Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats: February 2013

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Breakfast Burritos

You guys these burritos have been on my meal plan for ages, yet each week I never got around to making them.
Enter in last Saturday, with a few hours to myself {kids were sleeping}, I finally got a batch of these ready!  I also used that time to prep dinner for that night and bake a batch of cookies.  It's amazing how much you can get done without little ones puttering around your feet.
When some girlfriends and I had a freezer swap a few months back, I should have included these.  What a time saver in the mornings when you are on the run, or if you need a quick meal to heat up when running low on time.
Saying that - GIRLS - we need to do another freezer swap soon!


There is no rhyme or reason to these burritos.  You can make them however you like - eggs, spinach, peppers, onions, bacon, sausage, ham, cheese....the options could go on forever.

For ours, I simply used what we had on hand - eggs, spicy pork sausage, red pepper and cheese.  Simple, yet delicious.

Saute the veggies and meat together {draining any grease}, add in eggs and cook until done.  Then make an assembly line of flour tortillas, egg mixture, cheese and Ziploc baggies.  I used pretty small tortillas, so I was able to fit two burritos in a snack bag Ziploc.  Make them big or small, however you like!

For recipe driven people I used: 7 eggs, 1/2 red pepper, 1/2 lb. spicy pork sausage, 12 slices of sharp cheddar cheese and 12 tortillas.

Either wrap in plastic wrap or store in Ziplocs like I did and they are good in the freezer for up to 3 month!  They will never last that long.....but just sayin'.

Wouldn't these be great for our next swap?

So, yesterday I walked around my kitchen and took inventory our our pantry and freezers.  I wanted to really see what we had on hand to use up.  In my head I was thinking we were out of most everything, but after writing it ALL down, I was surprised to see we had a ton of food!

It lead me to the question....

Can you eat without spending money?

My first thought was no way!  But after looking at ALL of the food in our house, we could certainly get by with less groceries at the next trip to the store.  Obviously we would still stock up on some perishables - fresh produce, milk and cheese, but trying to use up the other things would be a nice challenge.

It just got me thinking.  Stay tuned as I'm working on an upcoming post about this.  You'll be amazed!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Homemade Peanut Butter Granola Bars {with a chocolate drizzle!}

Welcome to Monday!
It's the start of another week and yet another snowstorm.  Like I've said, I love watching the snow come down from inside my house, I just don't love going out in it.  Nor, bundling up two kids for it.  Just thinking about that makes me sweat.
But what do you expect.  It's the Midwest and it snows here.  If you need me later today, I'll be off dreaming of spring....
Or maybe dreaming of making another batch of these granola bars.
They are so good!  I even cut them into thin strips like you would see a regular granola bar.  But, know the ingredients.  You know what you are eating.  The only problem is that because they are so good, you have to be diligent and not eat the whole pan. 
One a day should be good.

Homemade Peanut Butter Granola Bars {with a chocolate drizzle}
{Print this Recipe!}
2/3 c. honey or brown rice syrup
1/2 c. peanut butter {or any nut butter}
1 t. vanilla
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
2 c. oatmeal
2 c. crispy rice cereal
1/3 c. chocolate chips
1 T. butter

In a bowl combine oatmeal, cereal, cinnamon and salt. In another microwave safe bowl combine honey or brown rice syrup, peanut butter and vanilla. Microwave until melted and combined, but not boiling. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Immediately pour into an 8x8 sprayed baking dish. Press down with your hands until flat. Put in the freezer for 1 hour to harden. Remove from freezer, invert baking dish onto a cutting board and cut into bars.

For the drizzle: Place chocolate chips and butter in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 10 second intervals until melted and smooth. Drizzle with a spoon onto the tops of the bars, allow chocolate to cool and harden.

Store in an airtight container, where they will stay fresh for 3-4 days, or wrap with plastic wrap and freeze individually for up to 3 months.

