Isn't she beautiful? This is some serious fruit porn, right here.  I love tropical/exotic fruits and I buy them up whenever I can get my hands on them.

I'm still on that juicing/green smoothie/any smoothie bandwagon and am not getting off anytime soon.  I've come to see that with some fruits, it is significantly cheaper to buy them fresh, cut them up and freeze them myself instead of buying pre-packaged frozen fruit.  This is true, especially when trying to stick to organic fruits/veggies.

So I bought this papaya the other day, and I just thought I would share with you guys one of my favorite smoothie recipes.  This one is not a green smoothie.  By the way, it is AOK to drink healthy smoothies even without the green stuff sometimes.  I eat a lot of veggies regularly with meals, and I still juice and drink them as well.  So I feel like it's still beneficial to have straight fruit smoothies sometimes, as long as they're packed with protein and fiber!

Papaya+Peach+Plum Protein Smoothie:

1 cup of almond milk
1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
1/2 cup of fresh or frozen papaya
1/2 cup of fresh or frozen peaches
1 small red plum
1/4 cup of rolled oats
one small squirt of Agave nectar
Ice (if you didn't use any frozen fruit)

Blend all of these items together and top with chia seeds for extra fiber and protein.  Enjoy!

I wanted to love you...

...but alas, I didn't.  I kept hearing your name (brown rice pasta) pop up in blogs and healthy recipe sites, so  I knew I had to try you out.  I just wasn't that fond of your texture.  Mushy much?  Or maybe I need practice in cooking you.  Nevertheless, I will just stick to my regular old grocery store whole wheat pasta, which works for me seeing as I've only seen you at Whole Paycheck--er, Foods.  And since I'm not on that whole "gluten-free" bandwagon, no real need for me to stick with you.  Plus the whole wheat kind, too me, has the same texture and taste as regular pasta with just as much, if not more, fiber than you.  At least I tried!

Getting Juicey...

So I told you guys that I'd bought a juicer because I wanted to include juicing in my journey of eating healthier.  So it's been a few weeks (months?) now and all I can say, is that I'm glad I jumped on this bandwagon.  The juicer I bought was the Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Juice Extractor. It cost me about 60 bucks on Amazon, but I've heard you can find them slightly cheaper in Walmart or Target stores on a good day.  There are many, many juicers to choose from in all kinds of crazy price ranges.  I chose this one because it was 800 watts (which seems to be the ideal wattage), it got good reviews overall on Amazon, and at 60 bucks--if it becomes another kitchen apparatus that ends up in a cupboard, I won't feel all that bad.  I have to co-sign on the good reviews that I think this is a sufficient juicer for the price.  The pulp doesn't feel too "wet" (a sign that you juicer is not extracting as much juice as possible), but I will see an occasional chunk of fruit/veggie that somehow made it through without being pulverized.  But hey, I by no means am expecting perfection.  Overall, I have to say that it is a good juicer.

Now, I haven't gone crazy creative with the different kinds of juices to make.  I bought the book Complete Book of Juicing: Your Delicious Guide to Youthful Vitality. This book has a gazillion of recipes and it gives you the nutritional benefits of every fruit and vegetable known to man.  An excerpt from the book on why juicing is beneficial:


You may ask, "Why juice?  Aren't we suppose to eat whole fruits and vegetables to get the fiber?"  The answer:  Of course you are, but you should juice too.  Juicing fresh fruits and vegetables does provide some fiber, particularly the soluble fiber.  And it is the soluble fiber that has been shown to lower cholesterol levels.  Think about it--fiber refers to indigestible material found in plants.  While this is very important for proper bowel function, it is the juice that nourishes us.  Our body actually converts the food we eat into juice so that it can be absorbed.  Juicing helps the body's digestive process and allows for quick absorption of high-quality nutrition.  The result is increased energy levels.  Juicing quickly provides the most easily digestible and concentrated nutritional benefits of fruits and vegetables.

