Friday, March 29, 2013

Peanut Butter Cookies (NOT mom's)

I got this recipe for peanut butter cookies from my friend Martha. They're softer and a little more dense than mom's...

1 c shortening
1 c sugar
1 c br sugar
t vanilla
2 beaten eggs
1 c p butter
2 c flour               
2 t baking soda
2 t salt

not greased, 375 for 10

Coffee Cake

4 c flour
1 c sugar
2 T baking p
1 t salt
2 beaten eggs
1 1/3 milk
2/3 oil
1 c br sugar
4 T flour
8 T cold butter
2 t cinnamon

400’ 20-25

Double, triple, or quadruple the streusel, always.

Mrs. Pardee Chicken

This is from the Little Kids' elementary school librarian. It's great for feeding the missionaries. I always forget it takes so long to bake though...

1 can cream of mushroom soup (10.5 ounces)
1 can of cream of chicken soup (10.5 ounces)
1 can of cream of celery soup (10.5 ounce)
1 box wild rice and herb mix (uncooked)
1/2 cup French dressing
1/2 cup melted butter
Parmesan cheese
slivered almonds
4 – 8 chicken breasts (depending on size) I usually use 8

Mix soup with rice mixture. Place rice and soup mixture into greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Mix French dressing and melted butter. Pour 1/2 dressing and better over rice mixture. Arrange chicken on top of rice. Top with remaining dressing and butter mixture. Bake, uncovered, for three hours at 275°. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and almonds (can leave off). Serves 6-8

Apple Cobbler

While I'm on a dessert kick.

My friend John can't have chocolate so I made him this apple cobbler recipe from Land O'Lakes one year for his birthday. I'd never tried any type of apple baking before, but it's pretty idiot-proof. It turned out great!

Lemon Bars

I use Paula Deen's Lemon Bars recipe here. 


I use powdered sugar for all sugar called for. The first time I made them I did this by accident and didn't like them as much when I made them a second time with the types of sugar she calls for.

I cut back on the crust. It's just gets a bit to thick.

I don't know if this is general knowledge, but I've learned you have to cool lemon bars completely at room temperature. I tried putting them in the fridge once to speed it up and that's no good. Eating them before they've cooled also doesn't work. You really have to wait about 3 hours for them to be perfect. I've made this recipe a lot...can you tell?

Black Beans and Rice

This recipe is from my friend from grad school, Jenika McDavitt.  Sometimes I use this as a side with Mexican/Latin meals, and other times we eat it as the main dish for dinner.  Here is the recipe as Jenika gave it to me:

What you need: 2/3 large white onion, 3 cloves garlic, olive oil, Elkridge summer sausage, bacon optional, 3 cans black beans (undrained), 1-2 cups beef broth, bay leaves.

Saute 2/3 of a large white onion (red onion works too) and 3ish cloves of minced garlic in olive oil until onions are soft.

While that's sauteing, cut up 1 link of Elkridge summer sausage into small chunks (we usually cut the whole link in half lengthwise and then sliced it like a cucumber). Sometimes we might put 1.5 links in to have more sausage because it is so delicious. :-)

If desired, cut up ~6 slices of bacon into small pieces and pan fry, then pat off excess oil. We started leaving the bacon out to make it a little healthier, and we haven't noticed enough of a difference to put it back in. Whatever you want.

Once onions are soft, add sausage (and bacon if you use it) to the onion/garlic pan and saute for another couple of minutes to allow the garlic to flavor the meat directly. The meat is already cooked so no need to leave it in longer, you don't want it tough.

Dump pan into a crock pot, and add:
3 cans of black beans
1-2 cups of beef broth (depending on how long this is going to cook for and how liquid-y you want the beans to be)
2-3 bay leaves

Stir up and leave in crock pot at desired time. When it's done, make sure not to eat the bay leaves! If serving for guests I just take them out altogether at the end. 

Serve over rice.

Tilapia Soft Tacos with Chipotle Cream

This is a really fast fish taco recipe that Dave and I really like.  I generally make it when I have leftover cilantro in the fridge that I need to use up.  I tend to have all the ingredients for these on hand.  That's partly because I like to keep tilapia in my freezer.

