Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Slow Cooker Taco Soup

We were getting tired of our classic chili dinner. So I looked online for alternatives to chili - What I found was Taco Soup ( in a crock pot nonetheless). This is the recipe I made from allrecipes.com .  I made a few modifications and here are the results: 

Recipe for Taco Soup 
servings: 8 
cooking time: 8 hrs 

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 (16 ounce) can chili beans, with liquid
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans with liquid
  • 1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, with liquid
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cups water
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans peeled and diced tomatoes ( rRotels is what I used) 
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chile peppers
  • 1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
  • 1/2 package dry ranch dressing mix

Fixings - you can use what you have but this is what I used
Sour Cream, Cheddar, Tortilla Strips, Green Onions, Avocados 

(Bill waiting for dinner - shotgunning San Pellegrino) 

1. Plug the crock pot in to med-low setting.  

2. Cook ground beef just as the taco seasoning mix packet directs. when fully cook add to crock pot.

3. Put onion, beans, corn, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, chile peppers, ranch mix into crock pot

4. give soup a quick stir and let simmer.  

(I put the crock on high and it was ready in 3 hrs - If you need it sooner) 

Put your choice of "taco" fixings onto of your taco soup.  Enjoy! 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Best Chicken Fried Steak with Spicy Milk Gravy

This was my first attempt to make chicken fried steak.  I love chicken fried steak but I had always been afraid to make it at home. Let me rephrase, I was not afraid but more but hesitant because so many restaurants make good chicken fried steak then so many make terrible chicken fried steak.  Last weekend I watched one of my favorite celebrity chefs Kelsey Nixon on the Cooking Channel. She made it look easy and I could smell and taste her Chicken Fried Steak with Spicy Milk Gravy through the TV.  So here is my rendition of Kelsey's -Chicken Friend Steak .  It turned out amazing and Kelsey is to thank.  I used spinach and mashed red potatoes for sides. 

Chicken Fried Steak with Spicy Milk Gravy 
( Sides cooked fresh spinach and red mashed potatoes) 

Total Prep Time:  45 mins
Total Marinade time: 2hrs - overnight
Serves: 4 people 

Steak Marinade  

4 - 3-4 once steaks pounded to 1/4 inch thick * I used pre-tenderized steaks from Safeway*
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Chicken Fried Steak Flour 

2 cups flour 
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp salt 
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cayenne pepper 
1 tsp onion powder 

1-2 cups oil for frying 

Spicy Milk Gravy 

3 tbls butter
3 tbls flour 
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 dashes hot pepper sauce
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt 
dash black pepper


1. Pound steak if not already pound to 1/4 in thick.  Put 1 1/2 cups buttermilk into a nonreactive dish with steaks. Let marinade overnight if you can but 2 hrs is minimum. 

Remove from fridge and make flour mixture - mix flour and all spices and baking soda in a shallow baking dish.  

2.  Coat steak in flour mixture set aside. 

3. Double coat in flour mixture and put in fridge for 20 mins to chill and allow steaks to rest. 

4.  Heat oil in cast iron fry pan - (Med-High heat) Oil should be hot.  Fry steaks, each steak should take about 3-4 mins on each side. Turn when golden brown. 
Flip side: 

 Remove from pan and warm uncovered in preheated oven 250 while cooking the rest of the steak. 

5. While steaks warm in oven - start gravy.  Melt butter in saucepan and add flour.  Make a rue but do not let the flour or butter start to brown. Once flour and butter make a paste add in broth and milk little by little until thickens.  Then add in hot pepper sauce and Worcestershire sauce, salt and peppers.  Taste if needed add more salt and pepper should be creamy and ( pancake batter consistency) 

6. Plate - Put a little gravy on the bottom of the plate then add your sides - I made mashed potatoes and steamed spinach. 

Finish with gravy on top and devour ! 

Amzing dish! I can't wait to make this again.  

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Bacon, Egg and Toast Cups - Inspired by Martha Stewart

I love weekends because I have time to make breakfast.  I usually get up at 5:30 on the weekdays - Breakfast is usually a grab and go type of thing.  Breakfast has always been one of my favorite meals - I know it's Bobby Flay's favorite meal too -hence my love for Brunch With Bobby. But this recipe didn't come from Bobby it came from our other friend Martha.  I made it easier and cut the quantity down for 4 not for 6.  Here is the original recipe if I forgot anything. 

