Creamy Rice, Chicken & Spinach

Total time: 35 minutes

This one’s really simple, easy, and tasty!  

What you need:

  • ¼ cup KRAFT Roasted Red Pepper Italian with Parmesan Dressing*
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips, or bite-sized pieces, whichever you prefer
  • 1-1/2 cups fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups instant brown rice, uncooked
  • 4oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) Neufchatel Cheese, cubed (it’s essentially just low fat cream cheese)
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) baby spinach leaves
  • 1 large tomato, chopped (or you can use cherry tomatoes cut into halves, which is what I prefer)
  • 2 Tbsp. Grated Parmesan Cheese

 Make it:

 HEAT dressing in Dutch oven or large deep skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 3 min., stirring occasionally. Stir in broth; bring to boil. Add rice; stir. Return to boil; cover. Simmer on medium heat 5 min.

ADD Neufchatel; cook 2 to 3 min. or until melted, stirring frequently. Add spinach. (Pan will be full.) Cook, covered, 1 min. or until spinach is wilted. Stir gently to mix in spinach.

REMOVE pan from heat. Let stand, covered, 5 min. Stir in tomatoes; top with Parmesan.

*Note: You can really use any type of dressing that you would think is tasty.  Once I was out of salad dressing all together so I used Buffalo wing sauce, and it turned out great.  

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Spicy Cranberry Sauce with Pinot Noir

Makes 2.5 cups.


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (about 8 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 cups Pinot Noir or other dry red wine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • Large pinch of Chinese five-spice powder*


  1.  Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cranberries and fresh ginger; stir until cranberries begin to burst, 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add wine and sugar; boil until mixture is reduced to 2 1/2 cups, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add crystallized ginger, curry powder and five-spice powder.

Serve sauce cold or warm.

*How to make your own Chinese five-spice powder.  You’ll need: 

1 teaspoon peppercorns
4 star anise
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds

Method for homemade powder:

In a dry skillet, roast peppercorns by shaking the pan over low to medium heat until the aroma of the peppercorns is released (about three minutes). Grind the roasted peppercorns and 4 star anise in a blender or pepper mill. Strain the blended seasonings. Mix in ground cloves, ground cinnamon, and ground fennel seeds. Grind the seasonings until very fine. Store in an airtight container.

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Chicken & Vegetable Tortellini Soup

Prep time:  35 minutes (Ready in about 7 hours 35 minutes)


2 medium carrots, sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 teaspoon)

1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into bit sized pieces

1 medium fennel bulb, chopped (or one cup of sliced celery)

1 19oz can cnnellini beans, drained and rinsed

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

14 oz chicken broth

2 cups water

1 (9oz) pkg regrigerated cheese-filled tortellini

1 cup firmly packed fresh baby spinach leaves

2 green onions, sliced

1 teaspoon dried basil leaves

parmesan cheese


  1. In a 3.5 to 4 quart slow cooker, layer carrots, garlic, chicken, fennel (or celery) and beans. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Pour broth and water over top, stir to combine.  (When I made this, I followed the original recipe and put the beans in at the beginning.  But 7 hours later, they had essentially disintegrated, so I would suggest not putting them in until the last hour or 30 minutes if you want to have any beans with texture.)
  2. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.
  3. About 20 minutes before serving, stir in tortellini, spinach, onions and basil (I added some red pepper flakes in, too, for a little spice).  Increase heat setting to high; cover and cook 15 to 20 minutes or until tortellini are tender.  Sprinkle individual servings with parmesan cheese.

Notes:  I checked mine after about 6 hours and 45 minutes and the chicken was already done, and the carrots had just the right amount of crunch that I wanted, so I went ahead and added the other ingredients and cooked for 20 more minutes and was done.  So, depending on how strong your crock pot is, you may not want to let it go the full 8 hours; you may risk everything getting too mushy. 

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Sweet Potato Tacos

I stumbled across this recipe this past summer and love it.  It’s great when you’re looking for something different for supper, and the sweet potato mixture warms up well the next day.


Sweet potato mixture:

  • 1½ Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 large poblano chili or green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1 medium orange sweet potato, cut into ½-inch dice
  • 1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper

To serve:

  • 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Oaxaca or Monterey Jack cheese
  • Chipotle sauce
  • Pico de gallo (optional)



Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes

Preheat oven to 400°. Heat a heavy ovenproof skillet (cast iron is ideal) over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbsp. oil to pan, then onion and poblano chili or green pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized. Stir in garlic and 1 tsp. salt.

