January 31, 2013

PW's Zannie's Black-Eyed Pea Dip

I know, I know, this is usually a New Years Eve dip but I obviously didn't make it in time to post for that occasion.  It is a Pioneer Woman dip so you know it's good.  I have made it twice since the New Year and I think it might be a great addition to your game day table if you're looking for a vegetarian option, or a healthier option.  It's certainly not health food, don't get me wrong but if it's lined up next to some of the other typical game day food choices it might be considered healthy-er.

I love how some of the black-eyed peas are left whole so you know what you're eating, and the texture is right on for me. You can make it as spicy or mild as you want.

I think this is a great dip for anytime!

Zannie's Black-Eyed Pea Dip
Recipe from The Pioneer Woman

  • 1 can (14 oz) black eyed peas
  • 1/4 whole onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 8 slices jarred jalapenos
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3 Tbsp salsa
  • hot sauce to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Drain the black eyed peas of their liquid and then mash most with a fork, but leave some whole.
  3. Add all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl and mix well.
  4. Spread the mixture into a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish and bake for 20-30 minutes until hot and bubbly.

January 30, 2013

Chicken Stew with Biscuits

This week is a strange one around here, weather wise.  I'm honestly so confused I don't know whether to break out the margarita's or stick to comfort food mode.  Since it's January I think I'll just stick to comfort food for a little while longer.

This meal was a nice little retreat from my recent attempts at eating healthy.  I had seconds, I'm not gonna lie.

This was part of the recent dinner club that I hosted at my house. I'll be posting about that soon but I thought you might want to give this a try this weekend, maybe for game day?

The base of this dish is basically a chicken pot pie without the top crust, biscuits are used instead. 

I think that sometimes people don't make a chicken pot pie because of that top crust and they might think it's a bit to complicated.  This simple biscuit recipe is easy and came together very quickly for me. I have to be honest here, I'm not the best biscuit maker in the world and yet these turned out just perfectly. 

The stew was very flavorful and creamy.  The parsley gives a pop of color in both the stew and the biscuits. My carrots were a little too crunchy for my liking so next time I make this I will parboil them for a little longer, or cut them smaller. I also used boneless skinless chicken breasts but cooked them exactly like the instructions below and they turned out just fine. 

Chicken Stew with Biscuits
Recipe from Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa)

  • 3 whole (6 split) Chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 2 chicken bouillon
  • 12 Tbsp ( 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (about 2 onions)
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups (4 carrots) medium-diced carrots, blanched for 2 minutes.
  • 10oz package frozen peas, about 2 cups
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen pearl onions
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 3/4 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 egg mixed with 1 Tbsp water for egg wash.
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Salt and pepper the chicken and place it on a tin foil lined sheet pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until fully cooked.
  3. When it's cooled enough to touch, pull the meat from the bones and discard the bones and skin. Cube into medium sized pieces, you should have about 4 to 6 cups.
  4. In a small saucepan, heat the chicken broth and the bouillon until hot.
  5. In a large saucepan melt the butter and add the onions, cook for about 15 minutes until translucent over medium low heat.
  6. Add the flour and cook for about 2 minutes until thick.
  7. Add the hot chicken stock to the flour mixture and mix until smooth. Simmer on low heat for 1 minute.
  8. Add the 2 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and heavy cream.
  9. Add the chicken, carrots, peas and parsley. Mix well.
  10. Pour the chicken mixture into a 10 x 13 x 2 inch dish. Place the dish on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 15 minutes.
  11. Meanwhile make the biscuits: Add the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar to the bowl of your stand mixer. Mix to combine.
  12. Add the diced up cold butter and mix until the butter is about pea sized.
  13. Add the half and half and chopped parsley and mix to combine.
  14. Dump the dough onto a floured surface and roll out to 3/8 inch thick and cut twelve 2 1/2 inch circles.
  15. Place the twelve biscuits onto the hot stew and coat with the egg wash.
  16. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown and the stew is bubbly.
  17. **If you are preparing ahead of time: Refrigerate the stew and the biscuits separately. Bake the stew for 25 minutes then place the biscuits on top and bake for another 30 minutes. **

January 29, 2013

Thin and Crisp Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made these cookies for the Chocolate Mocha Icebox Cake that I made for my husbands birthday here.  I had about half the batch leftover and my husband and daughter polished them off pretty quickly.  I tend to be more of a chewy cookie person myself but I have to admit that these little babies were quite tasty.