One time instead of making the chipotle cream sauce, I found a condiment from Taco Bell at the grocery store called Bold & Creamy Chipotle Sauce.  It is basically an orange colored chipotle sauce in a squeeze bottle.  Having that on hand makes it even easier to make these in a pinch.  Although, I do tend to have chipotle chiles in adobo in my cupboard, too.

Greek Shrimp Scampi

I got this recipe from my bishop's wife in Urbana (Donna Cummings).  It's super fast, and the only ingredient I don't usually have in my cupboard is the feta.  If you don't want any heat, you can omit the red pepper altogether.  Otherwise shake sparingly when you're using red pepper to get the heat level desired.

1/2 pound shrimp
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup diced tomatoes (I usually just use a 15 oz can of diced tomatoes and adjust the other ingredients as necessary--meaning you should technically double the rest)
1/2 cup feta
juice of 1/2 lemon (I've used bottled lemon juice, too)
2 tsp Dill (fresh or 3/4 tsp dried)
salt, pepper, tarragon, red pepper (I've used flakes and powder before)

Saute garlic in oil and remainder and heat until warm.  Serve over couscous.

**I just buy the "done in 5 minute" instant couscous at the grocery store, it's by the rice
**I have used both pre-cooked and raw shrimp (I just keep bags of frozen in my freezer).  If using pre-cooked, thaw and toss in right before eating, just to warm them or they overcook.  If using raw, I still toss in last and simmer until done, only takes a few minutes.

Gold Medal Sizzling Fajitas

These are the fajitas I always make.  They are a Paula Deen, Food Network recipe.  I essentially use the marinade recipe for chicken and then I grill my chicken on our George Foreman. You can use multiple kinds of meat, and the instructions for doing so are in the recipe.

 It's a super quick dinner, actually, and my go-to when I have leftover peppers in my fridge.  Most of the time I don't even bother with guacamole...just cheese and sour cream and sometimes salsa here.  But then again, that's because I always have those things in my fridge!

We were given a tortilla warmer for our wedding, and I have to admit, it makes eating fajitas much more fun!

Chocolate Crinkles

This recipe comes from Judy Bivin (from the 30th ward?)

1/2 cup shortening + 2Tbsp
1 2/3 granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla

2 eggs
2 1-oz squares unsweetened chocolate, melted (6T cocoa)

2 cups sifted, all-purpose flower
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Add flour mixture alternately with milk.  Chill 3 hours.  Form 1 inch balls.  Roll in confectioners sugar.  Place on greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 for 15 min.

Carrot Cake

This cake is attributed to Aunt Stacie (Stacie Meredith)!

4 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 cups sifted flour
2 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon

Add dry ingredients to egg mixture.  Mix well, then add:
3 cups raw carrots (finely grated)
1/2 cup nuts, chopped

**I've always used walnuts if I'm doing nuts, and sometimes I add raisins, although I know that would never fly if Dad were eating the cake.

1 # box powdered sugar (sifted)
1, 8 oz package cream cheese
1/4# butter or margarine
1 tsp vanilla & a bit of milk

If made in a dripper pan only need 1/2 recipe for icing (like a single layer).  Full recipe for a layer cake.  Better if refrigerated first.

**I just realized I don't have any baking instructions for this, I'm assuming 350 until it's done, 30-40 minutes.

Mom's Chili

This is straight from mom.


3 cups dry pinto beans       
1 lb ground beef
6 cups water           
2 tsp salt
2 15 oz. cans “stewed” tomatoes   
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp vinegar           
2 ½ Tbsp chili pwder
2 Tbsp lemon juice           
¼ tsp dry mustard
1 ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce  
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce       
dash garlic powder
1 cup chopped onion      
½ tsp ground cumin
1 cup chopped green pepper       
1 cup chopped celery

    Wash and clean pinto beans; cover with cold water overnight. Rinse beans in a.m. Cover with fresh water to about one inch above beans and bring to a boil, reduce heat to a high simmer and cook until tender. (about 1 ½-2 hrs) Add additional water if needed to keep beans covered. [Option: wash and clean beans, cover with cold water, bring to a boil, cover and remove from heat for one hour. Rinse beans, cover with fresh water and cook until tender.] DO NOT SALT WATER COOKING THE BEANS: THEY WILL NOT COOK BUT STAY HARD.
    Brown ground beef and drain fat, stir in chopped vegetables and cook about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and spices, simmer together. Stir in cooked beans with water they were cooked in. Simmer chili for about three hours or until flavors are well blended.
    I adjust this recipe to taste, adding beef bouillon cubes if it tastes too tomatoey, skipping celery or green peppers if I don’t have them, adding red peppers if I have them. You can add more chili powder if you want it spicier. Adding 1 ½ c of ketchup while simmering makes it more sweet and I used to use this. Like almost anything I cook I tweak it as it cooks. ENJOY!

