Thursday, September 23, 2010


The only downside to me having a food blog is when I'm really sick I don't cook and since Lee works nights he only cooks easy/quick things or Chicken fried steak because he is better than me at it, therefore our meals are usually not blog worthy!  And for those of you that don't know me personally, I have a rare brain disease called pseudo tumor cerebri aka intracranial hypertension and I also suffer from chronic pain caused from my many surgeries.  I had plans to keep my illness out of my blog because my blog is a way for me to get away from my sickness just like my cooking is.  Even when I'm in alot of pain I try to go to the store, go couponing, and cook.  Anyways since I brought up my illness I'll explain a little.  (Sorry it ended up being alot)

So this was me 7 months before my life turned upside down!  I looked totally different! 

Pseudo tumor cerebri translated means fake brain tumor, alot of my symptoms were just like a brain tumor patient but thankfully it wasn't a real brain tumor but I do have too much CSF (cerebral spinal fluid) in my brain and all that fluid had to go somewhere so it was pushing up against my optic nerves in my brain causing vision problems and also crazy headaches!  Most people are misdiagnosed with migraines, I had actually been to the doctor 10mo. prior to my diagnosis and was told it was migraines.  Anyways so the biggest fear with my disease itself is going blind, well sort of this disease like so many other rare diseases are very complicated, but at first the number 1 thing your concerned about is protecting your eyesight. 

Believe it or not this was a 08 Ford Escape that was totaled by me and possibly the cause to my life altering disease!

Anyways so this is my story.  Thanksgiving 08 I had gone to spend it with my sister and her in laws in Mabank, Tx and the entire time I was there I had a horrible headache, one where I couldn't even think, I was taking Advil/Tylenol like crazy and I slept most of the time.  I hadn't planned on it but it was so bad I was scared to make the 11/2hr. drive home by myself so I went ahead and stayed at my sister's in laws.  The next afternoon I woke up still with the headache, still taking OTC meds, and still not helping!  But I had to go to work Saturday morning so I had no choice but to head back to Frisco.  Sometime that day I had talked to my Dad and he had known that I had been having these headaches off and on since my wreck in Sept. 07 and the last couple of months I had a headache that just would not go away with OTC meds and I even had leftover RX pain killers that wouldn't help either, but that day my Dad had said my grandmother had suggested me go to the eye doctor I probably just needed glasses!  Brilliant the end it ended up being the best thing I could've ever done!  So I was planning on calling Monday morning and making an appt. but Friday night I didn't sleep because I had developed a pounding in my head (which is typical for PTC patients) that would not stop, I was absolutely miserable.  So Saturday while at work I decided I was going to come home and make an appointment with a eye doctor in the Stonebriar Mall and luckily they had an appointment within an hour so I took it!  Little did I know November 29, 2008 my life was going to change forever.  I went and told the doctor about my headaches, my vision problems, the awful pounding in my head, and how bad this was affecting my life so she did the usual eye exam and I started getting freaked out because she left for awhile and came back in with another doctor and then left with him and then came back and gave me news that left me in tears!  Well the good news is you don't need glasses and you have 20/20 vision but the bad news is your optic nerves are very swollen and your at high risk of going blind very soon, at anytime now, and you need to leave here and go straight to the ER because it looks like you have something wrong with your brain!  WHAT???  BRAIN???  I came here for my eyes and now something is wrong with my brain, am I going to die today?  What's going on with my brain?  Ya very scary stuff somehow I made it out of the mall without crying and called my parents and sister...I had sent my Dad a text while still in the hospital so I know he was freaking out already.  But the entire ride to the hospital I cried, I didn't know what hospital was the best or the closest, but my Dad told me to go to Texas Health-Plano which was a couple miles away, so I did. 

July 2009.  Never in a million years would I have thought I would've had brain surgery.  You can't tell since I was laying down but literally half of my head was shaved, there was no covering it up so my sister shaved the other half!