I've tried a few different juices, carrot-apple-ginger being my favorite.  I also tend to use carrot-apple as a base to throw in some other veggies that are full of nutrients like spinach, kale, beets, wheat grass, etc.  I've even made my own "V-8".  And I have to admit, I feel like I have lots more energy since incorporating fresh juice into my diet.



Verdict:  Get to Juicin'!

In the Kitch: Chicken Tikka Masala!!!

Hey gals!  It's been a little while since my last recipe post, so I thought I'd share this chicken tikka masala recipe that I stumbled upon about a week ago.  I LOVE Indian food....or I guess I should say that I love chicken tikka masala as it's always what I order when me and hubs go to our favorite Indian restaurant.  I'm sure this is a scaled-down, non-authentic way to make this dish, but hey, the end result to my non-Indian taste buds are pretty much the same.  I am so excited that I can make one of my favorite dishes AT HOME.  So I guess I can now try something NEW the next time I go Planet Bombay or Cafe Bombay (both really good Indian restaurants here in ATL), because I'm sure to OD off of this now that I can make it.  haha Anyway, this was my first time attempting an Indian dish because the thought of it always intimidated me, but this recipe is pretty straight forward, AND........IT'S MADE IN THE CROCKPOT.  Doesn't get much simpler than that.  So I suggest that you try it--if you are a fan of Indian food or if you just want to try something new.  Oh and I put mine over a "basmati rice medley" that I'd gotten from Trader Joe's, and also served it with a side of garlic naan that I'd gotten from my local Publix.  

Slow-Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala                

  • 9 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Coriander
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup Yogurt
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 whole Jalapeno Pepper, Stem Removed, Pepper Pierced Several Times With A Sharp Knife
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 whole Large Onion, Peeled And Diced
  • 6 cloves Garlic, Peeled And Minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
  • 3 Tablespoons Garam Masala
  • 1 piece Fresh Ginger, About 2-3 Inches, Peeled And Grated
  • 4 cups Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon Raw Sugar (can Substitute White Granulated If Necessary)
  • 2 teaspoons Cornstarch Or Cleargel
  • 1-½ cup Heavy Cream
  • Hot Buttered Rice And Peas
  • Chopped Fresh Cilantro


Preparation Instructions

Cut the boneless, skinless chicken thighs into 1- 1 1/2 inch pieces. Sprinkle the coriander, cumin and salt over the chicken, then stir in the yogurt until all the pieces are evenly coated. Cover lightly and let sit for 10 minutes before proceeding.

Melt 1 tablespoon the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Raise the heat to medium high and quickly brown about 1/4 of the chicken. Transfer browned chicken to the slow cooker as it is finished, using 1 tablespoon of butter per batch, and repeat until the chicken is all in the slow-cooker. Throw the pierced jalapeno in on top of the chicken.

Prepare the sauce. Return the pan to the heat and melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the onions, garlic, and kosher salt, then stir. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to lightly brown around the edges.

Stir in the garam masala and ginger and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute) before raising the heat to high and adding the crushed tomatoes and raw sugar. Stir well, scraping the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan, and bring to a boil.

Pour over the chicken in the slow-cooker.
Cover and cook on LOW for 5 hours, or until the chicken is very tender.

Use a fork or whisk to stir the cornstarch or cleargel into the heavy cream until smooth. Pour into the slow-cooker and stir gently until the colour is even. Replace the lid and let cook for 10 minutes or until bubbly around the edges.

Serve over hot rice and peas, topped with a generous amount of chopped cilantro.
Tips & Mods:

I'd only bought one pack of chicken thighs, that ended up being 5 thighs and that's what I used.
The recipe calls for 1 TB of raw sugar--I used 2.  I felt like 1 TB wouldn't be enough to give that slight sweetness that I know chicken tikka masala to have.  I was right.

I'd started on this dinner late and didn't have the 5 hours cooking time the recipe called for.  So I cooked it on HIGH for 2.5 hours instead.  It turned out just fine.

I'd also forgotten to buy the jalapeno pepper, so instead I topped the chicken with about a tablespoon of hot pepper flakes.  It gave the dish a nice little "kick"

As you can see in the pics--I forgot to top the dish with a little bit of chopped cilantro, even though I actually bought some for this dish. haha  Anyway, it's unnecessary anyway.  I've never seen it topped with cilantro at restaurant.  I'm sure it would have looked nice in pics tho!