So, this little kook is our daughter.  She is the ultimate show stopper, comedian, and ham.  She dresses herself up in her brother's shoes, his sunglasses {missing one lens} upside down, a stocking cap and proceeds to run marathons around the kitchen table with her stroller and baby.
And somehow also drool all over her sweatshirt?
I cannot express the amount of joy and laughter she brings to our house.  Her latest saying?  "Oh my gosh".  And she says it with such attitude.  I'm a little nervous of what she'll bring to our house when she's 14.
P.S.  Please don't look at my ugly kitchen cupboards or the "child-proof" strap in the background.  They are ugly, we know it.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The ABC's of Me

There are many different types of food blogs out there.  Many, like mine, devote most of their time to recipes.  Some chronicle their everyday eats.  A ton have giveaways daily.  A good handful incorporate their daily eats, recipes and exercise routine into their posts.

Well, since I am mostly a recipe blog, I often think, "do my readers really know me?"  They know I love to cook, bake, entertain, etc., but do they really know my likes, dislikes, phobias and dreams?  Probably not.  Well, here we go.

Do me a favor, if you already know one of my below listed items, tell me in the comments section.  I really want to know if you've been paying attention!

Aerobics.  I love aerobics classes but never get to them.  I do not have a gym membership, nor anyone to even watch my kids if I wanted to go.  Someday I will get back into a class.

Beer.  My favorite alcoholic drink.  I'm a cheap date.

Caring.  I do feel like I have a deep, caring personality.  If you are a friend of mine, I try hard to make you a friend for life.

Duke.  Our black lab we had to put down last month.  We still miss him like crazy.

Entertaining.  My most favorite thing to do in the whole-wide-world is to have a quiet night in with friends or family.  Usually surrounded by food, a movie or just conversation.  That is my idea of entertaining.

Food.  Duh.  That one is pretty obvious.  I love everything about it.  Creating a recipe, eating it and telling the world about it.

Gardening.  I have plans to enhance my garden this year, if you call a non-used flower bed a garden.  Last year I only planted two tomato plants and two pepper plants and it produced almost more than I could handle.  But, this year, call me crazy, I want to do more!

Hair.  Mine is awful.  I haven't had a cut or color in many, many months.  I hate shelling the money out for it, I'm really cheap. But, next week I'm making an appointment.  It's time.

Iowa.  I live here, have my whole life.  Did you know that?  Even though it often gets a bad rap {only farms, nothing to do, hickville-usa} I love it.  I wish people didn't believe what they hear.  We've got beautiful land, great schools and wonderful food!

Jokester.  If you know me well and I feel comfortable around you, you will soon find out I joke.  A lot.  And I'm often very sarcastic.  Sometimes I even take it too far.  It's one of my faults.

Koch.  My maiden name.  Pronounced {cook}.  I loved that last name.

Lust.  Yes, I said lust.  I'm lusting for a cookbook deal.  It is kind of ridiculous.  I'm sure I'm annoying everyone about it.

I'm a mom.  To two adorable little kids.  It is my proudest achievement, yet my hardest job.  EVER.

Nutella.  I could eat it by the spoonful if no one was watching.  I stuff it into cookie dough, pie dough, and slather it on banana bread.  I even added it to this drink.

Overwhelmed.  I often feel overwhelmed, but don't let people see it.  It's hard to run a household when your husband works odd, crazy hours, you have two little ones under your feet and your a semi-neat freak.  And hold down a part-time job that I choose as my career.  Oh, and did I mention not having any relatives close enough that you can just call and say "I need an hour".  That can be tough.

Pizza.  My all time favorite food.  Hands down.

Quartet.  In high school I sang in a quartet.  We were really good and the first in our high school to have a quartet make it to All-State.  Sadly my singing career pretty much ended during college, I haven't sang in public since then, but I do love to sing, but I'm shy about it.  I love singing in groups, terrified singing alone!

