Archive for the ‘Dinners’ category

Crockpot chili

November 6, 2009


My parents were coming because we were going to go on a West Wing tour (it got canceled but rescheduled) I gave my dad the option of poppy seed chicken or chili and yay he picked chili.

This was so easy. I tossed it together Friday night – and got up Sat and put it in the crockpot and forgot about it.

By some standards I cheated – I used the McCormick chili seasoning packet. I just needed quick , easy and cheap.


2 lbs of beef ( I actually used 2.5 lbs)

1 Package of McCormick chili seasoning

2 cans (14 oz) Diced tomatoes ( I used petite dice because I don’t like whole tomato chunks)

2 cans (16 oz) kidney beans, drained ( I used one of the large cans of Dark kidney beans)

1 can (15.5 oz) tomato sauce

Onion powder

Garlic powder


Brown the meat and season with onion and garlic powder. Drain the meat and combine everything together in crockpot. I refrigerated over night and got up and put it on high for 3 hours, then I switched it to low for the next 2. If I was going to be cooking it all day I would have just put it on low for 8-10 hours.  Spoon into a bowl, and eat with toppings of choice.



Brown the ground beef













combining everything













Mix well













cook for at least 4 -5 hours













hot sauce, sour cream, cheese, fritos and corn muffins - pick your toppings



























This was super easy to make which is great because I had to clean the apartment- it was nice to set it and forget it. This was good for lunch on Monday and also on hotdogs for dinner the other night.









Mexican Lasagna

May 5, 2009


A while ago Matt and I went to dinner at my friend Jessica and Travis’ house. She was cooking Mexican lasagna. Loving most things Mexican food I was excited.  She made the main dish, I brought Mexican rice (from the packet) and dessert.  Jessica’s version was amazing. I decided to make it for my family asap.

I decided to change things up a little from Rachel Ray’s orginial. I will highlight my changes in (RED)


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground chicken breast, available in the packaged meats case ( 2 lbs ground beef… it was what we had)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder (did not use)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin (didn’t use this either… instead… 1 pack of taco seasoning)
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped ( yellow onion)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
  • 1 cup medium heat taco sauce or 1 (14-oz) can stewed or fire roasted tomatoes (totally forgot this at the store)
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • Salt
  • 8 (8 inch) spinach flour tortillas, available on dairy aisle of market (regular flour tortillas)
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar or shredded pepper jack
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped (didn’t have this time, but had at Jess’s and they were yum-o)


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat.

Add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil – twice around the pan.

Add chicken and season with chili powder, cumin, and red onion. Brown the meat (I added the taco seasoning mid way through)

Browning the meat and cooking the onions

Browning the meat and cooking the onions

Add taco sauce or stewed or fire roasted tomatoes.(omitted)

Add black beans and corn.


Heat the mixture through, 2 to 3 minutes then season with salt, to your taste.

Coat a shallow baking dish with remaining extra-virgin olive oil, about 1 tablespoon oil.

Cut the tortillas in half or quarters to make them easy to layer with.

Build lasagna in layers of meat and beans, then tortillas, then cheese.


Repeat: meat, tortilla, cheese again.

Bake lasagna 12 to 15 minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly.


Top with the scallions and sour cream and serve.


This variation was very good, I used lean beef so it wasn’t too greasy. The taco sauce probably would have given it more flavor, but I think it was still very good. As far as Mexican goes, it wasn’t spicy at all, but if I was making it for just myself I would use a spicier taco seasoning, and a medium salsa.

Chicken Poppy Seed Casserole

April 27, 2009

I’m Back! The AC is working, and I am feeling nice and cool. I also read a really cool article on how to photograph food… gave me some pointers, maybe my pictures will get a little better. No promises though.

When I was little mom used to make this casserole a lot. I am sure I hated it at one point in time. But finally broke down and tried it and liked it. Just like the snickers bar. (SHOCKING I KNOW!)

Anyway, as I am thinking about getting ready to move, I was going through mom’s recipe box copying things that I like so I can have them with me. I saw this one, and I have been craving it ever since. Then I was browsing the food blogs I read, and I saw someone made this too! I am pretty sure it was the same recipe, but I can’t remember which one I saw it on, so I can’t double check.

This comes from mom’s recipe box


1 Can cream of chicken soup

1 8oz can sour cream

4-5 chicken breasts (I used 4 but they were HUGE!)

poppy seeds

1 Sleeve Ritz crackers

1 stick butter


Cook chicken and dice them. Line the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan with the diced chicken.

Cooked and diced chicken

Cooked and diced chicken

mix the soup and sour cream together and spread over the chicken.

Smother with mixture

Smother with mixture

sprinkle with poppy seeds ( Note: 1/2 the casserole has poppy seeds sparingly for Matt’s belly)

yummy poppy seeds

yummy poppy seeds

Bake 350 for 20 mins until bubbly.

After 20 mins, crush a sleeve of ritz and mix with 1 stick melted butter.

Mixing Ritz and butter

Mixing Ritz and butter

Sprinkle over the casserole and bake for 5 more mins.

