Tag Archives: easy

Mexican Casserole – Quick, Easy, and Cheap!

9 Nov

This casserole was one of the easiest things I have ever put together. It was also one of the most delicious. When I started to make this casserole, I didn’t have high hopes. I knew it would fill us up but it just seemed to be a run of the mill casserole, nothing too exciting. Thankfully, I was wrong. Jason loved it, went back for seconds that were as big as his first serving, and nibbled on it after dinner until there were no leftovers for his lunch the next day. Whoops.

I have recently become obsessed with my 8×4 baking dish. The 9×13 and 8×8 sizes are just too big for the two of us, especially when you take into account adding side dishes to a meal. The following recipe has been bulked up to fit an 8×8 baking dish because, apparently when I make it next time, the 8×4 simply won’t do.

Quick, Easy, and Cheap Mexican Casserole

Servings: 4-6
Level: Easy
Time: 30 minutes

1/2 onion, chopped
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 tbsp. cumin
1/2 tbsp. chili powder
1/2 tbsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. corriander, optional
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, optional
1/2 c. tortilla chips, crushed
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can corn, rinsed and drained
1 can nacho cheese condensed soup, or any brand of cheese dip will work as well
1 can rotel, drained
1/3 c. cheese, shredded

In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook onions, ground beef, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, corriander, and red pepper flakes together until beef is browned throughout. Drain off excess fat. Pour crushed tortilla chips in a greased 8×8 baking sheet to coat the bottom. In a large bowl, mix together browned beef, beans, corn, condensed soup, and rotel. Pour over chips. Top with shredded cheese.

Bake, covered, for 20-25 minutes. Yum!

Tips
– Serve with a dollop of sour cream and/or salsa on top.
– Serve along side a green salad.
– Use taco seasoning instead of listed spices to flavor the meat.

South of the Border Burgers

20 Oct

We love tacos and burritos at our house! But, alas, I was completely out of tortillas when the craving hit us. I don’t know about you but around here, when a craving hits, there’s no getting rid of it… So the South of the Border Burger was born, as most things are, out of necessity. And now this burger will surely be a weeknight  staple! I hope you like it.


South of the Border Burgers

Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 2
Level: Easy

2 servings of ground beef (I always pre-portion my meat once I buy it…)
1 tbsp. low sodium taco seasoning
2 whole wheat hamburger buns
1 tbsp. salsa
1 tbsp. sour cream
2 slices cheddar cheese
freshly sliced purple onions, optional
lettuce

Mix ground beef and taco seasoning. Form into 2 patties. Either outside on the grill or inside in a grill pan, grill burgers until no longer pink inside, about 5 minutes on each side.

Spread salsa on one side of hamburger buns and spread sour cream on the other side. Top buns with burgers, cheddar cheese,  onions, and lettuce. Yum!

Chocolate Chip Cookie HEAVEN…

13 Jul

As you can tell, I hardly ever bake. If I bake, it’s for a purpose or a super random craving. I was reading a few blogs the other day, came across this recipe, and decided I HAD to try it. It calls for brown butter, which, until now, I had never attempted. I always see Giada tossing noodles in brown butter and she always makes it look sooo good! Since I’ve always wanted to try my hand at browning butter, I thought using it as an ingredient in a cookie batter, instead of as the star of a pasta dish, would be my best option. You know, in case I botched it.

As it turns out, browning butter is a cinch! All you do is heat it up and stir until it becomes fragrant and brownish in color.

These cookies are amazing. I really have nothing much to say other than that. They have a toffee flavor that is unmatched in any other chocolate chip cookie I’ve ever made. I baked a few and then I froze the rest of the pre-baked cookies to use another day.