Ramsey.  Dave Ramsey that is.  The husband and I have been following his program since late October.  Its changed our lives.

Stubborn.  I can be stubborn.  But, I just feel adamant about some things.....see, that statement right there says I'm stubborn.

Television.  I am not one of those who claims they are above watching T.V.  I have a few shows that I really like and others that just fill in the time.  My favorites: Grey's Anatomy, Downton Abbey, Nashville, The Big Bang Theory, Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives and what the husband calls drama fest T.V. any of the "Real Housewives" series...

Underpaid.  Don't you wish we got paid to make our way through life?  I think we are all in this boat.

Victory.  I love a good win.  I'm competitive and a huge sports fan.  I could watch T.V. with the guys most of the day and be content.

Water.  My dream {our dream} is to someday build a log cabin on a lake or have land with a pond.  Something about looking out at water just makes the day seem better.  I think I got this from my mother.

I'm not going to kid you, I have nothing for X.  It shouldn't even be a letter.

Yoga.  I used to do it faithfully in college when I worked at a Y and got a free membership.  I remember the first time I did it, I couldn't walk for days after.  I was so sore.  I'd love to start back up again.

Zzzzz's.  I don't think I'm getting enough.  I'm an early riser so even if I went to bed later I still am up early.  I wish I could have a day to sleep in!  And better yet, my body wouldn't just automatically wake up.  And those darn kids, they need to learn to sleep in better too.

So, what did you learn?  What did you already know?

P.S.  Happy Birthday to my sister, Nicky:)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Well, we are gearing down for a winter storm today.  I am so ready for spring, yet I love being snowed in.  Doesn't make much sense does it?  Essentially I love being stuck inside watching the snow fall, with a big pot of homemade soup on the stove, but hate it the minute I have to step out the door.
Anyone else with me?
And for that big pot of soup?  I'm making this one tomorrow.  It's the husband's favorite and gets rave reviews from all who make it.

You know what else the husband loves?  Sweet and sour chicken.  Anytime I make stir-fry or a Chinese dish, he always asks if I have any sweet and sour sauce in the fridge and I always say no.  I never buy it {you think he'd know that by now}.

So when I saw a version of this recipe, I knew I needed to try it. 

It got pretty darn good reviews.  The only problem was we ate it all in one sitting and there were not any leftovers.  Next time I'll definitely make a double batch.

Sweet and Sour Chicken
Chicken Breading
3-4 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1 c. cornstarch
2 eggs
1/3 c. oil
Rinse chicken and cut into 1 inch cubes. season with salt and pepper. Dip chicken into cornstarch and coat all the way and then into eggs. Heat oil in large skillet. Cook chicken until browned. Place in a 9x13 baking dish.
1/2 c. sugar
4 T. ketchup
1/2 c. white distilled vinegar
1 T. soy sauce
1 t. garlic salt
Whisk all ingredients until smooth, then pour evenly over chicken. Turn chicken so the sauce gets on both sides and then put in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn chicken and cook for 15 more minutes until done.
Let's other news.  Here are some of my Thursday random thoughts.  Enjoy.
I'm sad that Downton Abbey Season 3 is over.  How long do I have to wait for Season 4?  And getting rid of Matthew?  Ugh.  Heartbreaking.
I'm itching to give my house a deep spring cleaning, but it has to be warm enough that I can open up the windows.  Maybe next month?
Everyday this week I know someone who has a birthday.  I'm serious.  Every single day.  It's crazy.
The little man and I made chocolate chip banana bread last night.  It's heavenly.  So good, I delivered one loaf to daycare, one to work and only kept one at home!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Baked Chicken Ranch Tacos

This meal is a family favorite.  It looks impressive, yet is simple to make!

baked chicken ranch tacos (

Have I got a easy, family meal for you today!  I make Mexican food at least once a week {preferably on Tuesdays if you ask my kids} and this dish has quickly become one of our favorites.  Everyone loves a good taco, right?