The diagnosis!  I got there and had to wait way too long, I think my Dad was able to make it there by the time I saw a doctor.  Thankfully the eye doctor had written the possible diagnosis on a paper for me to give to the ER doctor and that little piece of paper, the wonderful optometrist, and my grandmother's brilliant idea to go to the eye doctor saved me lots of possible misdiagnosis, many more months of suffering, and possible vision loss.  (BTW get your eyes checked yearly, I never did but going yearly could possibly catch PTC if you have it and if you have headaches often then you better make this a priority)  So the ER doctor said the first thing he had to do is order labs, start an IV to get my some pain meds, and get a CT of my brain.  They gave me dilaudid which is pretty much the strongest pain med they typically give you (like as in stronger than heroin strong) and that stuff is wonderful!  I didn't get complete pain relief but it did take the edge off and that helped...really it probably just made me druggy and I felt like it took the edge off but whatever the case was it did more than anything else had so far!  So I had the CT and the results came back with my brain looking normal which was what the doctor was looking for, for a PTC diagnosis.  Next he told me we need to do a spinal tap aka lumbar puncture to find out if my pressure in my brain was elevated.  Ugh I was so scared, good thing I had that dilaudid because I needed it for this.  Oh and by this time my Mom, Dad, Sister, Bro. in law, and both my Uncle's and families were in the waiting room, somehow I picked the perfect day because both my uncle's happened to be in the Dallas area with their families.  So he did the spinal tap and while the doctor was still doing it he said oh yeah you definitely have pseudo tumor cerebri, he said the thing they measure the pressure with only goes to 50 and fluid was at the top, plus more coming out!  At this point that was foreign language to me but 50 is a crazy number, in normal people it's like 8-20, and I've talked to people that has PTC and has never had an opening pressure higher than 30, so 50 is really high.  I got instant relief by the way, my brain had never been so happy!  At this point I didn't know what was ahead of me, the ER doctor explained it and gave me some print offs and told me that it can be treated with medicine and sometimes surgery.  I was still scared but at the same time relieved I didn't have a headache anymore.
This was me in Bryan, Tx, April 08 working in a Wal-Mart, I miss my career but I know there's a reason for everything and one day it'll all unfold!

The following couple of months...Well I ended up with a spinal headache from the spinal tap at the ER thanks to their poor education on aftercare, which by the way is seriously the worst headache you will ever experience, if you think I'm kidding then go get a spinal tap and have them drain all your CSF off your brain and see how you feel!  Yeah you can't move, pretty much you are laying in bed for 3-7 days, you can't lift your head, you cry every time you have to go to the bathroom, you have to eat laying down, and you can't shower...well you can but I think I usually go like 3 days w/o a shower when I have spinal headaches!  (I've had quite a few now)  Oh and I missed the important part when you have a spinal headache if you lay down the pain goes away or gets a little better!  Anyways so the next couple of months my life consisted of appointments with MRI machines, neurologists, opthamologists, neurosurgeons, and getting spinal taps!  By January 1st I was on short term disability because my job said it was either this or be in jeopardy of losing it.  Which totally sucked because I loved my job and I was good at it, I had attempted college to become a chef when I was fresh out of high school but I quit because I didn't really like school.  I stayed working at David's, become a manager, actually loved it and if you want to knock it go ahead, I'm sure some of you from high school probably made fun of me because I was still working at David's years after high school but it was because of my experience at David's that got me a job making more money than most of my college graduate friends, oh and a company car...all at the age of 21.  Yes I was very proud of my job and my accomplishments, and I was very proud of my company!  Oh and for the record I'm still technically an employee, just out on long term disability-w/o pay...bit of advice GET LONG TERM DISABILITY, I was 21, who needs LTD at 21??? I thought...get it...if you don't have it usually you can sign up at enrollment time so my advice, GET IT ASAP!  Anyways I'll get off my soap box...I started taking Diamox-the devil drug as I call it, and lasix and it didn't help and it made me sick, I ended up having 3 spinal taps in 6weeks with little to no improvement so it was time for surgery! 

July 09, Bald is Beautiful...Right?  It sure didn't feel that way!