Chocolate Cake (Dorothy Boyd)

For anyone outside the family reading this, this chocolate cake is AMAZING. Our dad used to make it every Sunday after church because he (and we ) all love it.  We eat ridiculously large portions and never feel guilty.  When asked how much you want, it's typically "Half row or third?"  Just make sure you have milk to go along with it!

And again, apologies.  I don't have any directions, just ingredient list.  That's how we Lukes do it apparently. 

2 cups sugar
1 cup shortening
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons soda
Pinch salt
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup sour milk
1 cup boiling water

Bacon large loaf pan at 350° for 30 minutes. (*Dad wrote this using his Dragon software and I love that it says Bacon!)  I find that in Nebraska it's more like 40 minutes.

 Butter Chocolate frosting

1/4 cup softened margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch salt
4 cups powdered sugar
6 tablespoons cocoa
1/3 to 1/2 cup milk

Carne Desebrada Adobada (beef tacos)

My roommate Nadine would make this for us when she'd go all out and have a Mexican night. The recipe is what she sent me. The Mexican ingredients can be found in the Hispanic aisle at most grocery stores. The Adobo is the hardest to find. If you can't find it with the Mole, they don't have it. It's NOT the granulated stuff. 

Carne Desebrada Adobada

3-4lbs of meat (chuck roast)
½ onion (sliced into quarters)
3-4 cloves of garlic (cut up into pieces)
1 can of spicy tomato sauce (El Pato)
1 can of Salsa Ranchera (you can put in ½ of the can’s worth as well to make it less spicy. I usually add it all so I don’t have left over, although you can use the left over sauce to put it on the tostadas for flavor.)
1 can measurement of water (8oz?) *I like fill the can of tomato sauce with water and then pour it into the salsa can and then dump it into the crock pot.
3 TBS of Adobo Seasoning (the dark paste in a glass jar, NOT the granulated pale stuff)
3-4 bay leaves
Oregano (1/2 tsp)
Salt (to taste) approx 1 tbsp or less? It’s always an estimate when I add the salt.
Pepper (to taste)

Clean meat by cutting off fat and bones if any. Cut meat into fist  sized pieces. Place all ingredients in crock pot in the HIGH setting for 6-7 hours or until the meat is shredded (dissolved) and smooth. Then it's ready to eat.

Served with corn tortillas.
Nadine served it with just shredded cabbage coated in vinegar, salt and pepper. Sqeeze liberally with lime juice. Serve with sour cream and cheese if you want. I prefer it with just the cabbage and lime. 

Here are what the ingredents look like:

Buffalo Chicken Dip

They made this at the Superbowl party at the dorms every year and I thankfully got the recipe and make it for almost every Husker's game.  (Healthy, I know).  Lately Mom has been making it for our Christmas Eve/New Years Eve feasts!

1 lb. chicken breasts cooked and shredded (I use 1-2 of the giant Sam's size breasts depending on how chicken-y I want it)
1 cup Frank's hot sauce
1/2 cup ranch dressing
8 oz package cream cheese
2 cups shredded cheese

While the chicken is cooking, throw everything else in a crock pot on low.  Add chicken.  If you put it on high, it'll only take about an hour to melt, longer obviously on low.  Just keep an eye on it and switch it to warm or it'll start to burn.

The World Famous Luke Family Dreamsicle Jello!

