Category Archives: Not so Easy

Roasted Chicken Tacos with Cilantro Cream Sauce

These tacos are SO good! The secret is in the sauce. WARNING: This sauce has a lot of garlic in it as well as a lot of cilantro. Do not eat this if you are planning on going to a party and talking to a lot of people anytime soon or just make sure you invest in a lot of mouthwash first.

Ingredients for Tacos:
Roasted chicken, by one from the store or use this CrockPot recipe
Small flour tortillas
Cabbage, thinly sliced or bagged broccoli slaw mix from the grocery store
Mexican cheese blend, shredded

Ingredients for Cilantro Cream Sauce:
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 (7 ounce) jar tomatillo salsa
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 T fresh lime juice

Instructions for sauce:
Combine cream cheese, sour cream, salsa, pepper, celery salt, cumin, garlic powder, cilantro and lime juice in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy.

Instructions for assembling tacos:
Assemble tacos with chicken, cabbage and cheese. Serve with sauce on the side. OR Stir some of the sauce into the cabbage and let sit for about 15 minutes and serve on top of the tacos with some of the sauce on the side as well.

What did the family think? Hubby and I loved these. This sauce is AWESOME!!! The crunchiness of the cabbage with the warm soft tortillas is fantastic.

Where did this recipe come from? This recipe was inspired by: Allrecipes and Smells Like Home

1 Comment

Filed under Definitely Making it Again, Mexican, Not so Easy

Lite Alfredo Sauce (with some sneaky cauliflower)

This is not the super rich alfredo sauce you might get at your favorite Italian restaurant. This version is light and has lots of cauliflower in it. If you are trying to get more veggies into your kids (or yourself) and you are a pasta eating family like we are, then this dish might be right up your alley.

For the topping:
1/2 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
1/3 grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

For the pasta:
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large head cauliflower, cored, cut in large pieces (or use frozen cauliflower)
water to cover (about 4 cups)
1/2 tsp dried Italian herb blend
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
14-oz box spaghetti, cooked and drained (I used GF rice fettucine noodles)
1/2 lemon, juiced

Combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and 1 tbsp olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring, until the mixture is well toasted, and golden-brown. Stir in the thyme; remove from heat, and reserve.

In a medium saucepan, warm the garlic cloves in the olive oil over low heat for a few minutes, or until the cloves begin to bubble. Add the cauliflower, enough water to cover, dried herbs, pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and cook until the cauliflower is soft.

Turn off the heat. Use a stick blender (or standard blender) to puree the mixture into a smooth sauce. If it seems too thick add a little water or broth, if it’s too thin simply simmer until it reduces and thickens up. Then, stir in the cream, and add the Parmesan cheese. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Cover and reserve.

Boil the spaghetti according to directions and drain well. Return to the pot, add the lemon juice, and pour over the cauliflower sauce. Toss to coat the pasta. Divide into four pasta bowls and serve hot topped with the toasted Parmesan breadcrumbs.

We had this with meatballs and some strawberries on the side.

What did the family think? Everyone LOVED it! Seriously, that doesn’t happen very often so I was super happy.

Where did this recipe come from? American Food

photo from iFood

1 Comment

Filed under Definitely Making it Again, Everybody Ate It, Italian, Lent, Not so Easy, Vegetarian

Egg Souffle

About the only way we eat eggs around here is scrambled, so for Easter I decided we needed to do something a little “fancier”. These came out great and were an excellent addition to our Easter brunch.

2 T butter
2 T whole-wheat flour
1 cup milk
Salt & pepper
5 eggs
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch round baking dish.

Separate the eggs by placing the whites in a separate bowl from the yolks. Whisk the egg whites with a mixer on high speed until soft peaks form and set aside.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the foam has subsided, whisk in the whole-wheat flour. Keep whisking until the mixture begins to brown then turn the heat down to low and slowly add the milk while still whisking constantly so lumps do not form. Turn it back up to medium and continue whisking until the milk mixture begins to thicken, about 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and add 1/8 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper.

Quickly whisk the egg yolks into the milk mixture without allowing them to cook.

Pour the milk/yolk mixture into the fluffy egg whites and using a rubber spatula carefully fold the two together without crushing the air out of the egg whites. Also add and mix in cheese. Do not overmix.

Scoop the mixture into the prepared baking dish and bake until lightly brown on top, about 20 – 25 minutes. Serve immediately (otherwise the soufflé will “fall”). Enjoy!

What did the family think? Yum!

