Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pasta e Fagioli

Yesterday was the first super cold day we've had here in Texas and I was craving something warm. I did not have time to make anything that has to cook all day in the crock pot so I decided to make this soup that is fairly easy and quick. It completely warms your body as well as your soul and has enough leftover to eat throughout the week, or freeze for later.


2lbs ground beef
1 small onion chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
3 large carrots chopped
4 large stalks of celery chopped
48 oz. diced tomatoes
2 cans dark red kidney beans rinsed and drained
1 32oz box beef broth
3 tsp oregano
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
48 ox. spaghetti sauce (I use a spicy pesto sauce)
8 oz. dry pasta shells or small elbow maccaroni

Saute beef in a large 10 qt pot until beef is brown. Drain off the grease. Add onions, carrots, celery, and tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse beans and add to the pot. Add beef stock, oregano, Italian seasoning, pepper and spaghetti sauce, Stir until combined and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until carrots and celery are tender. Add pasta and simmer an additional 10 minutes until pasta is cooked through. Serve with crusty warm bread. My favorite is garlic, rosemary bread sold at Market Street. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Cranberry Salsa

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope this holiday finds you surrounded with friends, family, peace, and love. This is one of my most requested recipes because it is simple and absolutely delicious. I serve mine over a thin layer of cream cheese on wheat thins, or straight up with tortilla chips.


1 bag fresh cranberries
1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch green onions (white and green part)
1-3 jalapeno depending on heat tolerance
3/4 cup sugar
The juice of 2 limes
1/4 teaspoon salt

Add cranberries to a food processor and pulse until the cranberries are coarsely chopped. Add them to a large bowl. Then add the next three ingredients to the food processor and chop fine and add those to the cranberries. Add in the sugar, lime juice, and salt and stir until combined.

Cover and place in the refrigerator for a couple of hours so the flavors can meld together. Enjoy!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tailgate Chili

When I think of fall, three things come to mind....cooler weather, football, and chili. I grew up in a small college town and there is absolutely nothing like it. The town would come together to cheer on the High school football team on Friday nights and gather again for the college game on Saturday. One thing we always had at tailgates was a hot bowl of spicy chili. True comfort food. I miss my hometown, but making a big batch of chili always takes me back.


1 yellow onion diced
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
3 fresh jalapeno peppers seeded and finely chopped
3 lbs ground beef
1 lb breakfast sausage in the tube
3 packaged McCormick chili seasoning
3 large cans tomato sauce (29 oz each)
2 cans diced tomatoes (14.5 oz each)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon pepper
2 cans dark red kidney beans drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Add meat, sausage, onion, garlic, and jalapenos to a dutch oven. Brown and break up the meat until no longer pink.

Drain off the excess grease. I pour mine into a large strainer and then put it back into the pot. Add seasoning packets and stir over medium heat so the spices get absorbed into the meat mixture. Next, add in the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes and bring to a boil. Cover with a lid and place in the oven. Cook for 3 hrs stirring frequently. The last hour add the beans and sugar and continue to cook for another hour. Serve with your choice of toppings. Here are a few of my favorites:


shredded cheddar cheese
sliced jalapenos
chopped onions
Frito's (in the bottom topped with chili for a Frito chili pie)
vinegar (I know it sounds weird, but once you try it, you'll be hooked!)

Pecan Bars

This recipe is for those people who think they can't bake. It is rediculously easy and taste exactly like a delicious piece of pecan pie.



1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature


4 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups Karo syrup
2 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350° F. Cream together butter and sugar on medium speed. Add flour and saltto the butter and sugar and mix until it resembles fine crumbs.

Press into a 10X15 inch baking pan that has been sprayed with Pam. Make sure you use the right size pan to get the correct crust to topping ratio. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until light golden brown. While the crust is cooking, prepare the filling. Beat eggs, corn syrup, sugar, butter and vanilla until well blended. Stir in the chopped pecans. Pour over hot crust and bake for another 30 minutes. Top with whipped cream and enjoy!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Beware, these cupcakes are addicting!!! They are also a nice treat for those who don't like the traditional thanksgiving pies.


