Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sweet Chili Chicken Quesadillas

Yes, I'm still alive! I took a bit of a blogging hiatus since John commandeered my computer to study for some certification tests. He's done with them for a little while, so I finally have my beloved MacBook Air back! The good news is that I had still been cooking and taking tons of pictures, so you have many posts coming your way! 

I thought I'd start back with one that John called one of my "top three meals ever made". (He didn't list the top two, just said that this one was way towards the top.) And good news - it's pretty easy to make! It's also a great way to use some pre-cooked chicken that's leftover from a previous meal. The recipe came from Closet Cooking

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Avocado Sashimi

This delicious and super simple recipe was first discovered by my mom. She made it for herself and was raving about how fantastic it was, and as soon as I heard what the ingredients were, I was in! Avocado, lemon, a special spice, soy sauce, and wasabi. Winner! This is also a great way for my vegetarian friends to enjoy a sushi alternative.

I usually try to make recipes with ingredients that I usually buy or are easy to find, but this was one exception, as I specifically bought two ingredients (a spice and a fancy soy sauce) just for it. The original recipe came from La Fuji Mama

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Herb Crusted Pork Chops

John recently requested that I try a new recipe with pork. I thought pork chops would be fun, so I did some searching and came across this recipe on Eat Yourself Skinny. It sounded simple and yummy. Great news - it was!

Salmon Cubes with Tomatoes and Rice

I found this dish on All Recipes, and it was super easy to make. And even better: super yummy! It's a great way to prepare fish if (like John) you aren't super into plain fish.

The fresh salmon fillets the store had were really big, and I don't like to save fish leftovers, so I almost bought just one. I'm so glad I upped it to two - we both enjoyed two plates of this and ate until it was gone!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

I got this recipe from All Recipes. It's a nice, simple method that can be modified for whatever sort of spices you want to use. I'm sure it's no surprise that I made them spicy! This is a healthy snack that satisfies that crunchy, salty craving I usually have in the evenings. Much better for you than a bag of potato chips, and easier than baked kale!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Creamy Baked Chicken and Broccoli

I very rarely make meals with cream (especially since I'm slightly lactose intolerant), but for some reason, this recipe spoke to me. And I'm glad I gave it a try! We both enjoyed it. 

The original recipe (from Cinnamon, Spice, and Everything Nice) called for curry, but I forgot to buy some at the store, so I improvised. Instead, I used the Bankok Blend that I had picked up from a Penzeys Spice store a while back. I need to use it more often!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Spicy Sliced Potatoes

As a part of my continuing my quest to use up everything that has been lingering in the back of my pantry and freezer, I came across a can of sliced new potatoes. I had bought them specifically for some recipe months ago, but never made it, and eventually forgot what that recipe even was. So, I decided to make up my own recipe to use them.

Well, I need to pat myself on the back, because these turned out great! And very easy to make without much hands-on work at all.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pancakes from Scratch, and How to Freeze Extras For Later

As I've been reducing the amount of stuff cluttering my pantry, one of the things that I didn't replace after finishing was the box of pancake mix. Because, guess what? I've found out you can make them completely from scratch almost as easily with stuff that I already keep stocked. This recipe was adapted from Charles' Pancakes from Scratch at

When I make pancakes, I like to make a lot more than we'll eat for one breakfast, so I can freeze the extras to reheat on hurried weekday mornings. Tips on how to freeze and reheat pancakes are included in this post. 

This morning, John had a craving for chocolate chips, so I added those to his for the same-day breakfast. However, I plan to eat the extras myself and like them plain, so most were chocolate-free.

Taco Corn Bread Casserole

Ok, here we go. Our favorite dish I've made so far. John and I both LOVED it the first time around for dinner, but found that the leftovers for lunch the next day were EVEN BETTER. This is definitely going into heavy rotation. 

I found this recipe on Elizabeth's Dutch Oven. I used the super spicy En Fuego salsa that we recently bought at a local St. Patrick's Day Festival from Cape Fear Salsa. I think that might have been part of the magic, so I'm going to need to buy some more of that stuff!

