Friday, May 28, 2010

Recipe: Greek Chicken

Greek Chicken

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 (4 ounce) package crumbled feta cheese with basil and tomato
1/4 cup chopped red pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In 9x13 inch baking dish, arrange chicken.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Drizzle lemon over chicken.  Sprinkle feta cheese and red pepper over top. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

Recipe can be found on page 191 in 

When I see feta cheese, my mind automatically thinks Greek food.  My family loves Greek food.   Whenever we are in Denver, we go to a Greek restaurant called Pete's.  This recipe isn't Pete's, but when we are missing his cuisine, we turn to this quick and easy recipe.    

I like to serve Greek Chicken with grilled pita bread, couscous, and a nice salad with Greek dressing.  Although couscous is a pasta, grocery stores usually stock it by the rice.  They even have a quick and easy flavored variety of couscous.  If you have never had it before give it a try.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Warning! Blogging can be dangerous!

Cooking and blogging at the same time can be dangerous.  I am new to this whole blogging thing.  I am having so much fun with it that I sometimes get sidetracked by it.  That is what happened one night when I was making my Fried Garlic Bread.  I put the bread in the skillet, then went to check out something on my blog.  Next thing I knew, smoke was filling my kitchen.  I grabbed the skillet and moved it off the heat, but I was too late.  The smoke alarm began to shriek and my dog Buddy began to bark.  After opening the doors and windows and waving my arms like a crazy woman in front of the alarm, there was blessed silence.  

As a young girl my mom had warned me about getting distracted in the kitchen.  She was right once again.  You can not only burn down your house, but you could really injure yourself with all the bright and shiny tools there.

If you have a kitchen mishap, I would love to hear them!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Recipe: Cabbage & Pear Dish

Cabbage & Pear Dish

3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 small head cabbage, shredded
2 pears, peeled, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sugar

In large skillet, melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter over medium heat.  Add cabbage.  Stir to coat with butter.  Cover.  Cook 10 minutes.  Remove from heat. In small skillet, saute pears, 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, and sugar.  Cook 1 minute.  Add to cabbage.  Salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.  Makes 4 servings.

Recipe can be found on page 96 in 

I love cabbage!  I remember my great grandmother in the kitchen cooking up a big pot of it.  With lots of butter and bacon.  It was so good!  That is probably where my love of cabbage started.  

My husband is not  a big fan of cabbage.  Shortly after we were married, I prepared cabbage just like great grandma taught me.  He didn't like it!   How could that be?  It has bacon and butter, two of his favorite things. He didn't try cabbage again until years later when my mom asked us try a new dish.  It was the recipe above.  He liked it!  He said the pears mellowed out the flavor of the cabbage.  Now when I make cabbage he will eat it.

If you have a picky eater in your house, or if your kids have never tried cabbage before, this is the perfect recipe to try on them.   

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tip: Chile Peppers

Before our family moved to New Mexico, the only time I cooked with chile peppers was when I was making salsa.  After moving to a state who's motto is red or green (meaning red or green chile sauce), I figured it was probably time to expand my knowledge of the local fare . I quickly came up to speed, and along the way, I learned by trial and error how to handle chile peppers.

Wear gloves when chopping chile peppers.  Not the flimsy kind, but the good old yellow ones.  The thin glove can let the capsaicin (the ingredient in peppers that create the burn) through.  Even the mildest chile pepper can burn your skin.  If you touch your eyes or nose after chopping peppers, it can burn for hours.

The heat in a pepper is contained in the veins which transfers to the seeds.  To help control the heat in your recipes, remove not only the seeds, but also the veins.

When picking a pepper a general rule to keep in mind is that red peppers are hotter than green or yellow peppers.  The hottest peppers have pointed tips and narrow tops.  Round ends indicate mildness.  Of course to every rule there is at least one exception.  One of those being the fiery Habanero pepper.  It has a rounded end and is often green or yellow in color.

The best relief for a burning mouth is sour cream, yogurt or milk.  Don't grab the water or pop in a effort to cool your mouth, both of these beverages tend to move the heat around instead of putting out the fire.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Recipe: Green Chile Chicken Pasta

Green Chile Chicken Pasta

1 (16 ounce) package rigatoni noodles, cooked, drained
2 (16 ounce) jars Alfredo sauce
1 pound chicken breasts, cooked, shredded
2 (4 ounce) cans diced green chiles
2 (8 ounce) packages shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In 4 quart baking dish, arrange rigatoni noodles. Pour 1 jar Alfredo sauce over top.  Arrange chicken over sauce.  Pour remaining Alfredo sauce over chicken.  Sprinkle chiles over Alfredo sauce.  Sprinkle cheese over top.  Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until cheese is melted and lightly golden brown.  Makes 8 servings.