1 box super moist yellow cake mix
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup pecans
8 oz unsalted butter at room temperature
8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1 teaspoon good vanilla
4-5 cups powdered sugar (depending on desired sweetness)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Place paper baking cups in muffin tins.

In a large mixing bowl, beat cake mix, pumpkin, water, oil, eggs and pumpkin pie spice with electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, then on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups about 2/3 of the way full. I can usually get about 18 cupcakes with this recipe.

Place in oven and bake 18-20 miunutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of cupcakes comes out clean. Do not over bake or they will become dry. Let cool in pan about 2 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

For Frosting, cream together butter and cream cheese on medium speed until well blended. Add in vanilla and powdered sugar a cup at a time mixing on low speed after each addition. After you have added all of the powdered sugar, continue to mix on medium speed for about 10 minutes until smooth and creamy.

Turn oven up to 350° F and place pecans on a cookie sheet. Toast pecans in the oven for 8 minutes. Remove and let cool completely.

Place frosting in a piping bag with a large pastry tip and pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Dust with pumpkin pie spice and top with toasted pecan. Enjoy!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Orange Glazed Salmon

I decided after a week of eating the leftover Halloween Candy that I needed to take it easy on the calories. This salmon is one of the most requested dishes when I cater events so I can practically make it in my sleep. It really is one of the quickest meals you can make and it looks impressive too!


2 (6 oz) center cut salmon fillets (skin removed)
1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper
Cooking Spray
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1/4 cup white wine
1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary ( plus a little more for garnish)
3/4 cup fresh orange juice (about 2 oranges)
1 tablespoon maple syrup

Sprinkle fillets evenly with salt and pepper. Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat and coat with cooking spray. Most fillets you buy will be thinner on one end. A trick to cooking the fillet evenly is to tuck the thin side under the fillet making the fillet equally thick from end to end. Place the salmon in the heated skillet with the tucked end on the bottom. Cook about 2 minutes on each side making sure you get a nice sear on both sides.

Remove salmon to a plate and tent with foil. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel. Recoat the skillet with cooking spray and return to a medium heat. Add the shallots and saute for about 45 seconds. Stir in the wine and rosemary and continue to cook until the liquid is almost evaporated. Add orange juice and syrup and bring to a boil. Cook another two minutes. Return the fillets back to the pan and cook another minute on each side. When serving, spoon remaining sauce over the salmon and sprinkle with leftover chopped rosemary. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Not Your Abuela's Tortilla Soup

I had this soup for the first time when I moved to Texas 15 years ago and I fell in love with it. I get a call asking for this recipe about 10 times a year. After trying tortilla soup at several Mexican Restaurants, I realized this is not a traditional tortilla soup, but it is still one of my favorites. I also don't feel like this is really cooking because you are basically emptying your pantry and dumping it into a pot. It doesn't get much easier!


5 boneless skinless chicken breast
2 boxes of chicken broth
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 small onion chopped
1 can tomato sauce
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cans ranch style beans drained and rinsed
2 cups uncooked white minute rice
1 lime juiced


cilantro chopped
shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
tortilla strips

Place the chicken in the crock pot with the chicken broth, onion and seasoning and let it cook for 4 hrs on low. Remove the chicken and allow to cool on a cutting board. While the chicken is cooling, add the rest of the ingredients except for the lime juice and toppings. Turn the crock pot to high and cook for 30 minutes. Shred the chicken with two forks. Then add the shredded chicken and lime juice to the soup mixture and continue to cook for another 10-15 minutes. Serve in bowls and top with desired toppings and enjoy!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Dip

You can either serve this inside the pumpkin for a cute presentation, or if you are like me and have two boys, the grosser the better. I serve this yummy dip every Halloween and it is usually the first item to go. It is slightly sweet, with a touch of pumpkin and spice. I always serve mine with Swedish Gingersnap Cookies found at World Market. If you have not tried these you are really missing out. They are thin crisp cookies with a mild ginger flavor. Warning: they are highly addictive!

