Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Easy Mexican Casserole


I like a good casserole every once in a while. I especially like ones that contain beans, some veggies, and a meat that can be switched out for some lean turkey breast meat. This one is a little on the indulgent side because of the cheese and tortilla chips, but it was a delicious dinner with just enough spice and a decent amount of veggies mixed in. When I make it again, I’ll add some corn to the mix and substitute some oven-browned tortillas or brown rice for the chips.

I still find it a huge challenge to come up with a good casserole photo. They never look as good as they taste, but I can assure you, this was a yummy dinner!


1 pound lean ground turkey (or beef
1 can Chili Beans
1 10-12 ounce bag tortilla chips, crushed
1 can Ro-tel tomatoes
1 small onion, minced (optional)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 package taco seasoning
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup water
sour cream and salsa for serving


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. In a large skillet, brown meat and drain off fat. Stir in beans, tomatoes, onion, taco seasoning, soup and water. Simmer over medium-low heat until everything is well combined and heated through.

3. Grease a 9×13 casserole dish. Put down a layer of crushed tortilla chips, followed by a layer of the meat/bean mixture, then half of the cheddar cheese. Repeat the layers one more time.

4. Cover with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until bubbly. Optional: brown cheese topping under the broiler on high for 2-3 minutes.

5. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. Top with sour cream and salsa. Enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Sing for your Supper

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mike's Favorite Rice Pilaf


I first saw this method of cooking rice years ago on 30 Minute Meals with Rachel Ray. I really loved the simplicity of this recipe and I was surprised by the flavorful rice that results. This is my husband's favorite side dish, so I make it all the time.

Another great thing about this recipe is the flexibility in the ingredients. The basic recipe is great with grilled meats and veggies because it's yummy without overpowering a meal. You can also add veggies and spices to create a whole new dish, here are some of my suggestions:

- Add 1 tsp turmeric and frozen peas to go with Indian spiced meats and veggies
- Substitute one can of ro-tel tomatoes for 1/2 cup of the chicken stock and add 1 tsp ground cumin for mexican rice.
- Substitute jasmine scented water (steeped with Jasmine tea) with the chicken broth for Jasmine rice to go with grilled fish or Thai spiced foods.
- Add 1/4 cup of toasted, slivered almonds or pine nuts

This dish cooks up in 20-25 minutes from start to finish, most of which is the 16-minute covered cook time, so it's great for weeknight meals.


2-3 tbsp butter
¾ cup long grain white rice
1/3 cup dry vermicelli noodles, broken up into small pieces (1/4 - 1/2 inch)
2 cups chicken stock
1 tsp Seasoned salt or other favorite seasoning


1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

2. Add vermicelli and coat with butter.

3. Add rice and cook for 2-3 minutes to brown rice and pasta. Add seasonings and stir into rice mixture.

4. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.

5. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 16 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.

Adapted from 30 Minute Meals with Rachel Ray

Thursday, July 21, 2011

S'mores cookies


I kept seeing this recipe over and over on my Google Reader and I finally got a chance to make it. A friend brought these to a BBQ at our house a while ago and I remember loving them! It looks like it might be complicated but it is actually really easy. The cookies are cooked a bit first, then removed from the oven to place the chocolate and marshmallows so they are the perfect when they come out of the oven.

I found that the addition of the graham cracker crumbs to the cookie mix made for a really nice, crumbly texture. I also loved the large chunks of Hershey’s chocolate squares and the melty, browned marshmallow, yum! These cookies were a huge hit with my family and this recipe made a lot of cookies, almost 3 dozen. Definitely a great cookie for some summer fun.



1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 dash of cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups miniature chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
2 Hershey bars, chopped


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1. In a medium bowl combine the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, salt, and dash of cinnamon.

2. In a second larger bowl beat together the butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

3. Slowly beat in the flour mixture until smooth, setting aside 2 tbsp flour mixture. Tip: Stir the chocolate chips into the leftover flour mixture first before mixing into the batter, this will keep the chips from sinking to the bottom of the cookie batter. Stir flour-coated chocolate chips into batter.


4. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheet.

5. Bake for 8 minutes, and remove from the oven. Push 3 to 4 marshmallows and a few pieces of hershey bar into each cookie. Return to the oven and bake an additional 3-4 minutes until fully cooked. Cool cookies on a wire rack

Adapted from Stephanie Cooks

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fish with Black Beans and Corn in a Foil Packet

Foil baked fish 2

There is something about cooking food in a foil packet that makes me giddy. You mix a bunch of ingredients together and put them into a packet, and when it’s finished cooking, you get to open it like a present and it’s cooked perfectly and smells amazing. This type of thing excites me, I can't help it.

Foil-baked fish 1

I found this recipe on several blogs, but I got this from Pink Parsley and followed most of the recipe, but decreased the amount of butter slightly. I love the mix of spicey chipotle pepper and sweet oranges, and the fact that it’s relatively low carb and full of healthy ingredients. You can also get very creative with this recipe, subbing out different spices and juices to find what suits your taste. Enjoy!


4 skinless white fish fillets (6 to 8 oz each), 1-inch thick
salt and pepper

4 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp minced chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (seeds removed, unless you want very spicy!)
1 tsp grated orange zest
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (16-oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups corn kernels
1/2 red onion, minced
2 scallions, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat to 450 degrees.

2. Pat the fish dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Using a fork, mix together the butter, 1 teaspoon chipotle, orange zest, half the garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper in a medium bowl until well-combined. Spread butter mixture over the fish.

3. Combine the beans, corn, onion, scallions, 2 tablespoons of cilantro, orange juice, remaining chipotle, remaining garlic, scallions, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl.

4. Lay four 14-inch lengths of foil on the counter and divide the bean mixture evenly over the lower half of each piece of foil. Top with fish, and fold the foil over the fish, folding the edges to seal.

5. Arrange the packets in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the fish is just cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully open the packets and sprinkle with remaining cilantro. Serve.

Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins


We have a mini-muffin monster in our house. She’s about 2 feet tall, brown hair, and will stop at nothing to eat as many mini muffins as possible.I'm not sure how this started, we noticed when we went out to breakfast one morning that Avery was in love with the blueberry muffin that we ordered for her. From then on, we always ordered her a muffin for her breakfast when we went out. I then figured she'd like it in a smaller size, so I made her blueberry mini-muffins from a box mix. She went nuts, she is in love with mini muffins now. She grips them in her little hands and goes wild. She actually does a little dance when she gets one. I usually give her two in the morning with breakfast and then maybe a snack later on in the day. She's really picky lately, so even if this isn't the healthiest option in the world, it is something she will eat.

This recipe is adapted from a few I have found around the internet. I wanted to make it semi-healthy but still yummy enough for a kid to like. I added banana for a fruit component, peanut butter for some good fats and protein, and then a small amount of chocolate chips just for fun. I had a few of these and they turned out really good, they were great for breakfast on the go. I plan on trying some different mini-muffin recipes next week, maybe a lemon poppyseed or or navel orange? Yum!


2 brown bananas
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
3 TBS melted butter
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup flour
2 tsp peanut butter
½ cup mini chocolate morsels


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Peel the bananas and mush the bananas in a medium sized mixing bowl. Add sugar, egg, and butter and mix well.

3. Stir in baking soda, powder, salt, flour and peanut butter. Mix well with a mixer or a spoon.

4. Stir in chocolate chips

5. Grease the cups of a mini muffin tin. Fill 3/4 full with batter and bake 13-15 minutes, until just golden.

6. Turn the muffins out onto a cooling rack.