All posts by Stephanie

About Stephanie

I like to: read, write, cook, and eat.

Monkey Bread

I LOVE making this recipe for friends.  It’s delicious, easy, fast, and gets devoured quickly.  Seriously, try it!  Last time I made this, it was gone within 10 minutes.

This recipe can be made in one bundt pan, 2 large bread pans, or one 9×13 pan.

  • 3 cans of buttermilk biscuit tubes (7.5 oz each) OR 2 cans of buttermilk biscuit tubes (16.3 oz each)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Mix 1 cup sugar with 2 teaspoons cinnamon.  Open the cans and separate the biscuits.  Cut each biscuit into 4 pieces (using a pizza cutter makes this job very easy).  Drop and toss each piece into the cinnamon and sugar mix.  Drop the sugar coated pieces into the well greased pan, being careful not to squish any of the pieces together.

Once all of the pieces have been coated in the cinnamon and sugar mix and place in the pan, take 1/2 cup of the leftover cinnamon and sugar mix and put it in a saucepan.  Add 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1 cup of butter.  Heat saucepan over medium heat and stir well.  Once the mixture starts to boil, remove from heat and drizzle over the biscuit pieces.

Put pan into oven for 30 minutes.  The bread is done cooking when the top is brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

When done, remove pan from oven, let cool as long as you can, and serve.

Boozy Shrimp with Red Pepper Flakes and Garlic

Shrimp is fast and easy!  I usually make shrimp dishes if I’ve forgotten to take meat out to thaw and I don’t want to run to the store.  With that in mind, I also keep a very well stocked kitchen and I go shopping once a week for groceries … so if I don’t have an ingredient that can easily be replaced, I substitute said ingredient instead of running back to the store.  In the recipe below, onions can be substituted for shallots (as I did), but keep in mind that shallots tend to have a more mild and sweet flavor, and onions tend to have a stronger flavor.  If you don’t like onions THAT much, go out and get some shallots, and try this recipe.

  • 1/2 pound shrimp
  • 1 can or bottle of beer
  • 1 shallot or 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

Pour beer into a saucepan and turn the heat to medium high.  Add shallot or onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, and bay leaves.  Bring the pot to a boil, stirring occasionally, until the beer has been reduced by half.

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Add shrimp, salt, and pepper, and cook about 3-4 minutes, or until pink.  Top with parley.

Serve shrimp over rice or quinoa.

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This recipe originated from Wishful Chef.

Pan-Seared, Oven-Roasted Chicken Breast (skinless, boneless)

I cook chicken often.  It’s easy to cook and easy to get creative with so that eating chicken often doesn’t get boring or old.  With that being said, I usually pan fry my chicken for a fast and quick meal when I’m being lazy.  I was inspired to try pan-searing, followed by oven-roasting, and realized that this particular method of cooking is, hands down, my favorite way to cook chicken when I’m feeling lazy.  It’s flavorful, very juicy, and easy!

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • seasoning to taste (I would recommend  garlic powder, salt, and pepper)

Pre-heat oven to 375.

Take an oven-safe pan and put it on the stove top on medium high heat.  Add olive oil.  If needed, trim the fat off of your chicken and then season.

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(I went slightly off-recipe when I was taking these pictures.  I cut my chicken up into large chunks, used hot pepper olive oil, my chili and garlic smoked sea salt grinder, and lemon pepper seasoning.  Remember what I said about creative?)

Add chicken carefully to hot pan and let it sit for 3-4 minutes before turning it to the other side.  The side that was previously facing down should be browned and looking delicious.  Let the chicken sit for another 3-4 minutes so that the other side browns and (using oven gloves, in my case) transfer the pan to the oven.

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Depending on the thickness of the chicken, it should take anywhere from 15-20 minutes.  The important part is that the chicken is 165 F on the inside.  (If you get the chicken to 160 F and let it rest for 10 minutes, it will get up to 165 and be even juicier — so it’s your choice!)

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The inspiration for this post came from 101 Cooking for Two.

 

Oven-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Balsamic Vinegar

Brussels sprouts are one of those vegetables that I never liked — until I started cooking them myself.  To be fair, I’ve only ever cooked them the single way a friend once recommended, but my point still stands.  This recipe takes that cooking style (oven roasting) and adds extra delicious flavors to the mix.  While my significant other doesn’t actually like Brussels sprouts, he’ll happily eat them when there is bacon involved.

  • 8 oz bacon, diced into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 3 tbsp bacon grease from cooked bacon (or 3 tbsp of good olive oil)
  • 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar *

Foil a roasting pan and put it in the oven.  With the pan in the oven, preheat the oven to 400 F.

On the stove top, heat a pan and add the bacon.  Keep an eye on the bacon so that it doesn’t burn.  When it is cooked to your liking, remove the bacon from the pan and put the pieces on a paper towel covered plate.