They are exactly as the name says, thin and crisp.  They have a nice buttery flavor and are perfect dunked into a nice cold glass of milk.

Even though I used these to go inside another dessert I would absolutely make them again for a party or just to have around the house.  They are the perfect crispy chocolate chip cookie.

Look at how thin they are!

Thin and Crisp Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe from Martha Stewart

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl combine the flour and baking soda.
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer combine the butter and both sugars and mix until light and fluffy on medium speed.
  4. Add the salt, 1/4 cup of water, vanilla and eggs into the egg mixture. Combine on low speed.
  5. Slowly add the flour mixture and combine well.
  6. Add the chocolate chips and mix until combined.
  7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and drop a heaping Tbsp sized ball about 2 inches apart.
  8. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown.
  9. Let cool and then transfer to an airtight container and store up to a week.

January 28, 2013

Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork Shoulder

Happy Monday!  

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  Our weekend was pretty laid back and relaxed.  I didn't even bake anything!  That's shocking for me.  I am trying to gear up for the upcoming big game however and in doing so I found this recipe for Pork Shoulder that I hadn't published yet.  

I've been saving it for this week, just in case you are looking for some good game food. 

I have to tell you, I gobbled this up.  I'm a huge vinegar fan and this pork shoulder is marinated in vinegar overnight so it's infused with that wonderful flavor.  Serve it with or without your favorite barbecue sauce because it's so full of flavor that it isn't really necessary. 

Make sure to give yourself a day ahead of time for prepping since this does require an overnight soak in vinegar and water.  

I loved how the meat just fell apart, I didn't have to do much "pulling".  I also loved the vinegar flavor but if you would rather tone it down a bit you might want to do 50/50 water and vinegar. This pulled pork was the perfect flavor for a pulled pork sandwich in my opinion and the leftovers didn't last long in our house.  

Slow-Cooked Pulled Pork Shoulder

  • 3 lb pork shoulder
  • 4 cups water, warm (110 degree's F)
  • 8 cups white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1 large onion, cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp dry mustard
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 12 cup brown sugar, packed
Cooking Directions
  1. In the ceramic bowl of your slow cooker, add the pork and the vinegar and water. Cover the pork completely. If these measurements don't cover your roast just keep adding water and vinegar in the 2 to 1 ratio until it is covered.
  2. Place the lid on the dish and put it in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours.
  3. Remove from the refrigerator and drain off enough liquid so that there is about 1/2 inch of meat uncovered.
  4. Mix the seasonings and brown sugar together in a bowl and then pour it over the exposed meat.
  5. Turn your slow cooker on high and cook for 8-10 hours.
  6. Remove from the slow cooker, shred and throw away any obvious fat.
  7. Serve with your favorite bbq sauce, or not.

January 25, 2013

January in Montana

My daughter and I just returned from a trip to Montana where I'm from and much of my family still lives.  Visiting Montana in January is not for the faint of heart, neither is living there full time.  But when you wake up to a beautiful morning like this, with no wind it's so worth it.

The views will take your breath away, and if the wind is blowing and it's -20 degrees that will take your breath away too. :)

It had snowed the day prior to our arrival but it never did turn into perfect "snowman" making snow.  Just stayed too powdery.

This was the first morning we were there.  Don't worry, we made sure there wasn't one bit of snow left untouched.

My daughter's first ever snow angel.  We don't get much snow where we live so this was a treat.  Actually everything we did in Montana was a treat.  She's at the age now where she remembers EVERYTHING so I know these memories will be with her forever. 

I grew up here.  This is my gramma's farm and it makes me happy to know she'll have some of the same memories I have. 

This is my dad (Papa) taking her on the four-wheeler.  She loved it and kept wanting to go faster.  Super fast as she called it.  

 Luckily my sister has a son who is older and could help take my daughter sledding.  If I had to walk up and down this hill with her each time I'd be....thinner actually.  Well thanks to her favorite cousin I didn't have to.  I'd hate to lose weight too quickly after all. She loved this (her first time sledding).

But alas, after a the week was over she was ready to get home and get back to her regular life.  She missed her dad, dog and friends.

It was great to see my family and friends again.  We hope to make another trip there this summer!

