Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Toffee Peanuts

With the 4th of July coming up you may have some folks coming over for a BBQ or "cook out" as we called it growing up. This is a fun snack to put out while everyone waits for their dogs and burgers. The recipe is from Taste of Home and I cut it in half.


* 1/4 cup sugar
* 2 tablespoons butter, melted
* 2 tablespoons corn syrup
* 1-1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 2 cups unsalted dry roasted peanuts

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, butter, corn syrup, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Add peanuts; toss to coat. Transfer to a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan.
Bake at 300° for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown, stirring once. Cool on a wire rack; break apart if necessary. Store in an airtight container.

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees and lets get our ingredients. You need some peanuts, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, white sugar, butter and corn syrup.

Melt up the butter.

Get it in a bowl with the rest of the spices and sugars.

Stir in the peanuts.

Pour them out on to a baking sheet lined with non stick foil or grease it however you prefer. Put them in the oven for 20-25 minutes and give them a stir if you remember. I didn't and they turned out fine.

You can't imagine how good this smelled! Let it cool and then break it up and pop it into the fridge until its time to serve.

I will admit that these got served to just me, but not all in one sitting, I swear.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Spicy Beanless Chili

I have to admit that this meal was actually shared with my husband. He has discovered in the last 6 months or so that he actually likes chili, as long as it doesn't have beans in it. Rather than have him eat something out of a can, I decided to make some for him. The recipe comes from Taste of Home Cooking for 2.


* 1/2 pound ground beef
* 1/3 cup chopped green pepper
* 2 tablespoons chopped onion
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
* 1 can (5-1/2 ounces) tomato juice
* 1/2 cup water
* 2 tablespoons chili powder
* 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
* 1/2 teaspoon paprika
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
* 1/8 teaspoon salt, optional

In a large saucepan, cook beef, green pepper, onion and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the tomato sauce, tomato juice, water, chili powder, oregano, paprika, cumin and cayenne and salt if desired. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes or to desired thickness.

You need some ground beef, onion, green pepper, garlic, tomato sauce, tomato juice, water, chili powder, paprika, oregano, cumin and cayenne pepper.

Chop up your veggies.

In a dutch oven or large pot, brown the beef with the veggies.

While that cooks, measure out your spices.

After the beef has cooked, drain off the excess fat or use some bread to soak it up. Add in the tomatoes, water and spices and give it a stir. Bring it to a boil then reduce the heat so its just simmering. Let it cook for about 45 minutes or until it is as thick as you'd like.

Once it is at the desired thickness, you are ready to eat!

I topped mine with a little grated cheddar cheese. The hubby also threw some Fritos corn chips on his. This is one of the few posts where I was not dining alone!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tortellini Salad

As I type this entry my computer tells me it is 106 degrees outside. This is definitely not the time to fire up the oven, but its a great time for fun and tasty salads. I found this one from Taste of Home Cooking for 2.

1-3/4 cups frozen cheese tortellini
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped green or sweet red pepper
1 small tomato, seeded and diced
1/4 cup julienned pepper Jack cheese
1/4 cup Italian salad dressing

Cook tortellini according to package directions. Drain and rinse in cold water. In a bowl, combine tortellini with all of the remaining ingredients; toss gently to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Yield: 2 servings.

Start boiling some water and lets gather our ingredients. This is a super simple but filling and the ingredients can easily be varied. You need some tortellinis, cheese, italian salad dressing, red pepper, onion, and tomato. You can see my hubby in the background preparing his snack before band practice. He is definitely not a pasta salad guy.

Chop up the onion and the pepper.

I also remembered I had some snow peas in the fridge so I chopped those up too. Cut the cheese (har har) into bite sized pieces as well.

Get the tortellini in the boiling water.

Drain the pasta and give it a rinse after its been cooked.

Once they are drained, put them in a nice big bowl. I have a nice big Pyrex bowl of course!

Get the chopped items and the dressing in the bowl with the pasta.

Look at all the nice colors! Give everything a good stir to mix it up.

Refrigerate the salad for at least an hour and then you are ready to eat!

This was tasty and so easy. Nice and cool and crunchy for a hot summer day.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Rachael Ray's Lasagna Soup

Since I cook for myself, making a whole pan of lasagna seems pretty ridiculous. I was very excited when I found this recipe for Lasagna Soup. The following recipe is for four servings but I cut it in half.


* 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
* 1 lb ground beef
* 1 large onion, finely chopped
* 2 carrots, peeled and grated
* 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
* 1 (32 ounce) box chicken stock
* 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
* 1/2 lb lasagna noodle, broken
* 1 cup basil leaves, torn (I had to use dried)
* 1 cup ricotta cheese
* parmesan cheese

1. In a soup pot, heat oil over med high heat.
2. Add the beef, season with salt and pepper and cook until browned, 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Stir in the onion, carrots and garlic and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.
4. Stir in 2 cups water, the chicken broth and tomatoes; and dried seasonings -- if using fresh add later, cover and bring to a boil.
5. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 15 minutes.
6. Top with ricotta and parmesan and serve.

