Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cafe Rio Chicken over Cheesy Rice (Slow cooker)

OK! I know I haven't gotten a chance to post the Beef Chimichangas yet but tonight's dinner was SO delicious that I had to post it first. I was a little unsure of how I felt about the smell coming from my slow cooker but it turned out great! Even my husband made a point to say it was good. So, without further delay, here are two great recipes to add to your collection.

Cafe Rio Chicken
From Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms

2 lbs. chicken breast
1/2 of a small bottle of zesty Italian dressing
1/2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 pkt (2 Tbsp.) ranch dressing mix
1/2 c. water
1/2 Tbsp. chili powder
1/2 Tbsp. ground cumin

Place all ingredients in slow cooker. Cook on High 5-6 hrs OR on Low 8 hrs. Shred chicken using two forks and serve. Has multiple uses including in salads, tacos, wraps, or served over rice. Cheesy Rice below worked well.

Note: The original recipe suggested make a double or triple batch and freezing for a quick, thaw and serve meal. I did this since I had a jumbo pack of chicken breasts that needed to be used and I'm glad I did. It probably would have made plenty for a meal with a single batch, but now I have some on hand!

**For some reason the blog platform is not letting me comment on my posts so.... in answer to the comment, the recipe above is a single batch. My grocery store sells 3+ lb. packs for a discount (usually 4 - 4.5 lb) and I just used a whole pack to double the recipe. Hope that helps!**

Cheesy Cheddar Rice

2 Tbsp. butter
1.5 c. medium rice, uncooked, not instant
1 small can chicken broth + enough water to make 1.5 cups
about 1 c. shredded cheddar
Salt & Pepper to Taste
about 1/2 c milk

Melt butter in a saucepan that has a lid. Add rice and toast for a minute or two, tossing in butter to coat. Add chicken broth and water. Allow to come to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook about 15 to 20 min until water is absorbed. Add salt and pepper and cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Add milk a few splashes at a time until your desired creaminess.

**Sharing on Melt in Your Mouth Monday & Menu Mondays**

Oatmeal & Smoothies: A Quick Meal for a Hot Night

This one is a simple quick one folks, but fairly nutritious, or so I tell myself, and little cooking needed for a HOT HOT night.

I spend a lot of money on the fruits on sale at the grocery store and at the local market. I was blessed to have a son who, usually, loves most veggies and loves his fruit even more. So, I buy a wide array each week and let him pick what he'd like to eat throughout the rest of the week. This, of course, leads to lots left over which is fine with me since I then freeze them and use them for several different uses later. My favorite use, SMOOTHIES!

I'm referring to this recipe as a hodge podge smoothie because you can literally put in whatever you want. From fresh or frozen fruits to fresh or frozen veggies. Accompanied by anything from fruit juice (of any flavor) to milk to yogurt to frozen yogurt to ice cream. Almost anything goes!!! Great right! The only thing I would say, if you have no frozen fruit I'd try to add ice cream or frozen yogurt for that cold creamy factor. At the very least, throw in some ice cubes! I'll give you approximately what I put in this one but, seriously, the sky is the limit! Have fun with this one!

Hodge Podge Smoothies

I mixed this all in my tall Magic Bullet cup with the cross blade attachment but any blender would work fine. It's just a convenient size so I don't make too much.

Asst. Frozen fruit filled to top of cup (roughly 2 cups worth)
              Watermelon Chunks, Cantaloupe Chunks, and Mixed Berries including strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries
1/2 a fresh banana (sliced) - leftover from oatmeal to follow
Orange Carrot Juice (about 1/2 the bullet cup - approximately 3/4-1 cup)
A few splashes milk (for added creaminess and to thin out to a drinkable consistency)

Once you have all this in the cup or blender, just blend until everything is smooth.

I know I didn't use any veggies in this one but I have before and I promise you, it's delicious!! Try carrots or spinach or avocado is delicious and adds creaminess. You can also add things like almonds or nuts for protein and energy or seed such as flax seeds. I also found out that some fresh pieces of peeled ginger are delicious blended into the mix! SO good and GOOD FOR YOU!

Cinnamon Banana Honey Oatmeal

This is another simple one! I used instant (the 5 min or 10 min cooking stuff in the canister) but I'm sure you could do it with the regular oatmeal too.

