August 29, 2014

Chipotle Ranch Dressing

My husband and I have been on a spicy kick lately, so when I saw The Pioneer Woman make this on her show I knew I had to give it a try.  She served hers with raw veggies, I made mine a dressing.  This definitely has a kick to it.  I love the smokey taste of chipotle but they can be very spicy.  Luckily the other ingredients cool it down a bit and the flavor just gets better as it sits in the refrigerator.

Loads of flavor here, very herby and fresh tasting.  Creamy and smooth texture.  Love the tang from the vinegar and the slight reddish color the chipotle's give it.

Chipotle Ranch Dressing
Recipe from The Pioneer Woman

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, minced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh dill, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chives, minced
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp white vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • dash hot sauce
  • 1-2 chipotle peppers, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup buttermilk, or more depending on whether you're using it as a dip or a dressing.
  1. Place all the ingredients together in a bottle you can shake, or a dish and whisk together until smooth.  Keep adding buttermilk until it is at the consistency you wish.  Serve as a dip with raw veggies or a dressing. 

August 27, 2014

Mexican Casserole

One of my all time favorite types of food is Mexican.  I just love it! I think you can take something like this casserole and customize it to fit your own personal tastes.  So many possibilities.

This is a quick weeknight dinner that can be made in about an hour.  Your whole family will love it and you could spice it up as much or as little as you want. I personally loved how the bottom layer of tortilla got crispy while baking, making sort of a crust.  Delicious!  My husband loved this so much that I only got to have one little slice of leftovers before it was gone.  In our house, that's a sign of a good meal.  This will be baking a comeback soon at our house.

Mexican Casserole
Recipe from Taste of Home

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef or turkey
  • 1 envelope taco seasoning
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 can (16 oz) refried beans
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 6 - (6 inches) flour tortillas
  • 2 cups frozen corn, thawed
  • 2 cups (8 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
  • toppings such as chopped up lettuce, black olives, sour cream, tomatoes (optional)
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. Spray a 2 1/2 quart round baking dish with non-stick spray and then line the bottom with 3 tortillas.  Set aside. 
  3. In a large skillet, brown the beef (or turkey) and then drain off the fat.  Add the taco seasoning packet and the water and bring to a boil, then let simmer for 5 minutes. 
  4. Meanwhile in a medium microwave safe bowl, heat the beans and the salsa until warm and spreadable. 
  5. Spread half the meat mixture on top of the tortillas from the dish you prepared. 
  6. Top with half the bean/salsa mixture and then half the corn and cheese. 
  7. Repeat for the second layer beginning with the remaining three tortillas. 
  8. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.  Let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Top with optional toppings if desired. 

August 25, 2014

Death by Chocolate Cupcakes

Happy Monday!!

I hope you all had a great weekend.  Some of you may have had a first week of school already and some of you might be gearing up for it this week.  Either way, you're probably going to need some chocolate by this weekend.

My daughter and I are working through the online charter school option for our area.  That means she's at home with me but it also means she gets all her materials sent to her and she has a teacher and so on. That doesn't let me off the hook however, I'm with her all the time and helping her.  It's been an interesting first week but this week looks more promising. We're already in a better routine.

Just in time for a long weekend!!! Yay!  I'm going to make these cupcakes again for our neighborhood party.  Death by Chocolate, I can't think of a better way to go.

Death by Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, NOT Dutch
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 large whole eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. Line 12 cupcake/muffin cups with paper liners.
  3. Melt the butter and baking chocolate together in either the microwave, or a small saucepan over medium heat.  Let cool when smooth and fully combined. 
  4. In a medium sized bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  (Cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt)
  5. In the bowl of your stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, add the eggs and both sugars and combine until smooth. 
  6. Add the vanilla and the cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth.  
  7. Add half the flour and half the buttermilk and mix until smooth.  Keep alternatively adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk until they have all been added and are smooth. Do not over mix, just mix until blended.  The mixture will be thick like pudding. 
  8. Divide the batter evenly between all 12 prepared cupcake/muffin cups and bake for 18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 
  9. Let cool completely before frosting. 
Whipped Chocolate Frosting
Frosting by Divas Can Cook

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • pinch of salt
  • Mini chocolate chips (optional, for decoration)
Cooking Directions
  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the butter and whip until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the cream, vanilla extract and cooled melted chocolate chips, beat until well.
  3. Add the cocoa powder and powdered sugar and salt and beat until light in color and texture.
**Top with mini chocolate chips, if desired**

August 19, 2014

Blueberry Turnovers

Boy it's been an interesting week already.  School has started here and that requires some adjustment on my part.  I need to think about earlier bedtimes and snacks and lunches.  All the things I sort of forgot about over the summer. As soon as we've gotten used to all this, I'll get back on schedule with my posts, I promise!

