Monthly Archives: August 2015

Chicken Spaghetti Pie


  Say hello to one of my new favorite dinners.  Cheese guys.  It’s packed FULL of cheese.  Four cups to be exact.  It has a hint of spice from the cayenne pepper and sweetness from the red peppers.  Did I mention it is very cheesy?  Funny story to tell you as to why it has 4 cups of cheese instead of 3.  Well….it was almost just spaghetti pie.  I had it all assembled, put it in the oven and when I turned around guess what I saw on the counter?  My unopened container of cooked chicken. Good grief Glenda!  So I pulled it back out of the oven, stirred in the chicken and topped it with more cheese.  Oh well.  The more cheese the merrier in my humble opinion.  This would work just as well with leftover spaghetti.  I don’t know about you but when it comes to pasta, I always seem to make enough to feed a small army or my four kids when they were all still at home.  If you like more spice, bump up that cayenne pepper to your liking.  You could even throw a chopped jalapeno in if you want to.  I adapted this recipe from a Pioneer Woman recipe found here.  Get ready to make this one of your favorite new dinners too.
 Chicken Spaghetti Pie

1 lb. spaghetti, cooked per package directions

2 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite sized pieces

1 red bell pepper, small dice

1/4 red onion, small dice

4 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. seasoning salt

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

3/4 cup chicken stock or broth

3/4 cup milk


2 Tbs. unsalted butter

2 Tbs. all-purpose flour

1 Tbs. onion, chopped finely

3/4 tsp. minced garlic

1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves

1 Tbs. fresh parsley leaves, chopped

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth

3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 13 pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.  To make the sauce:  Melt the butter on medium heat in a medium sized pot.  Add the onion, thyme and parsley.  Using a whisk, stir and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add the garlic.  Stir and cook for another minute.  Sprinkle in the flour.   Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Slowly stir in the chicken stock whisking constantly.  Then whisk in the milk. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Whisk to combine.  Cook for 10 minutes or so until sauce thickens, whisking occasionally.  You can tell that it’s ready by dipping a spoon in and running your finger down the back of the spoon.  If the sauce stays separated, it’s ready.  Set the sauce aside.

Cook the spaghetti per package directions in a large pot of salted water.  Drain and return to the pan.  Stir  the red pepper, onion and chicken into the hot pasta.  Pour in the broth and milk and stir.  Add 3 cups of the cheese, salt, pepper, seasoning salt and cayenne and stir until well combined.  This mixture should look very wet.  If it doesn’t add more broth and milk.  The pasta will absorb this as it bakes.  Pour this mixture into the prepared pan.  Top with the last cup of cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until cheese is slightly browned, hot and bubbly.  Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,



Peanut Butter Banana Brownies


  What do you do with that one lonely, over ripe banana that’s sitting in your fruit bowl?  I decided to make brownies.  I started with a boxed brownie mix, added the mashed banana, a little espresso powder and swirls of peanut butter.  The result?  A very tasty brownie.  In fact, I’d say they are down right delicious.  Don’t worry.   You can’t taste the espresso powder.  It’s there to enhance the chocolate flavor.  You definitely can taste the banana and peanut butter.  OH MY!  And the smell that wafts through the house.  Heavenly!  It almost lifted me up and carried me into the kitchen,  Why don’t you give these quick and easy brownies a try?
 Peanut Butter Banana Brownies

20 oz. box brownie mix (I used Ghiradelli dark chocolate)

1/2 tsp. instant espresso powder

1 large, very ripe banana

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup oil

1 egg

7-8 Tbs. creamy peanut butter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 9 square baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside.  In a medium sized bowl, mash the banana.  Add the water, oil and egg and mix until well combined.  Pour in the brownie mix and espresso powder.  Mix until combined and you no longer see dry brownie mix.  Do not over mix.  Turn out into the prepared pan.  Place 7 or 8 one tablespoon mounds of peanut butter evenly over the top of the brownies.  Using a butter knife, swirl the peanut butter throughout the brownie batter.  Bake at 325 for 40-50 minutes.  Check with a toothpick for doneness.  Do not over bake.  There will be moist crumbs on the toothpick but it will not appear wet.  Remove from the oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack until completely cool.  Cut into squares.  Enjoy!

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,


Oven Roasted Honey BBQ Brined Chicken


  I have never brined chicken before.  I’ve seen all the chefs on Food Network do it.  I decided to give it a try for myself.  I had bought a 10 pound bag of chicken leg quarters for 39 cents/pound at Meijer.  Isn’t that a ridiculous price?  I was going to make a big batch of chicken stock out of it.  Well my stock pot was only big enough for half of it.  Dang it, Bobby!  So I decided it was time to try this brining business.  It was my plan to put it in the brine yesterday afternoon, let it hang out in the fridge until this afternoon and then throw it on the grill.  Mother Nature had other plans for me and my chicken when she decided it was going to rain all afternoon.  Plan B-throw it in the oven and roast it, then baste it with honey barbecue sauce.  It was, in my green-eyed Irish guy’s words, “Damn delicious!” You can definitely taste a difference.  The chicken was super moist and flavorful.  Finger lickin’ good.  Mmmmmmmm!  Are you ready to wear barbecue sauce from your head to your elbows?
   Oven Roasted Honey BBQ Brined Chicken


8 cups cold water

2 Tbs. kosher salt

1/4 cup brown sugar

5 sprigs fresh thyme

5 pounds chicken leg quarters or whole chicken cut into parts, skin on

Olive oil for drizzling

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

Your favorite store-bought or homemade BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey BBQ)

The day before you plan on serving the chicken, prepare the brine by combining the water, salt, brown sugar and thyme sprigs in a large bowl with a tight fitting lid.  Stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved completely.  Place the chicken in the bowl, put the lid on and place in the fridge for 24 hours or so.

