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Smoky Mountain Chicken

Howdy friends and neighbors!  The birds are singing.  The sun is shining.  The flowers are blooming.  The ankle biters aren’t fighting.   But only because they’re not up yet!   Life is GOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!

So I thought I’d share one of my most requested recipes with you.  I started making Smoky Mountain Chicken several years ago when a friend at Moms Online posted the original recipe.  Since then, I’ve made it so much, folks just think the recipe is “mine.”  But the original credit goes to Lisa in Maine for posting the recipe about a gazillion years ago.  When we had our little bakery/catering business, this was one of the most popular meals we offered. 

So without further ado, I’m going to share it with you all!  There’s no “Here’s what you’ll need” photo this time.  I was busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest when I made this and just forgot to make one.  My bad! 

So here’s what you’ll need:

*  Boneless skinless chicken breasts

*  deli honey-baked ham slices

*  monterey jack cheese slices

*  garlic powder

*  Italian seasoning

*  black pepper

*  BBQ sauce of choice

Easy peasy!  Here’s what you’ll need to do, get a large baking dish/cookie sheet and cover it with foil.  Give it a good spray with non-stick cooking spray.  There’s so much cheese coming later you’ll be glad you did this foil/spray step!  Trust me!  Now place the boneless skinless chicken breasts in the pan.

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Like this……………

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Now sprinkle some garlic powder on them.  Don’t be stingy!  Garlic is GOOD!  It keeps the vampires away!  :o)  But if you’re obsessed with Twilight, that might not be a plus for you………..

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Now sprinkle with some Italian seasoning.  Again, be generous!

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Now give it some fresh cracked black pepper or just some out of your black pepper shaker.  I won’t be so picky about it here!

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See?  It  needs a nice coating of all the spices!  They’re going to sink in and make the flavor EXPLODE!!!!

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Now stick them in a 350° oven and let them roast until done.  These were HUGE chicken breasts so it took 45 minutes to an hour before they were done. 

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When the chicken is done, smother it in your favorite BBQ sauce.  This BBQ sauce is homemade.  It’s a secret recipe…….given to me by the precious Mrs. Gigi before she went home to be with her Savior.  I hope she’s making her amazing BBQ sauce and fabulous potato soup and Spanish cornbread and homemade melba toast for Jesus!  RIP Mrs. Gigi!  But, if you aren’t privy to Mrs. Gigi’s spectacular sauce, KC Masterpiece or Kraft or Sticky Fingers BBQ sauce will do.  Just use your favorite BBQ sauce.  But really smother it!  Don’t be shy with the sauce! 

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Now give everybody their own pig blanket!  Layer a couple or three slices of honey ham on each chicken breast.

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Now top it with cheese and then stick it back in the oven just long enough for the cheese to melt and get all ooey gooey.  This is Tall Skinny Man’s favorite part……….when the chicken comes out of the oven, some of it will be melted into the warm BBQ sauce.  Once I’ve taken all the chicken out of the pan, he scoops up all that melty cheese and BBQ sauce.  It’s nirvana to him!  Eyes rolling back in the head and the whole 9 yards!

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And when you’re done, this is what you’ll have!  Be sure to park a knife beside the plate and a big ole napkin! 

This is such an easy dish to make and fool folks into thinking you REALLY worked hard!  Go ahead!  Invite the boss over for dinner!   You’ll be getting a raise!!!  Invite the preacher!  He’ll love it!  Might even nominate you for sainthood!  Or just serve it to your Tall Skinny Man (or non-skinny man—-this blog does not discriminate on the basis of weight!) and ankle biters.  They’ll clean the kitchen and mop the floor for you after they eat this.  Well, not really.  But it was worth a shot to hope for, huh? 

You can serve it with a little bit of anything!  Green Beans, Corn on the Cob, Baked Potatoes, a big salad, Fresh Asparagus, you name it!  I served it with the Super Honkin’ Kicked Up Loaded Baked Potatoes I shared with you recently and a big salad. 

Alrighty!  There ya go!  Dinner for tonight is decided!  :o)  Now what are you going to do with the rest of this gloriously sunny summer day???  Have a great one!


Super Honkin’ Kicked Up Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes

Alrighty!  Here we go!!!  Finally, at long last, a new recipe!  Well, new to y’all…..not so new to my family and me.  I’ve been making these potatoes for years!  We loved “Twice Baked Potatoes,” but I wanted something a little more substantial, so I started playing around with some ideas.  And that’s how these Super Honkin’ Kicked Up Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes came to be.  Trying saying that name 3 times really fast!  Betcha can’t do it! 

Let’s make some!  They’re a little time and labor-intensive, but OH, SO WORTH IT in the end!  Here’s what you’ll need:


Potatoes, of course!  Get some big ones!  Those little squirrely ones just won’t hold up to the Super Honkin’ part of this recipe!  Some green onions, red bell pepper, a can of whole kernel corn, frozen broccoli, garlic, fresh peppercorns, sour cream, Jane’s Krazy Salt and cheese of choice.

Start out by scrubbing your potatoes and sticking them in the oven to bake.  I like to bake them naked…..just lay them on the racks of the oven like this:


Now while they’re baking, let’s mix up the goodies that will go into the potato mixture later.