2 small (1 large) orange jello package
1 cooked lemon pudding package
1 instant lemon pudding package
8 oz cool whip
1 cup milk
Cook lemon pudding according to package directions, place in fridge to cool to room temperature or cooler.  Dissolve jello in 3 cups boiling water.  Mix the lemon pudding together with the jello, place in a 9x13 pan and place in fridge until set (at least 4 hours).  When set make the topping.  Combine the cool whip, instant pudding and 1 cup milk together.  Spread on top of the jello and put in the fridge to set (about an hour).
*And yes, I labeled it as both a side dish and dessert.  We think it's a side, others drift to it as a dessert. :)

Mom's Fudge

Here's how you make fudge:

Buy the Kraft marshmallow creme...follow the recipe on the back for fantasy fudge.  Voila!  Mom might have a few tricks to tell us how she really makes it.  I think she changes the timing and uses chocolate chips, so she has a measurement for that.

Oriental Cole Slaw (Ramen Noodle Salad)

While I'm going through emails, I might as well post the ones Mom and Dad have sent me.  So these are Mom's comments on how she makes it.

1 head cabbage (I use a bag of shredded coleslaw mix)
8 green onions
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup salted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2-4 pkg Ramen noodles (chicken or oriental flavor)

3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 Tbsp cider vinegar
3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt

Shred cabbage thinly. Slice green onions, include green tops. Toss vegetables w/ dressing and broken Ramen noodles. Marinate several hours or overnight. Add nuts (toast on cookie sheet until lightly browned).  Add seasoning packets from Ramen noodles.

Scalloped Potatoes (aka Funeral Potatoes)

I'm making these for Easter so figured I would post it.

6-8 large potatoes
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 Tbsp minced dried onions
1/4 c melted butter
1/4 c milk
1 cup sour cream
Shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp salt

Boil potatoes in skins until tender, cool enough to remove peels, shred potatoes into a large bowl. Soak dried onions in milk to rehydrate while potatoes are cooking. Mix together melted butter, soup, sour cream, salt, onions, and milk. Blend sauce and potatoes, add cheese to preference (at least 1/2- 1 cup). (Whit apparently says to double or triple the sauce). Top with more grated cheese or buttered crushed corn flakes. Bake @ 350 in greased pan, preferably glass, until heated through and bubbly hot.

Note: extra potatoes can stretch this but it may be more dry, add sour cream, cheese, butter , etc. to consistency you like. You can also just use a package of shredded frozen hash browns, but they have a different texture. Play with it and make it your own!

Monkey Bread

This one also comes from the 30th Ward cookbook from 1991, it is attributed to a lady named Lori Scott...I have no idea who she is. :)

3 cans refrigerator biscuits (10 count)
mix together: 1/2 cup sugar & 1 tsp cinnamon
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (well packed)
3 Tbsp water

Remove biscuits from can.  Cut each biscuit into four pieces. Combine sugar and cinnamon; coat biscuit pieces.  Drop pieces into greased bundt pan.  (I use pam)  Bring to boil the butter, sugar, brown sugar and water.  Pour mixture over biscuits.  bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.  Before "dumping onto plate, cool 3-5 minutes.  To eat, just pull off bits of biscuits. [NOTE: nuts, raisins, maraschino cherries may be added among the biscuits.] Best eaten warm.

Zippy Beef

I don't actually have instructions for this, like most of my recipes, it's just a list of ingredients.  I should write this down as it is exactly in my cookbook and see if you can decipher it.  :)

1 lb ground beef, browned
4 oz uncooked noodles (elbow, that you cook before assembling)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
3/4 c milk
2/3 c ketchup
1/4 c chopped green pepper
1-2 T onion (assuming minced here)
1/2 c cheese
potato chips for topping

Mix everything except potato chips together in a casserole dish.  Top with chips and bake until bubbly at 350.

Chicken Delight

5-6 chicken breasts, cooked, cubed
Broccoli--cooked to fill bottom of 9x13 pan
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup miracle whip
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp curry powder

Cover cooked broccoli w/ cubed chicken.  Mix soup, miracle whip, lemon juice and curry.  Pour over chicken.  Sprinkle w/ grated cheddar cheese and buttered soft bread crumbs (crumble approx. 2 slices bread into 1/4 cup melted butter).  Bake uncovered 20-30 minutes at 350 'til hot and bubbly.  Serve with rice.

**I've started halving this for me and Dave and just use an 8x8 pan.  It's enough for two dinners for us and P (P loves it!)  But, sometimes I don't halve the sauce, just the amount of broccoli and chicken.  All depends on how saucy I want it.

