Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Recipe: Bacon and Egg Muffins

This might be one of the easiest breakfast foods I've ever made. It would feed a crowd brilliantly and quickly and it's so yummy! So here's what you'll need:

I didn't think I was going to blog this,
or I would have taken a better picture! This
is the finished product, prior to plating!
1 package of bacon
12 slices of bread
1 cup (approx) shredded cheese
12 eggs
salt and pepper to taste

Start by preheating your oven to 400*. Then, cut the package of bacon up into small, bacon bit sized pieces, and stautee in a non-stick pan over medium/medium-high heat until they're cooked but not crispy. Don't over cook the bacon! It's going to cook some more in the oven so if you've already got it nice and crispy, it'll burn in the oven. When the bacon is almost done, remove and let drain on a plate with a paper towel.

While the bacon is cooking, grab a round cookie cutter or, I used one of our kitchen glasses, and cut circles out of the twelve slices of bread. Spray a muffin tin liberally with non-stick cooking spray and press the bread into the muffin cups. Add a *little* bit of cheese to each cup and I mean a little! These get full fast so just a pinch or two of shredded cheese is perfect.

After you add the cheese, carefully crack an egg into each muffin cup. Here's a suggestion: if you're buying eggs specifically for this recipe, I'd buy small or medium eggs. If you're just using what you have in the fridge, that's fine, but you made need to leave off part of the whites so that the cups don't over flow. Fair warning, at this point, the cups will be super full! Don't worry, the eggs should perch just nicely on top without overflowing as long as you heed my tip above. Once all the eggs are in the muffin cups, add a little salt and pepper and put bacon bits around the edge of the cups, leaving the yoke showing through in the center.

Put in the oven for 6-10 minutes. If you want runny yokes, pull out earlier. If you want solid yokes, leave them in longer. And if you have family members with different tastes, gently pop the yokes for the people who want their yolks done and leave the yolks for the runny folks intact, cooking them all for about 7 minutes. You ought to get the perfect consistency for everyone!

To remove, run a knife gently around the edge and they'll pop out easily.

If you're making this for a crowd or for kiddos, consider the assembly line method of putting these together. Have one person cut the bread circles and put them in the tin. Have someone else add the cheese, another person add the egg and another person top with bacon. It'll make it a super fun breakfast event! Happy eating!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Recipe: Turkey Tetrazzini

So my friend Patti sent me an email and said,
"Hey Mrs. Super-housewife. I am looking for a recipe for dinner tonight. Do you know of something off the top of your head that uses ground turkey/meat and noodles? Preferably baked, but in the skillet would be good too." 
 (I couldn't resist including the oh-so-lovely complement...) I didn't have a recipe that was bake only, but I do have a Turkey Tetrazzini that is a little skillet and a little baking. Oh, and it's oh so yummy!

I wanted to know what Tetrazzini meant, imagining it's Italian and means something like "super duper delicious." Turns out it is an entirely American dish named after an opera star, Luisa Tetrazzini. Why someone decided to name a pasta dish after an opera star, I'll never know. But that doesn't make it any less tasty. All that being said, here's what you'll need:

10 ounces mushrooms, sliced thin (about 4 cups)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups milk
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine (or sherry)
10 ounces spaghetti
1pound ground turkey
1 can of green peas (drained)
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs

Don't be intimidated by the long list of ingredients. Most of it I already had around the house anyway so that makes it pretty easy to throw together. So here's what you need to do.

Mushrooms and ground turkey browning together.
First, preheat the oven to 400*F. Put 4 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet and toss in the sliced mushrooms. Sautee them on a medium-medium high heat until they start to cook down a little (about 3-5 minutes), toss in the ground turkey. Cook until the turkey is cooked through and the liquid has cooked out some (about 5 more minutes). Sprinkle the flour throughout the pot and stir into the turkey and mushrooms. Stir well and let the flour cook for about 3 minutes. At this point, add the milk, chicken broth, and white wine/sherry. Bring to a boil, stir in 1/3 of the Parmesan cheese and can of drained peas and let simmer for about 5-7 minutes, until the sauce begins to thicken a little.