Trim up the green onions and get them ready for slicing.  I take the “hairy” end off each one and then the cut tips of the greens.  I also peel the most outside layer of the onion off.  There’s no rhyme or reason as to why I do that particular step other than I have major OCD issues and think it MUST be done.  You’re welcome to skip that step if you aren’t obsessive/compulsive!  :o) 


Now give them a little diagonal slice like this.


Now cut the pepper in half and scoop out the insides.  Remove all the seeds and discard them. 


Slice each half into thin strips like this.


Slice the strips until you have a small dice like this.


Go ahead and throw them into a bowl together.  They’re going to be good friends!  See!  Don’t they look pretty together?! 


Open and drain the can of corn.  Now add it to the peppers and onions in the bowl.  If you prefer, you could use a can of cream corn instead of the whole kernel. 


Go ahead and throw the bag of broccoli in there now.  Use as much or as little as you think your family will like.  My family LOVES broccoli.  So I use the whole bag not matter how many potatoes I’m making.  This time, I used chopped broccoli.  I had company coming with kids younger than mine.  So I used the smaller cut broccoli to make it a little easier for little people to eat.  Usually, I use broccoli florets so there are large hunks of broccoli in there.  Ankle Biter #2 could eat his weight in broccoli!


Now give it a good mix.  Looks how gorgeous that is!  Couldn’t you just swan dive into it!?


Throw in some fresh-cracked pepper.  I sure wish these screens had a scratch and sniff feature because you can’t even wrap your head around how amazing this smells!


And some Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt………….that’s some GOOD stuff right there!


And what would this world be without a big scoop of minced garlic!?  So toss some of that in too!  Give it a good stir and just set it aside until the potatoes are done.


Cut each potato in half length-wise.  Notice I’m holding the potato in a pot-holder.  You’ll need to do this step while the potatoes are hot or they’ll get gummy on you.  So I highly recommend using a pot-holder or a towel to hold the potatoes or you’ll have some seriously charred flesh!


Not the best picture ever, but I can’t hold a potato in one hand, a spoon in the other and take pictures with my toes.  I’m just not quite that dextrous.  So Ankle Biter #1 had to help his ole mom out with this one.  Scoop the potato out leaving a little potato around the edges so it will hold its shape.


Collect all the potato’s innards in a large bowl.  No sissy bowls for this.  You’re going to need a BIG one! 


Here’s what your potato shells should look like.  Line them up on a baking sheet for stuffing.


Get your trusty potato-masher and have a go at those tater innards!  You don’t want the consistency of mashed potatoes.  Leave a few lumps, but not huge chunks.


Now add the sour cream to the smooshed potatoes.


Stir until all the sour cream is combined well with the potatoes.


Dump in the bowl of veggies you prepared earlier. 


Give it a good mix.  Man alive, this stuff is GOOD!


Dump in about 2/3 of the bag of cheese.  Reserve some of it for the tops of the potatoes.  Now give it a good mix.


Start stuffing the potatoes.  Be generous!  You’ve got plenty!  Really mound it up!


See, like this?  Don’t be stingy!  You’ll have more than enough to really pile them high!


Give the potatoes a good sprinkle of cheese and stick them back in the oven just long enough for the cheese to melt.


Now dig in!!!!!!!!!

It’ll take you a little time to make these, but they are SO worth it!  And if you want to make them a complete meal in themselves, add some of last night’s grilled chicken into the potato mix.  Just diced it up and toss it in when you add the veggies.  Leftover ham or grilled pork chops would also be good.  You can’t really go wrong with it! 

If you like asparagus better than broccoli, substitute that!  Roasted red peppers as opposed to raw red peppers would be amazing!  Change it up to suit your fancy! 

I served it alongside Smoky Mountain Chicken (recipe will be available here in a few days!) and a Wedge Salad.  But it makes a wonderful accompaniment to most any grilled or baked meat.  And if you don’t want to take the time to do all that potato baking, scooping, and refilling you can just peel some potatoes, boil them like for mashed potatoes and just add the ingredients and bake in a casserole dish.  Or………you can fake this one really well!  Make up some instant mashed potatoes using sour cream and then add all these other goodies, top with cheese in a casserole dish and bake.  Nobody will ever know you didn’t peel potatoes until your little fingers nearly fell off the bone! 

These potatoes are a HUGE summertime expectation at my house.  When we grill, they make frequent appearances!  I hope you all enjoy them as much as my family does!

Comfort Food: Pot Roast


Having been so crazy busy at work lately and also having a kitchen semi-under construction, my cooking has been very sporadic as a result.  I haven’t been able to get in the kitchen and really cook meals for the most part.  It’s been as my Granny used to say, “Catch as catch can.”  We’ve eaten a lot of frozen pizza and we’ve also eaten out quite a lot.  

But last weekend, I couldn’t take it anymore!  I HAD to have some good ole grub!  Comfort food.  The kind of stuff that makes you remember why it’s good to be alive!  My friend Christie (The Lurker around here!) came home for a visit.  She lives WAY too far away and only gets in to visit a few times a year.  So since she was coming, I decided to make a big ole pot roast.  There are few other things that scream comfort food quite like a roast does. 