Swedish Gingersnap Cookies from World Market


8 oz cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 (15 oz) can of pumpkin
1 Tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice
8 oz cool whip

Beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth and creamy. Add pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice and continue to beat on medium speed until well blended. Fold in cool whip and enjoy! Super easy and super delicious!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Italian Chicken with Basil Cream Sauce

This chicken dish is one that I love to make when I am in a pinch for time. Honestly, it can be made in 29 minutes or less. (Take that Rachel Ray.) Kidding aside, my kids love this chicken and request it often. (minus the sauce of course) You can use the marinara that is left over from the spaghetti in my last post and turn it into chicken parmesan, or they can just dip it in the marinara if they really want to get crazy.


2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan reggiano (for the chicken)
2 boneless skinless chicken breast
2 tablesspoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream (lighten by using half cream and half milk, or you can use half and half)
1 (4oz) jar chopped pimento peppers, drained
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan reggiano (for the sauce)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 350°F

This recipe serves four so this is a trick I use to save money and time. The recipe requires that the chicken is pounded thin. In my opinion, it always ends up being way to big for one individual. I cut mine in half which leaves you with four thin chicken breast that are the right proportion. (applause inserted here)

You are now going to create a breading station. Make an egg wash by mixing the two eggs and two tablespoons of milk in a shallow dish. In another dish you are going to combine the bread crumbs and 1/4 cup of the grated parmesan cheese. Heat a large saute pan over medium/high heat. Make sure you let it get up to temperature before adding the chicken or you will get soggy chicken. May sure your chicken is dry by patting it with a paper towel. Next, dip the chicken into the egg wash and then into the breadcrumbs making sure to press them onto the chicken until completely coated. Place the chicken into the saute pan and brown on both sides for about 2 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pan and place on a cooling rack that is on top of a cookie sheet. Place in the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until cooked through.

Remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest on the cooling rack while you make the sauce. Wipe the saute pan out with a napkin. Add the broth to the pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir in the cream and pimentos and bring to a boil and stir for 1 minute. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the parmesan cheese, basil. Stir the sauce and continue to cook until it thickens slightly. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve over the chicken and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Spaghetti Two Ways

Marinara with Roasted Spaghetti Squash

Marinara with Spaghetti Noodles

This marinara recipe is delicious and versatile. I absolutely love roasted vegetables, however my kiddos don't always share in my enthusiasm. Cooking it two ways is not all that more time consuming and my husband and I can watch our waist line while the kids get what they like too. Spaghetti squash not only looks like spaghetti but I think it has much more flavor. No matter how you choose to serve it, it will be delicious.


4 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves chopped
1 small yellow onion chopped
1 carrot chopped
2 (28 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup chopped basil
2 tablespoons Italian Seasoning
1 tablespoon Kosher Salt
1/2 tablespoon Fresh Ground Black pepper
1 spaghetti Squash
1 small package spaghetti noodles

Preheat oven to 400°F

Slice spaghetti squash in half, lengthwise. Drizzle cut side with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Place squash, cut side down on baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until squash is tender when pierced with a fork.

Remove squash from oven and cool slightly, to handle. Then begin to shred the inside of the squash with fork to resemble spaghetti.

In a large saute pan, heat the remaining 2 Tablespoons of oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions, carrot and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent and the carrots have softened, about 10 minutes.

Add the canned tomatoes, onion, carrots, and garlic to a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour the tomato mixture back into the saute pan and add in the wine, basil, salt, pepper, and Italian Seasoning. Simmer uncovered over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Enjoy with either roasted spaghetti squash or cooked spaghetti noodles! (I figured those don't need directions) : )

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pumpkin Spiced Pancakes with Toasted Pecans

The leaves are changing, the temperature is dropping, and I am putting pumpkin in my pancakes! This is a wonderful change from the original pancakes we eat all year. It has a delicious sweet flavor with just a hint of spice and pumpkin. Perfect for a fall morning.


