Friday, August 3, 2012

Day 45: Texas Sweet Tea

My guys LOVE sweet tea! See those empty pitchers behind the glasses?? They've been filled and emptied twice now with this tea. Both pitchers, twice, now empty! These are the last 2 glasses, and I assure you, the tea is gone now and I'm brewing yet another gallon.

When we go to any restaurant, Jason's first question is, "Do you have sweet tea?" You may be asking yourself, "Why is he asking for it if she can make it?" Well, I just learned how. I was using a recipe I have had for years, but it was missing something! It was OK, but he craved (to the point of driving however many hours to the nearest restaurant that had the type he craved)! When he found a restaurant within an hour's time had moved in, he was in heaven. He could satisfy his craving for a brief shiny split second until he got home and finished the cup he'd bought.

Until I had a friend in Texas give me the secret that all these Southern places had been keeping from all us Yankees!

Know what? I kinda feel a little stunned. When she first told me what it was, I really doubted it. In fact, I didn't even try this recipe for like 3 months. Until Jason found out I had it.... Then it was on!

Oh, the secret? Why 1/4 teaspoon baking soda! That's right!! Simple baking soda!

The order things get done is very important, too, but without the baking soda, it's no better than any of the stuff I'd been making up 'till now.

Who knew?

Here's the order:

1. Boil 4 cups of water.

2. While that is boiling, place 1/4 tsp baking soda in the bottom of a gallon pitcher and then 6-7 family-size or 12 regular-size tea bags.

3. When the water is boiling, pour over the tea bags and steep for 15 minutes.

4. Remove the tea bags (do with them what you will, I know some people keep them for beauty reasons or plant care, but that is another post) and pour in between 1 and 1/2 cups to 2 cups of whatever sugar you use. (I use either sugar in the raw or plain sugar) (Also, I use 1 and 1/2 cups 'cause I like mine exactly like you get in the diners.) Make sure all the sugar dissolves in the warm water.

5. Pour in 12 cups cool water. Stir it up. Refrigerate for however long you like. (I can barely get them to wait 30 minutes.)

6. Pour over tall glasses of ice. Drink. Swoon. Repeat.

Off to make yet more tea! I think Jason's love of sweet tea is gonna keep me busy for a long long long time!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Day 44: Dole Pineapple Whips

This delicious cream (which this picture really doesn't do justice) has, before now, only been found in one of three locations. Disney World, Disneyland, and the Dole plantation in Hawaii.

In it's natural habitat, (which is in the Magic Kingdom, or the Polynesian Resort, or Dole), its appearance is more like a soft serve and ferociously hunted by tourists. The craving for this delight, once you leave one of the three locations, can only be compared to that of an addict!

Tired after a day of hunting!
It doesn't have a lot of sugar, doesn't have a lot of dairy, and, unless you despise pineapple, offers a really refreshing way to enjoy pineapple without a lot of junk. It has mostly pineapple, lemon and lime juices.

I still have to play with the recipe a bit to get more of a soft serve consistency, but that's only because I don't own an ice cream maker. Maybe whip the cream a bit more before adding it, or reducing the pineapple juice. We'll see.

But even with it's non-set consistency it was so so good!

My mind is focused on finding ways to use this. So far, I've thought of blending it with vanilla ice cream and making a shake or sundae. Or perhaps, since the consistency is more like whipped cream instead of ice cream, using it on pie. Hmmm! Or cheesecake! I can't wait to try it all!

This recipe doesn't replace the original Disney creation, but it does help with the rabid cravings in between vacations. :^D

P.S. We used actual cut up pineapple that we pureed in the blender, but two cans of Dole crushed pineapple drained with 2 tablespoons juice reserved would do nicely!


2 cans (20 oz. each) Dole crushed pineapple
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp lime juice
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped


1. Drain pineapple; reserve 2 tablespoons of the juice.

2. Blend the pineapple with the lemon juice, lime juice, reserved pineapple juice and sugar until it is smooth.

3. Place in freezer safe container and freeze for 1 to 2 hours, until it becomes a slushie consistency.

4. Stir whipped cream into the pineapple slush and combine well.

5. Freeze until it reaches your desired consistency. (We would prefer soft serve, but whatever floats your boat!)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Day 43: Chicken Scarpariello

So, I happened to be channel surfing the other day, (the ONLY type of surfing I do), when I stumbled upon a show called "Best Thing I Ever Ate." It happened to be the Las Vegas edition. Chef Anne Burrell was talking about this chicken dish she had only seen at this place there and how good it was. I agreed with her that it looked amazing so I attempted to look up a recipe for it.