Where did this recipe come from? 100 Days of Real Food

Photo from More Intelligent Life

1 Comment

Filed under Breakfast, Definitely Making it Again, Everybody Ate It, Lent, Not so Easy, Six Ingredients or Less, Vegetarian

Spinach and Cheese Manicotti

The boys have been asking me to make this for a while, so last night was the night. They lapped it up and asked for more…I love dinners like that. Another thing I love about this recipe is that you can make it ahead of time, stick it in the frig and then pop it in the oven when you are ready to bake it.


1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed completely & squeezed dry
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
15 ounces ricotta cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 box (12 to 14 shells) manicotti noodles
3 to 4 cups marinara sauce (1 jar + a little more)
1/2 cup shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese, for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix spinach, cheeses, eggs, salt and pepper. Stir together until well blended.

Place about 1 1/2 cups of marinara sauce in a 9×13-inch pan. Spread it around to cover the bottom.

Place the mixed filling into a plastic bag. You can use either a frosting piping bag or a gallon zip bag. Snip the corner, gather the top and squeeze the filling into the corner. Hold an uncooked manicotti shell in your hand and squeeze the filling inside the shell. Let it overflow on both sides. (Or you can use a spoon. Spoon it in with the spoon part of the spoon and stuff it in there with the handle…very messy…but it worked.) Place the filled shell into the sauce-lined pan. Repeat with remaining manicotti and fill the pan with the stuffed shells, until you run out of shells and filling. You should be able to fill 12 to 14 shells- if you run out of room in your pan, use a separate smaller pan to accommodate the extra.

Cover the pasta with marinara sauce, using about 2 1/2 cups of sauce. Sprinkle 1/2 cup Romano/Parmesan on top. At this point, you can cover with foil and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake, or you can cover with foil and place it in the oven immediately.

Bake, covered with foil, 50 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.

What did the family think? Yum, yum and more yum.

Where did this recipe come from? Recipe Girl

photo from Recipe Girl

1 Comment

Filed under Definitely Making it Again, Everybody Ate It, Italian, Lent, Make Ahead of Time, Not so Easy, Vegetarian

Scrumptious Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels

It has been a very, very, very long time since I have made these, but they are super duper good and someone asked me for the recipe recently, so I thought I would share it with you while I was at it.

1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 1/4 cups unbleached bread flour
1/4 cup hot water
1 teaspoon sugar
Coarse or kosher salt (optional)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Cooking spray
Cinnamon sugar

Pour the lukewarm water into a large mixing bowl and sprinkle on the yeast. Wait 5 minutes, then stir in the brown sugar, the 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and 2 cups of the flour. Stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon for about 100 strokes.

Gradually stir in enough of the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, to make a semifirm dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it for 7 to 8 minutes, dusting the surface with flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and roll it around to coat its entire surface. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place until the dough is nearly doubled in volume, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly grease a large, heavy, shiny (not dark) baking sheet with cooking spray.

Turn the dough out onto a flour-dusted surface and knead for 1 minute. Divide the dough in half, placing half back in the bowl and re-covering it with plastic wrap.

Divide the other half of the dough into 3 equal pieces. Shape each into a ball and let them rest for 5 minutes on a flour-dusted surface. Then roll each ball under your palms and outstretched fingers until it’s about 3 feet long and 1/2 inch thick.

Heat the oven to 450°.

Shape the ropes of dough by making a circle and twisting the ends. Fold the ends back over the circle and pinch the dough. After you finish shaping the pretzels, place them on the baking sheet, leaving as much space between them as possible.

Stir the hot water and sugar together in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the water mixture over the pretzels. Top them with a bit of coarse salt, if desired. (For other topping suggestions, see our tips below.) Set the pretzels aside for 10 minutes.

Bake the pretzels on the center oven rack until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the sheet 180 degrees halfway through the baking. Start shaping the other half of the dough into 3 more pretzels.

Place a sheet of plastic wrap or aluminum foil under a wire rack and transfer the baked pretzels to the rack. Using a pastry brush, apply melted butter liberally over the pretzels; this makes them soft and flavorful. Sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar mixture. Let the pretzels cool briefly, but enjoy them while they’re warm. Makes 6 pretzels.

What did the family think? I am not sure there were any left by the time my husband got home from work.

Where did this recipe come from? Family Fun Magazine, November 2006

photo from

Leave a Comment

Filed under After School Snacks, Definitely Making it Again, Desserts, Everybody Ate It, Not so Easy, Vegetarian

Chicken Pot Pie Crumble

The crust/crumble on the top of this dish makes it, as my hubby said, the best pot pie he’s ever tasted. Really. SO good.

