Friday, February 26, 2016

Mexican Chicken

Sometimes one is lazy and throws some stuff in the crock pot. This was the perfect storm of creativity and yum! Throw all of the ingredients in the crock pot and forget about it for 8 hours. Make some rice to eat with it and you have one great meal for hardly any work at all.

What you need~
Can of rotel
Can of salsa
3 chicken breasts
Can of black beans
1 cup of corn
1 onion
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
4 sweet peppers
cumin, cajun, salt and pepper
Black olives and cheese for garnish

Go ahead and add the chicken to the pot. Season it rather heavily as shown.

Add the chopped onion and peppers on top of the chicken.

Gather these things and pour them on top. Make sure you drain the black beans and wash them first. Add the corn to the mix too.

MMMM... Looking tasty. Make sure you season this as you go dumping things in the pot. Put it on low for 8 hours and forget about it.

Make some brown rice or white... or whatever you have. Put that in the bottom of a bowl and laddle this yummy mix in the bowl. You can top with cheese and olives if you wish. Need more heat add some hot sauce or cool down with some sour cream. This makes a ton of leftovers.

I will be on vacation next week so no new posts for awhile. HELLO warm weather in the Bahamas!

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Delicious Spaghetti

I think most of America know how to make this dish. Taking it to the next level so it is not boring canned sauce thrown on some noodles is a whole new animal though. I like to pump mine up with some special ingredients that I will share with you today. Here are my tips for the best spaghetti of your life.

1. You need to add fresh produce to cut through the canned tomato sauce taste of the jarred sauce. 
I always add onion, garlic and basil to mine. I use one entire yellow onion, four garlic cloves and a half a handful of basil. I grow my own basil and freeze it to use year round. If you do not do that then pick some up from the store.

2. Use decent meat. 
What do I mean by that you ask? You do not have to use boring hamburger when you make spaghetti all the time. This time my grocery store had hot sausage on sale. It was fantastic!

I had browned the onion/garlic/basil mixture and then added the meat to brown.

3. The sauce is key!
As a short cut I use 1 can of original whatever is on sale jar sauce. I add this to the meat/veggie mixture and shimmer it down. After about 5 minutes I add my secret weapon......

This jarred tomato juice we canned as a family this year. This is my secret weapon. I am sure you do not have a bunch of this laying around so you can buy canned tomato juice to add. I always add half of a mason jar to the sauce.

4. Have you been seasoning as you go? 
I know I stress this in a lot of my blog posts but I cannot stress seasoning things enough. I cannot tell you how having bland food is the WORST. In this recipe here is the times and what I used to season.
In step one I seasoned the veggies while they cooked down with (onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper)
In step two I seasoned with (Worcester sauce, fennel, parsley flakes, dried oregano and Mrs. Dash)
In step three I tasted the mix and decided it needed more salt and pepper.

Always make sure you taste what you are cooking to make sure it is balanced. We like our sauce a little spicy and I did not have to  add anything due to the hot sausage. Usually I add red pepper flakes or cayenne to heat things up a bit.

5. Noodle are important too!
Everyone always buys some boring old noodles that are cheap and frankly most of the time gross. Why not try a specialty pasta or something fresh?  This time I made carrot/tomato noodles and they were amazing.(Random FYI in case you are wondering what is with that fish-- Ryan bought that to add iron to our lives. Find out more information on this little guy HERE).

As you can see the pasta is really orange from the carrot and tomatoes added to the pasta. It was really good. I am also a fan of wheat pasta.


Have to add some cheese.

Getting fogging from all that steam.
I hope these tips are helpful to you the next time you are making "boring" old spaghetti and you turn it into something truly delicious.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Monday, February 22, 2016

Baked French Fries

I know people reading this are thinking "Emily there is no such thing as a good baked french fry." That is why they are called FRIED right? Whelp, you  are wrong my funny little friends. It has take some time but I have managed to make crispy yet light and fluffy fries in the oven. Let me tell you all my secrets.

What you need~
4-5 Potatoes (I used yukon gold)           
Olive oil
Mrs. Dash
Sea salt

Pre- heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. 
Cut your potatoes into long fries. I like to use yukon gold potatoes because they have a natural buttery texture to them and they bake really well.

Once the fries are cut place on a baking sheet. Lightly coat in olive oil. Be careful not to over oil as then they will be greasy and not crisp. I would say you need no more than 2 tablespoons of oil. Once you have tossed and coated in the oil season the fries with whatever you like. This time I used Mrs. Dash and sea salt. 

Place in the oven for 20 minutes and then flip the fries. Look at how crispy they get!
Cook them for another 20 minutes and then turn on the broiler on high. This is how they get extra crispy. The time you leave them under the broiler will depend on how crispy you like your fries. This was after about 5 minutes.

Trust me when you have this healthier version of french fries you may never go back to the traditional french fries ever again.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Winter Salsa

It is hard to make good salsa in the winter. It is cold and tomatoes are crappy and not in season. The good news in technology in canning have comes leaps in bounds in the last couple decades. Canned tomatoes are almost better than fresh for salsa now-a-days. I call this my winter salsa because I always make this in the winter. I prefer pico de gallo in the summer/fall. The key to making this salsa fresh is the produce you mix in.

What you need~
(4) 16 ounce cans of roasted tomatoes
1 red onion
1 white onion
1 bunch of cilantro
1 jalepeno
1 can of mild chili's
1 can of rotel 
Seasonings(cumin, cayenne, salt, pepper, lemon juice)

Use your blender or food processor to blend all of the ingredients. Leave out 1 can of tomatoes and the rotel. Slowly season the mix as you blend. Once blended to the smoothness you want remove from blender/food processor and place in a large bowl. Add the can of tomatoes and rotel that you did not blend to add a bit of texture to the salsa.

