The Stay At Home Chef: July 2013

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Fajita Burgers

Can I just tell you that I LOVED this burger? It was juicy, messy, tender, and full of flavor. Carl's Jr. isn't messing around when they say if it doesn't get all over the place it doesn't belong in your face. This was faster than making regular burgers, and I swear it tastes better. I had meant to use regular ground beef and then forgot to buy it at the store. I had some nice flank stake and decided to give it a go. Oh baby! My eyes have been opened to a whole new burger world of possibility! I did it all on the grill which gave it a nice smoky flavor. The next day I also tried a vegetarian version inside on the stove using black bean burgers instead of beef. Once again, it was delicious. I'm in love with these things. Good thing bell peppers are in season right now!


2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 2 limes
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tablespoon worcestershire
1 clove garlic, minced
1.5 lbs flank steak, cut against the grain into 1/4 inch slices

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, halved and sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 green bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into strips
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp red pepper flakes

8 hamburger buns
16 slices pepperjack cheese
Sour Cream


1. Create the marinade for your flank steak. In a small bowl, combine together the olive oil, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, worcestershire, and minced garlic. Put your flank steak strips in and let marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. 

2. Heat a large skillet over high heat. If using your grill, do the same but use a grill safe skillet. In a large bowl, toss together your onion, bell peppers, salt, cumin, chili powder, and red pepper flakes.   Saute until the vegetables are  tender crisp (7-10 minutes).  Remove the vegetables from the pan and transfer to a serving bowl, but keep the skillet hot. 

3. Return the skillet to high heat. Cook your flank steak in it for about 2-3 minutes, stirring throughout. If you are doing this on a grill the flames will jump up and lick the meat so watch your hands and face.

4. Compile your burgers on the bun with 1 slice of pepperjack cheese on bottom, flank steak, another slice of pepperjack, a heaping pile of peppers,  and a dollop of sour cream. Toast the buns for an extra nice touch. 

VEGETARIAN OPTION: Use black bean burgers in place of the flank steak. It's divine!


Coconut & Honey Roasted Carrots

I'm roasting everything lately. I know it is summer and lots of people try to keep their ovens off, but I can't help myself! I'm indulging myself in roasted vegetables all summer long. I found some beautiful fresh carrots and knew I'd be putting those babies in the oven to roast. I wanted to try something a little different this time and keep them ultra healthy by using coconut oil. And yes, the skins remained on. No peeling required. Just scrub them off to make sure they are clean. They are roots after all. The result was a tasty, sweet summer carrot. Is it simple? Absolutely! Sometimes simple is the best route to go with vegetables. They are full of flavor in their own right and I love the way that roasting brings out those flavors and gives them natural caramelization. Give it a try!


2 bunches of carrots, tops removed
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons honey


1. Place the carrots on a 4 sided baking sheet. Melt your coconut oil in a microwave safe bowl. It should only take 15-20 seconds. Drizzle the coconut oil and honey over the carrots.

2. Roast in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes. They'll have some beautiful caramelization at this point!


Blueberry-Carrot Tuna Wraps

Blueberries and tuna? Am I crazy? I know what you are thinking here, but have a little faith in me. These wraps are light, have a wonderful brightness to them, and taste pretty darn good. And this is coming from a girl who generally doesn't even like blueberries!

Summer is blueberry time. They are everywhere! When they went on sale for 75 cents a package I just couldn't resist. I'm also a big wrap eater in the summer so I figured I could find a way to use them in a wrap. I found a recipe on for a blueberry wrap. It was a good start, but it had absolutely no spices. I knew the recipe needed work and I was up for the challenge. The result was something worthy of sharing. It's healthy, flavorful, and perfect for summer!

Fruits...Vegetables...Tuna? It's good all the way through!


12 oz canned tuna, drained 
2 tsp olive oil
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 clove garlic, minced

4 cups fresh spinach, chopped
2 carrots, diced
1 apple, cored and diced
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
salt and pepper
1 lemon, juiced
4 large flour tortilla wraps


1. In a large bowl, combine the tuna, olive oil, sour cream, and garlic. Mix until well combined. 

2. Add in the chopped spinach, diced carrot, diced apple, and blueberries. Season with a little salt and pepper. Stir together with the tuna. Squeeze the lemon juice over the tuna salad and stir through one more time. 

