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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Crockpot Shredded Beef for Tacos

This morning I got up with every intention of cooking this shredded beef when I got home from work today. I get home early enough that I thought it would be a piece of cake. Well, good thing I checked the recipe this morning as it calls for cooking it 6-8 hours on low in the crockpot. This is where you can cue the "drama music" that should be playing while I tell you that I ran, yes  literally ran, through my house getting ready for work this morning. I not only managed to get ready, but I managed to get the roast defrosted in the microwave, all the sauce made, and managed to get it in my crock pot before I left for work. *cue applause*
After work I picked up my daughter and grand daughter and  came home to a wonderful smelling kitchen. We were all anxious to try this tonight in our tacos. Oh let me tell you...I am SO glad I made this. It tasted fantastic, was fairly easy (of course it would have been easier if I weren't running around like a maniac before work trying to prepare it) and everyone loved it. It even got my grand daughters seal of approval. For an almost 2 year old, that's saying A LOT!
Recipe Source:

1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
2 pounds beef (boneless chuck roast) 
1 teaspoon chili powder 
1/2 teaspoon cumin 
1/2 teaspoon paprika 
1 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste 
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
1/2 large sweet onion, diced 
3 cloves garlic, minced 
Flour or Corn tortillas
Favorite taco toppings

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat.  Meanwhile, combine the chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika in a small bowl. Rub the spice mix onto the beef, covering each side evenly. Once the oil is hot, place the beef in the skillet and sear on each side. Remove the beef from the skillet and place in the bottom of a slow cooker.  Leave the pan on the heat, and add the beef stock, tomato paste and minced chipotle and whisk together. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for a few minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly. 
Add the diced onion and minced garlic on top of the seared beef in the slow cooker.  Pour the pan sauce down over the onions, garlic, and beef.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours .

Remove the beef from the slow cooker and shred with two forks. Add the beef back to the slow cooker and keep warm until serving. Serve in a tortilla with your favorite taco fixins!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tilapia with Avocado Sauce

Once in awhile I divert from a recipe so much that it actually isn't even like the original in any way. Sometimes it turns out to be a mess (thankfully not too often) and sometimes it turns out to be a favorite. This is one of those occasions when the hubby and I each commented on how much we loved this. Of  course, we both love seafood, so I guess you could throw just about anything on top of it and we would like it. But seriously, this was easy to make and mostly healthy and it really tasted great!

4 pieces Tilapia (or any kind of your favorite fish)
Old Bay Seasoning 
Salt/Pepper (to taste)
2 avocados, (leave 1 whole for the sauce and dice one into bite sized chunks for garnishing the cooked fish)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (leave the seeds in for the heat) (reserve a few pieces to garnish the cooked fish)
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 cinnamon basil leaves ( you can use regular basil, I just happen to grow  this in my garden)
1 Tbsp Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
3 Tbsp chopped cilantro

Season your fish with Old Bay Seasoning to your liking. You can also add salt and pepper if you desire.
In a food processor, blend together: 1 whole avocado, 1/2 cup milk, sour cream, chopped jalapeno, chopped garlic, cinnamon basil leaves, Italian parsley, green onions and  chopped cilantro until smooth. Set aside.
In a skillet, cook the seasoned fish until it is cooked through. This process only takes a few minutes for Tilapia as it is so thin. Pour some sauce out onto your serving dish and place the fish on top of it. Drizzle more sauce on the top  of the fish and garnish with chopped jalapenos and chopped avocado.

Bacon and Jalapeno Stuffed Mushrooms

 This week just happens to be one of those crazy weeks that is so filled with appointments, errands, and out of the ordinary things to do, that there isn't enough time in each day. Late in the afternoon, I had just enough time  to whip up dinner before it was off to get a haircut. Thankfully this recipe, that I used for a side dish, was super easy, fairly quick to prepare and oh so scrumptious!! It called for chopping up the extra mushroom stems and I completely forgot to do that (one of the signs of aging and being too busy lol) but even with forgetting those, it truly was a great recipe! I'm so glad I tried it. The hubby loved these and we will definitely be having these again, hopefully soon!