I generally prefer a sirloin tip roast.   And in all honesty, I should’ve stuck with what I prefer as opposed to getting a different cut that looked “alright” that was on sale.  I should’ve paid the other few pennies to get what we all really like.  But I didn’t.  And you can’t put the crap back in the horse.  So move on and dance with the one who brung ya, huh? 

I ended up with a beautiful chuck roast.  It just didn’t end up nearly as tender as my beloved sirloin tip roasts always do.  So lesson learned.  If you have a favorite cut of roast, get it even if it’s not on sale.  You’ll be glad you paid the extra $ for what you really like!  Lesson learned.  But I digress………..

Now here’s a little thing about me and roast.  I’m not a “Roast with Carrots and Potatoes” kind of gal.  I’m a “Roast with Carrots” kind of gal.  I think roast should have a big ole pile of mashed potatoes beside it and gravy to smother both of those in.  So I only put carrots in with my roasts.   If you like potatoes in with yours, by all means, add them.  I just don’t happen to prefer mashed potatoes with my roast.  And I also LOVE the carrots out of a roast.  So I always put an insane amount of carrots in with my roasts so I can have leftover carrots to eat one for a few days.  But roast would be good with any number of other vegetables in it.  So add whatever you and your family really like!

How’s about we make a little Pot Roast, shall we?  Here’s what you’ll need:


A roast, some carrots (and any other veggies you choose,) a packet of dry Italian dressing mix, a packet of Beefy Onion Soup mix, black pepper and Worcestershire sauce.  Take a close look at the Worcestershire sauce.  It’s a new “thick” version.  And I have to say that I’m in LOVE!  But then, I was in love with the regular stuff too.  This new thick sauce really adheres to the meat.  Either kind would work fine though.


Start with a large roasting pan (or your crockpot.)  I like to cut the carrots on the bias (at an angle) and then if they’re large, I cut them in half.  I want the carrots to cook completely through.  The family likes carrots anyway they can get them, but I am no fan of crunchy carrots in a roast.  So I cut them into as evenly-sized pieces as possible so they all cook through and through.  If you have other vegetables you enjoy in a roast, add them to the bottom of the roasting pan.


Next take the fresh-cracked peppercorns and pat them into the meat. 


Once the meat is peppered all over, place it on top of the vegetables in the roasting pan.


Sprinkle the Beefy Onion Soup Mix on top of the meat.


Now give it a nice massage.  Really pat it onto the meat so it coats it evenly.


Sprinkle the dry Italian dressing mix on top.  You’re probably sitting there wondering how Italian dressing mix can work with a roast.  The first time I did it, I was going for an “Italian-tasting” roast.  What I got was an amazingly flavored roast, but it didn’t taste “Italian” at all.  So PLEASE don’t eliminate this step thinking you’ll have a strange-tasting roast.  The flavor this little packet imparts to the roast is unbelievable!


Pour the Worcestershire sauce over the meat.


Add water to the roasting pan to create a little steam.


And here’s what you’ll have when it’s ready to go in the oven.  I used my Pampered Chef roaster so it has a lid that goes over it.  Whatever you use, make sure it either has a lid or you cover with foil to keep the meat moist.

Pot Roast

*  1 roast of choice

*  vegetables of choice:  carrots, potatoes, onions, parsnips, celery, turnips

*  1 packet dry Italian dressing mix

*  1 packet Beefy Onion Soup Mix

*  1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

*  fresh cracked pepper, to taste

*  1 cup water

Prepare roast by cutting off large pieces of fat if necessary.  Peel and prepare vegetables.  Cut vegetables in pieces that are comparable in size so they all cook evenly.  Add them to the roasting pan.  Sprinkle the roast with freshly cracked peppercorns.   Place roast on top of vegetables.  Add the packet of soup mix to the meat and ensure it’s entirely covered.  Sprinkle dry Italian dressing mix over meat.  Drizzle meat with Worcestershire sauce.   Pour warm water into the roasting pan.  Put lid on roasting pan or cover with foil.  Roast in a 350° oven approximately 4 hours, but will depend on the size of your roast. 

When roast is finished cooking, set on a cutting board for about 10 minutes prior to slicing.  While the meat is resting, make gravy with the wonderful juices created in the bottom of the roasting pan.  Slice meat and top with gravy.

And with all that said, let me just say that my pot roast will NEVER hold a candle to my Aunt Jane’s.  She made the most phenomenal roast I’ve ever put in my mouth!  THAT was truly comfort food!  Her daughter, my cousin Kimberly, can come MIGHTY close to her mom’s pot roast.  But I have never been able to.   This roast I’ve shared with you is good, no doubt about it.  But it’s not Aunt Jane’s!  I miss her and I miss her amazing roasts…..and cakes……and macaroni and cheese…….and pea salad……OK, I could go on and on.  I hate y’all never got to have her pot roast.  You missed one in a million! 

