Monday, October 20, 2014

Cheesy Chicken Broccoli and Rice Bake

When the kids ask what's for dinner, chances are I'll be met with at least one groan. I have very picky eaters. I think this is the only dish that every single kid gets excited about when I tell them what I'm making. And it even has broccoli in it. And the husband devours it. You can't get much better than that. It's taken me years to finally land the perfect chicken broccoli and rice bake, there are so many out there and this has the best of all of them mixed into one creamy, cheesy delicious dish. I can guarantee everyone will be going back for seconds!

2 tablespoons butter
1-2 heads of broccoli
1 1/4 cups long grain white rice
 4 cups chicken broth
3/4 cups heavy cream
½ C half-and-half (or milk)
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 C shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
¾ C bread crumbs
3 Tbs butter

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat, add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until rice is translucent, about 1 minute. Stir in broth, cream, half-and-half, and salt and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer 20-25 minutes. Preheat oven to 400. Add 3 Tbs water and broccoli florets in a microwave safe bowl, cover then microwave for 2 to 3 minutes. When the rice is done, remove from heat and stir in cheddar cheese, cayenne, chicken and broccoli florets. Pour the mixture into a greased baking dish. For the topping, melt butter in small pan and sauté bread crumbs until lightly brown. Sprinkle shredded cheese then bread crumbs on top then bake until the sauce is bubbling around the edges and the top is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before serving.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Red Chile Sauce Chicken Enchiladas

One of our favorite missionaries was getting transferred so we invited him over for dinner and this was his request. These enchiladas have become quite a legend among all the missionaries. They are just that good. I've been making them for years and they still hit the spot every single time. The flavor of the sauce is incredible, I use the same one in these shredded beef enchiladas if you're more of a red meat enchilada fan.

1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped fine (optional)
1 Tbs canola oil
 ½ tsp salt
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2  Tbs chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 teaspoons sugar
2 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce
1 cup water
3 largechicken breasts
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
10-12 flour tortillas

Cook the chicken in the crockpot then shred. Preheat oven to 400 F. In a large saucepan, combine the onion, jalapeno, salt, and oil. Saute over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the onions and peppers have softened, 6-8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and sugar, and cook until fragrant, less than 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce and water. Bring to a simmer. Remove about half the sauce and set aside for the top. Stir the chicken into the remaining sauce in the pan. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a bowl and add 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese and the cilantro. Toss to combine. Stack the tortillas on a plate and cover with plastic wrap; Microwave on high about 40-60 seconds. Spoon 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture evenly down the center of each. Tightly roll each tortilla and lay seam-side down in a greased 9×13 inch baking dish. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce evenly over the top of the enchiladas. Top with the remaining cheese. Cover dish with foil and bake 20 minutes, or until heated through. Remove foil and bake another 10-15 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and lightly browned. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve with sour cream, guacamole, salsa, shredded lettuce, olives or diced tomatoes.

*source: unknown

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Real Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

I'm sitting here at a loss for words. These buttery flaky melt-in-your-mouth biscuits don't even need an introduction. They speak for themselves. They are nothing short of perfection, and the best part is that they are pretty easy. Just follow the directions exactly and they will turn out perfect every single time. Be prepared to wow your dinner guests, they taste just as delicious as they look!

2 tsp yeast
1/4 cup warm water
 2 ½ cups flour
1 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold butter
 3/4 cups buttermilk (or mix 1 Tbs white vinegar into 3/4 c milk)

Preheat oven to 450°. Combine yeast and warm water in a bowl, let stand 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Use a cheese grater and grate butter into flour mixture and mix together. Combine yeast mixture and buttermilk, then pour into flour mixture and mix until combined (it will be a little sticky), then refrigerate for 20 minutes. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and roll into a rectangle then fold in half and roll it out again, repeat 5 more times (this is the secret for getting all those flaky layers) then roll into a rectangle about ½ inch thick and cut with a 2 inch round cutter (or if you're like me, just use a cup). Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange biscuits close together so that they are touching each other (they rise better this way). Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Brush tops with melted butter.



Friday, October 17, 2014

Copy Cat Rice-A-Roni Rice Pilaf

America is land of the free and home of the cheap and convenient. I used to have my pantry stock piled with Rice-A-Roni, Pasta Roni, Mac & Cheese, Ramen noodles, and all things highly processed. Moving here has really opened my eyes to the world of cooking from scratch and I am definitely better for it. I'm pretty predictable with my side dishes. Salad and bread for pasta dishes, rice, chips and salsa when it comes to Mexican dishes. And considering that I crave Mexican food about every other day, it was vital that I have a good rice dish in my recipe file. I have absolutely fallen in love with this rice pilaf recipe. It's just as quick and easy as opening a box of Rice-A-Roni, but has such a light and fresh flavor, not drowning in sodium and preservatives. It pairs perfectly with pork roast or fish as well.

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup orzo pasta
½ tsp salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup uncooked white rice
2 cups chicken broth

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Cook and stir orzo pasta until golden brown. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute. Mix in the rice, salt and chicken broth. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender, and the liquid has been absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.



Chocolate Cake and Nutella Buttercream Frosting

I'm just going to put this out there. I don't do cake and frosting. Not meaning I don't eat it, no I could eat it three meals a day. I mean I have the worst track record when it comes to making them from scratch. I had a slight panic attack in the middle of the baking aisle of Pak n' Save when we first moved to New Zealand and I discovered there was no such thing as Duncan Hines. I had a lot of trial and errors (read: lots of trials and all errors) until my friend here took pity on me and passed on her no fail chocolate cake recipe. It is so easy, we're talking just dump it all in a bowl and mix together. No sifting, no creaming, no nothing. And it turns out perfect every.single.time. Perfectly fluffy, perfectly moist and perfectly divine. Once that was mastered I still had the frosting to tackle. Every recipe had at least one fatal flaw (most likely I was that one fatal flaw) until I came across this Nutella frosting recipe, it was the perfect marriage of texture and flavor. A match made in heaven. It's a good thing my kids are all a fan (that might be an understatement, they lick every last crumb off the cupcake liners) because they have no other choice when it comes to their birthday cake, it's this or nothing at all. Seriously, it's delicious and fool proof, you can't go wrong!