You know what's really disappointing? I bought at least a gallon and a half of blueberries this summer that we picked ourselves, and I STILL don't have any in the freezer to get me through winter. My daughter eats them like they are candy.  Believe me, I'm happy about that but still.  Oh well, on the up side you can make these turnovers with frozen blueberries too. 

I seem to have my biggest sugar cravings in the morning, so this turnover is just right for me.  The pastry is flaky and tender, the filling is perfect.  Thick yet flavorful filling. Ton's of blueberry goodness with a hint of lemon.  The filling is thick, so it doesn't run out when you cut it open.  I actually like these turnovers best when they are a day old, I know I'm weird.  I like how the pasty is a little less fluffy.  I might be the only one who feels that way.

I can't wait to try this same basic recipes with some different fillings, but this blueberry one is pretty darn amazing.

Blueberry Turnovers
Recipe from Taste of Home

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp corn starch
  • 2 tsp grated lemon peel
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 package (17.3 ounces) frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 Tbsp milk
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 450º
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine 1/2 cup blueberries, sugar, corn starch and lemon peel and bring to a boil. Boil for about 2 minutes or until thick.
  3. Add the butter and the remaining blueberries, stir to combine.
  4. On a floured surface, roll out each square of pastry puff so it becomes 12x12. You should have two separate squares, both that size.
  5. Cut each square into 4 equal sized pieces so you have 8 total.
  6. Drop about 3 Tbsp of filling into the middle of each square and fold over so you form a rectangle. Pinch the ends together so they are sealed and place on a ungreased cookie sheet.
  7. Brush the tops with the egg/water mixture that has been whisked together.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Wait until the pastry's are cooled before applying the glaze.  To make the glaze just mix the confectioners' sugar together with the milk and drizzle over each pastry. 

August 14, 2014

Corn Salad

Eating seasonal foods is always best, you can guarantee that your family is eating the freshest foods possible.  They are at their peak flavor and ripeness.  

This recipe is something I came up with using just what I had in my pantry, refrigerator and garden.  My family loved it!  The fresh corn really put this over the top, but frozen or canned will work too.  The mayonnaise added creaminess and the hot barbecue sauce added spice with a little vinegar bite.  

Truly delicious! 

Corn Salad
From Alissamay's kitchen

  • 4-6 ears fresh corn, cooked, cooled and cut off the cob (or canned or frozen but thawed)
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled, cooled
  • 2 banana peppers, membranes removed and seeded, chopped
  • 1/2 can black olives, sliced
  • 1/2 - 1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/4 cup hot vinegar based barbecue sauce (I used Scotts Barbecue Sauce, but it might be a Southern thing) 
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper to taste
Cooking Directions
  1. Make sure all the the ingredients are cold or no warmer then room temperature.
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix to combine. Serve cold and refrigerate leftovers.

August 11, 2014

New York-Style Bagels

Breakfast at our house just got a little more interesting.  My daughter loves bagels and cream cheese in the morning, however, I am not a big fan of store bought bagels.  Having said that,  I don't feel so bad about giving her bagels after making them myself.  I know the idea of making your own bagels might not be appealing, but they are pretty easy.  They are only time consuming because you have to wait for the dough to rise. After that, it's a breeze.

I loved how chewy the texture was, just like you'd get from a New York bakery.  I'll admit that I've never been to New York, (I know, I'm going, hopefully sooner than later) but I have had New York-Style bagels before, and these tasted just like them.

My daughter is not a fan of flavored varieties, so I just made a plain bagel for her.  I honestly had to keep reminding myself that they were for her.  After all, she would not appreciate me eating them all. They were soooo good.

If you find yourself with a little extra time on Sunday, try to make some bagels.  They are quick breakfasts on busy weekdays. Also great for school lunches!

