Super Easy Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas

The first time these Chicken Enchiladas were served up for supper, Kiddo was in charge of making dinner. He knocked it out of the ballpark with just a few simple ingredients. One thing is certain, Kiddo knows how to cook.

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Our Holiday Vacation to the Wilds of Wyoming – Day 1

When Hubby and I still newly married, one of our first trips together was a road trip to Montana via Yellowstone Park. The reason behind such a strange route to the Indian Battlefields of Montana (our real destination) was so that I could visit with my cousin. 1st trip to yellowstoneShe and her fishing-guide husband lived just outside West Yellowstone, Montana. Although that first trip was “passing through” on our way to the Little Big Horn, Yellowstone and its surrounding area captured our hearts. While most of Yellowstone is in Wyoming, the park spans almost 3,500 miles, extending into parts of Montana and Idaho, making it one of the largest National parks in the US.

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Crescent Wrapped Sesame Dogs

2002-12-10As most of us know from childhood, crescent wrapped dogs are so much fun. Kiddo’s first experience with Crescent Wrapped Dogs was when we were invited to a friend’s house for dinner and games. He was maybe nine or ten at the time and thought these were the greatest invention since sliced bread. It wasn’t until I watched in amazement as Kiddo made a huge deal out of something so simple as crescent dogs that I realized his was not a typical childhood.

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Brother Dear’s Smokes Sausage and Fried Potatoes

jimboI’ve been thumbing through my recipe repertoire, looking for a few of my brother’s favorites to share. He has been in my heart (always) and my thoughts – especially of late with what should have been his 61st birthday just around the corner. I miss him at my table, even if he was a pain to cook for with all his picky dislikes. There will always been certain foods that I cook and when I do, he will fill the room with his presence. In my heart, I can see his face, with that twinkle of mischief in his dark brown eyes and a warm smile that lights up the room.

One of his favorite “comfort” suppers is Smoked Sausage and Fried Potatoes with a side of corn. When he lived with us, I tried to make this once a week because I knew it was something he would eat. Since my baby brother went be with our mother, I don’t make it nearly as often. Yet whenever I do, Kiddo says “Uncle Jimbo’s favorite.” And we smile.

In our house, we’ve always put food on the table in the same order – vegetables at one end, (to my right), with potatoes (rice or what have you) at the other end, and the meat or main dish in the middle. Hubby usually has seconds of meat and potato servings, while I like a second helping of veggies. When my baby brother came to live with us for a while, his end of the table just happened to be the end with the vegetables – green beans, squash, asparagus, wilted spinach – the good stuff. He would take his place at the dinner table, survey the evening’s offerings and then ask the same question “How come you always put the yucky stuff by me?” His question always got the same reply from Kiddo “She’s hoping maybe you’ll take the hint and eat something green.” My brother would wrinkle his nose, let out a big laugh and pass his plate down to the far end of the table so Hubby could load him up with a big helping of starch and meat. You can see why Smoked Sausage and Fried Potatoes with a side of corn was one of his favorite meals. No “yucky” stuff on the entire table.

Smoked Sausage & Fried Potato Skillet Dinner
3 Packages Hillshire Farms Smoked Beef Sausage, coin cut
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Butter
6-8 Medium Size Red or Russet Potatoes (about 1 ½ – 2 lbs) cut into thin slices
Onion Powder to taste (about a tablespoon)
Plenty of Salt & Pepper to Taste
A dash or two of Paprika for color

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter with olive oil. Wash the potatoes and slice into thin slices.

Sauté potatoes, stirring to coat the slices with the warm butter and oil. Season with onion powder, salt, pepper and a dash or two of paprika. Add a little water, cover and allow potatoes to “steam” fry with a well-fitted lid until almost soft, about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent over-browning.

Remove cover, add sausage and continue to cook until nicely browned, 8-10 minutes longer, turning as necessary to prevent burning.

As far as Brother Dear was concerned, this meal wasn’t complete without some buttery corn straight from the can . . .

buttery cornButtery Canned Corn
1 Can Corn, well-drained
¼ Cup butter
Kosher Salt to taste

Drain corn and rinse well to remove any of the packing liquid.

Place corn in a saucepan over low heat until all liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.

Add butter, increase heat to medium. When butter melts, stir into corn. Season with a pinch of kosher salt. Continue to heat until corn is hot, about 5-10 minutes.  Transfer corn to serving bowl and serve.

To my baby brother – I love you every day!

Those Wild and Crazy Bears – The Golden Days in Yellowstone

We recently spent a week roaming through Yellowstone Park, the first National Park in America. It was great to spend all that time in the park. You can bet we took lots of pictures that I’ll be sharing with you soon.

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Absolutely The Bomb – The Ultimate Bloody Mary

I came across this recipe for the Ultimate Bloody Mary about four years ago at Honestly Yum ( I remember back – way, way back in the days when I was single. Many a Sunday morning, I found myself sitting at a bar sadly sipping a hair of the dog that bit me in the form of a Bloody Mary.

