Copy Cat: Suzie Q

Today, I missed my dear friend Jaren. I stalk her blog religiously (numerous times a day) and seeing her little girl run around with a pony tail, sweet whispy blonde hair, and her toothy grin makes me miss both of them so very much. When Jaren (my first real friend here in Columbus) and Clara left to head to Vegas, Clara was still so new in my eyes, just an itty bitty baby, and now, 10 months have gone by, and she's a precious little girl! Missing Jaren made me want to have her fly into town so we could go to a fabulous restaurant here in town, a place where she used to work: Hucks.

I Love Hucks. It was the first place we went out to eat when we moved here, and I have so many great memories of just eating there. I've had many 'firsts' at Hucks: crawfish, catfish, fried pickles, chicken and dumplings, po boys, and the most monsterous burgers and cheese sticks you've ever seen! You know what they say, " you never forget your first time!" And I won't!

All this missing of the friend and thinking of the food drove me to recreate the best sandwich they have on the menu: The Suzie Q. Although it wasn't a *perfect* replica, it sure hit the spot, and I'd say it was quite a decent knockoff! Mmmmm Mmmmm. Now run, recreate, enjoy.


* Thick tasty bread of your choice
* Mayo
* Pesto Sauce
* Thick cut black forest ham
* Asparagus
* Provolone or Swiss Cheese (the original is made with provolone, but I like swiss more)

To Make:

* Mix small amount of mayo and pesto sauce together. I used 1 part pesto to 2 parts mayo- I didn't want the pesto to completely overpower the sandwich- it was the perfect mix
* Sautee the asparagus in a little butter on medium heat on the stove, just to brighten them up and cook them slightly- you will still want them to have a crunch!
* Plug in your panini press or whatever you have to grill your sandwich- I used my tried-and-true grilled cheese maker that was the sole reason I survived college. Seriously, I had people from my dorm floor bring their own fixin's for a grilled cheese and they made them in my room. Probably the only reason I had friends. Hmmmmmm. Thank you grilled cheese maker!
* Butter one side of each piece of bread so you have a nice crispy crust as it grills
* Layer ham, then cheese, then line the asparagus along the top. Top with a gooey layer of the pesto mayo, and the last piece of bread
* Grill sandwich until cheese is melty and the bread is a nice golden brown

Then, enjoy your tasty lunch, and picture yourself on a sturdy wooden chair in the middle of a wonderful Mississippi restaurant!

Obsession: Pizza

I've noticed that my obsession are getting more and more unhealthy. Oh well. I'm currently loving pizza. Ok, that's a lie, I'm always in love with pizza, but let's be real, so is everyone else. Being the cheap monetarily-responsible and lazy lazy person I am, ordering out and paying delivery fees doesn't appeal to me. What does appeal to me is the ability to make pizza at home using pre-made mini pizza dough! I found these in the bread section of the commissary and all you do is add ingredients and throw them in the oven.

I should have taken a picture of the package so you know what to look for when you go to find this miracle product, but alas, I did not. Epic fail on my part. Anywho, all you do is preheat your oven to 450, lightly brush the pizza with olive oil, add your toppings, and those it in the oven for about 10 minutes! I've come up with some very tasty combinations over the last week...

Tomato sauce mixed with ricotta cheese (left over from stuffed chicken breasts mentioned earlier), and finely chopped mushrooms as the base. Mozzerella cheese, pepperoni and black olive. Yum.

 Tomato sauce base, lots of ricotta (omg I love ricotta cheese) and mozzerella cheese mix, pepperoni

Left over alfredo sauce base. Topped with spinach, pre-cooked chicken, and cherry tomatoes. Parmesan cheese with a small amount of mozzerella mixed in.

Perfect for lunch, dinner, or just a snack :) The combinations are endless! Its also a great way to get rid of some leftovers you have!


Stuffed Chicken Breast

The next three recipes are from a dinner party we threw at my house a week or so ago (maybe it was longer, who knows... time flies when you're doing nothing). We had a delicious stuffed chicken breast, a beautiful cream corned side dish, and topped it all off with a strawberry cupcake.