Anyway, this meal is easy-peasy and most of the work is done in the slow cooker!  You know my third-arm friend.  She has helped me with many, many meals.  Someday I hope to get one of those digital ones that I can actually set ahead of time and it can start cooking later in the day while I'm gone.  Maybe one like this Hamilton Beach version?

How many times have you forgotten to turn the darn thing on when you walked out the door?

Yeah, me too.

You're not alone.

baked chicken ranch tacos (

Baked Chicken Ranch Tacos

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 c. chicken stock
8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 t. chili powder
1 t. cumin
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1 box hard corn taco shells
1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
shredded lettuce
diced tomatoes
add'l Ranch dressing

1.  Place the chicken, stock, ranch dressing mix, tomato sauce and seasonings in a slow cooker.  Cook on low for 4-6 hours.
2.  Shred the chicken towards the end of the cooking time and allow to simmer in the liquid until ready to assemble.
3.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place a wire rack in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Stand up the taco shells in the pan.
4.  Assemble tacos - shredded chicken, additional ranch dressing, salsa and cheese.
5.  Bake tacos for 10-15 minutes or until heated through and the shells have gotten crispy.
6.  Remove from the oven and top with shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes.  Serve warm.

baked chicken ranch tacos (

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Pepperoni Pizza Bites

Sometimes I just want to be a kid again.  I want someone to serve me my meals, put on my coat, brush my teeth, tuck me into bed and read me a story.

I want someone to decide what groceries to buy, put me into the best school and help guide me through this thing called parenthood.  Being a parent isn't easy.  I often wonder if I am aging at warp speed.  The grey hair sure seems to give that away.  

Hey Mom, if you are reading, did you have this much grey hair at 31?  And if we have a third child will my hair go completely white?

Just wondering.

Wondering why I'm talking about parenting and aging, yet featuring photos of pizza bites?  Well, sometimes I just want to eat like a kid.  There is just less stress and worry.  What vegetable should we have?  Forget-about-it.  How do I time the main dish and side dish to be done at the same time?  Forget-about-it.

You see eating like a kid is simple.  The other day, when it had been a semi-rough day, I made these pizza bites for dinner.  I was just done thinking for the day.  I didn't care what vegetable we had, I didn't care if a side of fruit was served and I certainly did not care to be spending much time in the kitchen.

And you know what?  The kids lived.  They ate these pizza bites for dinner and survived.  There was not one ounce of healthy ingredients served {okay, maybe my homemade pizza sauce using tomatoes from the garden last summer}, but other than that, it was just a fun-filled, kid-loving dinner.

And we all woke up the next day.

Can you believe it?

Here's my challenge to you.

Try not and make every meal such an effort.  Take one day a week to make something so simple it seems ridiculous.  Take one day a week to be standing in the kitchen for no longer than 20 minutes.  Use that extra time to play with your kids, go for a walk or catch up with an old friend.

I'll be happy to lend you this pizza bites recipe.  They come together in a jiffy.  Refrigerated pizza dough, pizza sauce, pepperoni and cheese.  Tuck the dough around the ingredients.  Brush with butter and seasonings.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until slightly golden.

That's it.

Oh, and next time I may try bacon cheeseburger bites.

Just sayin'.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Brown Butter Strawberry Krispies

Happy Valentine's Day!
It would only be fitting for me to give your something pink today.  And delicious, I might add.  So, I'm curious how many of you actually celebrate Valentine's Day?  Do you love it, hate it or just kinda like it?
Give me your thoughts.

When I found strawberry marshmallows on sale at the store last week, I knew they would be perfect in some kind of dessert.
First off the Little Man loves marshmallows.  Anytime we go to the store he is begging for them {along with many other things}.  So as a treat, I got them.
Then of course, to take these krispies up another notch, I used brown butter.  Ah, the glorious browned butter craze.  I am seeing cookies, pastas and basically every food known to man circling Pinterest these days with some sort of browned butter involved.
Want the fancy definition of browned butter?  See here.
Basically you melt unsalted butter over low heat, stirring continually, until it reaches a hazelnut color and has a fragrant nutty smell.  Then you put this melted butter in whatever dish you had planned.  In this case, these krispies.  It gives your dish a nutty, caramel flavor.

