Monday, December 30, 2013

Applebee's Chicken Cheese Tortilla Soup

I am totally hooked on the show Restaurant Stakeout.
For those that have not seen it, failing restaurant owners contact this show to come in and use hidden cameras to show them where their weak spots are.

There have been some insane moments on the show. Things that make me question if I ever want to eat at a restaurant ever again.
Food fights in the kitchen.
Eating off patron's plates (both before and after it was served)
Rude service
Poor hygiene

That being said, check out the show for some fun...but maybe you want to cook your own dinner that night!

1 Medium yellow onion (chopped)
2 Tsp fresh garlic (minced)
2 Tsp vegetable oil
4 Cups chicken stock
¼ Cup green bell pepper (chopped)
1 (15 oz) can tomato puree
1 Tsp jalapeno (finely minced)
½ Tsp salt
¼ Tsp black pepper
1 Tsp sugar
1 Tsp chili powder
1 Tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ Tsp hot sauce
4 Tsp flour
½ Cup water
1 Lb cooked chicken (cubed or pulled)
1 Cup cream
¼ Cup sour cream
8 oz processed cheese (cubed)
10 (6-inch) yellow corn tortillas  (1/4 inch strips, fried)

1. Saute garlic and onions in oil in a large pan
2. Add chicken stock, green pepper, tomato puree, jalapeno, salt, pepper, sugar, chili powder, Worcestershire, and hot sauce
3. Bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes
4. Thoroughly mix flour and water, then whisk into soup
5. Bring to low boil and simmer 5 minutes
6. Add chicken and simmer for 5 minutes
7. Stir in sour cream and cheese
8. Mix and heat until melted and hot through
9. Serve with fried tortilla strips


Loads of ingredients= layers of flavor

Frying my tortilla strips

Smooth and creamy

This recipe was shared with: A Bright and Beautiful Life, Pioneer Momma, Future Expat, Yummy Healthy Easy, This Gal Cooks, The Chicken Chick, Jam Hands, Feeding Big, Pint Sized Baker, Mandy's Recipe Box, Kathe with an E, Inside Bru Crew Life, Table for Seven, Mom's Test Kitchen, Lambert's Lately, Sweet Haute, Lemoine Family Kitchen, What's Cooking Love, Saving 4 Six, Miz Helen's Country Cottage, Embracing Change, The Grits Blog, Play Party Pin, My Personal Accent, Craft Dictator, Love Bakes Good Cakes, Crumbs and Chaos, Endlessly Inspired, The Country Cook, This and That, 30 Handmade Days, Cooking with Curls, Will Cook for Smiles, Your Homebased Mom, Coffee with us 3, Gooseberry Patch, and Flour Me with Love, Coffee with us 3

Recipe adapted from here

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas 2013

Oh how I love the Christmas season!

I am an early shopper, wrapper, and do-er! My friends and family have a jolly good time poking fun at me about it, and I (try to) take it like a champ.
In all seriousness though, by Dec 1st, I am pretty well done. There are always some last minute this, that, and the others to pick up, or that jump off the shelves into my cart, but that can all happen at my own pace. There is no holiday insanity in my house!

Due to my obsessive planning, we were able to attend multiple functions without feeling like our schedule was over packed.

Notable events that we attended were...

A fully interactive trolley ride set to "A Christmas Carol". It's freaking hilarious! You start at a store (Cratchett/Scrooge's office) and then board the trolley. You make stops (and get off the trolley) at Christmas Past, Present, and Future.
They pull people from the audience to participate, including (always) the largest guy in the room to play Tiny Tim. 
In order to make sure they have the proper amount of people on the trolley at all times (no hitchhikers, and no leaving anyone behind!) Scrooge gives people oh-so-sweet names so he can easily identify. This year we had "the king of hummers" "blue coat girl" "dim wit" "rug lady" "Swiss Family Robinson" "Broken Wing" and others that are currently escaping me.

My mother's cousin came to do the trolley with us and spent the night. We got up the next morning and had breakfast at a local restaurant with my aunt and uncle. Stopped by Target as she was looking for one particular toy for the angel tree her church does. I had done a search of all stores near where she lives, and the only store around to have it in stock happened to be Target, right by the restaurant we were planning to go to. Santa working a little magic?
We came back to the house and started whipping up some coffee marshmallows (yum). We then decided we needed a little retail therapy and headed out to the stores. We scored some big deals on requested toys for her angel tree, it was a very productive day!

