Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Rachel Ray's Super Nachos

These are the best homemade cheese sauce nachos we have ever had, and they get a 9 around here.  I found the recipe at, and here is the original.  I made a few changes, so I will post the recipe the way I made it.  Each serving was 620, and we had 10 servings.

1 1/2 bags tortillas chips

Pico De Gallo

1 lb ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 t salt
1 1/2 t chili powder
1 1/2 t cumin
1/4-1/2 t cayenne pepper
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

2 T butter
2 T flour
2 c milk
1 lb pepper jack and cheddar cheese mixture (I used mostly pepper jack)

Toppings to taste

Brown the beef over medium heat, then add in the onion, garlic, and seasonings.  Cook until beef is completely browned, then add in the black beans.  Turn the heat to low while you make the cheese sauce.  Melt the butter, then whisk in the flour, then whisk in the milk.  Add in the cheese slowly, then stir until all the cheese is melted.  Serve.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Joanne Fluke's Vanilla Crack

So recently we made this chocolate crack, which was delicious, but we had a recipe for vanilla crack as well, so we tried it.  While not as wonderful as chocolate crack, this was still pretty darn delicious.  The calories for 1/48 are around 91, again each piece of candy is varied in size, so that is just an approximation.  We gave this a 9, and it was super yummo, and easy again.  Here's the recipe adapted from Joanne Fluke.

Vanilla Crack 
Preheat oven to 350.
1 box salted soda crackers 
1 c salted butter 
1 c white sugar 
2 t vanilla 
½ c salted nut pieces 
white chocolate, about 10 oz 
Line a cookie sheet with heavy duty foil.  Spray foil with cooking spray.  Cover the pan completely with a single layer of soda crackers, salt side up.  Set aside.

Combine the butter with the sugar and vanilla in a saucepan.  Bring it to a full boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly.  Boil it for exactly 5 minutes, stirring it constantly.  Pour the mixture over the soda crackers as evenly as you can.  Sprinkle the salted nut pieces over the top.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven, and spread the white chocolate over the top.  Let cool, chill, then break it into random sized pieces.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Chinese Take-Out's Sweet Chili Shrimp

This is a great, easy shrimp recipe from Chinese Take Out, and like all shrimp recipes, it comes together in a flash.  I doubled the sauce, since I always get the complaint that there isn't enough sauce, and this was a solid 8 for us.  Aaron wanted it sweeter, but I don't love super sweet meats, so this was fine for me.  There were five servings for us, and each serving was 175 calories with the sauce doubled.  Here's what to do:

1 lb shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 t cornstarch
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper

2 T soy sauce
2 T honey
2 T cider vinegar
1 T chili sauce

1 T vegetable oil
2 t minced garlic
1 t minced fresh ginger
1 shallot, finely chopped

Toss the shrimp with the cornstarch, salt and pepper.  Stir together the soy sauce, honey, cider vinegar and chili sauce.  Set aside.  Heat the oil over high heat, then cook the garlic, ginger and shallot for a few seconds.  Toss in the shrimp, cook for about two minutes, then pour in the sauce and serve.

 Everyone had rice except for me, I was out of rice, sigh :)  Anyway, this was a great dish, and so fast and easy.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Rachel Ray's Genovese Style Red Sauce

Merry Christmas!  Although this isn't a Christmas meal, this is definitely a delicious, low fuss meal to feed a crowd, or just have lots of left overs for the week.

I found this recipe on, and here is the link.  Each serving with the pasta (I only used 1/2 pound instead of a full pound of pasta) is 401 calories, and Aaron and I gave this a 9 while the boys gave it an 8.  They felt like there was too much meat in it, not something that deters Aaron and me :).  Anyway, I followed the recipe exactly, and it is delicious.  I hope you have a wonderful holiday, we are doing prime rib here, my first time, so we'll see how it goes ;).  