3. Divide the salad up amongst the wraps and roll up. Enjoy!


Creamy Cheddar-Parmesan Polenta

Polenta is an Italian cornmeal dish. You can make polenta cakes which is more like the consistency of a dense bread, or you can make it creamy which is more like the consistency of mashed potatoes. Loading it up with cheese makes it this creamy, melty spoonful of cornmeal mush. I topped it with a little pile of caramelized onions. Don't confuse it with grits though because there is a difference (size of the kernels as grits is made from hominy). 

I usually make fried polenta, but sometimes creamy just feels better. It is more soulful. Bring a little Italy home with this comforting little dish. Yum!


6 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups yellow cornmeal
5 tablespoons butter
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 cup milk


1. In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil over high heat. Salt it with the 1 tsp of salt. Once it is boiling, whisk in the cornmeal. 

2. Reduce the heat to low and let the cornmeal simmer until it is tender about 15-20 minutes. It will be really thick, so yes, you are doing it right.

3. Stir in the butter and let it melt. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese until melted, followed by the milk. 

4. Taste and season with any additional salt and pepper needed. Serve hot!


Leek and Mushroom Grilled Cheese

I swear I do my best work when I don't have anything planned for dinner. This grilled cheese is an example of that. I had a leek that needed to be used and some mushrooms. And, of course, I had cheese. The combination sounds simple, but it really brings about a tasty grilled cheese sandwich. If you haven't tried leeks, they come from the onion family. They have a mild onion flavor, but have this wonderful sweetness to them. The long white stem is the good part. Just chop the top end off, as well as the bottom roots and you've got yourself a long tube of onion-y goodness to work with. We are big lovers of leeks in this house, so much that we tried to grow them when we lived in the dessert. Gardening in the dessert is a nightmare and takes massive effort so it means we really love something to try growing it. Leeks and mushrooms are an easy combo. There's no need to add any more seasoning than just a little salt and pepper to bring about a delicious melt. 


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 leek, halved and sliced
salt and pepper
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 loaf artisan bread sliced (8 slices)
6 oz Gouda, shredded*


1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add in the leeks and saute for about 5-7 minutes until softened. Add in the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and saute for another 2-3 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked through. 

2. Heat a skillet or flat top grill to medium heat. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Pair them up so you have 4 sandwiches (butter on the outside). Layer with shredded cheese, a nice heaping of the mushroom/leeks, and top with more cheese. 

3. Cook over medium heat, flipping once, until both sides are browned and cheese is melted through. Patience is the key to a great grilled cheese. Don't try and bust them out by cranking up the heat. When it comes to grilled cheese, low and slow is the way to go. 

*I find that working with shredded cheese on a grilled cheese is actually much easier and helps the cheese spread throughout any additional toppings, holding the sandwich together much better.


Garlic and Lemon Cream Pasta with Roasted Broccoli

Sometimes all I want to eat is a creamy pasta. Since it is summertime I decided to give this creamy pasta a lighter feel by using a chicken broth base and bringing in the bright flavors of lemon. Since I love roasted broccoli I figured I could add it into a pasta and have it be delish. This is a vegetarian recipe which is often how I roll, and let me tell you, you won't miss the meat in this dish at all. Sure you could throw in some chicken breast, but it wouldn't truly add anything to the dish. The broccoli is bursting with flavor, and the sauce is creamy and bright with the zippy flavors of lemon with a hint of garlic. Even my kids gobbled this pasta right up!


1 head broccoli, cut into florets
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil 
Salt and Pepper
1 lb penne pasta
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place the broccoli florets and sliced garlic cloves on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with a little salt and pepper. Roast for about 15-20 minutes, until broccoli is tender crisp.