In a medium bowl, toss sweet potato with remaining ½ Tbsp. oil and ½ tsp. salt. Add to skillet and cook, stirring, 1 minute, then place pan in oven and roast 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare tortillas dorado: Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat. Brush 1 side of a tortilla lightly with oil and place oil side down in pan. Scatter a generous spoonful of cheese over center of tortilla and cook until cheese is melted and tortilla is lightly golden on the underside but still flexible. Place on a cookie sheet and repeat with remaining tortillas and cheese.

Remove skillet from oven and stir in black beans and black pepper (beans will warm through from the heat of the pan). Top each tortilla with sweet potato mixture, a drizzle of chipotle sauce, and a spoonful of pico de gallo (if using).



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Mix n’ Match Enchiladas

Don’t mind how ugly they look. They taste like the manifestation of the word “Mmmmm!”

I grew up eating a lot of authentic Mexican food and absolutely loved every minute of it.  Since moving to Buffalo, though, I haven’t even found a decent Mexican restaurant, let alone someone to cook me cow tongue tacos in their back parking lot.  But, I digress.  My partner and I got the craving for some Green Chili (Salsa Verde) Chicken Enchiladas a few weeks ago, so we started scouring the internet for recipes.  What we found was an astounding number of different ways to cook these damn things.

But then we got excited, because we realized that this was one of those dishes that could be tweaked and customized until the cows come home.  So, below are a few different ways we’ve made enchiladas lately (yeah, we’re that type of people that get a craving for something and then eat it repeatedly until we’re sick of it).  So, thanks to Mexicans for providing us with one of the most delicious, saucy, cheesy, scrumptiliumptios dishes known to man!


You can customize these all you want, but some of the essentials are:

  • Burrito sized tortillas
  • 1 jar salsa verde (green chili sauce)
  • 1 pack shredded cheese (pepper jack, colby jack, cheddar, whatever)
  • 2-3 chicken breast/thighs cut into bite-sized pieces, OR a couple of cans of chicken if you’re lazy or in a rush,  OR 1 lb ground beef (if you’re going the whole carnivore/omnivore route)
  • a large onion
  • any other seasonings you want
  • maybe some beans
  • maybe some Rotels (canned diced tomatoes with diced chilis)

If you want to be a BAMF and make your own salsa verde, you can follow this guy’s recipe here:



  • Preheat oven to 350
  • If you’re using uncooked chicken or beef, you’ll want to cook/sear it in a pan.  Chop up the onion and throw them in there with the meat and olive oil so you get some good flavor.  I life to leave about half of the onion in slices instead of diced up small.  Put any seasoning you want in this while it’s cooking: cayenne pepper powder, garlic pepper, even Cajun seasoning.
  • After the meat is cooked, poor about half, or even 3/4 of the salsa verde in with the chicken, and keep on cooking until some of the salsa has evaporated and cooked into the chicken (it just shouldn’t be very soupy).
  • When that’s done, take a plate or a wide dish and pour some of the salsa verde in it.  Take a tortilla and flop each side in that plate full of salsa.
  • Then spoon the chicken/beef/onion/delicious mixture onto the center of the salsa verde-coated tortilla. Sprinkle some cheese on top.
  • In a 9×13 baking dish, spoon some of the salsa verde on the bottom so that the enchiladas don’t stick while baking.
  • Then, wrap up your topped tortilla tightly and place in the baking dish, with the seal down.
  • Repeat until you’ve used up all of your mixture or tortillas – whichever comes first.
  • Then, once your baking dish is full, pour the left over salsa verde and meat/onion/salsa mixture over the enchiladas.  Make sure they’re covered nicely; you don’t want the tortillas to get all crispy and hard while you’re baking.
  • Finally, cover with shredded cheese, and bake it for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  • Then stuff your face.  You can serve it with anything you want: salad, refried beans and rice, or nothing at all.