Oh, and I have seen garam masala in my regular grocery store in the "international" section.  If yours doesn't have it, you should probably look for it at your local farmers markets or health food stores.  I actually bought mine from Amazon.  (see link below)


Recipe courtesy of Tasty Kitchen

In the Kitch: Skinny Chicken & Tomato Pasta

Today's recipe I'm sharing with you lovely readers is a pasta dish I made last week.  I found this recipe on Pinterest because I fell in love with the photo.  It looked so delicious and SIMPLE.  Let me tell you, it was all that I'd hoped it would be.  My husband and I, in a word....SMASHED it.  I'd made enough to have leftovers for dinner the next day, and I think we may have scraped some non-stick coating off of the pan that next day even.  lol  Anyway, I watch a lot of cooking shows and travel/food shows, and one thing I've learned when watching them make Italian dishes or at Italian restaurants IN Italy, is that some of the pasta dishes that are popular don't involve any "sauce".  I think we Americans automatically assume that all pasta dishes require a sauce.  Not so!  In Italy, they make yummy pasta dishes with just pasta, fresh ingredients and just a really good extra-virgin olive oil.  You'll be surprised at how something so simple can be so flavorful.  So here you go for this newfound staple in my dinner line- up.  Oh, it's pretty healthy too.  Thanks Skinny Taste for the great recipe!


    * 2 skinless chicken breast halves, diced in 1 inch cubes
    * cooking spray
    * 1/2 tsp each of dried oregano and dries basil
    * kosher salt and fresh pepper
    * 8 oz spaghetti (high fiber or low carb) I used Ronzoni Smart Taste
    * 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
    * 6 cloves garlic, smashed and coarsely chopped
    * 4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
    * 4 tbsp chopped fresh basil


Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.

Season chicken generously with salt, pepper, oregano and basil. Heat a large skillet on high heat. When hot, spray with oil and add chicken. Cook about 3-4 minutes, until no longer pink. Remove chicken and set aside.

Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Reserve about 1/2 cup pasta water before draining.

While pasta cooks, add olive oil to skillet on high heat. Add garlic and sauté until golden brown (do not burn). Add tomatoes, salt and pepper and reduce heat to medium-low. Sauté about 4-5 minutes. When pasta is drained, add pasta to tomatoes and toss well. If pasta seems too dry, add some of the reserved pasta water. Add fresh basil and chicken and toss well. Serve and top with good grated cheese.

Tips & Mods
- I was out of dried oregano, and basil for that matter, but I DID have Italian seasoning (which has both of those as ingredients, along with some other herbs).  So, I just seasoned the chicken with the Italian seasoning and salt.

- As you can see from the pics, I also added one chopped zucchini to the dish.  I just thought it would add some color and another healthy veg couldn't hurt.

-I again used whole grain pasta

- Make sure to use a GOOD grated parmesian or romano cheese.  NOT the powder kind ppl put on pizza, etc. haha


Chicken Piccata

Today's recipe is an Italian chicken dish that I made a couple days ago.  I've had chicken piccata at restaurants, but this was my first time making it here at home.  It turned out DEE-lish.  First off, ANY dish that uses fried chicken as a base can't be all that bad and combined with lemon, buttery flavors--it can't help but be a winner.



Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.
In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to plate. Melt 2 more tablespoons butter and add another 2 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add the other 2 pieces of chicken and brown both sides in same manner. Remove pan from heat and add chicken to the plate.
Into the pan add the lemon juice, stock and capers. Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Check for seasoning. Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.

Tips & Mods

-I actually didn't alter this recipe in any way.  I will say though, if you're not a person who is big on lemon-y flavors--you may want to reduce the quantity of lemon juice by just a tad.

-This is an Italian dish, so whenever I've been served this in a restaurants, it was always over pasta or another pasta dish was with it as a side.  I wasn't wanting pasta this particular day, so I had it with oven-roasted broccoli and Parmesan mashed potatoes. 

