I thought I'd like this recipe
And I probably would. And you would, too. But when I read it later, I just had to tweak. Easy creamy, cheesy chicken, practically dump and cook in the slow cooker. Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti, I mean, what could be better? But I guess when I read it again I just couldn't wrap my head around Mexican flavors and, uh, spaghetti? So I used a cup of long grain rice instead (raw, at the beginning). Lots of green peppers, but no red, so how about a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes? The rice was going to need extra liquid, right? Oops, NOW there's a bunch more veggies and I only have the pound of chicken – so in goes a can of black beans for protein wink Oh, and fresh garlic instead of powdered...
While mushroom soup doesn't bring “Mexican” to mind, it was probably the easiest way to enhance the creaminess of the texture, so yeah, that stayed. Okay, I added a couple things, including ground chipotle pepper, but hey, it's MY kitchen!
As I often do, I used the recipe as a guideline – and that's the way it should be! Three hours later, before the last of the cheese went in...
The rice wasn't quite cooked, so I added about a cup of stock and kept it on “Hi” for another 30 minutes. Cheese in, set to “Lo”...
Not the prettiest dish ever, but this is great comfort food – chicken and rice and cheese, oh my wink Nice flavor, but not much heat, so I'll leave that up to you (me, I added some pepper flakes)...

Posted by Linda :
Wednesday 17 June 2015 - 23:21:46
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It was a rotten night. In need of comfort, dinner was a Belgium waffle topped with butter pecan ice cream, drizzled with dulce de leche, sprinkled with both bacon and sea salt...


Posted by Linda :
Sunday 07 June 2015 - 01:13:46
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We've still had some chilly nights...
So a hearty stew was still in order. This Chinese style pork stew has a ton of vegetables and my favorite “hot and sweet” combo in Asian cooking. It can be made in a slow cooker, but as I was home, I used my Dutch oven on the stove – the house smelled luscious! Now, be careful when you read the ingredients – don't do like I did and buy several HEADS of bok choy! It calls for stalks, and one or two heads (like a bunch of celery or head of lettuce?) is sufficient, lol. Fortunately I didn't buy as much as I had misread, and I'll let you know what I do with the extra wink You'll definitely want to use some fresh as an ending garnish – the flavor and texture will give you a delightful finish. Oh, and lime wedges are a MUST. You basically cube and brown your meat while you chop your veggies, and then simmer it all together until the meat is tender.
My big mistake – neither my grocer nor I had the red chilies called for, so I used a whole dried habenaro. I had intended to pull it out about half way, but I forgot? Twas just a tad spicier than I had wanted, but still quite enjoyable.
I'll confess to chowing down on the meat and veggies, and found I had quite a bit of the broth leftover. I didn't have any wontons, and ramen or soba noodles didn't seem quite right (yes, I try to keep an Asian pantry)... I pulled some pieroghi from the freezer and boiled them up while I sauteed onions and some of the leftover cabbage - and then tossed them all together with the broth! Ok, it's more than a little culture clash – asian onion soup with polish ravioli – so I added the crowning insult of a dollop of sour cream. It was DELISH!!!!
Hey, it's your kitchen! Use what you have and a little imagination – some of my favorite meals came from cleaning out the fridge wink