My shunt isn't this big still some of that was swelling but it still sticks out of my head but since I have hair now it's not visible.
I'm not going to keep going on and on about PTC and go into as much detail about the surgeries.  I wanted to go into detail on the diagnosis because I don't think everyone realizes how serious headaches can be.  Yes this is a rare disease and HOPEFULLY none of my friends ever get diagnosed but you never know.  And if you go and read about PTC you will probably read that its common in overweight/obese women...yes I am overweight now but my weight was a result of multiple surgeries and inactivity, at the time of diagnosis I weighed 130 and was a size 6, I THINK I read somewhere that a size 12 is the average size of the American woman so I was by far not OBESE.  So the point I'm trying to make just because you are overweight and have headaches doesn't mean you have PTC, and just because your a man, a size 1 woman, or even a kid that doesn't mean you CAN'T have PTC.  I have talked to many different people with PTC of all shapes, sizes, ages, male, female, etc.  Okay I'll get off my soap box AGAIN. 

X-Ray of my skull with my VP Shunt.

I know this might be gross but this was the pigtail drain that I had to have in my stomach for 12 days!  And it still didn't work and required me to have yet another surgery!

But I will tell you I have had 10 surgeries, so many CT's, MRI's, Xrays that I can't count, alot of stomach is butchered, a seroma, had my stomach drained along with a pig tail drain for 12days, physical therapy, probably 100+ appointments to specialists, so many needle sticks for IV's and blood that I ended up needing a port surgically placed, 3 spinal taps, now possible fatty liver disease...still in diagnosing stages, so far 6 nerve blocks, next week I'm scheduled for some radio frequency thing that will deaden my nerves for 9mo. or more and 2 more surgeries scheduled before the year is over.  Oh and for those that are interested the surgeries were LP shunt placement, 2 revisions, VP shunt placement, 5 revisions, and 1 port placement.  And the sad thing is I might not be over with surgeries, shunts are not the most promising medical device but it is what keeps me functioning and allows me to do the little bit I do, do.  Oh but probably the hardest part of all of this is saying good bye to my old self and my old life.  I am married now so of coarse it's a little bit different in a good way thanks to being married but then again with that comes the part of seeing so many people our age starting families and considering my situation it's not possible, especially considering I can't hold my 6mo. old nephew without being in pain, so much pain that I end up bedridden for days after visiting my sister.  It crushes my heart but what more can I do, I've done all the surgeries, gone to all the doctors, and now I'm getting pain management care, so hopefully in the end the pain will go away. 

Our SUPER casual wedding at the Hill County Courthouse with just family and like 2 friends!

Oh but the VERY VERY VERY BEST PART about all this, probably eh...MOST DEFINITELY the only good thing about all this is LEE PETERSON!  He is my very best friend and my everything!  We fell in love via myspace, text, and AOL Instant messenger, which would've never happened if I wouldn't of been on short term disability and been bored outta my mind.  (FYI we did go to high school together in a small town so we did know of each other but just never talked)  We finally saw each other the week before my first surgery and their was an instant connection.  Needless to say we married 7weeks later on March 13th!  I can't imagine my life without him, he is the most wonderful, caring husband ever!  I KNOW it will last forever, we've been through too much stuff already that has proved our dedication and love to one another!  Hopefully one day we will make our dream of having a family come true, I will be healthy, and we can live a semi normal life.  We have laughed though more than you could ever imagine under these circumstances, he keeps me positive when I'm losing hope.  I know God has a plan for us though and one day we'll look back on this and be proud of how strong and positive we were!

Our matching "313" aka March 13 aka our anniversary tattoo...he'll never have an excuse to forget now!
SO.  The reasoning for this post was to tell you that I've been sick this week therefore not cooking.  I do have pics of one thing I do plan on posting today but when I started the post for it I decided to make a separate post explaining my illness therefore the lack of posting.  Ideally I would love to post Monday-Friday, but being sick it's not always possible.  And the only reason I started posting is because  I'm in so much pain from my nerve block today I can't sleep, so I might as well be as productive as I can be sitting in a chair! 
This is probably the most recent picture of me taken in July.  Me, my sister, and my nephew Caleb!