Golden brown and delicious!
While the mushroom sauce is simmering, start a large pot of boiling water to cook your pasta. When the water comes to a boil, add your pasta and follow the directions, cooking the pasta to al dente. Drain the pasta and dump into a buttered (or non-stick cooking spray) 9x13 shallow casserole dish. After the mushroom sauce has thickened slightly, dump it over the pasta and stir a little to incorporate. Sprinkle the 1/3 cup Parmesan that's left and the 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs over the top of the casserole.

Put in the 400* oven and let bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown.

Here's a couple of notes on the recipe: When I was a kid, my Mom made an AMAZING Turkey Tetrazzini which is kind of what I was going for when I made this. My version came out just fine but I used a dry white wine instead of the sherry she usually used. (Because we live in a "damp" county, our nearest liquor store is 11 miles away and I didn't have any sherry on hand and didn't feel like driving to get some!) If you have sherry on hand, I would highly recommend it. It really gives it that classic Tetrazzini taste. If you don't have it, a dry white wine will work just fine.

The finished product is so good!
Also, this recipe works SO WELL with Thanksgiving leftover turkey. Instead of adding the ground turkey to cook with the mushrooms, wait till the mushrooms are done cooking and add the turkey (shredded or in small chunks) just after you add all the liquids. The leftover turkey is already cooked, so really, it just needs to be in there long enough to warm through.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Recipe: Creamy Crock-Pot Tex-Mex Chicken

Hamilton Beach
"Stay or Go" Slow Cooker
This may be the easiest dinner I've ever made. I hate when I find crock-pot recipes that require a lot of prep work, like chopping (and cooking!). I mean, isn't the point of crock-pots to make your life easier by making you cook LESS? So when I find a dump and go recipe, I'm much more apt to try it. This one is super simple.

Husband rating: 4 out of  5 stars
Kiddo rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Wife rating: 4 out of 5 stars (I want it spicier!)

I should start by saying that this recipe takes 6-8 hours in the crock-pot, so get this one going first thing, before work or school. We have a six quart Hamilton Beach "Stay or Go" Slow Cooker that we got from our friends for our wedding. (Thanks Robin and Ruben!) It's a fantastic slow cooker if you're looking for one. It latches the lid on so it's leak proof if you're taking it to and from functions! If you have a different size though, you might consider adjusting the amounts of chicken, in particular, but possibly the other ingredients as well.
Dump chicken in the bottom
of the crock-pot.

All that being said, here's what you'll need:

1 bag (2.5-3lbs) of frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can yellow corn (drained)
1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 can of rotel
1 brick of cream cheese

There are a couple options when it comes to the ingredients. I can't stand corn so I used hominy instead. I know lots of people don't like hominy though so it's totally up to you. Also, if you're not a black bean fan, use pinto beans instead. Either choice keeps with the Tex-Mex flair. The spiciness of the rotel is up to you as well. We have a kiddo around here so I went with the mild option but be brave and try the hot! If you're counting calories, feel free to use a low-fat cream cheese but do NOT use a fat-free. It will mess with the consistency of the final product.
Add in beans, corn, rotel and cream cheese.

So here's what you do: dump the bag of chicken into the pot. My bag was a 3lb bag but it was a LOT of chicken and there's only three of us here. So I used enough to cover the bottom of the crock-pot and had about 3 breasts left over. I'd say I used approximately 2.5 pounds of chicken. Then dump in the can of (drained) corn, (rinsed and drained) black beans, rotel and cream cheese. Make sure you drain the beans and corn really well. The dinner is soupy enough as it is and if you don't drain them, you really will be eating Tex-Mex Chicken Soup! Don't worry about everything being in separate piles. You'll stir it all together later.
Put the lid on and let cook for 5-6 hours.

Turn the crock-pot on low, put the lid on and let cook for about 5-6 hours. About every two hours, go in and give it a little stir. As the cream cheese begins to heat and the chicken begins to thaw, it becomes easier to stir it all together. Fair warning, the cream cheese will look chunky and curdled for a little while until it gets completely melted in. Don't worry like I did. It will get better!

Shred the chicken with two forks.
At the 5-6 hour mark, everything should be well stirred in and your house ought to be smelling amazing. (Who needs air fresheners when you have Tex-Mex cooking?) At this point for the last hour to two hours, I turned the crock-pot up to high to get it good and bubbly to make the sauce thicken some (remove the lid if needed). Check on it every once in a while and when it comes to the consistency you're looking for, you're ready to go! It will thicken a little once you serve it and it starts to cool, so keep that in mind. I like to shred the chicken when it's done to make it a little easier to serve. Just use two forks and pull the chicken breasts into shredded pieces.