The day you’re serving the chicken.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with sides with aluminum foil.  Set aside. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels.  Place the chicken on the prepared baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, turn it over and do the same to the other side.  Place chicken skin side up on the baking sheet.  Bake at 450 degrees for one hour. Remove from oven, pour off all the chicken juices from the baking sheet and brush BBQ sauce on both sides.  Return to the oven for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and brush with BBQ sauce once again.  Return to the oven for 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and brush with BBQ sauce one last time. Bake for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and ENJOY!

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,




  Look at this!  It’s a feast for the eyes and for the tummy.  What is gazpacho, you may ask?  It’s a raw vegetable soup usually served cold, but I like it at room temperature.  It has tomato juice, fresh tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, red onion, celery and garlic, half of which are blended in a food processor or blender and half are cut into small pieces.  You can garnish with whatever you’d like but spicy shrimp, boiled egg and avocado were calling me.  I was so excited to eat the soup I forgot that I had bought some Italian bread to eat with it.  Oh well.  Who needs bread when you’ve got this soup?  I saw the Pioneer Woman make it on her show one day (recipe here) and I’ve made it a couple times since.  It’s so fresh and zesty.  All the flavors sing a sweet harmony in your mouth. G really liked it.  She said she was going to take it to Vegas and marry it with Elvis officiating.  HA!  Sharpen your knife and let’s cut some veggies!

5 Roma tomatoes, diced small

2 stalks of celery, diced small

1 zucchini, diced small

1 cucumber, diced small

1/2 red onion, diced small

1 tsp. minced garlic

1/4 cup olive oil

2 Tbs. red wine vinegar

2 Tbs. granulated sugar

4 cups V8 juice

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

dash hot pepper sauce (or more if you like more heat)

Garnishes: boiled eggs, diced very small; 1/2 lb. shrimp, cooked in old bay seasoning, avocado, sliced into thin slices

Place 1/2 each of the tomatoes, celery, zucchini and cucumber in a food processor or blender.  Add all the onion and garlic. Add the olive oil, red wine vinegar, sugar and half the V8 (2 cups).  Process until very small pieces remain, about 2-3 minutes. The mixture won’t be smooth.  Pour into a large bowl.  Add the other half of the V8, salt and pepper and stir until combined.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with the boiled eggs, shrimp and avocado.  Enjoy!

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,


Foil Packet Shrimp Boil


  Believe it or not the first time I experienced a shrimp boil was in 2007 at my place of employment.  It was the year of the Bears/Colts Super Bowl and the owner of the company had a shrimp boil to celebrate out in the shop for all the employees.  I was deep in Bears’ country and the only Colts fan in the place.  Even my husband is a Bears fan.  It was glorious!  Huge shrimp, potatoes, corn on the cob and sausage were boiling in humongous pots of spicy elixir.  I savored each bite.  We had that treat at least a couple more times at work.  Thank you Duane Kaminski!  When I saw this recipe pop up on Facebook from Damn Delicious (recipe here), I knew I was going to make it.  I texted G and asked her if she would rather have gazpacho or this for dinner.  She replied THAT in all caps.  I didn’t have any baby potatoes so I took two medium potatoes and cut them into 1/2-3/4 inch cubes.  I’ll admit I didn’t measure how much salt, pepper and Old Bay seasoning I used but I think I can estimate pretty close to what I used.  Following the oven baking directions of 425 degrees for 15-17 minutes (I actually left mine in for 20 minutes because my oven heats cooler), my packets weren’t fully cooked.  I rewrapped them and put them back in the oven at 500 degrees for about half an hour more.  They were pretty much perfectly done then.  I think next time I might parboil the potatoes a little before I put them in the packets.  This is truly delicious and tastes exactly like a shrimp boil.  It’s truly a treat in a shiny foil packet.  Yummy, yummy, yummy for your tummy, tummy, tummy!
   Foil Packet Shrimp Boil

Serves 2

1/2 lb. medium raw shrimp, de-veined and tails removed

1/2 lb. skinless smoked sausage cut into rounds

2 medium potatoes, washed and cut into 1/2-3/4 inch cubes

1 ear of corn cut into four pieces

2 Tbs. olive oil, divided

2 tsp. salt, divided

1 tsp. black pepper, divided

1 Tbs. Old Bay seasoning, divided (or more to taste)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Cut two 12 inch pieces of foil.  Arrange half of the potato cubes, half of the shrimp, half of the sausage and 2 pieces of corn on each piece of foil.  Sprinkle 1 Tbs. olive oil, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper and 1/2 Tbs. (1 1/2 tsp.) Old Bay on each packet.  Using your hands, mix until seasonings are evenly distributed.  Wrap your packets securely and place on a baking sheet.  Bake at 425 for 15-17 minutes.  Remove from the oven and carefully unwrap one packet to test doneness.  If potatoes are not done, return to the oven and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes.  Remove from the oven, place packets on plates and carefully open.  Enjoy!