Anyways I hope you all understand and still continue to check my blog because I do have weeks that I cook like crazy and I hope to get ahead on my picture taking that even if I do get sick for a week I still have plenty of stuff to post.  And I also hope that if you read this and you have frequent headaches you realize it's not normal, or if you have been diagnosed with migraines and the meds don't help you seek for more answers, or if you have a friend/family that complains about headaches all the time you suggest reading this.  Like I said I know it's rare but I've learned you have to be your own advocate and you know your body better than anyone else and if your current doctor isn't doing anything find another.  And yes the only for sure way to get a diagnosis or to rule it out is a spinal tap/lumbar puncture but it's really not as bad as it seems and if your that scared then ask for sedation, I wasn't sedated for any of mine but I have a friend that was sedated for all of hers, right here in the DFW area.  To me it's stupid but I've actually read on a support group of someone refusing to get a spinal tap, Hello you can't get a diagnosis w/o it and w/o a diagnosis a doctor probably isn't going to treat you for it and if they happen to then I really doubt your insurance company is going to pay for the treatment without a proper diagnosis...some people are so stupid!  Also if you can't handle a spinal tap then don't even think about getting pregnant!  Sorry that was my rant...I know an epidural isn't quite the same but it's basically the same!  Anyways I've managed to rant, get on my soap box, probably bore you out of your mind but I've got it all of my chest now!  :)  Good night...I think I'll try to sleep now!
My handsome husband!  Poor guy is so used to waiting rooms he now makes himself comfortable. haha.  Don't worry he really doesn't get this comfy, the place had like 20min. left on lunch break and we had to wait and since no one was there he got comfy!

Also please go check out Intracranial Hyptertension Research Foundation, it's the only place in the world doing research for the disease.  If you happen to be a patient please go and register with them, it's free and they need all the patients they can get for research!  And if you can any donation to the foundation would be appreciated, there are alot of wonderful people suffering with this disease, alot even worse than me that could REALLY use a cure!  If you donate check with you or your spouses employer and see if they have a donation match program, alot of companies do they just don't advertise too much about it, or if it's a small company then your employer might just match donations if you ask! 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Greek Panzanella

Greek what???  If your like me you have no idea what Greek Panzanella is but it showed up on Annie's Eats a month ago and it looked good but when I read the ingredients I knew I wouldn't be able to get Lee to eat it.  Well I had a friend post and say how awesome it was so I knew I had to try it!  One of my friends happened to be coming over the same night Lee was going to sleep thru dinner so I figured it was the perfect opportunity to try it. 

Greek Panzanella Salad

2 tbsp. olive oil
6 cups French bread cubes (1 inch)
Kosher salt
1 cucumber
1 red or yellow bell pepper, large diced (if you like these alot use 1 of each)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
½ red onion, sliced thin
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
2.5 oz. can sliced black olives, drained


2 cloves garlic, minced
1¼ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

Cube the bread and place olive oil in skillet and heat up.  Add bread and cook till slightly browned and crispy.  While browning your bread cut up all veggies and place in bowl, if your like me and don't like raw peppers then cook your peppers for a few minutes. 

Now whisk together all of the vinaigrette ingredients and pour over the veggies, add the feta cheese and stir, then toss in half of the bread.  Let set in the fridge for 20-30minutes, then serve.

*Okay the reason why I say only to put half of the bread into the mixture is because it does get slightly soggy and I prefer crunchy bread.  Also if you plan on having leftovers you might skip mixing all the bread in and only add bread to each serving.  The longer it sets the better the veggies are I think but the soggier the bread gets!

Adapted from Annie's Eats and inspired by Kirbe to cook!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Crispy Ranch Chicken

I believe I have been cooking this recipe since March 2010 and have probably ate it 20 times since.  There for awhile we had it weekly, when I have surgeries or don't feel good it's easy and quick enough for Lee to make it or for me to when ill.  I also passed the recipe on to my sister and her and her family love it too!  It's definitely one of the top easy meals I would recommend for all my friends with kiddos and hectic schedules because it's quick, easy, and delicious!  If you make boxed or canned sides then you could possibly be looking at only 15minutes of actual work in the kitchen!  Also if you have little ones this is a meal that they would like making...some of my first memories in the kitchen were me helping my mom do cornflake crumb chicken.  And if you like cornflake crumb chicken, shake n bake, or just good ol bread crumbs then you'll for sure love this an this will give you variety! 