They taunt me. Every time I open the freezer, there they are, calling to me. “Please bake me until I’m ooey and gooey. Couldn’t you go for a tall glass of milk right about now?” No cookie, EVER, has ever had a hold on me like these. If you don’t try them, good for you. Way to stay strong. Because I’m telling you, once you make these cookies, your life will forever be changed, and so might your pant size…

Kari, over at Culinarication, is responsible for  posting this recipe. She got the original recipe from America’s Test Kitchen but she tweaked it a little. Kari, I thank you and I curse you. Thank you for this ridiculously delicious cookie recipe but curse you for making me cookie addicted…

Light Chocolate Chip Cookies

(recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen and Kari from Culinarication)

Servings: 18 – 24
Time: 20 minutes
Level: Medium

1 1/4 c. all purpose flour

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

4 tbsp. unsalted butter

1 large egg

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 c. packed light brown sugar

1/3 c.  chocolate chips

Set your oven rack to the middle position and set the temperature to 350°. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together, and set aside. Mix the brown sugar, vanilla and egg together in a bowl. Over medium-low heat, melt and brown your butter. When it cools slightly, mix it into the sugar and butter mixture. Stir it until combined, and then let it sit for a few minutes. Repeat 1 or 2 times. Stir in the flour and chocolate chips. Portion the dough into 1-inch balls (a level tablespoon’s worth) and split them between two parchment lined baking sheets. Bake one sheet at a time for 9-11 minutes until centers are set.

Let them set on the sheet for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool. Store any leftovers, if there are any, in an airtight container. These are best when eaten within a few days. Yum!

Tips
– Freeze the unused dough after portioning it (stick them on a plate for a few hours until hard, then store them in a freezer bag). When the cookie craving strikes, bake as many cookies as you want in a 350° oven for about 15 minutes or so, and then let them set for 5 minutes on the sheet. Fresh cookies, anytime you want them!

 

Grilled Corn with French Onion “Butter”

12 Jul

Grilled corn on the cob is probably my favorite summertime veggie. When the husks burn on the outside of the corn, the kernels practically get a steam bath and become infused with a wonderful smoky flavor. When I grill corn on the cob, I make sure to grill a lot of it! Leftovers can be reinvented into so many delicious dishes… the options are truly endless.

You can cut off the perfectly charred kernels to throw into a salad, use them to make a cold corn soup, (whew… recipe for another day, pure deliciousness!) make a salsa or dip, or even just reheat them with a little salt and butter for an easy side dish on a busy night.

Grilling corn is super easy. There are a lot of theories on how to grill the perfect ear of corn but this one seems to work best for me. Sorry there aren’t any pictures…

First, with kitchen scissors, I trim the silk fibers that are poking out of the top of the ear. Then, I peel off the first entire layer of the husk. After that, I throw the ears on to the grill, set at medium-high heat, for 25-30 minutes, turning every once in a while. Once they come off of the grill, totally black and super messy, I peel back the husk and take off the silk fibers. I guess that’s called shucking?! Ahhhhh-mazing!

Nothing can beat an ear of grilled corn slathered in melted butter and dusted with salt. But for the sake of not boring my family with the same ole’ side dish, just because I love it so much, I started doing some experimenting.

Normally I don’t have French onion dip in the fridge. Chip dip is just something I never buy. I’d rather use Greek yogurt and sour cream to make my own. I like controlling my own flavors and nutritional content when it comes to things like that. But, alas, the 4th of July left us with a tub and I figured I could use it. What was born was truly delicious and I hope you enjoy it.

Grilled Corn with French Onion “Butter”

Servings: 2
Time: 2 minutes
Level: Easy

2 ears of corn, grilled and shucked
2 tbsp. French onion dip (I used Dean’s brand)
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (or more…)
1/2 tsp. lime or lemon juice

Mix dip, cayenne, and juice together. Spread over all sides of the corn. Yum!

Tips
– I bet you could use any dip flavor… dill, ranch, etc.

Carolina Salad

11 Jul

Ooh, the Carolina. My husband requests this salad at least once every two weeks, especially in the hot hot summer. Did you know that it hit over 100° today? Ridiculous. Factor in the sticky humidity that constantly blankets us and you’ve got yourself a sweat box. Good skin? Yes, the dewiest, most gorgeous skin.  But an enjoyable afternoon spent reading outside? I don’t think so.

Hot weather welcomes dinner salads and this one is legit. I made Pretzel and Pecan Encrusted Tilapia not too long ago and I made extra breading for a night just like tonight! The breading saves beautifully in an airtight container. For the recipe, click here.

Dinner salads are an excuse to clean out your produce drawer. Pretty much anything goes… and goes VERY well, so play around!!