Baked Parmesan Perch and Roasted Carrots

The other day, I found a single Perch fillet in the back our freezer, and wanted to use it up. It was kind of a bummer, because John and I had to share this lovely creation. (Don't worry, we had plenty of other leftovers in the fridge to fill our bellies.) The perch recipe came from All Recipes. I had originally planned to make these Honey Balsamic Carrots from Budget Bytes, but I was multi-tasking and accidentally let the balsamic vinegar burn. Whoops! No worry, though. The carrots were delish, even without any extra sauce.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cayenne Sausage and Pepper Penne

This was a meal that really had John going crazy. It is very spicy, and he couldn't stop raving about how much he loved it. If your family isn't quite as into the burn, you'll want to cut back on the cayenne. But if you're brave, go for it!  The recipe inspiration came from Our McWonderful World, via Tasty Kitchen.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Strawberry Banana Oatmeal Bake

Today's recipe from Inspired Taste, and is another one that my sister Jillian discovered. She made it a couple weeks ago and enjoyed it, but thought that it didn't have quite enough of the fruit. I took this to heart and doubled what the original recipe recommended. Great move! I was also out of walnuts, so I used almonds instead. And I'm not a big chocolate fan (I know! The travesty!), so I left out the chocolate chips. 

This turned out to be a lovely "big breakfast" item with plenty of delicious leftovers!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Black Bean Burgers and Spicy Sweet Potato Sticks

I had a hard time photographing this meal to look appetizing, and for that I am truly sorry. Because these burgers are SO. SO. GOOD. If you've never tried black bean burgers, this is the recipe to start with. I've tried others that are kind of blah or too mushy. But these! They're super flavorful, and actually hold together really well. You won't miss the beef at all, I swear! John is completely on-board with these too.

The Spicy Sweet Potato Sticks look a lot like french fries, but they have their own unique flavor, and aren't nearly as crunchy as they look. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE a crispy fry, but these are so delightful that I loved them even though they are a little soft. Kind of reminds me of mashed potatoes, disguised as fries.

Both the burgers and potatoes recipes came from the incomparable Budget Bytes.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Thai Chicken Pizza

I'm so happy that I recently decided to start making pizzas at home from scratch. It's just so satisfying to start from nothing and end up with this delicious creation. So far, I've only used the same simple crust recipe (this is my fourth pizza using it), but mixed up the toppings. This time, I went Thai! This recipe inspiration came from Closet Cooking.

Black Bean Quesadillas

Oh, Budget Bytes, what would I do without you? This was another ingenious recipe idea from my favorite inspiration source. If you can spot a theme with my blog here, it's that I love to make things that I can freeze for a quicker meal in the future. I can't believe I never thought to do this with quesadillas! These tasted amazing, and I've got 6 more in my freezer waiting for hunger to strike at the same time laziness ensues. This is also a great way to use the black beans that I cooked in my slow cooker.

I made my quesadillas this time with chicken, but that's only because I had some extra to use up from a previous recipe. This could just as easily be made vegetarian by leaving that out. (In fact, I made a couple without the chicken too, and you didn't miss it at all!)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Dry Black Beans in a Slow Cooker

This is another super useful (and easy!) method that I learned from Budget Bytes

There is something super satisfying about buying a bag of plain old dry beans, and turning them into a useful ingredient to keep stocked in your freezer or fridge. You can save a lot of money (she calculated that cooked beans from dry are about half the cost of canned), but I think the real savings comes in the fact that you can freeze in containers for whatever size you will need for a future meal. So, if you have a small family that won't use an entire can, you won't find yourself wasting (or overeating to finish it up) just because the cans are always one standard size.

Balsamic Chicken in a Slow Cooker

This is one of the first recipes I made when I started this blog last November. However, that was before I was taking the time to post photos and full descriptions. I went back to make it again and discovered that the original website that I got it from no longer exists! So, here's a full post with the ingredients I use and steps for how I make it. It's a really good, healthy meal that's super easy and uses stuff I always have on hand. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Baked Beans in a Slow Cooker

This is a recipe that I just made on a whim one day after seeing it on Budget Bytes, because it seemed easy and cheap. To my surprise, it became one of our favorites, with John requesting that I always keep our freezer stocked with these beans! He loves them so much that he sometimes just eats them as a snack. And happily enough, they are plenty easy to make in big batches.

Frozen Yogurt Cubes for Smoothies

After noticing that some yogurt in my fridge was nearing its expiration date, I had the bright idea to try to freeze it. It turned out to be a perfect way to spare it from the trash, as well as provide an easy addition to morning smoothies.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Overnight Blueberry French Toast

I saw this recipe floating around Pinterest quite a bit, and thought it sounded like a great weekend treat. I love making big breakfasts Saturday and Sunday mornings, and if I can do most of the work the night before, all the better

This was easy to make, and tasted pretty great! If you are a big fan of sweets, you will especially love the fruity syrup. It's also a great way to use up the heels of bread. The original recipe came from Chef in Training

Monday, February 20, 2012

Fruit & Nut Snack Bites

Ever since I first made these snack bites a few months ago, they have been a complete staple in this house. They're great for a quick breakfast if you're running late for work, a mid-afternoon snack, or even an appetizer when dinner is taking longer than expected. I have made many batches, and keep them in the freezer so they're always on hand. They're great both frozen and room temperature.