 Here is a link to the original recipe:

  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 lb. large button mushrooms
  • 3 strips thick cut bacon, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • salt and pepper
Heat oven to 350°.
In a small bowl combine the panko bread crumbs with the melted butter.  Toss until evenly coated.  Set aside.
Carefully clean and stem the mushrooms. Save half of the stems and chop them finely. Set them aside. Set the mushroom caps on a baking sheet that you have sprayed with Pam. 
In a small pan over medium heat cook the chopped bacon until crisp.  Add the chopped onion, jalapeno, garlic and mushroom stems and cook until softened, about five minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside to cool slightly.
In a medium bowl, stir the shredded cheese with the cream cheese until well combined.  Add the warm vegetable mixture and mix well.
Divide the filling evenly between the mushrooms.  Top with the buttered panko mixture.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender and the topping is golden brown.  Serve warm.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Smore's Truffles

Since winter really never showed up in So Cal this year and it was more like a "mild summer", the closest thing I was going to get to smore's around a campfire, was to light my gas stove and stand around it with bent hangers and smore's fixins and pretend it was cold outside. That was never going to happen, so when I saw this pin on pinterest and found the recipe at,
I thought it might be worth a try.
They definitely were! I just happened to make mine with heart shaped cookie cutters and I think they turned out really cute. I'm thinking that I just might make these for Valentines day and use the pink,strawberry flavored marshmallows. Strawberries and chocolate always go well together, so I might be onto something here!!
*My adorable hubby bought me some roses, so I added one in to the picture for some extra love to go along with the heart shaped truffles ♥

6 graham crackers
6 Hershey candy bars (plain milk chocolate)
1 cup marshmallow creme
1 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
**Milk chocolate chips (for melting to dip the candies in)

Use a coookie cutter to cut 2 hearts (or any other shape you choose) out of each graham cracker. You will have 12 cut out shaped when you are finished.. (Save the extra crumbs, you will use them for garnish on the top of your truffles)

Use the same cookie cutter to cut 2 shapes out of each Hershey bar. (Save the extra chocolate as you will it for melting to dip the candy in)

In a mixer, combine the marshmallow creme, whipping cream and vanilla until blended. Slowly add in the sugar until the mixture is stiff.

Take the marshmallow mixture and shape into a heart shape (or whatever shape you chose to use) the same size as your cut outs.

Place the graham cracker cut outs on a cookie sheet. Place the marshmallow on top of that and then top it off with chocolate. It should look like this:

Refrigerate them for about an hour.
Right before you take them out of the refrigerator, melt the extra scraps of chocolate in a bowl. Dip each truffle into the chocolate and set on a waxed paper lined cookie sheet. After you dip each one sprinkle a tiny amount of graham crumbs onto the top. Finish this process with all of the candies and place in the refrigerator to harden.
** If you don't have enough scraps of chocolate to cover all your truffles ( I sure didn't) them melt some milk chocolate chips in the microwave (carefully...they burn quickly) and use those to coat the rest of the candy.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Chicken Enchilada Stuffed Shells

Can't you stuff anything into a pasta shell and have it taste good? I'm thinking the answer might just be yes, but then I can't imagine stuffing escargo into a pasta shell. I'm sure someone, somewhere has and they probably loved it. I think I'll just stick with the basics. I found this recipe on the Better Homes and Garden site and after tweaking it a little bit, I have decided it was pretty good. I can't say it's one of my all time favorites, but I would  make it again.

1 (12 0z) pkg jumbo pasta shells
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cups red onion, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
 1 tsp chili powder
12 tsp paprika
salt/pepper to taste
2 Tbsp oil
2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded
1 can refried beans with salsa
1/2 pkg Lawrys taco seasoning powder
20 oz enchilada sauce
1 pkg Mexican style four cheese blend
1 cup green onions, sliced
2 cups Nacho Dorito's crushed 
sliced olives
 Heat oven to 350°. Cook the pasta by the package directions. Rinse, drain and set aside. In a skillet, cook the bell peppers, onion, jalapenos, chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper in hot oil for about 5 minutes or until soft. Stir in the chicken, beans, taco seasoning mix, and 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese and 1/2 cup of the green onions. In a large baking pan, sprayed with Pam, pour 1 cup of the enchilada sauce. Move the pan around to make sure the entire bottom is covered. Place the filling into the shells and place the filled shells onto the top of the sauce in the pan.Drizzle with the remaining enchilada sauce. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 30 min. Uncover the shells and cover with the remaining cheese. Bake for 5 more minutes until the cheese is melted. Sprinkle with chips, olives and the remaining green onions.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Birthday Cake Popcorn

What do you get when you mix sweet with salty? 5 extra lbs!!! Seriously, I don't even care for popcorn and this tasted great to me. I guess the pull of sweet and salty is more than I can fight against. I fought pretty hard though and only tasted a couple of bites.  Hopefully everyone at work will eat this and I won't bring any extra home.
The original recipe is found at:
 This girl is a genius baker. She has some great recipes on her site. Check it out! 
There is not very many M&M's in my version because I purposely bought a VERY small box of them so as not to tempt me to eat any if there was leftovers. It worked. There might not be as many in the popcorn, but I did not fall into temptation. You see....there IS a method to my madness haha. 