Hope you guys enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of Giada de Laurentis of The Food Network

Not Your Ordinary Spaghetti

Today's dish I'm sharing with you is a spaghetti dish that I make about 2-3 times a month.  I think it's pretty common that most families have a "spaghetti night"  regularly because it is usually a cheap meal and can yield enough leftovers to last another night.  According to my husband, I "can never do anything 'regular'"--and I guess the same goes for our "spaghetti night" dish. haha  I'm just not a big fan of regular old spaghetti.  I found this dish on one of my favorite recipe sites and it's been in my repertoire ever since.  It's really just dressed up spaghetti & meat sauce.  Enjoy!


2 ounces uncooked spaghetti, broken in
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 pound ground turkey
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 teaspoon butter or margarine
1/3 cup tomato sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions; drain. In a bowl, combine the egg, Parmesan cheese and spaghetti. Press spaghetti mixture onto the bottom and up sides of a greased shallow 2-cup baking dish or 7-in. pie plate. Spread with sour cream.
2. Crumble turkey into a skillet; add the pepper, onion and butter. Cook over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the tomato sauce, garlic salt, oregano, salt and pepper. Spoon into spaghetti crust. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Cover edges loosely with foil. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Tips & Mods:

- Skip the whole sauce making and just use 2/3 jar of Ragu sauce.  I use the sauteed onion & garlic flavor.

- I also add about a teaspoon of sugar to the the turkey & sauce.  It cuts some of the "sharp" taste that tomato sauce can have.

- Sometimes I add hot pepper flakes for a little kick, if I know that my son won't be eating it--which he usually doesn't. He'd rather have PB & J or hot dog. *sigh*

- I always use whole wheat pasta.  It's like quadruple the fiber and it doesn't taste any different from regular pasta.  Before it's cooked, it looks slightly brown, but once cooked it pretty much takes on the color of regular pasta.

- I use a lot more cheese than is listed.  I use about a cup of parmesan in the pasta, and I COVER the dish in mozzarella.

In the Kitch: "Japanese" Beef Stir Fry

We don't really eat a lot of beef in my household, but here lately I've been wanting the feeling of being super satisfied after a meal.  I'm talking that good ol' STUFFED feeling.  So I figured some form of beef/steak would probably hit that spot.  So I found this recipe for a beef stir fry online and gave it a go.  No, your eyes are not fooling you--I'd completely forgotten to add the mushrooms, which as you can see by the recipe is a big part of the dish (4 cups!).  I think I was so busy feeling so much like an Iron Chef whipping stuff up in my wok, that I'd just completely forgotten about them. Needless to say, it still taste great.  I figure the mushrooms really just add volume, which means more food that can last over more days.  I won't forget next time, believe that!

2 pounds boneless beef sirloin or beef
top round steaks (3/4" thick)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 (10.5 ounce) can Campbell's®
Condensed Beef Broth
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
1 head Chinese cabbage (bok choy),
thinly sliced
2 medium red peppers, cut into 2"-long
3 stalks celery, sliced
2 medium green onions, cut into 2" pieces
Hot cooked regular long-grain white rice
1. Slice beef into very thin strips.
2. Mix cornstarch, broth, soy and sugar until smooth. Set aside.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in saucepot or wok over high heat. Add beef in 2 batches and stir-fry until browned. Set beef aside.
4. Add 1 tablespoon oil. Add the mushrooms, cabbage, peppers, celery and green onions in 2 batches and stir-fry over medium heat until tender-crisp. Set vegetables aside.
5. Stir cornstarch mixture and add. Cook until mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly. Return beef and vegetables to saucepot and heat through. Serve over rice.

Tips & Mods:

-As you can see, it's still quite tasty with or without mushrooms, so if you're not a mushroom person, feel free to leave them out or reduce the quantity.

-I seasoned the beef with a little seasoned salt and garlic powder after I'd sliced it up and let it sit in the fridge for a couple hours before cooking.

-I also added a clove of minced garlic to the sauce ingredients.


