If at first you don't succeed... order pizza.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Yes, I am still alive and cooking ;)

Ok... to start off... I think it is only fair for me to apologize for my lack of posts lately. I am going to make a bunch of excuses but I will start by saying I am sorry. I have no idea how many people actually read this blog or are interested in my recipes but if any of you are, I apologize for being so delinquent lately.
As for my excuses? Well, I really haven't been cooking! It is summer, so we try to grill as much as the weather and our schedules will allow. And once you post on steak or chicken, there isn't much left to add. And as far as our schedules go, Alex plays baseball or softball more nights than he is home (ok I might be exaggerating here a little, but it is my blog so I can do that right?) and how exciting is it to post on hot dogs and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches??
So the following recipes/photos are from quite a while ago, but they stretch 2-3 weeks and incorporate a lot of the same ingredients- which helps during menu planning and keeps the costs low!
I hope you enjoy them and try a few!

Baked Chicken and Cheese Taquitos with Avocado-Mango Salsa
I could eat a big ol' bowl of this salsa with a spoon. It is so light and refreshing and amazing. And the taquitos aren't bad either. ;)
For the taquitos-
Saute 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into bite size pieces) in a non-stick pan sprayed with cooking spray with a few shakes of onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder and salt and pepper. Once fully cooked, place in a large glass bowl to cool slightly.
Heat 8-10 small tortillas wrapped in a towel in the microwave for about 30 seconds, until warm.
Divide the chicken amongst the tortillas and top with as much shredded cheddar cheese as you like. (The cheese is my fave part, especially when it oozes out the ends of the taquitos while baking and gets all crispy and chewy on the pan!)
Next, wrap the tortillas up tightly and place on a greased baking sheet. Then spray all the tops and sides with the cooking spray as well- this helps the tortillas get nice and crispy, as if they were fried!
Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until they are at your desired crispness. You will want to watch the edges because they tend to brown the fastest and remember that the tortillas will crisp as they cool slightly.
I even tried adding some mango to a few of the taquitos before I baked them and I loved it! Alex wouldn't even try it so I don't have a second opinion but I thought it was delicious, like a Hawaiian pizza, sweet and salty :) And feel free to add your own favorite ingredients to the fillings... jalapenos, black beans, sauteed peppers and onions... the sky is the limit.

For the salsa- simple, simple, simple
Dice up 2 mangoes and two small (or one large avocado).
Mix with a splash of lemon juice and a pinch of salt.

Sausage, Shrimp, and Tomato Kabobs (my own version of this Bon Appetit recipe)
I saw this magazine on the cover of Bon Appetit's June issue and knew right away I had to make them. Kabobs filled with plump, juicy shrimp, baby tomatoes, red onion and salty, savory andouille sausage are my idea of the perfect main dish. I mean, what else do you need?? ;)
The original recipe includes a smoky paprika glaze that you coat the skewers with while grilling them. However, I had my own idea of a glaze I thought would work perfectly for these. Kind of my (well originally my mothers- with a few of my own ingredients added) idea of a homemade barbecue sauce.

Take equal amounts of ketchup and brown sugar, mix well and then add a few dashes of onion powder and garlic powder. For this one recipe, I used about 3/4 cup of each the ketchup and the brown sugar. You can use a little less brown sugar than ketchup if you aren't a fan of super sweet barbecue sauces.

When you grill the kabobs, grease the grates of the grill before putting the kabobs on. Once you flip the kabobs, put the glaze on the cooked side. Then when you flip them again, the glaze on the first side will cook a bit and somewhat carmelize as you put the glaze on the other side. Then flip once more the cook the sauce on the second side and they are done!

BLTTA ;) Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, Turkey and Avocado Sandwich
This sandwich is so good and so easy (which makes it even better!) There is no need for mayo because the avocado is so creamy! The amounts of ingredients really vary from person to person, I like a little less turkey and bacon on mine and a little more avocado but Alex prefers more meat- so make them how you like! Just toast a few slices of your favorite bread, layer on the ingredients and enjoy!
Oh, a little hint-- I have found that if you sprinkle the tomatoes with a little salt and pepper after cutting them, it really makes them taste 100% better.