1 1/2 Lbs chicken
3 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion , chopped fine (about 1 cup)
3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced (about 1 cup)
1/2 c. celery, chopped fine
salt and pepper (to taste)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 c. flour
1 c. milk
3/4 c. frozen peas

Crumble Topping:
2 c. flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
6 Tbsp unsalted butter , cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
3/4 c. Parmesan cheese
1 c. heavy cream

FOR THE CHICKEN: Bring chicken and broth to simmer in covered Dutch oven over medium heat (If you don’t have a dutch oven, just use a stock pot). Cook until chicken is just done (8 to 12 minutes). Transfer cooked chicken to large bowl. Pour broth into a bowl and reserve. Do not wash Dutch oven.

FOR THE TOPPING: Combine flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne in large bowl. Sprinkle butter pieces over top of flour. Using fingers, rub butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse cornmeal. Stir in Parmesan. Add cream and stir until just combined. Crumble mixture into irregularly shaped pieces onto a baking sheet. Bake at 450-degrees until fragrant and starting to brown (10-13 minutes). Set aside.

FOR THE FILLING: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in now-empty Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, celery, salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender (about 5 minutes). While vegetables are cooking, shred chicken into small bite-size pieces. Transfer cooked vegetables to bowl with chicken; set aside.

Heat butter in empty Dutch oven over medium heat. When foaming subsides, stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Slowly whisk in reserved chicken broth and milk. Bring to simmer and stir until sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and stir chicken-vegetable mixture and peas into sauce.

Pour mixture into 9×13 pan (or if you have small individual-sized oven-safe dishes, you can use those). Scatter crumble topping evenly over filling. Bake on rimmed baking at 400-degrees sheet until filling is bubbling and topping is well browned (about 12-15 minutes).

We had this with a fruit salad.

Did I change anything? I left out the peas. 3/4 of my family don’t do peas.

What did the family think? This is really SO good and your house will smell amazing. Everyone really, really liked it except for our youngest, but he has chosen the kitchen table as his newest battle ground so his opinion is invalid at this point because just about everything is poison to him.

from Family Favorite Recipes

Leave a Comment

Filed under Chicken, Definitely Making it Again, Not so Easy

Tilapia with Balsamic Brown Butter and Creamy Farfalle with Bacon, Tomatoes and Peas

It has bacon in it…it has to be good.

3 T olive oil
5 slices center-cut bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
Salt and pepper
28 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 lb. farfalle pasta
10 oz. frozen peas
1/4 c. mascarpone cheese
3 T butter
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1/2 c. fresh basil leaves, shredded

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta according the directions on the packaging.

Heat 1 T olive oil in a deep large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender. Add the tomatoes, crushing them with a wooden spoon and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes.

Dust the fish with flour and shake of excess. Season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 T olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the fish for four minutes on each side until cooked through. Remove the fish from the skillet. Cover loosely with foil to keep warm.

Stir the peas into the sauce. Bring it back to a bubble and stir in mascarpone cheese.

Add the butter to the pan the fish cooked in. Brown the butter over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and simmer for a minute or two. Pour the brown butter sauce over the fish.

Drain the pasta. Toss with sauce and wilt the basil into the pasta. Serve the fish alongside the pasta.

Did I change anything? I used a different shaped pasta since that’s what I had and I used less peas.

What did the family think? I used less peas because my hubby is not a big fan of them. Even though I used less, they still got in the way of his eating. Our oldest ate the pasta. I let him have fish sticks instead of the tilapia…he loves fish sticks. The youngest ate a little pasta and fussed his way through the fish sticks.

from Rachel Ray

Leave a Comment

Filed under Fish, Not so Easy

Roasted Lamb Meatballs with Honey Rosemary Polenta and Tangy Red Onion and Fire-Roasted Tomato Sauce

That is officially the longest name for a recipe I have EVER seen! 🙂 I about set the smoke alarms off making this tonight. It was good, but I had to change things up a bit and ended up cooking the meatballs in the microwave.

4 slices whole wheat bread, crusts removed, crumbled
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 lbs. ground lamb
Salt and Pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 T aged balsamic vinegar
28 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 c. milk
1 c. quick-cooking polenta
1 T butter, cut up into little bits
1 T fresh rosemary, chopped
2 T honey

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

In a mixing bowl combine, bread, 1/3 c. broth, lamb, salt and pepper, egg and garlic. Mix gently with your hands.

