Easy Mexican Rice

Mexican Rice 5

Happy Cinco de Mayo! I never need a special reason to eat or make Mexican food.  Once you see how easy this rice is to make, you will be volunteering to bring the Mexican rice to your family gatherings or potlucks.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 2 1/2 cups uncooked long grain white rice
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • chopped cilantro or green onions for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add 3 tablespoons oil in a deep skillet and heat over medium high heat. Add the rice and stir constantly until the rice turns golden brown.Mexican Rice 1
  2. Next add the chicken or vegetable stock. The mixture will bubble up and should be followed by the tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper and salt.Mexican Rice 3
  3. Bring to a boil and and stir to dissolve the tomato paste into the stock mixture and rice.
  4. Cover with skillet with a lid and turn down the heat to low and set timer for 20 minutes.
  5. When the rice is done, fluff with a fork.
  6. Garnish with chopped cilantro or green onions.Mexican Rice 4

 

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Easy One Pot Garlic Parmesan Noodles

Garlic Parmesan Noodles

Do you need a quick side dish or even a main entree? Here’s a recipe even my vegetarian friends can eat. The sauce is not quite an Alfredo Sauce but has most the elements of one. I love how everything is cooked in one pot, because I like to cook, but I hate to clean up.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • 8 ounces uncooked fettuccine
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan  cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Melt butter in large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and cook stirring frequently, until fragrant; about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Stir in chicken/vegetable broth, milk and fettuccine.
  3. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer. Stir occasionally until pasta is cooked through, about 18 to 20 minutes.
  4. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Add more milk if mixture is too thick; or more cheese if too thin.
  5. Add Kosher salt and fresh cracked blck pepper to taste and garnish with chopped parsley.
  6. Serve immediately.

Pork Carnitas

Carnitas 4

Growing up, my parents made Chinese food at least 90% of the time. So you would think my blog would be mostly Chinese food recipes. Nope. Once I moved out and was left to cook on my own I enjoyed trying all sorts of new food types and trying new recipes. If you ask my kids, they will tell you I can eat Mexican food everyday of the week. It’s true. Pork carnitas is one recipe I love as it is not particularly hard to make. And if you get a large pork shoulder, it makes enough for a crowd or you have leftovers for days. This recipe makes at least 12 servings!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3-4 pounds pork shoulder
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 bulb garlic, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 8 cups low sodium chicken broth

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Season the pork shoulder with salt, then arrange the pork in the Dutch oven. Cook until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, lime juice, chili powder, oregano, and cumin. Pour in the chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and continue to simmer until pork is very tender, about 2 1/2 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  4. Transfer the pork shoulder to a large baking sheet, reserving the cooking liquid. Drizzle with a small amount of the reserved cooking liquid.Carnitas 1
  5. Bake the pork in the preheated oven until browned, about 30 minutes. Drizzle more of the cooking liquid on the meat every 10 minutes, and use two forks to shred the meat as it browns. (Keep in mind, the objective of the final step is to get slightly crispy outside with a moist, tender inside.)
  6. Carnitas 2
  7. Serve the carnitas with warm, fresh tortillas and pico de gallo or whatever you like! I like to make mine into tacos. Carnitas 3

Skillet Pizza Rolls

skilletpizzarolls

When I went by the deli area of my local grocery store, I saw they had fresh pizza dough balls. I thought maybe I should make a semi-homemade pizza of some sort.  My kid at heart had fun making these skillet pizza rolls. You can choose what items you want. So my vegetarian friends can make vegetarian pizza rolls. But I do suggest sautéing your vegetables before adding to the pizza rolls.  I made two different batches in the picture above because I have a huge cast iron skillet. Stick to the recipe if you have a regular size 9 inch cast iron skillet.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound pizza dough
  • 1/3 cup pizza or pasta sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • pepperoni slices
  • sliced black olives
  • sautéed mushrooms
  • or your choice of toppings