While the bacon is cooking, chop off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and any outer leaves that are yellow.  Slice the Brussels sprouts in half and put them in a large bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Once the bacon is done cooking, pour the bacon grease (or olive oil) on top of the Brussels sprouts and toss / mix until well covered.

Carefully pull the preheated roasting pan out of the oven and pour the Brussels sprouts onto the pan before replacing it in the oven.  Roast the Brussels sprouts for 20-30 minutes, or until tender and brown.

Near the end of the roasting process, take 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar and pour it into a small skillet on medium high heat.  Bring the liquid to a boil and simmer for 2-4 minutes, or until it’s slightly thinner than you want it (since it will keep reducing after you take it off the stove). *

* If your balsamic vinegar is aged and already thick, skip the reduction!  All you need to do is drizzle balsamic vinegar (to taste) over the Brussels sprouts in the following step.

Once done, remove the Brussels spouts and mix with the bacon pieces.  Drizzle your reduced (or aged and already thick) balsamic vinegar on top, toss to mix, and serve.

Stuffed Peppers

Back when I didn’t like eating green anything, I had to be creative in order to get my daily servings of vegetables.  This recipe helped!  The peppers are delicious when stuffed with such flavorful insides.

  • 4 large green bell peppers (or 6 smaller green bell peppers) with tops, seeds, and membranes removed
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 pound sausage
  • 2 cups cooked rice or quinoa
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 packet of Lipton’s onion dip mix
  • Pinch red pepper flakes (or more to taste)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large pot of boiling water, add peppers and blanch until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon and dry on paper towels.

In a large saute pan or skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, stirring often, about 3 minutes.  Add the sausage and rest of seasonings (salt, pepper, oregano, Italian seasoning, pepper flakes, onion dip mix).  Cook until the meat is browned, stirring with a heavy spoon to break up the lumps.  Add the rice and tomato sauce and stir well.  Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning to taste as necessary.

Stuff peppers with mixture and slice bottoms of peppers as necessary so they sit well.  Cover the pan with foil and bake peppers for 1 hour.  After 1 hour, remove the foil.  Add cheese (and extra tomato / spaghetti sauce if desired) on top and bake until cheese is melted.

Stuffed Pepper Soup

This soup is a great alternative to the tedious prep work that comes with stuffed peppers.  It’s also especially great for the cold weather outside.  Filling, delicious, and warm.

  • 3 cups cooked rice or quinoa (start with 1 1/5 cups uncooked)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 cup finely diced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz each) cans petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 3/4 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • salt and fresh pepper to taste

Put a large pot on the stovetop and turn the heat to high.  Add ground beef and a little bit of salt and cook until browned.  Once the meat is brown, drain out the remaining fat and reduce the heat to medium low.  Add your chopped peppers, garlic, and onion, and cook for another 5 minutes.

At this point, add full cans of tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, and seasonings.  Stir, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes so the flavors mix well.

When ready to eat, serve the soup on top of your cooked rice / quinoa and enjoy!

This recipe originated from Skinnytaste.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

We all have our little secrets — and here’s mine: I’ve never liked mashed potatoes.  That is, until started making them myself.  This recipe is my favorite for mashed potatoes and I will happily eat them without gravy.  They are smooth and delicious, and you can taste the garlic, but it’s not overpowering.  Perfect mashed potatoes!

  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 8 (whole) garlic cloves
  • 1 1/8 cup milk (I add anywhere from 1 1/8 to 1 1/4 cups of milk)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Start with a pot of cold, salted water, and add potatoes and peeled (whole) garlic gloves.  Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender but still firm, about 15 minutes.

When they are tender, drain them in a colander and let them STEAM (5 minutes minimum, 10 minutes if you can wait). The more steam is gone, the more the potatoes will absorb the milk.

While the potatoes are steaming, heat the butter and milk in the same pot you cooked the potatoes in.  Avoid bringing the milk to a boil; you just want to make sure the milk and butter are warm.  Add the steamed potatoes and mash and season.  (Note that if you haven’t let the potatoes steam, they will not absorb nearly as much milk and you will need to adjust as appropriate to compensate.)

Homemade Salsa Verde

This salsa is so, so good.  I actually eat it with a spoon once I’ve run of out chips.  I’ve put it on a burger (recipe to follow) and it’s amazing.  It’s extremely easy!  Go ahead and try it!

  • 3/4 lb fresh tomatillos (or one 11 oz can of tomatillos)
  • 1 poblano chili
  • 1 serrano chili
  • 1 clove of garlic (1 tsp)
  • 2 tablespoons onion
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp of sugar
  • 1 tsp of salt (1/2 tsp if using canned tomatillos)
  • 5 tbsp water

Preheat your oven to the broiler setting for 5 minutes.

Remove the husks from 3 quarters of a pound of fresh tomatillos, then rinse the tomatillos and pat them dry. If you can’t find fresh tomatillos,  it’s fine to use canned tomatillos. For this recipe,  you would need one 11-ounce can.