1 bag of popcorn, popped
8 ounces of white chocolate candy coating, melted
4 heaping teaspoons of yellow cake mix
Mini M&Ms
Assorted sprinkles

Pop popcorn and spread out on a paper towel, removing any kernels or burnt pieces, and place in a large bowl. Mix in mini M&Ms. 

Melt white chocolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until melted and smooth. Stir in cake mix until smooth, then stir in about 3 teaspoons of sprinkles. Immediately pour over popcorn. Using a wooden spoon, mix the popcorn and M&Ms until completely coated. 

Pour out onto wax paper or into a wax-paper lined jelly roll pan and spread into a single layer. Sprinkle with sprinkles until festive, then let cool and harden. Break into pieces and enjoy! 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Chocolate Cheesecake Dip

I saw a recipe on Pinterest at ( for "Brownie batter dip" and loved it, just by hearing the name. Now  that I have made it, I think I would call this "chocolate cheesecake dip." It is reminiscent of a chocolate cheesecake batter. If there was ever a time that I wanted to retreat to a place all by myself with a spoon and no one watching, this just might be it. But of course, I have NEVER (wink, wink) even considered that idea! This really is quite fantastic. I only had animal crackers at the house to dip in it, but clearly this could be eaten with ANYTHING dipped in it, and I mean anything. Trust me when I say anything, because even my finger dipped in it tasted great! ;)
Not that I ate my finger, haha, but if there had been much more dip on it, I just might not have stopped at licking it off my finger. All kidding aside, this would make a great dip to take to any party or pot luck. So to the girls at the crumbsandchaos website who created this hats off to you. Good job!!

Original recipe can be found at: Crumbs and Chaos
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
2 to 3 cup powdered sugar
5 Tbsp flour
5 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
Beat together the cream cheese and the butter. Add 2 cups of the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, and 1 Tbsp. of the milk until thoroughly mixed. Add the flour, cocoa powder, brown sugar, vanilla, and 1 more Tbsp. of the milk. Beat until smooth. Add the remaining powdered sugar and milk alternately until dip reaches a good smooth consistency.

Home Made Deep Dish Pizza

You will probably think it's strange that I am posting this, given the fact that I am not pizza's biggest fan. I mean it's alright, I can eat it every once in awhile, but not often! So when I saw this recipe on Pinterest, I was hesitant to try it. I'm glad I did. This is a recipe that is supposed to taste like Pizza Hut deep dish pizza. It totally does!! The crust is so soft and fluffy and if you like  deep dish pizza, you will definitely like this. My pizza only had cheese for a topping, because I happen to only like cheese or  veggie pizza. I had been in my garden working most of the day and didn't have time to chop up veggies.

*Original Recipe from:
(There is some great recipes on their site. Check it out)


1 1/3 cup warm water (105 degrees F)
1/4 cup non-fat dry milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 package dry yeast
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (for dough)
9 ounces vegetable oil (3 ounce per pan)
butter flavored cooking spray
1 can (8 ounce size) tomato sauce
1 teaspoon dry oregano
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dry basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt


Put yeast, sugar, salt, and dry milk in a large (2 qt.) bowl. Add water and stir to mix well. Allow to sit for two minutes. Add oil and stir again. Add flour and stir until dough forms and flour is absorbed.

Turn out on to a flat surface and knead for about 10 minutes. Divide dough into three balls. In three 9" cake pans, put 3 Oz. of oil in each making sure it is spread evenly. Using a rolling pin, roll out each dough ball to about a 9" circle. Place in cake pans.

Spray the outer edge of dough with cooking spray. Cover with a plate. Place in warm area and allow to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.


Combine ingredients and let sit for 1 hour.

For Each Nine Inch Pizza: Preheat oven to 475 degrees F Spoon 1/3 cup sauce on dough and spread to within 1" of edge. Distribute 1 1/2 Oz. shredded mozzarella cheese on sauce. Place toppings of your choice in this order: Pepperoni or Ham Vegetables Meats (cooked ground sausage or beef) Top with 3 Oz. mozzarella cheese Cook until cheese is bubbling and outer crust is brown.