Despite this pot roast not being like my beloved Aunt Jane’s, I hope you enjoy it anyway!  We had Mashed Potatoes, English Peas, Fried Squash (details coming here soon!), Fried Corn, Macaroni and Cheese, Scalloped Cabbage (details coming here soon!) and Cornbread with this Pot Roast last weekend.  The whole point of comfort food it so keep eating until you’re not comfortable anymore!  LOL  So that’s just what we did! 

Now go hug your family and show ’em some love with some Pot Roast or whatever comfort food lets them know you love them! 


Jamaican Jerk Chicken Wings

So um, did you miss me?  Sorry to leave you all high and dry!  It’s been beyond wild at work lately!  But thankfully, I think the “wild” is over……or at least for a while anyway!  I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’ve missed cooking and sharing with you these last few weeks!  It’s good to be “home!” 

I’ve been sitting on this recipe for a while.  I actually made these wingies for our Super Bowl party that turned into nothing but a Food Fest (THANK YOU, Charter Communications!)  I also made traditional Buffalo Wings, but I wanted to do something a little different too.  So I started pondering what I could make that might be a little hot and spicy, but sweet too.  And this recipe began to develop in my head.

Since all we could do was sit around and eat that night (THANK YOU AGAIN, Charter!) these got quite a lot of attention!  In fact, they were more popular than the Buffalo Wings! 

Jamaican folks have been “jerking” meat for a long time.  Traditionally, “jerk” is a very hot and spicy dry rub applied to either pork or goat.  Since neither of those beasts have wings, I decided to branch out a little with my jerk.  “My jerk” not to be confused for Tall Skinny Man, mind you.  He doesn’t have wings either.  But I digress.  So I ended up using a package of frozen wings and drummies for this recipe.  You can certainly use fresh if you’re a mind to do all that cutting up of raw chicken.  Me?  Not so much of fan of that process.  Therefore, frozen worked like a charm for me!

In addition to wings, of course, here’s what you’ll need:


Fresh ginger, an orange, crushed red pepper flakes, fresh garlic, soy sauce and any variety of Jamaican Jerk seasoning.  I got my Jerk seasoning from Sam’s.  You could certainly make your own, but why reinvent the wheel if there’s a perfectly good wheel sitting around in the spice cabinet? 


Wingies!  They’re pretty doggone important if you’re going to be making Jamaican Jerk WINGS!  I bought these in the freezer section of Kroger.  They’re already cut up for you!  All you have to do is thaw them.  Once they’re thawed completely, put them in a large mixing bowl.  This was about 3 pounds, give or take a wing or two.


You’ll need about 1 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger, 2 Tbsp. Jamaican Jerk seasoning, the zest from one orange, 1 heaping Tbsp. fresh garlic and as much or as little crushed red pepper flakes as you can take.  Since we all like really hot and spicy, I used a lot.  But it’s better to start out with a little and build than to roast your tongue out of your mouth with too much.  Maybe start with half a tsp. the first time.  If that’s not hot enough, increase by half tsp. the next time. 


Now that you’ve got your seasonings ready, juice the orange over the chicken wings.  I like to use a citrus reamer to get all the juice and some of the pulp out of the orange. 


Add 1/2 cup soy sauce. 


Add the orange zest.  And can I just do a little PSA here?  I LOVE citrus zest!  LOVE IT!  The flavor it imparts is just unbelievable!  Please invest in a zester/microplane!  You’ll be glad you did!!!  We can love citrus zest together!


Now add the  garlic.


Fresh ginger going in!  Trust me on this……if you don’t use fresh ginger, the recipe is shot!  Fresh ginger and dried, ground ginger do NOT have the same taste!  Fresh ginger is CHEAP!  So use the good stuff, please!  I use my trusty microplane for the ginger too.


Now toss in the crushed red pepper flakes and the Jerk seasoning. 


Give it a stir and let it marinate as long as possible before cooking.  It’s best to let it soak up the marinade at least an hour, but several hours or overnight would be even better!


Pour wings and marinade into a baking dish.  I highly recommend using a disposable pan for this so you don’t have to scrub when it’s finished cooking.  Bake 45 minutes or until chicken is completely cooked. 

Now don’t shoot me, but I failed to take pictures of a step in between here!  Halfway through the cooking process, I poured off the majority of the marinade/cooking liquid into a saucepan.  This step was twofold.  I wanted the wings to crisp up a little bit and I wanted to use the liquid to make a sauce to pour over the wings. 

I added half a cup of firmly packed brown sugar to the liquid I poured off the chicken and cooked it down until it made a thick sauce.  I simmered it on low until it was as thick as gravy.  And let me tell you, the aroma was INSANE!


I also failed to add this to the “What You’ll Need” photo.  Sorry ’bout that!  I had about 18 different things going on at the same time and had to rely on Ankle Biters for any assistance because TSM was sicker than a dawg.  So I missed documenting a step or two along the way.  Begging pardon…….Sprinkle with toasted seasame seeds after pouring your thickened sauce over the wings.


And you end up with these incredibly flavorful little wings……..WOW, I wish I had a scratch and sniff monitor right now!  These were “eyes rolled back in the head” good!