2. Meanwhile, cook your pasta according to package directions and drain.

3. Make the sauce by melting the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add in the onion, season with salt and pepper, and saute in the butter for about 5-7 minutes. Add in the garlic and saute another minute. Whisk in the flour to form a paste. Slowly pour in the chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and allow the sauce to thicken (about 5 minutes). Whisk in the lemon juice. Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary. Pour in the heavy cream and stir when ready to serve.

4. Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta. Serve topped with the roasted broccoli and garnished with lemon zest and parmesan cheese. 


Spicy Roasted Green Beans

I keep craving roasted vegetables. I don't know what it is, but I'm roasting everything lately. You'd think I'd avoid it since it is summer, but I simply can't resist. Fresh green beans were on sale and I couldn't resist. Roasting vegetables is so easy and it brings out wonderful qualities in the veggies you just can't get any other way. The night I made these I actually doubled the red pepper flakes because I wanted the burn. Do you ever crave heat? I totally do. Sometimes I just want it to burn my face off. As written, the recipe is only medium-spiced. You shouldn't burn your face off. Roast those green beans! You'll love it!


1 lb fresh green beans, ends trimmed
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp ground ginger


1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the soy sauce, garlic, red pepper flakes and ground ginger. Stir to combine. 

3. Lay the green beans out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle the dressing over the green beans. 

4. Roast for about 20 minutes until the green beans are tender and start to shrivel.


Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs with Jalapeno, Cheddar, and Caramelized Onions

I hate hot dogs. Well, I hate kid hot dogs. If you put a hot dog between bread and lay on a little ketchup and mustard then you, my friend, are eating a kid hot dog. Nothing wrong with it. I just think it is...plain. When I eat hot dogs I like to go all out. I insist on using all beef hot dogs (Hebrew National) and then loading them up with other good stuff. Take this hot dog for instance. It is far from a kid hot dog. It's wrapped in bacon, smothered in BBQ sauce, melted cheese, caramelized onions, and toasted jalapenos. It is right up my alley. I'm all about jalapenos lately. I swear I'm buying them in bulk. Nothing wrong with spicing up your summer!


8 hot dogs
8 hot dog buns
8 strips of bacon
16 toothpicks
2 onions, halved and sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 jalapenos, sliced
Cheddar Cheese, shredded
BBQ sauce


1. Wrap each hot dog with a strip of bacon. Secure each bacon end into the hot dog with a toothpick. Cook each hot dog on a grill or in a skillet over medium heat. Rotate each hot dog as they cook so that all sides can be cooked. Remove from the pan when the bacon gets crispy.

2. Meanwhile, in another skillet, saute the onion in the olive oil over medium-high heat. Once they get soft and translucent, reduce the heat to medium low. Stir occasionally. As the onions continue cook, they will take on a nice brown color. Once they have reached a beautiful brown, remove from heat and set aside. This will take about 20 minutes.

3. Toast the jalapeno slices in the same skillet you cooked the onions in. Toast for 3-4 minutes.

4. Compile your hot dog by placing the bacon wrapped dog on the bun, give it a line of BBQ sauce, top with cheddar, onions, and jalapeno. Enjoy!


Mexican Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

I'm bringing you another stuffed sweet potato today. I make these sweet potato burritos that my family loves (well, my siblings call it dang hippy food). After making THIS chipotle stuffed sweet potato I decided I wanted to combine the two recipes into a Mexican twice baked sweet potato sans chipotle. I'm kinda getting tired of chipotle. Did I just really say that? I guess I'm just on a break. Anyway, the result was wonderful. It's a totally healthy dinner which is awesome. We ate it as our main dish. Granted, sometimes we just have vegetables for dinner or two side dishes. I like to be weird that way. It's a filling meal too. Vegetarian delight for sure. You could serve it as a starter, hearty appetizer, side dish, or gobble it up as your main dish. I love the versatility. I even snuck spinach in there since I'm always trying to trick my husband and son into eating green vegetables. A mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do. 