Here is the recipe for the chicken Mindy made:

Panko Crusted Chicken Stuffed with Ricotta, Spinach, Tomatoes, and Basil
Recipe from For The Love of Cooking.net  (amazing blog)

* 1 cup low fat ricotta cheese
* Small handful baby spinach, chopped
* Small handful grape tomatoes, diced (remove seeds if possible)
* 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated
* 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
* Dash of oregano
* 2 Chicken breasts
* Italian seasoned panko crumbs
* 2 tablespoons olive oil

To Do:
* Preheat over to 400 degrees
* Combine ricotta, spinach, tomatoes, parmesan cheese, basil, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix until thoroughly combined
* Rinse the chicken breasts, then cut along horizontal slit in the center of the chicken breast- butterflying them. Fill the cavity of the chicken with the ricotta mixture. Season each side of chicken with salt and pepper.
* Carefully dip the chicken in the panko crumbs until both sides are evenly covered. Close the slits with toothpicks.
* Heat the olive oil in an oven proof skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, place the chicken in the skillet and cook until chicken is golden brown. Flip the chicken over and repeat.
* Cook in the oven for 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through- it took ours a little longer than expected.
* Let chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving

Grilled Cream Corn with Parmesan

Our side dish for our last minute dinner party was brought by Evelyn- a delicious recipe from Giada De Laurentiis. Evelyn had watched an episode of her show that morning and became instantly inspired. Its easy to see how- this side dish screams summertime! It was bright, flavorful, and was the perfect pair with our stuffed chicken!


* 6 ears of corn, husks and silks removed
* 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
* Kosher salt and black pepper
* 1 tablespoon flour
* 3/4 cup heavy cream
* 1/3 cup whole milk
* 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
* 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

To Do:

* Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat gas or charcoal grill
* Grill the corn until tender, turning every 5-6 minutes. Total cook time will be around 15 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove kernels
* In a medium skillet, heat the butter over medium-high heat. Add the corn and season with salt and pepper. Cook until softened, about 3 minutes.
* Stir in flour, cook for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium and add the cream. Simmer until the mixture thickens
* Place half the mixture in a food processor, blend until smooth.
* Pour the pureed mixture back into the skillet and add the milk, cheese, and parsley. Cook over low heat until warmed through.
* Season with more salt and pepper, to taste, and serve

*The* Perfect Strawberry Cupcake

Summertime is strawberry time. I think strawberry jello popsickles, cool strawberry pie with whipped cream, and of course, strawberry cupcakes. When I think cupcakes, I think Mindy's Martha Stewart's Cupcakes cookbook and all the gloriousness that is inside. Seriously, the goodies inside are so picture-perfect, so scrumptious looking, it may as well be considered cupcake baker's porn.


Strawberry Cupcakes, recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart


* 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/2 cup cake flour (not self rising) this is worth purchasing if you don't already have it
* 1 tablespoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 8 oz unsalted butter, softened
* 2 1/4 cup sugar
* 3 large eggs
* 1 large egg white
* 1 cup whole milk
* 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 2 cups finely chopped strawberries

To Do:

* Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with liners.
* Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl: flour, cake flour, baking powder, salt
* Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Be sure to add each egg one at a time and beat well after each addition
* Mix the milk and vanilla together.
* Add the dry ingredients and the milk mixture, alternating, to the creamed butter and sugar mixture.
* Once batter is combined, hand stir in strawberries
* Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full.
* Bake for about 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire racks.

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting, recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart


* 4 large egg whites, room temperature
* 1 1/4 cups sugar
* 3/4 lb unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
* 1 1/2 cup fresh strawberries, pureed

To Do:

* Place whites and sugar into heatproof mixer bowl set over pot of simmering water. (yay for making a double boiler!) Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer. Mindy and I just whisked it until dissolved, but it took both of us whisking like crazy- our arms were sore the next day, haha!
* Remove from heat, attach bowl to mixer. Whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form- about 6 more minutes. Reduce speed and add butter, one piece at a time, whisking well after each addition.
* Switch to paddle attachment, and with mixer on low speed, add the strawberry puree and beat until smooth. Use immediately or refrigerate (note: if you refrigerate, you may need to give it a quick mix again before you frost cupcakes!!!!!!)

Most moist cupcake ever
Look at all those real strawberries in there!

Alfredo Sauce

A few months ago, I went on a no sugar, no carb diet. I completely cut out all carbs except those from veggies. While it was the hardest few months of my life, I did lose weight- like crazy. I'm talking 15 lbs in two months. A-mazing. What's even more amazing is that now, I'm back to eating carbs. While my wasteline isn't as small, my belly and my soul are much more content! Hey, you only live once, right? Right!

I decided to make my own alfredo sauce to enjoy on my carb-packed-and-oh-so-good pasta I have been eating on a regular basis now. Now, I know for a fact that an anonymous source had given my husband the recipe for Olive Garden Alfredo Sauce. Could I find it? Of course not. Did I tear apart my recipe box looking for it, almost to the point of hysteria? Of course I did. Chris must be keeping it a deep dark secret from me. I did, however, find a good recipe from an old 2009 edition of Food Network Magazine. It worked out just fine. Plus, lets face it, Olive Garden alfredo sauce isn't as good unless you have Olive Garden breadsticks to dip it in...