Lets gather up our ingredients. You will need some ground beef, onion, garlic, carrot, chicken broth, tomatoes, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, basil and some lasagna noodles.

Chop up the carrots, onion and garlic.

Break the noodles up, I used too many but it still ended up DELICIOUS.

Brown up the ground beef with some salt and pepper for 3-4 minutes.

Add in the chopped veggies and let them cook for 5-7 minutes.

While those cook, measure out your liquids.

Add them into the pot and give it a stir.

Pop the lid on and bring it to a boil.

Add in the noodles and give it a stir, let this cook for about 15-20 minutes until the pasta is cooked.

While that cooks grab your cheese and try not to eat spoonfuls of ricotta.

give the soup one final stir and add in your fresh herbs. You are now ready to eat!

Top with the cheeses and you are ready to enjoy this delicious variation on traditional lasagna.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Rachael Ray's Sunset Orzo with Shrimp and Sausage

This recipe comes from Rachael Ray's website and was also in her magazine. If you read often, which I know a lot of people do because of the wonderful comments you guys have been leaving, you know I love orzo. This meal uses a lot of stuff I regularly have in the pantry and freezer.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

* Salt
* 1/2 pound orzo pasta
* 2 pinches saffron threads
* 1 cup chicken broth
* 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
* 1/3 pound Spanish chorizo, chopped
* 1 onion, chopped
* 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
* 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
* 1/3 cup green peas
* 1 pound medium shelled and deveined shrimp
* 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
* 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
* Juice of 1/2 lemon


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the orzo and cook until just al dente. Drain and cover.
2. While the pasta is working, in a small saucepan, steep the saffron in the chicken broth over low heat.
3. In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon EVOO, 1 turn of the pan, over medium heat. Add the chorizo and cook until browned, 2 minutes. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic and turmeric and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the peas.
4. In another medium skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook until pink and firm, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the parsley, paprika and lemon juice; season with salt. Remove from the heat.
5. Pour the saffron broth over the chorizo and vegetables. Add the orzo and toss for 2 minutes. To serve, top the orzo with the shrimp

Start boiling some water and lets gather our ingredients.

You need some peas, saffron, orzo, chicken broth, chorizo or sausage, onion, red bell pepper, garlic, turmeric, shrimp, parsley, paprika, and some lemon.

Chop up the shallots or onions. I love shallots so that is what I used.

Chop your garlic.

Chop the red pepper. Get your Orzo in the boiling water while you continue making the rest of the meal.

Get the saffron into a sauce pan with the chicken broth over low heat.

Keep an eye on your orzo as it will cook quickly.

While all of that goes on cook up the sausage or chorizo in some olive oil for about 2 minutes.

Add in the onion, pepper, garlic and turmeric and cook for 5 minutes.

Stir in the peas. If your shrimp is not cooked, grab yet another pan and get those cooking for 2-3 minutes. Drain your orzo and set aside.

I used cooked shrimp so I just tossed mine in the broth to warm through.

I added the shrimp, broth, parsley, paprika and lemon juice into the pan where my veggies were. Stir in the drained orzo and you are ready to eat.

This was a tasty and colorful meal that is a great way to use up some things in your freezer and pantry. I just want to say thanks again for all the wonderful comments and emails.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwich

As it is getting hot here in AZ again I have to resort to cooking in my toaster oven or crock pot on most days. I found a great and simple meal to make that will be perfect for a picnic or get together. I made just a small serving, but this can easily be done on a larger scale.

You will need some pork loin, onions, BBQ spices, garlic powder and some barbecue sauce. I didn't have any bottled sauce on hand so I made my own. I did the prep the night before so the next day I could just throw it in the slow cooker and be on my way.

To make the sauce I diced up some shallots.

I put them in a sauce pan with some ketchup, tabasco, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, garlic powder and some salt and pepper.

I gave it all a stir and let it simmer on low for 10-15 minutes.

While the sauce simmered I prepped the rest of the ingredients.

I sliced up the onion.

I put it in a Pyrex dish to store in the fridge overnight. Can you tell I am still loving my Pyrex?

I made a simple rub for the pork out of garlic powder, allspice and some BBQ powder from Penzey's spices.

I put some lime juice on the pork and then rubbed it down with the spices. I put it in a ziploc bag to store until the next morning.

I got my BBQ sauce out of the pan and put it in the fridge with the rest of my ingredients.

The next day I got everything out and did the last couple of steps.

I cut the pork into cubes.

And added a little bit of Scotch to the BBQ sauce for that little extra something.

I got the onions in the crock pot first.

Then topped it with the pork and BBQ sauce. I let it cook for 6 hours on low and then just used a fork to pull apart the pork. It was effortless after the time in the slow cooker.

I served it up on a nice roll and it was delicious!