Banana Bread

  • 5 bananas
  • 4 eggs (well beaten)
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 2 c sugar
  • 4 c flour
  • 2 t soda
  • 1 t salt
Beat bananas to a liquid, add eggs.  Cream the sugar and shortening then add banana-egg mix. Sift flour, soda and salt. Pour into 2 well-greased loaf pans.   

Bake at 250 for 90 minutes (until the toothpick comes out clean)

To get the soft crust that we all love, let the bread cool on a cooling rack for a bit, then wrap it in tin foil while it's still warm so all the steam will soak back into the crust making it soft and delicious! 

Blonde Brownies

Our friends laugh when we make these because all three of us are blonde AND Ryan doesn't like chocolate.  They joke and call us racist.  Whatever, these are awesomely delicious!
Cream Together:
  • 1 cup margarine
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 t vanilla
 Add to cream:
  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 t soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2 cups peanut butter chips
Bake at 350* for 30-35 minutes in a greased 9x13

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Here is what I want (I am home so could ask mom and post them myself I guess...)

Dad's chocolate cake
pasta carbinara
chicken delight
banana bread
blonde brownies
Texas sheet cake
Chocolate crinkles
zippy beef
monkey bread
carrot cake

I'm blanking on other things we ate growing up.

(This is Caitlin - I'm crossing off things as people post them!)

Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Chocolate Chip Pancakes

I originally found this recipe here and me and the kids love them! I get a lot of great recipes from her site. She makes them with whole wheat flour and I've just always used regular white flour.

I use her suggestion and freeze extras, then my kids can have pancakes on days that I'm too lazy to make them. :)

Chocolate Chip Pancakes

2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 beaten eggs
2 cups milk, buttermilk or sour milk*
4 tablespoons melted butter (you can also use oil or coconut oil, but we prefer butter)
1/3 cup chocolate chips

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl. Combine the eggs, milk and melted butter in a separate bowl.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add egg mixture and chocolate chips. Stir until just moistened.

Cook on a greased pancake griddle. Serve immediately or cool and freeze.

To freeze: Lay cooked and cooled pancakes on a baking sheet and stick in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour (until frozen). Remove from pan and place in airtight freezer bags or containers.
To thaw: Take desired number of pancakes out of freezer bags and heat one to two at a time in the microwave for one to two minutes. Or, place on a baking sheet and cook in a 350-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes until heated through. Serve immediately.
Makes around 10 regular-sized pancakes. I usually double or quadruple the recipe when I make it for the freezer.

Seven Layer Salad

I love this recipe because it's a salad that you can just serve and eat.  No dressing needed!
Jordan loves it because it has bacon.

Perfect Pizza Crust

Rachael and I made this pizza crust when I visited her in Indiana.  I loved that you don't have to let it rise for hours on end.  It was simple and really yummy!

O'Henry Bars (Scotcheroos)

1 c. Sugar
1 c. Light Corn Syrup
1 1/2 c. Peanut Butter
1 tsp. Vanilla
6 c. Rice Crispies

In a saucepan on medium high heat, bring sugar and corn syrup to a boil.  Take off the heat, add peanut butter and stir until smooth.  Add in vanilla then pour on rice crispies in a large bowl.  Press in greased 9x13 cake pan and let cool.

For topping:
Melt 1/2 package of semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1/2 package of butterscotch chip.  Stir until smooth and pour over the top and let it cool.

*For thinner bars use a 11x17 cookie sheet and use a whole bag of each chocolate and butterscotch for the topping.  Sometimes I will 1.5 the recipe in a cookie sheet for a large group.

Spaghetti Pie

This is not a family recipe, I'll get to those later.  I made this Spaghetti Pie last Saturday for us, and to take to a lady in the Branch who just had a baby.  (It snowed, church was cancelled and it is currently sitting in my freezer).  It was really good, made enough for two nights with my family of 7.  I did not add the diced tomatoes :).


These are the breadsticks that Mom made for us a lot growing up.  I love them because they don't require a 2 hour rise like a lot of breads. They come from the Taylorsville 30th Ward cookbook from 1991.  I think only Mom and I have this cookbook, so I thought it would be helpful to post here.  These are so fast to make, that they're an easy side dish to lots of meals!  I just made them yesterday for a visiting teaching lunch!

