Thursday, January 28, 2010

Food For Friday Link: Swiss Stuffing Chicken

I have had a rough week.  I haven't been feeling well, so much of my time has been spent right here on this couch! 

If you stop by often, you know that Food For Friday usually includes a recipe and photos of the dish.  This week's recipe is going to be a little different! 

I tried Kelly Stamp's Swiss Stuffing Chicken for dinner this week and it was excellent.  I loved how easy it was!  It took me 5 minutes to get it ready to pop in the oven, and then I had an hour to do whatever I needed to while it baked.  It was delicious and had a complexity of flavor that seemed almost impossible with the simplicity of ingredients it required.  Truman and I were both fans and it is definitely going to be added to the regular rotation in our house!  Kelly posted the recipe and a photo on her blog, so I'm just going to link to her post this week.  If you haven't tried her Swiss Stuffing Chicken yet, you definitely need to put it on your menu! 

In her blog, Kelly said that she also froze this dish before her daughter was born, and it turned out great when baked.  I love to have homemade frozen meals on hand for nights that I'm too tired to cook, so I wanted to share that hint as well!

Thanks for the new recipe, Kelly!

I know I haven't posted any creative projects recently.  I shipped off some packages of crafty surprises on Monday, so just as soon as they arrive to their destinations, I have some fun projects to share with you!  I can't risk ruining the surprises, but I am excited to share them with you.  Check back in the next few days to see photos of what I've been working on lately!  I have several other projects in progress, so I should have a LOT of creative new posts in the coming weeks!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Cowboys, Stockyards & Mutton Bustin'

The National Western Stock Show is a 104 year old Denver tradition and every January, cattle, cowboys, sheep and Rodeo Queens descend upon the National Western complex for 16 days of stock show fun.  We decided to put our boots on (well, I wore boots!) and head to the PRCA Pro Rodeo for our date night this week.  You can wander the grounds and see all of the animals up close before heading to the rodeo.

There are tons of fair food booths where you can get the fried treats everyone looks forward to at the fair.  Truman enjoyed a giant corn dog and we polished off a funnel cake-my favorite fair fare.  I've been in the mood for fresh squeezed lemonade every since!

The rodeo is fast paced and entertaining.  From bucking broncos to calf roping and bull riding, the action changes regularly and there are always new events to see.

The highlight of the rodeo for us was Mutton Bustin'.  Five year olds strap on a vest and a helmet, lay on the back of a sheep, wrap their arms around it's neck, and hold on for dear life as the sheep is released to run around the arena floor.  Laughter filled the rodeo arena as the crowd watched these cute little boys and girls give every ounce of their energy to stay on the sheep.  Some of them strutted their stuff with pride after they fell off.  I have seen Mutton Bustin' before and knew Truman would absolutely love it too.

We had a fun night cheering on the cowboys and cowgirls.  If you live in the Denver area and have never been to the stock show, you definitely need to put it on your calendar for next January!

Food For Friday: Slow Cooker Carnitas

One of Truman's favorite Mexican dishes is pork Carnitas. I wanted a delicious version that I could simmer in the crockpot for a quick and easy meal. I combined elements from several recipes to create this dish, and we were very happy with how it turned out!

3-4 lb. boneless pork shoulder roast
2 tsp. salt (I used Kosher salt)
4-6 cloves pressed garlic
1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. crumbled dried oregano
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. onion powder
sprinkling chili powder
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup tequila
2 cups chicken broth
handful of fresh cilantro

Serve with:
warm tortillas
diced tomato
lime wedges (squeeze juice over the meat)
fresh cilantro
we add shredded cheddar and monterey jack cheese to ours, but that isn't typical for this dish

Place the 2 bay leaves in the bottom of the crockpot.

Cut the pork shoulder roast into large chunks and place in the crockpot on top of the bay leaves.

Mix together salt, cumin, oregano, coriander, fresh ground pepper, onion powder, chili powder, and garlic in a bowl. Coat the pork with the spice, rubbing into the meat. Add the tequila into the bottom of the crockpot. Pour the chicken broth around the sides of the pork, being careful not to rinse off the spice mixture. Throw the handful of fresh cilantro on top and squeeze 2 lime wedges over the meat.

Cover and cook on low 6-7 hours, until the pork shreds easily with a fork. Flip the meat over after 4-5 hours. When the pork is tender, remove from the crockpot and shred with a fork. Remove and get rid of the bay leaves. You can serve the Carnitas at this point if you like the meat soft and juicy.

If you want a more traditional Carnitas texture with crispy edges, you can add one additional step. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. After shredding the pork, spread it out in a thin layer on a rimmed cookie sheet. Spoon some of the liquid from the crockpot over the meat. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the edges of the meat are slightly crisp.

Serve with warm tortillas, tomato, guacamole, a sprinkling of fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime. We like to add shredded cheddar and monterey jack cheese to ours!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Food For Friday: Toll House Pie

I loved this pie when I was younger and often requested my mom to make it. I remembered it a couple of years ago and realized I hadn't made it in a long time. I got the recipe from my mom and made it for Thanksgiving. It was as good as I remembered and I've made it several times since then. It's fast and easy to prepare and I almost always have all of the needed ingredients on hand in my kitchen. It's a dense, rich, chocolate chip cookie pie that is delicious warm from the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream & perfect on a chilly night.