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 16×10-in. rectangle. Brush with pasta sauce to within 1/2 in. of edges.
  3. Sprinkle pizza dough evenly with with mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese. And then add your pizza toppings of choice.
  4. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seam to seal. Cut into eight slices. Place in a greased 9-in. cast-iron skillet or greased 9-in. round baking pan, cut side down.
  5. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

skilletpizzaroll

Chicken Tortilla Soup

chicken tortilla soup 2

We had a few weeks of cold and rainy weather. I wish I had made this soup back then. For some reason I was all about making heavy and  filling stews. This soup is nice change from the stews. Light enough for lunch or add a salad or some cornbread and make it a filling dinner. Feel free to use a rotisserie chicken if you want to make things even easier. I’m all about shortcuts and making things easy.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2-3 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Diced Onion
  • 1/4 cup Orange Bell Pepper
  • 1/4 cup Red Bell Pepper
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 can (10 Oz. Can) Rotel Tomatoes And Green Chilies
  • 32 ounces, fluid Low Sodium Chicken Stock
  • 3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 4 cups Hot Water
  • 2 cans (15 Oz. Can) Black Beans, Drained
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 5 whole Corn Tortillas, Cut Into Uniform Strips Around 2 To 3 Inches

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F degrees.
  2. Mix cumin, chili pepper, garlic powder, and salt. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on chicken breasts, then sprinkle a small amount of spice mix on both sides. Set aside the rest of the spice mix.
  3. Place chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until chicken is done. Use two forks to shred chicken. Set aside.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pot over medium high heat. Add onions, orange pepper, red pepper, and minced garlic. Stir and begin cooking, then add the rest of the spice mix. Stir to combine, then add shredded chicken and stir.
  5. Pour in Rotel, chicken stock, tomato paste, water, black beans and corn kernels. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered.
  6. Check seasonings, adding more if needed—add more chili powder if it needs more spice, and be sure not to undersalt. Turn off heat and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Five minutes before serving, gently stir in tortilla strips.
  7. Optional: Ladle into bowls, then top with sour cream, diced red onion, diced avocado, cilantro, pico de gallo, and grated cheese or whatever you like!

chicken tortilla soup

 

M&M’s Pudding Cookies

M&M Pudding Cookies3

Here’s another cookie recipe that I made for my treat boxes to give out this Christmas. Who can resist M&M’s and white chocolate chips? I’m not sure if the pudding mix is for added flavor or to make the cookies soft and chewy. Either way, these cookies are a sweet treat. Next Christmas, be sure to put some out for Santa! You can most certainly switch out the M&M’s candy colors to suit other occasions to enjoy these cookies all year long.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks of butter (1 cup)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 box (4 ounce size) vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup green and red M&M’s
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. In medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  3. In large bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar with electric mixer on medium speed about 1 minute or until fluffy; scrape side of bowl.
  4. Beat in dry pudding mix. Beat in eggs, one at a time, just until smooth. Beat in vanilla.
  5. On low speed, gradually beat flour mixture into butter mixture until well blended.
  6.  Stir in chocolate candies and white chips until blended.
  7. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto lined cookie sheets. M&M Pudding Cookies1
  8. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until light brown. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes. Store in airtight container at room temperature.
M&M Pudding Cookies2

Italian Christmas Cookies

Italian Christmas Cookies3

Every year I give out Christmas cookies and candies to my family and friends. And every year I try swap around the cookies and candies I make. I came across these Italian Christmas cookies. I noticed they traditionally use anise extract, but I’m not an anise (or black licorice taste) fan. So I substituted almond extract. You can choose to use either.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 cup butter softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise or almond extract

GLAZE INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Nonpareil sprinkles

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars until creamy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time. Then add the vanilla and anise flavoring.
  5. Slowly mix in the flour mixture. Do not overbeat.
  6. Refrigerate dough for one hour.
  7. When ready to bake, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  8. Roll dough into 1 inch balls. Dip the bottom of a small glass into some powdered sugar and press each ball down slightly.Italian Christmas Cookies1
  9. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
  10. Remove and cool completely.

GLAZE DIRECTIONS:

  1. Sift two cups of powdered sugar in a bowl. Whisk in milk and vanilla.
  2. Dip top of each cookie in the glaze. Garnish with some nonpareil sprinkles.
  3. Allow glaze to dry before freezing. Italian Christmas Cookies2