In the Kitch: Mexican Chicken Chili

Just thought I'd share with you all this Mexican Chicken Chili dish that I make about a couple times a month.  It is actually made in the crockpot, so it is easy and ANYONE could make this.  It's a perfect dish to make regularly during these soon to be cooler months.  I'd gotten the recipe out of this mini-cookbook of slow cooker recipes I'd bought a few years back from the grocery store.  You know how when you're checking out, the magazines are usually right there in your face?  Well, they usually have these little cooking pamphlets/mini-cookbooks for sale right there along with them.  They usually have a specific theme.  Anyway, if you're someone who likes to try new recipes, I suggest you pick one of those up from time to time.  The recipes are usually pretty simple, and it's a great way to discover new dishes!



 1 ¾ lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
2 medium stalks celery, sliced (3/4 cup)
2 cans (14.5 oz each) stewed tomatoes with garlic and onion, undrained
2 cans (15 to 16 oz each) pinto beans, undrained
1 can (10 oz) Old El Paso® enchilada sauce
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 scoop-shaped corn chips, if desired
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, if desired


1. Spray 4- to 5-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In cooker, mix all ingredients except sour cream and cilantro.
2. Cover; cook on Low heat setting 7 to 8 hours.
3. Stir mixture to break up chicken. Top each serving with sour cream and cilantro.

Tips & Mods:
-If you can't find stewed tomatoes with garlic & onion, just use a regular can of stewed tomatoes and mince a clove of garlic and throw that into the crockpot with the rest of the ingredients.

-You can find the Old El Paso Enchilada sauce in your grocery where all of the taco kits and paraphernalia can be found. 

-Sometimes I switch up the beans. This time instead of 2 cans of pinto beans, I used a can of pinto and a can of black beans.

-I add about a teaspoon or two of salt.  Make sure to salt this to taste.

-And lastly, I also buy a package of corn tortillas (the authentic kind) from the Mexican section of the grocery (not always in the same place as the taco stuff).  I cut them into triangles and then fry them up to make homemade chips.  Tastes 10 times better than bag tortilla chips.  I top it with those chips, sour cream, shredded cheese and avocado! Yummy!

Recipes like this and more like it can be found HERE.


In the Kitch: Today's Breakfast

Spinach & Cheese Egg Scramble:

This is so easy, I doubt I really need to explain how I made it--but I will, just in case....  Basically, I put little butter in a skillet that is heating on the stove, throw in a handful of spinach and sautee for about a minute or two.  Next crack 3 eggs and throw them in and scramble it all up with a spatula.  When the eggs are almost done, toss in a handful of shredded cheese (whichever kind you like or have) and cook until eggs are done and cheese is melted.  Now you have a healthy breakfast that happens to be low-carb, if you're into that kind of thing.

Have a Happy Monday!


In the Kitch: Shrimp & Lobster Gumbo

Now that the cooler--who am I kidding, I mean COLDER temperatures are among us, it usually inspires me to make more "comfort" kind of foods.  Things like stews, soups, chili, etc., are great for warming us up during the winter months.  Last week, I'd decided to make a gumbo.  There are many variations and types of gumbos that one can make.  I chose to make a gumbo using some frozen lobster that my grandmother-in-law had left at my house from her last visit here.  I decided to use The Neelys "Nana's Chicken Gumbo" recipe that I'd made before and just substitute the chicken with the lobster.  The first time I'd made it exactly as the recipe called for--me and my husband thought that the chicken wasn't all that great, that it would be better to keep it all seafood.  So that's what I did this time around.

Nana's Chicken & Seafood Gumbo


    * 1/2 cup vegetable oil
    * 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    * 1 celery stalk, chopped
    * 1 yellow onion, chopped
    * 1 green bell pepper, chopped
    * 2 cloves garlic
    * 8 cups chicken stock
    * 1/4 cup ketchup
    * 2 large tomato, diced
    * 1 pound sliced okra
    * 1 cup chopped cooked chicken
    * 1 pound lump crabmeat
    * 1 pound large shrimp
    * 1/2 lemon, juiced
    * Dash hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco)
    * Dash Worcestershire sauce


In a heavy Dutch oven, heat oil. Add the flour and stir and cook until the mixture darkens to a brown color, about the shade of peanut butter. Add the celery, onion, green bell pepper and garlic and saute until tender.