Measure out the ingredients for the portion you'd like as directed on the back of the canister using the milk version. Now, here's the trick for extra special oatmeal. When bringing the milk to a boil, add a good sprinkle of cinnamon. Follow directions as usual. When finished, I always cook mine a little longer than directed to dry it out a little and then I add extra fresh milk once it is in the bowl (just as you would any other cereal). I think it tends to make it a little creamier. Slice banana 1/2 to 1 banana and drizzle with a healthy amount of honey. I used a local honey from a neighbor bee keeper. This is such an easy and YUMMY meal!


Making a Comeback With Homemade Pizza!

I would like to start by saying that I, once again, apologize for my long absence. This time, there really was a good reason which I will not get into other than to say that I've had a lot going on in my life both physically and emotionally. Thank you to those who bear with me through these long periods of no posting. I hope to be able to stick with it a little more. That being said, let's get down to the good stuff, THE FOOD!!

Of course, I would be the crazy one who would decide to get my life back into order and start menu planning, cooking, and blogging during the HOTTEST week of the year. What was I thinking? But, I did it! More or less anyway! I may not have accomplished the menu on the nights I planned, but I got them all cooked except for one (which I still cooked on that night, just an impromptu meal instead of the planned one). So, what did I cook this week? Here's a quick list of this weeks cooking. Yes, I realize it isn't 7 recipes but we also ate out a little and had a picnic to go to. (I never said I was perfect... lol)

White Chicken Bacon Spinach Pizza on a Homemade Herbed (Pan-style) Crust
Cinnamon Banana Honey Oatmeal & Hodge Podge Smoothie (posts to follow)
Beef Chimichangas (post to follow)

I started Monday out with a White Chicken Pizza recipe that I found at We've been eating a lot of frozen pizzas in this house this summer and I also am familiar with making pizza dough since we make it in huge batches at work and I've also made it from scratch at home so I felt this was a great way to jump back into my routine of cooking. My husband was also home, so we had the pleasure of getting into the kitchen together. The pizza turned out OK. My husband decided to add bacon to it (because everything is better with bacon) and a friend suggested adding feta. The crust, however, was one of the best I've made at home. Very nice and fluffy and thick and just like the pizzas I like to get when I eat out. I doubled the pizza dough recipe. When it was finished mixing, I divided it in half, and froze one half (wrapped tightly in plastic wrap) for a future use. I then continued with the recipe to make Monday night's pizza. Hope you all enjoy and I see you back here a little more often.

White Chicken Bacon Spinach Pizza
Adapted from

*2 sm. Chicken Breast, chopped small
*2 Shallots, chopped
*5 cloves Garlic, minced
*2 Tbsp. olive oil
*1 large bunch basil, chopped
*1 large handful fresh spinach, chopped
*6-8 oz. shredded pizza cheese (I used a 4 cheese Italian blend)
*1 ball homemade pizza dough (or store bought) (recipe I used follows)

 1. Saute the chicken, shallots, and garlic seasoned with salt and pepper until cooked through. While this is cooking, parbake your crust for about 7-10 min. at 425F.
2. Remove crust from oven and chicken from heat. Brush crust liberally with olive oil. Spread the chicken mixture on the crust and then top with basil first and then the spinach and finally with the cheese.
3. Put back in the oven for another 7-10 min or until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown around the edges.
4. Remove from oven and let rest a minute or two for the cheese to set.

Homemade Herbed Pizza Crust (pan style)
This yields ONE pizza. If you'd like to freeze some, you must double the recipe!
Adapted from

1 c. lukewarm water (slightly warmer than your body temperature)
1 pkg. dry active yeast
1 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
2.5 cups all purpose flour
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. basil (dried)
1/2 tsp. onion powder

1. Mix water, yeast and sugar. Let rest for 10-15 min until the yeast reactivates and starts to bubble.
2. Add oil, salt, garlic, basil and onion powder. (I mixed these ingredients in a separate bowl while the yeast was setting).
3. Add flour and knead for about 10 min to develop the gluten. (I did this all in my stand mixer and used the dough hook.)
4. Let dough rest 10 min and start preheating oven to 425F if you haven't already.
5. Now, roll out (or stretch your dough) to the size of your pan. I stretched it, pizzeria style on my hands, to about the size I needed and then used my fingers to stretch it the rest of the way once in the pan.
6. Poke the dough in several places (docking) the dough so it doesn't bubble too much at spots while baking. Brush with oil.
7. Bake at 425F for 7-10 min to parbake. Then add topping of your choice and bake another 7-10 min or until your cheese is bubbly and edges are golden.