Confessions of an Unintentional Domestic Goddess

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Delish summer salad

Hey y’all! It’s summer and I’m back! We had more spring rains in May than in the history of ever. We were out of school for an entire week before we ever saw the sun. It didn’t feel like summer at all. The temps were in the 60’s and 70’s, cloudy and rainy. Bleh. In May, we only had 2 days that were considered ‘sunny’ That’s not summer, that’s monsoon season. This week when the sun finally came out, I promise I heard angels singing! And since the sun finally came out and my yard has become less than a swamp, I’ve been able to do some of the yard work and gardening that has been put off. It’s no fun doing yard work in hip waders. So here I am, putting my basil and my mind is running all over the place. Apparently my mind just ran the 40 yard dash in record time, because this is what it came up with.

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This is pure summer deliciousness in a bowl.

Delish Summer Salad

4 Roma tomatoes – quartered and sliced
2 avocados – cubed
2 cloves garlic – minced
5-6 leaves fresh basil – sliced
4-6 oz fresh mozzarella – sliced/cubed
2 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Toss all ingredients together in a bowl and dive in! This is an incredibly flavorful, fresh, light salad that I think I could live on. It has everything you could ever possibly want, right? It’s got the goodness of the unsaturated fats of avocados, the vitamins of the tomatoes, the protein of the mozzarella, the health benefits of the garlic and basil. What more could a girl ask for? More. I could ask for more. Come to think of it, I think I will.

**Note – If you’re not too keen on the *POW* of fresh garlic, you can use one clove instead of two. We love the POW, but you can easily tone it down.

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Slow cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

Can you keep a secret? What am I saying, of course you can! I am having an affair. Yes, my husband knows all about it and he’s ok with it. In fact, we tag team occasionally. The object of my latest love affair? My slow cooker. It’s been cold and my husband and I both work full-time so we’ve been working together to get dinner on. I’ll get it prepped and he’ll assemble and turn it on. We make great partners! You’ve seen my many slow cooker recipes: beef stew, chicken and wild rice soup, chicken and dumplings, creamy Italian chicken, and those are only the ones I can think of right off. I’ve been sort of MIA lately, but I’m here to share with you another delish slow cooker soup recipe. It’s different, it’s healthy, and it’s very flavorful. You can spice it up or down, whatever you like. And the best part? It’s ridiculously easy. I mean really, can it get any better? Well, ok, if it would clean up after itself, that would be pretty amazing, but in the absence of that, I’ll be making this regularly!

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

1lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 can roasted tomatoes undrained
1 can chopped green chilis
1 can medium enchilada sauce
1 can corn with green & red peppers drained
1 onion chopped
2 C water
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1-1/2 C chicken broth
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
chopped cilantro (optional)
crushed tortilla chips (optional)
cayenne pepper (optional)

1. place all ingredients except cilantro and tortilla chips in a 4qt slow cooker. Turn on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
2. remove chicken breasts from slow cooker and use two forks to shred meat.
3. Put chicken back into slow cooker and allow it to cook for an additional 15-30 minutes.
4. Ladle into bowls and top with cilantro if desired. Sprinkle crushed tortilla chips on top if desired.
If you want spicier soup, add 1/2 tsp cayenne or you can use hot enchilada sauce, and increase the chili powder.
If you want a milder soup, you can use mild enchilada sauce and cut the chili powder in half.
This is just such a flavorful soup, with many different layers and textures.
And once again, no pics, sorry friends, it was just too good! (and I totally forgot 😦 sorry!)

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Hamburger Soup

I know, I am so sorry, I feel like I’ve completely neglected my duties here. I’ve been working really hard and taking the easy route way too often. Don’t be like me. I have had this recipe for a while, but as with things, I forgot about it until someone mentioned it. Ah, yes. I need to make some. No, it’s not like a hamburger in soup form. It is soup with hamburger (read ground beef) in it. I think it was originally titled “Steak Soup” meaning ground steak, but since I’m poor, it’s hamburger!

I actually got this originally from my cousin’s grandmother. Wait, how is she not my grandmother too? Oh, right, because she is the mother of my Aunt, who was married to my Uncle-dad’s brother. Are you confused yet? I am. I need to sit down. Anyway, she made this and I loved it and I begged her to share the recipe. I bet my cousin, Steph will remember it! I love it, it’s hearty, delish, reheats well and makes a big batch. I did change up a few things from Grandma Bunny’s original just to make things a little easier and quicker on the preparation, but without changing the taste.