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Wings

*  3 pounds chicken wings

*  2″ piece fresh ginger—1 Tbsp. grated

*  1 heaping Tbsp. fresh minced garlic

*  2 Tbsp. Jamaican Jerk seasoning

*  1/2 tsp.-1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

*  zest and juice from 1 orange

*  1/2 cup soy sauce

*  1/2 cup brown sugar

*  2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

Place wings in a mixing bowl.  Zest the orange and set the zest aside.  Cut the orange in half and juice it into the mixing bowl.  Next add the soy sauce.  Add grated ginger, minced garlic, Jerk seasoning, orange zest, and crushed red pepper flakes to the bowl.  Allow to marinate at least 1 hour.

Pour wings and marinade into a baking pan.  Bake in a pre-heated 350° oven for 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked completely through. 

About halfway through the cooking process, pour off the cooking liquid into a saucepan.  Add brown sugar to the liquid.  Simmer on low until sauce thickens to the consistency of gravy.

Pour sauce over wings and toss them to coat each wing with the sauce.  Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.  Serve hot.

Now let me share an idea with you.  This would be equally amazing on a pork loin or boneless skinless chicken breasts!  I would make the marinade in a bowl separate from the meat if doing either of those.  Then I’d pour half the marinade on the meat and let it soak overnight.  The other half would be in a bowl by itself.  I’d grill the meat and thicken the reserved marinade while the meat grilled.  When the meat is completely cooked, pour the sauce over the meat when serving. 

This would make an awesome summer-time meal!  In fact, I can’t wait for warm weather to get here so I can get that grill cranked up and try this very thing!

I hope you enjoy this recipe!  I truly can’t tell you how amazing these turned out.  They’re so different from the traditional Buffalo Wings you’re used to!  Still spicy, but with a sweet twist!  Give ’em a try and report back! 

I’ve missed you people!  I hope my crazy work schedule is over for a while and we can get back to cooking around here!  See you soon with another new recipe!

Alfredo….My Way


This was originally going to be titled “Fettucini” Alfredo.  But as you can see, I didn’t use fettucini.  I used fusilli pasta.  Cuz we just like it better.  And that’s just how it is.  So I couldn’t call it Fettucini Alfredo.  And somehow “Fusilli Alfredo” just didn’t sound all that good.  So let’s just go with Alfredo!  And you can just pick whatever kind of pasta you and your family like and then it can be Alfredo….YOUR Way!

Let’s talk about this dish a minute……..It’s so simple, it’s completely ridiculous!  So simple, in fact, that you’ll never have to buy that stuff in a jar again!  I started making this several years ago when I was doing “Once a Month Cooking.”  I would spend all weekend cooking about once every month or so and fill up the freezer with meals.  Then each night, all I had to do was pull out an entree and make some sides to go with it while the entree warmed up.  This sauce was perfect for the freezer.  So I would make it in huge batches then freeze it in vacuum-seal bags.  While the pasta was boiling, I’d just drop the vacuum-sealed bag down in the boiling water and it would be warm by the time the pasta was cooked.  Dinner could literally be done in the time it took to boil a pot of water and 8 minutes worth of noodle-boiling!

For some reason, I hadn’t made it in years.  When I finally pulled this one back out of my hat, you would’ve thought I brought out GOLD!  These skinny people around my house went wild over it!  And my SIL thinks I’ve invented the best thing since sliced bread. 

Last weekend was the baby ankle biter’s birthday.  And he asked for this particular dish as his birthday dinner.  That was a change because for the last 4 years or so, he’s asked for Broccoli Soup!  Unfortunately, what he got was a trip to Mickey Dee’s with his Unk and Aunt Dee because I was in the recliner coughing up my lungs.  😦 

But I managed to finally get off my death bed a few days later and made him his meal….what he calls, “you know Moma, that stuff with the noodles and chicken.”  Uh huh.  Which brings me to the chicken part.  I always grill chicken to put on top of this.  It’s certainly tasty by itself.  But with the grilled chicken on top……well, that just puts it over the top!

So let’s make some!  And you can top yours with whatever cranks your tractor!

Here’s what you’ll need:


Dry Italian Salad Dressing Mix, Cream of Chicken Soup, Garlic and LOTS of it, Cream Cheese, Pasta of choice, Half-and-Half or Heavy Whipping Cream and Fresh Cracked Pepper.


Start with the cream cheese in a cold pan. 


Add the soup.


If you’re ever shy with the garlic, this is NOT the time to be!  Embrace the garlic!  Dump in a BUNCH! 


Now add the packet of dry Italian salad dressing mix.  I like the “zesty” kind.  Not sure if there’s a bit of difference between it and the regular packet that doesn’t say “zesty,” but somehow “zesty” makes me feel like it will have more flavor.  So that’s what I use.


Pour in the half-and-half or cream, whichever you prefer. 


Finally, add the fresh cracked pepper and you’re ready to roll!  Just turn the stove on low.  Let it sit a couple of minutes and then whisk until smooth.


Like this! 


Boil some water for your pasta of choice.  I like to always salt my water and add a little oil so the pasta doesn’t stick to itself.  And since this was for Alfredo, I went ahead and dumped in a healthy spoonful of minced garlic to the water too. 


Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and boil about 7-8 minutes. 


Drain the pasta well.  You don’t want any residual cooking liquid to water down your thick, hearty Alfredo sauce!


Pour the drained pasta in a serving dish.


And now……if you’re feeling especially decadent and you happen to have some on hand and I did……grate some fresh parmigiano reggiano cheese on top.  Or heck, if you just have that Kraft Parmesan dust in a can, add a little of that to your noodles before topping with the sauce. 


Go ahead and pour that thick sauce all over the pasta.  It’s just waiting to be smothered in something fabulous!


Nothing left to do but eat! 

Alfredo Sauce

*  1-8 oz. bar cream cheese

*  1 cup half-and-half or heavy whipping cream

*  1 can cream of chicken soup

*  1 packet dry Italian dressing mix

*  minced garlic, to taste

*  fresh cracked pepper, to taste

*  pasta of choice, cooked to al dente and drained well

*  topping of choice:  grilled chicken, grilled shrimp, grilled salmon

Mix cream cheese, cream of chicken soup, half-and-half, dressing mix, garlic and black pepper in a cold pan on the stove.  Turn stove on low.  After about 5 minutes on low, begin to whisk sauce until smooth.  Serve hot over pasta.

And that is Alfredo MY way!  I told you it was simple!  Serve this with a nice salad and some garlic bread and you’re set! 

I hope you and your family enjoy this “stuff with the noodles and chicken” as much as my ankle biting people do!  And since tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, a very happy Valentine’s day to you all!

Focaccia Bread

Have you ever had Focaccia Bread before?  To say it is delicious is an understatement!  It’s unbelievably, insanely, delightfully, ridiculously delicious! 

If you’ve never had it, it’s similar to pizza, but has a much thicker “crust.”  It’s bread that is flattened out then topped with herbs and olive oil….and if you’re at my house, Roma tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese.

I started making Focaccia Bread after our first trip to Buca di Beppo.  If you’ve never eaten at Buca di Beppo, you are MISSING OUT!  That place is AWESOME!!!  They bring out this big ole basket of bread for you to munch on while you’re waiting for your food.  The next thing you know, you’ve eaten 18 buckets of that bread and have no room for the gnocchi you ordered.  Not that I’ve EVER done that before, mind you.  Ever.  Yeah, moving on……..cuz I might incriminate myself.  The point is, that bread is SOOOOOOOOOOOOO good! 

So I came home and tried to recreate it.  And I failed miserably.  What I came up with was fabulous, but it wasn’t anything like Buca di Beppo bread because theirs is so much more chewy and crusty than mine.  Both delicious, but very, very different!

The first time I made this bread, my brother ate nearly half of it by himself.  And it’s HUGE!  He couldn’t get enough of that bread.  So I started playing around with it and experimenting until I got what I’m sharing with you today.  Let me preface this by saying that in-season, fresh ingredients are far better than what I had to use when I made this recently.  But I just couldn’t wait until summer!    So without further ado…..here’s the amazing Focaccia Bread.

Here’s what you’ll need:


All Purpose or Bread Flour, warm water, olive oil, salt, yeast, minced garlic, fresh cracked pepper, Roma tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil.  The fresh basil somehow managed to hide from me when I took this photo.  So he got left out in the cold for this shot.  He’ll show up down the page!


See this glorious machine?  I LOVE this machine.  I want to marry it and have its babies!  If you don’t have one of these, I HIGHLY recommend that you drop what you’re doing…..seriously, QUIT READING!  Open another tab, shoot over to Amazon.com and fetch yourself one IMMEDIATELY!  I LURVE my Kitchen Aid stand mixer!  And I want the world to have them!  If you’ve got one already, go take the cover off it and let’s get busy!  If not, I’m sorry.  You’re going to have to wait on the nice UPS man to bring yours in a few days or wear your arms out kneading this dough by hand.  But the good news about that is, you’ll develop some wicked biceps doing it!  That’s why I don’t have wicked biceps.  I let the Kitchen Aid knead my dough for me.  🙂  Yeah, let’s go with that! 


Add the warm water to the bowl.


Now pour in the olive oil.  You *can* use another kind of oil, but I don’t recommend it.  Olive oil is MUCH tastier and it’s also much healthier than most other oils.


See the garlic?  LOVE the garlic!  Garlic=GOOOOOOOOOD, man!  So go ahead and dump in a bunch! 


Next to go in is the salt. 


Crack some peppercorns to add in.  Now if you don’t have a pepper grinder, you can certainly add black pepper out of a can.  But it will NOT do for this dough what freshly cracked pepper will do.  I have a really fancy wooden pepper grinder.  I also have a glass one that my brother and his family brought back to me from their trip to France.  I have a small glass pepper grinder that was my first one years ago.  The one you saw in the first photo came from Sam’s.  It was about $3-4.  It is WELL worth that $3-4!  Trust me!  You’ll find you use it all the time once you have one in the house!


Add in the flour and you’re almost ready!


Finally, add the yeast.  And you’re ready to roll……or knead as it were. 