The green chiles give this recipe a unique flavor.  You get all the chile flavor without any of the chile heat.   If you are serving this to company and are in doubt about whether they like green chiles or not, just sprinkle them on half of the dish.

Recipe can be found on page 124 in 

This is my most requested recipe.  Friends and family ask me to make it again and again.  I even received an email from England singing its praises and telling me it was their family's new favorite dish. 

People often ask how I come up with recipes.  One of the ways is to go to restaurants and figure out how they make the meal that I am eating.  Then go home and recreate it, using shortcuts to make it quicker, but without losing the flavor.  This is the first recipe I did that with.

My husband ordered this dish at a restaurant.  He liked it so much that he asked if I could make it at home.  I whipped out my notebook and began to make notes.  When I made it for the first time at home, my husband said it was better than the restaurants version.

Now when we go to restaurants, we make it a game to figure out what is in the dish and how we would remake it.  Our son has even joined the fun.  Next time you're out to eat with your family or friends, try it.  

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tip: Precooked Chicken

Americans consume approximately 8 billion chickens a year.  That's a lot of chicken!  I know in our house, we eat more chicken than beef, so I shouldn't be surprised by the high number.  My freezer has at least two of those chickens in it.

I like to have chicken precooked, and frozen, waiting in the freezer, ready to add to a recipe at a moments notice.  It saves me time and there are many recipes that you can make quickly if you have this step already completed.  My favorite way to precook chicken is in the slow cooker.   

Place the chicken in a slow cooker.  Season to taste with salt and pepper or the seasoning of your choice.  Add a can of chicken broth.  Cook on low 4 to 6 hours, depending on the amount of chicken you are cooking. Cool. Place in individual serving size containers or resealable plastic freezer bags and freeze.  I like to cook the chicken in chicken broth to give it more flavor and it keeps the chicken really juicy. 

I will not bore you with all the cross contamination warnings there are in regards to handling chicken, we have heard it all before.  But there are some tips that a new cook may want to know about, when it comes to working with chicken.

Never thaw frozen raw chicken at room temperature.  If you need it thawed quickly, do so in the microwave.  If you have time, thaw chicken in the refrigerator.  Another way you can thaw chicken is by placing it in a cold water bath; change the water every 30 minutes.   Thawed chicken should be used within 24 hours.  

Never brown or partially cook chicken, then refrigerate, so you can cook it later.  Any bacteria in the chicken will not be destroyed by partially cooking the chicken.

Recipe measurement guide:  One pound of boneless, skinless chicken equals approximately 3 cups of cooked diced chicken.

On Friday, I will be sharing my most requested recipe, Green Chile Chicken Pasta with you.  This precooked chicken tip will come in handy for that recipe.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Slow Cooker Recipe: New Orleans Beans & Sausage

New Orleans Beans & Sausage

2 (16 ounce) cans pinto beans, undrained
1 pound smoked sausage, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning

In slow cooker, combine all ingredients.  Mix well. Cover.  Cook on low 4 to 5 hours. Serve over rice if desired.  Makes 4 servings. 

Recipe can be found on page 141 in 

This recipe is quicker than getting fast food from your favorite drive thru burger joint.  It's perfect for those times when you feel like there are just not enough hours in the day.  In under two minutes, you can have this meal prepped and in the slow cooker.  When you get home, your house will be filled with a delicious home cooked aroma.  

My husband sometimes likes weird flavor combination's.  I usually serve this recipe with cornbread.  He likes to put honey on his cornbread and that's not weird, it's just tasty.  One day he went a little crazy with the honey and poured it over his beans and sausage.  He justified his actions by saying he liked sweet and savory flavors together.  I know it sounds strange, but it is not half bad.  Pull out the honey bear and try it!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tip: Rice

Our son Tyler loves rice!  When he first went to college, Minute Rice was all he would cook.  After going to Japan to live for a summer while he attended an intensive language study program, he became a rice connoisseur.  When he returned to the good old USA, he chucked the box of Minute Rice and went to the store and purchased several bags of rice.  After his first batch of rice came out sticky, he called for help, and these are the tips I passed along to him.

1.  Rinse your rice a couple of times under cold water before you cook it.  That's the way my mom taught me.  According to her, it makes the rice less sticky.  It works for me. 

2.  Use a heavy pot to keep the rice from scorching in the bottom of the pan.  The pan should also have a tight fitting lid to keep the steam in the pot.

3.  Don't get in a hurry.  Let the rice sit.  Leave the lid on the pot for at least 5 minutes before serving.  It gives the rice a fluffier texture.  Fluff rice with a fork before serving.

My son and I would love to hear your rice cooking tips!