This happens to be one of those Italian dishes that everybody who has an Italian grandmother has their own family's version of it. So, I used the best food sense that I have (learnt from various food shows over the years) and pulled together what seems to me the best of all of them.

My family thanks me from the bottom of their stomachs! :^D

The chicken is so tender. The sausage adds a not-too-spicy kick as does the cherry peppers. There's not a bit about this dish that disappoints! It is a dish that I am not ashamed to call delicious!

Most of the recipes called for bone-in chicken, but we only had boneless skinless available. No idea if the bone-in stuff would add anything. Just FYI.

Simple too! Fry up the sausage, brown the chicken on both sides, sauté the onions and garlic, add white wine and chicken stock (can skip the wine and add more stock or water if desired), simmer for 20 minutes, enjoy!

We chose to serve it over a bed of rice pilaf which soaked up all the sauce. You could go with a side of roast potatoes (or no side at all) and it would just make it more soupy. Soupy is more traditional, just so ya know!


3 chicken breasts, cut in half (your choice of bone-in or not)
1 pound sausage (cut into bite-size pieces) (we used Hillshire Farms)
Extra virgin olive oil (for oiling the pan)
Salt (we used Kosher) (for seasoning the chicken)
1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup white cooking wine (if opt out just add the same amount of more stock)
1 cup hot cherry peppers, cut into 1/4 slices
1 cup hot cherry pepper juice (from the jar)
1 cup chicken stock
2 Tbsp oregano (3 sprigs if fresh)


1. Heat about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Cook the sausage until well browned and remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate.

3. Season the chicken well with salt and add it to the sausage fat in the skillet and brown on both sides and remove it from the pan to a plate.

4. If necessary, add more olive oil to the skillet and heat it back up over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 6 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.

5. Add the white wine and reduce it by half, making sure to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the skillet.

6. Return the chicken and sausage back to the skillet and add the cherry peppers, pepper juice, chicken stock and oregano to the pan.

7. Bring to a boil then reduce it to a simmer. Continue to simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Then remove the cover and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

8. Add more chicken stock if it has reduced too much. Taste and season according to your preferences.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Day 42: Chicken Piccata

Having chronic health issues means part of this blog's purpose is putting recipes out there that our 16-year-old (how can he be 16??) can follow. He's becoming quite the chef! He's even putting meal ideas out there to try. How awesome is that!?

One of those meals is chicken piccata. He saw it on Worst Cooks in America on Food Network, and just wanted to try making it.

Am I ever glad we tried it! It's really really good! Creamy-lemony with capers served over a bed of rice pilaf is perfection.

He learned how to filet chicken breasts in half as well as fine-tuned his chopping skills (veggies), and then learned about thickening sauce with butter. All in all, a very educational meal experience for him.

The amazing part of teaching him cooking skills is watching when he goes to restaurants (Disney restaurants were especially fun for me) and asks culinary questions of the wait staff. They are always amazed and that makes me proud! I know he can judge how a meal is cooked, and if need be, he can explain why he needs to send a dish back to be redone. And the recipes. He will always ask for the recipes of dishes he enjoys.

A side bonus of him learning this is his eating habits have greatly improved! He used to be a junk food snacker. Now he enjoys cutting fresh veggies or fruit!

Now if I can just teach him portion control.... Given that he's a healthy teenage boy? Yeah, I'm dreaming!


2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, butterflied then cut in half
Kosher salt and black pepper, to season chicken
All-purpose flour, for dredging
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
5 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped


1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour and shake off excess and rest on a baking sheet.

2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of the chicken and cook for 3 minutes, then flip and cook for another 3 minutes. Remove it from the pan and transfer to a plate. Repeat, adding another 2 tablespoons of butter and oil, with the remaining 2 pieces of chicken. Place them onto the plate with the first 2 pieces of chicken.

3, Into the skillet, add the lemon juice, chicken stock and capers. Bring to a boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Taste for seasoning needs.

4. Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to a platter.

5. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour over chicken and garnish with parsley.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Day 41: Sour Cream and Bacon Crockpot Chicken

So, as promised, this is what I did with the leftover soup yesterday.

I took it and made awesome out of it!

For years, I've been using canned soup to make this meal. Boy, was I missing out on so much flavor!!

I simply wrapped bacon around each breast half, placed it in the crockpot, covered it in soup, let it cook on low for 5 hours. That's it! Well, I mixed sour cream into the soup, but that is implied in the name of this dish.

I served it over rice, but you could easily use egg noodles or couscous.