* 6 tablespoons butter- unsalted
* 1 cup heavy cream
* 1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon pepper
* 1/4 cup reserved water from boiling noodles

To Do:

* Cook pasta. Strain, leaving about 1/4 cup water in pot.
* Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat
* Add heavy cream, stir, and bring to boil
* Remove from heat once a boil is reached.
* Return noodles to pot with water reserve
* Add butter cream mixture to pot with noodles and 3/4 parmesan cheese
* Toss to combine
* Season with salt and pepper, top with extra parmesan cheese.

I did cut the recipe in half, as I am still cooking for one and half at home. Alex loves my cooking, and he can sure take down a lot of it for a 9 month old, but there was no need for me to make the whole batch of sauce!

I tossed my alfredo with some cheese filled tortellinis and some shrimp that I sauteed in butter and garlic salt.

Super Simple Chicken Enchiladas

Need something quick, fast, and in-a-hurry for dinner, but you don't have a lot of time and only the bare essentials? Welcome to my world, pretty much every night. As I may have mentioned before, we fly under the radar here in the Protos house when it comes to fancy-pants ingredients. If the Commissary on base doesn't have it, there's no way in firey hell you will catch me running all the way to town to get it- I'll make due with what I have, thank you! And let me tell you, the Commissary lacks in many departments here.

This tasty mexican dish comes from mi madre (ha, I speak spanish), and only has four ingredients- jackpot! They are quick, simple, and deliciousio (ha, I did it again). Tortillas. Chicken. Sauce. Cheese. Done. I guess if you are feeling really rebellious you can add a fifth ingredient: diced jalapenos! But be careful, don't get too ahead of yourself... five ingredients may just be too many for some to handle (aka me on a bad day)!


* 8 Flour tortillas
* 1 lb Chicken
* 2 cans Enchilada Sauce- pick whatever heat level you'd like- I used medium
* 8 oz bag Mexican Blend shredded cheese
* Can of diced jalapeno, or chop up one of your own

To Do:

* Cook chicken. I boil mine to make it super tender and easy to shred. You can also throw it in the crockpot or bake it in the oven. Once cooked, shred chicken.

* Mix shredded chicken, one can enchilada sauce, jalapenos, and half the shredded cheese in a large bowl.
* Fill tortillas and roll them tightly. You may need to trim the ends in order to fit them into a casserole dish.
* In casserole dish, lightly coat the bottom of the dish with some enchilada sauce. Place the wrapped tortillas in casserole dish- snuggle them in there nice and tight so they don't come unrolled!
* Top tortillas with remaining enchilada sauce and more shredded cheese.
* Place in oven, uncovered, at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until cheese is nice and bubbly.


Guest Blogger: Angie Brown

My name...Angie Brown (nothing cute and catchy...Mindy's mom in law...Chase's mommy) - haha
I've been cooking a long time and as part of my job as the HR manager at the Florida Aquarium, I often cook for staff bbq's, lunches, breakfast, thanksgiving, etc.  At thanksgiving we fry up 12 turkeys, 8 hams, and all the fixins.  I love to cook for people who like to eat!
This recipe is Hot Artichoke Dip.  I acquired this recipe from a long-time friend, Terry, and it's fabulous!  The edges are worn, spills all over the recipe but it's quick, easy, inviting, and everyone loves it.  Even people who don't eat artichokes.
1 pkg. 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, drained and put through chopper or food processor (so the pieces are small)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (so, I cheat on this one and add more because I love cheese)
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil.  (I also cheat on this one and used the refrigerated kind - so fresh and tasty)
1 clove garlic (or 1 tsp garlic in oil - I love to make it easy)
1/2 cup chopped tomato.  This is if you like tomatoes.  You could easily leave it off.
Mix cream cheese and all remaining ingredients, except the tomato.   I use the kitchenaid with paddle but you could use an electric mixer. 
Make sure it's well  blended.
Spoon into 9 inch pie plate bake at 350degrees for 25 minutes.  Sprinkle with tomato if you like.  Serve with any kind of cracker and it's best if it's hot.  That being said, my lovely Mindy would eat it right out of the fridge and cold! 


Buttermilk Pancakes

Sit back, relax, and grab a nice beverage- its story time.

Yesterday, Alex got to spend some time with his Aunt Mindy and Uncle Chase while I went to an appointment. I came to pick him up and the first thing Chase said was, 'he is sooo his mother's son!'. Uh oh. Ready to be mortified, I asked why. Here was Chase's response:

We were playing with toys in the livingroom with the TV on in the background. He wasn't paying attention to the TV at all, and then all of the sudden the iHop Funnel Cake commercial came on. He whipped his head around so fast and just watched the entire commerical in awe. After it was over, he went right back to his toys and never looked at the TV again.