3 medium-sized sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups black beans
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
2 large handfuls of fresh spinach
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese


1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Scrub your sweet potatoes clean and lay them on the baking sheet. Roast in the oven until soft, somewhere in the range of 1 hour. Actual baking time will depend on thickness and size of your sweet potatoes. Start checking them after 40 minutes if they are on the small side.

2. While your sweet potatoes are cooking, heat a small skillet to medium-high heat. Add in olive oil and then saute the onion in it for about 7 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent. Add in the minced garlic, cumin, and chili powder and saute for another minute. Remove from heat and set aside. 

3. Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and carefully slice them in half. Scoop out the flesh and put it in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Leave a little flesh on the potato skin to create a wall. Set the skins back onto the baking sheet.

4. Once the flesh has been removed, mash it all up in the mixing bowl. Add in the onion mixture, black beans, and fresh spinach and stir until well combined. Stuff each skin full with the seasoned mixture. Top with cheese. Put them back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes until cheese is bubbling and starting to brown. 


Jalapeno Cheese Bread

I was taking my kids to the park last week and made a quick stop at the grocery store beforehand to catch a sale on cereal. (Our house might be full of cereal addicts). I was hungry and hadn't packed myself a snack so I bought a jalapeno cheese bread from the bakery. I felt a little silly paying 69 cents for it when I knew I could easily make it at home. So what did I do? I ate the 69 cent one and promptly went home to make 3 loaves myself. My husband was convinced I was going to give them away and wanted to make sure we got some for ourselves. Only 1 loaf got given away. Call me selfish! We took the loaves up to a local park called "Double Peak" that has the most wonderful view. You can see for miles. You have wonderful mountain views as well as lagoon and ocean views. It is heavenly. We soaked in the views while eating our bread and then played on the three section teeter totter. If you ever have the chance to play on a three section teeter totter I highly recommend it. Seriously, it is pretty dang cool. Pure craziness. As for the bread? You should totally try that too. Delish man!

Yields 1 large loaf


1/2 tablespoon yeast
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 cup warm water
2 cups flour
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 jalapeno sliced


1. In a mixing bowl, combine the yeast with the salt and warm water. Add in the flour and knead until well combined.

2. Let rise 1 hour.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Shape the dough into a large ball and elongate it into an oval about 1 inch thick. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and scatter the jalapenos on top. Keep the jalapenos towards the center as they will spread out as the cheese melts and dough puffs up.

4. Bake for about 20 minutes, until cheese starts to brown.


Cherry Balsamic Barbecue Sauce

It is cherry season! Have you been enjoying them? When my husband was a kid he used to work on his Grandpa's property in Utah. Grandpa Farnsworth had a couple cherry trees and the grandkids were in charge of reaping the harvest. Apparently it is hard work. Some of the grandkids still have nightmares about cherry picking. Not my husband. He loves cherries. I've never seen someone so talented at spitting out the pit. It must be what makes him such a good kisser. 

Sweet red cherries were on sale this week so I bought a bunch. I have to buy several pounds if I want to use them in anything besides eating them plain otherwise the hubby gets all sad and mopey. It was such a good deal that I was able to by enough to make a BBQ sauce. Oh. My. This stuff is delicious! It is sweet, with that wonderful cherry flavor. You could throw a jalapeno in the mix to give it a kick, but I kept it straight forward to maximize the ways I could use it. Whether you use it as a BBQ sauce or glaze, a sauce over some braised meat, or a dip you'll have yourself the beautiful flavors of summer in a bright, flavorful barbecue sauce.

Are you dying for the recipe?


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups dark sweet cherries, pitted and stems removed
1 cup ketchup
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp black pepper


1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add in the onion and saute for about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and saute for another minute or two.

2. Stir in the cherries, ketchup, brown sugar, balsamic, worcestershire sauce, ground mustard, and black pepper.

3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. 

4. Transfer to a blender or food processor (or keep it in the pan and use an immersion blender). Blend until smooth. 

5. Return to pan. Bring it back to a simmer and continue simmering for another 10 minutes. 

TIP: Using fresh cherries and wonder how you should pit them? I slice off the stem and then just use my fingers to pinch the pit out. It's actually super easy and makes it go a lot faster than trying to slice off all the flesh of the cherry around the pit. 

