Mexican Brownies

Ingredients

  • 1 box (1 lb. 2.3 oz.) Betty Crocker fudge brownie mix
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
  • 2 oz. dark or bittersweet baking chocolate, chopped (we used bittersweet chocolate)
  • Coarsely ground sea salt (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Take a 9-inch square pan (we only had an 8-inch square pan) and grease the inside of the pan with your choice of either shortening or cooking spray (we used cooking spray).
  2. Take a large mixing bowl out and mix the brownie mixture, water, oil, eggs and cayenne pepper together using a spoon just enough to blend everything together. Fold in your chopped chocolate afterwards. Pour the batter into the greased pan, making sure that everything’s spread out evenly afterwards.
  3. Stick the pan in the oven to cook for 35 to 40 minutes (we put ours in for 37 minutes) or until a toothpick that you stick into the brownie 1 inch from the side of the pan comes out looking mostly clean. Take the pan out of the oven and let it cool down for at least 10 minutes before cutting the brownies into 5 rows by 4 rows*. You can enjoy this warm or when it’s cool.

*Because we used a smaller pan we could only get 4 rows by 4 rows.

We didn’t taste any heat when we initially took a bite but by the end of one whole piece, you could feel the heat ! The sea salt wasn’t something the original recipe suggested but when we tried sprinkling a little over our individual pieces, we enjoyed the brownies that much more !

We found this recipe in a Betty Crocker cookbook.

We weren’t paid in any form to promote Betty Crocker.

Take care everybody !

Post-Op Visit

Mommy had her fist visit to the podiatrist since the surgery today. He liked how things were looking and thinks she could start increasing her activity a little in a few days. Mommy’s happy to be moving around at all but I think she’s most excited to get back in the kitchen even if it’s only for 15 minutes at a time ! Since the worst of the recovery is behind us now, you’ll be seeing more recipes from us again soon !

Take care everybody !

Surgery and Movies

Mommy’s foot surgery was a success, in fact she got a 2-for-1 deal ! When they went to shave down the bony growth, they discovered a ganglion cyst as well and did what they could to remove it. In honor of mommy having a foot incapacitated and being stuck in the house for the upcoming weeks, we’re watching Rear Window (1954), Disturbia, and Misery.

Take care everybody !

(We weren’t paid in any form to promote any of those movies.)

Pre-op Jitters

No new recipe post tonight you guys. Mommy has to get surgery done Thursday. Mommy has this bony growth on top of her left foot that’s been causing her pain. When looking at her foot, it looks like it’s about the size of a small marble (does anyone else remember what those are). My mom’s flat-footed so she has to wear shoes most of the time. The problem with that though is that the shoe really irritates that bony growth. She’s been trying to take better care of herself which means more exercise but because of the bony growth, it’s making that difficult to do. The doctor’s going to go in and kind of sand (or shave) the bony growth down. The surgery should take about two hours but I think that’ll be the easy part for mommy. Mommy doesn’t like to be told she needs to rest and she really hates the thought of me doing everything. The hard part for her will be sitting for the next 6 weeks and watching me do everything so she can give her foot the best chance to recover fully. Right now she’s feeling very anxious about the surgery and post-op recovery and I’m doing my best to keep her calm. Because of this situation, our posts may not be as frequent as they normally are. Sorry for not  having recipes on a regular basis but we’ll be back to that when the doctor gives my mom the okay to be on her feet more.

Take care everybody !

Pizza-Stuffed Mushrooms

A great handheld snack for any occasion !

Ingredients

  • ½ pound mild Italian sausage, casings removed (we used hot Italian sausage)
  • ¾ cup chopped pepperoni slices, divided
  • 1/3 cup minced onion
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup pizza sauce
  • 4 (8-ounce) packages baby portobello mushrooms, stems removed
  • ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Take a rimmed baking sheet out and line it with aluminum foil.
  2. Take a large skillet out and set the heat to medium. Once the skillet’s hot, add in the Italian sausage, ½ cup of the pepperoni, and the minced onion, stirring now and then for 7 minutes or however long it takes for the sausage to be fully cooked and crumbly. Drain off the grease afterwards. Add the cream cheese and pizza sauce to the skillet, stirring until the cream cheese has melted and the mixture looks smooth. Take the skillet off the heat.
  3. Spoon the skillet mixture into the mushroom caps (keeping the filling even with the top of the mushroom or maybe a little over) and place it on the lined baking sheet. After filling the caps, sprinkle the mozzarella cheese and what’s left of the pepperoni over the top and stick the sheet in the oven.
  4. Let the mushrooms cook for 20 minutes or until the cheese looks golden brown (20 minutes worked for us). Serve right away (we found if you let them cool down a little before eating them, they’re a lot more enjoyable).