By the way...I'm not sure if anyone has noticed or if I even have readers but I'm a bit obsessed with CHICKEN.  After a couple of months of marriage my poor husband asked me if I could please cook him something besides chicken.  I love chicken!  But I'm very good about cooking a variety of different kinds, I should've probably named my blog Brooke's Chickens because I can guarantee you I can look back in a year and it'll probably be more than 50% of Chicken if you like Chicken as much as I do stay tuned!  (FYI.  No worries, I do feed Lee other meats...usually when I make my menu for the week I do 3 chicken meals and 2 beefs/nonmeats.)

Crispy Ranch Chicken

1lb. boneless skinless chicken tenders
1oz. pkg of dry Ranch dressing mix
2 cup crispy rice cereal
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 egg whites beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a big Ziploc bag add the Ranch packet, cereal, and cheese.  Crush and shake.  You don't want to crush the cereal all the way, leave some semi big pieces.  Now you can either leave this in the Ziploc bag or pour into a coating tray.  It turns out better in a coating tray but I have done both depending on the amount of time I have.  Now dip the chicken in the egg whites, then coat the chicken in ranch mixture, and then place on baking sheet.  Repeat till finished.  Bake 30-35minutes.

I got this recipe from an Iphone app. called Spark Recipes.  This app. is also suppose to be healthy food and it says 1 breast which is about 3 tenders is suppose to be 245 calories.  Not sure how accurate that is but thought I'd throw that out there.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Stuffed Jalapenos

I absolutely love these stuffed jalapenos!!!!  I first had them at my in laws house and I fell in love.  I'm pretty sure I made them the next week and have been making them since.  And I do believe Lee ate a few and I ate all the rest, they even taste GREAT reheated!  If you have never had stuffed jalapenos don't worry they aren't hot at all because the seeds are removed and they are baked, so try them today!  There isn't much of a recipe to it but I'm going to give you the measurements the best I can, I usually just do it all by feel...but I just had to share this recipe with you because it is perfect for holidays, get togethers, or just a week night meal!

Stuffed Jalapenos

1 Brick of Cream Cheese
3/4-1 roll of sausage (ex:Jimmy Dean I usually use just the regular but hot would probably be good too)
9-10 fresh jalapenos, halved
grated Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling

I usually always brown the whole thing of sausage and use what I want (I use 3/4 of the roll) and keep the rest and make homemade pizza or breakfast burritos the next day.  I never use  the whole roll but you might prefer your mixture to be sausage with cheese rather than cheese with sausage.  So first you need to decide how much sausage to brown. 

Ok now that you decided that brown your sausage in a skillet.  While it's browning cut your jalapenos in half and clean them out and rinse.  Take a small bowl and place your brick of cream cheese in it, add 3/4 (or more/less depending on taste) of the sausage to it and mix.  Stuff each of your peppers and place on a baking sheet, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. 
Okay typically I usually just bake these peppers at whatever temp. my oven is already at and bake it with whatever I'm cooking also and for 20-30minutes, until the peppers are done.  But if these are the only thing your making then it seems like baking them at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-30minutes, covered is the right thing to do!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"Healthy" Buffalo Chicken (Salad)

I was frustrated when I went to the store and forgot my stuff for salad therefore it ended up being just chicken!
I haven't made this in a long time but I used to make it somewhat often because I was obsessed with Frank's Red Sauce.  I'm not sure what started my obsession but it got so bad that I made a homemade Buffalo Chicken Pizza with Frank's as the pizza sauce and yeah it did not turn out good.  That was in April (And I can only tell you when it was because I had Lee make it for me the day after my last surgery) and I had retired my bottle of Frank's until now just so I could make this to share with you.  Well and because Saturday night we ate at Buffalo Wild Wings and I was craving some wings again. 