January 24, 2013

Homemade Chocolate Sauce

Sorry for the lack of posting, my daughter and I just spent a week visiting family and friends in Montana.  We got home very late last night, well very early this morning actually.  Either way I'm very tired.  I promise to post some pictures of our vacation soon.

I made this chocolate sauce just before Christmas and we LOVED it! Full of chocolate and simple to make.  Great to make chocolate milk or as a topping.

I love this sauce because you probably have all the ingredients in your house to make this right now and you will not regret having it.  We started to look for reasons or ways to use it.

Put this on your "must try" list!

Homemade Chocolate Sauce
Recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
Cooking Directions
  1. Mix the sugars, salt and cocoa powder in a large sauce pan until combined and smooth.
  2. Add the water and whisk until smooth and no lumps remain.
  3. Heat the mixture on medium high heat to a boil, then reduce to medium low for about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract and incorporate well.
  5. Pour the mixture into a heat proof jar and let cool to room temperature.
  6. Refrigerate in an air tight container.
  7. To make chocolate milk, add about 2 Tbsp of the chocolate sauce to an 8 oz glass of milk and mix well. Add more if needed.

January 14, 2013

Farro and Roasted Butternut Squash

This is the first time I've ever tried Farro but it won't be the last.  I loved it.  I like Quinoa too but I like this even better.  The texture is much better for me, chewy but soft at the same time and the flavor is nutty but not overpowering so you can pretty much flavor it up a ton of different ways.

If you're wondering what Farro is, let me explain, It is one of the oldest grains to ever be cultivated by humans.  Originally found in the Middle East and is now mostly grown in Italy.  Apparently it's a wonderful breakfast dish also when served with maple syrup or honey and fruit.  I will be trying that for sure!  I plan to make sure this is added to my regular grocery list.

Cooking the Farro in chicken or vegetable stock will just give another layer of flavor.

While your Farro is cooking, roast the vegetables that have been coated in oil, balsamic vinegar, thyme and salt.  Turn every so often so all sides get golden. 

After the veggies are cooked and the farro is tender mix them together and top with goat cheese if you'd like.

I loved how chewy the farro is and the balsamic vinegar is just a slight background taste and doesn't overpower the rest of the flavors at all.

Farro and Roasted Butternut Squash
Nature's Earthly Choice

  • 1 - 12 oz package (2 cups) pearled Farro
  • 2 tsp fine grained sea salt
  • 5 cups water or stock (I used chicken stock)
  • 3 cups butternut squash, cut in 1/2" dices
  • 1 large red onion, cut in 8 pieces (I used yellow)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme (I used 1 tsp dried)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup walnuts, deeply toasted (I omitted these)
  • 3 Tbsp walnut or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese (optional)
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a large saucepan, combine the faro, salt and stock or water. Cook over medium heat, then cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 15-20 minutes until the farro is tender.
  3. Remove from the heat and drain any remaining liquid.
  4. While the farro is cooking, toss the squash, onion and thyme with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a couple of big pinches of salt.
  5. Line a jelly roll pan with tin foil and put the squash mixture onto the pan in an even layer.
  6. Cook for about 20 minutes, turning the veggies about every 7 minutes so that all the veggies brown evenly.
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
  8. Mince about half of the onions.
  9. In a large bowl gently toss the veggies and the faro with the walnut oil or the olive oil. Taste and add salt if needed.
  10. Garnish with goat cheese crumbles.

January 11, 2013

Baked Buffalo Wings

My husband is a huge wing guy, actually so are most men I believe.  The one thing he's very particular about is the crispiness factor.  Soggy wings are a big no no in this house but crispy wings are hard to achieve without a deep fryer and I dislike frying.  I'll do it, don't get me wrong but I'd rather not.  It's not even the health concern that gets me, it's the yucky smell in my house for two days after that I don't like.

I think I went on a tangent there.  Sorry.

Anyway, my husbands love for wings.  So one day I was at the grocery store and it was just about lunch time so I was looking around for something to make.  I suddenly got a hankering for wings.  I hadn't had them in a long time and it was time to whip some up.

When I got home I did my usual perusal of the Internet and stumbled upon this recipe.  I specifically typed in "baked" so that I would not need to fry.  Anyway, this one had good ratings so I figured I'd give it a try.  I'm so glad I did.  My husband proclaimed these as some of the best he's had and here's the kicker, they aren't even super crispy.  I mean they are and they aren't.  They are super flaky but not crispy like you would get with a fryer.  But the underlying flavor of the hot sauce and the combination of that with the flaky skin puts these over the top for us.  Definitely a keeper.