Brown Butter Strawberry Krispies
6 c. Rice Krispies cereal
10 oz. strawberry marshmallows {1 large bag}
3 T. unsalted butter
In a large saucepan over low heat melt the butter.  Stir continually until butter becomes light brown in color, bubbly and fragrant {usually a few minutes}.  Pour in marshmallows and stir until completely melted.  Pour in rice krispies and quickly stir into marshmallow mixture to coat the cereal.
Pour into a greased 9x13 pan and press down with hands to make flat.  Allow to cool and cut into bars.  Store covered to stay fresh.
*I doubled my batch to make my bars extra big and thick.

We took these to a play date last week and shared with another family, plus the husband has his FAIR share.  He was most definitely a fan.
The only thing I regretted was not having sprinkles to adorn them with, I was all out.  Sprinkles make everything more fun, right???
I hope everyone has a great day today - whether single, married, dating or a single mother of four, please know you are loved!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Creamy Stove-Top Mac-N-Cheese

Who wants some mac-n-cheese?

You better be raising your hands.  I bet you'd raise your hand if no one was looking, right?  Minus one dear friend of mine {hi, Jana!} I've never known anyone to not like mac-n-cheese.

I will say homemade is my preferred way to eat this dish.  I will eat the boxed variety if in a pinch, and frankly the kids don't care either way, but I at least try and get the "healthy" boxed variety for them....if there is such a thing.

This macaroni reminds me of the kind I had growing up.  My sister, brother and I had a dear, older babysitter that we went to when my parent's were out on the town or just needed a breather.  She was wonderful.  In fact, we often just asked if we could go over there, just because.

And sometimes we did just that.  Went over there even when our parent's were home.

Anyway.  She made the best homemade macaroni and cheese.  I have no idea how she made it, but it is what I requested for lunch EVERYDAY.  Seriously, I don't remember eating anything else at her house....all those years....other than toast with grape jelly and her cinnamon rolls {so healthy!}.

I do have a distinct memory of helping her cut up carrots and celery in her kitchen for something....and her frying up hamburgers one night, but this macaroni is what stands out.

She must have bought elbow macaroni, cheese and milk by the pounds to keep up with our consumption.  I often wonder why she never denied us this meal.  Most babysitters would say "now, we just had that yesterday, let's have something different today".  Nope not her.  She just kept making it.

The great thing about this macaroni is that is comes all together on the stove-top in under 20 minutes.  And the longer you let it sit, the thicker the sauce gets.  I took these pictures when the sauce was still a little runny {still good!}, but trust me the longer it sits, the better it gets.

And heated up the next day for lunch?  Wow.  I was impressed.  It by no means has that over-dried no flavor taste to it.  In fact, it was almost better.  Did I just say that?

Try this.  I give you the challenge to throw away those boxed mixed {or donate them}and make this just once for your kids.  I'd be surprised if they didn't give it 5 stars.

Creamy Stove-Top Mac-n-Cheese
2 c. elbow macaroni
1 T. butter
2 eggs
3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. plain Greek yogurt
1 t. salt
3/4 t. pepper
3/4 t. dry mustard
1 1/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

In a large pot, boil and cook elbow macaroni according to package directions.  Drain well and return pasta to the pot.  Stir in butter.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, yogurt, salt, pepper and mustard.  Pour the egg/milk mixture into the pot and stir.  Add the cheese and continue stirring over medium heat until sauce has thickened and is very creamy {will take a few minutes}.  Serve hot.

Oh, for the love of cheese....

And my husband who turns 31 today.  I almost forgot him.  Sometimes my love of cheese trumps him.