Ok a couple things you should know about this recipe...1st thing is that there is a recipe for homemade Blue Cheese dressing but I've never made it because even though I love blue cheese I don't know anyone else that does but if you want to try it out go to the link at the bottom to the original recipe and you can try it out and let me know how it is.  And the 2nd thing is Lee loves HATES this...he says it's TOO healthy tasting, he's never said he didn't like the flavor but just that it's too healthy.  But for the record my friend Kourtney has had this and she liked it, a couple months ago she even asked me for the recipe, so I know I'm not the only one that likes this. 

Healthy Buffalo Chicken (Salad)

1lb. chicken tenders
2 Tbsp. Frank's hot sauce
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2cup bread crumbs or Panko bread crumbs (I had never heard of Panko but it is right there along with all the other bread crumbs, usually with the flour, it's worth buying it if you need or want another recipe to use the Panko in look here, it's the best shrimp scampi you'll ever have, even better than Red Lobster to me)

I also highly recommend eating this chicken over a salad that consists of chopped celery sticks and romaine lettuce! 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Whisk together the salt, sugar, vinegar, and hot sauce.  Add the chicken and stir to coat, let set for 10-15minutes.  Put the bread crumbs in a coating tray and coat all the chicken.  Bake on a baking sheet for 20-25minutes or until done. 

Take out and slice in small bite size slices and serve over salad.  I would recommend using additional hot sauce for drizzling along with Ranch or Blue Cheese. 

Adapted from Cook Yourself Thin Cookbook.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Homemade Granola

A week or so ago we went to Pinkberry with my sister and her family and Lee got granola as one of his toppings and this was really the first time I can remember that I saw Lee eat granola.  He told me then that he really loves granola!  So then last week we were walking around a Kroger Fresh Fare, a new type of Kroger, there's one in Ft. Worth by TCU...anyways so he saw this thing of granola with cranberries and he got it.  I was looking at it later on and first of all it was $1.50 for a small bowl and my frugal side knew we'd never buy another one of those again but I thought hmmm...this has to be easy to make so I bought the ingredients I needed that I didn't have and threw together stuff.  And wow I was amazed because I just threw it together and because it really tasted good! 

Homemade Granola

2 cups rolled oats
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 tbsp. sunflower kernels
1/2 cup dried fruit

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a small bowl add the oats, salt, and cinnamon.  In another small bowl mix together the oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla.  Mix together the two mixtures until blended. 

I baked mine in a dish like this, just a Pyrex glass dish.  Cook it for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.  Then add the almonds and sunflower kernels and bake for an additional 5 minutes.  When you take it out spread it out on a baking sheet lined with wax paper to cool.

After it cools place in a container and stir in the dried fruit.                                                    

Original Recipe.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Bacon Wrapped Chicken

Growing up my Mom made these and they are so good.  I don't know if she made this exact recipe because since I started making them she doesn't remember what all spices she put in there but she did remember she used Lawry's Mesquite Marinade so this recipe is part my Mom's and part mine.  And my mom always made these on the grill and we did too till we moved to Arlington and now I bake them in the oven so make them however, they are good both ways! (Once we moved we had to get rid of our grill because we can't have a grill on our balcony.) 

Bacon Wrapped Chicken

1 boneless skinless chicken
1 bottle of mesquite marinade
1 tbsp. worchestershire sauce
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
pepper jack cheese
small can-canned jalapenos or 1 fresh jalapeno
1 pkg bacon 
skewers or toothpicks

Pour the bottle of marinade in a bowl along with all the spices and mix together. Cut the chicken in long strips and pound with a meat tenderizer, place in bowl of marinade as you go. Mix the marinade with the chicken and let set in the refrigerator for 30minutes to 1hr. (The mesquite marinade I use is 30min. marinade but I like to leave it in there for an hour)

Cook the bacon 1/2 of the way, if you don't your chicken is going to be done and parts of your bacon will be raw. Let cool to touch.

Slice the cheese and jalapenos in small pieces.