Sigh. Yes. He is his mother's son. His mama likes herself a good carb-packed breakfast: waffles, french toast, pancakes, funnel cakes with fruit and whipped cream, bacon, eggs, toast, hashbrowns... you name it, I love it. Needless to say, I woke up craving a carby breakfast.

These were perfect. They are my uncle's recipe. They are my favorite pancakes. I remember eating them at my aunts house with lots of butter and warm maple syrup. That was the kicker- the warm maple syrup- we never heated our syrup at home.

(Also, the picture isn't the greatest. I'll admit, I have a very hard time cooking pretty-looking pancakes on the stovetop. I do not have a nice griddle- so they usually come out looking a bit dark and unevenly cooked. These were my first two attempts- of course I ate the better looking, fluffy ones first and forgot to take a picture of them. Oh well, I swear they are still delicious!)

* 1 cup flour
* 1 cup buttermilk
* 1 egg
* 1 tablespoon sugar
* 2 tablespoons oil
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

To Do:
* Throw all the ingredients in a mixer. Turn on mixer. Mix.
* Heat skillet or griddle. Ladel pancake mixture onto hot skillet.
* Flip pancakes when batter is nice and bubbly.
* Smother cooked pancakes in butter and obscene amount of nice hot syrup

Panera Bread Broccoli Cheese Soup

Every month, Food Network does a Copy Cat recipe in their magazine. It is a perfect knockoff of famous dishes served in restaurants. This is probably my favorite part of the entire magazine. This one is my favorite Copy Cat recipe to date.

The first time I made this soup was when Chris first abandoned me in Mississippi. He was off to train in Alabama for six weeks. Bummer. We had only lived in the south for a few months and I still had not become familiar with the area. I had never heard of Panera Bread, but the soup looked amazing, so I figured I'd give it a try. Weeks later, I realized there was actually a Panera Bread about an hour from here. Heavenly.

I have made this recipe four or five times, and its turned out perfectly everytime (except my first attempt). Lesson learned: do not add any more cheese than the recipe calls for- in fact- you can do it without the cheese entirely if you'd like! The first time I made this, the amount of cheese just seemed to small, so I added more, and it was too cheesy. (Yes, there is a such a thing as too much cheese, trust me.)
Specks of broccoli and carrot- yay

* 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1 small onion, chopped
* 1/4 cup flour
* 2 cups half-and-half
* 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
* 2 bay leaves
* 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
* salt and pepper
* 4 cups fresh broccoli florets
* 1 large carrot (I used 2)
* 2 1/4 cups (about 8 oz) grated sharp white and yellow cheddar cheese (I just used medium cheddar)
* 4  7-in sourdough bread boules (round loaves) if you'd like to eat yours in a bread bowl

To Do:
* Melt butter in large pot on stovetop over medium heat. Add onions and cook until tender (about 5 minutes). Whisk in flour and cook until golden- just a few minutes.
* Gradually whisk in half-and-half until smooth. Add chicken broth, bay leaves, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to season- bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, about 20 minutes.
* If you are having bread bowls, prepare them now. Using sharp knife, cut circle into the top of each loaf, remove top, and hollow out the center. Be sure to leave a thick shell.
* Add the broccoli and carrot to the broth mixture and simmer until tender, another 20 minutes. Once veggies are tender, remove bay leaves.
* Puree the soup in batches in your blender- be sure to get an even mixture of veggies and broth. Blend soup to your preferred thickness. If you like yours chunkier, don't blend for as long- if you like a creamy soup- puree the crap outta that thing!
* Return the blended soup to the pot on the stove and whisk in shredded cheese over a medium heat. This will only take a few minutes. Ladel into bread bowls, and garnish with more shredded cheese if desired

Obsession: Pita Bread

Right now, I am loving hardcore on pita bread. I have been filling them with everything imaginable. I've made a cheeseburger pita, a tuna and avocado pita, and this delicious toasty roast beef and swiss pita. Fun to fill, and easy to eat with one hand while using the other to detain a 9 month old. I wonder what I'll come up with for lunch today?!



My apologies to those who follow. Since Chris left, I haven't been cooking like I usually am. I am eating a lot of sandwiches, soups, salads- simple and easy stuff. I promise I'll try and get a few posts in this weekend!


Boston Cream Cupcakes

There were a lot of things I experienced for the first time when we moved down south to Mississippi. One thing I wish I could experience more, is Dunkin Donuts. In Montana, I never lived in a town with a Dunkin Donuts. They have thick delicious chai, and the best Boston Cream donut in the world. Talk about a perfect breakfast. I hate the fact that it takes me 15 minutes to get there, so I don't go there as often as I want.