Attach the dough hook and turn the mixer on low.  Leave it on low until all the ingredients are combined.  Once the dough starts coming together, increase the speed to a low-medium.  Let the mixer knead the dough about 10 minutes.


 And this is what you’ll end up with! 


OK, let’s have a little true confession thrown in here.  This is my flat, round Pampered Chef stone.  I swirled a little extra virgin olive oil on it before adding the dough to it.  But see that little place I circled up there?  Looks like there’s a little rectangular box on the stone?  That would be where the Ankle Biters set a bottle of spray bleach on my stone.  Thank you Ankle Biters!   ***rolling eyes***  Rub the olive oil all over the stone before placing the dough on the stone.


Now add your little ball of dough to the center of the stone. focaccia-14

Press with your fingers from the center of the dough until you have it stretched completely to the edges of the stone like this.


See those “dimples” in the dough?  You can use either the end of a wooden spoon or what I call the “frog method.”  I prefer to use the “frog method” for this instead of a wooden spoon.  Remember being in school and someone “frogging” you with their middle finger knuckle?  That’s what I do.  I “frog” the dough with the knuckle of my middle finger until it’s dimpled all over.  The little indentions will stay in the dough after it has risen.  Then the cheese we’re going to add later will have a place to ooze into!


Now cover it with a clean kitchen towel and set it somewhere warm so the dough can rise.  And NO, the stovetop wasn’t on!  YIKES!  I set it here so it would be under the warm light over the stove.


This is what it looks like when it has risen.  It’s ready for the oven now.  Prebake the bread about 25 minutes before adding the toppings.


While the dough is in the oven, prepare the toppings.  Here are the Roma tomatoes sliced up and ready to go!


Aha!  Here’s Mr. Basil!  He finally showed up for this party!  You can find fresh basil in little flat, plastic containers in the produce section of the grocery store.  I prefer basil I grow myself.  But unfortunately, it’s winter so I have none growing right now and had to buy this.  Pull the leaves off the stems and stack each leaf one on top of the next. 


Roll the leaves up jellyroll-style  into a little log like this.  Then with a sharp knife, cut thin ribbons.  That’s called “chiffonade.”


This is what you’ll end up with.  Pretty little basil confetti.


Next slice up the fresh mozzarella cheese and here we have all our little friends together…..just waiting for the bread to finish baking.


Let’s start building this party!  Layer the sliced mozzarella onto the hot bread.


Don’t overlap them too much because they’re going to spread when they get hot.


Add the slices of Roma tomato on top of the cheese.


Sprinkle the basil all over the top.


It’s about ready for the oven……just needs a little more freshly cracked pepper……


See?  Like this?  Be liberal with it!  This ain’t sissy food!  Now it’s ready for another little trip into the oven.  Just for about 4-5 minutes until the cheese begins to get ooey gooey and run everywhere!


A little something like this!  Boy, I bet you’re sitting there wishing you had a scratch and sniff screen right now, huh?

BUT WAIT!  We aren’t done yet!  As if this wasn’t evil enough as it is!  We’re going to make some sauce to dip it in! 

Start by chopping up some onions……..


Like this……….you want them fairly small since this is going to be a dipping sauce and not a thick, chunky sauce to pour over pasta………although it WOULD be awfully good over some pasta too!


Heat some oil and butter over medium-high heat.  My butter melted into the oil before I could get the photo made.  But there’s about a Tbsp. each of butter and olive oil.


Now add the onions to the hot tub!  You’re not trying to fry them, just sweat out their natural sugar a little bit.


When they’re ready, they’ll look like this…..and now I’M wishing for a scratch and sniff screen!  I LOVE the smell of onions!


Pour in a large can of crushed tomatoes.


Add some minced garlic.


See that little tube?  That’s AWESOME stuff contained within!  It’s Pesto in a tube.  Pesto is a sauce made with copious amounts of fresh basil, olive oil and pine nuts.  But unfortunately, I have no fresh basil growing outside right now to make my own with and buying enough fresh basil to make my own would’ve cost an arm and a leg.  So this little tube is presto-pesto magic, friends!  You can pick some up at my favorite place on earth…..WHOLE FOODS!


Now add a little cracked pepper and give it a stir.  Simmer it until you can’t stand it anymore and then dunk that glorious bread in it!!!!

And I got so busy with folks trying to eat this stuff, that I failed to get a photo of the bread after it was cut and being dunked in the sauce.  SORRY!  I’m trying to do better, y’all!  I really am!

Focaccia Bread

*  3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

*  1 Tbsp. minced garlic

*  12 oz. warm water

*  4 cups all purpose or bread flour

*  1 packet yeast

*  1 tsp. salt

Add all ingredients into mixer bowl and mix until blended.  Knead 10 minutes.  Oil surface of baking stone and press dough out until surface is covered.  Create dimples in the dough using the end of a wooden spoon handle or with your finger.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise until doubled in height.  Baked in a preheated 375° oven about 25 minutes. 

