Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Artichoke Dip

Sometimes I have to remind myself that just because something only has three ingredients doesn't mean it isn't a recipe!  Recently a friend of mine was asking for something that would be super quick, inexpensive and delicious that she could take to a Valentine's Day party. Immediately this dip came to mind and she asked if the recipe was on my blog to which I replied "No, it's just three ingredients".  It didn't take long for her to convince me that these are the type recipes that people are looking for....these are what we scour food blogs for so here it is!  I have no idea where the recipe came from or how my dad found it but I have seen several variations on it over the years.  Simply put, we have just always had this in my rhyme or reason to it, it's good so we kept making it!

Artichoke Dip
2 cans quartered artichoke hearts (do not get the ones marinated), coarsely chopped
1 cup (or a little less, you just really need enough to hold it together)
1 1/2- 2 cups shredded swiss
Drain and squeeze the artichoke hearts to get as much of the liquid out as your can.  Coarsely chopped the artichoke hearts.

Combine with cheese and mayonnaise.  Sometimes if I am throwing a whole bag of cheese in there (2 cups) I will cut back to about 1/2 cup of mayonnaise but this is totally based on your preference.
Microwave on high for two minutes.  Stir.  Repeat until the cheese is good and melted.  Serve with wheat crackers.  By the time I remembered to grab my camera and take a picture it was already half gone so I had to grab a friends iPhone and take this get the point is delicious and is gone before you know it!
My Dad adds a little garlic powder and Parmesan Cheese to his but I like mine the old fashioned way....three  ingredients and you are ready to go!
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Monday, February 27, 2012

Bourbon Chicken

After a while I feel like it is only natural to get a little sick and tired of the same old mid-week meals.  You can spice up baked salmon, throw something different in the chicken casserole, but ever once in a while you need something totally different!  That is where I found myself a couple weeks ago so as I sat pondering what to have for dinner a friend suggested I try one of her family's favorites....Bourbon Chicken!  Assured that it was not at all difficult and ready in no time I made my grocery list and headed to the store.  This will now be a staple in my rotation as was superb!!

Mary Morgan's Bourbon Chicken
2 lbs boneless chicken breasts , cut into bite-size pieces
1 -2 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove , crushed
1/4 teaspoon ginger
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup apple juice
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 crowns broccoli

Heat oil in a large skillet.
Add chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned.
Remove chicken.
Add remaining ingredients, heating over medium.  Heat until well mixed and dissolved.
Add chicken and bring to a hard boil.  I added broccoli as well but you don't have to!
Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Serve over hot rice and ENJOY.
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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Stephanie Conger's Chicken Tacos

Life is funny in the paths on which it will take you.  Sometimes they seem so odd, so hard to understand, but ever since I went away to college I have learned to just go with it because some of the most wonderful people are met along the way!  This was the case for me when I found myself on the plains of Auburn, AL my freshman year in college.  Though it hadn't been my first choice of schools I understood that it was where I was at the time and needed to do my best to enjoy the opportunities life had presented.

As is typical for college freshman, most everyone is a little unsure and a little wary of what they are supposed to be doing, where they are supposed to be going, etc.  This was certainly the case for us Nashville girls surrounded by pick up trucks and cow pastures.  It didn't take long for us to find our footing and fully emerse ourselves in the college lifestyle and boy did we have fun!  Some of my most fond memories are riding in the car with my roommate, Courtney (aka "Courtie D"), signing 50 Cent's "It's My Birthday" at the top of our lungs, dancing at Bourbon Street, eating copious amounts of Mama G's, watching our friends participate in the Rodeo, laying in a field playing football with friends in from out of town, getting to know everyone else's high school friends and just truly enjoying this new experience.

Though I didn't stay at Auburn my entire college career, the people I met and the impression they made on my life, will be with me forever.  I would trade nothing for those friendships and experiences!  Another perk, which I enjoyed at UGA as well, was getting to know my friends families.  Courtney and I, both being from Nashville, clung together most of the time in Auburn and when our families would come visit we would tag along!  This is how I got to know the dear Dismukes family.  It was my great pleasure to visit her grandmother, Nona, in Atlanta, travel with the family to Naples and enjoy many dinners and visits along the way.  Courtney's sister, Stephanie, was so much fun getting to know!  It was perfectly evident to me from the get-go why she and Court were so incredibly close!