*Recipe adapted from Backyard Living May/June 2006


The Best Ever Chocolate Cookies

These are the best Chocolate Cookies ever. I mean it. The credit comes from one of my amazing sisters. You see, I have two amazing sisters. My younger sister, Cara, lives with me right now (and enjoyed quite a few of these cookies) while she works as a CNA this summer at an assisted living center before starting a rigorous nursing program in the fall. Her work is hard, gross, and desperately needed. How awesome is she to even be willing to do that kind of work? I've got serious respect for CNAs and nurses. And then there is my older sister, Jennifer, who is thrifty beyond measure, full of crafty coolness, and musically gifted to boot. I swear if I give her a dime she can magically turn it into a dollar. If you haven't seen her blog yet, you should totally check it out. The Craft Patch is a great little blog for the frugally minded crafter. I take that back, you don't even have to be a crafter to enjoy her blog because she has got tons of other cool stuff as well. One of my favorites is that she does a series called Pinterest Tested where she tests out popular, and often unbelievable pins to see if they actually work. I'm so glad she started doing that so I don't have to waste my time figuring it out myself! My favorite is her tub cleaner. She tried to get me to try that cleaner for a long time before I gave in. I just couldn't believe that it would actually work. Now I'll never go back!

So what does this have to do with food, especially cookies? Well, Jennifer tested a bunch of different chocolate cookie recipes to find the perfect chocolate cookie. I've made a few adjustments to the method to simplify things a bit. Have you ever made a chocolate cookie recipe? A lot of them fail. Working with that much cocoa powder can result in dry clumps of chocolate mess. If you've tried and failed and subsequently sworn off chocolate cookie making, I urge you to think again! No, I plead with you! These chocolate cookies are perfect! They will not fail! I promise! Just follow these simple instructions (including the gallon of milk!)


1 cup cold butter, cold and cut into tablespoon slices
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 1/4 cups flour
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 gallon of milk (to wash them down!)


1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. This will take at least 2-3 minutes.

3. Blend in the eggs for about 30 seconds and add in the cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder. Blend until smooth (1-2 minutes). Scrape the sides and bottom to ensure everything gets in.

4. Using the dough attachment mix in the flour until incorporated. Don't overwork the dough! Fold in the chocolate chips.

5. Form about 12-15 dough balls (yes, these cookies are best big!). Use your hands to flatten each ball into a cookie shaped disc. You can leave them round for a very tall rounded cookie, but I think I've decided I like the flattened version better. Bake for 12-13 minutes. Check out Jennifer's recipe for a great tip on doing a test cookie to avoid ruining a whole batch!

6. Move from the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool. I found that I could do this immediately upon removal from oven, but if you have problems then wait a few minutes before continuing. 

7. Serve warm with plenty of milk :) Microwave the leftovers, if any, for 10 seconds for that fresh-from-the-oven taste. 


Sea Bass with Avocado, Lime, and Jalapeno

It costs an insane amount of money to live in beautiful San Diego, but you get good food, perfect weather, and the beach. You just have to pay through the nose for it. The access to fresh produce and fish is unreal. I found some delightfully fresh Sea Bass at my local Farmer's Market and decided to cook it up based on a dish I had seen on Bravo's Top Chef. I love Top Chef because there isn't usually the drama associated with, say, popular reality cooking shows on network TV. They try to keep it about the food. Every once in a while on the show you end up with a bully chef (or chefs) and an easy target. Chef Beverly Kim was an easy target and my heart ached for her. If you didn't watch that season then you have no idea what I'm talking about. You just need to know that she made great food on the show. For a Quickfire Challenge she made a really delicious looking Sea Bass so I looked up the recipe on (those recipes can be vague and very hard to follow) and adapted it for the home chef. The result is a 5 star fish dish that is simple to make for the home chef. The fish is delicate and sweet served over a bed of spicy avocado, and topped off with some delicious sauteed mushrooms. It is light and flavorful and the combination of flavors sings in your mouth.