After today, an emergency trip was almost needed. Alex fussed all day, refused to nap, and hated my general being today. He wanted nothing more than to stand and scream at me, sit at scream at me, screamed at me in my arms, and even managed to scream at me with mouthfuls of oatmeal and peaches..For that, he earned himself a couldn't-come-too-soon- 7 o'clock bedtime, and mama earned herself a tasty treat.

Better than a Donut
I did a quick search online to figure out what I wanted to make myself, since running to the store today (or Dunkin Donuts for that matter) was obviously out of the question with a screaming baby hyena in my midst. I was suprised to discover I had all the ingredients to make these ooey-gooey delights in my pantry and fridge. Chances are, you will too. This means there is no excuse. Although, if you live in my area, please come get some from my house- I cannot have 11 more of these in my presence... my sanity and wasteline are begging you!!!!! Please, come get one...

I have broken this cupcake down into three parts (three different recipes).

Vanilla Cupcake ( you can use a boxed mix if you want, but I went from scratch )

* 2/3 cups butter, softened
* 3/4 cups sugar
* 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
* 3 eggs
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To Do:
* Cream together butter and sugar in a mixing bowl, until light and fluffy
* Mix in eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla, then add the flour. (Add in small amounts- I managed to make it snow in my kitchen in the middle of July... one POOF was all it took to cover myself, my son, and my entire kitchen in a soft blanket of flour!)
* Place in cupcake pan (either with liners or grease and flour) and bake until tops spring back slightly- about 18 minutes. Place on wire rack to cool.

Vanilla Pudding Filling

* 1 package Jello Instant Vanilla Pudding
* 2 cups cold milk
* 1 tablespoon vanilla

To Do:
* Follow directions on pudding box.  (Mix milk with vanilla pudding powder). Add in extra vanilla extract if you want more of a vanilla punch!
* Let sit in fridge for 5-10 minutes, or until thick.
* To fill cooled cupcake: Stir pudding, and add it to a plastic bag. Cut hole into cupcakes and pipe the filling into the cupcake.

Creamy Chocolate Frosting

* 1/2 cup butter
* 2 2/3 cups powdered sugar
* 1/3 cup half and half (you can use whipping cream too if you'd like)
* 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
* 1/2 cup cocoa powder

To Do:
* Cream the butter in mixing bowl until its smooth
* Add the cocoa powder, powdered sugar to the butter, alternating with the half and half and vanilla
* If you want a darker chocolate, add more cocoa powder- but keep in mind you may need to add a little more half and half in order to keep it a creamy consistency!
* To Forst Cupcake: After they are filled with vanilla pudding mixture, frost with chocolate frosting. Place frosting in a plastic bag, and snip the end of the bag for fancier piping!

Enjoy these perfect-donut-substitutes! But beware, the sugar crash is inevitable- and its rough!

Guest Blogger: Kristin Basiaga

Kristin (Shake) Basiaga (& Bake)

I do love Shake & Bake, but I promise this recipe is just as delicious, in as many steps! Well, almost...

I have always been fairly independent. My parents got divorced when I was a freshman in high school, and while I lived with my dad, his thought of a delicious dinner was Hamburger Helper (not knocking it, I still love it every once in awhile!) However, I have always loved cooking and have loved experimenting with foooooooods. I love easy recipes, and I even love the ones that take a bit more time (and love, the ever special ingredient).

This recipe actually came about by my wonderful Plus 1. I bought a crock pot recently and I swear it has changed my life. How awesome to throw stuff in and let it cook all day?! Whoever invented the crock pot needs to win an award or something. Scott and I were craving some nachos, and Mr. Handsome Pants said, "Why don't you put some chicken and salsa in the crock pot for nachos?'' or something along those lines. And here is how our chicken nachos were started...

The beautiful thing about this recipe is you can alter it however you want!

My ingredients (all two of them...) are listed below, however I have also listed a bunch of suggestions that you can add based on your own preferences!

* 2 skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb or so... I dunno... I usually just guess...)
* 1 can of salsa of your choice
* All your favorite taco/nacho toppings

Other Suggestions:
* 1 package of taco seasoning (add at the beginning if you want more of a 'nacho' taste)
* 1 can diced tomatoes, not drained (add at the beginning)
* 1 can pinto beans (add at the beginning)
* 1 can corn, drained (add at the beginning)
* 1 can green chilies (add at the beginning)
* 1/2 cup chopped onion (add at the beginning)
* 1 package cream cheese (add towards the end to melt, and use instead of shredded cheese)

To begin this delicious meal, get your crock pot out of the closest. Set on a sturdy countertop near an outlet. Plug in. Ok, you all know how to do these things, I am just testing you. Literally just put the chicken breasts and salsa (and any other ingredients you may desire) in the crock pot and turn on LOW for 7-8 hours or 3-4 hours on HIGH. After the chicken is cooked, it will shred very easily. All of the liquid from the salsa and other ingredients that you have added will keep the chicken moist.

