Sunday, January 31, 2010

Huevos Rancheros

Fellow Hope College Grad and food blogger, Elizabeth, posted this yummy looking Mexican breakfast on her blog. Check out her fabulous blog here: A Dutch Oven

Since I have already established that I love eating eggs, I will not bore you with further elaboration of my egg fixation. I do however want to state that this is my new favorite way to eat eggs. The layers of black beans, salsa, and cheese topped with egg and garnished with avocado makes Huevos Rancheros an extremely tasty and filling breakfast. 

A couple of notes about this recipe: we used flour tortillas, but Elizabeth's recipe and traditional Huevos Rancheros calls for corn tostadas. I didn't mind the flour tortilla, but the husband said he would like to try to tostadas or rice next time. Also, we fried our eggs, but I think next time I may do scrambled with a little more cheese. You can't go wrong with more cheese! Lastly I looked up Huevos Rancheros and found it translates to "Ranch Eggs" (I didn't know this because I took French, so all you Spanish students out there laughing at me right now, give me a break, ok??) and that on ranches and farms in Mexico they are eaten as a mid morning meal because they eat a lighter meal at breakfast.

Muchas Gracias, Elizabeth, for letting me borrow such an excellent recipe. Huevos Rancheros will be making a regular appearance in our house at breakfast. 

Huevos Rancheros

1 can of  black beans (drained but not rinsed)
1/2 Onion (chopped)
1 clove of garlic (minced)
Shredded Cheese
4 Eggs

Sour Cream
Hot sauce

Saute Onions and Garlic in Oil, then add Black beans. Heat through. Preheat oven to 350. On a cookie sheet place 4 tostadas. Layer each one with black beans, then a layer of salsa, followed by a layer of cheese. Place in the oven and heat through (5 - 10 min). While heating poach (or fry, or scramble) 4 eggs, one for each tostada. Remove from oven, top with egg, and garnish with hot sauce, avocado, and sour cream.

Steak Fajitas

I received this recipe from a former student's mom whom I email regularly. Once I started the blog, Jody and I began writing to one another about recipes and cooking. She has tried a few recipes from my blog and has sent me some of her family's favorite recipes. This steak fajita recipe appealed to me because I love Mexican food (who doesn't??) and because this recipe calls for fresh squeezed lime juice and cilantro. My husband absolutely loves cilantro. The man eats it raw, on it's own. Also, this recipe can be served on tortillas, like traditional fajitas, or made into a fajita salad. I love salads, so may try that next time.

Jody said to saute everything in a large skillet but we tried it on our indoor grill, just because we thought the steak would taste better grilled. It was a mistake, as the wonderful marinade from the steaks evaporated on the grill. Next time I will definitely follow a good teacher should. :)

Jody's Steak Fajitas

1 beef sirolin steak (6 oz.)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 T. fresh chopped cilantro or 1 T. dried cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t. chili powder
bell peppers (Jody recommends two colors to make the dish colorful)
1 medium onion
1 t. olive oil
cup garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups mixed salad greens
1 tomato, sliced into wedges
1 cup salsa
sour cream, optional
shredded mild cheddar cheese, optional
fresh cilanto sprigs, optional

Cut beef into strips.  Place in resealable plastic bag or glass bowl.  Combine in small bowl lime juice, cilantro, garlic & chili powder.  Pour over beef strips; seal bag or cover dish with plastic wrap.  Place in refrigerator and let stand at least 10 minutes, turning once. 
Cut up bell peppers and onions into strips and slices.  Heat olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot.  Add peppers and onion.  Cook and stir 6 minutes or until veggies are crisp-tender.  Remove from skillet.  In same skillet, add beef and marinade.  Cook and stir for 3 minutes or until meat is cooked through.   

Fajita version
Remove from heat.  Add in peppers and onion mixture.  Toss to coat with pan juices.  Cool slightly.  Serve in warmed tortillas and serve with salsa, sour cream and cheese. Serve with Lime Tortilla chips on the side.
Fajita salad
Remove from heat.  Add in peppers, onion, and garbanzo beans.  Toss to coat with pan juices.  Cool slightly.  Serve over mixed salad greens with tomato wedges, salsa, sour cream and cheese. 
Serves 4. Enjoy!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Banana Bread

My mom makes really good banana bread. When she makes it, she uses mini loaf pans and the slices are perfect for just popping into your mouth. I loved eating it for breakfast with peanut butter and a big glass of milk.  The bread is moist, subtly banana flavored, and as I found today, super easy to make.  We had a bunch of organic bananas that had gotten too ripe to eat, but I didn't want them to go to waste, so I asked my mom to share her recipe with me. I didn't have any nuts on hand, but next time will try it with walnuts or pecans.
Today as I smelled it baking and enjoyed a piece smothered with chunky peanut butter, I felt like I was back at my mom's kitchen in Michigan. Thanks for the recipe, Mom! I love you.