1 1/2 cups water (warm)
1 tbsp yeast
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
approx. 3-5 cups flour (until not sticky)
1 stick butter or margarine, melted

Mix above ingredients except butter and raise about 10 minutes (I put it in a clean, greased bowl covered with saran wrap to let rise in a warm place).  Roll out, sprinkle with flour, and place in cookie sheet with 2/3 of melted butter in bottom.  Cut dough in half and then in pieces along sides.  Let rise until double in size, 10 minutes or so.  Put rest of melted butter on top and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees or until golden brown.

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

The first weekend Dave and I were in Wisconsin, we were sick and our bishop's wife brought us this yummy soup.  It makes a LOT, and you'll need a huge pot.  My biggest pot wasn't big enough and I was carefully stirring so as to not make THAT big of a mess.  I didn't bother cutting it in half when I made this this week, so instead I'm putting some in the freezer for later.

You can make homemade noodles for this, or, if you're like me, I just bought the homestyle egg noodles.  I would use only half a bag if you want it soupy, or a full bag if you want it more like a stew. When I made it I used the whole bag and the first night there was enough broth for us, but for leftovers there is essentially none.

This isn't difficult, just takes some time with all the veggie chopping, simmering and noodle cooking, FYI.

5 small chicken breasts (I used 3 Sam's sized, frozen ones)
12 cups water
12 bouillon cubes
1 large onion, chopped
8 stalks celery, chopped
3 cups sliced carrots
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 can cream of chicken soup
4 cups milk (I did a combo of milk and cream, since I had cream to use up in my fridge)
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp pepper  (I think you'll need more salt and pepper afterwards)
1 tsp parsley
3/4 to 1 bag (16 oz) noodles 

Combine chicken, water, bouillon cubes, onion, celery and carrots.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Remove chicken and chop, then return to mixture.  Add noodles and boil until al dente.  In a saucepan melt butter, and add flour to make a roux.  Add a little water to roux then slowly add roux into chicken and vegetables, stirring constantly (mine wasn't thick like a paste, so I didn't have to thin it down; I just added it to the soup).  Add cream of chicken soup and milk.  After thickened add seasonings.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Slow Cooker Refried Beans

I LOVE these! I found the recipe on my junior year of undergrad and make them all the time (when I'm living on my own...)

1 onion, peeled and halved
3 cups dry pinto beans, rinsed
1/2 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped**
2 Tbs minced garlic
5 tsp salt
1 3/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp ground cumin (optional)
9 cups water

-Put everything in the crock pot with the water last. Stir to combine.
-High for 8 hours. Add more water as it evaporates.
-Once cooked, strain beans and keep the liquid. Mash the beans. The recipe calls for a potato masher, but all I have is a mixer, which works fine with either the beaters or I have one of those fake immersion blender heads. Add water to make it the desired consistency. The onion gets mashed in with everything.

15 servings

I love this recipe because I can change the texture of the beans based on my mood ;). It makes a TON (or maybe it just seems like it because I'm by myself). The beans freeze really well. Last summer I had a continuous supply of enchiladas and beans for about 5 months. I only eat store bought beans in a pinch.

**Ashley likes the whole pepper, but I've never dared. I've made it with or without the pepper before. The cumin as well. Now I like it with the pepper, but for kids you could leave it out. Jalapenos freeze well too.

Lemon-Herb Zucchini Fettuccine

This one takes a lot of coordination. You have to be doing a lot of things at once but it is MY favorite.  I can eat til I'm stuffed and I'm never like that with any dish.

Lemon-Herb Zucchini Fettuccine
recipe by Our Best Bites

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 lemons
2 T Red Wine Vinegar
Olive Oil
1/2 lb Fettuccine (that’s just 1/2 of a normal box like in the picture)
2 medium zucchini
1 C shredded parmesan cheese
5-6 cloves garlic
Fresh Basil (about 1/2 C) - I also substitute dried. I don't measure... just dump :)
Fresh Oregano (about 1/4 C) If you don’t have fresh oregano, just add a little dried.
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Prepare grill. You could also do this on the stove top in a skillet, or a grill pan.