I have been using the crockpot lately to cook dishes I normally bake. Anytime I can not heat up the house is good. (Except in winter when we're trying to do that.) Many of my staple recipes have been met with pretty good results, too.


8 bacon slices
8 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
20 oz cream of mushroom soup (2 10 oz cans is fine, I just prefer homemade)
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Place bacon in a large skillet and cook over medium-low heat until some of the fat is rendered. Be sure that the bacon is still pliable and not crisp. Drain on paper towels. (If you prefer, you can double the flour and not render the bacon.)

2.  Wrap one slice of bacon around each boneless chicken breast and place in a 4.5 quart crockpot.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the soup, sour cream, and flour and mix with a wire whisk to blend. Pour over the chicken.

4. Cover crockpot and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or until the chicken and bacon are thoroughly cooked. (For newer crockpots, you may want to check the chicken at 5 hours. Internal temperature should be 160-170 degrees F.)

5. Remove the chicken to a platter and whisk the sauce so it is very well blended and pour over the chicken.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Day 40: Creamy Wild Mushroom Soup

So, our camera's casing somehow got cracked, meaning Best Buy has our camera for about 2 weeks. (Technically, they sent it to Nikon to be repaired, but still, no camera for 2 weeks.) Blah! So, the pics are gonna have to go back to our point-and-shoot and/or our phones. This picture happens to be taken on the new iPad 3! (Apparently, the iPad 2 has a mic problem, so mine got replaced! Woot for new toys!)

My family has been fighting sickness lately, so I've been trying to make soups. Given my decision to not buy canned/jarred items, I had to go looking for really good recipes for homemade. Less sodium, healthier ingredients, better tasting!

Plus, the rest of this soup was used for an awesome chicken recipe that I'll be posting soon!

This was basically a simple soup base of butter, onion, garlic, and flour mixed with heavy cream and chicken stock. I probably should have used vegetable stock, but this is what I had on hand, so I used it. As the title of this post suggests, I put mushrooms in there. They're not mandatory and if you leave them out, this makes a very nice cream of (whatever you wish) soup! Cream of chicken would work really well! Just replace mushrooms for the appropriate amount (I'm thinking roughly 2 cups) of chicken, or cauliflower, or potatoes, or celery. You get the picture.


3 Tbsp butter
6 oz sliced Portabella mushrooms, chopped into bite-sized pieces
8 oz sliced button mushrooms
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cups half-n-half
2 Tbsp dry sherry (optional, I didn't use it)
14 3/4 oz (a little less than 2 cups) chicken broth
3 Tbsp flour
3 Tbsp water
Tabasco, salt and pepper to taste (I didn't use the Tabasco)


1. In a 4 1/2 quart stock pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add the Portabella pieces with the button mushroom slices. Cook about 4 minutes. Add the onions (and the sherry if using) and cook for another minute to soften the onions (and evaporate the alcohol, if using the sherry).

2. Add chicken broth, cover, and raise the heat to high. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat back to low and simmer for 3 minutes.

3. Combine the flour and water in a small bowl and whisk it with a fork until all the lumps disappear.

4. Raise the heat on the soup to medium and stir in the half-n-half. Give the cornstarch another whisk with the fork and add that to the pot as well, stirring constantly. Cook until thick.

5 Season with Tabasco (if using) salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Day 39: Cinnamon Roll Cake

Ever have a Cinnabon? Love them? Then do I have the cake for you! Seriously, like heaven on a plate! This lovely cake tastes just like them! And the scary part (or awesome depending on your perspective) is all the ingredients are everyday kitchen staples! I can whip this baby up whenever I want!

Well, as long as I have 40-ish minutes, that is! And, the necessary stuff, but as I mentioned, I almost always do! This is sinful!

I apologize for the calories you will intake, but only kinda sorry 'cause then I won't be the only one. :^D

Sorry I don't have a better pic of the glaze that is on this!
Also, the diabetic coma. It's worth it!

3 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
4 Tbsp butter, melted
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp cinnamon
2/3 cups nuts (optional)
2 cups powdered sugar
5 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).

2. Grease (or spray with non-stick spray) a 9x13 baking pan.

3. With an electric mixer or stand mixer, mix flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Once combined well, slowly stir in 4 tablespoons melted butter. Pour batter into your prepared baking pan.

4. In a large bowl, mix the 2 sticks of softened butter, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nuts (if using) until well combined. Drop even spoonfuls over the cake batter and use a knife to marble/swirl through the cake.

5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out nearly clean from center.

6. Place powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla in a large bowl. Whisk until smooth. Drizzle over warm cake.

7. Serve warm or room temperature. (Straight out of the oven is devine!)