Start your grill or turn on your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Take your chicken and place a jalapeno and cheese slice at one end and roll up. Take a piece of bacon and wrap the opposite way around it. Now slide it on a skewer or put a toothpick thru it.  You can also make different variations with or without cheese, jal., bacon, or even without the chicken.  After you get all the chicken rolled up bake for 40-50minutes, covered. 

Original recipe from me!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hummingbird Muffins

Have you ever had Hummingbird Cake?  Well I have only had it once in my life when my sister in law made it and I loved it, I had been missing out and you are too if you haven't tried it.  Well I was doing my usual blog reading when I ran across this and since it's a much healthier version I decided to make it and luckily I had everything except applesauce and pineapples.  Feel free to look at the link to the original recipe for muffins with cranberries or for a gluten free version, I've never made anything gluten free so I would've had to buy all that stuff and I like cranberry juice but not too big of a fan of actual cranberries so those got left out. 

Hummingbird Muffins

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (you can substitute with vegetable oil)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1 heaping cup ripe bananas, mashed (about 3 bananas)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.  In a small bowl beat eggs and add applesauce and mix.  Add the egg mixture to the dry mixture and combine, then add vanilla.  Stir till ingredients are moist, don't over mix it.  Add pecans, bananas, and pineapples. 

I would suggest not using cupcake liners because I did and the liners didn't just peel away, they were stuck, but feel free to try, maybe you'll have better luck than me. 

Grease muffin pan and fill 2/3 full.  Bake for 18-22minutes. 

I was able to get 21 regular size muffins out of batter. 

Adapted from Premeditated Leftovers.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Au Gratin Potatoes

My husband has an obsession with any kind of Au gratin potatoes, specifically Betty Crocker's Au Gratin Potatoes which I think are nasty...okay maybe not nasty but boxed potatoes just aren't my thing.  Actually I'm kind of a snob when it comes to boxed food, I'll eat it but I prefer not to cook it or buy it.  Growing up we had boxed mac and cheese and that's about it and even now Lee insists on me making homemade mac & cheese thanks to my sister making it for him.  I had never even tried Hamburger Helper till I was 17, and I still don't make it but I do make a homemade version from Annie that is delicious and so easy to make. 

Okay so my husband has this big test tonight so I asked him to pick a main dish he wanted tonight and of coarse he picked his favorite, Fried Chicken.  I don't make it much but since he requested it I was going to make it and when I came across this homemade version of Au Gratin Potatoes I knew I had to make it for him and he loved it and so did I!  And it was quick to mix together, it took me about 7-10minutes and it was definitely worth the time.  I'm sure I'll be making this alot in the future!

Au Gratin Potatoes

4-6 potatoes depending on size
2 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp. flour
2-4 garlic cloves, minced (depends on taste)
1 tsp. salt
pepper, to taste
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Slice potatoes and set to side.  I left the skins on and they tasted good but peel them too if that's what you like.

Whisk together cream, milk, flour, garlic, salt, and pepper. 

Alternate potatoes and cream mixture into dish with cream mixture on top.  I did it in just 2 layers but the original recipe says 3 but I'm sure you could probably just put potatoes on bottom and then pour cream mixture over and it will still turn out the same. 

Cover with foil and bake for 30minutes, uncover and bake for 20.  Sprinkle the cheese over and let melt, then remove from oven!

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Avocado Enchiladas

Please excuse this picture, it doesn't look that great...

I don't know why but I was craving avocados and lots of them and so I started going through recipes with avocados and nothing looked good till I ran across this recipe and I knew I was going to have to make it ASAP.  Lee had taken me to Abuelo's for my birthday and we had both tried avocado enchiladas then and liked them but we we're both iffy about the avocados being hot.  Well after I made these at home I loved them even more and Lee said the flavor was really good he's just still not sure if he likes avocados hot so keep that in mind before you make them.  Also I had cut the original recipe in half but if it's just 2 of you I would recommend cutting my measurements in half because that's what I'll do next time.

Avocado Enchiladas with Chicken

1 boneless skinless chicken breast
3 avocados
1/4 of a onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp chili powder
2 1/2 tbsp. ground cumin
1 cup dry white wine
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth or stock
1/2 cup cilantro
1/8 cup lime juice
4 cups plus 1T vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. salt\
pepper to taste
12-corn tortillas
1lb. monterey jack cheese

Place chicken breast in water and boil. 