2 Eggs
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cups chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°. Preheat griddle and lightly grease. Place chopped pecans on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven for 8 minutes.

Combine eggs, buttermilk, butter, and pumpkin. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingriedients. Pour the dry ingriedients into the wet and blend until well incorporated, but do not over mix. Pour 1/4 cup of the batter onto heated griddle. Cook until bubbles appear on the top of the pancakes and the edges are set. Flip the pancakes and continue to cook the other side until cooked through.

Place on a plate and serve with syrup and chopped toasted pecans. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Sausage and Apples

Nothing feels more like fall than crisp, cool mornings and the aroma of roasted acorn squash, sausage, apples and sage filling the house at dinner time. I absolutely love this time of year. Along with the weather changing, so does my taste in food. This is definitely something you can make ahead of time and bake off before dinner.


2 Acorn Squash, Halved Lengthwise and remove seeds
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 lb Italian Turkey Sausage (Regular Sweet Italian Sausage can be substituted)
1 Macintosh Apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 Small Yellow Onion
5 Baby Portabella Mushrooms Chopped
2 Cloves of Garlic
3 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter
2 Tablespoons of light brown sugar
1 Tablespoon Ground Dried Sage
1/4 Cup Fresh Grated Parmesan Reggiano
Kosher Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper To Taste

Preheat oven to 400° F. Place cut, and seeded Acorn squash on a baking sheet cut side up. Brush liberally with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until the squash is fork tender but still holds its form. The cooking time will vary depending on the size squash you have. Mine usually take around 40 to 45 minutes.

While the squash is roasting, heat a skillet over medium heat. Cook and break apart sausage until no longer pink. Add the chopped onion, mushrooms, apple, and garlic to the sausage. Continue to saute until the apples are tender, then add the parmesan, brown sugar, and sage. Mix until throughly combined.

Scoop out most of the squash leaving a 1/4 inch shell. Add the squash pulp to the sausage mixture along with 1 Tablespoon of butter and gently stir. Stuff the squash halves with with the sausage and apple mixture and bake in the oven, uncovered for another 20 minutes. I like to sprinkle a little fresh parmesan on the top before serving.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Blueberry Sauce

This was a recipe I have been making for a long time. The original recipe called for huckleberries, but because huckleberries are hard to find and similar to blueberries I changed it and it is still one of my favorite dishes after all these years. It is also very simple to make.


1 1/2 lb pork tenderloin
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped sage leaves
1tablespoon coarse kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
1/4 cup white wine

Preheat oven to 400° F. Lightly rub the pork with olive oil. Combine the chopped herbs, salt and pepper and sprinkle the herb mixture over the meat. Roll the tenderloin over any loose herbs making sure it is completely coated.

Heat the oil in an oven proof saute pan over medium high heat. Saute the pork on all sides until golden brown. Place in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 145-155° depending on how you like your pork.

While the pork is in the oven. Rinse and discard any leftover stems that might still be on the blueberries. In a medium saucepan, combine the blueberries, sugar, vinegar, and wine and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until slightly thickened, around 10 to 15 minutes. Remove pork from the oven when cooked and tent with foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice the pork and serve with the blueberry sauce drizzled over the top. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Spicy Crock pot Roast

This is one of my favorite go to meals when I am short on time but want to fix a nice hearty meal for my family. My grandfather used to fix roast every time we visited and it was delicious. This is a twist on his recipe that burst with flavor and will please even the pickiest eater. Hope you enjoy it as much as my family.


3 lb round tip roast
2 tablespoons fresh cracked black pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp dry mustard

Rub cracked black pepper and garlic onto roast. Put roast in crock pot. In a shallow bowl, combine remaining ingredients and pour over meat. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Remove roast and cover with foil and let rest for about 5 minutes. Slice and serve. You can also use the remaining liquid in crock pot to serve over roast. I have made this for family as well as served it for many dinner parties and it is always a crowd pleaser. Enjoy!!