If you eat them right after they’re done cooking, you’ll have the water from the mushroom come squirting out and it dilutes the flavors to the point of it just tasting “meh” but if you let the mushrooms cool down a little so the juice doesn’t come bursting out when you take a bite, that’s when you can really taste the flavors of the filling. Using hot Italian sausage adds just a little bit of heat that wouldn’t have been existent in the dish otherwise. The Italian sausage and pepperoni adds some texture to the dish, the cream cheese provides a creamy tanginess and the pizza sauce adds a little sweetness.

We got this recipe from a Cooking with Paula Deen magazine.

We weren’t paid in any form to promote the Paula Deen magazine.

Take care everybody !

Bourbon Chicken

I used to love getting bourbon chicken whenever we went to a shopping mall so when mommy came across this recipe, we had to try it out so we could see if it outdid the mall-version !

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup brown sugar (we used 1 packed cup of light brown sugar)
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2/3 cup soy sauce (we used low-sodium soy sauce)
  • ¼ cup bourbon liquor (we used Jim Beam)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup apple juice (we used Tree Top 3 Apple Blend)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Directions

  1. Take a large, heavy-bottomed pot out (we used a Dutch oven) and pour the oil in, setting the heat to medium-high. Once the oil’s hot, toss the chicken in and cook until the chicken looks golden* on all sides. Take the chicken out and place it in a bowl for now.
  2. In the same pot you had the chicken in earlier, add in the following ingredients, stirring to combine: water, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, bourbon, garlic, ginger and pepper flakes. After everything’s mixed together, scrape the bottom so any browned bits get mixed in as well.
  3. Toss the chicken back into the pot and wait for the liquid to come to a boil. Turn the heat down so it’s at a simmer and let the dish cook for 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Make a smooth slurry by mixing the cornstarch and apple juice together until there’s no clumps of cornstarch remaining. Mix the slurry into the chicken and sauce and let it thicken for a few extra minutes. Serve with white rice.

Serves 4.

*When we added our chicken in, the chicken just turned white, there was no golden appearance on it all. When we saw the chicken was close to, or was fully cooked, we just pulled it out rather than wait to see if it’d get golden at all. Looking back, we think we should’ve added the chicken in batches rather than adding it in all at once to ensure the chicken had a chance of being seared.

To be honest, it’s been years since having bourbon chicken. Feels like all I can remember was that it tasted really good but nothing specifically about the flavors themselves. So whether or not this is what bourbon chicken from the mall is supposed to taste like, it tastes really good ! There were no leftovers when we made this. It’s definitely got a sweet flavor but there’s also a pleasant level of heat to it. We were expecting it to be a lot spicer since it had a whole tablespoon of red pepper flakes in it but instead, it was just enough to notice, but not so strong that you needed something to drink afterwards.

Recipe source unknown.

We weren’t paid in any form to mention Jim Beam or Tree Top.

Take care everybody !

Satay Lettuce Wraps

 Ingredients

  • ½ cup dry-roasted peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil (we used peanut oil)
  • 1 ¼ pound thinly sliced pork or chicken cutlets, or 1 ½ pounds ground pork or chicken (we used ground chicken*)
  • Pepper
  • ¼ pound oyster, baby white, or shiitake mushrooms, chopped or thinly sliced (we went with shiitake mushrooms and thinly sliced them before chopping them up)
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped or thinly sliced (we sliced ours)
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • one (1 ½-inch) piece ginger, cut into thin matchsticks or finely chopped (we chopped up our ginger)
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • ½ cup unsweetened apple juice or chicken stock (we used chicken stock)
  • ¼ cup tamari sauce
  • A few dashes hot pepper sauce (we used sriracha)
  • 1 small head iceberg lettuce, core removed and head quartered