Serve over white or brown rice and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Recipe: The Green Smoothie

I'll admit, like many of my peers, I, too, have become obsessed with Pinterest. I've already successfully made two crafts I found on the site and I attempted another that was not so successful. I even have the makings of another craft that I just haven't started yet. But Pinterest is also good for recipes! I found a really simple, nutritious smoothie that was pretty tasty too!

Here's what you'll need:

1/2 cup frozen peaches (about 4-6 slices)
1/2 cup frozen mangoes (about 10-12 cubes)
2 handfuls of fresh spinach
1-2 bananas

Put all the ingredients into a blender. Add a little water to get the consistency right and blend. *I used some of my diet citrus green tea in place of the water just to add another layer of fruity flavor.*

It's so easy and good for you. It's a great, slimy, green color. Add a gummy worm peeking over the top of the glass and you've got a great drink for the kiddos. Give it a try!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Recipe: Asian-style Turkey Lettuce Wraps

So here is a tasty AND healthy dish that's super easy and quick to make. I was inspired by the lettuce wraps I see in many restaurants but wanted to make them a little healthier though. So instead of chicken or beef, I substituted ground turkey and it's so good! And it got high marks from everyone!

Hubby rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Kid rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Mom rating: 5 out of 5 stars

So here's what you'll need:
Look for the Broccoli Slaw
in the produce section at
Walmart or Target.

1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
1 pound ground turkey
1 bag broccoli slaw mix
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 head romaine lettuce
salt and pepper to taste

For garnish:
Crunchy chow mein noodles
Thai-style peanut sauce

Sesame Seed Oil and
Rice Vinegar really add the
Asian flavor!
In a big skillet, brown the ground turkey over medium to medium-high heat. Once the turkey is mostly cooked, add the bag of broccoli slaw mix and the sesame seed oil.

Two things- I get the broccoli slaw at Walmart but I've seen it at Target too. It's basically a mix of broccoli, carrots and other veggies, pre-chopped up and ready to cook. Also, I find that the sesame seed oil REALLY adds a lot of flavor. It comes in a small bottle on the Asian food aisle. It really gives the dish that Asian taste and is totally worth investing in for your pantry.
Simmer until the slaw starts to get soft.

Now back to the recipe!

Once the broccoli slaw starts to cook down and soften a little, add the soy sauce, vinegar, salt and pepper. Let it all simmer together until the broccoli slaw is cooked through.

Lay out your lettuce leafs and
get ready to pile on the tasty
Meanwhile, wash your head of lettuce and pull off individual leaves and set them out on a plate. We usually use three leaves per person. I really like the tops of the leaves because they make better wrappers than the tougher ends. I usually tear off the tops for the wraps and save the ends for Hubby's sandwiches during the week.
Really great additions for taste
but watch the calories!
Pile the turkey/broccoli slaw on each leaf and top with some crunchy chow mein noodles and Thai-style peanut sauce. If you're concerned about calories, here's where you need to be careful. The noodles and sauce add a lot of calories so be sure to look at the labels and gauge how much you want to eat.

So yummy and so easy! Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Love and New Look

I'm loving doing the food blog. I hope you're enjoying it too. As you can see, I've been messing around with the look and design. Let me know what you think! And keep an eye out for a delicious new recipe coming soon!
Follow Me on Pinterest

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Recipe: Garlic Hummus

I put the family on a diet recently because the hubby and I need to lose quite a few pounds and it never hurts to teach kids good eating habits. That being said, we've all come to the realization that we're snackers. We like to munch idly while doing homework, reading watching TV, etc. So my goal was to not necessarily eliminate snacking but to snack healthier.

My friend Patti suggested we try her hummus recipe. I'd had hummus before and I like it so at 35 calories per two tablespoon serving, I decided to give it a try. Use it with pita chips or with baby carrots for a great afternoon snack.

Hubby rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Kid rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Mom rating: 4 out of 5 stars

So here's what you need:

2 cans of drained chick peas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans)
~reserve some of the chick pea liquid
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
green olive juice (optional)

After you drain the chick peas (saving some of the liquid for later), empty both cans into your blender or food processor. Add tahini, lemon juice, minced garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Pulse the blender until it starts to get smooth and creamy. If the dip is too thick, add a little of the chick pea liquid until the dip blends smoothly in the blender.