After the chicken is shredded, you are almost there!

Now you will want to get your plate ready... put a layer of tortilla chips. I like to add a layer of refried beans in between the chicken and chips. Then, add cheese, olives, avocado, and whatever else your pretty face desires! Delish!


Guest Blogger: Jaren Rabe

When Kelsey asked me to be a guest blogger I was so excited because:
 1.) I have always wanted my 15 minutes of fame and
 2.) I love to cook!

Unfortunately, a lot of the recipes I try changing to be my own end up being mediocre so I never make them again. This recipe, my fans, is not one of those. Yes, I called you guys my fans because you will be once you make this dish. It is just a little spicy, uses fresh ingredients and tastes amazing.

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Cilantro Rice

Roasted Pork Tenderloins
(This is based off of a recipe by Alton Brown. I changed some
ingredients/measurements and the method used to cook it.)

2 whole pork tenderloins, approximately 2 lbs)
2 limes, zest finely grated
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup honey (the bottle shaped like a bear is usually the best choice)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can of chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Directions (Exactly as I did.)
Trim the pork tenderloins of any excess fat and silver skin. I've
never worked with pork tenderloin that wasn't already prepped for me
so this was super nasty and hard for me to do. The "silver skin" is
the worst part. Wash your hands 4 times after doing this and sanitize
counter twice because raw meat is gross and could poison your family.
Zest the limes. Make sure you zest the top layer of your thumb off
while doing so. The tears, skin and blood add to the experience and

Place the zest, lime juice, honey, salt, adobe peppers and minced
garlic in a bowl and stir until honey is not in big globs on the
bottom anymore. Pour the entire marinade mixture into a 1-gallon
resealable bag. Add the pork tenderloin to the bag and seal, removing
as much air as possible and place the bag into another resealable bag
and then place that bag into a bowl and place it in your fridge. The
double bagging + bowl means no raw meat contamination inside your
fridge which could also potentially poison your family. Marinate in
the refrigerator for 6 to 24 hours, rotating the bag halfway through
the time.

When it is about an hour away from being ready to cook, start the rice!

Cilantro Rice

(This recipe is based off of a recipe by Aida Mollenkamp. I also
changed some things, so I am giving you my version.)

About 2 cups packed cilantro leaves (I used 2 "bunches" from the store.)
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 medium serrano chile, halved lengthwise and seeded
3 1/3 cups free range chicken broth (free range because it makes you
feel better about killing chickens.)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 minced yellow onion (medium sized)
2 cups jasmine rice
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Combine cilantro (I cut off most of the stems but don't worry about
having them in there), garlic, chile, and 2 cups broth in a blender
and process until smooth; set aside.
Be careful not to get the serrano chile juice onto your zested thumb.
If you happen to get some in there anyways, do not put your hands over
your face in pain because then your eyes and thumb will be on fire.
But I digress.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When it
shimmers, add onion and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add rice
and salt stir to coat in oil and cook until rice becomes opaque, about
2 minutes.

After the rice is opaque, dump everything + the rest of the chicken
broth into a rice cooker and push "white rice" button. If you do not
have a rice cooker, this is what Aida tells you to do:
Carefully pour the cilantro mixture and the remaining 1 1/3 cups broth
into the rice and stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce
heat to low so rice is at a simmer. Cover and cook until rice is
tender, about 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let rice rest covered for
5 minutes.

If you are awesome and have a rice cooker like me, just walk away and
get the pork out of the fridge while your rice cooks itself. Preheat
your oven to 350 degrees. Put both tenderloins and all the marinade
into a casserole dish and place in preheated oven for 35 minutes.
Check it after 35 minutes and if it does not register 140 on a meat
thermometer or look done when you cut into it, put it back in for 10
more minutes. After it is done, cut it into slices and let it sit in
the marinade and soak it up while you stir up the cilantro rice.
Garnish the pork with the fresh cilantro before serving and add a side
of black beans if you are feeling up to it.

My husband said it was his favorite meal of all time so I took a
picture of his plate to capture the moment. I didn't realize I would
writing the blog on this recipe so I apologize for the crappy phone
picture. Trust me, it tastes WAY better than this picture looks!

Editors Note: Jaren, it looks delicious! Shush your mouth!