This is what I had after it was all completed. I brought this to a Superbowl party I went to and it was a huge hit. Everyone loved it. Super easy to make and it makes a humongous batch!

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Monday, February 15, 2016

Split Pea Soup

This is one of my classic recipes that I make time and time again. Ryan loves split pea soup so I make it throughout the year. This is easy to make in the crock pot like I do but you could also try it on the stove top too.

How cute is my recipe book?
If you cannot read the tiny font this is what you need-

1 16 ounce package of dried split peas
2 cups of ham
3 carrots (diced)
1/2 cup onion (diced)
2 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
2 Tablespoons of parsley flakes
1 Tablespoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
1 1/2 quarts of hot water
Mrs. Dash to taste

Chopping up some tasty ham that I made in the crock pot earlier in the week.

I saved the ham bone to add in flavor. You do not need to do this when you make yours if you do not want to. Layer all ingredients as listed above into the crock pot. Cook in the crock pot on low for 8 hours. 1/2 hour before serving mix the soup to make sure it gets creamy and mixed well.

This was so good. It made enough for some leftovers for lunches.

Look at those yummy chunks of carrot. I hope you can make this soon on these cold days. Although I heard it is supposed to warm up this week.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Crock Pot Curry Veggies

There are very few things in life that I feel like I have "mastered". I know for a fact though I make a bomb curry. Ryan at least thinks I do and if you husband likes it that is all that matters right?

Last time I made curry in the crockpot we actually liked the vegetables a lot more than the meat. This got me thinking that the next time I made curry it would be all veggies. This recipe is easy and quick and makes enough for a ton of great leftovers. Make some rice to eat with it and everyone will be jealous.

What you need~
2 sweet potatoes diced
1 onion sliced
2 cans of chick peas
1 large can of diced tomatoes
1 cup of peas
4 sweet peppers sliced
1 can of coconut milk 
1 tablespoon of curry paste
curry powder to taste
garam marsala spice to taste
1 tablespoon chili sauce or hot sauce 

Cut up all vegetables and layer them in the crockpot. The only thing you do not want to add is the peas and the tomatoes. After the veggies are all added put a frying pan on medium/high heat and add a small amount of olive oil. When it is really hot add the curry paste/curry powder/garam marsala/chili sauce to the pan to sweat. This step is IMPORTANT to have the spices bloom and activate. This only takes about a minute. Add the tomatoes to the pan and let simmer for 2 minutes. Add in coconut milk and let shimmer for additional 2 minutes. Pour this mix over the vegetables already in the crockpot. Put the crockpot on low for 8 hours.

.5 hour before you eat add the peas to the pot. Do not add before as they will turn to mush. I also made brown rice to eat this with. You could do this or some sort of noodles. 

It is so packed with flavor and is yummy! All my co-workers said they wanted some. I will be making this again.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Rice Krispie Treats

I think if you want to know what heaven in your mouth would taste like you should go no further. Something about butter, marshmallows and cereal makes everything perfect. When I first made these I thought they were going to be strange with the giant chunks of marshmallows but I was so wrong they are so good.
What you will need~                                                              
5 tablespoons of butter
8 cups, plus 2 cups of mini marshmellows 
6 cups rice krispie cereal 
1/2 tsp salt

Line a 9x13 or 9x9 pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick spray. I used olive oil pam spray.

Melt butter on low heat in a large pot. Once butter is melted add in 8 cups of mini marshmallows stirring constantly. 

Once the marshmallows are just melted remove from heat and stir in the cereal and salt. You want to lightly coat the mixture with the marshmallows do not over mix. Now the secret best step. Stir in the remaining 2 cups of marshmallows and mix slowly. Pour into your pan and press really lightly on the mixture. Cover and let cool before eating.

They are perfection. Trust me you cannot eat just one. I will of course be making these again but not anytime in the future as they are not exactly healthy. A special treat though for sure.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Friday, February 5, 2016

Band Spotlight: Fleetwood Mac

 Mostly cream album cover with black-and-white image of tall, bearded gentleman holding the hand of blonde, cape-wearing woman. In the top right-hand corner, it is captioned "FLEETWOOD MAC" and "RUMOURS" below it.

Most of the general population knows of Fleetwood Mac. Per their Wiki page-

Fleetwood Mac is a British-American rock band formed in July 1967, in London. The band has sold more than 100 million records worldwide, making them one of the best-selling bands of all time. In 1998, selected members of Fleetwood Mac were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and received the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music.
Now that you know the basic history of this band here is why I am spotlighting them. They have my favorite album of all time. I recently last year found it on sale on an actual good record vinyl.

I have sat here for a bit trying to think how I want to go about explaining what this record means to me. I guess I can start by saying I have had it on every electronic device I have ever owned going back to walkmans and CD's.
Here is the songs from the album. I am going to talk about a couple of my favorites below.

Most people have at least heard "The Chain" unless you live under a rock and do not watch any singing shows like American Idol or The Voice. Stevie Nicks one of the more popular and well known members of the band lends her voice to this haunting and beautiful song. It is still a regular on mainstream radio along with "Go Your Own Way".

I love the haunting and touching songs on this record but the songs I always come back to listen to time and time again are the funky songs.  "I Don't Want to Know" "Never Going Back Again" and "Second Hand News". I can listen to on repeat for the rest of my life without ever getting close to sick of them.

In closing I hope you take a chance and listen to this record sometime. If not one of my all time favorite songs by them is "Tusk" at least take a listen to that crazy fun song.  

Until next time~
XoXo Emily