Martha's Lydia's Version of Bacon, Egg and Toast Cups:

Pre-Heat Oven to 375 
Serves 3-4
Cook time: 15-18 mins


6 Slices Sandwich Bread
10 slices cooked bacon
6 eggs 
3 Tbls butter ( plus more for greasing your muffin tin) 
Salt and Pepper 
Optional: Parmesan Cheese sprinkled over the top 

How To Picture Tutorial: 

1. Take your bread and roll each piece with a rolling pin. 

( I see how it gets 2x as big as flat as pie crust) 

3. Cut off crusts and then cut in half but save crusts for filling holes later in the process. 
Then cut rounds in 1/2

4.  Grease 6 cups in a muffin tin with butter - Press the bread halves into the tin ( 2 per tin) use reserve crusts to press in gaps and brush with butter. 

Close up of toast in cups 

5. Add Bacon - About 2 pieces per cup. 

6. Add one cracked egg to each cup - finish with salt and pepper. 
Close up 

6. Cook in oven for 15-18 mins ( check at 10 mins) 

Eggs should  be soft to touch but not clear - poached consistency

7. Let rest 5 mins and use a dinner knife to loosen around the edges and serve immediately 


Note: Use a non-stick muffin dish - I used a vintage muffin tin ( not a good choice) was a bit hard to free from muffin tins. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Individual 7 Lay Dip - Big Party Hit ( Pinterest Inspired)

I have always made 7 layer dip for parties but with my new Pinterest.com love - I discovered these from my fellow blogger  The Girl Who Ate Everything ( amazing site by the way).  Here is my regular old 7 layer dip with a new twist - Individual 7 Layer dips ( I used small tumblers I got for 99c at Fred Meyer) 

Individual 7 Layer Dip: 

1 16 oz can refried beans
1/4 cup water 
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 pint sour cream 
2 Tbls mayo
1/2 package taco seasoning package
1/2 package  dry ranch dressing mix
3 ripe avocados ( or 1 1/2 cups guacamole ) 
2 chopped roma tomatoes ( 1 cup) 
1 can ( 2 cup) sliced black olives
1 bunch sliced green onions

1 bag of corn chips 

1.  Mix 1/4 cup water with refried beans - set aside
2. Mix sour cream, ranch, taco seasoning and dry ranch together - set aside 
( This is a picture of a double batch but a good idea of what i used) 

3.  Mash avocado, guacamole about 1 1/2 cups - set aside
4. Slice onions, black olives, tomatoes, cheese 

5. Layer individual dips in mini cups - I wipe with a paper towel after each layer to keep clean. Order - Beans, taco sauce mix, avocado, cheese, tomatoes, olives onions - one chip for display 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Chinese Cabbage Salad with Wantons and Mandarin Oranges

Chinese Cabbage Salad with Wantons and Mandarin Oranges

This dish you can find at most church potlucks - If it's missing at yours it's really easy to make and you never have left overs. Best part....You can make everything the day night before you take it to a party.  Bill and Hannah love this dish and request it at any gathering or we make it a meal and add chicken.  

1 package cabbage ( angle hair or coleslaw mix) 
1 package ramen noodles 
1 Tbls butter
Raman Seasoning package
1 can mandarin orange drained 
1 bunch green onions thinly sliced 
1/3 cup vinegar ( white or rice seasoned) 
1/3 oil ( do not use olive oil) 
1 Tbls Chili Oil ( Optional) 
3 tbls white sugar or honey 
Sliced almonds

Optional Add Ins: 
Broccoli bit size pieces
Red bell pepper chopped 
Crispy wantons


1.  I save all my mixed green salad containers for occasions to make this salad - its less clean up and easy to travel. 
Dump cabbage in bowl or container. 
Add chopped veggies - red bell peppers and green onions is what I had. 

Add in oranges and broccoli and sliced nuts 
Put lid on and store in fridge until ready to use. 

2.  Make the dressing:  Mixing cup add in Ramen season package with oil. vinegar, chili oil. 

Dressing should look like this.
Set aside until ready to use.  

3.  Crisp noodles in oven ( about 450 for 10 mins) I usually use a pie pan with the Tbls of melted butter on bottom.  Should like like this when out of the oven.
(Optional 4) Crisp wantons in salad.  I used crip wantons in this salad and this is how you make them...it's easy. 

Warm about 2 Tbls oil in fry pan on med-high heat.  Slice fresh wantons. and fry for 2 mins tossing once in awhile.  Total takes 4 mins. 
Fry and let cook
Use slotted spoon to remove: 

Cool and ready to use in salad 

Toss dressing and place in serving dish - put crisp noodles and wantons in right before serving.  