Posted by Linda :
Sunday 26 April 2015 - 04:11:03
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A Slice of Indulgence!
Make some caramel, thin it slightly with crème fraiche, and stir in a cup of roasted, salted peanuts... Have I got your attention? It gets better! You spread this mixture in a pretzel crust – that's right, a pie crust made from pretzels – and then fill to the top with peanut butter mousse... O. M. G.
It's really quite simple – the instructions are all right here. Of course, I took a couple notes wink For starters, instead of making the caramel, I had several cans of dulce de leche I had earlier prepared. A buddy has a new found, uh, obsession with this stuff, and it's a fun science experiment! Purchase sweetened condensed milk (brand and can size don't matter), peel the label(s), place in a deep pot with a lid (I used a dishcloth underneath to avoid scratching), and fill with water until there is at least a quarter inch of water over the top of the can(s). Bring to a gentle boil, cover, and simmer for three hours – that's it. IMPORTANT: Check often (every 20 minutes or so?) to make sure that the water continually covers the can(s) – if the top dries out, the pressure changes and the sealed can(s) CAN exploded!!! You do NOT want this!!! I kept a pint of water by the stove to add as needed. Remove from the water and let cool at least an hour before opening – serve warm or cold. I did several cans at once – sealed, it stores as long as the original product (dates are usually stamped on the can), and once opened it should be transferred to a jar and refrigerated. Forgot to take a pic as I opened the can, but this exactly it!
So back to the pie – I'd made the crust earlier in the day – my pretzels pulsed into a combo of chunks and crumbs – I liked the texture of the finished product, but could only spread across the bottom of the pie dish, which wasn't terrible. You might like a finer crumb, so I'm just putting this out there. A can of dulce with a third cup of sour cream (instead of crème fraiche) and peanuts makes your bottom layer – I used the nuts straight from the can, but would recommend a rough chop. The peanut butter mousse was super easy – if using a stand mixer, whip your cream first and move to another bowl, then make your peanut butter base – it'll save you time and effort.
Decadent as all get out, but an indulgence that needs to be enjoyed at least once wink And shared <3

Posted by Linda :
Monday 30 March 2015 - 20:55:54
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All the Flavor, NONE of the Fuss!
Who'd have thought it would take FIVE hours for an eye exam and shopping for a single item? A comedy of errors, including inaccurate public transportation schedules, made for a big chunk of my “day off”. As gorgeous as the weather was at that moment (we have snow again?), it left me drained and wanting something equivalent to “warm & fuzzy” wink And easy – the day had taken it's toll on me already! Brown some meat, saute some veggies, some sauce and pasta? Yeah, that's what I'm thinking. And cheese?!? Yes, I'd found my moment with Lasagna Soup.
Now, the author starts off saying it had to be “hearty” for her crew – in MY opinion, this is more like an Italian “goulash”, or more appropriately, a deconstructed lasagna. All the great flavors, a fraction of the effort. Whatever you call it, it's easy, fast, and can be as simple or fancy as you'd like! And of course, delicious!
This is a one pot meal - you even cook the pasta in the broth. Now, if you really want a soup, I'd add a couple more cups of stock - but if you just want it NOW, this is perfect! When I first made it, I followed the directions and broiled the cheese mixture on top of my oven proof bowl, which made for a nice presentation.
But for my leftovers (cooking for one this week), I stirred the rest of the cheese into the pot, and simply nuked a bowl full when ready.
Gotta tell you, my co-workers were jealous about this one – the aroma is just as great a the flavor. I liked the slight heat from using spicy sausage and a bit of red pepper flakes, but you may prefer a different balance. I'm definitely adding some chopped spinach (and nutmeg) to my next batch for just a touch of, you know... healthy stuff? Enjoy! I did.

Posted by Linda :
Wednesday 18 March 2015 - 22:57:24
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When the Temperature is below Zero- Make Ice Cream!
I came upon this recipe on a night I was feeling sorry for myself. You know how sometimes you really DO understand, but, well, that doesn't mean that you have to LIKE it?! Home alone, subzero temps – what else is there to do but make something decadent, and why NOT ice cream? You read that right. And no equipment needed, either. Yeah, you can make an insanely rich home-made ICE CREAM with just two ingredients, both of which I happened to have on hand: heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk (the foundation for dulce de leche wink ). Whip them together with some flavoring and chill. That's IT! The idea of coffee flavored ice cream really cheered me up a bit, but I've never heard of coffee 'extract', and didn't have any – a dash of vanilla and about a tablespoon of instant coffee did the trick! Did I mention subzero temps? Plastic wrap on top, and onto the porch it went wink I'm afraid that didn't shorten the chill time as much as I'd hoped – after 2 hours, it hadn't set much. Admitting to “texture” tests every half hour, perfection (@-10F) was achieved in just four hours – the recipe calls for six hours in a normal freezer. If it didn't freeze rock hard in our current weather conditions I doubt that it ever will. So incredibly rich with such a silky mouth feel...
YUMMMMMM! Not the least bit healthy, but boy is it good!