Note: the first time I made this, I happened to have some green olive juice on hand and used it in place of the chick pea liquid. It gave it a nice salty, tangy flavor and I really liked it a lot. If you have it on hand, give it a try.
Top with a drizzle of olive oil and some paprika to dress it up for a party!

Hummus is so yummy and easy to make and there are so many things you can do to change it up. Try adding sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red bell peppers, roasted pine nuts or fresh herbs to give it a different flavor every time!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Restaurant Review: The Brazilian Cowboy Steakhouse and Grill, Plano

The Brazilian Cowboy Steakhouse and Grill

$$- $10 to $20 per entree

1320 North Central Expressway
PlanoTX 75074
(972) 881-8600

Husband rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Wife rating: 2 out of 5 stars

What we ordered

Two adult dinner buffets
Papaya Creme

What We Thought

The hubby and I found ourselves kid-free on a Saturday night and since we've moved to Denton, we have a whole new area of the metroplex to explore. We opted for a movie in Plano and decided to try something new for dinner instead of familiar. We got on www.restaurant.com which is a great resource for dining discounts and a great way to find new and/or small independently owned places to eat. We decided to try The Brazilian Cowboy (http://bit.ly/q96e8r). It boasted traditional Brazilian Churrascaria at a fraction of the price of other Brazilian Steakhouses!" We're both big fans of Texas de Brazil so we thought it would be worth a try.

The salad bar was really disappointing. A typical lettuce mix with six different dressings and a few odd looking pasta and bean salads. They had a few hot options at the end that consisted of white rice and a few different stroganoff type sauces. They also had cinnamon-sugar covered bananas which was by far my favorite part of the whole meal. They also had these cheese rolls that were really good. I could have just eaten bread and bananas all night. :)

Hubby and I tried a few of the salad bar offerings but, being underwhelmed, moved quickly to the meats. For a small steakhouse they offered a decent selection of meat. Three different types of Picanha, the traditional Brazilian style meat, top sirloin, bacon wrapped chicken, sausage and a few others. The first piece of Picanha I had was the last one on the stick so it was WELL done and I don't usually like my meat that way so I had a few bites and set it aside. The flavor was great and not too salty like some churrascarias. The bacon wrapped chicken was wonderful but how bad can anything wrapped in bacon be? The garlic beef was really chewy. The sausage was ok. The next time the Picanha came around and they gave us a slice, it was so rare, I'd venture to call it raw. And I like my meat medium-rare so that's saying something.

We had our fill of meat and opted for desserts. (Hey! It was date night afterall...) Hubby got flan and I tried the Papaya Creme. Hubby enjoyed his flan and my Papaya Creme was ok. It basically was like a runny smoothie. The manager/owner came by and drizzled a sweet liquor over it and it made it a little better but I still probably wouldn't order it again. 

The manager, you could tell, was a hard-working man. He was busy running around the room making sure guests were happy. He even brought us a coffee made with his secret recipe (vanilla ice cream, coffee, Bailey's Irish Creme and Khalua) at no charge. It was pretty tasty and packed a decent punch. He really made the experience better.

All in all, I doubt we'll be going back. We both went to the movie stuffed full but at $18.95 per adult, I don't think it was worth it. I was glad we didn't pay full price for it or I'd have definitely been disappointed. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Recipe: Tasty Turkey Surprise

This recipe is fantastic! It's fabulously healthy and it tastes amazing. I didn't think those two things ever went together. And on top of that, it's easy to make!

Hubby rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Kid rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Mom rating: 5 out of 5 stars

So here's what you'll need:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion (finely chopped)
1 bag of spinach
1 package of ground turkey
1 can of beans (drained)
2 cups chicken stock (or water with chicken bullion)
salt and pepper to taste

Simmer until most of the liquid is gone.
First, in a large skillet, put two tablespoons of olive oil and set to medium/medium-high. Once the oil is hot, add the chopped onion. Saute until the onions are translucent and start to get soft. Then add the ground turkey. Brown the turkey until cooked through. (Note: ground turkey never really seems to brown. Just make sure all the pink is gone.)

Once the turkey is cooked, add the two cups of chicken stock. Bring it to a boil. Mix in the spinach a little at a time. (Note: you'll probably wonder how in the world a whole bag of spinach will fit in the pan, but if you add a little at a time and let it cook down, it will all fit. I promise!)

