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I made this spinach and artichoke dip recently for a baby shower, and I was reminded again how easy this was to make!  It’s also delicious… I think it’s the reason I was invited to many parties after college (“We’re having a party!  Can you come and bring your dip?”).

Easy Spinach and Artichoke Dip

  • 1-10 oz. package of frozen, chopped spinach, thawed (press all water out of spinach as well)
  • 2-14 oz. cans of quartered artichoke hearts
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese

If desired, chop quartered artichoke hearts into smaller pieces.  Combine all ingredients and spread into a baking pan (9×9 inch square or 11×7 inch pan- 13×9 inch pan will work in a pinch; just reduce cooking time).  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until edges are brown.  Serve with crackers or veggies, and enjoy!

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I love cheese.

Love it.

Love, love, love, LOVE cheese!

When I was in high school, our Sunday night ritual was for my mom to cook up a pot of nachos on the stove and we’d sit around dipping our chips in it and wiping our noses because they were so spicy.

I love cheese!

I just finished eating about a quarter of a cube of mozzarella. MMM!

So when I started thinking about what I could snack on tonight while watching my DVR programs, can you guess what came to mind? CHEESE! GLORIOUS CHEESE!!!

I just took dinner out of the oven — taco pie — and some of the cheese leaked out of the crust and was baking in the dish. Mmmm… crispy, cooked cheese.

Inspiration!

I took out my smallest casserole dish and sprinkled a heafty portion of whatever chedder/combo pack I had in the fridge. I cooked it at 425 for 10 minutes and it was yummy crispy goodness! If you have some dried herbs or seasonings you’d like to add in, go for it! Fresh, minced garlic is a great add-in.

After letting it cool for about five minutes, put a few layers of paper towels on top to absorb as much of the oil as possible. Let it rest until cooled, then cut with a pizza cutter and enjoy!

Everyone at my house, except me, has a cold so it was time to pull out all that stock and raw chicken thighs and legs out of the freezer to make homemade chicken and noodles. Yum, yum, YUM!

I boiled the raw chicken, adding to my stock supply, and set the chicken aside to shred and pull off the bone to put in the pot. It was gooey work! I had much more chicken than I really needed for one batch of chicken and noodles so I put the rest of the meat into the freezer.

I had no idea my family (translation: my husband!) would eat all the chicken and noodles so fast! I started another pot of it this afternoon but my chicken was only partially thawed. And wow was that a help!

I picked up a paring knife and was able to literally slice and peel the skin off the chicken. It was so easy and, since it was still partially frozen, most of the fat came off w/ the skin. Pulling the meat from the bone was also easier to handle. The meat came off in easy chunks and went straight into the warm pot of broth.

Who would have thought you could peel a chicken!

Yesterday, I posted about digging through my pantry and coming up with a winning dinner for my family. Since I had leftover meat and rice, I decided to strike while the iron was hot and make it again tonight. My concern, though, was the lack of veggies. My kids — and my husband — aren’t big on veggies so I usually resort to sneaking vegetables into meals.

Tonight, I channeled my inner Sneaky Chef and got creative. I cooked a bag of Steam Fresh corn, then dumped half of it into the food processor. I pureed it until it was thick but not super lumpy and mixed it into the meat.

Next time I might add in some carrot and sweet potato puree I have waiting in the freezer!

I’m not much of a recipe kind of gal. My husband calls my style of cooking “Iron Chef Cooking”. It’s dinner time and what do I do? I stand in front of the open deep freeze and just stare. Then I do the same with the fridge. And the fridge’s freezer. Then I move to the cabinets and open and close them a few dozen times or so, taking in all the food. I stand and stare and await inspiration.

Tonight, inspiration hit big. My family ate this up and my husband told me several times that I could make this every week and he’d be very happy.

1 box Goya rice and beans, prepared according to instructions
1-2 lb ground beef, browned and drained
1 packet Old El Paso taco seasoning
1 tube of pizza crust dough
shredded cheddar

Prepare your Goya rice and beans as directed. Brown and drain your ground beef, then mix w/ Old El Paso seasonings as directed.

Spray a Pyrex casserole dish with some Pam or Baker’s Joy and roll your pizza crust out into the dish. Stretch out the long sides so they lay slightly over the sides of the dish.

Sprinkle a generous amount of cheddar along the center of the dough. Lay out four lines of filling, alternating rice, meat, rice, meat. Sprinkle more cheese on top then fold the sides up over the top of the filling. Pinch down the ends and sprinkle come cheese on top if you want.

Bake for about15 mins at 425. Take it out when the dough is golden and crispy. Let it rest for about 10 mins before cutting.

I love appetizers. But not when I have to make them. It seems like a lot of work for a tiny bite of something, ya know? I’m always on the look-out for easy appetizer recipes to serve when I have friends come over. This past week, I had three opportunities to entertain and here’s what I made:

Easy Peanut Butter & Chocolate Éclair Dessert – I suggest doubling the amount of peanut butter and then doubling the filling amount. With the amount of filling the recipe made, I didn’t have enough to do two filling layers. This filling is so delicious that you’ll be glad you doubled it!