So, that’s the way we made them the first time.  Here is how we made them tonight (we made a couple of variations, including a vegetarian version):

  • We didn’t have any chicken to cook, but we had two cans of cooked chicken breast and a can of cream of mushroom soup. We threw those in a pot and cooked them together, adding curry powder, Cajun seasoning, ginger powder, & garlic pepper.
  • But, here’s a side note: this mixture turned out to be pretty damn salty, which I’m not a fan of.  Not sure if that came from the canned chicken, cream of mushroom soup, the curry powder, the mixture of all of them.  So, if you choose to go this route, go easy on any salt.  If you want to come up with this mixture without the mushroom soup, maybe just use some of the salsa verde.
  • While you’re cooking the enchilada mixture, pour your salsa verde in another pot and heat it up.  We both like our food to have a spicy kick – which the salsa doesn’t have when you buy it – so we threw in some canned chilis and cayenne pepper powder.
  • And then you just follow the directions above on how to assemble them, put them in the baking dish, and bake.

And a vegetarian take on enchiladas:

  • Again, there’s a number of ways you could make this vegetarian.  Use beans or sweet potatoes, for example.  Tonight, we ran out of chicken, but had a can of kidney beans (but any type of beans will do!).
  • So, we drained our beans, and threw it in with a (drained) can of Rotels (a staple in our pantry), heated it up and used that as our enchilada mixture.  And I liked them better than our curry chicken enchiladas!

Now, go forth and make enchiladas!

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Nanny’s Dishpan Cookies

My Nanny’s the queen when it comes to baking, and my Papa’s the one that reaps the benefits.  She’s always coming up with new cookie and candy recipes, and we’re there to pass judgement.  It seemed that with each new batch we had a new winner, and it wasn’t any different with these.  But I think she set the bar too high with this recipe, and they’re definitely my favorite cookie.  They’re called “dishpan cookies” because this recipe makes so much dough that you have to mix it in a dishpan (or some really huge bowl).  Since the recipe makes anywhere from 48-60 cookies (depending on how big you make them), it’s perfect for the holidays or for any party where you want to share a lot of goodies without doing a whole lot of work.


  • 2 Cups light brown sugar
  • 1 Cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 Cups Oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 Cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups quick oats
  • 4 Cups cornflakes
  • May also add nuts and raisins if you want…and why wouldn’t you want to?


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. In a very large bowl or dishpan, cream sugars, vanilla, oil, and eggs. Add flour, soda, and salt. Fold in oats and cornflakes (and nuts and raisins if you’re using them).
  3. Use a spoon to drop the batter onto an ungreased cookie sheets. This batter might be a little dry and you may have to moosh it together with your hands to get it into a ball when you put it onto the pan.
  4. Bake for ten to twelve minutes or until edges are lightly browned. If you want them to be chewy, bake a little less, crispy, a little more.

 *This freezes well both as a dough and as a finished cookie.*

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Moroccan Chicken & Couscous

This really is among my top 5 favorite recipes.  I love the sweet flavor that’s thrown in there with the cinnamon and the raisins, and the couscous is out of the ordinary.  And not only is the taste pleasing, it’s a really colorful and impressive dish.  So make sure to prepare it when you have guests coming over!  They’ll love it.

Prep time = 10-15 minutes

Total time = 40 minutes.

Serves 4 (but, if you’re a hearty eater like me, you may want to increase each ingredient so you’ll have four “good helpins” or enough for two folks to have leftovers the next day)


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 boneless, skinlless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) chicken broth
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) of Rotels (diced tomatoes with chilies, garlic & onion)
  • 1 package (1 lb) of cubed, fresh butternut squash – that’s about half of a squash if you want to buy it and cube it yourself (don’t cook the skin/rind!)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 cup plain couscous
  • 1 cup frozen peas


  1. Heat oil in large deep skillet over medium-high heat.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and cook 5 minutes, turning once, until browned.
  2. Add broth, Rotels, squash, raisins, cumin, cinnamon, and paprika.  Bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat.  Simmer for 15 minutes or until chicken is tender.
  3. Stir in couscous and peas.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork and serve.
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Egg Muffins

If you’re like me, you find yourself running out of the door in the mornings, lucky if you have your shoes on the right foot, let alone having had time to fix and eat breakfast.  And then I found this recipe.

There’s a simple list of ingredient: eggs + whatever you want.  Essentially, you’re making mini, personal omelets in your muffin pan.  Here’s what I used:

  • eggs
  • green onions
  • green bell pepper
  • red bell pepper
  • crumbled bacon
  • sharp cheddar cheese
  • Cajun seasoning

For a regular sized muffin pan (with 12 muffins), use 10-12 eggs.  I used 10 because I had so much other veggies and cheese and mine that no more egg would fit in the pan!