Add the can of drained beans. The first time I made this recipe, I made it with cannelloni beans. This time, I made it with black beans. It would work well with almost any bean of your choice.

Add salt and pepper to taste. If you used low sodium chicken stock, you'll probably need more salt than if you used regular stock.

Simmer until most of the liquid is gone and then serve. I usually serve it over white rice.

This recipe makes four large servings and with the rice, it's under 500 calories! Without the rice, a serving  is only 332 calories! Husband gives this a 4 out of 5 stars and kid gives it a 5 out of 5! You can't hardly beat that!

Enjoy and happy cooking!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Recipe: Salted Chocolate Espresso Caramel Bars

A close up of the chocolaty goodness!
So in my last post, I told you how to make an easy smoked sea salt. What do you do with smoked sea salt you ask? Well aside from using it to flavor everyday dishes, you can use it on my Salted Chocolate Espresso Caramel Bars! They're relatively easy to make (with three easy steps!) and oh my goodness are they tasty!

Hubby rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Kid rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Mom rating: 5 out of 5 stars but only because I can't give it a 10!

Salted Chocolate Espresso Caramel Bars

Step one: The crust

In this step, you're going to make a graham cracker crust the same way you would for a cheesecake. You'll need:

12 graham crackers
1/4 cup of sugar
1 1/2 sticks melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350*. Put the graham crackers and the sugar in a food processor or blender and blend until you have fine crumbs. Mix the crumbs and the butter together in a bowl until clumps start to form and all the crumbs look coated. Line a 9" spring form pan with parchment or wax paper. Spray the paper and the sides of the pan with non-stick cooking spray. Spread the graham cracker mixture into the pan so that it's even all around. Bake the crust for 10-12 minutes or until it looks golden brown. Let it cool completely. (To make this happen faster, I set it in the fridge for about 20 minutes.)

Step two: The caramel

In this step it is HIGHLY recommended that you use a candy thermometer. I didn't have one so I used my meat thermometer. It didn't read high enough so my caramel's temperature got a little too high. Instead of having a creamy, melt in your mouth caramel, it ended up being more like toffee. Which was fine because it was crunchy and delicious but the idea is to have a smooth texture.

You'll need:

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 stick room temperature butter
1 tablespoon of water
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

In a medium saucepan, combine cream, butter, water and sugar and stir over medium heat until smooth. Bring to a boil and cook, without stirring, until the caramel reached 240*. It takes about 5-7 minutes but make sure to watch it so it doesn't turn to toffee (unless you want it to!) Pour the caramel over the cooled graham cracker crust.

Let it cool in the fridge for 20 minutes and then in the freezer until firm (about 10 more minutes).

Step three: The chocolate

In this step, we're going to make the chocolate espresso ganache. You'll need:

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons instant coffee
smoked sea salt

Place a glass bowl over a pot of hot water. Bring the water to a boil. Add the chocolate chips and cream and stir until they melt and combine. Mix in the instant coffee powder. Once completely mixed and smooth, pour over the cooled caramel. Sprinkle the smoked sea salt all over the chocolate so that the whole pan has a little bit of salt. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

Bring out about 30 minutes before you want to serve and allow to come to room temperature. Using a slightly wet knife, cut around the edge of the pan to release the chocolate layer. Release the side of the springform pan and remove from the bottom. Cut into 1" by 1 1/2" bars.

The bars after removing the sides of the pan.
Store extras in an air-tight container.

These are SO yummy. My husband, daughter and friends who were lucky enough to try these were in awe. Even with the toffee textured caramel!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Recipe: Easy Smoked Sea Salt!

Chaos erupted in our household lately so the foodie blog was set aside for a while but I'm BACK! And I have an easy new recipe for you.

I have plans to try a new recipe out on my family this week but the recipe called for smoked sea salt and of course, it only called for a sprinkle of it. I looked for it online because I hadn't consciously seen it in my local supermarket and wanted to see how rare it was. Turns out it is relatively easy to find but it's expensive! You can get 6oz of it for only $13. (Artisan Salt Company- Durango Hickory Smoked Salt) I realize that $13 wont break anyone's bank but since I only needed a sprinkle, I wanted to see how to make the stuff myself.