Hubby, the girl, and I volunteered down at the local food pantry. They have a toy drive, sponsored by a lot of local churches and companies, for under privileged children. On the day we went, our impression was that (well, it was more than impression, it was what we were told by the girl running it) we would be filling bags that would be delivered to these families.
First off, we walked into the warehouse area (the gym of an old school) and almost fell over. The outpouring of donations made me want to cry! There were rows upon rows of already filled bags. There were PILES upon PILES of games, clothing, bicycles, etc.
The lady running it all took one look at us and decided we were better suited to be used as grunt workers. (hey man, it all has to be done! The only problem was that the girl child was the one given the title of "broken wing" on the trolley. Yeah, she was a one armed helper. Oh well!)
We lugged toys, bikes, bags, and comforters (freaking TONS of those!) up, down, and around 36 very steep stairs for hours! The girl and I sorted, organized, re-organized, and counted a million trillion bags. By the time we left, sore and exhausted, there was still so much to be done. Next year we would like to do it again, hopefully recruit some friends, and plan to stay longer.

My friend L and her hubby S had a Patriots's party today (we won't discuss the loss. :::sigh:::) We went early to swap Christmas presents. It was a nice afternoon enjoying old friends and making new ones!
I brought my deviled eggs, cole slaw, and a Grinch cake. There was more food there than we needed, but, 'tis the season!

My lifelong friend lives in FL. She decided to come up north and surprise her mother at the annual Christmas party. She had all her Christmas presents shipped here, and then flew here to spend the night.
The funniest part of it all, was, her mother left FL (from visiting my friend) the same day my friend flew here! Mom went out of one airport, and my friend from another. Freaking hysterical!
For dinner that night, we made homemade sloppy joes, macaroni and cheese, and dill salad. I also had whipped up a french toast casserole that was in the fridge overnight for an easy breakfast.
The next day, before she headed out, we started to make those santa hat brownies that are all the rage on Pinterest. From what I am told, they ended up totally different. Waiting for pictures, and am thinking that is a post for another day.

Today was the day of hubby's aunt's annual Christmas get together. His whole side of the family gets together for a Yankee Swap. 
I think everyone on the planet enjoys Yankee Swaps but me. I participate though, it's part of what "makes" it Christmas over there.
This year there was Christmas Trivia involved. Oh My Word.
Let's just say, we don't know as much as we think we do!
As this was a brunchy-type get together, I made deviled eggs and a make ahead mashed potato casserole.

I host Christmas Eve for hubby's side (immediate family) every year. It makes Christmas Day travel easier on my mother in law, that way she can see the other grandkids without driving all over the place.
It's low key, just family and some friends hanging out eating some good food.
We had Olive Poppers, Pizza Balls, Baklava Baked Brie, and an Eggnog Gingerbread Trifle.

Christmas Day!

We wake up at a leisurely pace...hahahahahaha...who am I kidding? I am up by 5 drinking coffee and waiting for hubby and the girl!
After gifts and some cocoa, we headed to my aunt and uncle's to spend time and do (gag, another!) Yankee Swap.
Love, love, love spending time with family. Holidays make for so many excuses to do so! 
We ate like kings and queens, per usual.
I made a Garlic Shrimp casserole and Hot and Sweet Carrots, which were delish!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season!

Monday, December 23, 2013

T.G.I. Friday's Bruschetta Chicken

We have a Friday's at our mall (like everyone else in the world I guess)
It's usually our go-to restaurant there as the menu is so versatile. We can go multiple times and not have the same items.

One of my favorite dishes there is this bruschetta chicken. It's light and fresh, nothing to weigh you down when you are having a shopping marathon!

I was pleasantly surprised at how close this recipe is to the original.
Two thumbs up from hubby and the girl!

4 oz Chicken Breast (grilled right before serving)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Lb angel hair pasta

Garlic Bread
1 loaf Italian Bread
1 Stick of butter
⅛ Tsp salt
⅛ Tsp black pepper
⅛ Tsp Garlic powder

Tomato Salad:
6-8 Roma tomatoes
2 Tbsp Olive oil
¼ Tsp salt
⅛ Tsp black pepper
2 Cloves minced garlic
10 Basil leaves

Balsamic Glaze:
1 Cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tsp sugar


Garlic Bread:
1. Melt butter in microwave
2. Stir in seasonings
3. Drizzle over bread
4. Bake at 350 until crispy and golden brown

1. Cook according to package directions
2. Drain. Toss with reserved tomato juices.

Tomato Salad:
1. Wash, core, and dice tomatoes (Saving juices in a small bowl)
2. Wash, dry, and cut basil leaves into thin strips
3. Combine all ingredients and hold for 2 hours before use
4. Heat heavy bottom sauce pan.
5. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil, heat. Add garlic and sautee. Do not brown.
6. Add tomato and stir. Remove from heat.

