Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

I remember the carefree days of hanging out at the mall during the summer.  I would ice skate, browse the stores, check out cute boys, and drink smoothies.  Then I was told to get a summer job, so I sold pizza in the food court at the mall.  I would still get a strawberry banana smoothie every day, but life was no longer carefree and easy.  This delicious and refreshing smoothie will cool you down and help you forget your worries, at least for a few minutes.


1 cup fresh strawberries
2 bananas
1 cup vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup ice cubes

Add all ingredients to a blender and process until smooth.  Makes 2 large glasses.  Enjoy! 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Crock Pot Beef Burgundy

This is my friend Shelby's recipe.  She shared it with me when I was dating my husband. Todd's a meat and and pasta lover, so this recipe definitely won over his heart.  I used the crock pot to make it because of this very hot summer.  You can also cook it in the oven for 2 hours.


2 lbs beef stew meat, cut into bite size pieces
1 quart fresh mushrooms, cut into quarters
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 T butter
3 T Worcestershire
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 package Lipton Onion Soup Mix
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 cup red wine, or beef broth
fresh pasta, cooked per package instructions (I used fettuccine)

2-3 T corn starch
1/4 cup cold water

In a crock pot, add the stew meat, mushrooms, sliced onions, butter, and Worcestershire.  Spread the cream of mushroom over top.  Sprinkle 1/2 package onion soup mix and pepper over soup.  Pour over red win (or beef broth).  Do not stir.  Cover and turn the crock pot on high.  Cook for 5-6 hours on high until the stew meat is tender.  
Note:  You can also cook in a dutch oven at 350 degrees for 2 hours.    

When ready to serve, make the thickener by stirring together the corn starch and cold water in a glass.  Add to the beef burgundy, stir well, and let simmer until thickened.  Serve over pasta.  Enjoy!  

Monday, July 25, 2011

Grateful for Followers GIVEAWAY!

Hey y'all!  Welcome to my first GIVEAWAY.  It is my way of saying Thank You to all of my old and new followers and celebrate my first blogoversary.  I appreciate you joining me in the kitchen and it makes my day to read your sweet comments.  

Today, one lucky reader will win a cookbook from each of my favorite celebrity chefs, Giada De Laurentiis and Ina Garten.

Giveaway Rules:  

1.  Since this giveaway is NOT sponsored by an outside source, it is open to US residents only due to shipping costs. Sorry. 

2.  Anonymous posts will not qualify as I have no way of verifying your identity.

3.  Giveaway closes Sunday July 31 at 8pm CST.  

4.  Winner will be chosen by and announced on Monday August 1.

Now comes the fun part!  Just leave a comment on this blog post telling me about your favorite memory this summer.  My favorite was our family vacation to Florida and watching our girls play on the beach together.  

Friday, July 22, 2011

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have seen these cookies around blogland and decided to make them using my favorite Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies this week.  They are huge and very decadent, and were a big hit with my kids.  You just can't go wrong with two cookies in one recipe!


1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups + 2 T all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate chips
20 Oreo Cookies (for stuffing)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Melt the butter and set aside to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Add cooled butter to large stand mixer. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and cream until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until combined, scraping down the sides as needed. Reduce the mixer to low and slowly add the flour mixture, and mix just until combined. Turn the mixer off and stir in the chocolate chips.

Use a 2 oz. cookie scoop to get large ball of dough, or get about 2 T and roll into a ball. Press your thumb in the middle of the dough ball and put an Oreo cookie in the indention. Wrap the cookie dough around Oreo cookie and seal edges. Place dough 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until edges are lightly brown and centers are still soft and puffy. Let cookies cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely or serve warm. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pineapple Smoothie

It's been so incredibly hot here in Texas this summer. 41 days at or above 100 so far to be exact. My family wanted these homemade calzones for dinner last night, which means the oven was on 450 degrees. Oh my, the kitchen was hot and so was I, which left me craving a fruity and frosty drink.  I made this pineapple smoothie for dessert, and next time I will make a double batch and add some bananas too.  It was delicious!  This recipe makes 2 drinks.


1 1/4 cups fresh pineapple
1 cup vanilla yogurt
1 cup ice cubes
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

Add all ingredients to a blender and process until smooth.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki

My hubby and I have been eating at little Greek restaurants since we were first dating.  I would alternate between lamb and chicken gyros with extra tzatziki sauce.  I found this recipe over at Closet Cooking and just had to give it a try.  It was easy and very flavorful. My hubby walked in the door from work and said our home smelled like a Greek restaurant. That was quite a compliment!  The tzatziki can also be served as an appetizer dip with pita chips and fresh vegetables.

Chicken Gyros:
1 lb marinated, grilled chicken breast strips (see below)
1 batch tzatziki (see below)
6 pitas or flatbread
shredded romaine lettuce
2 tomatoes, sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced

Chicken Marinade:
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 T Greek yogurt
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lemon, zest and juice
2 sprigs fresh oregano, removed from stem
1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Place rinsed chicken in a large zip lock bag.  In a medium bowl, whisk together all marinade ingredients.  Pour marinade over chicken, zip up bag, and shake bag to coat all chicken.  Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, grated over colander
1 cup Greek yogurt (2 - 6 oz. serving cups)
2 T fresh lemon juice
2 T olive oil
2-3 T fresh dill, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
kosher salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

Peel and remove seeds from cucumber, then grate over colander and let water drain.  Place grated cucumber in paper towels to squeeze out excess water.  Add to a medium bowl with remaining ingredients and whisk together.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour to let flavors combine.