The perfect summer salad... Mixed greens, Mango, Strawberries, Chicken and Raspberry Walnut vinaigrette. I could eat this for all three meals every single day during the summer (and I probably should! My clothes wouldn't be so tight!) You can put any variety of berries on top that you like- blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and don't forget the mango. I love the ataulfo mangoes because they are incredibly sweet and the large crates at Sam's Club last me weeks! (I also use them in the avocado-mango salsa and my favorite pork chops with mango salsa!) I also enjoy putting candied pecans on top for a special treat every once in a while.
Candied Pecans (I haven't actually tried this recipe, but since I eyeball mine whenever I make it I thought I would actually look a recipe up, I will try this and if it is no good I will find another one and repost) From Emeril Lagasse :
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pecans and cook, stirring, until golden brown and toasted, 3 minutes. Add the sugar and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Transfer to a piece of waxed paper to cool.

Yield: 1/2 cup candied pecans

Sausage, Pepper and Onion Subs
Wow, I feel like simplicity has kind of been the theme of this post! This recipe is no different-- well I made my own french bread (which in the bread machine is still more simple than it sounds!) but you can definitely buy yours-- all you need is cooked sausage (like andoille, you find it near the hot dogs and bacon), a bell pepper or your choosing, an onion, some mozzerella cheese and a small amount of warmed up spaghetti sauce if you like dipping things as much as I do :)
Heat a large, non-stick skillet or med-high heat.
Cut the sausage into small, bite size pieces and the pepper and onion into thin strips.
Saute the sausage first until they begin to release some of their oils and then add the peppers and onions. This will allow the sausage to get warmed through and a little crispy while maintaining a little crunch in the veg.
Next, heat the broiler, slice the bread down the top (make sure you don't go all the way through), fill with as much sausage mixture as you wish, top with shredded mozzerella cheese and broil until browned and bubbly.

And finally! Turkey Pitas.
This recipe is also my mother's and I am pretty sure it was created by her in an attempt to satisfy her craving for a sandwich she used to eat while living on Maui, after she didn't live there anymore. (Right, mom?)
You know those quarter pound or half pound turkey breasts that you see all shrink wrapped by the deli meat section that you've always wondered what you'd do with? Well buy some up, because you are going to want to make these!
And you may also want to pick up some pitas, alfalfa sprouts and avocado-- if you want to make this dish, that it ;)
Just place the turkey in a covered baking dish and bake at 350 for about a half hour, you just want it to be warmed through.
Then mix 1/2 cup mayo with 1/2 cup ketchup and a Tbl. of honey. This thousand island type dressing brings the whole pita together.
Once the turkey is warmed, just slice and layer in the pita with a few slices of fresh avocado, some dressing and top with a nice bunch of sprouts. Mm-mmm.

AND... if you happen to have some turkey left over (which I usually plan on) you can make this spin on the D'Amico turkey, cherry pasta salad. (Also a recipe my mother tried-successfully- to replicate)
Dice up the turkey, cook some pasta (amount would depend on how much turkey you have), mix with some dried cherries, chopped smoked almonds and creamy, poppyseed dressing.
Great anytime of the day!


  1. And pretty sure my Garee brother got the short end of the stick when it comes to having meals prepared...:( These all look so amazing! I love love love avacodos and mangos - one question...what is the best way to cut a mango? Also how do you know when it is ready to use? I have tried with two this year and my record is not good. :)

  2. Ok... so you want mangoes to smell sweet before you eat them. Generally you have to ripen them on your counter for a few days before they are ready to eat. Once they are ripe you can put them in the fridge and they will stay ripe (but not over ripe) for almost a week. They should be slightly soft but not too mushy. The ataulfo mangoes I mentioned are ripe when they turn a nice golden yellow. You should look for mangoes that are the colors of a ripe peach and not ones that are green.
    To cut/peel a mango: I just peel them with a vegetable peeler. From there you can stand it on its end and cut down either side of the pit. The pit goes the long ways through a mango. You will be able to feel it as you are cutting. Then cut smaller strips down either side of the pit. I never worry about going super close to the pit because I like to eat the rest of it off like an apple :)
    Mangoes are pretty off and on even if you think they are perfectly ripe... look for the ataulfo ones, they have a higher chance of being perfectly sweet when ripe.