Monday, December 22, 2014

Kristen Ashley's Chocolate Cherry Cake

My boys wanted a chocolate cherry cake for Thanksgiving, so I found this recipe for Gramma Moutaw's Chocolate Maraschino Cherry Cake on Kristen Ashley's website, and it was delicious.  I made only one change, I added some almond extract to the cake and icing as well as the vanilla extract.  Mine cooked for about 45 minutes, but check it after about 30 minutes.  This is easy, delicious, and full of flavor.  I have no calorie information on this one, I don't even want to think about calories on this one, I made it for Thanksgiving and didn't count calories that day, so just guess it's going to be high :).  My kids and mom gave this a perfect 10, and my dad and I gave it a 9.  Try it, it's delicious!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Cook's Illustrated Pear, Cranberry, and Ginger Relish

We had this at Thanksgiving, but this recipe is just in time for Christmas now :).  This has to be my favorite cranberry sauce, and it is easy and delicious.  My mother, Noah, Owen and I gave this a perfect 10, and Aaron and my dad gave this a 9.  I have tried lots of different cranberry relishes/sauces, and this one tops them all for me.  I found the recipe in Cook's Illustrated Best Recipe cookbook, and each serving is about 120 calories.  Here's what to do:

3/4 c water
12 oz cranberries
1/4 t salt
2 pears peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks (I cut them into matchsticks)
1 t ginger (if using fresh ginger, use 1 T)
1/4 t cinnamon

Bring the water, salt, sugar, ginger and cinnamon to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.  Stir in the pears and cranberries, bring it to a boil, then let it simmer for at least five minutes (I let mine cook much longer).  Bring to room temperature and serve or store for future use in the fridge.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Rachel Ray's Shrimp and Chorizo Quesadillas

We love shrimp, and we love chorizo around here, so I found this recipe from Rachel Ray, and decided to try it.  I didn't follow the recipe exactly, especially the guacamole.  We prefer our guacamole a different way, so I didn't make the chipotle guac, but I did make the quesadillas.
I had already taken a bite when I realized I hadn't taken a picture, so sorry for the ugly picture, but these were outstanding.  Each quesadilla and guacamole serving was 791 calories, sigh, but so delicious.  The boys and I gave this a perfect 10, and Aaron gave it a 9, he said the quesadillas weren't the awesome part, the guac made it amazing, but they are still great.  Here's what I did:

1 c pico de gallo (chop 1/2 onion, 2 tomatoes, 1/2 lime juiced, 1 pinch New Mexico chili powder, some cilantro and salt)
3 avocados

5 flour tortillas
1 T olive oil
1/2 lb chorizo
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb shrimp, shelled and deveined
10 oz grated Pepper Jack chese

Mix the avocados and the pico de gallo well, the season to taste.
Heat the oil in the pan, add the garlic and shrimp, and season well.  After about 2 minutes, remove the shrimp from the pan, then cook the chorizo in the same pan.  In another pan, layer cheese, chorizo, shrimp, and cheese on half of the tortilla, then fold the tortilla over the top.  Cook on both sides until crispy, then repeat five times.  Serve with the guacamole.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Crockpot Indian Chicken and Lentils

I made this recipe from Best Ever Indian Cookbook, a cookbook I received a while ago, and just haven't had the chance to dive into.  I wanted something easy while my parents were here, but they enjoy different kinds of food from us, and so I knew this would hit the spot with them.  They gave this a 9, and we gave it an 8.  This is very low in calories, about 200 calories per serving, and this made us about 16 or more servings.  This is known as Chicken Dhansak, but I made some changes from the cookbook, so it isn't really authentic :).  This is also better the second day, like most crock pot meals.  Here is what I did.

about 1 c green lentils
2-4 c chicken broth
2 t ground cumin
1 t curry powder
1 onion finely chopped
1 t ginger
1/2 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, chopped
1 t coriander
1/4 t chili powder
14 oz canned diced tomatoes
1-2 lbs chicken breasts
cilantro, chopped
1 t garam masala

In a large crockpot, place the lentils, broth, cumin, curry powder, ginger, onion, jalapeno, coriander, chili powder, tomatoes, chicken and salt.  Cook on low all day long, then right before serving, add cilantro and garam masala.  Take out the chicken, chop it up, then return it to the crock and stir together.  Serve with rice.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Rachel Ray's Bacon Burger Mac N Cheese

So I love macaroni and cheese, and we were watching some Rachel Ray episodes on Netflix, and Aaron said he was interested in trying this.  Aaron interested in homemade macaroni and cheese?  Heck yes :).  So I made this the next night, and it was a hit at our house.  We all gave this a 9, and while it doesn't really taste like mac n cheese, it does taste like a bacon burger, so win there, and Aaron really liked it, so win win :).  I found the recipe here, and I followed it pretty closely.  Here's what I did, and each serving was 572 calories for 12 servings.