Mom's Banana Bread

1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
4 over ripe bananas
1/2 cup sugar (white or brown)
2 eggs
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (Mom didn't have this in her recipe, I decided to add it in since I love nutmeg!)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. This recipe will make 24 muffins (bake for 20-30 minutes), four mini loaves (bake for 45 minutes) or 1 9X5X3 loaf of bread (bake for 1 hour).

Process bananas in food processor until smooth and set aside. Process butter and sugar until creamed, then add in eggs and juice. Process until mixed, then add the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and mix well. Add in bananas and mix together. Pour into greased pan and bake according to times above. Toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean when baking is complete.  

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Vegetable Quiche

As many of you know, I have a little addiction to eggs. I attribute this to my father, who makes the best omlettes in the world and spoiled me with them on an almost weekly basis growing up. I love going home and having my Daddy make me eggs. He taught me that eggs are delicious with just about any vegetable or meat you have on hand. My past roommates would look quizically at my egg concoctions (my dear friend Neile still makes fun of my egg obssesion) and I know my husband gets tired of hearing, "Do you want some eggs?" The poor guy eats them more than he probably would like to, but when I'm in charge of the meal planning and preparation, he doesn't have much choice.

This weekend as I peered into our fridge at our dwindling groceries, wondering what to make for dinner, a light bulb went off. I had a lone frozen pie crust, a bunch of vegetables, and of course, lots of eggs...thus I give you Vegetable Quiche!

I based if off a recipe from our Better Homes and Garden cookbook, which recommends using cooked ham, chicken, or crabmeat, but since I didn't have any of those available, I just threw in the fresh veggies that we had on hand.


1 frozen pie shell
4 beaten eggs
1 cup half and half, light cream, or milk
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Dash of nutmeg
3/4 cup chopped veggies (I used tomatoes and mushrooms) or meat of your choice
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used freshly grated Parmesan, but you can use Swiss, cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Havarti)
1 tablespoon flour


1. In a medium bowl stir together eggs, half and half, green onions, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in meat or veggies.

2. In a small bowl combine cheese and flour. Add to egg mixture and mix well.

3. Pour egg mixture into pie shell and bake in a 325 oven for 40 - 45 minutes or a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Creamy Tomato Soup

My friend Meredith made this delicious tomato soup for lunch when I visited her and and got to spend some time with her and her sweet little girls Madison and Hailey. I liked the soup so much I wanted to try it for myself at home, so Meredith shared with me the link to the recipe on

This recipe is so quick and simple, you pretty much just toss everything together and simmer the soup. It's great for a quick, but filling meal. The acidity of the tomatoes are balanced nicely with the velvety cream cheese. Garnish it with fresh basil, serve it alongside baked or toasted bread. Meredith brushed fococcia bread with olive oil, topped it with grated Parmesan cheese and toasted the bread in the oven. the meal was like a an adult grilled cheese and tomato soup. When I made it at home, I served it alongside some freshly baked cheese bread. You'll definitely want to have some type of bread on hand to dip into this creamy, chunky soup.


  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed tomato soup, undiluted
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, cubed


  1. In a saucepan, saute onion in butter until tender. Stir in tomatoes, soup, milk, sugar, basil, paprika and garlic powder. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in cream cheese until melted. Serve immediately.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Grandma W's Crab Salad

I must preface this post by stating that this is my absolute, 100%, undeniably favorite thing that my Grandma Walter's makes. I love it so much, in fact, that my Grandma would make it special just for me when she knew I would be visiting or for family potlucks. Grandma has oodles of original, tried and true recipes that anyone in our family could list off. Everyone has their personal favorites, my Mom's is Grandma's red velvet cake, my Dad's is her bread pudding, my husband's is her eewey, gooey mac and cheese, but mine is her Crab Salad. Gram would make a batch for me when I visited her from college, and I would take it back to college and hide it from my roommates because I wanted every morsel of it to myself. That is how much I love her crab salad.

I've tried to make it several times, but it's impossible to replicate. One reason is because Gram uses Hellmans' canola mayonnaise and I've never bought that in my life. I use the olive oil reduced fat mayo and it's just not the same. I think the next time I try this recipe, I'll splurge and buy the real deal mayo.

I love to eat this salad with buttery crackers or toasted on an English muffin, but Gram served it all by itself as a side dish.

Grandma Walter's Crab Salad
**Note: Grandma doesn't cook with measuring spoons or cups, she does "a little bit of this, a dash of that, etc." so this recipe is in approximate measurements. :)


24 ounces of imitation crab chunks
1/2 cup chopped green pepper - I used a whole green pepper and it was too much!
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 tablespoon of chopped green onions
4 chopped Roma tomatoes

3/4 cups Mayonnaise
3 tablespoons of lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon of dill weed
2 tablespoons of milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix dressing together and toss over the combined crab and veggies. This recipe can be made the day before and is actually better if it sits and "marinades" for several hours.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Pulled Chicken BBQ

Now that we live in the south, and great BBQ is abundant, I actually have cravings for BBQ. I decided to try my own BBQ and found this pulled chicken sandwich recipe from Rachael Ray. Pulling the chicken took WAY longer than I thought it would, adding a lot of time to a recipe that is supposed to be less than an hour.