Carolina Salad

Servings: 2
Time: 10 minutes
Level: Easy

1 chicken breast
1/3 – 1/2 c. pretzel and pecan breading
1 tbsp. coconut oil (canola or vegetable oil would also work… coconut is just better for you and pan fries wonderfully)
The following list is what I used in my salad tonight. You can use whatever you have!
lettuce
spinach leaves
radishes
carrots
purple onion
grapes (strawberries or nectarines work well, too)
broccoli
cashews
cheese, shredded
bacon, cooked and crumbled
croutons
salad dressing of your choice

Dry chicken breast and dice into bite sized pieces. In a shallow dish or plate, pour breading and press chicken pieces into the breading to coat.

In a pan over medium heat, melt coconut oil. Once melted and heated to temperature, add chicken and cook 1-2 minutes per side, or until no longer pink in the middle.

Fill large bowls or deep plates with lettuce and other ingredients. Top with chicken. Yum!

Tips
– Make your own croutons… Slice a piece of bread into cubes, top with a little butter, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown. Yum!
– No egg bath is needed to coat the chicken. The breading will stick to the bare chicken and holds up nicely in the pan since it is fried for such a short period of time. Why add the calories if they aren’t really needed?

Simple Sabroso Salsa

7 Jul

Sabroso means tasty in Spanish… I’m not sure if I used it in the right context or not, but hey, I only have a minor in the language so I’m not expected to know, right?

This salsa is called Sabroso Salsa because it is simply that, a tasty sauce… especially the next day, once all of the flavors sit and have a chance to mingle with each other.

If you have any leftover grilled corn, use it! If not, no worries! Canned corn will do just fine.

I served this salsa with tortilla chips but it would also be delicious served on crackers or bite sized baguette slices topped a little avocado and cheese. Appetizers, anyone?

Don’t forget to check the tips section for 2 great ideas for using up leftovers!

Simple Sabroso Salsa

Time: 5 minutes
Servings: A lot! It made about 3 -4 cups of salsa.
Level: Easy

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can whole kernel corn, drained and rinsed
1 can Rotel, drained
1 tbsp. jalapeños, diced
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. lime juice

Mix all ingredients together and let sit in the fridge until ready to serve. Yum!

Tips
– Play with the spices. You can add as little or as much of each as you’d like!
– I spooned leftover salsa over grilled chicken for dinner the next day. Yum!
– Another idea for leftovers!!!! I used the rest of the leftover salsa to make a simple pasta dish. I heated the salsa in the microwave and mixed it with cooked, drained pasta shell noodles and leftover shredded chicken. It was so yummy!!

What the French, Toast?

5 Jul

Breakfast is the BEST! You’ve always heard that you should start your day off right… but honestly, who has the time? Grabbing a bowl of cereal or snagging a granola bar out of the pantry on our way out the door probably happens way too often around here.

But after a WONDERFUL trip to see Alissa, my best friend, well, make that almost sister… in case you didn’t know, I now have an easy and super quick recipe for breakfast that will definitely be making a frequent appearance in my kitchen.

This French toast recipe takes about 5 minutes, at the most, to prepare and it bakes in the oven for 15 minutes. That is just enough time to go back, get dressed, and put on make-up. Can’t argue with that!

I’m not quite sure if the measurements are exactly like Alissa’s amazing recipe but the outcome was very similar. Yum!

Alissa’s Fabulous French Toast

Servings: 2
Time: 20 minutes
Level: Easy

1 egg
2 egg whites
2 tbsp. milk
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla
4 slices whole wheat bread

Preheat oven to 350°. In a shallow dish, whisk egg, egg whites, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla together. Dip bread in egg mixture until soaked.

Place bread on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes, turning once.

Serve with butter and warmed syrup. Yum!

Tips
– You can use all egg whites to make it healthier.
– Try sugar free syrup or even flavored syrup for a twist!
– Top with toasted pecans for a nutty addition.
– Sprinkle more cinnamon on top of the bread before you bake it if you loooove cinnamon like I do!

