Monday, February 23, 2009

Cheesy Tater's Shepherds Pie

The hubby is not so much of a cheese fan which is crazy to me since he IS a Cache Valley boy . . . but I try to remember this when I cook and his servings are usually lightly sprinkled . . . other words I know that all the cheese is going to end up on my plate! My guy helps me finish off things in the kitchen and it is always apparent when he has been helping . . . less cheese . . . Growing up my mom made shepherds pie and would always sprinkle cheese on the top and melt it . . . knowing that it's not my handsome man's fave I decided to load the cheese into the potatoes and avoid the oily (and for me unappealing) mess that melted cheese can make.I know that shepherds pie is easy as can be but I just loved how this one turned out so much that I had to share! I love how nicely browned the potatoes become and the way that they add a little crunch and texture to the top! (And look how nice it looks when you pipe it out . . . easy breezy!) This is a fav of mine as far as comfort food goes! El-yum-o!Shepherds Pie
Recipe by: Emily

1 1/2 lbs Ground Beef
1 Onion, chopped
2-3 Carrots peeled and chopped
1 1/4 cup frozen Peas
1 14 oz can diced Tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1/2-1 cup Beef Broth
2 cloves minced Garlic

Potato Topping

5-6 Russet Potatoes, peeled and cubed
1-2 Tbsp Butter
1/2-1 cup Shredded Cheese (whatever kind you want to use and however much you like!)
2 Tbsp cream cheese (optional)
Chives, chopped (optional)

1. Cook the ground beef until no longer pink. Add the carrots, onions, and garlic and saute until they begin to soften. Season with salt, pepper, and favorite herbs (I like thyme and little rosemary or basil . . . definately a mood choice ) Add beef broth, tomato paste, tomatoes and peas. Simmer 4-5 minutes and then pour into a casserole dish.
2. Cook the potatoes in simmering water until tender but a little firm. Drain and mash . Add butter, salt, cheese, cream cheese and chives. Spoon potatoes into a large piping bag and pipe mixture over beef and potato base in the casserole dish.
3. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until the top is browned and the stew is bubbly around the edges! Enjoy!

Okay this recipe seriously changes every time that I make it . . . I just utilize whatever meat (be it elk, beef, whatever) and veggies that I have . . . and it turns out great every time! Leeks or fennel are also a great veggie choice!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Curry Chicken Salad Croissants

Oh mensch has this past week been busy, busy! My cute hubby surprised me with a a stay at an Inn for Valentines day plus we celebrated my dad's big 55th birthday and were able to spend some time with my in-laws, sister in law and nieces! It was fun but now I am facing a mountain of work to do at home and school . . . play time is over again! But we had a great weekend so . . . that's okay!
This recipe is easy breezy and just awesome! I love chicken salad on croissants, we seem to make chicken salad for parties, baby/bridal showers, etc. This one is a little pepped up with the addition of curry! I know that my mom would love this! I love the crunch that the celery, green onions, grapes and toasted pecans give to it! I also love adding pineapple slices to top it off or romaine lettuce plus the use of rotisserie chicken is a great time saver!
Curry Chicken Salad
Recipe by: Emily

2-3 lb Rotisserie Chicken
3/4-1 cup Mayonnaise
1/2 cup diced Celery
2 Green Onions, Diced
1/2-3/4 cup Seedless Red Grapes, sliced in half
1/2 cup Toasted Pecans, chopped
1-1 1/2 tsp Curry Powder
1. Remove the meat from the rotisseries chicken and break into bite sized pieces. Add mayo, celery, green onion, pecans, curry powder, grapes, salt, and pepper. Taste and add additional seasonings to taste. Chill until ready to serve.
I like to serve this salad on croissants topped with pineapple slices or romaine lettuce. Enjoy!

You can also add pineapple tidbits to the salad if desired.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Thai Chicken Pizza with Basmati Rice Crust

Forecast for today: MORE SNOW! Okay . . . I am ready for spring! Nothing like driving through blowing snow and muddy slush! Mmmm! My favorite! At least I only have 1 class today . . . but we are heading north into more snow tomorrow so I have a mountain of homework sitting here waiting for me to get done and sent off before we leave! It's crunch time . . . but I am taking just a minute to blog because I have been slacking the last few weeks . . .

Anywho yesterday I ventured out a bit into the world of creativity and made a Thai chicken pizza using basmati rice for the crust and . . . it was awesome! I love Basmati rice! It has a great flavor and aroma! I think it adds even more to an Asian inspired dish but honestly any rice can be used! My hubby gave it two thumbs up and lucky him he gets it for lunch again today! (He is no leftover lover . . . poor guy!) But we are cleaning out the fridge since we have a packed week ahead of us . . . so leftovers will be gracing our dinner table until we head out! I hope everyone has a wonderful valentines day and gets to indulge a bit into the sweet releases of chocolate!