Here is where I insert my deep love of Facebook!  As the years have gone on and we have all gone our own ways, I am still able to keep in touch with my friends from so many different places and phases of my life.  This is where Stephanie and I do most of our recipe swapping which is one of my favorite past times!

So recently I received the following message from my seemed so simple I thought it needed to be added to my weeknight rotation.  I mean seriously, how can you go wrong!  It was so simple and soooooo delicious!!

Stephanie Dismukes Conger's Chicken Tacos

Ok...made this tonight and the fam devoured! Super easy, cheap weeknight meal.
1 1/2 pounds organic chicken breasts
1/2 jar Herdez Salsa Verde
1/2 jar your favorite salsa
1 onion chopped
1 taco seasoning packet.
I put all of this in the crockpot this morning for 8 hours (on low), came home, shredded the chicken, served on tortillas with cilantro, sour cream, avacado, red onion(pickled would be amazing)
Delish and SUPER easy!

Here were my cast of characters....
I always rinse off my chicken before cooking it....just makes me feel better!
Dice up an onion....
Combine your ingredients...

Push the chicken down into the mixture and make sure some of it covers the chicken as well...
Remove from the crok pot and shred (it was so perfectly tender that i was able to do this with the tongs...didn't even need to get out two forks to pull it apart!)

I served mine with cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream and was DIVINE!
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Garlic and Herb Roasted Mushrooms

There is not one single way I can think of that I would not like mushrooms....fry 'em, saute 'em, throw them in a crock pot and make Burgundy Mushrooms, stick them in a sauce, a gravy....most anything but my cereal and I am going to like it! In fact, besides garlic and onions, mushrooms are the most common thing I add to a recipe to make it truly mine! I love to throw some of my momma's sauteed mushrooms on the table as an elegant, yet tasty, side that everyone seems to eat right up!

I came across this recipe on Pinterest recently and thought it would be such a great addition to our Steak Diane recipe even though there were mushrooms in that dish as well. Throw all caution to the wind and have it all, I say! I was so pleased we did because they were amazing!

Oven or Grilltop Roasted Mushrooms with Garlic, Thyme, and Balsamic Vinegar

recipe adapted slightly from Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop

1 lb. mushrooms (I used brown white mushrooms)
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon olive oil
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (optional, for garnish)

Preheat oven to 400F/200C or heat gas or charcoal grill to medium high. Wash mushrooms, pull out stems, and cut into halves (or quarters if the mushrooms are large.) Put mushrooms into bowl and toss with 2 T olive oil, salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Cover a roasting pan with foil, then arrange mushrooms on the pan in a single layer. (Spread them out as much as you can. For cooking on a grill, I'd probably use heavy foil to make a "pan" so the flame doesn't turn the bottom of the roasting pan black.)

Roast mushrooms 15 minutes. While mushrooms cook, finely chop fresh thyme, then mix with minced garlic, balsamic vinegar, and the tsp. of olive oil. (You could mix this right in the bowl you originally tossed the mushrooms with.)

After 15 minutes, drain off any liquid that has accumulated. (If you spread the mushrooms out well, the liquid will evaporate, but if yours are too crowded like mine, you'll have a little liquid to pour off.) Then toss the hot mushrooms with they garlic-thyme mixture. Arrange back on roasting pan and cook about 10 minutes more. Serve hot, sprinkled with chopped fresh parsley if desired.
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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Penne alla Vodka

I recently came home from a trip with a pretty awful sinus infection and an even worse case of jet lag.  It was enough to make me want to come home from work, put on my jammies and curl up in bed before the sun had even set, but if there is one thing that can prevent my early end to the day it is pasta....oh sweet pasta!  How I love is pretty much medicinal for me!  

