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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Homemade Ranch Dressing

Have you ever read the ingredient list on a bottle of ranch dressing? I mean, I'm not starting a campaign against Hidden Valley or Kraft, but there is a lot of weird stuff listed. I have to say, this homemade stuff is definitely better than the store bought kind. Give it a try!!

1 cup Duke's mayonaise
1/2 cup sour cream
~1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley
~1/4 cup fresh dill
handful of fresh chives, rough chop
1 tsp. white vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced and smashed into a puree
1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
healthy dash of Tabasco (or your favorite hot sauce)
1/4 cup 2% organic milk (or 1/2 cup for thinner dressing)
dash of paprika

Put everything into the food processor and combine on low. 

Taste for adjustments

I think this is a good base recipe, but some people may prefer more or less of certain flavors in their ranch dressing. Store in a mason jar.

Add more or less herbs according to your taste. I like the herb flavoring, so I tend toward a little more of those.

Notes: After a day in the fridge my dressing was pretty thick. It still tasted good, but next time I may add a little more milk to thin it out. I think I was a little hesitant to make it too watery. Oops! But still delicious!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Cheeseburger Casserole

This is one of those easy week night meals. Easy and tasty--can't beat that! And who doesn't love cheeseburgers?

Cheeseburger Casserole

1 lb. lean ground beef
3/4 yellow onion, diced
small bell pepper, diced (from our backyard plant!)
1 large clove of garlic, minced
2 cups uncooked shells
1 tsp.+ seasoned salt
2 tbls. dijon mustard
2 tbls. ketchup
shredded mexican cheese blend
3 roma tomatoes, diced
dill pickles (buy the chips or dice them up) for topping

 Boil your pasta in salted water and drain. While the pasta is boiling, brown the beef in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and saute about 5-7 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. Drain off any excess grease.

Add seasoned salt, ketchup, diced tomatoes and mustard to beef mixture and gently combine with a spatula. Let this simmer for about 3-5 minutes to combine the flavors. (It should be thick but a little saucy at this point.)

Grease a casserole dish. Combine the pasta and beef mixture and pour into the casserole dish. Top with the shredded cheese. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes (or until cheese is completely melted on top). Allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Serve with dill pickle slices.

Servings: about 6
Total Time: 45 minutes

Notes: Super simple! I thought I wouldn't be able to detect the ketchup and mustard taste, but I really could and it was strangely very good. Leftovers did not last! This could easily be one of those comfort go-to meals. Enjoy!

Recipe: Originally from Bakerette

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Alice Springs Chicken

Here you have my version of the Alice Springs Chicken. Oh soooooooo tasty with a sauce that is your new best friend.

Alice Springs Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken cutlets (or chicken breasts pounded thin)
season all salt
olive oil
8 oz. package mushrooms, sliced
8 slices of bacon
1 small bottle of Ken's Light Option Honey Dijon dressing (or your favorite honey mustard dressing)
4 pepper jack cheese slices
sliced green onions for garnish
(jalapeno slices for husband)

Poke a few holes in the chicken cutlets with a fork and drizzle with olive oil and top with season all salt. Let that set for a few minutes on a plate or dish. (Or you could marinate this in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or so.)

Fry the bacon in a skillet and drain on a paper towel. While that is cooking/sizzling, put a small dose of olive oil in a cast iron skillet on medium-low heat. Gently pan sear the chicken; approximately 7 minutes on each side (at this point I added a couple more dashes of the season salt).

Once the bacon is cooked, pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease. Saute the mushrooms in this (I know this isn't super healthy, but you can always just saute in some olive oil or a little butter instead.) Once the mushrooms are golden brown, remove from heat.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Now it's time to assemble the dish. I assembled everything in the cast iron skillet (fewer dishes to clean!), but you could easily do this in any oven safe dish. Top the chicken with a healthy coating of the honey dijon dressing. Next add the sauteed mushrooms and top each piece with 2 slices of bacon.

Put a slice of the pepper jack cheese on top for good luck. 

Cook in the oven for about 15 minutes until the cheese is melty and the chicken is done. Serve with green onions, jalapenos or spoon extra sauce over the top. You will not be disappointed!

Notes: This is seriously awesome! I mean, really delicious! I wouldn't eat it all the time because it's probably not so great for the waistline. It's obviously not going to be on any diet, but it's soooooo good! You get my point. Husband did not use Tabasco and used his finger to lick up all the sauce on his plate. I say that's a winner winner chicken dinner!!!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Hall Bathroom Makeover For Less Than $500!

So, the post for today is about the hall bathroom renovation I've been very diligently working on over the past few weeks. I wanted to share the results and also that we did all of the work ourselves and spent under $500. That's right. Under $500!!

Here's how it all turned out!