Hamburger soup

Hamburger soup

Hamburger Soup

1/2 stick butter
1C flour
1C onion diced
1C celery sliced
1 pkg frozen mixed vegetables 10-12oz (steam in bag)
1lb ground beef
2tbsp beef base
1 can diced tomatoes
1lb potatoes, peeled and cubed
8C water

Directions:
1. Brown ground beef with onions. Drain and set aside.
2. Melt butter and mix with flour to make a roux (a giant ball of flour goo).
3. Stir well and cook slightly.
4. Add water gradually, using a whisk to break up clumps and help blend water & roux
5. Cook frozen steam in bag vegetables.
6. Add all veggies, meat, beef base and tomatoes bring to a boil and drop temp and simmer until veggies are tender, approximately 30min-1hr, or until done.

I just really love this soup. It’s very hearty. The picture doesn’t adequately show all the yumminess, but you’ll love it!

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Marisa’s Spicy Pretzels

Hi there! Did you miss me? I know, I know. It’s been way too long. I’ve been working and trying to get myself into a routine of some sort and frankly, it’s kicking my butt!

However, I am thrilled it’s football season! I love spending a Saturday afternoon watching my favorite team grind it out on the field. Have I been lucky enough to attend a game? Nope, not yet. But soon, very very soon, I will get to go see a game live and in person. And I’ll get to go with my honey and hang with my cousin’s boyfriend who’s an alumni, season ticket holder and regular tailgating kind of guy. He’s invited us to tailgate with him, so naturally, that’s where we’ll be going. Of course, we want to bring something to contribute. When I mentioned that I love to bake, it was met with a ‘meh’ kind of face. He said they don’t really do sweets. I suppose he has a point. Chocolate chip cookies don’t really go well with burgers and beer.

I found out that many of my coworkers at my new job enjoy cooking like I do. My cohort in crime, my mentor and overall hand holder, Marisa, shared a recipe with me that will be perfect for tailgating. Or let’s face it, any time you want a tasty snack. This is a super easy recipe and easily customizable to suit your tastes. If you’re a SPICY person or just a spicy person, you can change it up!

Marisa’s Spicy Pretzels

1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 packet dry ranch dressing mix
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
1-1/2 tsp garlic salt
3/4 C canola oil
bag of pretzels (I used a 1lb bag of the square pretzels, Marisa used the little stick pretzels)

In a gallon size zipper bag, pour the oil and dry seasonings and mix well.
Add the pretzels and toss to coat. Let pretzels stand approximately 4 hours, occasionally turning the bag to increase coating. Store in an airtight container.

I used 1/2 tsp of cayenne b/c I like spicy, not SPICY! They are tasty and addictive! My husband is ready for another batch!

Enjoy!

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Margherita Pizza on steroids

Yes, it’s me, I’m back. I have garlic and I’m not afraid to use it! In my house, garlic is a food group, along with chocolate and red wine. Sounds like a party, no? 🙂 Last summer I had a bumper crop of basil. I love me some fresh basil, also a food group. Because I didn’t want to waste any, I ran it thru my food processor with a little olive oil and put it in ice cube trays & froze it to use later. Since pesto is just basil that’s been put through a food processor with olive oil, garlic, pine nuts & parmesan, I figured I’d have the hard part already done, right? Great. So, now I’m coming up with new ways to use my bounty. And just in case you’re curious, yes, I will have basil in my garden again this year.

Today I was trying to decide what dinner would be and I saw the premade pizza shells at the grocery. I love the thin & crispy crust pizza and was thrilled to see a pre-made thin crust. Pizza Margherita is wonderful and I rarely see it when I go out. Hmmm, thin crust pizza shell, tomatoes in the fridge and basil ready to go? I’m in! But….here I go again, changing things up. You’ll be so proud, I took pictures!