Next,   line a broiler pan with foil. Arrange the tomatillos on the broiler pan. If you’re using canned tomatillos,  you won’t need to roast them; just drain them and set them aside. Place 1 poblano chilli and 1 serrano chilli on the broiler pan along with the tomatillos. Poblano chillies are mild in terms of heat,  but serrano chillies can be  hot.  (If you’re really adventurous, toss a jalapeno in there.  It adds an excellent kick.)

Broil the tomatillos and the chillies until they are charred. This will take anywhere from 3-6 minutes. Use tongs to turn them and broil the other sides until they’re charred, another 3-6 minutes (might be more or less in your oven). This process intensifies the tomatillo and pepper flavor,  which adds another dimension of flavor to the salsa.

Once charred on both sides, pull out the pan and cover the pan carefully in foil and let rest for 10 minutes. This step is very important to make skinning and de-seeding the poblano chili much easier.

In the meantime,  mince 1 clove of garlic. You’ll need 1 teaspoon. Chop 2 tablespoons of onion and chop 2 tablespoons of fresh cilantro.

At 10 minutes, unwrap the tomatillos and chillies.  Peel the skin off the poblano chilli and remove the seeds. The tomatillos and the serrano chilli don’t need to be peeled or seeded.

Place the tomatillos and chillies into the bowl of a food processor. If you’re using canned tomatillos,  add them now. Add the garlic,  a quarter teaspoon of sugar,  and 1 teaspoon of salt . (If you’ve substituted canned tomatillos,  reduce the salt to half a teaspoon.) Pulse the mixture until the ingredients are coarsely chopped. Add 5 tablespoons of water,  the onion,  and the cilantro. Pulse again briefly until a coarse puree forms then transfer the salsa to a serving dish.

Use salsa verde just as you would a red salsa in Mexican dishes such as nachos,  enchiladas, and tacos. Also try salsa verde on grilled meats such as steak,  pork,  chicken, or burgers to give them a burst of fresh spicy flavor.

Pizza Sauce

Since we’ve covered the dough, let’s also cover pizza sauce.  I usually double this recipe so it lasts a couple of days.  It’s delicious!

  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 6 fluid ounces warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

In a small bowl, combine tomato paste, water, Parmesan cheese, garlic, honey, onion powder, oregano, marjoram, basil, ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes and salt; mix together, breaking up any clumps of cheese.

Sauce should sit for 30 minutes to blend flavors; spread over pizza dough and prepare pizza as desired.

(Overnight Rise) Pizza Dough

Thus follows the recipe that I use regularly for pizza dough.  It’s a large recipe so I make the full thing and once it has risen overnight in the fridge, I cut it in half and stick one half in the freezer.  Between my significant other and myself, we can usually make our own personal pan pizza over about a week with half of this recipe.

Please note that this dough rises overnight and it’s the most important part of the recipe.  That’s where you’ll get more flavor!  You do have to plan in advance for this dough, but I promise it’s worth it in the end.

  • 6 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 3 1/4 cup cold water
  • 6 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons sugar

Mix yeast, sugar and salt together with a cup of water.

Put 5 cups of flour in mixer / bowl. Add yeast mixture (from above), olive oil and (rest of) water. Start mixing. Slowly add remaining flour until you get a moist ball of dough.  If you find the dough feels fine before you’ve added all of the flour, it’s okay to stop there.  If you think you need more, add as you feel necessary.  Don’t put too much flour in because the dough will get too dry.

  • Here are some really excellent tips to figure out when you have well kneaded dough.

Kneed dough for around 10 minutes. I just leave it in the mixer and let the dough hook do the trick. Coat the ball with a thin coat of olive oil, put it in a bowl, and let it rise over night in the fridge.

The day of making pizza, take your out of the fridge an hour prior to cooking. (At this point, I separate the dough in half; I take one half, put it on parchment paper, put it on a plate in the freezer. Once it’s frozen, I put it in a freezer bag and keep it frozen until I next want to make pizza. For next time, just put it in the fridge overnight to thaw.)

Preheat your oven with pizza stone in it for an hour (this is important so you don’t crack the stone by putting a cold stone in a hot oven), and set the temp as high as it will go (usually around 500 degrees).

At this point, I roll out the dough with a combination of a roller and hands (it’s very elastic, so only a roller won’t cut it) with some flour to prevent sticking to my surface.  Once the stone is preheated, I peel the dough off whatever surface I rolled it out on, carefully stretch the dough onto the very hot pizza stone, quickly layer my toppings, and put the stone (with pizza) back into the oven.

Watch pizza closely!  take anywhere from 7-10 minutes, depending on toppings.  Once the cheese and crust are golden brown, the pizza is done.

Makes roughly 8 10″ pizzas (or considerably more smaller pizzas).