Whisk in chicken stock, add the ketchup, chopped tomato, and okra. Let simmer for 2 1/2 hours. About 10 minutes before serving time add cooked chicken, crabmeat and shrimp and simmer. Add lemon juice, hot sauce and Worcestershire.

If you're not into chopping veggies, this is not the meal for you.

onion * celery * green pepper * okra

tomato * garlic

flour and oil--cook until the color of peanut butter.

added chicken stock, ketchup and all of the veggies

thawed shrimp and lobster meat

toss in the meat and cook for 5 more minutes

Serve over rice.  Voila!

Whomever you serve this to will worship the ground you walk on.

Tips & Mods

- I didn't use crabmeat

- I used lobster instead of chicken.  Feel free to use any variation of seafood as you wish.  The last time I made this, I used chicken, shrimp & scallops.

- Go ahead and use full strength chicken stock.  I'd bought low sodium, no MSG chicken stock and my gumbo was tasting VERY bland.  I ended up adding more seasoning (2 chicken bouillon cubes) so I ended up with the sodium and MSG anyway. lol

- I didn't do this, but next time I will.  Add a little chopped habanero pepper--Bahamians call it goat pepper, Jamaicans call it scotch bonnet.  Whatever the case, gumbo is great if it has a little bit a kick.

- No need to cook it for 2.5 hours.  I think around 2 hours is enough.  Also, put your seafood in at the last 5 MINUTES.  Overcooked shrimp/lobster/scallops becomes rubbery!  Even after you turn off the stove, it will continue to cook some as the gumbo will still be very hot.

- Oh, and I used a bit more ketchup than the recipe called for--just a bit.

Hope you all enjoy!

In The Kitchen: Chicken & Rice Casserole

So, I made this casserole for the fam two days ago.  It was DELICIOUS.  I'm not really a casserole type of of person, but I've been wanting to add more dishes to my arsenal that my family can eat off of for 2-3 days, i.e. giving me less cooking days out of the week.  I decided to find a casserole recipe from the queen of comfort food cooking herself, Paula Deen.  I searched through, and this is what I found.  I have to admit, when I read through the ingredients, I was a little skeptical.  Water chesnuts? Pimento?  Didn't sound like any comfort food that I'd ever had before.  Paula Deen has never let me down before, so I decided to take a leap of faith, and I'm glad I did.  The hubs asked that I make this a "regular".  Did I mention that this was so delicious?!

Chicken & Rice Casserole


    * 2 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil
    * 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
    * 3 cups diced, cooked chicken
    * 2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans green beans, drained and rinsed
    * 1 (8-ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
    * 1 (4-ounce) jar pimentos
    * 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed cream of celery soup
    * 1 cup mayonnaise
    * 1 (6-ounce) box long-grain wild rice, cooked according to package directions
    * 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar
    * Pinch salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat butter or oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl.

Add all remaining ingredients to bowl and mix together until thoroughly combined.

Pour into a greased 3-quart casserole dish. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand for a few minutes before serving.

I don't think I've ever cooked with water chestnuts before, aside from pre-made stir fry.

Green beans, water chestnuts, pimento and sauteed onion

Rice & cheese added.

Mayo & cream of chicken soup added.

Last but not least--the chicken! Breast & thigh meat.

Ready for the oven.  Topped with extra cheese and crushed Ritz crackers.  My own little twist.

Turned out spectacular. Creamy gooey-goodness!
Tips & Mods

-I used chicken breasts & thighs that I'd baked in the oven prior to making the casserole.  Just seasoned them with a little salt and pepper.

-I only used one can of green beans.  In my opinion, that was enough.  Next time, I will steam fresh green beans prior to making the casserole--better color, and more crunch.