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Cajun Bay Scallops over Spicy Spanish Rice – A Worldly Dish

Hot, hot, hot! Feel it . . . hot, hot, hot. I don’t know which sizzles more, the bay scallops or the spicy rice. Put the two together and you’ve got one incredibly spicy dish. While so many dishes feature the Sea Scallops (those are the bigger scallops – 20 or so per pound), this recipe centers around the Bay Scallops (their smaller cousin – 70 or so per pound). Bay Scallops are naturally sweeter, which helps to offset the intense heat of this scorching hot dish.

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Chicken Milano

Have you ever noticed how hard it is to get back into the swing of things after a vacation? Not only for my guys to get back into the routine of a working stiff, but for me to get my butt back into the kitchen. I love to cook, don’t get me wrong. But it sure is nice when someone else does all the work and all we need do is show up.

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Butterfly Pesto Pasta Salad

The first time I made this dish, it was to pack for an elegant picnic. It was a first for a lot of things that day – the picnic’s spice-rubbed chicken and the pesto sauce for the salad. I had never made pesto sauce before. I’ve eaten pesto sauce recipes in restaurants and found the sauce at times to be a bit over baring. I’ve tried commercially prepared pesto sauces, and found them to be “okay” but lacking in something, I just didn’t know what.

So why make a pesto pasta salad? I was convinced Pesto was a good thing – and like escargot – it was an acquired taste. As a fan of spinach, basil and all things Italian (thus far), Pesto was a taste I was determined to acquire if it was the last thing I did!

Wow! This is really good. I mean really good! The salad is intended to be served at room temperature, which made it a good choice for a picnic or buffet table. It is creamy and deliciously sublime.  The pasta of choice is Farfalle Pasta, better known in America as bow tie pasta. Yet I prefer the Italian translation – Butterfly. It could also be made with any type of broad pasta, although I would not recommend a tube or shell pasta as some of the sauce may gather inside and over power the overall dish.

On a final note before cooking, I recently read that Walnuts can be used in place of the Pine Nuts, which tend to be an expensive ingredient. While I haven’t tried that, I can see where it might work. If substituting Walnuts for Pine Nuts, I would use only a few, adding as needed until you’ve reached the desired taste.

Butterfly Pesto Pasta Salad
3 Garlic Cloves, unpeeled
1 Cup Fresh Basil
1 ½ Cups Baby Spinach
¼ Cups Pine Nuts
¼ Cup Olive Oil
3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
Salt & Pepper
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese
½ Cup Best Foods Mayonnaise
1 lb Farfalle Pasta (bow-tie)
1/4 Cup or so Reserved cooking water

Toast garlic in a small skillet over medium-heat, shaking pan occasionally, until fragrant and color deepens slightly, about 7 minutes. Let garlic cool, then peel and chop coarse.

Process garlic, basil, spinach, pine nuts, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down bowl as needed. Add Parmesan Cheese and mayonnaise, continue to process until thoroughly combined. Transfer pesto to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until needed. (Mixture can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours).

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring often, until pasta is just past al dente. Reserve ¼ cup of pasta cooking water, drain pasta. Toss pasta with a little olive oil and spread into a single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Let pasta cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, toss cooled pasta with pesto, adding reserved pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until pesto evenly coasts pasta.

Just as a side note, I brought my Butterfly Pesto Pasta to a family gathering a few years back. Feeling rather cleaver, I put the pasta into a butterfly shaped cake pan, inverted it onto a serving platter and attempted to “decorate” the salad as a butterfly. While the end result was “cute” it’s still very much a work in progress. What can I say? I like to play with my food! The nice thing about salads such as pastas, rice or potato salads is that they are easy to “mold” using just about any shape bowl or container.

Just remember, when playing with your food, it’s important to have fun!





Marinated Artichoke-Chicken Fettuccine with Smoky Bacon

If I had to describe this dish in a single word it would be scrumptious. I had some reservations – Dijon Mustard and Mayonnaise in the sauce – really? Yes, really. One word of caution, the dish comes together rather quickly, so make sure you have a clear path in the kitchen – there will be a great deal of jumping from task to task. Gather your ingredients, and have everything at the ready so it’s just a matter of dump and go on to the next thing.

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Better Betty Crocker Au Gratin Potatoes – Almost from Scratch

Before writing this next post, I went in search of the history of Betty Crocker’s Boxed Potatoes on the internet. Aside from a TV spot on YouTube featuring an ad that first appeared in 1974, I really couldn’t find much. What I did find were a lot of rave reviews for the Boxed Potatoes and various tips (like this one I’m about to share) on how to kick them up a notch. That makes me feel oh so much better, to know I’m not alone in using boxed potatoes as a base for a quick and easy side to some of my favorite home-cooked meals. Now I don’t feel so “guilty” of a little cheating.