Directions

  1. Using a food processor just your knife and arm strength, cut up the peanuts until they look finely chopped.
  2. Take a large-sized skillet out and pour your choice of oil in. The original recipe talks about tilting the pan twice or so at this point but really we think that was their way of trying to tell the reader to make sure the oil coats the inside of the skillet. Once you’ve swirled the oil around, turn up the heat to high and wait for the oil to get hot. Once the oil’s hot, throw your pork or chicken in and cook it for 5 minutes, or however long it takes for the meat to look browned, seasoning the meat with the pepper while it cooks. Next thing to do is toss in the mushrooms, scallions, garlic, and ginger, tossing or stirring all the ingredients around constantly for 2 minutes. After those two minutes pass, move everything in the skillet off to the side or edges so that you can plop the peanut butter down in the center, allowing it to melt. Using a whisk preferably or a fork if you don’t have a whisk, stir in the stock or apple juice, tamari, and your choice of hot sauce to the peanut butter, adding the peanuts to the skillet afterwards. Stir everything in the skillet together at this point, combining the sauce with the skillet mixture.
  3. Take the mixture out of the skillet and place it either in a group serving bowl or into individual bowls so everybody knows they’re getting equal portions. Serve the lettuce cups/wedges alongside the mixture and when you’re ready to eat, simply spoon however much of the mixture you’d like into each lettuce wedge and enjoy !

Serves 4

*We didn’t realize until we got home that the brand of ground chicken we bought adds up to 1% vinegar and rosemary extract. Hopefully it didn’t affect the end results flavor.

This was a tasty dish that was fun to eat. It had a little saltiness from the tamari and chicken stock, a savory taste from the chopped peanuts as well as the peanut butter, and a faint heat at the end of the bite from the hot sauce. Great thing about this serving style was that everyone else can enjoy a mild heat while you can spread some more hot sauce onto your own portion before chowing down to up the heat level for yourself. The crunch from the lettuce and chopped peanuts was a nice contrast to the rest of the textures in the meal. It was also a pleasant surprise that you really do feel full after eating this dish, no side dishes necessary.

Recipe source unknown.

Take care everybody !

Peanut Noodles with Pork

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • 12 oz. Chinese chow mein noodles or spaghetti (we used whole wheat spaghetti)
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 2 carrots, shredded (about ¾ cup)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped (remove seeds for less heat) (we didn’t remove the seeds)
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped (white and green parts separated)
  • 1 (2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 oz. ground pork
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

  1. Get a large pot out and fill it up with water, bringing the water to a boil. Salt the water until it tastes like sea water. Put the noodles in the water and cook it based off the directions you find on the box that the noodles came in. Once the noodles are done, take ½ cup of the pasta water out and leave it off to the side while you drain the rest of the water out, leaving the noodles off to the side just for now. Take a large mixing bowl out and add the following ingredients to it, stirring to combine: peanut butter, vinegar, two tablespoons water, two tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of the toasted sesame oil, shredded carrots, and half of that finely chopped jalapeño. Now you can add the noodles to the bowl, stirring the noodles around so they get coated in the sauce.
  2. Take a large skillet out and pour what’s left of the sesame oil into it. Turn the heat up to medium-high and wait for the oil to get hot. Now that the oil’s hot, throw the ginger, garlic, and white sections of the scallions into the skillet, stirring constantly for roughly 2 minutes or until the garlic looks golden. Now place the ground pork in the skillet, breaking it up into bite-size pieces and stir everything around until the meat’s browned and fully cooked, which should take about 5 minutes. At this point, stir what’s left of the soy sauce into the skillet and take it off the heat afterwards.
  3. Place the skillet mixture in the large mixing bowl with the noodles, throwing half of the scallion greens as well as half of the cilantro into the bowl as well. Toss everything together, adding some of that pasta water in if you think the sauce is too thick for your liking. Split into 4 bowls and if you like, add some additional jalapeño, scallion greens, and cilantro to your own individual bowl.

This is a favorite of ours now. You can taste the ginger, peanut butter, the heat from the jalapeños, and a great freshness from the green onion and cilantro. You also get a nice sized portion which is great since the dish is so tasty !

This recipe came an issue of Food Network Magazine.

We weren’t paid in any form to promote Food Network Magazine.

Take care everybody !