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In case you don’t know what Margherita pizza is, it’s a pizza crust with olive oil, minced garlic, mozzarella, sliced tomatoes and basil. Yum! It’s a very light & flavorful pizza. Mine, well, mine was essentially pesto pizza with tomatoes. In my fridge, I happen to have some gorgeous fresh asparagus that I picked on Friday at Thunderbird Berry Farm (I so wish they had a website). And a jar of pine nuts in the cabinet calling my name too. Yep, I did it. I added them to my Margherita pizza and, well, all I can say is WOW. amazing! So, if you love caprese salad, you’ll love Margherita pizza! Give it a try! You won’t be sorry!

Margherita Pizza on Steroids

1 pre-cooked thin pizza crust
2 roma tomatoes sliced thin
4 oz shredded mozzarella
2 tbsp. olive oil
5 garlic cloves (you can use less if you don’t want to stink!) finely minced
5 tbsp. chopped basil (or 1/2 C fresh basil cut into thin strips)
6 stalks of asparagus
2 tbsp. pine nuts
salt & pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. On pizza crust, spread 1-2 tbsp. olive oil all over crust using a pastry brush to be sure and get all of the crust
3. spread chopped basil over olive oil, sprinkle garlic & pine nuts over basil.
4. sprinkle cheese over basil & top with tomato slices
5. arrange asparagus around tomatoes
6. bake 10 minutes or until crust reaches your preferred crispness
7. enjoy with altoids!

****NOTE-if you don’t want your tongue to slap your brains out, feel free to decrease the amount of garlic and/or basil. If you use fresh basil, the taste will be delicious, but not quite as powerful as my version.

enjoy!

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Penne with Ham & Asparagus

Yum. That’s all I can say. I’ve been making this dish for years (and yes, my children whine about it! Well Done!) and we really enjoy it. I snap up as much fresh asparagus as I can when it’s on sale. LIke last week. When I bought 4 lbs. Don’t judge. Seriously, we put away 2lbs on Easter. My favorite way to prepare it is to flash steam it for about a minute or so in about 1/4″ of water. Although I’ve heard grilling is good too, I’m so trying that this summer.

In the meantime, I’ve been putting my best asparagus recipes to use. I bought a ham at HoneyBaked Ham for Easter and guess what! I have leftovers, and yes that was intentional. I love their ham, besides it freezes well, so I’ll have some for later. I broke out this recipe a couple of nights ago and I’m telling ya, the HoneyBaked Ham really made a difference. It’s natural ham, not the processed stuff from the deli. The flavor and texture was amazing in this pasta dish. And….I took pictures! Don’t everyone applaud at once! 🙂 We had leftovers, which hubby usually takes to work. After eating it Monday night, and yesterday for lunch, when I tried to give it to him again, he gave me the face. Oh, ok. He’s had enough. So I took it to work and shared w/my boss & my cohort in crime. Cohort – Nikki loved it. Boss, not so much. He’s a meat & taters kinda guy and even though there’s meat in it, there’s no taters, AND there’s green stuff! But he did say it was good, minus the green things.

You’ll be so proud of me….I took pictures!

Penne with Ham & Asparagus

1 lb fresh asparagus, woody ends trimmed & cut into 1″ pieces
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion diced
2-3 fresh cloves of garlic
4 C uncooked penne pasta
1/2C half & half
4oz cream cheese cut into chunks & softened
1/4 – 1/2 C freshly grated parmesan cheese (not the bottled stuff)
1 lb HoneyBaked Ham ham – cut into bite size pieces
salt & pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:
1. Cook pasta according to directions on pkg.
2. While pasta is cooking, sauté the asparagus & onions approx. 5 min or until tender. Press garlic cloves into pan (you can just mince it if you don’t have a garlic press) cook another 2-3 minutes.
3. Pour in half & half & add cream cheese, stirring to help cream cheese melt.
4. Add ham & stir, salt & pepper to taste.
5. Drain pasta, tossed to coat all with sauce. Sprinkle parmesan over the top & toss to mix. Serve w/a salad & some crusty bread & you’re good to go!