Posted by Linda :
Wednesday 25 February 2015 - 06:02:08
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Two Treats in One
Looking for an inexpensive twist on a classic, simple meal? May I present Pretzel Dogs! We're talking basics here – it's too cold to attempt anything elaborate. Invest a little time (and I would double this recipe if you have kids), and you've got a tasty, available treat. This dough is very straight forward – the author uses a bread machine, but it's easy enough even if you don't have that. I'm blessed with a stand mixer (my KitchenAid and I have been BFFs for almost 30 years!), but this can be done by hand. It is a dense dough, so a little elbow grease is required – even though I let the KitchenAid do most of the work, I always finish by hand kneading. I left it covered with a towel in a semi-warm place for about an hour and a half. I couldn't quite roll it out to the dimensions requested, so I cut the strips and rolled each individually.
Wrap each strip in a spiral pattern around each hot dog, and pinch the dough together well.
The next step is to boil these in a baking soda solution – that is what makes them pretzels! The chemical reaction is what allows the outside to get crisp while keeping the inside soft. A similar technique is used in making bagels, btw.
Notice the difference between the two in the front and the others? That's after only about 30 seconds in the bath! And this is why you need to make sure you've carefully “pinched” your dough – it is so easy for the “twists” to unwind. Feel free to reposition the coils as needed, and when you have a tray full, brush with an eggwash and sprinkle with coarse salt. And BAKE!
If you plan on freezing these, I agree with the author – DON'T salt them. Salt in the freezer would make them soggy – just pull from the freezer, moisten with a spritz of water, sprinkle with salt and bake until warmed through. Honest, you bake them about the same amount of time you did the first round, a whole 15 minutes – but it's WORTH IT!!! I love my soft pretzels with mustard, and trust me, it works! And if you're one of those that likes cheese, let me just say that you're in for a treat!

Posted by Linda :
Friday 20 February 2015 - 08:21:54
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We gotta WORK on Super Bowl Sunday?!?
And we checked – not even time and a half... frown Fortunately, I'LL be near a wall of TVs, but it just won't be the same – so I'm putting together a treat for my co-workers: Ham and Cheese Sliders. Yeah, it's not the traditional wings and pizza, but hey – I'm making an effort here! Shopping the day before (and after a winter storm warning) did not leave a huge selection of bread products – I got the last three dozen rolls in the store! Thick sliced ham was easily found at the deli, along with swiss cheese slices. The turkey breast looked good, so I opted to make some of the sliders using that instead of ham... The prep is really quick and easy – I just cut the meats and cheese to the size of the rolls, and then set up an assembly line.
I packed them into 9”x9” disposable cake pans for convenience.
The poppy seed topping looks a little odd, but it tastes really good! I might have misread, but I used dried onion flakes, and I liked the result. Just make sure that you keep stirring it along the way wink I let it sit in the fridge overnight - that was MY choice. Just a few minutes will do...
But hey, it's what you serve that counts, right?
And you STILL have time to make these!!!!