New York-Style Bagels

  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (you might need up to 1/4 more)
  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour + more for kneading
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
Cooking Directions
  1. Use 1/2 cup of the warm water to add the yeast and sugar to. Do not stir, just let it sit for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes you can stir it until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Place the flour and salt in a large bowl, stir together and make a well in the middle and pour the yeast/sugar mixture into it. 
  3. Pour half the remaining warm water, into the well. You're looking for moist but firm dough.  You might need to add all the remaining water or just a little of it, depending on where you live. I had to use it all. 
  4. On a floured surface, knead the dough for about 10 minutes, adding in as much flour as needed to make the dough smooth and elastic yet stiff. 
  5. Coat a large bowl in oil and then form the dough into a ball and coat it in the oil and then cover the dough with plastic wrap or a wet towel and let rise in a warm place for about an hour until doubled in size. 
  6. Punch down the dough and let sit for another 10 minutes. 
  7. Divide the dough into 8 even pieces. Shape each piece into a ball.  Now take each dough ball and using your hand, gently roll the dough ball on your work surface until you have a perfect little dough ball. Repeat with the remaining 7 dough balls. 
  8. After shaping into balls, place on a lightly greased cookie sheet and cover to let sit for another 10 minutes. 
  9. Preheat the oven to 425º
  10. Get a large pot filled with water and bring to a boil. 
  11. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to lower several bagels into the water. Once they rise to the top, let them boil for 1 minute (2 for chewier texture), then flip over and boil for 1 minute (2 for chewier texture) then remove to the lightly greased cookie sheet. If you're going to top the bagels with anything, now's the time but you will need to put an egg wash over the bagels so the toppings will stick first. 
  12. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown.
  13. Cool on a wire rack. 

August 6, 2014


If you're like me, you have a ton of basil in your garden right now.  This is a great recipe for that.  Not only does it use a lot of basil but it also can be made ahead or frozen!

Every once in a while I feel like having something other than red sauce on my pasta and this is a great alternative.  It's also great on chicken and then grilled.  I've even seen some recipes for pesto used in dips, check Pinterest for some of those. Not matter how you use it, it's awesome to have on hand.

Easy to put together and delicious!

Recipe from Ina Garten

  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 3 Tbsp (9 cloves) garlic, chopped
  • 5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups good olive oil
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cooking Directions
  1. Add the nuts and garlic to the bowl of a food processor with the blade attachment.
  2. Pulse for 15 seconds.
  3. Add the basil and salt and pepper to the bowl and then begin to pour in the olive oil through the top while the processor is on. Process until thoroughly pureed.
  4. Add the Parmesan cheese and process until mixed in.
  5. Either serve immediately or store in the refrigerator or freezer. Air is the enemy of basil so if you're going to store it, either place plastic wrap over the top making sure to get the air out of it or pour more olive oil over the top so no air is touching the pesto and then store as you wish.

August 4, 2014


One item you can count on disappearing from your party is guacamole. Everyone seems to love it!

When I was visiting my family in Oregon a couple of weeks ago, I was asked to put together a guacamole for an event.  Turns out, everyone loved it.  My aunt suggested I put in the cumin and it was the perfect ingredient!  You can make guacamole a million different ways but this one seemed to be the winner for us.

Keep in mind, air is the enemy of avocado's too.  Get that lemon juice in there and mixed in well so it doesn't turn a funky color on you!


From Alissamay's kitchen

  • 2 ripe avocado's, seed and skin removed
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 2 medium roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 medium jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  •  the juice from 1 small fresh lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp cayenne pepper sauce (like Tobasco)
  • 1-2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped (optional)
Cooking Directions
  1. Use a medium bowl to mash the avocado with a fork. Some chunks are fine, it's up to you how smooth you want it.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients (minus the cilantro) and mix well, tasting as you go.
  3. Add the cilantro last, right before serving.

August 1, 2014

Pomegranate Lemonade Spritzers

It's been so hot here.  I mean, I just returned from vacationing in Montana and it was 90 degrees there, but 90  degrees here feels 10x worse. Like, walking outside into the humidity is exhausting. I go ahead and count that as my workout for the day.  I mean, there is sweat involved so it's practically the same thing…right?

This drink is so refreshing, you almost forget you're melting into your chair.  Almost. 

This version is non-alcoholic but adding a flavored vodka would be delish in my opinion. Maybe just an ounce before adding the club soda.  Just thinking out loud here. 

Pomegranate Lemonade Spritzers
Recipe from Just Putzing

  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 4-6 cups water
  • 1 cup simple syrup (1 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar simmered until the sugar dissolves)
  • club soda
  • lemon slices (for garnish)
Cooking Directions
  1. Mix the first four ingredients in a large pitcher. Fill glasses with ice and then pour in a little more then halfway with the pomegranate juice mixture. Fill the remaining portion with club soda and give it a little stir. Garnish with lemon slices if desired.