I did a previous quick post about these, but it was under the somewhat misleading title of "No-Sugar Cereal Bars". While it's true that I don't add any sugar, they aren't completely sugar-free, since it is in both the peanut butter and fruit. So here is a brand new post, with a better title and lots of pictures! The idea for the original recipe came from Snack Girl

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Vegetable Lasagna Rolls with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

This recipe came from a new source, Mother Thyme. I originally came across it on the Tasty Kitchen recipe community.  It had a very unique flavor, I think due to the red pepper sauce. It's quite a switch to have a lasagna with no tomatoes involved! It is also nice to have another delicious use of the superfood kale. 

This is certainly not a quick meal to prepare, but it is nice for the rare occasion when you have a little extra time and want to try something different.

Garlic Egg Chicken

This is a pretty simple recipe that includes ingredients I almost always have on hand. Nothing spectacular, but something good to turn to when you haven't been grocery shopping in a while. Note that this requires a few hours of marinating for best flavor. The original recipe came from All Recipes

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Jerky Chicken

Last night's dinner idea came from a file of favorite recipes my father-in-law sent to us. Every meal we've ever had at his house is fantastic, so I'm excited to try them out. Some are family specialties and originals, but others are just meals he's liked from other sources. This first recipe I made is called A Jerky Chicken, and originally came from All Recipes. It is a HOT and spicy Jamaican-style dish.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Garlic and Thyme Quinoa Patties

Today's recipe came from a new food blog I recently came across: Cook Republic. I have only recently discovered quinoa, and am happy to find another way to incorporate it into a dish. This really would be better as a party appetizer or side dish, but I used it as a full meal this time. 

We liked these patties a lot, but next time I am going to make some sort of dipping sauce to go along with them. More on that later...

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Banana Bread Oatmeal

I first made and blogged about this delightful recipe a few weeks ago. However, the only photo I took was a terrible one with  my phone, so I decided to revisit it for the blog when I made it again this weekend. This recipe originally came from Budget Bytes

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Spaghetti Squash

This was a recipe idea I got from my cousin Heidi's blog, Heidi is a vegan, and this would have been a great vegan dish, if I hadn't added parmesan cheese on top. Oops! My weakness! This still made a great vegetarian dish and would be a perfect "Meatless Monday" choice.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chicken Diablo

I found this gem of a recipe at Bev Cooks. As I'm sure is obvious by the name of the dish and the look of the sauce, this was a spicy little thing. Of course, that's what made us love it! This is one of those dishes where you need to marinate the meat ahead of time to get the full flavor, and man, am I glad I did!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kung Pao Chicken

Yesterday was the Lunar New Year, so I thought it would be fun to "celebrate" with some Chinese food: Kung Pao Chicken. This dish is far from authentic (I used a sauce from Buffalo Wild Wings, for goodness sakes!), but John and I both loved it. The recipe came from Budget Bytes.

Monday, January 23, 2012

BBQ Chicken Pizza from Scratch

When I make pizza at home, I usually just take the shortcut of pre-made crusts. This weekend, I decided to finally try my hand at making a pizza entirely from scratch. I used the recipe from The Pioneer Woman for California Pizza Kitchen's BBQ Chicken Pizza.  Oh, buddy. It was a good one.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Crash Hot Potatoes

The other day, my sister Jillian was raving to me about the Crash Hot Potatoes she made for her family. She found the recipe on The Pioneer Woman, a recipe originally from Jill Dupleix. I had some some potatoes that needed to be used up, so I thought this would be great as a side dish this weekend. 

They look kind of burnt here, but I swear they weren't at all!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Freezing Omelette Ingredients

I feel like omelettes are one of the healthiest "big breakfast" items to make. (As long as you don't go too heavy on the cheese. We also use just egg whites, to cut down on the cholesterol.) 

The problem is that dicing all those veggies can kind of be a pain. This morning, as I was making omelettes, I decided to chop some extras and freeze them for later. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pesto Chicken Pizza

I love pizza, but am not a huge fan of tomato sauce. My favorite homemade pizza for the last year or two has been my avocado pizza. I decided to try something a little different this weekend and make the Chicken Pesto Pizza recipe I found at Annie's Eats.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Cheesy Garlic Bread for the Freezer

I often find myself buying those boxes of frozen garlic bread, to just bake quickly when making a pasta dish. The other day, I realized that these would be a cinch to make myself (and probably a lot healthier).

