Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Chicken and Cream Cheese Packets

Well, these pictures are not the best examples of this recipe, but I don't make it very often and I wanted to put the recipe on my blog now. To explain the pictures, I had some leftover crescent dough so I cut out shapes with some Christmas cookie cutters I had and then painted them. Yep painted them. I didn't have any food coloring and the only thing I did have were these icing markers. They're really hard to color with so I just made do. Other than all of you seeing this, it was just for my husband and me so I didn't care how bad they looked. I was having fun. As for the recipe, my mom used to make these when I still lived at home and over the years I've changed the recipe at least a half dozen times. So here's how I made them the other night...

Chicken and Cream Cheese Packets

2 cans Crescent rolls
1 can Cream of chicken soup
4oz. Cream cheese (1/2 block) (+ maybe a little more)
5-6 Tbsp. Sour cream, divided
2 13oz. cans Chicken (or equivalent)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to the crescent roll package directions. Soften cream cheese in a microwavable bowl. Add the chicken (drained), 2-3 Tbsp. of the sour cream, and 2-3 Tbsp. of the cream of chicken soup. Mix well and add salt and pepper to taste, then set aside. Sometimes I need more cream cheese (if I don't use the sour cream or soup). Pinch together 2 crescent rolls to make a square/rectangle. You can do this to all the rolls at once or do them as you go. I don't like to mess up all my counter space so I usually do 2 at a time. Score your chicken mixture so you get an even amount in each packet. Put a really big spoonful (or 2) in the middle of each crescent square. You can do one of 2 things: bring the 4 points together in the middle to make another square, or bring one point over to its diagonal point to make a triangle. Then pinch the seams and turn the packet over (pretty side up) and place on a greased cookie sheet. When all of the packets are finished, bake according to crescent roll package directions. I usually have to add about 5 minutes. I almost doubled the cooking time when I made it with the Christmas shapes on top.
While the packets are in the oven, empty the remainder of the can of cream of chicken soup into a small saucepan. Heat over med-low until you're ready to eat, stirring occasionally. I also like to add a few Tbsp. of sour cream to this. When the packets are done and served, cover with the soup. Don't cover more than you want to eat or they'll be really soggy when you go to re-heat them the next day!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Breasts with Pesto Sauce

I know, this looks kinda nasty. My husband even told me he didn't want the green stuff on his chicken the first time I made this. (He didn't get a choice the second time.)
I found this recipe in my Rachael Ray: 30 minute Get Real Meals cookbook. She did some other things, but I'll tell you what I did. If you want her recipe I guess you gotta go buy the book!

Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Breasts with Pesto Sauce

2 Tbsp olive oil
3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I always use tenderloins, 7-8)
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (the plain old sprinkle kind for spaghetti is best)
Pesto (you can get this next to the spaghetti sauces at the grocery store) -I don't like to waste my pesto so I didn't pre-measure this. I just used a teaspoon to scoop some out when it came time.
Salt and pepper

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium to medium-high heat with 2 Tbsp of evoo. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Dump the cheese onto a plate and press the chicken into the cheese, covering all the pieces in cheese on both sides. Add the chicken to the hot skillet, allowing it to cook for 6-7 minutes before moving it. Don't move the chicken around or lift it up to check it; the cheese is forming a crust and you don't want to mess that up. After 6-7 minutes, turn the chicken and cook for another 5-6 minutes. (I decreased my times by a minute or two since I was using tenderloins.) Top each chicken breast with a strip of pesto.

I served this with my favorite green beans. (I added a little butter this time too.)

Also, I fixed a little pasta. I filled a medium pot with half water and half chicken stock and boiled the pasta to the box directions. After draining the pasta, I added 1-2 Tbsp of butter, 1 Tbsp of pesto, and a half cup of Parmesan cheese. I mixed it all together and thought it needed some color so I chopped a few leaves of fresh basil and mixed that in too.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Broccoli Ham Ring

This recipe came right out of a cookbook that my mother put together for each of her daughters at least 5 years ago. I love this book. It's got all of my mom's best recipes. Some of them came from friends and most of those are given credit. This one didn't have anyone else's name on it so I'm assuming my mom made it up. Of course, 20 years ago, when she first made it, she could have found it in a Betty Crocker cookbook. But my mom is famous for changing recipes (that's where I get it from). So, if you look hard enough, you may find a recipe like this one out there somewhere...