Changes that we made or added:

Painted walls
Painted crown molding underside
Painted vanity
Brand new toilet
New vanity light fixture (and energy saving bulbs)
Added photos, artwork, vanity accessories
New shower curtain rod
Changed shower head

Cost breakdown:

All paint and paint supplies- $100 (I didn't add the receipts to the penny, but I rounded up)
New toilet- $200
Light fixture + bulbs - $90+$5
Shower Curtain Rod- $20
Accessories and wall decor- $65 (some of this we already had)
Shower head- $0 (we already owned this and I installed it myself!)
Labor- Free! DIY!

TOTAL: $480

(with beige/tan everything yuck!)

(with a little bit of TLC!)

Vanity close up

You can see a huge chunk of the cost was the new toilet. If your toilet is in good condition, you can really do this on the cheap (or maybe spring for a new vanity or sink, etc.). If you don't have a burly man around to do the hard installing the can borrow mine. for a price! haha. Or you may just have to hire one. I hope you enjoy the before and after pictures; we are very happy with the results!!!

I wish the photos were  a little better. It's a small bathroom so it's hard to get a good full view.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Bacon & Spinach Quiche

I really love a good quiche and I LOVE bacon. Honestly, what could go wrong with bacon, cheese and spinach?! Nothing, that's what.

Bacon & Spinach Quiche

3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk (used 2% organic)
1 tbls. flour
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (or less if you don't like heat)
dash pepper
~ 2 cups colby/monterey jack cheese, grated
9 oz. package frozen spinach, thawed and drained of excess water
8 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 store bought pie crust

Spray a pie plate and arrange the pie crust in the dish. Put a few bacon crumbles in the bottom.

In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs and milk. Whisk to combine. Add the flour, red pepper flakes and pepper and combine. Finally, add the cheese, spinach and remaining bacon. Stir gently to combine. (It may seem like too much liquid, but mine turned out fine.)

Pour this mixture into the crust and spread evenly. (I added a sprinkling of red pepper flakes on top)

Cook at 350 for 60-65 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle of the quiche comes out clean. Allow to set 5-10 minutes. Enjoy!!

Servings: ~8 pie slices
Total prep + cook time: about 90 minutes

Notes: I love quiche! Husband not so much, so there will be plenty of leftovers for me. :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Crockpot Pesto Corn on the Cob

This is so easy!!!!!! Seriously, I'm not joking. I have no idea why I have never tried this before. It is the easiest corn you will ever make and it's delicious!!

Crockpot Pesto Corn on the Cob

1 jar of pesto (Homemade Pesto)
4 ears of fresh corn, husk and silk removed (from the Charleston Farmers Market of course)
salt and pepper

Place each ear of corn on a sheet of aluminum foil and slather with pesto on all sides. Throw on a pinch of salt and pepper and wrap tightly in the foil. Place each ear seam side down in your crockpot. Cook on High for 2 hours.

That's it. You just let it cook away in the crockpot and your house will smell great too.

It was so delicious. Husband enjoyed it so much, he had two ears of corn. I just ate one.

Even if you don't want to do the pesto corn (which I highly recommend), you can just use butter, salt and pepper or just about any flavor combination you like on your corn. Fantastic! This may be a no-brainer to some of the folks out there, but I honestly have never tried it in the crockpot and it's so stinking simple! Enjoy!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Antipasto Salad

Summer is officially here! And it is definitely hot in Charleston. Pasta salads are great during hot summer days. They can be light and flavorful, but yet they will fill you up. Here is the latest one I am really digging. This is the second time I made it and it's delicious! Stay hydrated and cool out there!!

Antipasto Salad

2 cups uncooked penne pasta
3/4 yellow pepper, diced
3 small red peppers (or about 3/4 regular size red), diced
handful of cherry tomatoes, halved (I only had a few on hand)
1/2 red onion, diced
1/4 cup or a handful of green olives stuffed with pimentos, halved
fresh basil for topping
~1/2 7oz. bag pepperonis, rough chop (or any meat you prefer)
1/2 12oz. jar marinated artichokes, rough chop

1/4 cup olive oil
<1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. italian seasoning
pepper to taste
(if you don't have fresh basil for topping, add 1 tsp. dried basil to the dressing)

Cook the pasta as directed in salted boiling water and drain (rinsing with cool water). 

While the pasta cooks, chop all the ingredients.

Combine the pasta and fresh toppings gently. 

Prepare the dressing in a small bowl and whisk to combine. 

Introduce the dressing on top and gently stir to combine. 

Allow to merry in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes (or you can serve immediately). If you are using the fresh basil, add the garnish when you are ready to serve.

This is super delicious! Husband did not add Tabasco! I really love the flavor combinations here, but you can substitute just about anything if you don't like some of the items in the ingredient list. To be honest, I L-O-V-E pimento stuffed spanish olives. Love them! I can eat them plain and by the handful. Anyways, please enjoy this delightful summer pasta salad!

Prep time: about 30 minutes
Servings: 6-8