2 filets Sea Bass
1 avocado, diced small
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 red radish, diced small
2 limes, juiced
2 leaves basil, chopped
4 leaves cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 onion, minced
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp ginger, minced
Salt and Pepper


1. Make the avocado "salsa" by combining the diced avocado, minced jalapeno, minced garlic, diced radish, the juice of 1 of the limes, and the basil and cilantro in a small bowl. Stir together and set aside. 

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over high heat. Add in the minced onion and mushrooms and saute for about 3 minutes. Add in the juice of the other lime, soy sauce, and minced ginger. Saute for another 1-2 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside (keeping warm).

3. Return the skillet to medium-high heat. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Cook the sea bass by searing it skin side down first. It should take about 4 minutes per side to cook through (actual cooking time will depend on the thickness of your filet). The fish is done when it can flake easily with a fork.

4. Serve the fish on a bed of the avocado salsa and top with the mushroom mixture and juices. 


Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Wrap

This may seem like a really simple wrap, and to be truthful it is, but the flavors really pop in your mouth, providing quite a surprisingly delightful little sandwich. I actually made these a while ago. I had just completed a 7 day juice fast and needed something light and healthy to start bringing me off of it. If you've ever been on a juice fast then you know it can be killer to come off it and you have to be careful. It has to be healthy, full of veggies, and low in fats and sugars. This wrap was perfect. I had some delicious little heirloom tomatoes from Trader Joe's which made it truly sing. Tomatoes are just losing their flavors today with all this hybrid business. It takes a good heirloom to get that strong tomato flavor that I love. Combine that with roasted red peppers and balsamic? Magical. I particularly like wraps with a cooked element. It gives it that extra boost that makes it more than a salad wrapped up in a tortilla.  


2 red peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small vidalia onion, diced
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
4 large tortilla wraps
2 cups diced fresh tomatoes
4 cups spinach


1. Roast off your red peppers in the oven by placing the rinsed peppers onto a baking sheet and into the oven under the broiler. Broil until the skin begins to burst and brown, then flip over and repeat until the whole thing is blistering. It should take 7-10 minutes. Remove from oven and put in a plastic bag for 20-30 minutes.

2. In a small skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in the onions and saute for about 5 minutes. Add in the balsamic vinegar and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer until the sauce reduces to the point that it's just a heaping pile of tasty balsamic glazed onions. This will take 10-15 minutes.

3. Remove your red peppers from the bag and remove the skins, seeds, and hull. The skins should come right off. Cut your red peppers into a large dice for easy eating.

4. Create your wraps by topping your tortilla with about 1/2 cup diced tomatoes, 1/2 a red pepper, 1 cup of spinach, and a few large spoonfuls of the onion mixture. Roll up and enjoy!


Jalapeno Popper Wraps with Bacon and BBQ Sauce

My husband was skeptical about this recipe. I still don't understand why. How could this not be good? I have turned the jalapeno popper into a light and almost healthy wrap. Bacon is healthy right? These wraps ended up being devoured. Don't let the fact there are 4 jalapenos on each wrap scare you. It won't burn your face off. The roasting process takes away most of the heat. In fact, you could probably double the number of jalapenos and be fine. This wrap is perfect for a summer picnic. Enjoy!


4 large tortilla wraps
16 jalapenos, hulled and seeded
8 tablespoons cream cheese
8 slices bacon, cooked 
4 cups fresh spinach
BBQ Sauce


1. Roast the jalapenos by slicing off the flesh of the jalepeno, leaving behind the hull and seeds. Place the jalapeno flesh onto a baking sheet and roast under a broiler set to high heat until the skins get blackened. Once they are browned, remove them from the oven and put them in a plastic bag for about 20-30 minutes. This will allow you to remove the skins easily. Remove the skins and set aside.

2. Compile the wraps by spreading 2 tablespoons of cream cheese onto each tortilla wrap. Top with 4 of the roast jalapenos, 2 slices of bacon, and about 1 cup of fresh spinach. Drizzle with BBQ sauce.