The process is simple:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F
  2. Spray your muffin pan with cooking oil (you can also use muffin liners, but spray them, too).
  3. layer your ingredients: bacon/ham, diced veggies, shredded cheese
  4. beat your eggs in a large bowl and put in any spices you’d like (I just used Cajun seasoning) and put the eggs into something you can pour out of.
  5. Pour your eggs over the other ingredients in each of the muffin spots.  Don’t fill them completely (probably only about 3/4 of the way), because the eggs will rise as they cook.
  6. Bake them for about 30 minutes, or until the eggs have risen and are slightly brown and set.

Then, either eat them all (as I was tempted to do), or fill up some ziploc bags with two each, stash them in the fridge (they’ll stay good for at least a week in the fridge), and then you can grab instant breakfast on your way out the door in the mornings. And even better, they’re not bad for you!

Original recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen Blog, here.

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Coconut Chicken Tacos w/ Mango-Cilantro Salsa

I wanted to name this “Holy Crap These Are Freakin Awesome Coconut Chicken Tacos w/ Mango-Cilantro Salsa” but it wouldn’t all fit in the title box. 

Total Time:  45 minutes – 1 hour

Makes about 6 tacos.

Ingredients for the Mango-Cilantro Salsa:

  • 2 mangos- diced (there were no mangos in Buffalo in October – imagine that – so we just used a 15 oz can of tropical fruit salad, with the juice drained – but also chop up the fruit chunks into smaller pieces)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove-minced (about 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic)
  • Minced onions to taste—we added about two tablespoons (about 1/8 of an onion)

Make the salsa first by combining all of the above ingredients, and then just setting the bowl in the fridge until the chicken is done and you’re ready to make the tacos.

Coconut Chicken Taco Ingredients:

  • 3-4 boneless chicken thighs (or breasts if you prefer the good ol dry, white meat)
  • Coconut Oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons of flour
  • Fajita-sized tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • Chopped lettuce


1. Cut chicken thighs into strips.

2. Beat eggs in a bowl and set aside.

3. In the another bowl, add flour and one tablespoon of shredded coconut.

4. Pat chicken strips dry and start dipping into the egg bowl first, then the flour bowl, making sure to coat them fully with both eggs and flour. After coated with flour, place on plate until all chicken strips have been through the coating process.

5. Heat up some coconut oil (maybe like 3-5 tablespoons) in a medium-sized frying pan. Make sure your oil is hot enough to cook with, but not too hot where your chicken burns right away—ours was fine at medium heat setting. Cook three or four strips at a time. Each strip will cook at a different time than the next due to different size and thicknesses, but it should be approximately three minutes. Once a side is a nice golden brown, flip chicken over for another three minutes until cooked fully. Place cooked chicken aside and sprinkle with shredded coconut. Your tacos are now ready to be assembled.

6. Top tortilla with lettuce, chicken and mango salsa! I bet a side of black beans or a margarita would go great with this tropical delight!

Original recipe from, here.

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Nanny’s Meatloaf

I know everyone has their own meatloaf recipe, and probably everybody thinks theirs is the best.  Well, I’m here to provide yet another “best meatloaf” recipe.  This is the one that my Nanny (Southern for “grandmother” – I didn’t actually have a nanny) and Mama make.


  • Ground Meat – 2 pounds
  • ½ onion (or 1 small one), chopped
  • ½ bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 egg per pound of meat
  • about ¼ cup of Worcestershire sauce
  • salt & garlic pepper (to taste)
  • 1 can of Rotels (not drained)
  • approximately one cup of oatmeal
  • about 8 oz of ketchup


  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Mix all ingredients together and then place into large (9×13) pan.
  3. Don’t pack the loaf tightly, just shape it.
  4. Cook until done (approximately 30-45 minutes)

Directions for the Glaze:

  1. 4 tbs of hot salsa
  2. 4 tbs of ketchup
  3. 2 tsp of ground cumin
  4. 1.5 tbs brown sugar
  5. splash (or splashes) of Worcestershire

Mix the above and pour half over the meatloaf for the last 15-20 minutes of baking time.  Use the remaining half to pour over your meatloaf while eating it.

Side Note: the glaze is not my Nanny’s recipe, but one that we got from a friend, and it is so good!

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