1 unbaked 9 inch pie crust (I use the Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust in the red box)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
vanilla ice cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare the pie shell in a pie pan.

Beat eggs in a large mixing bowl on high speed until foamy. Beat in flour, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Beat in butter. Stir in chocolate chips & nuts. Spoon into the pie shell.

Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a knife inserted 1/2 way between the edge and the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream.

(Note: If using a frozen pie shell, use deep dish style, thawed. Bake on a baking sheet; increase baking time slightly.)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Food For Friday: Pecan Crusted Chicken

I made Pecan Crusted Chicken for our Christmas Dinner this year. I first had this recipe 4 or 5 years at a bible study cooking night that my women's bible study had back when I lived in Ohio, and it has been in my recipe box ever since.

I made this dish for Truman the first weekend he came to visit me in Colorado, just after we started dating, and he says he knew he was going to marry me after this dinner. (So, it must be good!)

I like that it is fancy enough for company or a special occasion, but not complicated, and the flavor is so delicious! The only semi-special kitchen item you need to prepare it is a broiler pan, which helps the coating get crispy. Leftovers are delicious on a salad with strawberries or mandarin orange pieces with a fruit vinegrette dressing.

On Christmas, we were so excited to eat that I realized I never took a photo of it plated or cut into, so this photo of the platter is the only one I have to share!


1 cup buttermilk (see note below for tips on buttermilk)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup finely chopped pecans (I often use mine straight from the freezer)
3/4 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs
2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (if they are extra thick, you may want to place them between saran wrap and pound them with a meat mallet to a thinner fillet to help them bake evenly)
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans (optional garnish)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine buttermilk and egg in a bowl.

Combine finely chopped pecans, breadcrumbs, salt & pepper in a separate bowl with a wider bottom.

Place flour in a third bowl. Dredge chicken in flour, coating it on both sides, dip in the buttermilk mixture, being sure to coat both sides, and let excess buttermilk mixture drip off. Dredge in pecan mixture, coating well.

Place on the rack of an ungreased broiler pan. When all of the chicken breasts have been coated and are on the pan, drizzle with the melted butter and sprinkle with the extra chopped pecans.

Bake uncovered, 30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through the the crust is lightly browned.

*Note: Buttermilk isn't something I use often, but I have a few recipes that call for it, and I learned a trick that was a helpful way to save extra left over from a recipe, or have it on hand without it going bad. Buttermilk can be frozen, and thawed in the refrigerator when you need it for a recipe. Poured into an ice cube tray, it can be frozen into smaller portioned cubes for when you only need a small amount. Freeze the cubes fully, then you can remove them from the tray and store them in a plastic freezer bag.

As an alternative to buttermilk, you can also substitute 1 tablespoon lemon juice
or vinegar plus enough milk to make 1 cup. (Let stand 5 minutes before using.)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Years 2010

We had a fun but relaxing New Years Eve. Since we were leaving for Denver Christmas Conference just after New Years, we decided to have a low key night just the two of us. We made some appetizers at home to enjoy while we watched a movie from Redbox, then we headed to downtown Denver for the midnight fireworks on the 16th St. Mall.

We got hot chocolate and coffee from Starbucks to keep us warm while we waited for the countdown. I had never been to the New Years Eve fireworks downtown before, and it was quite an experience! The pedestrian mall packed with people as it neared midnight, with lots of horn blowing and confetti. Fireworks lit the sky as the new year began.

Happy New Year! How did you celebrate the arrival of 2010?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Food For Friday: Chicken Enchiladas Mornay

I absolutely love Mexican food. And these enchiladas are one of my favorite Mexican dishes to make at home. They are easy to prepare and perfectly creamy and cheesy. One batch makes a large pan full, so they are great to share with friends!


6 tbls. butter
6 tbls. flour
3 cups milk
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 tbls. grated parmesan cheese
1 small can mild diced green chiles
2-3 cups cooked chicken, cubed (4 breasts)
10-12 flour tortillas
3/4 cup grated or shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 cup sour cream

Sprinkle chicken with garlic salt & pepper (or add additional spices such as chili powder, cayenne pepper, cilantro, etc. I usually add a little chili powder or cayenne pepper to mine.) Bake at 375 for 25+ minutes or until cooked through. As a shortcut, I often simmer my chicken in water in a skillet on the stovetop until it is cooked through, drain the water, and then add the spices to each side as I flip it over to brown it slightly. Cube cooked chicken.

On top of stove, melt butter on medium to low heat. Stir in flour to make a paste. Remove from heat to add milk; return to heat & stir until thick. Add salt, pepper & chiles. Mix 1 cup the of sauce with the cubed chicken in a bowl. Heat tortillas (20 seconds in microwave) to make pliable & spoon chicken mixture down the middle of each. Roll & place seam side down in a glass baking dish. (I like more chicken filling in each tortilla, so I often use just 10 tortillas.)

Stir swiss cheese & sour cream into remaining sauce. Heat until melted and blended. Stir often to keep cheese from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Pour over top of the rolled tortillas. Sprinkle top with parmesan cheese & bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees until hot and bubbly.