Grill chicken on indoor or outdoor grill until cooked through.  Slice into strips.  Assemble gyros by layering tzatziki, chicken, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and more tzatziki on top.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Southern Sausage Gravy

This gravy is good on biscuits, mashed potatoes, chicken, or just straight from a spoon. You only need a few ingredients and less than 10 minutes for some great homemade gravy.  We had it over some biscuits this morning, and the rest topped off our mashed potatoes and chicken tenders at dinner.


1/2 lb breakfast sausage, crumbled
2 T butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 cups milk
kosher salt
black pepper

In a large skillet over medium high heat, crumble up the breakfast sausage.  I use a potato masher to break the sausage up into smaller pieces.  Cook until no longer pink.  Add the butter and once it is melted, stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the milk and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and cook until thickened, stirring occasionally.  Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.  If it gets too thick, add some more milk.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Southern Fried Chicken Strips

Fried chicken strips with mashed potatoes, gravy, and corn are my favorite comfort meal.  My grandma would always make fried chicken and all the sides when I was visiting in the summer.  She was a wonderful cook and baker.  She made the best pies you ever tasted.  I wish that I was listening better when she taught me how to make pie crust.  But I can make some good fried chicken.  I prefer chicken strips so you get the breading in every bite.  I use chicken breasts so you don't have to deal with that gross tenden thing that runs through the chicken tenders.  This is my way of making it at home.


2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into long strips
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 eggs + 3 T milk + salt + pepper (egg wash)

Cut the chicken breasts into long thick strips (I usually just cut in half).  Place in a deep glass casserole dish and pour buttermilk over chicken.  Cover with plastic wrap and let marinade it refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

In a large deep dish, add the flour, baking powder, and spices.  Stir with a fork.  In another dish, add the eggs and spices to make egg wash.

Line two sheet pans with wire racks.

Remove the chicken and complete the breading process:

Place the chicken in the flour and shake off excess. You only want a light coating to adhere the egg. Dip the chicken in the egg wash. Place chicken back in the flour to coat completely and shake off excess.  Place chicken on one of the wire rack lined sheet pans. (Save the other sheet pan for the baking process)

Let the chicken sit and absorb the breading for 10 minutes while your oil heats up.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Pour canola or vegetable oil into large cast iron skillet making sure to only fill 1/2 way.  I test the oil by putting the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil.  Once bubbles form all the way around the handle tip, the oil is ready.

Fry chicken in batches.  Cook chicken for 3 minutes, then flip and cook for 2 minutes.  Remove chicken to the clean wire rack lined sheet pan.  Let the oil come back up to temperature between batches.  Continue cooking all your chicken in batches.

Bake chicken tenders in the oven until cooked through.  I usually bake them for 12-14 minutes when they are thick.  Sprinkle with kosher salt while still hot.  Enjoy! 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Coconut Cream Pie

In celebration of my hubby's BIG 40th Birthday today, I made his favorite Coconut Cream Pie. He will be pleasantly surprised when he gets home from work.  We celebrated the big day with our family this past weekend, so he doesn't suspect another big dessert.  This is a tried and true recipe that I have made several times and is a family favorite.  It always makes it to the dessert table at Thanksgiving.


1 - 15 oz. can cream of coconut (found on baking or non-alcoholic bottle mixes aisle)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 egg yolks (save whites for meringue)
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup corn starch
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups shredded coconut
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 deep dish pie shell, baked

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Prick prepared pie shell with fork and bake for 12-14 minutes, or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack.  Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees.

In a medium saucepan, combine the cream of coconut, heavy cream, egg yolks, sugar, corn starch, and salt.  Bring to a boil over medium low heat, stirring or whisking often.  This may take a while, but be patient and don't turn up the heat.  

When mixture comes to a boil, turn heat down to low and stir constantly until thickened to the consistency of pudding or custard.  Remove from the heat, and stir in the shredded coconut and vanilla.  Pour into the prepared pie shell.


3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar

Use a stand mixer or hand mixer to beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form.  Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.  Use a spatula to spread over the coconut filling all the way to the edges.  Use the spatula to make peaks in the meringue.  Sprinkle with 1/3 cup shredded coconut.  

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, or until meringue is set and coconut is lightly toasted. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack until room temperature.  Refrigerate for 4 hours until filling is firm and set.  After serving, store leftovers in the refrigerator.  Enjoy!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Japanese Hibachi Grill Ginger Salad Dressing

My husband's favorite part of going to the Hibachi Grill is the salad (because of the ginger dressing) and the fried rice.  I found a copycat recipe for Asian Ginger salad dressing on Allrecipes.  I made some minor adjustments, and this dressing is amazing.  We lightly drizzled it over a simple romaine, cucumber, tomato, and green onion salad. This could also be used as a marinade for chicken or shrimp before grilling.  I'm going to try it on an Asian pasta salad next week. 


1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
3 T honey
5 T fresh grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp Sriracha hot chili sauce

In a glass jar, add all ingredients.  Put the lid on tight and shake well.  Taste for seasonings and adjust as needed.  Refrigerate for 2 hours, if possible, to let flavors combine.  Serve over salad, pasta, or use as a marinade.  Store in the refrigerator.  Enjoy!
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