Thai Chicken Pizza with Basmati Rice Crust
Recipe by: Emily

1 2-3 lb Rotisserie Chicken
1/2 cup Peanut Butter (I use natural)
3 Tbsp Spicy Sweet Chili Sauce (I used Maggi)
1 Can Coconut Milk
1 small Onion, sliced thin
4 cups cooked Basmati Rice
4 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
2 Eggs
Cilantro, chopped
1-2 Limes, sliced into wedges
3 green Onions, diced
1/3 cup Peanuts, chopped
1 Tsp Olive Oil

1. Remove the meat from the rotisserie chicken, shred and set aside.
2. Cook the sliced onion in 1 tsp olive oil over medium heat until it begins to caramelize. Add the peanut butter, sweet chili sauce and coconut milk and lower heat to medium low. Allow to cook for about 4-5 minutes add chicken, cook for about 2 more minutes and then remove from heat.
3. To make the crust combine 4 cups of rice, 2 cups of mozzarella cheese and 2 eggs. Divide mixture in half and press into two 9 inch greased pans or make a larger pizza in a pizza pan. Make sure that the edge of the rice is higher making a crust.
4. Pour the chicken mixture over the rice leaving the crust clean. Spread evenly and then bake in a 375 degree preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle remaining cheese over the top.
5. Return to oven and bake for 5-7 more minutes. Sprinkle top with chopped cilantro, peanuts and green onion. Serve with a wedge of lime. Enjoy!

*Anytime you use lite coconut milk your sauce will be thinner, so you may need to reduce it more if you want a thicker sauce.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Cowboy Caviar

Is anyone else just dead tired by the time the weekend rolls around? I stayed up until way to late/early last night putting together valentines and goodies for my primary class so that we could make valentines to send to the missionaries in our ward. Night is just when I get things done. My poor roommates in college would find me scrubbing floors and cleaning bathrooms especially when it was crunch time in school . . . not much has changed . . . except for the fact that I have superman as a husband who knows how to do laundry like it is no ones business, is always helping out in the kitchen and who when dusting tackles the places that I don't get to quite as often as I should. (ignore that last part mom!)
Anywho today was a little piece of heaven because we just hung out, watched a great movie and dozed on and off! A complete opposite for what tomorrow holds, but hey I will take a little R&R when I can get it! Speaking of a little piece of heaven . . . cowboy caviar as we so call it in my fam is something that tastes like it came straight from heaven! My mom always makes a huge batch when she makes it and it always results in at least 5-7 women circled around it eating in a total frenzy (ladies you know this to be true . . . we love munching!) So if you have never tried it (I know their are a million variations) you totally must! It is a delight!
Cowboy Caviar

1 14 oz can Petite diced Tomatoes, with juice
1 can Black Beans, or Black Eyed Peas, drained
1 bag Frozen Sweet Corn
1/2 Bottle Zesty Italian Dressing
3 Avocados, diced
3-4 Green Onions, diced
1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 Lime

1. Drain the beans and mix with the tomatoes, corn, garlic powder, cilantro and Italian dressing. Refrigerate until serving. Add avocados in just before serving. I like to squeeze fresh lime juice over it right before serving too!
This is awesome with tortilla chips but also great on salads or tacos too!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Decadent Chocolate Sauce (and its easy to make!)

Oh joy . . . Valentines day is almost here again! Valentines day for me represents the one day each year when all I want to do is overload on chocolate. I can make it through Halloween and Christmas nashing on stuff here and their, but Valentines Day demands a chocolate coating . . . so I guess I started a little early this year. Sometimes a girl just needs it! Like today while I was out and about running errands. My lil' SUV just pulled into one of my favorite bookstores . . . and I left with a John Grisham (I have read EVERYONE of his books . . . my mom got me hooked long ago . . .) and a book by one of the greatest authors ever: Shannon Hale. Everything that she writes is awesome! If you don't know who she is check her out. Her books are kind of aimed at young adults or teens but all the same everyone that I know loves her!
My mom and sisters and I are total bookworms and are the ones who line up in the wee hours of morning to pick up our pre-ordered copies or who stay up all night racing to see who can finish first! (Can we say Harry Potter and Twilight addicts . . . yep!) Reading is my reward for getting homework done too! (Yes sometimes I totally cheat) But I left my Mutti's last with a pile to read including some of my new favs! Gideon Biddle, The Secret Journal of Brett Colton, Goose Girl, Crispin, and more! I have to admit . . . I do prefer reading to eating chocolate. (Okay that was a one time confession!) Hey but this chocolate sauce is super easy and is SUPER d-lish! Decadent Chocolate Sauce
Recipe by: Emily
3/4 cup Chocolate chips, Real or Semi-sweet
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup Sugar
2/3 cup Evaporated milk
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium low and continue cooking for about 7-8 minutes stirring to prevent burning. Serve over ice cream, cake, brownies, whatever! Enjoy