Mall Chicken Teriyaki

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into small chunks
  • 3 ½ tablespoons mirin
  • 3 ½ tablespoons soy sauce (we used low-sodium soy sauce)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dark soy sauce (we didn’t find any bottles in our town that mentioned their soy sauce was dark so we just used more regular low-sodium soy sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sesame oil (we used toasted sesame oil)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • Steamed rice, to serve

Directions

  1. Get a large mixing bowl out and add everything to it (excluding the 2 tablespoons of oil and steamed rice).
  2. Stir everything in the mixing bowl until the marinade looks thoroughly combined and the chicken is thoroughly coated in the marinade. Stick the bowl in the refrigerator while the chicken marinates for 2 hours.
  3. Now that the 2 hours have passed, take a wok or large skillet out (we went with a skillet) and pour the two tablespoons of oil into it, turning the heat up to medium-high. Once the oil’s hot, take the chicken out of the mixing bowl (leave the marinade in the bowl for now) and add it to the skillet, making sure the chicken is kept in a single layer (so everything gets cooked equally) and don’t stir it for a minute so that it can get a nice sear on that side touching the skillet.
  4. After that minute passes, start stirring the chicken around constantly for an additional minute before pouring the marinade in, turning the heat down to medium afterwards. Let the sauce simmer, continuing to stir the chicken around in the skillet. Once the sauce looks thicker and is coating the chicken, take the skillet off the heat and serve immediately over that steamed rice.

As soon as you take a bite of the chicken, it really does take you back to eating teriyaki chicken in the mall. The chicken is juicy and tender, and as far as the sauce goes, it has some sweetness to it but it’s not overwhelmingly sweet and it creates a sticky texture once it coats the chicken.

We got this recipe from Woks of Life.

We weren’t paid in any form to promote Woks of Life.

Take care everybody !

Shrimp & Shiitake Stir-Fry with Crispy Noodles

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ tsp. cornstarch
  • ½ cup chicken broth (used Swanson’s reduced-sodium chicken broth)
  • 2 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 small head bok choy
  • 1 lb. uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (used 31-40 count)
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger root
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced (used 2)
  • ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (we used 1 tsp.*)
  • 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced (we used a yellow onion)
  • 2 cups sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • ¼ cup chow mein noodles (we didn’t measure out how many we used)
  • Hot cooked brown rice, optional (we used it)

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, add the cornstarch, broth and soy sauce to it, stirring to combine until it’s smooth. Leave the bowl off to the side for now.
  2. Take the bok choy and cut off the root end, leaving the stalks with their leaves. Now slice off the leaves so you’ve got leaves in one pile and the stalks in another. Slice the leaves and stalks, leaving them off to the side in their separate piles.
  3. Take a large skillet or wok out (we used a skillet) and pour one tablespoon of canola oil into it. Set the heat to medium and once the oil’s hot, toss the shrimp in to cook until it turns pink. Take it out immediately and put it on a plate, covering it afterwards to help keep the shrimp warm.
  4. Pour the rest of the canola oil into the skillet. Now add the ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes to the skillet, stirring it around for one minute. Now place the onion, mushrooms, and bok choy stalk slices into the skillet, continuing to cook and stir constantly for 4 minutes. Add the bok choy leaves in and cook for 2-4 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp-tender (2 minutes did the job for us).
  5. Take the cornstarch mixture you stirred together in step one and pour it into the skillet. Wait for a boil to occur and then stir for 2 minutes or until the sauce has thickened (2 minutes worked well for us). Toss the shrimp back into the skillet, cooking just long enough for the shrimp to warm up (should only take mere seconds to occur). Spread the chow mein noodles over the dish. Serve the skillet mixture over the rice if you want to.

Serves 4.

*The first time we had this, we didn’t feel like it had enough heat so we decided to double it. We got the heat we wanted but it did result in some coughing, sneezing, and runny noses.

This is such a scrumptious dish ! The bok choy stalk has a crunch to it which is a nice contrast against some of the softer things in the dish. The bok choy also provides a nice level of bitterness that isn’t overpowering at all. The sauce has a little bit of sweetness to it. The shrimp was juicy and tender and the flavor of the shrimp still came through at the end. There’s definitely a spicy component to this dish now ! Eating this with brown rice does cut down on the heat some and the rice will make you feel fuller with less of the skillet mixture. The chow mein noodles don’t have any flavor really but they add a really nice crunch to the dish ! We did decide it was better to just add the noodles onto our portions so we could have as little or as much as we wanted per plate.

Recipe source unknown.

We weren’t paid in any form to mention Swanson.

Take care everybody !