There are so many things I could say about the person these remind me of most, my uncle Morrie. He had a big belly laugh that reminded me of Goofy. In fact, he was quite goofy in personality. He was the life of the party. He loved the Beatles and a big cold glass of milk. He always got the biggest coffee cup, the last roll/ slice of ham/ piece of pie at dinner. He was the father that everyone deserved, and he was loved beyond words by his family and friends. I think of him often, sometimes I get sad, sometimes I smile. I think about him most when I'm eating a Scotcharoo. They were, afterall, his favorite treat.

Kicks the pants off regular rice crispy treats

* 1 cup Karo light corn syrup
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 cup peanut butter
* 6 cups rice crispies
* 1 cup chocolate chips
* 1 cup butterscotch chips

To Do:

* Combine corn syrup and sugar on medium heat on stove top. Do not overcook this, it will make the scotachroos hard instead of gooey- pull it from the heat as soon as it starts to boil and the sugar is dissolved.
* Quickly stir the peanut butter with the corn syrup mixture in a large bowl.
* Add rice crispies and stir until well coated.
* Spreak crispies mixture into casserole dish or other baking dish
* For topping, add chocolate and butterscotch chips in glass microwavable bowl, heat for 30 seconds at a time, and stir, until melted together
* Pour chocolate mixture on top of crispies mixture
* Cover well and let cool in fridge for 10-20 minutes. This will help the chocolate topping cool faster.
* Pull from fridge before crispies get too crunchy- you want these treats to be nice and gooey like regular rice crispy treats!

* Don't forget your glass of milk

Random Fruit Smoothie

Fruit always sounds delicious to me when I'm shopping. I vow to eat better, I buy it, I eat a few pieces a day, and then I forget its there. That, or I buy way too much of it, completely underestimating how healthy I actually want to eat. Lets face it, more times than not, I'll pick a chocolate chip cookie over an apple. Shame. On. Me.

Today, I found myself in a conundrum- I had an obscene amount of fruit and knew it wouldn't last much longer. Smoothies. Bingo. The best thing about them, besides the fact that they are a satisfying tasty summer-time treat, is that you can basically do any combination of fruits and it'll turn out FABULOUSLY.

Berry Banana Breakfast Smoothie
I usually make my smoothies with a combination of fruit, yogurt, ice, and juice if its too thick. Today's combination was:

* 1 cup ice
* 1 cup strawberry yogurt
* 1 banana
* 1 cup mixed berries: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries (left over from the 4th)
* 1/3 cup watermelon liquid (stolen from my bowl of watermelon from the 4th  because I didn't have juice in the house- a good idea if you want to cut back on all the sugars in concentrated juices)

I sat on our back porch and sipped it slowly through a straw, enjoying its chilly contrast to the blistering heat we've had here in the south!

Grandma Ann's Mac & Cheese

The biggest vacations we ever took when I was growing up were up to Glasgow, MT. About as far north as you can get in Montana, and almost as far west as you can go (full of beautiful... beautiful... er... uh... plains), was my Grandma Ann's house, the house my mother grew up in. We used to go for Thanksgiving/Hunting Season every year, and the occassional Christmas, Easter, and summer trip.

When I think of my Grandma Ann's house, I think of her stemless glasses, stealing gingerales out of the fridge, rolling down the hill in her backyard, playing G.I Joes, getting squirted by my first grapefruit, the collection of books I learned to read with, her old red car sitting in the driveway, how scary the downstairs storage room was, and playing restaurant downstairs. Yes, the cooker in me came out in the presence of both grandmothers, and we always played restaurant: complete with play-dishes and homemade play-doh. The play-doh was made by my Grandma Ann herself. It was the best. The second she was done making it we would rush to play with the warm, squishy, salty (yes I tried to eat it a few times) mounds of colored goo. It was my number 1 favorite thing that ever came out of her kitchen.

This was my second favorite thing

All Grandmas are known for their cooking. My Grandma made this dish everytime we came to visit. It is my all-time favorite comfort food, and I remember it was such a heavenly experience everytime I ate it. I wish I could say I had a knack for making it, but alas, my first time will live in infamy, as I forgot to boil the noodles first, and I doubt I will ever live it down. So, it turns out I'm giving you more than an amazing recipe for mac & cheese today, I'm handing out life lesson: always, always, always... boil your noodles.