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Easy Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff - Just like what Mom would make

This is a great weeknight meal and can be made ahead of time and set on low during your work day.   I originally got this recipe form Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff  and made a few modifications.  Enjoy!

Recipe and Tutorial:

2 lbs beef steak
2 can Campbell's Golden Mushroom Soup
1 can beef or chicken stock
2 Tbls worchestire sauce
3-4 Tbls cooking sherry
1 cup chopped onions
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup water
1/2 mushrooms any kind ( you can use green olives as an alternative)
1 cup sour cream ( plus more for garnish)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 package egg noodles cooked.


1. In crock pot put soup, stock, water, worchestire, chopped onion, water and a shake of salt and pepper. Turn crock pot on high heat. 

2. Find any kind of beef - cube/chuck/stew- is what I usually use but I found these thin sliced steaks. These were on sale and perfect for what I needed - already sliced and pounded thin. Great time saver.
Slice beef as thin as possible and pound. Slice into bite sized pieces.

3. Put 2 cup flour in shallow bowl with a dash of salt and pepper, toss and coat meat in flour.

Shake off excess flour.

4. I had to do 2 batches - aprox 1 lb at a time in the sauce pan.  Drizzle olive oil in pan - med/high heat.  Brown meat - some pink is okay just brown the meat about 3-4 mins. Move browned meat to crock pot.  ( repeat if necessary) In dirty saucepan keep the heat on and add 3 tabls cooking sherry and de-glaze pan. Add to crock pot.

5.  1/2 before you are goin to serve. Add in  mushrooms  and 1 cup sour cream into sauce. Meat should be tender and not chewy.

6. Cook noodles

7.Assemble- Bed of egg noodles, followed by sauce. Dollop of sour cream. I made roasted brussel sprouts too complete my meal. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Dan Dan Noodles - Thank you Zao Noodle Bar

Some of you know where Zao Noodle Bar once was in Seattle's University Village.... 

It closed Summer 2011 and Abby, Hannah and I were devastated.  Where were we going to get Dan Dan Noodles?  This was the only thing the 3 of us ever got from here, everything else on the menu always fell second to this luscious number.  

So here it is:  I have tried 3 times to recreate it and here it is, I think It comes pretty close.  Maybe even better. 

Servings: 4
Total Time: 60 mins


2 boneless chicken breasts - Sliced and pounded thin 
2 packages Udon Noodles ( produce/refrigerator section by the mushrooms) 
2 Tbls chopped fresh ginger
2 tbls vegetable 

4 chopped cloves garlic
3/4 Chicken Stock 
2 Tbls rice vinegar or Chinese black vinegar 
2 Tbls Chili Oil ( or chili to taste) 
2 Tbls Sesame Oil 
1/2 cup plum sauce 
1/3 cup tahini paste ( Sesame Paste) 
3-4 Tbls Soy Sauce
2 Tbls Dark Brown Sugar 
1 Tbls Sambal Oelek ( ground fresh chili paste)
1/2 juice lime

Add ins: 
1-1 1/2 c sliced mushrooms
1 small cucumber or zucchini whatever you prefer
1 small bunch scallions
1/2 cup chopped peanuts 

1. Place Wok on stove med-high heat with 2 Tbls oil - heat until smokes ( 4-5 mins). Add sliced and pounded thin chicken to wok.  ( to pound chicken  - I use a meat mallet and plastic over chicken)  Cook 10 mins. 

Stir every 2 mins letting chicken brown and cook

After chicken is 90% cooked add in 2 Tbls fresh chopped ginger, fully cook chicken. Should be slightly brown and not dry. 

3.  Remove chicken and ginger form wok.  Keep any drippings in wok and this will be the foundation for your sauce. Turn to medium heat - add in garlic, broth, vinegar, hot and sesame oil, plum sauce, tahini paste,  sambal oelek (ground fresh chili paste), soy sauce, brown sugar - should be smooth and spicy and salty with a nutty taste. You want this a sauce consistency, if its too thick add broth, too thin add tahini paste. 
add salt and lime juice to taste 

Taste Test: 

4. Add chicken back into sauce and add in 1 cup or more raw mushrooms and bring back up to simmer. 

 5.  Take noodles out of package - cook as package directs ( I just cover noodles in bowl with water and microwave for 4-5 mins) 

6. Drain and add 2 packages of noodles into wok.  Toss and allow flavors to blend and heat.  

add in julienne cut cucumber and chopped scallions 

7. Plate ! 

Add Peanuts! 

Serve - Enjoy