Instead of serving it like a sandwich, I turned it into a stuffed baked potato, adding sliced green onions and sour cream on top of the BBQ and cheese. If you've never tried BBQ on a baked potato, I highly recommend it...but maybe it's because I'm just a Midwestern potato-loving girl.

Rachael Ray's Pulled Chicken BBQ


  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 2 pounds)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-1/3 cups barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Hot pepper sauce
  • 6 kaiser or French rolls, split - obviously, I used a baked potato instead!
  • 6 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese (about 1-1/2 cups)


  • Season the chicken with salt and pepper and place in a heave pot with the onion, garlic, and just enough water to cover (about 1 1/2 cups) Add the barbecue sauce, vinegar, and a few drops of hot sauce. Bring to a boil. heavy pot with the onion, garlic and just enough water to cover (about 1-1/2 cups). Add the barbecue sauce, vinegar and a few drops hot sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove the chicken from the sauce and shred with two forks.

  • Boil the sauce, skimming occasionally, until reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the shredded chicken and heat through. Spoon the mixture onto the rolls (or potato) :) and top with the cheese.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Asparagus-Wild Mushroom Risotto with Parmesan

I have become quite fond of risotto. I like how it is creamy, filling, and the fact that there are about 300 million different risotto variations. I found this recipe on It's a recipe from Robin Miller, and although I consider myself a Food Network fan, I've honestly never heard of her. She must be on during the day when I'm at work? Regardless, her recipe was fantastic. The combination of mushrooms, fresh asparagus, and fresh parsley was really scrumptious. It made such a huge batch that my husband and I ate it as our main course and the hubs couldn't stop complimenting it. He made sure to ask if he could take some leftovers for lunch the next day, too! That's when I know a recipe is a hit!


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (or 2 teaspoons pre-minced garlic)
  • 8 cups sliced wild mushrooms (any combination of shiitake, cremini, oyster, etc). **I only used 2 cups and it was more than enough mushrooms!!!
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 cups cooked Arborio rice **This is important, be sure your rice is cooked before you start this recipe!
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium beef broth
  • 2 cups chopped fresh or frozen asparagus spears (1-inch pieces)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • Salt and ground black pepper


Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and cook 1 minute. Add mushrooms and saute 5 minutes, until tender and releasing juice. Add thyme and cook 1 minute, until fragrant.

To the mushrooms in the pot, add rice and broth and asparagus and bring to a simmer. Simmer 5 minutes, Stir in Parmesan and chopped parsley. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper. Ladle risotto into bowls and serve hot.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon

My mother and I both received Julia Childs' Mastering the Art of French Cooking as a Christmas gift. Of course, these gifts were inspired from the movie "Julie & Julia". My mom asked me if I wanted to cook one of Julia's recipes every month. I said yes, as we decided it would be a fun way to challenge ourselves as cooks and cook "together", even though we live several states apart. Looking back, neither one of us really knows why we chose Boef Bourguignon as our first venture. It is definitely one of the most complicated and time consuming recipes in the entire book! It looked so good on the movie, and it's essentially a beef stew, so we (wrongly) assumed it couldn't be that difficult! We had no idea we would be devoting an entire day attending to this elaborate dish.

I do feel an immense sense of accomplishment and pride that I not only "mastered" this recipe, but that it was a success. I served it on top of boiled potatoes, and also used real pearl onions - both of which were totally separate recipes in Julia's cookbook.

My diners all said the meal was delicious and the smell permeated our entire floor in our condo building.

Mom and I agreed that our next recipe of Julia's needs to be on the simpler side, but it is pretty satisfying to be able to say, "I made Julia Child's Boef Bourguignon!"

Kitchen Supplies:

  • 9- to 10-inch, fireproof casserole dish , 3 inches deep
  • Slotted spoon
Boeuf Bourguignon:

  • 6 ounces bacon
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil
  • 3 pounds lean stewing beef , cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 sliced carrot
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 3 cups full-bodied, young red wine , such as a Chianti
  • 2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • Crumbled bay leaf
  • Blanched bacon rind
  • 18 to 24 small white onions , brown-braised in stock
  • 1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms , sautéed in butter
  • Parsley sprigs
Remove rind from bacon, and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef.

Dry the stewing beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp.
Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.

In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the
sautéing fat.

Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers
very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.

When the melt is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.

Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables. Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.

For immediate serving: Covet the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles, or rice, and decorated with parsley.


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