Balsamic Glaze:
1. Bring ingredients to a boil in a small sauce pan
2. Reduce heat
3. SImmer until liquid is reduced by 75% and becomes a syrup

1. Salt and pepper to taste
2. Grill until cooked through
3. Slice on the diagonal

Plate pasta
Top with a scoop of tomato salad
Add chicken and drizzle balsamic glaze over chicken
Serve with garlic bread


This recipe was shared on: Flour me with Love, Pioneer MommaSix Sisters Stuff, A Peek into my Paradise, Frugal Foodie Mama, Feeding Big, Kathe with an E, Ms EnPlace, Pint Sized Baker, Lamberts Lately, Miz Helen's Country Cottage, Crumbs and Chaos, What's Cooking Love, Living the Mom Life, Embracing Change, Love Bakes Good Cakes, Endlessly Inspired, Thirty Handmade Days, Tumbleweed Contessa, Will Cook for Smiles, The Weary Chef, Gooseberry Patch, and The Chicken Chick

Original recipe adapted from here

Monday, December 16, 2013

TGI Friday's White Cheddar Mashed Potato

My cat thinks he is a dog.
This would be an even stranger statement if my last cat (female) had not have been the same way!
(no, they never met. My female passed away and just about a year later, the girl child decided she needed another)

They both wait outside the bathroom door when you are showering.
They both did their best to position themselves so they could see all three of us and what we are doing. Very protective!

They both played fetch..over and over again. If you are not in the mood, they would both drop them on your head or into your lap to say "come on now, just another minute"!

You might wonder what prompted me to tell you this.
I am sitting on the couch, facing the front door typing. I see Mr. Sir waiting. He knows "Daddy" is late coming home. He is turning circles. Not able to get comfortable until he knows all of his family is home.

He hearts us.
(for about 10 seconds a day, then he turns back into satan cat)

2 Lbs red potato, washed (not peeled) cut into 1 inch chunks
Salt and Pepper
2 oz garlic butter (to follow)
⅓ Cup heavy cream
4 oz aged white cheddar cheese, shredded


1. Boil water, cook potato for 5-10 minutes or until potato is soft. Drain

2. Add cheese, cream, garlic butter, salt and pepper to taste.

3. Mash potato

Garlic Butter:
Saute 1 Tsp minced garlic in 1 Tbsp oil for 2 minutes until soft. Mix with room temperature butter and 1 Tsp fresh parsley.


This recipe was shared on: Jam Hands, Pioneer Momma, This Gal Cooks, Yummy Healthy Easy, The Chicken Chick, Will Cook for Smiles, Flour me with Love, Kathe with an E, Mandy's Recipe Box,  Endlessly Inspired, Table for Seven, Pint Sized Baker, Inside Bru Crew Life, Feeding Big, Skip to my Lou, Love Bakes Good Cakes, Wine and Glue, Lady Behind the Curtain, Mommy on Demand, Mom's Test Kitchen, Sweet Haute, Sweet Bella Roos, The Bitter Side of Sweet, Lemoine Family Kitchen, Miz Helen's Country Cottage, The Best Blog Recipes, Saving 4 Six, What's Cooking Love, Lambert's Lately, Crumbs and Chaos, Embracing Change, Gooseberry Patch, The Grits Blog, This Ole Mom, Simply Gloria, Your Home Based Mom, Weary Chef, and A Bright and Beautiful Life

Adapted from: Red Rock Sunrise

Friday, December 13, 2013

Gingerbread Cookies

'Tis the season to eat lots of cookies
Stuff your face and eat more cookies...

OK, I won't quit my day job and try to be a jingle writer, I promise.

Julie from White Lights on Wednesday put out a call for her second annual cookie recipe swap. This is something new to me and I couldn't wait to jump right in!

I was excited to find out that I was paired with Jordan from Jordan's Journey. We swapped recipes and the rest is history!
(I cannot wait to find out if she liked mine as much as I liked hers!)

She sent me her gingerbread cookie recipe (below) which made me a little more excited than I should have been maybe. See, I have an unhealthy obsession with gingerbread. I like it in cookies, cakes, bars, soft, hard, crispy, mmmmmmmmmmmm.

Jordan's original recipe called for gingerbread man shaped cutters.
Yeah, I am not in possession of anything of the sort. I have biscuit cutters (which I considered) and this mini star shaped one.