I wasn't sure if dipping these in the hot sauce mixture after they had been coated in flour was going to work but it was a winner.

Baked Buffalo Wings
Recipe from Allrecipes.com

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup hot pepper sauce (I used Franks)
  • 20 chicken wings
Cooking Directions
  1. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with tin foil.
  2. Put the flour, cayenne, garlic powder and salt into a large zip closure bag.
  3. Drop the wings into the bag with the flour mixture and shake to coat.
  4. Put the coated wings on the prepared pan and refrigerate for 1 hour. (I didn't do this).
  5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  6. Mix the melted butter and hot sauce together in a bowl, dip the flour coated wings in the sauce and then place the wings back on the cookie sheet. 
  7. Bake the wings for about 45 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking until they are no longer pink inside.

January 9, 2013

Ruler Measuring Board

Thank you Pinterest for another great idea!  I'm sure many of you have seen it as well and I thought it was such a cute idea.  

The original post I saw for this measuring board didn't give specifics about what size wood to by or any of the other supplies I'd need so I just winged it.  I made a couple of mistakes and I'll show you those too.  I'm honest like that. 

I had the project completed in less than a full day and only two trips to the hobby store.  I hope to save you some time by giving you the nitty gritty right away. 

The wood we chose to use was 3/4 inch thick, 6 feet long and about 7 1/3 inch wide.  I think you can choose any wood you like.  This piece is oak and didn't need to be stained because we didn't want that funky smell in the house and because I'm to impatient to wait for stain to dry.

We have molding on the bottom of the wall we wanted to hang this measuring board on so we measured up above the molding and started our "ruler" 9 inches off the ground.  So the bottom of the board is the 9" mark.  Does that make sense?

I used a pencil to mark the inch marks all the way to the top of the board.  I then used my husbands right angle tool and a sharpie marker (just a regular permanent marker) to draw 2 - short 1" wide marks and then a 2" wide mark.  So it would go in a pattern like this.

_____ (1 inch)

_____ (1 inch)

__________ (2 inches)

_____ (1 inch)

_____ (1 inch)

__________ (2 inches)

Get it?

These are the finished marks.

At first I used a black sharpie marker to do the 1.  But the black ink sort of bled and I didn't like that.

Then I used a black acrylic paint to do the number 2 and it was awful.  The paint sort of bled under the stencil and it looked awful.  We quickly wiped off as much of the paint as we could using some paint thinner to help get it off.  Most of it did come off but there was a slight discoloration where the number was.

Next I used a pencil to draw the rest of the stenciled numbers.

Then I ran to the hobby store again and bought this Sharpie Paint pen.  Best invention ever!  It was easy to do the remaining numbers with this thing.

My daughter took this picture of me painting on the rest of the numbers.  Pretty good picture for a 4 year old if I do say so myself.

This is the finished project.  Looks just like a ruler!  You can hardly tell where I messed up on the number 2!

This picture shows the molding we have on the bottom of the wall we wanted to hang this on, we measured up from the floor 1 foot and marked it on the wall, then matched up that indicator with the 1' mark on the ruler.

To hang it, my husband drilled a couple of holes under the 6 and a couple more near the 1 and just drilled it into the wall. Easy.  I'm sure there are ways to do it that won't leave marks on the front side but honestly you can barely even see them. So we didn't care.

Here is what you'll need:

  • 6 foot long piece of wood.  You might need to stain it to match your decor. 
  • Package of 2" stencils, you'll find the numbers with the alphabet stencils (all in the same package) but check the back of the package to make sure there are numbers in there. If you buy a piece of wood that is wider then the one I used you might want to get 3" stencils. 
  • 1 black Sharpie Paint pen. 
  • Ruler or yard stick
  • Right angle tool (square) like I showed above
Total cost: $33.00  (25.00-Oak Board, 6.00 Stencils, 2.00 Sharpie Paint Pen)

January 7, 2013

Herb and Garlic Roasted Leg of Lamb

I can't believe that in all my years of cooking I've never attempted to make a leg of lamb.  I mean, I've eaten lamb and I love it but for some reason I thought it would be really complicated.  Turns out it's just another roast, easy.