* 16 oz macaroni noodles (about 2/3 of a box) (cooked, a'hem)
* 16 oz of Kraft Deluxe American Cheese (now, it HAS to be THIS cheese. Walmart no longer sells it. You will find it at any other grocery story, sitting right next to the Velveeta- but do NOT use Velveeta- I swear its just not the same- at all. Find the blue box of Kraft, worship the blue box of Kraft, settle for nothing less than the blue box of Kraft! )
* 2 eggs
* 1 cup milk (more may be needed, keep the jug out)

To Do:

* Boil Noodles. Duh. Drain noodles. Do not used uncooked noodles. Don't be a moron like myself.
* Cube cheese into medium sized chunks
* Mix 2 eggs with 1 cup milk in bowl.
* In casserole dish, combine COOKED noodles, cheese cubes, and the egg/milk mixture. Stir together.
* Top off the casserole with milk until almost to the top of the dish - this will help make it extra creamy
* Bake covered for 35 minutes at 375F
* Take top off, stir, and bake for 10 more minutes

Delicious as a side dish or just sit down with the entire casserole dish and a fork. I'm not even a little ashamed to say I've done it before. Not even a little.

Brownie Cookies

I do not have a cool story about these. The fact that they are chocolate chip brownie cookies should speak for itself. They are 'cakey' like regular brownies, but they don't fall apart and leave you with a bunch of crumbies (crumbies-  F.R.I.E.N.D.S. reference. Anyone? Seriously? Ok...) Just make them. They are amazing.


* 2/3 cup crisco
* 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
* 1 tablespoon water
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 2 eggs
* 1 1/2 cups flour
* 1/3 cup cocoa powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 2 cups chocolate chips

To Do:

* Mix ingredients together in a giant bowl. I'm sure you'd benefit from doing the time-old-tradition of mixing all wet ingredients together, then all the dry ingredients together, then adding them together- but why bother- they are all ending up in the same place: your stomach!
* I do 'drop cookies' with these- make each cookie about 1 tablespoon in size. Place them on a cookie sheet.
* Bake each batch for 7-9 minutes at 375 F.
* Be careful to not overbake these- they are supposed to be ooey-gooey!

Bonus tip: Having a bad day, or feeling like you need to put on a few extra pounds? Heat one (or two or three) up in the microwave for 30 seconds, top with a scoop (or one or two or three) of vanilla ice cream and some caramel syrup (or chocolate syrup or nuts or all of it) for a brownie sundae! No, mother, I haven't done this lately... ok... I have. Worth it.


Happy 4th of July Everyone!


Chocolate-Banana Ice Cream Pie

Its National Ice Cream Day!!!!!
In my book, that deserves a big 'ole 'WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!' I did my part today to contribute to this ever-so-important-all-American holiday: with great honor, I took my spoon to a pint of Ben and Jerry's Chunky Monkey, and savored every minute of it. Did I eat the whole pint? Thats for me to know, and for you to assume that I did. If a pint won't satisfy your need to honor this day properly- make this:

I found this recipe in my Food Network magazine, and made it the other week for a dinner party at our house (the night I made those Cake Pops), and it made everyone go bananas. (ha). I wanted to wait until I had the most perfect reason to post this, and what better a day then this one! The assembly is easy- its a semi-homemade ice creamy miracle! Give yourself the better part of the afternoon to make it though, each layer has to set a few hours in the freezer before you can move on.


* 60 vanilla wafers (about 2/3 of a box) The other 1/3 is for you to eat while you are waiting for all those layers to set!
* 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
* 2 medium bananas
* 1 pint vanilla ice cream (I used Ben and Jerry's Chunky Monkey for more banana flavor and the walnuts gave it a nice crunch.)
* 1 pint chocolate ice cream ( I used a Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie because, well, why not)
* 2 cups heavy cream
* 2 teaspoons confectioners' sugar (I used regular granulated sugar)

To Do:

* Pulse the cookies and butter in a food processor. (I smashed mine in a bag- I have anger issues.)
* Press into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9 in. springform pan. (I just used a pie plate. I think my previously mentioned anger issues stem from not having a springform pan.)
* Slice the bananas and arrange them in a layer over the crust. Freeze until the crust sets, about 20 mins. Meanwhile, let the vanilla ice cream soften at room temperature.
* Spread the vanilla ice cream evenly over the banana layer. Freeze until firm, about 2 hours.
* Let the chocolate ice cream soften at room temperature. Spread over vanilla layer evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, another 2 hours.
* Remove the pie from the freezer 20 minutes before serving.
* Beat the cream and sugar together for a delicious homemade whipped cream. Spread over the pie before serving. (I added my whipped cream and threw it back into the freezer for a bit to harden it up and it still tasted great!)

The recipe also calls for toasted coconut in the crust and for topping, but I omitted it since we are not huge coconut eaters. The recipe suggests 1 cup for the crust (pulse it together with cookies and butter), and 1/4 cup extra for topping the finished product.