Italian Spicy Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Most people aren't fans of this vegetable. Personally, I really like them. I guess for some it's an acquired taste. Brussel sprouts are fairy easy to cook and this recipe doesn't require any real "cooking skills." So give these a try and maybe, just maybe, you will wind up liking them.

*recipe adapted from:

1 lb brussel sprouts, cleaned
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
Black pepper to taste
1/4-1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/8-1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like your food)

Preheat the oven to 425°.
Place the brussel sprouts in a large bowl or large bag. Put all the rest of the ingredients in with the sprouts. Stir  together (if using a bowl) or shake together (if using a bag) until sprouts are thoroughly coated and seasonings are well distributed. Place the seasoned brussel sprouts on a cookie sheet. Bake for approx. 20-30 minutes  or until soft. (Turn the sprouts every 5-6 minutes to avoid over browning on one side)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

Today is my daughters wedding anniversary. I know that her and her husband like cookies, so I made these cookies for them to come home to after they go to a nice dinner. Meanwhile I will be watching my grand daughter and I'm pretty sure she and her "poppa" will be enjoying the extra ones I put away for them also. These are so easy to make and I have always been a fan of the shortbread texture of cookies.
Good thing this recipe only makes a dozen and a half. I put 12 in a little gift bag for my daughters anniversary and I saved 6 for "poppa" and my lovebug! Hopefully they will eat them up so I will not be tempted. I haven't had any yet, but the key word is YET!! I did taste one small piece that broke off of one. I swear it broke off and I did not break it lol. It was really yummy!
Recipe adapted from:

1 stick, (1/2 cup) butter, room temp
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour 
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/8 cup peanut butter chips *3/8 = 1/4 +1/8
3/8 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped, salted peanuts 
*granulated sugar for sprinkling

 Mix the butter and the peanut butter together in a mixer until mixed together.
 Mix in the vanilla.
In a bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together and add to the butter mixture.  
Mix until it forms a dough. 
Stir in the peanut butter chips, the dark chocolate chips and the peanuts. 
You can refrigerate the dough until it is more firm or if you are impatient like me you can just use it now. 
Form all the dough into a ball. Keep working it together until it's smooth. 
Place the dough on a very lightly floured work place and press it out or use a rolling pin to roll it flat. You might have to keep pressing it together if it cracks. 
Slice into rectangles or squares and bake on a  greased cookie sheet. 
Sprinkle granulated sugar over the tops of each cookie. 
Bake at 325° for about 12-14 minutes.
Let them cool on the cookie sheet for about 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Parmesan Crisps

It's been a busy day and an extremely busy week all together. Just the thought that it's only Wednesday tomorrow is enough to make my head spin. So tonight as I was throwing together a quick dinner, I had the thought "what could I make as a side dish that's super easy, requires no thought at all and I have the ingredients for?" That's when I thought of Parmesan crisps. There really is no recipe as this is just cheese and salt. So if you like cheese and are looking for something super easy to cook, this just might be your answer!
These are very thin crisps. There is actually about 9 or 10 of these on this plate. Also this is a fairly small plate. These are about 3" in diameter each. You just can't tell because (like I have stated before), I am a lousy food stager and picture taker.
** Confession- There was 10 or 12, but somebody and I'm not saying who, for the sake of not incriminating myself) may have eaten 1 or 2 of them ;)
Fresh shredded Parmesan Cheese
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a cookie sheet with Pam. Drop cheese onto the cookie sheet in circles. You don't want them mounded up too high or they will not crisp up. Place in oven and remove when golden brown and crispy. I can't tell you the exact time because it depends on the size of the cheese circle. Just stay close by your oven as it may only take a few minutes. Let them sit out of the oven for about a minute to finish crisping up. Enjoy!