The finished product

The finished product

It tasted just like my mom used to make it. Matt liked it so that is good. I will be making it again but with 1/2 the pan without poppy seeds. They aren’t good for Matt’s belly. The blog that I saw made with without poppy seeds and said it was yummy. I am sure it would be fine without. It was quite a hit here…I took my serving and went back to clean up and it was almost gone!

easy peasy

easy peasy

Chicken Kitchen

March 15, 2009

Chicken Kitchen with Mustard Curry Sauce

Chicken Kitchen with Mustard Curry Sauce

If you have ever had the pleasure of eating at a Chicken Kitchen you are so lucky. I was introduced to this yum yum on my first trip to Miami, spring break 2006. Matt always talked about how good this is, but it wasn’t until I had it that my life was changed. Ok, exaggeration, but I find myself craving it often. CK is located in FL(there is one in Orlando mom and dad Tracy), TX and CO. Being in Maryland we don’t have it. It makes us sad. The famous CK Chop Chop is yellow rice, grilled chicken and the sauce of your choosing. The mustard curry is the most popular, but they offer sweet and sour, and bbq.

Matt, having grown up eating CK and missing it most, found the recipe for the famous mustard curry sauce, made it, and we have found the almost perfect replication.

Now I have said before I am a picky and plain eater. I don’t like the curry sauce, I use sweet and sour sauce. But it is still super good to me.

What I use, unless I have leftover from China Wok

What I use, unless I have leftover from China Wok

We make the basic Chop Chop.




chicken tenderloins

Goya yellow rice

2 tbsp Mayonnaise

1 tsp Yellow Mustard

1/2 tsp Curry Powder

1-2 tbsp Water


Matt always makes his sauce while I start cutting up the chicken.  I watched this time, but it is simple, mix the mayo, mustard, curry and water.

pre water and mixing

pre water and mixing

Finished sauce

Finished sauce

It shouldn’t be too thin, but it is personal preference how thin it is. You don’t want it watered down too much. Matt puts it in the fridge to chill until the rest of the meal is ready. The recipe should be doubled or tripled depending on how many people are eating. Matt doubles the recipe when it is just us eating (just him using the sauce) but he also eats enough for 2. I think the couple times we have made this for my family we doubled the recipe, and made it twice.

I take the chicken and cut into small pieces.



That's a lot of chicken

That's a lot of chicken

Once the chicken is cut, start the rice according to the packaging. It takes 25 mins to cook.

cooked rice

cooked rice

I spray my pan with PAM and put in the chicken. img_2273

Season with garlic salt and pepper. The pieces cook pretty quickly, I like to let them get a little brown.


When everything is ready it is time to eat.

Put a bed of rice on the plate, add your chicken and sauce, mix and eat.





CK serves with a pita, we skip it. Your choice.

Those who have had the real deal, and our version have said they are very similar. I agree. Now we get CK without flying to Miami!

Baked Ziti

March 9, 2009
Yummy ziti and burnt texas toast

Yummy ziti and burnt texas toast

I am taking a friend of mine who just had a baby dinner tomorrow after work, so I decided to make dinner for my family too.  I knew I wouldn’t feel like making this tomorrow, then driving to PA after work, so I decided to make it tonight. There are a million versions of Baked Ziti out there. Mine is pretty simple, and unfortunately for you (or fortunately) not exact. I tried to measure things, but I just couldn’t do it. Sorry.

What you need:

Everything you need

Everything you need

1 lb box ziti

15 oz ricotta cheese

1lb 10 oz spaghetti sauce

2 cup Italian blend cheese shredded

1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded

2 1/2 tbsp Parmesan cheese (not exact measurement but close estimate)

garlic salt  to taste

oregano to taste

pepper to taste

1/2 cup hot pasta water


Preheat oven 350

boil ziti until tender (I add a little salt to the water)

Drain. (make sure you keep 1/2 cup of pasta water)

In a large bowl, mix sauce, seasonings, ricotta, Parmesan cheese and hot water.

Sauce and seasonings

Sauce and seasonings

Add ziti and mix.

Add 1 cup of Italian blend cheese and 1/2 cup mozzarella. Mix well.

Pour into pan.

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese

Over with the rest of the remaining shredded cheese (1 cup Italian blend and 1/2 cup mozzarella)

ziti before baking

ziti before baking

Cover with foil and bake for 40 mins, last 5 mins take foil off and let cheese brown a little. I used the broiler to get it done faster. (Austin was HUNGRY)



I made my family’s first, and then made my friend’s. I had 20 mins left on the timer when I put their dish in the refrigerator. It really isn’t hard work at all!!!

You can make this ahead up to 2 days if kept in fridge, 2 months if frozen. Take out of fridge and cook (may need extra couple mins.)If cooking from the freezer, let it thaw first.

The best thing about this meal is you can change it however you wish. I like mine cheesy, but you don’t have to have that much cheese, you can use different types of cheese, I have seen many that call for provolone.  Dad said that he wouldn’t mind meat in it, I personally don’t like meat in my ziti. You could add veggies to it. The possibilities are endless.

If you make this for your family, let me what variation you use!