Sunday, July 31, 2011

Microwave Chicken Tortilla Casserole

If you are opposed to eating meals cooked in the microwave, you can also place this in the oven on 400 for about 10 minutes. 

Microwave Chicken Tortilla Casserole
  • 2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded or diced (this is about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 cup french fried onion, divided
  • 1 (4 oz) can chopped green chilies
  • 1 pkg taco seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp dried cilantro or 3 Tbsp fresh
  • 2 (10 inch) flour tortillas (the big burrito sized ones)
  1. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, sour cream, 1 cup of the cheese, 1/2 cup of fried onions, chopped green chilies, taco seasoning, and chopped cilantro. Mix until well combined combine.
  2. Cut up one of the tortilla into 1 inch pieces using a pizza wheel.  Add to the chicken mixture and stir until blended in.
  3. Place the  remaining tortilla into a 9 inch pie plate, this will create  the crust for your pie.  Spoon the mixture into the tortilla/crust.
  4. Place in microwave and microwave on high for about five minutes. Sprinkle the pie with the remaining cheese followed by the fried onions. Microwave for one minute more, or until cheese is melted. Keep in mind that microwave varies, so cooking time may vary too.  Makes 6 servings.
Recipe and picture source: Real Mom Kitchen

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Rena Scarpino's Spaghetti

This is the best spaghetti sauce you will ever eat. I like to make big batches of this and keep it in my freezer for those days I just don't feel like cooking...which is often lately.

Rena Scarpino's Spaghetti

1 lb. pork, cut into small pieces (2-3 chops), or beef chunks can be used
1 large can tomato juice
3 gloves garlic
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
3 dried red peppers (or to taste)
3 bay leaves
1 tsp. salt

Brown meat. Salt and pepper. Add remaining ingredients and simmer 2-3 hours with lid off. The sauce will thicken.  Remove bay leaves and peppers. Correct seasoning. Cook 2 lbs of spaghetti and drain. Mix with 3 oz. Parmesan cheese and 2 Tbsp. butter. Add sauce and let set with the lid on to blend flavors. Serve.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Banana Cream Pie

With the combination of the summer heat and being at the end of my pregnancy cooking is the last thing I have wanted to do. This is one of the few things I have made.

Banana Cream Pie

For the crust: (Or just use a pre-made frozen crust)
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
8 tbsp. cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
3 tbsp. very cold water

For the pastry cream and filling:
2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
3 ripe but firm bananas, plus extra for garnish (if desired)

For the topping:
1 cup cold heavy cream
2 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tsp. vanilla extract

To make the crust, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar and salt.  Add in the butter and toss with a fork to combine.  Mix on low speed until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Mix in the water on low speed just until the dough comes together.  Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425° F.  Transfer the chilled dough to a lightly floured work surface.  Roll out the dough into a thin round large enough to fit a 9-inch round pie plate.  Carefully transfer the dough to the pie plate, trim the edges and use your thumb and fingers to crimp the edge.  Cover with a piece of foil or parchment paper, and fill the pie plate with baking beads (dried beans or rice works too.)  Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the crust is nearly set.  Remove the foil and baking beads and bake the crust uncovered for 5 more minutes, or until it is completely baked and light golden brown.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

In the meantime, make the pastry cream.  Bring the milk to a boil.  Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt until well blended and thick.

Whisking without stopping, drizzle in about ¼ cup of the hot milk to temper the eggs so that they don’t curdle.
Then, still whisking, add the remainder of the milk in a steady stream.  Put the pan over medium heat and, still whisking constantly, bring the mixture to a boil.  Allow to boil, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes before removing from the heat.  Whisk in the vanilla extract.  Let stand for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are fully incorporated and the custard is smooth and silky.  Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the custard and refrigerate until cold.

When you are ready to assemble the pie, peel the bananas and cut them diagonally into ¼-inch thick slices.

Whisk the chilled custard to loosen it, then spread about a quarter of it over the cooled pie crust (this will be a thin layer).  Top with a layer of banana slices.  Repeat, adding a thin layer of pastry cream and the remaining bananas, then smooth the rest of the pastry cream over the last layer of bananas.

To make the topping, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream just until it starts to thicken.  Beat in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract and continue to beat until the cream holds firm peaks.  Spoon the topping over the pie filling and spread to cover the edges of the custard.

Garnish with extra banana slices, if desired.  Slice and serve (this pie is best eaten the day it is made.)

Recipe Source: Annie's Eats

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mexican Rice

A very good side dish to go along with any Mexican meal.    

Mexican Rice

*Serves 4-6

1 cup of long grain white rice
2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup of tomato paste
1 tablespoon of lime juice, from about 1 lime
1/2 cup of freshly chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons cumin
Salt to taste

In a medium-sized pot, add rice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil over high heat. Stir. Cover the pot, lower the heat to low and simmer for 17-20 minutes. Remove from heat and keep the pot covered for 5 more minutes.

While the rice is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook the onions in the hot oil for 10 minutes, until translucent and starting to brown. Add the garlic to the skillet and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Stir in the tomato paste and cumin and cook for another minute or two. Mix in hot, cooked rice, lime juice and cilantro. Mix until well combined. Season to taste with salt. Serve immediately.

Recipe and photo source: My Kitchen Cafe

Friday, July 1, 2011

Red, White and Blue Finger Jello

Red, White and Blue Finger Jello

Yield: About 40 pieces
Prep Time: 30 min + chilling time

1 (3 ounce) box red jello gelatin
1 (3 ounce) box blue jello gelatin

4 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

boiling water & cold water


1. In a medium bowl, mix one box of red jello with 1/2 envelope of unflavored gelatin. Add 1 cup of boiling water and stir to dissolve. Cool to room temperature and pour into a 9x13-inch glass pan that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Refrigerate for 15 minutes (make sure that your refrigerator is level, or your jello will come out uneven-looking).

2. While first layer is setting, prepare white layer. In another bowl, mix sweetened condensed milk with 1 cup of boiling water. In a separate small bowl, sprinkle 2 envelopes of unflavored gelatin over 1/2 cup of cold water. Let stand a few minutes and then add 1/2 cup of boiling water to dissolve the gelatin. Add to the milk mixture and stir to combine. Cool to room temperature. Pour 1 cup of this milk mixture over the first layer of red jello. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

3. While white layer is setting, prepare blue layer. In a medium bowl, mix one box of blue jello with 1/2 envelope of unflavored gelatin. Add 1 cup of boiling water and stir to dissolve. Cool to room temperature and pour on top of white layer. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

4. Repeat with red layer, another cup of of the white layer and then finishing with a blue layer on top. Refrigerate for 15 minutes after adding each layer.

5. Let jello set before cutting. Use a sharp knife to cut, and then use a metal spatula to slide underneath the jello and scoop out jello squares.


*For a festive 4th of July look, use a star cookie cutter to cut out a star-shape for the center of your platter. Place some jello squares red-side-up and some blue-side-up.
*For testing purposes, I used Strawberry & Berry-Blue flavored Jell-O. Sometimes you can find Pina Colada flavored jello (which is white), and you could opt to use that as your white layer. The milk layer though is yummy & the kids seem to like it mixed with the jello layers.

Recipe and picture source: (Adapted from The Food Librarian)
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