Form the mixture into 8 meatballs (about 2 1/2 inches in diameter) and place in a casserole dish about two inches apart. Roast the meatballs for about 15 minutes or until cooked through.

While the meatballs cook, heat 1 T olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the red onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook until onions are soft. Add vinegar, 2/3 cup broth and tomatoes. Bring the sauce to a bubble, reduce the heat a little and simmer for 10 minutes.

In a sauce pot combine the remaining 2 cups of broth and the milk and bring to a boil. Whisk in the polenta and reduce the heat to low. As the polenta begins to thicken, stir in the butter, rosemary and honey and season with salt and pepper.

Spoon the polenta into shallow bowls and make a well in the center. Place two meatballs in each well and spoon the sauce over the top.

What did the family think? Hubby really liked it. After looking at the picture in the cookbook he told me he thought I cooked it just the way I was supposed to. I liked it, but I wanted it to have more flavor. Our oldest liked the meatballs and the polenta. He doesn’t do tomatoes though. Our youngest ate the meatballs and a teeny tiny bit of polenta.

from Rachel Ray

Leave a Comment

Filed under Not so Easy

Spring-Summer Ziti

I will tell you right now that this recipe made enough food to feed my family and the rest of the block. Unless you are having company or have a VERY large family, cut it in half. I will type it as I fixed it, but you should probably only make half as much.

2 T extra-virgin olive oil
3 large shallots, thinly sliced
28 oz. can San Marzano plum tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
4 springs fresh tarragon, chopped
1/2 c. fresh basil, thinly sliced
1 lb. ziti
1 lb. thin asparagus, trimmed of woody ends, and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 c. frozen peas
1 c. ricotta
1 c. parmesan cheese
1/2 lb. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Put a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the shallots and garlic in olive oil for 3-4 minutes.

Then stir in tomatoes and crush them with a wooden spoon. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.

Cook for five minutes then stir in basil and tarragon. Remove from heat.

When pasta has been cooking for about five minutes, add asparagus and peas to pasta. Bring back to a boil and cook for another few minutes. Drain the pasta and the veggies.

Put pasta and veggies in a large bowl. Add all of the ricotta and half the parmesan to the pasta. Mix well.

Pour half of the tomato sauce into a large casserole dish. Add all of the zit and top with the remaining tomato sauce. Dot the top of the dish with the mozzarella and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan.

Bake for about twelve minutes.

What did the family think? Hubby thought it was good. I loved the chunks of mozzarella. Our oldest said it was the best pasta I’ve ever made. (Not sure about that.) Even our youngest ate it without much fuss…can’t ask for more than that. 🙂

from Rachel Ray

Leave a Comment

Filed under Everybody Ate It, Italian, Lent, Not so Easy, Vegetarian

Shepherd’s Pie

My mom used to make shepherd’s pie all the time and I loved it. This is Emeril Lagasse’s version.

1/4 c. unsalted butter
1 lb. ground lamb, turkey, chicken or beef
1 c. yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
Salt and Pepper to season
1 bay leaf
2 T flour
1 T tomato paste
1 1/4 c. broth
1 tspn. Worcestershire sauce
1 lb. potatoes
1/8 tspn. ground nutmeg
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. grated cheddar

Lightly grease 6-cup baking dish and set aside.

Melt 2 tablespoons in a large skillet over medium heat. Add meat and cook until almost done. Add onions, carrots, bay leaf, salt and pepper and cook until onions are tender.

Stir in the tomato paste.

Stir in the flour and cook for one minute.

Slowly add the broth and the Worcestershire sauce and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In the meantime, boil the potatoes in salted water for about 10 minutes or until tender.

Drain the potatoes and return to pot. Mash them with a potato masher. Add 2 tablespoons of butter, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Mix well.

Add the cream and mix again. Remove pot from heat.

Remove the bay leaf.

Spoon the meat mixture into the baking dish. Spoon the potatoes on top of that. Smooth out the potatoes so they cover the meat mixture.

Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 10-15 minutes.

Did I change anything? Yes, the original recipe called for mushrooms and I left those out. Also I used ground meat and the original recipe called for chopped lamb.

What did the family think? Hubby and I liked it. Our oldest was hesitant at first, but liked it once he finally tasted it. Our youngest wasn’t to keen on it, but he did eat some of it…as little as he could get away with.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Definitely Making it Again, Not so Easy