Posted by Linda :
Sunday 01 February 2015 - 05:31:21
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I haven't given this advice in a while...
Until you are confident in your own ability to select and perform a recipe, and even after, I suggest reading the comments section. You'll get opinions good and bad of the process, what folks did differently... Of course, you can skip all that if you just read MY commentary wink
I needed a chocolate cake. He's allergic to nuts. I wanted to try something I hadn't made before. THIS seemed perfect! But then I read the comments and got scared – not about the RECIPE, but about people in general. Here are some general guidelines, especially if you are inclined to speak your mind. First of all, if you haven't MADE the recipe, please - BE QUIET cheesey If you don't like chocolate, why on earth would you read, let alone rate, a recipe about a chocolate cake? Okay, that's a bit extreme, but not far off – several mentioned that they didn't like coffee, so did they really have to use it? Short answer, NO – but coffee enhances the depth of the chocolate flavor, so it's always a good call. It's your kitchen, leave it out, but why criticize the recipe when it turns out with “minimal chocolate flavor”, right? I added a dash of cayenne, because I have discovered a bit of heat is a divine combination with chocolate, and well, that's how I like it! If I added too much, I WON'T blame the writer. Don't you do it either. Please put on your reading glasses. You only show your ignorance when you scream “5 CUPS of flour? That CAN'T be right!” (I'm paraphrasing some comments so as not to offend the guilty parties wink ). Nope – only 5 Tablespoons. “The frosting was gritty – shouldn't have used granulated sugar.” No, you were supposed to have creamed the sugar "until dissolved" (no more grit?) and THEN whip for another TEN minutes. Even if you skipped ONE of those instructions... Oh, and back to that chocolate flavor? The recipe calls for THREE quarters of a cup of cocoa, not just one... Hey, I'm not perfect by any means, and have never pretended to be. I've TOLD you about some of my goofs (forgive me if I don't cite them today), but a lot of this was just plain ol' depressing. I went looking to answer a question of my own: how long or to what consistency should I cook the flour and milk? I did not find the answer, so I cooked over low heat, stirring constantly, until all lumps were gone, it bubbled slightly, and had the texture of, uh, um...? It was trying to make new lumps? Thicker than Elmer's glue, thinner than Elmer's paste!?! Every food item (like gravy or soups – or even oatmeal, lol) that I can think of are so subject to personal taste....
Many were right on this one – I cooked it about 8 minutes longer than the recipe called for. Could be my oven, could be that it's frigid in New York today... But nice crumb, right?
Easy frosting job, and it is PURE white (well, until I got a few crumbs mixed in, lol)! Nice contrast to the deep chocolate.
[ Taste of Home's pic for now – mine once it's cut. ]
Moral of the story? Think, try, and take responsibility before you post. And this cake is awesome!

Posted by Linda :
Tuesday 13 January 2015 - 20:11:36
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A Medley that will please!
Wide awake after a hideously long and grueling retail shift that ran late on December 24th (last minute shoppers have NO sense of humor, or even humanity sometimes), I decided to make just one more thing... Saw this post and the deed was done! Looked great, and I had everything on hand – in one form or another... Sliced a block (8 oz) of aged, seriously sharp white cheddar, and attempted with the same sized package of cream cheese. Cream cheese didn't want to slice so I simply “shmeered”, and used only about 2/3rds of it.
Arrange on a platter (I used a pie plate)
The only olives on hand were from a jar and a can, but as it marinated overnight I wasn't worried. Drained and mixed the third cup of each, topped the cheeses, and decided I wanted more. So I ended up doubling the olives – just my choice, as it is yours wink
Now, the marinade is SO basic I had to resist messing with it: one quarter cup each balsamic vinegar and olive oil, chopped garlic, one Tablespoon each fresh parsley and basil (or one teaspoon each of dry, which was my only last minute option) – I made this first and let it all soak a while. Give it a good whisk before you drizzle it over the olives and cheese. Sprinkle with chopped pimento, then wrap and chill for at least 8 hours.
Even Christmas morning it was possible to find baguettes, which I sliced and toasted. While I thought that this dish would not have been hurt by a generous grating of black pepper, brother Jeff thought the balance of flavors was “spot on” as it was. Be aware – the bottom of the cheese slices WILL turn dark – they're supposed to!!! So let's see. We've got: Spanish olives, Greek olives, NY cheese, Phila cheese, French bread, Italian balsamic and basil, and, well, EVERYONE claims garlic.... Yep, it's a mash up of the best kind! I almost missed this for my family gathering... I hear there's this party sometime next week?

Posted by Linda :
Friday 26 December 2014 - 22:46:48
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