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in skillet over medium heat.  Add onions, garlic, cumin, chili powder, oregano, brown sugar.  Mix and then add wine and cook till onions are soft.  Add tomatoes and broth and let simmer for 20minutes.

Peel, pit, and roughly chop avocados.  Remove chicken from water and shred.  Toss avocados and chicken with cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat remaining 4 cups oil in a wide, heavy saucepan over medium heat until very hot but not smoking, 7 to 10 minutes. Using tongs, fry 6 tortillas, one at a time, for 2 to 3 seconds. Drain on paper towel-lined sheet.

Pour 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce on the bottom of a deep casserole dish.  Spoon roughly 2T. on tortillas and roll up and place in dish seam side down.  Repeat until done.  Pour remaining enchilada sauce over it and top with cheese. 

Bake Enchiladas until heated thru 20-30minutes, depending on your oven you might need to cover them for part of the time so you don't burn the cheese. 

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Strawberry Bars

Well I wasn't planning on posting any recipes for the next couple of days because I am having another procedure done this morning and I won't be cooking for at least a couple of days.  But I was doing my usual looking around on food blogs and I got a craving for something fruity which by the way this was at midnight.  And I started thinking about how it could be anywhere from 2-5 days before I cook again so I NEEDED to and WANTED to cook or bake something.  Well I came across a similar recipe awhile back but Lee wanted strawberries (I would've rather had peaches but then I would've been eating it all on my own) so I decided to go with the recipe I used! (Even though both this recipe and the one I considered on doing are both easily adjusted to using different fruits, or you could even use 2 kinds of fruits.)  But wow, this was awesome and Lee loved it just as much as I did, probably more!  The only thing that was bad was we had to go to the store at midnight because I had everything except strawberries, well I had some frozen strawberries but I wanted to use fresh!

 Strawberry Bars

1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
3 cups All-Purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter cut into cubes
1 egg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
5 cups frozen or fresh strawberries
4 tsp. cornstarch

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease a 9x13" pan.

Mix together 1 cup sugar, flour, baking powder, salt in a medium bowl.  Cube cold butter.  Add the butter to the dry mixture and blend with either two knives or a pastry cutter.  Stir in the egg.  Dough will not seem like dough, it will be crumbly and more like a dry mixture but that's the way it's suppose to look.  Push 2/3 of the dough into the prepared pan.

In another bowl place the strawberries with 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and gently mix.  Pour on top of the dough in the prepared pan.  Sprinkle the remaining dough over the strawberries.

Bake 45min.-1hr, or until tops brown a little.  Wait till it cools then cut into bars.

Adapted from here.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Crispy Mexican Chicken

So my Dad lives nearby and he asked for me to make him this chicken one evening so I did.  He kept telling me how good it was but it didn't seem like it was going to be really awesome but it was!  It had alot of flavor and I will definitely be making it again.  It's one of those meals that are super easy and super quick! 

Crispy Mexican Chicken

3 cups French Fried Onions 
4 tsp. chili powder
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup nacho/taco blend shredded cheese

Place 2 cups of the onions and the chili powder in a plastic bag and crush the onions with a rolling pin or however you feel like it.  (The lazy method to coat the chicken would be to leave the onions in the bag and throw the chicken in there to coat it but I wouldn't recommend it with this type of coating)  Place the onions in a pie plate or coating trays.

Dip chicken into egg mixture then coat with the seasoned onion crumbs.  Place chicken on a baking sheet.  (also I would recommend baking your chicken on a cooling rack on top of your baking sheet so the bottoms of the chicken aren't all hard) 

Bake chicken at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20min. or until done.  Sprinkle with cheese and remaining onions, let stand until the cheese melts. 

Oh and usually I adapt a recipes ingredients a little bit but I had strict instructions from my Dad to make it like the recipe!  And this recipe came from French's!  Also if your going to make this I would recommend going here and getting some coupons for the french fried onions!