As I mindlessly flipped through Pinterest, my new obsession (following me here!), I came across a recipe that trumped me ordering Jet's Pizza (it's simply the best) and calling it a night!  

How can a sick, sniffly, exhausted individual ever pass up vodka sauce and pasta???  I mean, it is basically a cocktail and dinner all wrapped up in one!  Well not really...though I have been know to drink my dinner on the rare occasion though this was not to be the case with this meal! 

As it turns out this was exactly what I wanted on my first night home from my trip across the country!

Penne alla Vodka
As adapted from 
and originally adapted from The Sopranos Family Cookbook

4 tablespoons butter
2-3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 onion, chopped
10 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into thin strips
1 (28 oz.) can Italian peeled whole tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup vodka
3/4 pound penne pasta
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Bring at least 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. 
 Add a small handful of salt to the water and add the pasta. 
I have seen on multiple food blogs and cooking shows that pasta water should be as salty as sea water.  Cook the pasta, about 10-11 minutes, until al-dente (tender, yet still firm). Drain the pasta, saving just a bit of the cooking water in case you need it.

In a large skillet or dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. 
 Add the garlic and onions and cook until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. 
Stir in the prosciutto and cook for one minute.  Add the tomatoes and crushed red pepper. 
 Simmer for 5 minutes, breaking up the tomatoes with your spoon. 
In order to get the consistency I wanted I used the immersion blender to puree the sauce.
Stir in the cream and cook, stirring well, for 1 minute. 
 Add the vodka and cook for 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt.
Add the pasta to the sauce and toss until it is well coated. 
 If the sauce seems too thick, add a bit of the reserved pasta water. Add in the cheese and toss again. 
 Serve immediately. Serves 4

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sausage and Ravioli Lasagna

This year it was my great pleasure to have dinner on Valentine's Day with my best friend, Nicoll, and her mother.  We used to have dinner, just the three of us, almost once a week but then as everyone's schedules got busier and busier we haven't been able to get together as much as I would like.  

"Granny Lynn", as she is now called by her granddogs and the newest generation of babies joining our group, is one of my favorite people in the world....her sleek style, undying devotion to her family and loyalty to the ones she loves are only part of the reason I love her so much.  She is one of those women who has helped shape me into the woman I am today and am grateful for all she has taught me over the years.  

Her daughter, Nicoll, and I have been friends since we first met at volleyball tryouts our freshman year in high school and have been best friends ever since.  She is my rock, my sounding board and can always make me laugh whether by her silly sense of humor or by her hopeless attempts to calm her rambunctious, yet incredibly loving, brood of dogs!

With two of my favorite people to share Valentine's Day, I was surrounded by nothing less than 100% love which is the only way to spend this holiday!

Sausage-and-Ravioli Lasagna
as adapted from Southern Living

1 lb. ground Italian Sausage
1 (24 oz.) jar tomato-and-basil pasta sauce
1 (6 oz.) package fresh baby spinach, thoroughly washed
1 zucchini, chopped
1 cup pesto sauce
1 (25 oz.) package frozen cheese-filled ravioli (do not thaw)
1 cup shredded Italian six-cheese blend
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook sausage in a skillet over medium heat, stirring often, 10 minutes or until sausage crumbles and is no longer pink.  
Stir pasta sauce into sausage.
Chop spinach and zucchini and toss with pesto in a bowl.
Spoon one-third of sausage mixture (about 1/2 cup) into a lightly greased 11x7-inch baking dish.  
Top  with half of spinach mixture.  
Top with layer of ravioli.  
Repeat layers once.  
Top with remaining sauce mixture. 
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.  Sprinkle with shredded cheese, and bake 5 to 8 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
This post could absolutely not be complete without some pictures of the puppies...

This is Hubert....he's a hound dog...
This is Hooby-Dooby-Doo with his brother Murphy
Waiting patiently for their mother to give them a treat!
In an attempt for our readers to see exaclty how big Hubert is Nicoll tried to arrange a family photo...this is how that went...
It's not looking good for Nicoll..
This is HYSTERICAL to me!!!  It's hard to be a puppy-mother!
Nicoll finally escaped!

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