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Southwest Chili Mac in a Skillet

This meal was inspired by a recipe I found on Pinterest a few weeks ago, originating from


I did not do a very good job with pictures of this one - not really any in-process shots.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Black Bean Burgers with Corn Relish and Creamy Avocado Sauce

This recipe came from Elizabeth's Dutch Oven, a food blog by a friend of mine from high school. We have very similar tastes - she makes a lot of mexican-inspired dishes, which obviously John and I like too!  This is one of the first ones I've actually recreated myself. There are many more of her recipes on my "to-do" list!

These black bean burgers weren't my favorite that I've made (that goes to the ones I made from Budget Bytes), but part of that may have been that I left out the chipotle in adobo sauce. John isn't a fan of their smoky flavor.  However, the corn relish and creamy avocado sauce were fantastic! The only change I made was to roast my corn (directly on a cob) in the oven, rather than getting it from a can. Oh my, roasted corn is heavenly!

Applesauce in a Rice Cooker

Today, I made another batch of one of John's favorites: applesauce! He loves to eat it as a post-run recovery snack between his hour drive home from work and when dinner is ready.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pasta alla Vodka

Today's recipe came from Annie's Eats. This is the first time I've tried a recipe from her site, and it certainly won't be the last! She's got lots of fun stuff there.

I've cooked with wine plenty of times before, but this is my first time venturing into the liquor cabinet for vodka! I think it gave the pasta a nice extra bite (although John says he didn't really taste any difference).

I gave this meal a 4 star rating, but John said he would only give it a 2½ or 3. Too bad for him, I'm the one writing this blog! :)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Freezer Burritos

You know those cheapo-reapo frozen burritos that you can buy at the grocery store and then just nuke in the microwave for a quick snack? I used to love those things. I ate a lot of them in high school and college, even though they are terrible for you and half the time made me feel gross. But they're so easy!   

Enter: Homemade Freezer Burritos, a brilliant idea from Budget Bytes!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Shredded Mexican Beef

When I was grocery shopping this weekend, I had a craving for some red meat. I remembered recently coming across a recipe for shredded taco beef on my favorite food blog (Budget Bytes), so I went ahead and picked up a roast so I could try it out. 

Spicy Baked Kale Chips

Last night, John and I spent the evening playing some rousing games of cards. (Our current favorites: UNO and Kings on the Corner, a really fun, solitare-like game for 2-4 people that his grandma taught me over Christmas.)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Stuffed Peppers, Carrots, and Potatoes

I made this meal without really using any recipe. Go me! It included stuffed peppers with ground beef and rice, steamed carrots, and blue cheese potatoes.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese

Recipe from Closet Cooking

I made these a few days ago, but I forgot to post about it. I made it again tonight (need to use up the blue cheese - still have a bit more to go!), and it was still a bit hit. John couldn't stop raving about it.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Chicken Noodle Soup

Since the winter season is upon us, I decided to use the rest of the chicken from my whole chicken in a crockpot along with my homemade chicken stock to make chicken noodle soup. It is still too warm here in North Carolina to really need soup to warm you up, but I like to have it on hand in case either of us get sick.

Freezing Cilantro

One thing that I'm working on for 2012 is to eliminate food waste. With only two of us in the house, it is not uncommon for us to not be able to finish something before it spoils. (Despite the fact that I work from home and cook and eat almost every single meal right in this house!)

Spinach Lasagna Roll-ups

Recipe from Budget Bytes
I had high hopes for this one, but it turned out pretty bland. I had some cottage cheese on hand to use up, so I used it instead of ricotta. I'd always heard it was a decent substitute, but I have a feeling it contributed to the "meh" factor. I also used the cheapo-reapo Kraft parmesan cheese in the cylindar. Some fancy Parmigiano-Reggiano would have also made a huge difference.  And some more spices! I can't believe I made something with tomato sauce and didn't sprinkle in any red pepper flakes. 

Sriracha Chicken Strips

Recipe from Budget Bytes
As soon as John saw this recipe over my shoulder as I was browsing the Budget Bytes website, he went crazy for it. He's basically a sriracha-holic...puts it on almost every meal I make. So obviously, he got excited when he saw that these would be marinated in a bath of the good stuff!