Sea Salt, mixed and spread out on the
 cookie sheet ready for cooking!
I found a few recipes that use a grill with hickory or mesquite chips and a foil pan of salt. It looked like it was pretty easy but I live in an apartment now and we don't have a covered grill. So I needed an alternative. So here's what I did.

Smoked Sea Salt- The Easy Way!

1/2 cup of course sea salt
1 tablespoon of liquid smoke

Liquid Smoke comes in different
flavors. I used Mesquite.
Mix the salt and liquid smoke together in a small bowl and then spread out on a foil lined cookie sheet. Put in the oven on the lowest temperature setting. (My oven's lowest was 200*.) Leave in the oven for about an hour or until the salt appears dry. You may want to stir the salt around once just to get it good and dry. Remove from the oven and let set until cool. Once cool, place into a closed container.

Note: Make sure you have a course salt otherwise, it will just dissolve in the liquid smoke. Liquid smoke comes in several different flavors. My recipe called for Mesquite so that's what I used.

When you use it, if you want a finer grain salt, put it into a salt grinder. I used my Magic Bullet to pulse it into a finer salt and it worked great!

The finished product!
This method worked beautifully and it made the whole place smell like we were having one amazing barbecue!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Product Review: Knorr Mini Cubes

Product: Knorr Mini Cubes (in different varieties)
Price: around $1.14
Purchased at: Walmart/Kroger

These are my favorite spices to cook with! I originally found them at Kroger but I've also found them at Walmart. You'll find them on the Mexican aisle at both stores. What they are is little cubes of spices in a foil wrapper. They remind me a lot of the chicken bullion cubes my mom used to buy when I was a kid. I've found them in four varieties- onion, garlic, chipotle and cilantro.

I love Chipotle's cilantro-lime rice and I make it a lot. So in passing by these little boxes of awesome, I stopped to take a look and decided to give them a try. I tossed a cube of cilantro in with the boiling water/lime juice and cooked the rice as usual. Twenty minutes later, I had amazing (maybe better than Chipotle's) cilantro-lime rice! I've also used the chipotle flavor in rice. It's got a slight kick to it and it has great flavor!

Another way I like to use them, is to grind them up (The cubes are a little hard so I toss them into my Magic Bullet and let it get it down to a fine powder.) and use them with a little flour to coat chicken or fish for an easy pan-fried dinner.

The onion and garlic varieties add a wonderful flavor to soups.

It's always best to add them to a liquid (so they'll dissolve) unless you grind them up really well. Then they fare just fine in anything.

At $1.14 at Walmart, you just can't beat it. A jar of dried cilantro will run you between $3-4 easily so this is really a steal. Give them a try and let me know what you think!

A side note: for some strange reason, Knorr does not have these on their website. I can't imagine why because they're amazing. They DO have recipes on their website that use them as ingredients though. The only thing I can think of is that because it's considered a "Mexican" product, it is not listed on their regular website. I looked for an international site and was unable to find anything.

If you can't find them in your grocery store, you can find them for sale online easily by either using www.shopping.google.com or going straight to Amazon.com and searching for "Knorr minicubes."

Happy cooking!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Restaurant Review: The Red Cactus, Fort Worth

The Red Cactus

$- under $10 per entree

3005 South University Drive
Fort Worth, TX 76109-5608
(817) 927-2933
Open daily, 9a-9p

Husband rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Wife rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Kid rating: 4 out of stars

The family and I went out to dinner tonight and we decided to try The Red Cactus. It's on University Drive just across from TCU. We've driven past several times and have wanted to try it so when Josh requested Mexican, we headed that way.

What We Ordered

Me- Shrimp fajitas on a bed of sauteed peppers and onions. Served with hot tortillas, rice, beans, sour cream, guacamole, and salsa.

Josh- Tacos Planchados, four grilled flour tortillas stuffed with shredded beef, refried beans, and Monterrey Jack and Cheddar. Served with rice and beans. 

Anna- Kids flautitas, crispy shredded beef taquitos. Served with queso, rice and beans.

Chips and salsa and two margaritas

What We Thought

There are two kinds of restaurants in the TCU area- hoity-toity, high priced dining and casual, student and family friendly dives. This place is definitely the latter. It's a cute place, with brightly colored walls (including a TCU purple wall) and modern art prints hung along the long wall. There's a cute little patio in the back that would be perfect for late night hang outs (although I think I'll wait till the weather is a lot cooler!) The atmosphere was really nice and we were greeted warmly when we walked in. 

