definitely be making these again as they make a good breakfast when paired with yogurt or milk. The recipe came from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.

Blueberry Muffins

1-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 beaten egg
3/4 c milk
1/4 c oil
3/4 blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 tsp lemon zest, optional (I left this out)

Streusel topping:
3 Tbl flour
3 Tbl brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbl cold butter
2 Tbl chopped nuts, optional (I left these out)

Grease twelve 2-1/2 inch muffin cups or line with paper bake cups; set aside.

In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.

In another bowl combine egg, milk, and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy).

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full.

Combine first three ingredients of streusel topping in a small bowl. Cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in nuts, if desired. Sprinkle over batter in muffin tins. Bake in a 400*F oven for 18-20 minutes or until golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in centers comesout clean. Cool in muffin cups on a wire rach for 5 minutes. Remove from muffin cups; serve warm.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Guiltless Alfredo sauce

My husband really likes Alfredo sauce, but it can be very heavy and loaded with fat. Which translates to a once in a long while type of dinner. I tried this version that utilizes low fat cream cheese for a lighter version, and it was delicious! Even the critics in our house who insist they hate cream cheese ate this up. Again, this recipe came from the Our Best Bites cookbook, and I'm telling you, those ladies really know what they are doing! Thanks Kate and Sara for another wonderful recipe!

Guiltless Alfredo Sauce

2 cups low-fat milk (I used 1%)

1/3 cup (3 oz.) low-fat cream cheese

2 Tbl flour

1 tsp kosher salt (I used regular salt)

1 Tbl butter

3 garlic cloves, minced (I used 1/2 tsp garlic powder, but I'll go down to 1/4 tsp next time)

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese***

In a blender, blend the milk, cream cheese, flour, and salt until smooth and set aside.

In a large, nonstick pan, melt butter on medium-high heat and add the garlic. Saute the garlic for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly to prevent the garlic from sticking and burning.

Add the milk mixture to the pan. Stir constantly for 3-4 minutes, or until it just comes to a simmer. Keep stirring and let it cook for a few minutes more or until the sauce thickens, about 6-7 minutes.

Once the sauce has started to thicken, remove from heat. Whisk the cheese into the sauce and immediately cover the pan.

Allow the sauce to stach for at least 10 minutes before using. It will continue to thicken upon standing.

Serve immediately. Refrigerate leftovers for upt to 5 days. The sauce will become very thick once refrigerated. To use it, reheat the sauce and add a little milk until the desired consistency is reached.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Spicy Honey Chicken

When we made the Naan bread I posted last time, we also made this yummy chicken and used it as a filling for the bread. We also filled the bread with lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, avocados and ranch dressing. The recipe came from the Our Best Bites cookbook that I perused while visiting my mom, but it can also be found on their blog here. If you click over, at the bottom of the recipe is a link to the salad they like to use this chicken for. They say it's one of their most popular recipes, and I can see why. This is a definite winner!

Spicy Honey Chicken

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, about 2lbs (They say thighs work best, but I used breasts and it worked fine)

2 t vegetable oil
2 t granulated garlic

2 t chili powder

1/2 t onion powder

1/2 t coriander

1 t kosher salt

1 t cumin

1/2 t chipotle chili powder (I just used regular chili powder again)

1/2 C Honey

1T Cider Vinegar

Combine the rub spices in bowl and mix well. Use kitchen shears (or a pair of clean scissors) to trim off any excess fat from the chicken pieces. Pat dry. Drizzle oil over chicken and rub in with your hands to lightly coat all the pieces. Then toss chicken with the spice rub to coat all sides well. Use your hands and get in there! Grill chicken for 3-5 minutes on each side, until cooked through.
While chicken is cooking, warm honey in the microwave so it’s not so thick. Add the vinegar and combine well. Reserve 2T honey glaze for later. Take the rest and brush on chicken (both sides) in the final moments of grilling.
I’m gonna warn you that this can make a hot mess, literally. It’s sugar, and it’s gonna drip. But the smelly smoke is worth it for a minute or two. Just leave your grill on for a few minutes after the chicken is done to burn off any excess glaze. It’s totally worth it once you taste this stuff.
If you don’t have a bbq, try it on an indoor grill pan or use your broiler. Just be sure to open a window in case you burn your glaze! Drizzle the remaining glaze over the top and serve.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Naan is an indian flatbread, similar to a pita or tortilla. These are really easy, they just require planning since they do require a rise time. We filled these with some chicken, tomato, lettuce, avocado, and red onions (we used them like taco shells). I also substituted 1/2 of the flour with whole wheat flour and it worked great! I got this recipe from my mom, who got it from the wonderful Melanie from My Kitchen Cafe.


3-4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon active dry or instant yeast

1 1/2 cups milk

1 teaspoon sugar

3-4 tablespoons, melted butter

Pour the milk into a liquid measure and heat in the microwave until warm to the touch (about 110 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer). If using active dry yeast, mix the sugar and yeast into the milk and let it sit for 4-5 minutes until the mixture is foamy and the yeast has activated. Once the yeast/milk mixture is foamy, pour the mixture into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer and add the salt and 2 1/2 cups of the flour (proceed with the second paragraph of the recipe). If using instant yeast, pour the warm milk into a large bowl or the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Add the sugar, instant yeast, salt and 2 1/2 cups of the flour. Proceed as directed below.

Mix well to combine. Continue adding flour gradually in small amounts, until a soft dough is formed that cleans the sides of the bowl. Knead the dough by mixer or hand until it is smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes in the mixer or 10 minutes by hand.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and let it rest at room temperature, covered lightly with greased plastic wrap, for about 2 hours.

After the dough has rested, turn it onto a lightly floured surface (I like to use my roul’pat for this) and divide the dough into 12 equal pieces, rounding each into a ball shape. Cover the pieces with a towel and let them rest for 30 minutes. While the dough rests, preheat your oven to 500 degrees F and place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven. (If you don’t have a pizza stone, try grilling the dough on a lightly oiled outdoor grill or use a hot griddle to bake the naan – you’ll have to experiment with cooking times but I’ve seen either of those methods used with cooking naan also.)

Once the dough has rested for 30 minutes, one by one, roll each piece into a circle about 6-8 inches wide, depending on how thin or thick you want your naan. Lay the circle of dough on the hot pizza stone and spritz lightly with water. Close the oven and bake the naan for 2-4 minutes, until it is lightly puffed (some pieces will puff more than others) and brown spots begin to appear on the top. Remove the naan from the baking stone and place on a cooling rack. Brush lightly with melted butter. Stack the hot naan on top of each other as it comes out of the oven. Cover with a towel and let the naan cool completely or serve warm.
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