-I doubled the cheese.  No explanation needed, I'm sure. haha

-I used cream of chicken soup instead of cream of celery.  I'd forgotten to buy the cream of celery and happened to have cream of chicken in the cupboard, thank God.

-After putting everything in the casserole dish, I topped it with the remainder of the cheese and crushed Ritz crackers.  A "topping" tends to make casseroles look better.  It also gives a little bit of crunch.

-As I read through the reviews of this dish, I saw that people were making their own variations (broccoli instead of green beans, different kinds of cheeses, adding mushrooms, etc.) with great results.  I definitely think this casserole is a good base to experiment with, and I intend to in the future.  I like to try recipes out as-written (for the most part) initially, just to get a better idea of how it was originally intended before I alter it.

Hope you guys enjoy this as much as we did!

Recipe can be found HERE.


In the Kitchen: Indonesian Ginger Chicken, Roasted Carrots, Basmati Rice

Hey guys, I've decided to start doing posts of my cooking here and there.  Since getting married, I've become quite the avid cook.  My skills have been getting better and better, which is great seeing that I started from scratch. When I was "single & fabulous", the only "cooking" I did was reheating take-out in the microwave. haha

So, two nights ago I was perusing Food Network online for a new chicken dish to try.  The Food Network is one of my favorite channels and I have used lots of recipes from different shows.  I tend to use a lot of Paula Deen, Giada de Laurentiis (Everyday Italian), and Down Home With the Neelys recipes.  Well this time I chose a recipe by Ina Garton of Barefoot Contessa.  I chose it because I'm a lover of all ethnic food, and this chicken recipe was right up my alley.  I decided to also make the two side dishes she'd made with this dish.  So here are the recipes.

Indonesian Ginger Chicken


    * 1 cup honey
    * 3/4 cup soy sauce
    * 1/4 cup minced garlic (8 to 12 cloves)
    * 1/2 cup peeled and grated fresh ginger root
    * 2 (3 1/2 pound) chickens, quartered, with backs removed


Cook the honey, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger root in a small saucepan over low heat until the honey is melted. Arrange the chicken in 1 layer in a shallow baking pan, skin side down, and pour on the sauce. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the baking pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover the pan, turn the chicken skin side up, and raise the temperature to 375 degrees F. Continue baking for 30 minutes or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh and the sauce is a rich, dark brown.


Roasted Carrots


    * 12 carrots
    * 3 tablespoons good olive oil
    * 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
    * 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
    * 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill or parsley


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

If the carrots are thick, cut them in half lengthwise; if not, leave whole. Slice the carrots diagonally in 1 1/2-inch-thick slices. (The carrots will shrink while cooking so make the slices big.) Toss them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a sheet pan in 1 layer and roast in the oven for 20 minutes, until browned and tender.

Toss the carrots with minced dill or parsley, season to taste, and serve.


Basmati Rice


    * 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oil
    * 1 yellow onion, chopped
    * 1 cup long grain basmati rice
    * 1 3/4 cups water
    * 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
    * 1/4 cup sliced scallions
    * 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley


Cook the butter and onions over medium heat until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and toss until all of the grains are coated with the butter. Add the water and salt, cover and cook until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to sit covered for 5 to 10 minutes. Add the scallions and parsley, fluff with a fork, and serve.


Mods & Tips:

- Instead of chicken quarters, I used wings and thighs (skin on).  In the future, other than the wings, any other chicken parts that I use, I will make sure they are SKINLESS.  Even marinating as long as it did, the skin seemed to get all the flavor.  Because I don't usually eat the skin on chicken (except on wings), I'd rather the meat get all the good flavors.  Also, I added some red pepper flakes to the marinade to give it a little kick.

-As you can see, instead of going through all of the trouble of peeling and slicing carrots, I used baby carrots.

-The rice I used wasn't basmati.  I used what I'd already had in the cupboard, which was instant rice.  It still came out PERFECT, and was actually a surprise highlight of the meal!

-Put your fresh ginger in the freezer--it makes it easier to grate later!

-Lastly, where she uses kosher salt--I'd used sea salt, again, what I'd already had in the cupboard.

This will definitely be added to the repertoire!