My shrimp fajitas were pretty good. The shrimp was perfectly cooked and although they were tiny shrimp, there were plenty of them. They came on a bed of sauteed red onions and green bell peppers that were cooked just enough to be soft but with a little bit of crunch still left in them. The portion size was more than enough and at $8.99, I feel like I got my money's worth. That being said, it didn't have a lot of flavor. It tasted good but didn't leave anything memorable. 

Josh's tacos looked good. I really liked that they grilled the soft taco shells to give them a little crisp. But he reported them to be rather bland, supporting my opinion of my fajitas as well. Good, but not great.

Anna was done with her dinner before Josh and I hardly got started. She loved the cup of queso to dip her flautitas in and the bland flavors were perfect to not assault her kid pallet with spicy flavors. It's definitely a family friendly venue.

The margaritas were nothing to write home about. Initially they tasted pretty good, but there was so much salt on the rim (HUGE salt flakes!) that by the time we were less than half way through it pretty much tasted like salty water. 

The tastiest thing we had there tonight was by FAR the green chile sauce, nonchalantly served on the side of our dinners. It was mild but really yummy. It gave the tacos and the fajitas a little bit a life!

All in all, I think I'd be happy to eat there again. I want to try the Faji-Papa which is like a Mexican-style loaded baked potato. I don't think I'd go out of my way to eat there, but if we were in the area, I wouldn't turn it down.

Try it out and let me know what you think!

Thursday, July 14, 2011


My Auntie Jan has always claimed she'd rather be fat and happy than thin and miserable. I never planned on adopting that mantra but it seems it's been imprinted in my attitude towards life. That being said, I LOVE FOOD! I love to cook food. I love to eat food. I love to watch people cook food. I have a passion for all things edible.

Enter the blog. I know there are a billion foodie blogs out there but I don't care. A lot of times, when I mention what I've made for dinner, many of my friends ask for the recipe. So when I stumble upon something tasty, you'll find it here. If I find an awesome product out there, I'll tell you what I think here. Also, if I find a restaurant somewhere with exceptional fare, you'll hear about it here. (You'll probably hear about the bad ones too!)

So tonight, here's a simple recipe that'll spice up your Mexican food night at home! I call it "Rice and Beans, Beans and Rice." It's a reference to Dave Ramsey's financial plan that tells new savers to live on beans and rice to save money. While I could never live only on beans and rice, this recipe is pretty good!

I'm also going to include what I'd like to call "The Husband Rating." My hubby likes to eat food as much as I do. He'll give the recipes/restaurants a one to five star rating. Hopefully, I'll score high! (P.S. You'll find my rating, as well as a rating from my six year old daughter there too!)

Rice and Beans, Beans and Rice
Husaband rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Wife rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Kid rating: 1 out of 5 stars (She doesn't like tomatoes!)

1 can diced tomatoes
1 can black beans
Approx. 1 1/2 cups water
salt to taste
1 cup of white long grain rice

Note: A typical rice recipe calls for two cups of water to one cup of rice. If you have a bigger crowd to feed, increase your measurements. Just be sure to keep the 2 to 1 ratio.

Open the can of tomatoes and empty the juice into a 4 cup measuring cup. It'll probably give you 1/4-1/2 cup of juice. You need a total of two cups of liquid so fill the rest of the way to two cups with water. (I like to fill the tomato can with water a few times, draining them each time, to get as much tomatoey goodness out of the can as I can.)

Pour the two cups of liquid into your favorite rice pot. Drain and rinse the black beans and add to the pot. Add the diced tomatoes. Salt to taste. (I like to use garlic salt to give it a little extra flavor, but regular salt is great too!)

Bring the pot to a boil. Once boiling, add 1 cup of white, long-grain rice. Let it come back up to a boil. Then cover, TURN TO LOW, and cook for twenty minutes.

After twenty minutes, fluff and mix rice and beans with a fork. Serve hot!


If you want to add a little extra flavor, in the Mexican aisle at the grocery store, you can get tomato consume. It's kind of like a bullion cube but with tomato flavor instead of chicken or beef. Break it up to help it dissolve and add it at the beginning when you add the salt.

Also, for a little spice, add some red pepper flakes when you add the salt. Beware! A little goes a long way!