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Egyptian Meatballs in Seasoned Tomato Sauce over Rice

This recipe first appeared in 365 Foreign Dishes (published 1908). If you’ve ever read old cookbooks, the language, technique and instructions seem almost foreign to today’s home cook. Perhaps a trained chef might not find some of the terminology so strange, but for the average home cook, it’s a bit odd. Terms such as slow oven; quick oven took some research to get a temperature. Sure, slow was not as hot, quick was hot – but how hot is hot? (Slow oven is about 325-350 degrees; quick oven can be as low as 375 or as hot as 475, depending upon which site you follow – so it’s really guess-work and common sense based on what you are trying to cook in the first place). It took me a minute to figure out that “pulverized” sugar is powdered sugar. Measurements such as salt spoonful also needed to be converted – that’s about 1/4 teaspoon. Even with all their odd measurements and strange terms to digest, I enjoy reading vintage cookbooks. The beauty of older cookbooks is that they contain recipes completely made from scratch. No shortcuts of modern conveniences.

The older books are also a glimpse into the past. I especially enjoy the Etiquette and Advice sections of these older cookbooks. One of my cookbooks from the 1940s has an entire section dedicated to the proper placement of ashtrays and lighters for the formal, informal and buffet tables. A small leaflet book from 1906 explains what a woman’s role should be in the household and her submissive duties to her husband.

Anyway, the recipe that follows is more my take on the spirit of the original recipe rather that the original recipe itself. The recipe for Egyptian Meatballs called for raw meat, finely chopped. Okay, that’s ground beef by today’s standards. The recipe also called for Highly Seasoned Tomato Sauce. Hum – that’s open to so much interpenetration. I searched the internet for the definitive “highly seasoned” by 1908 standards, and that varied drastically from recipe to recipe. Not to be discouraged,  I came up with my own take, based on availability at the time and spices that are popular in Egypt.

Egyptian Meatballs in Seasoned Tomato Sauce over Rice
Ingredients – Egyptian Meatballs
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 Celery Ribs, chopped
2 beaten eggs
1 lb Ground Beef
salt, pepper
1 teaspoonful of curry-powder
Cumin to taste, about 1 teaspoon
Thyme to taste, about 1 teaspoon dried or 1 tablespoon fresh
Chopped parsley for color, dried parsley okay, about 1 tablespoon
1/2 cup of bread-crumbs
2 1/2 Cups boiled rice*

* While the recipe calls for boiled rice, I make mine with steamed rice.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Lightly brush a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. Set aside until ready to use.

Peel and finely chop onion. Set aside until ready to use.

Finely chop celery, set aside until ready to use.

In a small bowl, beat eggs. Set aside until ready to use.

Season ground beef with salt, pepper, thyme, cumin and curry-powder. Add chopped celery, onion and some chopped parsley. Mix with beaten eggs and bread-crumbs.

Shape meat mixture into small meatballs. Place on prepared baking sheet.

Place meatballs in the oven to bake, about 25 minutes, rotating and shaking pan about mid way.

While the meatballs are cooking, make the Highly Seasoned Tomato-Sauce:

Ingredients – Highly Seasoned Tomato-Sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon coriander
Dash Cayenne pepper
1 (15 oz) Can tomato sauce
1/2 cup Red wine

Chop onions and garlic. Set aside until ready to use.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot. Add onion; cook 4-5 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, cook 30-60 seconds or until fragrant.

Sprinkle with paprika, coriander and cayenne pepper. Add tomato sauce and wine; cook until sauce thickens and is reduced, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.

Place meatballs into seasoning tomato sauce. Gently stir to coat well in sauce. Allow meatballs to simmer in sauce for about 5 minutes to take on some of the flavors.

To Serve: Mold rice into a bowl or cup for individual servings and invert onto serving dish or plates. With a slotted spoon, transfer meatballs to a serving platter or plates, creating a ring around the rice. Add Top with seasoned tomato sauce and serve hot.

If you would like to read the original recipe, here’s the link:

Jack-in-the-Box Style Tacos

I came across this recipe recently on  The kiddo and I really like Jack-in-the-Box tacos – for reasons I don’t understand.  (Hubby thinks we are daft). So we decided to give them a whirl. I added more beans than the original recipe called for, as well as more taco sauce to the meat mixture. The original recipe said it made 12 tacos. I only got 8 out of mine, but I was heavier on the filling than those you get at Jack-in-the-Box. The only draw back that I found was how much the grease splattered when the tacos were fried. You’ll need plenty of paper towels handy to blot the oil from the tacos before serving. These are NOT healthy tacos – it’s fast-food junk all the way. Even so, they are really good.

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French Onion Pork Chops and Creamy Mashed Potatoes

This dish was so basic yet so tasty that I decided to photograph it in all its simple, messy and unadorned glory. All I can say is yum!

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Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy – Simple Comfort Food

There’s something wonderful about simple, old-school comfort foods. The simplicity of the food and the warmth of fond memories transports us to another place and time. It’s good for the soul, especially when life seems to be running away with your sanity.

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