Broccoli Ham Ring

1 cup chopped ham
1 cup chopped broccoli
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
2 Tbsp. Dijion mustard
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 packages refrig. crescent rolls

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients together, except rolls. Set aside mixture. Unroll crescent dough and separate into 16 triangles. Arrange 4 triangles with the wide end corners touching to make a square. Fill the gaps with 4 more triangles (wide ends towards the middle). Now there are 8 gaps so fill them with the remaining 8 triangles. There will be lots of overlapping. (Maybe I should have photographed this part too!) Scoop the ham mixture evenly in a circle around the wide ends of the triangles. Bring the outside points over the mixture and tuck under the wide ends. Some of the mixture may still show through. After doing this, I molded mine into a circle by squishing a little here and there. Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown.

In case you have lots of leftover ham from Thanksgiving (or soon to be Christmas) and don't know what to do with it, this is a great time to use it! That's what I used in mine and it was FABULOUS! After I finished my little portion of dinner I thought about taking a picture of the inside too, but my husband had already eaten the rest of the circle!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Taco Chili

This is a great thing to make on a cold day. Or if you just want your buck to go a long way. I think all the ingredients together cost less than $8. And it serves about 8-10 people. Or lots of leftovers for 2.
I've seen recipes that kinda resemble this chili, but none of them are just like this one.

2 cans corn
1 can northern beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can tomato sauce
1/2 can of water
1 lb browned hamburger meat
1 package taco seasoning

Drain all the cans of beans and corn and empty into your crock pot. (You can change or add any type of beans that you like. Also, you don't need 2 cans of corn; I just love corn!) Add the tomato sauce, taco seasoning, and hamburger meat. Slowly add the can of water until you have the consistency that you like. Stir ingredients together.
Cook in the crock pot on high for about an hour or on low for about 3 hours. (A little more or less time won't totally ruin it. All the ingredients are cooked; you just want it heated through really well.) I'm sure you could do this on the stove if you don't have a crock pot. Just cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mac and Cheese with Potatoes and Chicken

I'm back now. The other night I decided it was time to get back into trying new recipes for my blog. I had some left over Gruyere cheese from a fondue night and I wanted to use it before it went bad. I found a recipe for Mac and Cheese and I really like it. It's super quick and easy. (It's from Aida Mollenkamp on Food Network.) I also found a recipe for potatoes on The Pioneer Woman's website. And I used my favorite stove top chicken cooking style.
For the chicken, I just salt and pepper each side and sprinkle with a little fresh herbs. I use something different every time and sometimes a mixture. Pick your faves from Rosemary, Thyme, and Parsley. Heat a few tablespoons of EVOO over medium heat. When the chicken is just about done on both sides (about 5 minutes each side) I mix about a half cup each of white wine and chicken stock and pour that in the pan. I flip the chicken every so often until almost all the liquid is cooked out.

Crash Hot Potatoes

Here's a link to the Pioneer Woman's recipe. Crash Hot Potatoes I didn't have all the stuff and time for her recipe so I just used the idea and put it into what I had. Here's what I did:

2 cans new potatoes
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Drain the potatoes and spread out in an oven safe dish. Take a fork and mash the potatoes a little just to open them up. Drizzle a little EVOO over the potatoes and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and rosemary. Bake at 450 for 20-25 minutes.

Sage Butter Macaroni and Four Cheese

3 tbsp unsalted butter, plus extra for baking dish
4 oz. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup unseasoned dry bread crumbs
1 pound macaroni
3 tbsp thinly sliced sage (didn't have any so used thyme and parsley)
6 ounces shredded Gruyere cheese
4 ounces shredded aged cheddar
4 ounces mascarpone cheese (didn't have so used cream cheese)
3/4 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to broil and arrange rack in top. Butter a 9 by 9-inch baking dish and set aside. Melt 1 tablespoon of the remaining butter and mix in a medium bowl with 1 cup of the Parmigiano and all the bread crumbs until thoroughly moistened; set aside.

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for half the time indicated on package.