Lamb can be a little pricey which is probably why it's reserved for holiday's most of the time.  This roast was slightly less than 5 pounds but we had plenty leftover.  Keeping in mind that it was just two of us eating this size roast.

This was our Christmas dinner and I'm happy to say that I will most likely repeat this again next Christmas.  It was a wonderful change to the typical ham or turkey and equally easy to prepare.

There's a lot of rubbing of seasonings and such, you really want every surface covered.

Doesn't that look amazing?!

I used the pan drippings to make a pan gravy as well.  Use a chicken broth so the taste of the lamb still comes through.

My mouth is watering,  I might need to make this again on a regular basis.

Herb and Garlic Roasted Leg of Lamb
Recipe found at About.com


  • About 5lb leg of lamb
  • juice of one lemon, about 2 Tbsp
  • 1 to 2 cloves of garlic, cut into slivers
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  1. Rinse the leg of lamb in cold water and dry with a towel. 
  2. Cover the roast with lemon juice, use your hands to rub it all over. 
  3. Make tiny slits into the fatty side of the leg and push a sliver of garlic into each cut. 
  4. Mix the minced garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper together and rub into the meat.  Use your hands to thoroughly cover the roast. 
  5. Put the roast on a roasting rack and put into a preheated 325 degree oven for 25-30 minutes per pound. 
  6. Cook until a meat thermometer reads 145 to 165 depending on how done you like it.  
  7. I roasted mine to about 155, as seen in the photo's above. 

January 4, 2013

Homemade Rice and Roni

I've been on a crafty binge lately (to be posted later) and even though I'm not great at it, I still love it.  I'm also desperately trying to lose all the weight I gained over the holiday's.  I'm down 2.5 pounds in one day doing Dr. Oz's three day body cleanse. Two more days to go and the weight loss is really encouraging me to keep it up.  I know a body cleanse isn't really for weight loss but if it's an added bonus I'm all for it.  So far it's pretty painless, although I'm not a fan of the lunch time smoothie but I'm still chugging it down.

I can't wait to eat this rice and roni again.  It was so super good and much better than the kind you buy in the box.  Great side dish!

Just break some spaghetti noodles into small pieces and brown up in a pan. 

Add the other ingredients and let simmer until the moisture is absorbed. 

Perfect for a busy weeknight meal because it's less than 30 minutes!  You could even squeeze in some veggies like peas or carrots (or both)!  Don't forget you can also cut up some chicken and mix it all together for a super quick meal on the go!

Homemade Rice and Roni
Recipe from Paula Deen


  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 pound spaghetti, broken into small pieces
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 cups chicken or beef broth

  1. Break the noodles into small pieces (about 1/2 to 1 inch) and place in a large fry pan with the oil.
  2. Cook the noodles over medium heat until they begin to brown slightly. 
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for about 20 minutes until the rice has absorbed all the liquid. Fluff with a fork.
  4. Salt and pepper as desired. 

January 2, 2013

Top 5 of 2011

I know I'm a year late here but better late than never right? I just wanted to start a little tradition of getting the top 5's out for the New Year so let's just pretend for a minute that you don't notice this is a year old OK? :)  Thanks!

Red Velvet Crepe Cake

To say that this recipe is a favorite of 2011 is a slight misrepresentation of it's importance, because it is in fact the most viewed recipe on my blog up until the present time.  I'm not surprised, it was an incredible cake to look at, and to eat.  In case you're wondering, this recipe makes two cakes so you can  share one and keep one for yourself!

Ina Garten Sesame Noodles

Ina Garten never lets me down.  Her recipes turn out perfectly for me every time and I always get rave reviews.  I did modify this recipe but I still think it's awesome!

Bacon Wrapped Smokies with Brown Sugar

Talk about the perfect party food and someone will always mention the cute little "hot dogs" that everyone loves.  They are the perfect sized appetizer for a party.  Just a toothpick and you're all set for a on the go nibble.  Add bacon and brown sugar and you may have just created the perfect snack!

Redneck Rigatoni

Thanks Dad!  This is one of his creations and it's been viewed plenty of times.  People love how simple and easy it is and what's more redneck then canned cheese!

Chocolate Swiss Roll with Marshmallow Frosting

This was a delicious creation!  The marshmallow frosting really puts it over the top.  The cake is so chocolatey that the frosting is the perfect accompaniment.  It was fun to make and even funner to eat!