Fried Okra

My mom used to make fried okra when I was growing up. She is from the South, so it was just a natural thing for her to make this. Not so much for me. I even had to call her to ask what she breaded hers with. I remembered liking this when I was a kid, and now that I tasted it again, I still do!  I haven't eaten it in years...too many to count. My 2 year old grand daughter even snacked on these. I guess the fact that it's fried, doesn't make it the best choice around, but at least it's a vegetable for her to snack on.
1 bag frozen (unbreaded) okra
1/2 cup corn meal
14 cup flour
salt and pepper
oil for frying

Thaw out the okra for a short time. It doesn't need to be all thawed, just somewhat. In a bowl, mix your corn meal, flour, salt and pepper. Toss the okra into this mixture, in batches,, until coated. Heat oil on high on the stove top. When the oil is hot, add about 10-15 okra to the hot oil. (You don't want to add too much more than this as the oil will cool down and make frying more difficult) Fry until light golden brown. Remove onto a a paper towel lined plate and continue with more batches of okra until it's all cooked. Add more salt to cooked okra if needed.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Mexican Crockpot Chicken

Winner, winner chicken dinner! This one is definitely a winner. Of course it would have helped if I had remembered everything I needed at the grocery store to complete this meal. (see last post for my explanation of this one) This would have been fabulous if it were tucked into a soft flour tortilla filled with tomatoes, avocados, and other yummy things! Since I forgot....we will be having this simply as shredded chicken with some fixins ;)

Like always I couldn't leave a good recipe alone without adding to it, so I "tweaked" the original a bit. If you would like to view the original recipe go to:
(It's a great blog that I haven't had a chance to go through thoroughly yet, but it looks like there are some great recipes to try )


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon Hot Mexican chili powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 - 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (depending on how spicy you like your food)
1/3 cup chicken broth
4 chicken breasts

1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
 3 limes, juiced
1/3 cup, packed, chopped, cilantro leaves
1 jalapeno, minced (you can take the seeds out if you don't want the extra spice)

Heat the oil in a medium sized pan. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 5 minutes. Add the cumin, chili powder, coriander and paprika and crushed red pepper and cook  for  two more minutes. Pour in the chicken broth and mix together. Turn off and set aside.
Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Add to crock pot. Squeeze the juice from the 3limes on top of the chicken and add the cilantro, jalapeno, and the onion and garlic mixture.
Cook on low for high for about 3 hours or until chicken is all the way cooked through and tender enough to shred with two forks. I used two forks to shred my chicken right in the crock pot, but if it's easier you can remove the chicken, shred it and put it back into the crock pot. Serve by itself or with flour tortillas for soft tacos.

Cilantro Pesto Carrots

If you have ever heard the term "looks can be deceiving" that would certainly be the term to apply to me today. At one point in my work day, students must have thought I was approaching 100 years old with Alzheimer's. I actually forgot 2 of my favorite students names today. It's March people!!! I could understand if it was September or maybe even October but come on...March, really? Then on top of that I forgot part of what I needed to finish tonight's dinner, when I stopped at the store earlier. I have enough to make the main part, but no tortillas to put it in etc! Are you getting a clear picture of my brain struggles today?
At least I had everything to make these cilantro pesto carrots. They were really yummy and I will be  making them again. But alas, another brain struggle in making these. Surprised? I didn't think so!!
I used the original recipe (see notes below for link to original recipe site) and I halved the amount of carrots. So are you shocked to hear that I forgot to halve the amount of pesto I made? So....I made double the amount of pesto to carrots. As I was pouring the pesto over  the carrots, it hit me (not literally, I didn't have THAT bad of a day) that I needed to back off from the amount of pesto. So the picture you see here is half the amount of carrots you see in the recipe below and a little more than half of the pesto recipe below!'s just one of those days. If I tried to do the figuring out for you, we'd probably have a recipe for disaster lol

Also, the "looks can be deceiving part applies to this picture too. The picture does not look great, first off because I am a terrible photographer, but secondly it just isn't a combo of colors etc that tends to present itself well in photos, but this really is better than it might look in this picture.
The original recipe was titled: Spicy Cilantro Carrot Fries, but I didn't think they were spicy, hence the name change.
The original recipe  is found at:
This looks like a new blog and it looks like she has some great recipes over there!!

6 large carrots
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 cup tightly packed cilantro leaves
1/2 jalapeno pepper, roughly chopped
1 tbsp lime juice
Dash of salt and pepper
1 tsp cumin
1/4 cup olive oil


-Preheat oven to 400 F
-Cut carrots into small (about 2 inches long) sticks (we are making fries here, cut them to about the size of a french fry!)
-Toss carrots with 1 tbsp of olive oil and spread out in flat in a single layer on a baking sheet
-Bake for 20 minutes
-While the carrots are baking, add garlic, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice, salt and pepper, and cumin to a food processor.
-Start processor and while running slowly add the olive oil. Process until smooth.
-Remove carrots from oven and transfer to a large bowl. Toss with pesto. Return to oven for an additional 5 minutes.