Meanwhile, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. When it starts to foam, add sage and cook until crisp and butter begins to turn golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside until pasta is ready. Reserve 1 cup pasta water and drain pasta.

Return pasta to pot and place over low heat. Stir in sage butter, reserved pasta water, remaining 3 cups Parmigiano, Gruyere, Cheddar, mascarpone, and salt, and season with freshly ground black pepper. Stir constantly until cheeses are evenly melted and the pasta looks well coated. Turn pasta into baking dish and evenly top with bread crumb mixture. Place under broiler until mixture bubbles and top is browned, about 1 to 2 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Steak Marinade with Green Beans and Mashed Potatoes

(Sorry about the bad picture; I forgot to take one and we were sitting down to eat. And it was a paper plate night...)

The meal sure was tasty though! I had some leftover steak from the other night so I went searching for a marinade. I found one that looked worth trying at And normally I pour a can of green beans into a sauce pan and cook them until they're done with just salt and pepper. But I decided to be different tonight. The asparagus from last week gave me an idea.

Green Beans

1 can of Green beans
Olive oil
Vegetable Seasoning

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain the can of green beans and put green beans in a small pan. (I used a bread pan.) Lightly drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a little bit of vegetable seasoning. (I used McCormick - great!) Put in the oven for about 10 minutes.

Mashed Potatoes

Packet of fast fixing mashed potatoes
Heavy cream

Use whatever brand or size of fast mashed potatoes that you like. (I used Idahoan brand.) As for the measurements, just substitute a fourth of the packet instructions for water with twice that much heavy cream. (If the packet says 1 cup water, use 3/4 cup water and 1/2 cup heavy cream.) Boil the water without the heavy cream. When the water is boiling add the cream slowly. Let it sit for just a minute (don't let it boil again) and then remove from heat to add potatoes. After potatoes have been sitting for the called for time, add as much butter as you like (I like a lot!) and salt and pepper. If you like your potatoes really creamy you can add more heavy cream.

Steak Marinade

1/2 cup Vegetable oil
1/2 cup Ketchup
1/4 cup Red wine
1 Tbsp. chopped Parsley
3 Tbsps. Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. Garlic powder
1/2 tsp. each Salt and Pepper

Combine all ingredients. Reserve about a 1/4 cup for basting during cooking. In a ziploc bag, marinate steak for at least 4 hours. (The longer the better - up to overnight.)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Roasted Asparagus and Parsley Potatoes

You can just season a steak however you like or serve with chicken or pork chops instead. But these potatoes and asparagus are SO good!
I got the asparagus recipe from and the potatoes from I made them almost like the recipe directed.

Roasted Asparagus

Olive Oil
Garlic powder

I don't have measurements because it doesn't really matter.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Wash and trim off about an inch of as much asparagus as you want. Place in a single layer in a pan. Drizzle from top to bottom with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper and just a couple pinches of garlic powder. Then stick it in the oven for 8-10 minutes. You don't want them to get too wrinkly.

Parsley Potatoes

2 cans New potatoes
1/4 cup Butter
1/4 cup chopped Parsley
1/4 tsp. Dried marjoram

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add parsley and marjoram. Add the potatoes and stir gently until coated and heated through.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Spinach and Italian Sausage Lasagna with Alfredo Sauce

You already know that my homemade Alfredo Sauce is one of my favorite recipes. Well, this one is obviously right up there with it because it is made with the sauce!
This is a recipe that I made up as well. I took a regular old lasagna recipe and substituted alfredo, spinach, and italian sausage. I've seen a couple lasagna recipes online with one or a combination of two of those ingredients, but not one with all three like mine. You may find one somewhere, but on my normal recipe sites I didn't see one.

Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Serves: 6-8 (or 4 if you REALLY like it!)