Grilled Turkey and Cheese on Cinnamon Raisin Bread

1 Jul

I’ll be the first to admit it… this doesn’t sound good. But please don’t let that keep you from trying this sandwich. It is SOOOO yummy! Trust me on this one.

The sweet bread and tangy mustard works so well with nice thick slices of ooey gooey provolone cheese. Just thinking about this sweet and savory combo is making me hungry again. What’s with me this week and sweet and savory dishes?

This sandwich is great for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner. Yum!

Grilled Turkey and Cheese on Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Servings: 1
Time: 5 minutes
Level: Easy

2 slices cinnamon raisin bread
1/2 tbsp. spicy brown mustard
3-4 slices deli turkey (mesquite or peppered turkey also works)
1-2 slices provolone cheese
butter

Spread one slice of bread with mustard. Top with turkey, provolone, and second slice of bread. Butter the outsides of the bread and grill, over medium heat, until golden brown. Yum!

Grilled Apple Pork Burgers with a Maple Mustard Glaze

30 Jun

Tonight was an adventure. I wasn’t really sure where this dinner was taking me but I knew I needed to use up the ground pork I had in my freezer. Pork chops and apple sauce is a classic combination so I figured ground pork and chopped apples would have a similar flavor. Everyone loves a good burger… so I went for it.

What became of this burger was nothing short of delicious. An interesting combination of flavors, to say the least, but it was both savory and sweet and very well balanced.

Grilled Apple Pork Burgers with a Maple Mustard Glaze

Servings: 2
Time: 15 minutes
Level: Medium

1/3 – 1/2 lb. ground pork
1 small apple, peeled and diced into small pieces
curry powder, a good sprinkle
garlic powder, a good sprinkle
ground cinnamon or nutmeg, a good sprinkle
ground ginger, a good sprinkle
paprika, a good sprinkle
1 tbsp. spicy brown mustard
1/2 tbsp. maple syrup

Mix pork, apple, and spices together.

Form meat mixture into two patties.

Either on the grill or in a grill pan, grill burgers for 4-6 minutes on each side. Meanwhile, mix together mustard and syrup. Baste burgers while cooking with mustard glaze.

Yum!

Tips
– Serve alone or on whole wheat buns with lettuce, tomato, and onion.

Perfectly Roasted Chicken – Comfort Food At It’s Best!

29 Jun

Whew. What a looong weekend/week. After everything we’ve all been through, I thought we deserved a little R&R and a deliciously comforting meal. This roasted chicken takes about 10 minutes to prepare so it’s in the oven in no time. It also makes your entire house smell like a cozy diner on a winter’s day.

While it roasted away in the oven, I got in a load of laundry, took the dogs on a w-a-l-k, (can’t say it in front of them, ya know) and took a much deserved bath. This is my go-to recipe for roasted chicken and it delivers time after time. I hope you like it.

The two of us can typically get about 4-5 meals out of one chicken so buy them when they’re on sale and keep them in your freezer to roast later. You can also freeze the cooked meat. That’s what I did tonight. We ate the chicken legs for dinner and I froze a bag of the breasts and two bags of shredded meat. That will come in handy later on when I’m in a hurry and need to make a quesadilla or a quick casserole.

Perfectly Roasted Chicken

Servings: 8
Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes total
Level: Medium

1 whole chicken (3-4 lbs.), thawed
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, cut into thirds
1 Tbsp. margarine
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 Tbsp. poultry seasoning
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. chicken seasoning (such as Weber’s Kick’n Chicken)

Preheat oven to 400°. Remove innards from chicken. Dry off chicken, inside and out, with paper towels. Fill cavity with garlic, onions, celery, and margarine.

Rub outside of chicken with oil. Sprinkle seasonings all over. Tuck wings and tie legs together with kitchen twine, if desired.  Place any leftover onion or celery pieces in the bottom of a large cast iron skillet. Place chicken on top.

Roast in the oven, uncovered, for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 180° when inserted into the thickest part of the breast. Remove from oven, let rest for at least 15 minutes, and serve. Yum!

Tips
– If you don’t have kitchen twine, you can use unwaxed and unflavored dental floss or upholstery thread.
– Instead of using chicken seasoning, use your favorite fresh herbs, like rosemary or thyme.

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