1 lb elbow macaroni
12 slices bacon, chopped
4 T reserved bacon fat
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 c beef broth
3 T Worcestershire sauce
6 T butter
5 T flour
3 c milk
4 1/2 c sharp cheddar cheese
1/3 c ketchup
about 1/4 c mustard (more or less to taste)
2 T sweet pickle relish
1 T hot sauce (I used a little less Tabasco)

Top with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, some reserved bacon, and/or pickles

Cook the pasta in well salted water, then drain and set aside.
Cook the bacon until crisp, then when finished cooking remove to a papertowel lined plate.  If you have more than 1/4 c bacon grease, remove some of it.  Add the ground beef, then add in the onions and season with salt and pepper.  Cook until the beef is cooked and the onion is softened, then add in the broth and Worcestershire and reduce the heat to low.
In a large pot, make a roux with the butter and flour, then add in the milk, whisking the entire time.  Season well, then add in the cheese, and stir until melted.  Add in the ketchup, mustard, relish and hot sauce.  Combine this with the pasta, then combine that with the meat and most of the bacon (or all the bacon if you don't want any to sprinkle on top).  Serve with desired garnishes.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Cook's Illustrated's Spaghetti and Meatballs

These are amazing meatballs, and probably our favorite recipe for them, at least the family's favorite, but I don't enjoy frying things, so I prefer other meatball recipes.  However, these are delicious, easy, and guaranteed to please, just like all Cook's Illustrated's recipes.  These get a perfect 10 from everyone except for me, and I give them a 9.  Because of the simple tomato sauce, dried pasta, and fast cooking meatballs, this comes together super quickly, and is a great week night meal.  Each serving, because of the frying and my high calorie ground beef, is 683 calories for 6 servings.  Here's what to do:

2 slices white sandwich bread
1/2 c buttermilk
1 lb ground beef or a mixture of beef and pork
1/4 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 T minced fresh parsley leaves
1 large egg yolk
1 small garlic clove, minced
3/4 t salt
1/2 c oil for frying (You can use more or less, depending on how quickly you want to fry them)

Tomato Sauce:
1 T olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 T minced fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper

1/2 lb spaghetti, cooked according to package directions in salted water and drained
Grated Parmesan cheese for serving

 Combine the bread and the buttermilk, smooshing them together with a fork occasionally while they sit for 10 minutes.
Place the meat, cheese, parsley, egg yolk, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl, then mix together with the bread/buttermilk mixture.  Shape each meatball about 1-1 1/2 inches in diameter, then set aside, being careful to not compact the meat too much.  I made about 20 meatballs.
In a large pot or pan, heat up the oil, then cook each meatball about 10 minutes, turning to brown all sides.  I had to do two batches.  When done frying, drain and set on a paper towel lined plate.
Dump out the oil, leaving the browned bits in the pan, then place the 1 T olive oil in the same pan.  Heat it up and brown the garlic for a few seconds, then add in the tomatoes.  Cook for about 10 minutes, then stir in the basil, salt and pepper.  Return the meatballs to the pot with the sauce, and stir carefully for about 5 minutes.  Serve with the pasta.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Latin American Street Food's Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

This was a delicious sandwich, although we were all a little concerned because the chili paste in the sauce was super strong smelling.  This isn't spicy at all, however, and an easy, delicious meal.  I made a few changes, but this sandwich from Latin American Street Food was a hit at our house.  We all gave it a 9, and my parents gave it an 8.  Each sandwich was 348 calories when it was cut in half, and here's what I did.