2 lbs. Italian Sausage
5 oz. Frozen Chopped Spinach
1 1/2 cups Mozzarella Cheese (for topping)
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese (for topping)

Alfredo Sauce:
16 oz. Cream Cheese
2 sticks Butter
1/2 cup Milk
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
1 1/2 Tbsp. Italian Seasoning

Cheese Layer:
2 Eggs
15 oz. Ricotta Cheese
12 oz. Cottage Cheese
1 1/2 cups Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Start browning the sausage and cooking the spinach to package instructions.
3. While sausage and spinach are cooking start the noodles and alfredo sauce. (This may sound like a lot at one time, but they all go really slowly, so it's doable.)
4. For alfredo sauce: heat cream cheese and butter in a medium sauce pan on medium-low heat.
5. When the cheese and butter are melted add the milk, parmesan cheese, and seasoning. (It mixes best with a whisk.)
6. When the sauce is mixed well turn off the heat and reserve about a half cup of sauce.
7. When the spinach and sausage are done drain each separately. (After draining the spinach I like to wrap it in a couple paper towels and wring it out really well, otherwise the lasagna will be runny. I like to chop the spinach some more after draining it so I don't get long stringy pieces when I'm eating. Also, rinse the sausage. The grease tastes nasty after it's cooked in the oven.)
8. Mix the spinach and sausage into the alfredo sauce and set aside as one of your layers.
9. Mix the egg and 4 cheeses for the cheese layer and set aside.
10. In a 9x13 pan (the deepest one you have) spread reserved half cup of sauce on the bottom.
11. Lay down the noodles, then 1/3 of cheese mixture, then 1/3 of suasage and sauce mixture. Repeat these layers twice.
12. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.
13. Uncover and top with mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Leave uncovered and continue baking for 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fresh Potted Herbs: You can do it too!

I planted basil in my garden this summer. It was fabulous! I used leaves for at least 20 recipes from that little $3.00 plant. It only died about a month ago because we were living away from our house for a month and never got to water it.
I planted some parsley and oregano in a flower pot and had it in my kitchen for a while, but got tired of it cluttering my already small amount of counter space. I set it on the back deck right in the middle of the all day sun with no shade. The pot I had planted it in didn't have a hole in the bottom either. Those plants died in about a week (along with a few other flowers I'd put out there).
However, I have a few potted plants that I've managed to keep alive for more than 4 months. One is sitting on my front porch that has great morning sun, but not that hot and heavy afternoon sun. It is also planted in a pot with a hole in the bottom to drain the water.
This is how I've planted my new herbs so I hope they last! I'll let you know how they do to see if this is a good spot for herb growing.

Favorite Food Network Star

Tell us why you like the Chef you voted for! Or why you don't like someone else. Let me know if I didn't name your favorite.

Fresh Potted Herbs = Good Investment

Fresh herbs are a GREAT investment. Seriously. Well, if you like fresh herbs and buy them prepackaged then you will agree with me. I'm terrible at keeping plants alive. But I have tried several times to get better and slowly I am. I love to cook with fresh herbs - they taste so much better. But buying fresh herbs in the Wal-Mart produce section is $2.38 for a couple sprigs of rosemary, thyme, etc. I went to the garden section and they have the 5" potted herbs for $3.00. So, even with my terrible, non-green thumb I can manage to keep a plant alive for a couple weeks. So, if I can keep it alive all season then I have well invested my money. I suggest you try it too!

First Order of Business

This is my favorite recipe. I craved it throughout my pregnancy and it's a good thing my husband liked it too because I made it 3 times a week! I don't make it so much now, but it's always a comforting meal when I do.
I checked all kinds of websites for an Alfredo Sauce recipe. I didn't like any of them so I combined them and took out the things I didn't like and added things I did. So there's no specific place from where I got this one. But it's really easy and is so yummy!

Alfredo Sauce

8 oz. cream cheese
1 stick butter
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup milk
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
Garlic to taste (sometimes I leave this out)

- soften cream cheese and butter over med-low heat
- add parmesan cheese and milk and mix until smooth (I like to use a little whisk)
- add garlic and Italian seasoning and simmer until ready to use
Makes enough for about 8 oz. noodles (depending on how much sauce you like)

So about this blog...

I love to cook. I don't get to experiment with as much as I'd like, but I try what I can. I watch Food Network all the time and love trying things I see.
My twist is that I never follow a recipe completely. So, in my posts I'll tell you where I got the idea and the basic recipe, but I'll post the recipe the way that I made it.

All photographs on this blog will be my own, so it will be what food/recipes that I use really look like.