The mind set (at the time) was that stars were a bit more "festive" than boring ole circles.
Can I tell you how many bajillion million cookies my tiny little star cutter made?

Holy schnikes!

We have been eating cutie patootie stars for a week now!
I brought a gallon sized ziploc bag of them to work...we are still eating the ones at home.
I think I finally see the bottom of the container!

These cookies came out crisp and spicy.
Not the heated, burn your tongue spicy, I mean cinnamon and ginger yummy spicy.

Thank you for sharing Jordan, I am pleased to add this to my recipe box!

1 Cup shortening
¾ Cup honey
1 Egg
1 Cup molasses
1 ½ Tsp baking soda
½ Tsp salt
2 Tsp ginger
1 Tsp cinnamon
5 Cups flour

1. Mix shortening, honey, egg, and molasses
2. In large bowl, sift flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, and cinnamon
3. Mix the wet and dry ingredients
4. Roll dough on lightly floured surface until ¼ inch thick
5. Cut with cookie cutters
6. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes


This recipe was shared on: White Lights on Wednesday. Gooseberry Patch, Lady Behind the Curtain, Sugar and Dots, Cooking with Curls, Your Homebased Mom, Simply Gloria, The Weary Chef, A Peek Into my Paradise, Tumbleweed Contessa, Future ExPat, and Livin the Mom Life

Monday, December 9, 2013

Apricot Glazed Wings (Crock Pot)

I love when Hubby calls me at work and informs me he is having the guys over for some game, or golf, or competitive paint drying.
Anything that involves beer and food...they are in.

Fortunately, I know hubby well, and therefore have a pile of quick, easy go-to recipes for an occasion such as this.

To make things easier, I grabbed a bag of frozen, already cut, chicken wings.

And here is where I need to tell on myself. I wasn't going to...but...we all need a good laugh.

I pulled the chicken out to thaw. I had a half day at work, and knew they would be thawed but still cold by the time I got home.

I arrived home, and headed for the kitchen. There is no chicken where I left it.
Checked in the fridge, nothing.
Maybe the little fridge...nothing.
My first thought was "oh-no, did hubby think this was a mistake and put it back in the freezer?". Nope, not there.

I call up hubbs, and leave him a friendly voice mail.
"Hey honey, just calling to see how your day is going....and to ask you where I might find the chicken for tonight".

Check all above places again, just in case it mysteriously appeared.

My mother calls. Chit chatting with her...filling her in on our missing chicken.
Decide to check the cooler outside (even though it's pouring rain and come on, it just doesn't make sense)
Oh...maybe it's in the oven (why? but it's a place I didn't look)
OMG...I didn't check the microwave!

I open it up (still on the phone with mommy dearest) and BAM! there is my bag-o-chicken.
And that is when I see it.
On bright yellow paper....written quite large...

I did that.

I quickly texted hubby and admitted to being naturally blonde.
My mother is still on the phone, very much enjoying this moment. A little too much maybe.

:::sigh::: If you can't laugh at yourself...right?

4 Lbs wings
12 oz Apricot preserves
¼ Cup Honey Catalina dressing
2 Tbsp Honey mustard
2 Tbsp Barbecue sauce
1 Tsp lime juice
4 Dashes hot sauce
1 Small onion, minced
Garlic Powder

1. Place wings on baking sheet
2. Sprinkle both sides with salt, pepper, and garlic powder
3. Broil for 8-10 minutes each side, until browned.
4. Mix together apricot preserves, Catalina dressing, honey mustard, barbecue sauce, lime juice, hot sauce, and onion
5. Once wings are browned, place them in your crock pot
6. Pour the sauce in. Mix well to ensure all wings are coated
7. Cook on low for 4-6 hours or high for 2-3 hours

And then do you know what blonde me did?
Made the wings...smelled them for hours...and then POOF they were gone. Yeah. No picture was taken by me.
So, I have borrowed the picture from the original blogger, and will replace it when I make these again.

This recipe shared with: Flour me with Love, Yummy Healthy Easy, The Chicken Chick, Call me PMC, Pint Sized Baker, Chef in Training, Anyonita's Nibbles, Mandy's Recipe Box, Kathe with an E, Inside Bru Crew Life, Lady Behind the Curtain, The Tasty Fork, White Lights on Wednesday, Mom's Test Kitchen, Play Party Pin, Saving 4 Six, It Bakes me Happy, Life After Laundry, Crumbs and Chaos, Lamberts Lately, Sweet Haute, Coffee with us 3, and Pioneer Momma