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,


Tomato Pie


  Tomato pie.  Come on.  Don’t say yuck yet.  I know it sounds weird, but trust me.  This tastes anything but weird.  Think pizza flavor with a flaky, buttery pie crust.  That’s quite a tasty thought as is this tomato pie.  I couldn’t resist making it when I saw the layers of tomato and thick, cheesy top.  Roma tomatoes are more meaty and less juicy tomatoes so they are the perfect kind to use.  I made my own crust (recipe here), but a store bought crust would work just as well.  I changed up the recipe (found here) a bit by using a different cheese blend, seasoning the cheese and caramelizing the onions.  Next time I think I’ll cook the tomatoes a bit to soften them before I put them in the pie.
   Tomato Pie

9 inch pie crust, pre-baked

6 Roma tomatoes, peeled and sliced

1 small onion cut in half and thinly sliced

1 Tbs. unsalted butter

1 Tbs. olive oil

1 tsp. freeze dried basil

1/2 tsp. freeze dried oregano

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1 cup plus 2 Tbs. shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup plus 2 Tbs. shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. shredded Dubliner cheese (or parmesan)

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

1 tsp. salt, divided

1 tsp. pepper, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place tomato slices in a single layer in a colander and place in the sink. Sprinkle with salt.  Allow to drain at least 10 minutes.  While the tomatoes are draining, place the butter and olive oil in a small pan.  Heat on medium heat until hot.  Add the onions and saute for 5 minutes or so. Reduce heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally until golden brown and caramelized.  Set aside.  Remove tomato slices from colander and place on paper towels on the counter.  Blot with a paper towel to remove excess juice and salt.  Sprinkle the 2 Tbs. of each kind of cheese into the prepared pie crust.  Layer the tomatoes evenly on top of the cheese.  Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Then sprinkle with the basil and oregano.  Sprinkle with the caramelized onions.  Combine the mayonnaise, the remaining cheese, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper and Italian seasoning in a small bowl.  Mix well.   Make small mounds of the cheese mixture all over the top of the pie.  Using a spatula, smooth the cheese evenly over the top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until the cheese is lightly browned, hot and bubbly.  Enjoy!

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,


Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake


  I had some blueberries leftover and was trying to decide what to make with them.  I thought about blueberry corn bread or this coffee cake.  The cake won because…well….cake.  Who can say no to cake? Not I.  It’s a pretty simple recipe which has four steps.  First you make the streusel, then the cake, layer the cake, streusel and blueberries and finally the glaze.  You’ll find the original recipe here.  Make sure your butter, egg, milk and sour cream are all at room temperature.  I made a little extra glaze.  What can I say?  I’m like a kid.  I like glaze.  The resulting cake is wonderful.  It is light and moist with crispy edges, layered with sweet and spicy streusel and the blueberries burst with flavor.  It’ll brighten up your morning for sure.  Just add a cup of coffee or tea and you’re set.
  Look at this beauty!
   Glazeless, fresh from the oven.

Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake


1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 tsp. cinnamon

4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted


8 Tbs. unsalted butter (1 stick) at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup sour cream at room temperature

1/4 cup milk at room temperature

1 large egg at room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 1/4 cups blueberries


1 cup powdered sugar

2-3 Tbs. milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a 9 inch cake pan by cutting a circle of parchment paper to fit in the bottom and spraying the pan with cooking spray with flour.  Set aside.

Combine the streusel ingredients in a small bowl.  Mix well until the butter is incorporated into the dry ingredients.  Set aside.

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl.  Set aside.  In a medium-sized mixing bowl place the butter and sugar.  Mix with an electric hand mixer on high speed until light and fluffy and the butter is pale yellow colored about 4-5 minutes.  Mix in the sour cream and milk on medium speed until combined.  Mix in the egg and vanilla on medium speed until combined.  Slowly add the flour mixture into the bowl and mix until combined.

Spoon half the cake batter into the prepared pan.  Sprinkle with half the streusel mixture.  Top with half the blueberries.  Repeat the process-the rest of the cake batter, then the rest of the streusel and finally the remaining blueberries.  Bake at 350 degrees for 34-36 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes on a wire rack.  Remove from the pan and allow to cool completely on the wire rack.  Meanwhile, combine the powdered sugar and milk in a small bowl.  Stir until smooth.  Add more milk if necessary to get to a glaze consistency.  Pour over the cooled cake.  Allow the glaze to set before serving.  Enjoy!

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,