Just kidding!  Happy Birthday!

Would you eat this?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Red Velvet Valentine's Day Brownies

I've made a ton of brownies on this blog, ones oozing with caramel, some filled with mint chocolate chips and others with decadent frosting.

But, I have never made red velvet brownies, until this past week when I figured they would be perfect for Valentine's Day.

We don't really get into Valentine's Day at our house.  You see the husband's birthday is two days prior, so we usually celebrate that {if we are lucky and can find a babysitter, maybe a dinner out} or I make him a nice dinner and whatever dessert he requests.  So when this holiday comes along two days later, we kind of feel like we already celebrated.

This year he works both on his birthday and on the holiday, extra long, weird hour this little brownie may be the only celebration I get!

You see, sometimes I just have to treat myself.

But, for those of you out there looking for a sweet, easy dessert to make for your significant other, these are the brownies.

Homemade and extra-fudgy.  I dare you not to eat the whole pan.  Or at least three.  Better yet, give them a doll-up of ice cream and you'll just die.  Drizzle with hot fudge sauce?  Oh, I cannot express the joy in words.

Red Velvet Brownies
1 1/3 c. flour
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 2/3 c. sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
4 squeezable packets Nestle Toll House Unsweetened Chocolate
2 eggs
2 T. water
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 bottle red food coloring {.3 fl oz.}

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x13 baking pan.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl.  Stir together sugar, butter, unsweetened chocolate, eggs, water, vanilla and food coloring vigorously in a large bowl.  Sift in flour mixture and fold to combine.  Spread into the baking pan.  Bake for 18-22 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted comes out slightly sticky.  Cool completely.  Cut into bars {or hearts!}

Sprinkle with sugar or powdered sugar if desired.

We all know chocolate is most often the dessert of choice around Valentine's Day.  What is your favorite?  An assorted box of chocolates?  A cookie?  Pudding?  Cheesecake?

You know me.  I like them all.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Creamy Swiss Chicken with Cheddar Herb Biscuits

Talk about down on the range home cookin'!

I briefly felt like a pioneer woman cooking up this feast the other day.  I also felt like I needed our three ranch hands to come in for supper after chores and chow down on the meal.

Sadly, I do not have three ranch hands.


But, I do have a husband who about once a week wants a true-stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal.  This one fit the bill, don't you think?

Honestly, it's hard for me to even write down this recipe because I really just threw some stuff together and called it good.  But for the sack of those who follow recipes to the T, I've done my best to throw it together.

You're welcome.

Creamy Swiss Chicken with Cheddar Herb Biscuits
3 c. cooked, shredded chicken
2 c. veggies {I used carrots and peas}
1 c. swiss cheese
1/2 c. chicken stock
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
1 c. milk
1 t. onion powder
1 t. pepper
1 t. salt
Biscuit mix {I used these}

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and grease a 9x13 casserole dish.

In a bowl combine shredded chicken, veggies, chicken stock and seasonings.  In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Sift in flour and stir to combine, letting flour cook out for 2 minutes.  Stir in milk, bring heat up to medium high and stir until thickened {about 3-4 minutes}.  Sprinkle in swiss cheese and stir until melted and combined.

Pour cheese sauce into chicken mixture, toss and pour into casserole dish.  Place uncooked biscuits {again, I used this recipe} over the chicken mixture and brush with melted butter.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown and done.

Dig in!

Guess what I have coming up?

Red Velvet Brownies and Browned Butter Strawberry Krispies......I'm dying!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

{Homemade} Hamburger Helper

Anyone else remember eating Hamburger Helper?  Or are you still eating it today?  I didn't grow up eating it, but I do remember making it many, many, many times during college was I was a dirt poor student and it was a cheap meal.
I even remember making it without the meat, because well, that was even cheaper.
I know I couldn't choke it down today, but I sure can choke down this homemade version.  We had this for dinner last night and it was wonderful!  Interested in an even healthier version of hamburger helper?  Check out Kristen's version.  It's paleo and looks equally delicious.