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The Cheesiest Scalloped Potatoes….EVER

Happy Easter! I hope you had a wonderful day. From a Catholic family, today is a pretty big deal. The end of a 50 day long journey from Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, to Holy Thursday, Good Friday and today. I always feel so humbled and grateful for the sacrifices made so long ago for people who weren’t even born yet. It’s a very emotional holiday. But even if you’re not terribly religious, chances are, you had some sort of get together today, and it probably involved food of varying types and quantities. I actually toned it down this year and went for a more minimalist approach. I bought an amazing ham from HoneyBaked Ham. Of course there were deviled eggs. And I found some gorgeous asparagus to go with it, that I simply steamed and put some butter on after cooking (it’s delish that way, just clean and simple). The final dish, my piece de resistance, was my first attempt at scalloped potatoes. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous, putting a new dish on the table for Easter not having prepared it before. And yes, I did throw out my disclaimer “It’s a new recipe, if it sucks it’s not my fault.”

I have to apologize. I’ve been such a slacker lately with the pictures. Today, it quite literally was gone before I could even think of grabbing my camera! Well, that and the splatters on the top of the pan were pretty brown and yucky looking. Not exactly what I want to share. So here’s what I did. It was very simple and basic, but you could taste the cheese and the potatoes, comfort food supreme.

Cheesiest Scalloped Potatoes

5 lg russet potatoes, peeled & sliced thinly
4-1/2 tbsp. butter
4-1/2 tbsp. flour
3 C 2% milk
1/2 tsp salt
12oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Spray 2-1/2 to 3QT casserole dish with cooking spray, be sure to spray up the sides as well as the bottom. Layer half the potatoes in the bottom of the casserole. Sprinkle a handful of the shredded cheese over the potatoes.

2. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter. Add in salt & flour. Stir with a whisk and let cook for one minute. Pour in milk and continue stirring, until sauce begins to thicken.

3. Add in remaining cheese and stir until completely melted. Pour half over bottom layer of potatoes in casserole dish. Layer remaining potatoes on top, pour the rest of the cheese sauce over the potatoes.

4. Cover and bake for 1-1/2 hrs.

This recipe makes a very cheesey batch of potatoes that will amaze and astound your friends and family. The dish I made this in was quite literally scraped clean before it even hit the sink!

Enjoy!

Oh, in case you couldn’t tell, this is a very unhealthy, high fat, high calorie dish. It’s oh so good, but just don’t eat it thinking you’re doing something healthy!

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Country Style Pork Ribs for Dummies

Do you ever see something in the local grocery sale ad and think ‘Wow! That’s a great deal, but I have no idea what to do with it.’ So, you pass on it, not having it in your wheelhouse. Understandable, I do it regularly. Being in the midwest, we have ribs all around us. St Louis style ribs. Kansas City style ribs. Memphis style ribs. Country style ribs? Hm, not so much. Not unless you know what to do. I wanted to share this b/c one of our local grocery stores has country-style pork ribs for $1.69/lb this week which is a good deal.

Wanna know what to do with country-style ribs? Are you easy? Me too. Well, no, not like that, get your mind out of the gutter. I mean do you like easy to prepare meals? Yep, I thought so, me too! So, if you’re into easy meals, read on!

*NOTE: This is kind of an as-you-go recipe, hence the lack of specific quantities. You can add as many or as few onions, use as much or as little bbq sauce, alter it to your taste.

Easy Country Style Ribs
1 pkg ribs (any size)
1-2 med/large onions
barbecue sauce

1. Place ribs on a broiler pan and place in a preheated oven (300F). Cook 2 hrs, turn ribs, cook another 1-2 hours, depending on the time you have.
2. Slice onions and place in bottom of large slow-cooker. Lay ribs on top of onions. Pour barbecue sauce on ribs. Cook on low for 6 hours or high 4 hours, or until tender.
3. Serve with barbecue sauce on the side.

The leftover ribs make great sandwiches if you chop up the meat.

I’m making these today!

*PS I forgot what happens to bbq sauce when it cooks too long, it burns. Nobody likes burned tasting food. Next time I make them I’ll cook them on low in the slow cooker for about 3 hours first, then pour on barbecue sauce, so they’re good and saucy, but not burned. Enjoy!

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What’s That I Hear? No Complaints? What Did I Do Wrong?

I’m very happy to share with you my friends, last night’s dinner didn’t garner any complaints. It almost makes me feel like I was doing something wrong! Well, that’s not completely true. The steamed broccoli got some whining. Even though we eat it on a regular basis (maybe once a week) and they claim to like it (with the requisite ranch dressing). Ah well, I suppose I can’t win them all, right? As long as my husband was happy, that’s all that matters. If my children had their choice, you know exactly what it would be every night: pizza/hamburgers/macaroni and cheese/hot dogs or some other kind of garbage. It’s not to say we never have those things, but certainly not on a daily basis!