3. Roll up and enjoy!


Cajun Fried Chicken

When it comes to chicken I'm just not sure there is anything more delicious than a juicy, crusty piece of finger-licking fried chicken. It might seem intimidating to fry your own chicken, but it's actually pretty straightforward and it beats the heck out of fried chicken from the grocery store or fast food. If you have a thermometer for the oil and a timer I promise you that you can produce fail-proof fried chicken. I love using my usual cajun seasonings to flavor the breading. Combine that with the hot sauce and you have just enough kick to bring about full flavor, without being too spicy for my kids. We made this for our Independence Day feast as a nod to our fellow Americans in the South. We had some friends over, of course. After taking a bite, the first words out of my friend's mouth were, "So juicy!" Ya baby, that's a good sign. If you've ever wanted to make your own fried chicken, now is the time to try!


6 chicken thighs
6 chicken drumsticks
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup Franks Hot Sauce
1 egg
3 cups flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon salt
Vegetable Oil for frying


1. Pour the vegetable oil in a skillet until it is about 3/4 inch deep. Heat to 350 degrees.

2. Season the chicken thighs and drumsticks with 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. Set aside.

3. Prepare the wet ingredients by combining the buttermilk, hot sauce, and egg in a shallow dish. Whisk together until well combined.

4. Prepare the breading by combining the flour, cornstarch, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, basil, white pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, and salt in a shallow dish. Mix it thoroughly. 

5. Dip each piece of seasoned chicken into the wet ingredients. Shake it gently to remove the excess. Place it in the breading mix and coat thoroughly. Tap off the excess.

6. Place the breaded chicken into the 350 degree oil. Fry 3 or 4 pieces at a time. The chicken will drop the temperature of the oil so keep it at about 325 degrees. Fry each piece for 14 minutes, turning each piece over about every 2 minutes. Set a timer to make it easy.

7. Remove from the oil and place on paper towels. Let them rest for at least 10 minutes before serving so no one burns their mouth with hot oil. 


Chocolate-Peanut Butter Swirl Milkshakes

I'm back from vacation! Okay, actually I didn't go anywhere at all, but my husband had four days off of work in a row which hasn't happened in a very long time. So I spent four days with my family instead of writing up recipes and editing photos. Did you miss me? I didn't take a break from cooking though. Oh boy, I made sure I showed some sweet cooking love. 

Now, I know what you are thinking. Um, who needs a recipe for a milk shake? I'm here to tell you that you might need one if you want to add a little pizzazz. This shake is seriously delicious. I was so in love with my peanut butter cupcake filling that I decided I needed to find a way to put it in a milkshake.  This utilizes hot fudge sauce and that decadent peanut butter sauce to swirl throughout a vanilla milk shake. It basically creates pockets of Reeses Peanut Butter Cups and it is pretty incredibly tasty. You can keep the homemade sauces around for a couple of days which is a good thing because you are going to want to have a second one (and a third and a fourth). 


Hot Fudge Sauce

Peanut Butter Sauce
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Vanilla Ice Cream


1. Make your Hot Fudge Sauce (if using homemade) and Peanut Butter Sauce. Combine the melted butter with the creamy peanut butter and 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Use a hand mixer to mix until smooth. 

2. Scoop desired amount of ice cream in a blender. I fill my blender up 3/4 full with vanilla ice cream and it makes about 4 tall shakes. Add in milk halfway up the ice cream. Blend until smooth. You may need to add a little more milk if it is too thick.

3. Scoop a spoonful each of the hot fudge sauce and peanut butter sauce into each cup. Fill the cup halfway with the vanilla shake, then spoon another helping each of the hot fudge and peanut butter sauce. Fill the cup to the top and top with drizzles of the sauces. Use a long stick (chop stick, butter knife, etc) to swirl the sauces immediately. The sauces will thicken as the ice cream cools them off, but will remain soft enough that you don't end up with hard bites in your shake. 

***If you make your sauces in advance, heat them up in the microwave for 15-30 seconds to make it easier to swirl. 


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