Saturday, July 28, 2007

Spinach Artichoke...squares!?!

This past Thursday, I went with some great friends and their other halves to "Girls Night Out at the K" to watch the KC Royals (beat the Yanks!!). Each couple was to bring a side dish for tailgating. Knowing there would already be some various salads and chips, I wanted something different. So I did a search and came across a recipe for Spinach Artichoke Squares. Spinach Artichoke dip (YUM!) in bite-size square form? Sounds good to me. And they were! Sorry, no picture, but the recipe is below.

Spinach Artichoke Squares

1 (8 oz.) can refrigerated crescent rolls
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesean cheese (I used the pre-shredded kind in the bag)
8 oz. room temperature cream cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup sour cream
10 oz. thawed, frozen chopped spinach, squeezed until dry
14 oz. artichoke hearts, drained and coarsley chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Unroll the crescent dough and place on the bottom of a 13x9" cake pan.
3. Gently press the dough evenly into the pan and 1/2" up the sides to form a crust, paying special attention to seal the roll perforations.
4. Sprinkle the dough with 3 Tbsp. of the parm. cheese.
5. Bake for 5 minutes, the remove from oven.
6. While the crust is baking, beat the cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add the egg, sour cream, and remaining parm. cheese - mix until smooth.
7. Fold in the spinach and artichoke hearts.
8. Spread the mixture evenly over the crust. Bake an additional 13-15 minutes, or until the crust is a golden brown and the filling is set. Can be served hot or cold.

These were a big hit - gone before the game!

My husband, the cook.

Meet my husband, Ryan.

Despite the complaints that he doesn't know where the kitchen is in our house, or where the food is kept (his way of trying to get me to do everything for him...typical man), he can cook - and enjoys doing so. The other morning, I woke up to him telling me that he was going to make breakfast for me. What? A day off for me? I'll take it. He made some fabulous breakfast burritos for us. On the inside: eggs, bacon, salsa, and cheese. Wrapped in: tomato basil tortilla. On the outside: cheese, salsa, and a dollop of sour cream.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Applebee's Tequila Lime Chicken

Originally, I had planned on making some Spicy Garlic Lime Chicken for dinner tonight, but when I mentioned it to hubby, he wanted something else. Picky men. So he suggested something with a peanut sauce, however, we had none of the ingredients needed. He then remembered a while back, making Applebee's' Tequila Lime Chicken (the recipe is posted online), and mentioned that sounded good. I agreed. It was then that dinner was born. Tequila Lime Chicken on a bed of rice. I mean, how can you NOT like a meal that uses alcohol?!? This recipe has a lot of ingredients, but don't let that scare you away. It's super easy to make.

Applebee's Tequila Lime Chicken

4 chicken breasts
1 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar)
2 cups crumbled corn chips

1 cup water
1/3 cup teriyaki sauce
2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. mesquite liquid smoke
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. tequila (I took this up a notch - 1 Tbsp)

Mexi-Ranch Dressing:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp. milk
2 tsp. minced tomato
1 1/2 tsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. minced canned/jarred jalapeno slices
1 tsp. minced onion
1/4 tsp. dried parsley
1/4 tsp. Tabasco sauce (any brand hot sauce will work)
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. dried dill weed
1/8 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. chilli powder
dash garlic powder
dash ground black pepper

1. Prepare the marinade and let the chicken soak for 2-3 hours.
2. Make the mexi-ranch dressing by combining all of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well until smooth, then cover and chill until needed.
3. When ready to prepare entree, preheat oven to high broil. Also preheat the grill to high heat.
4. When the grill is hot, cook the chicken for 3-5 minutes per side.
5. Arrange chicken in a baking pan. Spread a layer of the dressing over each piece, followed by 1/4 cup of cheese. Broil chicken for 2-3 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Black and Tan

Thanks to Old Chicago, the husband and I have become huge fans of Black & Tan beers. Unfortunately, OC charges around $4/beer. No thanks! So we started experimenting on our own and discovered that they really are easy to make! Our favorite has been made with Guiness and Weach beer (Peach Wheat - - however, this is not always easy to find. Really, just about any light (as in color, not cals/carbs) will work. Others we have tried: Leinenkugals Honey Weiss (Rating: A) and Leinenkugals Berry Weiss (Rating: D).

How are they made? Half "light" Beer + Half Guiness = Black and Tan. To get the neat layered effect, make sure to slowly pour your beers with a tilted glass, pouring the light beer first.

Mexican, por favor!

While on our honeymoon in the Dominican Republic, my husband and I were able to experience a few new tastes of the Caribbean. Our resort ( also offered daily cooking lessons on the beach. While hubby was playing some beach volleyball, I took part in the lesson: Steak Fajitas. I made this for dinner last night, topped with some homemade guac and sour cream, along with some bacon-wrapped stuffed Jalapeno peppers.