Chocolate cake:

2 C flour
2 C sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
½ C cocoa
½ c butter
1 C water
1 C milk
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350. Put everything in a bowl and mix until combined. For 9x13 or 2 8-inch round cakes bake for 40-45 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. For cupcakes fill liners half full (approximately 30 cupcakes) and bake for 15-17 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean (be careful not to overcook or it will be too dry).


1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 13-ounce jar of Nutella
1/8 tsp fine grain sea salt
1/2 tablespoon clear vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons heavy cream or milk

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and Nutella until well combined, thick and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Slowly add in confectioner’s sugar, and continue mixing until well blended. Add salt, vanilla, and heavy cream. Blend on low speed until moistened. Add additional confectioners sugar or  cream if needed to reach the desired consistency. Beat at high speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Wait until cake is completely cool before frosting.

*source: cake from my friend Julie and frosting adapted from

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tomato Bisque soup (aka:THE BEST SOUP I'VE EVER TASTED!)

Grilled cheese and tomato soup is the ultimate in comfort food. It is my love language. Next to chocolate covered cinnamon bears, logically. When my oldest was just a baby, my best friend and I would discuss sleep training and the woes of breastfeeding over a can of Campbell's tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. Our babies have grown and so have our taste buds. It was time for a more sophisticated version of my favorite food. My good friend passed along this tomato bisque soup recipe that she got from her friend's mom who is a wedding caterer. And I especially love making this for other people because after their first bite their eyes always get big as they exclaim, "oh my gosh, this SOUP!" Of all my recipes, this is by far the one that I have passed along the most. It is a definite keeper and guaranteed to get rave reviews!

6 T butter, divided
2 garlic cloves minced
1 1/2 t dill weed
1 t oregano
1 t basil
5 c canned crushed tomatoes
1 (6 oz can) tomato paste
4 c chicken stock or broth (2 cans)
2 T flour
2 t salt
1/2 t white pepper
4 t honey
1 1/4 c heavy cream
2/3 c half & half

In a large pot, melt 4 T butter. Saute garlic, and herbs on medium low for about 1-2 minutes, until garlic is lightly browned. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and chicken stock and heat to simmer. In a separate small saucepan, make a roux with the flour and remaining 2 T butter, whisking constantly over medium heat for 3 minutes, without browning. Add roux to soup, whisking to blend. Add salt and pepper. Bring to a boil to thicken, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes. Add honey, cream, and half & half. And most definitely serve with sour dough grilled cheese. (soften butter, add some paremsan, basil and garlic salt then spread on the outside of the bread before grilling for added flavor).

*the best part is that it makes a ton so divide it into ziploc bags and stick them in the freezer, then pull one out and reheat for a quick meal

*source: a mom of a friend of a friend :)


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

{the best} Crescent Chicken Rolls with Parmesan Cream Sauce

Chances are you may have tried at least one version or another of this recipe, sometimes disguised under a different name. I've been making them since the dawn of time, or at least the dawn of our married years when I realized frozen bean burritos aren't enough to sustain life. In the early days I would pop open a can of refrigerated crescent rolls and mix up a packet of McCormick's gravy mix, but when I came across this mature grown up version on Mel's Kitchen Cafe I immediately fell in love. First of all, I have to admit that Melanie over there is my biggest foodie crush. I've been making her dishes for years and have yet to find one that we don't like. The homemade crescent rolls take a little extra time, but as with all things in life, good things come to those that wait. Er, at least to those that spend an extra 20 minutes in the kitchen. This is by far my daughter's most requested meal. Well, next to Pizza Hut. It's a stiff competition.

½ C warm water
½ C warm milk
1 egg
1/3 C butter, softened
1/3 C white sugar
1 tsp salt
4 C flour
1 ½ Tbs yeast
Add yeast and a sprinkle of sugar to warm water and set aside for 5-10 min to let proof. Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Whisk egg and butter into warm milk, mix into dry ingredients then add yeast mixture and stir well. Knead dough for a few minutes then cover bowl and let rise until double in size (about an hour).

3 chicken breasts cooked and shredded (I prefer cooking it in the crockpot with a little broth)
1 8oz pkg cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tbs dry ranch dressing mix (optional)
1 1/2 Cup panko crumbs (add parsley and garlic salt if you want)
Mix all ingredients together

To assemble:
Preheat oven to 375. Divide dough in half. Roll each half into a 12 inch circle then cut each circle into 8 wedges. Spoon about 1/4 C filling onto wide end of the wedge then roll up.  Dip in melted butter and roll in bread crumbs. Place seam side down about 2 inches apart on greased baking trays. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until lightly golden brown and the dough is baked through.

Parmesan Sauce:
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 chicken bouillon cube or 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup sour cream, light or regular
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and whisk in the flour, cooking over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture is golden and bubbly. Slowly whisk in the milk, then stir in the chicken bouillon, salt and pepper. Stir constantly over medium heat until the sauce thickens and bubbles, about 5-10 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and cook, stirring, until the cheese is melted. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the sour cream. Add a little milk to thin out the sauce if needed. Serve the rolls warm from the oven with Parmesan cream sauce drizzled over the top.

Source: adapted from