I know many of you are thinking, why take the time to make it homemade when I can buy a box for a $1?  Oh, the reasons are many.  You can choose to listen or tune me out, but let's face it, that boxed version is nnnnassssttttyyyyy.
It's full of preservatives and fake-nothings and who knows what else.  Now, I am not above eating quick and easy meals, but I just can't do 'boxed' meals anymore.  Especially when you can make it yourself!
This recipe is NOT hard.  I even did it with a 22 month old wild child under my feet asking for milk, a cracker and to read her a book.  I didn't give her any of those, but I did let her watch.  Which she loves!

{Homemade} Hamburger Helper
{Print this Recipe!}
1 lb. ground beef, pork or turkey
1 c. elbow macaroni
2 c. beef stock
1 can Rotel {or your own chopped tomatoes/green chilies}
1 T. chili powder
1 t. cumin
1 t. onion flakes
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
2 T. butter
3/4 c. milk
1 T. cornstarch
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

In a large skillet, brown the meat and drain.  Then add in beef stock, Rotel, seasonings and dry macaroni.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Turn down to a simmer and let cook for 12-14 minutes or until noodles are tender.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, melt butter.  Sprinkle in cornstarch and whisk to combine, cooking for a couple of minutes.  Add in milk and let thicken for a few minutes.  Add in cheese, stir to melt.  Add this cheese sauce to the large skillet, toss to combine.

Serve immediately.

So, tell me, do you have the guts to make your own Hamburger Helper???

Monday, February 4, 2013

Hasselback Potatoes with Spicy Ranch Sauce

With the husband working last night during the Superbowl and the kids in bed, I have a few things to admit.

1.  I watched the whole game, minus the one hour, when I switched to Downton Abbey.
2.  I thought the whole power outage thing was kinda comical.
3.  I drank a glass of wine.  In peace.
4.  I missed not being at a party {we were invited to two} for the yummy munchies.
5.  I ate this potato.

You see, I figured if I was at home, I might as well indulge a bit.  So I had this creamy, cheesy, spicy potato, a glass of wine and a big 'ol red velvet brownie for dessert.

Not the best well rounded meal, but it was still mighty fine.  I figured it was better than if I was at someones house all night grazing on the munchies.

I did bake an extra batch of my Snickerdoodle Pudding Cookies and laid out a platter of jalapeno and cheese deer sausage, cheese and crackers for the husband to take to work.  He ate better than I did.  He called later and listed off the few hundred dips, cookies and sandwiches he inhaled while on duty.

He even had the other hasselback potato when he got home.  How he had room for it, I'm not sure, but he did claim this morning that it was the best baked potato he's ever had in his life.  {Oh darling, if you only knew it really isn't a "baked potato".  But trying to explain what a "hasselback potato" is to a non-foodie just made my skin crawl.}

Hasselback Potatoes with Spicy Ranch Sauce
2 large, baking potatoes
olive oil
4 oz. pepperjack cheese
1/4 c. ranch dressing
bit of milk

Preheat the oven to 415 degrees.

Scrub potatoes, pat dry and generously rub with olive oil.  With a sharp knife, start slicing potato into very thin slices, going 3/4 of the way through the potato.  Do not cut all the way through.  Continue until the potato is done, looking like an accordion.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, moving apart the slices to get salt and pepper in between as well.  Bake for 45 minutes or until potato is done and slices are crispy.  

To make ranch sauce {this is enough for two large potatoes}:  In a glass bowl combine shredded cheese, ranch dressing and a bit of milk.  Microwave for 30 seconds and stir.  Add more milk if needed to thin out sauce.  Continue to heat in small intervals until all cheese is melted and smooth.  Pour over the potatoes and serve hot.

*This recipe could also be done with sweet potatoes*

What is your favorite way to eat a potato?