My mom gave me this recipe a few years ago, and I only made it once. I have no idea why I haven’t made it since then, we always have red wine in the house, it’s perfect, I get to drink it AND put it in the food! I think the next time I make it, I”ll cut the water down by about 1/4C, as it turned out a little on the soupy side, but still delicious. If you like it soupy, by all means use the 2 C. One other thing I will tell you, since I’m spilling my guts here, I didn’t use sirloin this time, I used an arm roast. Yes! I know! They were on sale last week at my local grocery and I bought a few. It was a gorgeous roast, as roasts go. I cut it up into small, bite-size cubes and it turned out really well. So don’t be afraid to try a different cut of meat, it just may need a little more cook time if the cut is one that’s not normally terribly tender.

Delish! Beef Burgundy

Delish! Beef Burgundy

BEEF BURGUNDY

2 C water
1 can golden mushroom soup
1/4 to 1/2 lb sliced mushrooms
1-1/2 C burgundy or other dry red wine (I used red zinfandel)
2 lbs boneless top sirloin cut into 1″ pieces
1 pkg uncooked long grain & wild rice mix

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Mmix water, wine, soup & seasoning mix from rice.
3. Put steak/meat and mushrooms into a 5 qt covered casserole dish.
4. Pour soup/wine/water over meat.
5. Bake 30 minutes covered. (you can cook longer if meat is a tougher cut)
6. Add in rice, cover and bake another 60 to 70 minutes, or until rice is tender.
7. Serve with a side & fresh salad.

Yum!

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Tools of Torture AKA Chicken Piccata

Remember I mentioned the short ones in my house and how they like to complain? I thought maybe they’d be getting old enough now to try new things and like them, they’re 9 & 12. Honestly. We took them on a cruise 3 or 4 yrs ago and my daughter was brave enough to try octopus, and claimed to like it. Fast forward to mom’s home cooking, nothing doing!

My husband loves capers. Any time we go to an Italian restaurant, or any restaurant for that matter, he gravitates toward menu options containing artichokes or capers, or both if he’s really lucky. We recently spent a weekend in Eureka Springs, AR and tried a new restaurant which got me thinking about changing things up, as I am wont to do. I decided it was time I try my hand at chicken piccata. It’s not really as intimidating as I’d thought. I suppose it was the capers I was afraid of. So not scary, they’re just little pickled flower buds. Hah. I never knew that. They’ve been around for thousands of years. Interesting.

Here is what mine looked like. Please refrain from licking your monitor. 🙂

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Super Simple Chicken Piccata

3 or 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, flattened to about 1/2″ thickness
1/2 C flour
salt & pepper to taste
2tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp capers drained
1/2 C white wine
1/4 C lemon juice
1/4 C water
3 tbsp butter cubed
hot cooked angel hair pasta

1. Put oil in skillet and heat on med-hi.
2. Dredge chicken breasts in flour, season with salt & pepper and put in skillet. Cook approximately 5 min on each side, or until chicken is browned and is no longer pink inside.
3. Remove chicken to plate & keep warm.
4. Put capers in skillet, slightly smash to release brine & heat through (about 30 seconds).
5. Pour white wine into skillet & deglaze, scraping browned bits from the bottom. Heat to a low boil and allow wine to reduce for approximately 2 minutes, or until wine is reduced to half.
5. Pour in lemon juice and water, bring to a boil again. Add in cubed butter. Stir until sauce thickens.
6. I used angel hair pasta just because the sauce is a lighter sauce. Put chicken on pasta & top with sauce. Be sure to eat the capers too!

Husband and I were quite pleased with the resulting meal. It was delicious and different from my normal repertoire. My kids, who will eat a jar of pickles or pickled okra faster than any human should (they’d even drink the pickle juice if I let them) refused the capers. Flat out. And they didn’t care much for the sauce either. My son refused to eat the pasta and my daughter developed a sudden belly ache. We thought it was a perfectly lovely meal, they missed the boat. Some day they’ll appreciate my kitchen experimentation!

Enjoy!

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