Place chicken in a zip-lock bag with the juice of one lemon, a couple tablespoons of olive oil, and a couple tablespoons of red wine vinegar. Smoosh around and set bag aside while you get your other things ready. (If you’ve got time to spare, let the chicken marinade for 30 minutes, if you don’t, just take what you can get. I did mine for 15 min and it was great.)
Put the pot on the stove to boil water for the pasta. While you’re waiting for the water to boil, slice the zucchini in half length-wise. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Ryan and I put on A LOT of lemon-pepper (which is why I think we like it so much).

Press, or finely mince garlic cloves. In a small sauce pan on the stove, place 1/4 C olive oil and add garlic. Turn burner onto low-med heat. It shouldn’t be popping and frying, it should just slowly warm, infusing the oil with the garlic and removing that zing fresh garlic has.

When water boils, add pasta and a spoonful of salt

Remove chicken from bag and salt and pepper both sides. Place chicken, and zucchini on grill (or stovetop in my case)

While chicky and zuchs are grilling and pasta is boiling, chop herbs and get out cheese. Zest both lemons and juice the one that hasn’t been juiced.

See, now you’re all ready. When everything is done cookin’ you can throw it together! Keep an eye on that garlic. You DON’T want it to get brown and crispy. It should still look nice and white. Give it a stir. If it starts really cooking, just take it off the heat and set aside. 

When zuch and chicken are done take them off the grill and chop ‘em up.
Reserve about 1/2 C pasta water. Drain pasta and immediately place in a big bowl. Place chopped zuch and chicken on top. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, cheese, herbs, and garlic-olive oil mixture. Just pile it all in there. Then stick your face up real close and inhale. Ahhhh, heaven.

Now take some tongs and give everything a big toss. If you feel it needs more moisture, add a little of the pasta water, or a little more olive oil. This will make 4 generous servings.

Garnish with a little more Parmesan on top and another squeeze of lemon if you have any left. Then sit back, relax, and imagine you’re sitting in some gorgeous Tuscan villa!

Green Enchilada Sauce

I use this for the Honey Lime Enchiladas and Ryan also just uses it as a chip dip.

Green Enchilada Sauce (Kate’s Knockoff Cafe Rio Recipe)
Recipe by Our Best Bites

2-3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, minced
5-6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 green peppers, chopped
1-2 jalapenos, seeded and membranes removed if desired (and I desire. Always.)
1 1/2 lb. tomatillos, husked and quartered or halved
1/2 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
4 c. chicken broth
2-3 Tbsp. sugar (optional and to taste; the sauce Cafe Rio uses seems to be slightly sweet, so if I’m using this sauce for enchilada-style burritos, I generally add a little sugar, but for everything else, I leave it out.)

In a large saucepan or stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic until tender and fragrant.

While onions are sauteeing, combine tomatillos, green peppers, jalapeno peppers, and cilantro in your blender. Process until smooth; you may have to do it in batches and/or add some chicken broth to make things blendable.

Pour the tomatillo mixture over the onions and garlic and add chicken broth, salt, pepper, and cumin.

Simmer 15 minutes-1 hour, depending on the consistency you want. I usually turn the heat to high and boil it uncovered until I reach the consistency I want; it makes things go a lot faster (20ish minutes I think? Just be careful of the splatter!).  The sauce can also be simmered in a slow cooker all day.

Serve over tacos, as an enchilada sauce, inside burritos, or as a dip for chips.

Honey Lime Enchiladas

This is one of Ryan's absolute favorites! Marisa thinks it's too sweet for her. :) 

6 tablespoons honey
5 tablespoons lime juice ( 1-2 limes)
1 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 pound chicken, cooked and shredded (about 3 small chicken breasts)
8-10 flour tortillas
1 pound monterey jack cheese, shredded
16 ounces green enchilada sauce
1 cup heavy cream

 Mix the first four ingredients and toss with shredded chicken. Let it marinate for at least 1/2 hour
(if you can let it set several hours EVEN better).  Pour about 1/2 cup enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9X13 baking pan. Fill flour tortillas with chicken and shredded cheese, saving about 1 cup of cheese to sprinkle on top of enchiladas. Mix the remaining enchilada sauce with the cream and leftover marinade. Pour sauce on top of the enchiladas and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until brown and crispy on top.  

My notes:  The sauce makes A LOT. So I normally use some and freeze the rest to use for another time.  Also, I don't always have cream or want to buy it so I've substituted with just milk before and it's not too bad.  It's even better with a homemade enchilada sauce. I'll post that, too!