1 1/2 T olive oil
4 t aji amarillo paste
2 t cumin
2 t salt
1 t garlic powder
1 t pepper
2 lbs pork tenderloin (the recipe called for beef tenderloin, but it was too pricey for our budget :))
1 lb havarti cheese, thinly sliced
2 T mayonnaise
8 T margarine spread (use butter if you want, it will be more calories)
8 rolls (French bread rolls, or other similar)
Avocado, sliced

Mix the olive oil, aji, cumin, salt, garlic powder and pepper.  Spread it all over the pork and marinate for at least 1 hour in the fridge.
Cook the pork on the stovetop to brown it on every side, then transfer it to a very hot oven (mine was at 450) until pork reaches desired tenderness.
Cut the rolls in half, then spread the bread with butter and toast it.  Place mayo, if desired, on bread, top with meat, avocado and cheese, then return to the oven to melt.  Serve.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Joanne Fluke's Chocolate Crack

Sooo...this might be the most delicious, addictive, amazing candy ever, and it takes all of 15 minutes. The calories are random because of the way you crack the candy up, but it is about 100 calories for 1/48 of the total.  This is easy and fun, Noah helped me make it, and we all gave it a perfect 10.  I found this recipe in one of Joanne Fluke's books, and there is a vanilla version which I will be trying soon.

Chocolate Crack 

Preheat oven to 350.
1 sleeve (more or less) graham crackers 
1 c salted butter 
1 c brown sugar 
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips 

Line a cookie sheet with heavy duty foil.  Spray the foil with cooking spray.  Cover the pan completely with a single layer of graham crackers.  Set aside.  Combine butter and brown sugar in a saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly.  Boil it for exactly 5 minutes, stirring it constantly.  Pour the mixture over the graham crackers as evenly as you can.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top.  Give the chips a minute or two to melt and then spread them out as evenly as you can.  Cool and then chill completely.  Peel the foil off and break into random-sized pieces.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Cook's Illustrated Macaroni and Cheese

So this is comfort food, and probably my favorite recipe for homemade mac and cheese in the world.  Guess where it's from...Cook's Illustrated.  I know, I am totally predictable, but I do like their recipes so much.  Anyway, I don't follow their recipe exactly, so this is how I do it, and unfortunately it is a calorie bomb.  Each serving is 567 calories, and it is pure deliciousness :).  We all gave this a perfect 10, except Aaron who gave it an 8 because he doesn't like home made mac n cheese.  Here's what I do:

1 lb macaroni
5 T unsalted butter
6 T flour
1/2 t dry mustard
5 c milk (whole milk is what I used)
12 oz (3 cups) grated Monterey Jack cheese
12 oz (3 cups) grated sharp cheddar cheese

Cook the macaroni in well salted water until the pasta is tender.  Drain it and set aside.  Heat the butter in a large Dutch oven or pot and whisk in the flour and mustard.  Continue whisking as the mixture becomes fragrant, then add the milk, bring it to a boil, and then let it thicken, whisking, about 5 minutes.  Add in the cheeses and salt to taste, then mix in the macaroni.  Let settle about 10 minutes, then serve.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Michael Symon's Pork Tenderloin with Arugula

I found this recipe in Michael Symon's Carnivore cookbook, and it might be my new favorite pork meal.  This is quick, easy, and so full of flavor.  Noah and I gave this a perfect 10, and Aaron and Owen gave it a 9.  Since you can make the pork marinade up to two days in advance, this is just so little effort.  Michael Symon says to grill this, but I don't grill, so we had this broiled.  Each serving, and we made four servings, was 322 calories, so super healthy, even with the changes I made.  Here's what I did:

1 T Dijon mustard
1 t salt
2 t cumin
1/2 c cilantro leaves
1 t smoked paprika
grated zest and juice of 1 lime
1 lb pork loin, sliced in half
1-2 c arugula
2 T olive oil
1 avocado, diced
dash of sugar
salt and pepper

Combine the mustard, salt, cumin, paprika, lime zest, and cilantro in a large ziplock bag.  Add in the pork, then shake the bag and refrigerate it for up to two days.  (I only did it for one day)
Heat up the broiler.
On a stove top, heat 1 T olive oil, and brown the meat on all sides.  Add some lime juice to the pan, the put the pan under the broiler, until the pork reaches 140-145 degrees on an instant read thermometer.  Let rest, then slice and serve.
Mix the arugula, avocado, olive oil, some cilantro, salt and sugar together.  Serve with the pork.