Steak Fajitas

Flank steak, cut into strips and marinated*
1 large onion, cut into strips
1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
2-3 cloves of galic, minced
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
Shredded cheddar cheese (we hand colbyjack on hand, so I used that instead)
Flour tortillas

1. Heat your pan on med to med-high heat. Add the oil.
2. When the oil is hot, add the onion, peppers, and garlic.
3. Once the onions are starting to glaze, add the strips of beef. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Add some chopped cilantro. Stir.
5. Right before serving, sprinkle some cheese on top.

*For the marinade, I used some lime juice, EVOO, minced garlic, cumin, and fresh cilantro. However, any beef marinade will do.


2 ripe avocados
1/2 onion (1/2 c.), minced
1 can of green chilies
2 Tbsp. cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. lemon or lime juice
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
Dash of black pepper
1/2 ripe tomato, seeds & pulp removed, chopped

1. Mash the avocado in a medium bowl.
2. Add the onion, cilantro, juice, salt, and pepper - mash some more.
3. Add the chilies.
4. When ready to serve, add the tomatoes.

Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Jalapenos

6 Jalapeno peppers Shredded cheddar cheese
3 slices of bacon, cut in half
6 toothpicks

1. Cut the ends off eat pepper. Slice down the length of one side of the pepper. Gut the pepper (seeds & ribs).
2. Stuff with cheese.
3. Wrap 1/2 slice of bacon around each stuffed pepper. Seal with a toothpick.
4. Grill on a warm grill, then serve.

** After making the peppers, we have decided that this recipe was not a hit. The cheese oozed too much and left us with nearly empty peppers. Plus, the bacon did not fully cook on the grill, so a little zap in the microwave was needed.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Leftovers made Better

After making the Chicken Marsala, we had some leftover prosciutto to use up. What's better when you're lacking ideas for dinner that PIZZA!?! Attempting to go original Italian-style, I chose to mimic the ingredients in a traditional Margareta pizza - fresh mozzarella, Roma tomatoes, and fresh basil. Of course, we then through on some cooked prosciutto for good measure.

Chicken Marsala...with a twist.

While searching through and reorganizing my kitchen cabinets, I came across some Marsala cooking wine that hubby had purchased a few months back. Almost immediately, I had the urge to make a nice dinner of Chicken Marsala. While searching for recipes, I came across one that seemed a little more unique and gave it a shot. I still think I need to perfect my cooking techniques some - I think the chicken burned some - but all things aside, we loved how it tasted and will be making this recipe again!

Chicken Marsala (1/2 recipe)

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
all-purpose flour (for dredging)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 oz. (2 slices roughly) prosciutto, thinly sliced
4 oz. mushrooms, stemmed and halved
1/4 cup sweet Marsala wine
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/8 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (we did not have this, therefore it was omitted)

1. Put the chicken breasts side by side on a cutting board and lay a piece of plastic wrap over them; pound with a flat meat mallet until they are about 1/4" thick.

2. Put some flour in a shallow platter and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper; mix with a fork to distribute evenly.

3. Heat the oil over med-high heat in a large skillet. When the oil is hot, dredge both sides of the chicken in the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess.

4. Slip the cutlets into the pan and fry for 5 minutes on each side until golden, turning once - do this in batches if the pieces do not fit comfortably into the pan. Remove chicken to a large platter in a single layer to keep warm.

5. Lower the heat to medium and add the prosciutto to the drippings in the pan, saute for 1 minute to render out some of the fat. Add the mushrooms and saute until they are nicely browned and their moisture has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

6. Pour the Marsala in the pan and boil down for a few seconds to cook out the alcohol. Add the chicken stock and simmer for a minute to reduce the sauce slightly.

7. Stir in the butter and return the chicken to the pan; simmer gently for 1 minute to heat the chicken through. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley before serving.

We paired this with some roasted garlic mashed potatoes

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Going Back to my Roots

After growing up near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, you really gain a nitch for certain food preparations. One of these being: Beer Brats. Whether you were at a Packer game or Brewers game, a tailgate is not considered complete without beer brats. I got to thinking one day, how can I make these without the grill? I decided to combine a few favorites of my husband into one great meal - by making beer brats in a crock-pot! They turned out great and tasted phenomenal!

Amanda's Crockpot Beer Brats

1 pkg. brats (the flavor is your choice, we used original)
2-3 cans of beer
1 whole onion, halved, then sliced into large pieces
1 pkg. brat buns

Lightly brown the brats in a skillet before loosely placing them into the crockpot. Add the beer to fully submerge the brats. Spread the onion on top. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4-6 hours.