Favorite Topped Deviled Eggs – Personally, I hate deviled eggs but I know so many people who love them and we always have tons of eggs. This was an easy way to use up our eggs. Instead of Neufchatel, I used cream cheese. I sprinkled with a bit of cayenne pepper instead of paprika. Check out my previous post for info on hard boiling eggs.

Ranch Dip – This is supposed to be a bacon ranch dip. If you know one thing about me, know that I have a long standing love affair with bacon. I don’t like ranch anything so I refuse to sacrifice bacon into a ranch dip! I adapted this recipe by not adding the bacon. Cut the top off an orange or red pepper and serve your dip in the pepper!

Sharon’s Orange Dream Cake – You can modify this recipe a million ways. You are only limited by your imagination!

Four easy recipes that are a cinch to whip together and serve. They may not be fancy, but they are definite crowd pleasers!

This is a super-easy, semi-homemade cake that your guests will love!

1 store bought Angel Food cake
1 jar orange marmalade
1 can drained, crushed pineapple
1 8oz brick cream cheese
1 tub Cool Whip

Cut your cake into horizontal layers.

Blend 3 T orange marmalade with the cream cheese. Use this as a filling between layers putting a thin layer on top.

Ice the cake with Cool Whip and “sprinkle” pineapple on top.

Be sure to keep this refrigerated when you’re not serving it.

Before today, that’s what you could say about me. I can throw down a scrumptious Thanksgiving feast, whip up a decedent dessert, and pull random ingredients from the pantry to make a one-of-a-kind dinner. But boil an egg? Are you serious??

Before today, I had never, ever boiled an egg!

Well, the boiling part was pretty easy. I just did a Google search and found some instructions. Easy!

Peeling an egg, however, is a different story. Here’s a few tips:

  • DON’T try to break the suction of the shell on the egg. It will pull the whites apart.
  • DO hold the egg underwater as you peel. It will help pull the little shells off so you don’t keep poking your fingers. Owie!
  • DO be aware that there’s a thin membrane between the shell and egg white. Be sure to pull this off

And even if your eggs end up looking as hacked up as mine did, when you half them for Deviled Eggs no one will be able to tell.

Don’t be afraid to use all of your chicken. When I say “all”, I mean ALL! I went all out today and tried to find as many uses as possible for my chicken purchases today.

I purchased seven whole chickens for $.49/lb. That’s a lot of chicken! And a great deal too. But I didn’t want to waste the chicken or freezer space. I knew the best thing I could do would be to cut it all up into quarters, then package it all for freezing.

Cutting up a whole chicken is not one of the skills my mother taught me so I fired up Google and found a great video demo. It’s not exactly as easy as this guy makes it look, but pretty close. I happened to have a pair of poultry shears (don’t ask) so I was set and ready to go.

After cutting up the chicken, I put all the white meat into freezer bags and all the dark meat into freezer bags. I’ll use the dark meat for home made chicken and noodles because it has a stronger, richer flavor. I’ll probably save the white meat for my daughter’s birthday and have a cook-out.

stockAll that was left over was the back and neck. I started a deep pot of water and turned the heat to med-high. Added onions cut in half, a little salt and then tossed in the carcasses. I let this simmer for a few hours to make stock. Most stocks are made using various root vegetables – carrots, fennel, celery, onions, garlic, etc. I only had onions. But feel free to get creative and use whatever you have on hand. I tossed some Craisins into the last batch I made!

When you feel like your stock is done – in this case when the backs were falling apart – turn off the heat and let it cool. I let mine cool for a few hours, then use a skimmer to pull out all the floating bits. Because it’s cooler, the idea is that the pieces I’m pulling out will also catch some of the solidified fat. Skim off as much fat as you want, then throw it in the freezer for soups or rice base in the future.

I also roasted a few of the backs before using them to make a stock. Using raw bones creates a “white” stock. Using baked bones creates a “brown” stock. Are the flavors different? Supposedly. My palate isn’t sensitive enough to tell the difference.

So I’ve used just about all of the chickens…. except…. the livers. Ew. Go ahead, you can say it. How the heck did she use the livers??

chicken liverI called up my brother and asked him if he needed some fishing bait! I stuffed those chicken livers into some small containers and tossed them in the freezer for the next time I see him. We used to use chicken livers as catfish bait all the time when I was a kid on my grandparent’s farm.

And yes, I’m showing you a photo of chicken livers!

Don’t fear the chicken. You can use it so many ways!

 2 cans diced tomatoes with diced onion
1/2 T dried garlic or dried garlic mix
1 set pork ribs

Heat a little oil in a dutch oven (or deep pot) until hot. Put the pork ribs in meat side down and let them sear. Don’t forget to take the time to sear the ends too.

Dump in the dried garlic and two cans of tomatoes. Cover and turn the heat to medium.

You’ll keep cooking like this, and adding water as needed, until the tomatoes are mush and the ribs are thoroughly cooked. It took me about half an hour and two or three glasses of water. The meat will be tender and flavorful! We’re serving this with French fries for an easy meal!

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