While bread is baking, slice fresh mozzarella, Roma tomatoes and basil for the top.  When bread comes out of the oven, immediately top with cheese, tomatoes, basil and fresh cracked pepper.  Return to oven 4-5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Focaccia Dipping Sauce

*  28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

*  1 medium onion, diced fine

*  1 Tbsp. minced garlic

*  2 Tbsp. pesto from tube

*  fresh cracked pepper to taste

*  1 Tbsp. butter

*  1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Sweat onions in butter and olive oil.  Add canned tomatoes, garlic, pesto and black pepper.  Simmer 20 minutes.  If you can make it that long! 

And friends, that’s Focaccia Bread and dipping sauce.  I will warn you now that it is EVIL stuff!  You can’t imagine how evil until you start dunking that bread in the sauce! 

I hope you enjoy this one as much as my family does!  I know it *looks* like a lot of work, but it’s really not.  It’s fairly simple, in fact!  Give it a whirl!  You’ll be a rock star! 

Have a great day!

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

So tomorrow is that “little” game that causes grown men to act like imbeciles over that pointy-ended prolate spheroid.  Prolate spheroid=”oval-shaped.”  You know……foos-ball…….”Foos-ball da debil!”  Sorry for that movie implant.  Super Bowl…..are y’all with me? 

Ummmmmm, yeah……I’m not so much a fan.  But when you live with 3 people who have testosterone, you sorta just have to adapt.  What I know about football could be written on the head of a pin.  I DO at least know who is playing tomorrow and it AIN’T the Titans so I have even more reason to not give two hoots. 

The glorious thing is that the Super Bowl always means FOOD, FOOD and MORE FOOD!  Now THAT is something I know bupkus about!  We always do appetizer/finger foodie-type foods for the Super Bowl.  I shared several recipes with y’all last year for the Super Bowl.  Not so much this year cuz I’ve been busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest at work and then there’s that little matter of remodeling which caused havoc in my kitchen. 

So this year, looks like you’re just getting this one.  But it’s a doozy!  It’s, well, sorta chick food.  Cuz I’m a chick.  And a chick that doesn’t care for football but has it flung upon me by the menfolk around here.  So they will just have to endure something that’s not quite their idea of Super Bowl food like buffalo wings and cocktail weenies. 

Tonight, I bring you Roasted Red Pepper Hummus.  Hummus?  What the heck is that?  Hummus is a Middle Eastern spread or dip made with chick peas.  See?  CHICK food!  hehehe  Chick peas are also known as garbanzo beans.  By themselves, I am SOOOOOO not a fan.  I hate them, in fact.  I pick them out of soups if I find them.  ***willy***  But all whizzed up in the food processer with some other goodies and they make an evil, wicked, mean and nasty good dip!   Seriously yummo!  So let’s make some!

Here’s what you’ll need:


Chick peas (0r garbanzo beans), minced garlic, salt, cumin, cayenne pepper, roasted red peppers and tahini.  You’re probably sitting there thinking, “What the devil is tahini?”  Tahini is a paste made from grinding roasted sesame seeds.  It also comes from Middle Eastern influence.  You’ll also need some lemon juice.  But I asked an ankle biter to bring me the lemon juice from the fridge and then got busy doing 87 other things and forgot to ensure he’d brought it before I made the picture.  By the time I realized I needed the lemon juice, I was already elbow-deep in making this so it just didn’t make it into the picture.  Sorry!


First, you need to drain and rinse the chick peas. 


Now drain the roasted red peppers.  You’re certainly welcome to roast your own peppers instead of using the ones from a jar.  But I am FAR too lazy to do that.  Especially considering that I could buy the jar WAY cheaper than just 1 small red pepper. 


Dump the drained chick peas and roasted red peppers into the food processor.


Add the salt and tahini to the food processor.


Next add the garlic. 



Ground cumin going in…..


Cayenne pepper for a little kick!


And finally that pesky lemon juice.  After all that, I couldn’t even manage to get a decent picture of the lemon juice.  ACK!  Now whiz the stuffing out of it.  I like it fairly smooth, so I whizzed it for a good while before scraping down the sides and whizzing some more.


Now dump it in a bowl and serve with pita chips or whatever else might strike your fancy.  This is some fabulous stuff here!

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

*  1-15 oz. can chick peas, drained

* 1-4 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained

*  3 Tbsp. lemon juice

*  1 1/2 Tbsp. tahini

*  1 Tbsp. minced garlic

*  1/2 tsp. ground cumin

*  1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

*  1/4 tsp. salt

Drain and rinse canned chick peas.  Drain roasted red peppers.  Add all ingredients to food processor and process until well-blended and smooth.  Refrigerate.  Serve cold with pita chips, melba toast or your choice of crudite.

I first made this a year or so ago.  I took it to work to share and they literally scraped the bowl clean!  I was afraid nobody would eat it because it was “different.”  And we Southerners have our idea of dip.  Dip=Ro-Tel.  Know what I mean, Vern?  I had to explain Hummus a time or 12 that day.  But I made Hummus lovers out of a buncha folks before it was over! 

So here, on the eve of the Buper Sowl, I hope you will give this a try for your festivities.  If not for tomorrow’s gathering, for one soon!  It’s quick and easy and folks will think you’re a rock star when they eat it!  Enjoy!  And GO TITANS!  ***sigh***  Maybe next year, huh?