Category Archives: From the Kitchen

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! (w/ Sausage Dip Recipe!)

HI, ALL!

Just wanted to check in!  You haven’t heard from me for a while for a couple of reasons:

1.  I joined an AMAZING group – “Learn To Blog.”  Where I learned I began my site in the wrong place!  So I’m not sure how things will cross over, so I need to get a few things set up and make that happen!  Just haven’t had the time!

2.  IT’S CHRISTMAS!!  OMG!  I can’t even tell you how nuts things are!  I’m set to be out of town every weekend in December!  One week, this past week, I did almost DOUBLE the amount of massaging than I normally do!  (I seriously took baby aspirin because I was fearing a heart attack! .., I’m not kidding!)  I have NO Christmas decorations up (except the lights on the bushes in the front yard, which I was lucky enough to have a break on a day where we had almost an 80 degree day that day in which to put them up!!)  But that’s it!  The tree is still in the attic, etc.  It is just NUTS!  As soon as I have time to breath, it will be 2015.  (Bless the people who told me EXACTLY what they wanted to Christmas this year! 🙂 )

3.  See number 2, then add in all the regular B.S.!  Enough said.

So don’t think I’ve given up this journey!  I WILL BE BACK!

Before I go – let me leave you a WONDERFUL and EASY recipe that a friend gave me!  (Sorry, I have no pictures!  Was making dinner for a crowd whilst said crowd demolished this dip!)

HOLLY’S SAUSAGE DIP

1 lb Breakfast Sausage (I used hot – Use a good brand so you’re not left with mostly grease!)

16 oz. Sour Cream

8 oz. Cream Cheese

10 oz. can Diced Tomatoes w/ Green Chilies, drained

Brown sausage, drain excess fat.  (I didn’t really have any to drain, so if you use the good stuff, you may not!)  Melt in and mix in cream cheese.  (This just makes it a little easier to mix)  Then add sour cream and drained tomatoes.  THAT’S IT!  IT IS SO GOOD!  My mom plans to make a batch for a brunch!  You can use it as a dip or put it on a biscuit!  I throw it in a dip-sized crock pot and put out tortilla chips!  Ole’!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, EVERYONE!  I LOOK FORWARD TO CHATTING WITH YOU IN THE NEW YEAR!

<3, Lila.

Quick Chicken Stir-Fry

Quick Chicken Stir Fry @shecooksinstilettos.com

Okay, this made me the happiest person on the PLANET last night!!  Quick back story, I am not a huge fan of Asian flavors.  I don’t care for ginger or too much sesame flavor, but I have been looking for a good stir-fry sauce since I have been living at home with my mom!  We’ll just say 10+ years ago.  🙂  

Now, delve into your memory… remember the old Tyson Stir-Fry Meal Kits from the 90s?  My mom, sister and I LOVED the chicken stir-fry kit because the sauce was SO GOOD!  Plus the fact that the chicken, veggies, sauce and even the rice came in individual packets that you tossed together in about 10 minutes and voila, DINNER!  Unfortunately they stopped making these kits quite a few years ago; I have jonsed for that sauce ever since!  I’ve tried SO MANY bottled sauces and recipes, and ruined SO MANY batches of good veggies for years!!  UNTIL NOW!  

I go on these random internet searches for new recipes/sauces from time to time, just hoping to find a stir-fry sauce I like!  (Mainly because I feel stir-fries are the easiest way to get in your veggies and whole grains)  One day I came across people talking about a sauce called Mr. Yoshida’s Marinade & Cooking Sauce.  I don’t know what it was about their description, but I knew I HAD to try it.  Unfortunately no one near me carried the sauce!  I was just about to order it when I went to this INSANE new grocery store near me.  It’s a regular chain store that’s been around for years, but certain stores they’ve practically turned into an upscale Wal-Mart – IT’S NUTS!  Best thing ever:  THEY HAD THE SAUCE!!  

Quick Chicken Stir Fry @shecooksinstilettos.com

I just tried it last night, and as you may have already guessed – IT’S TASTES JUST LIKE THE TYSON’S SAUCE!!  You have never seen someone so excited to eat a BIG bowl of veggies, chicken and brown rice!  (Ironically, it was the first time I was smart enough to make enough stir-fry for only one bowl.  In case I didn’t like the sauce, I would waste so much food!)  Some may consider it too sweet, but it is called a teriyaki sauce on the bottle, so yeah, it will have a little more sweetness.  I figure something that makes me eat that many veggies and whole grains is worth it!  I also probably only used 2-3 tablespoons; at 45 calories a tablespoon…not bad right?  

I realize this is a stir-fry, so there isn’t much to tell – you can do whatever you want with a stir-fry!  But here is what I did:

Quick Chicken Stir Fry @shecooksinstilettos.com

Ingredients for One Serving:

1 – 1/2 cups veggies (I used fresh broccoli, green beans (trimmed and cut into thirds on a diagonal) carrots, and green peppers chopped into similar shapes and sizes

2 skinless chicken breast tenderloins, cut into thin strips on the bias

2-3 TBS Mr. Yoshida’s Marinade & Cooking Sauce

Corn Starch to sprinkle on raw chicken  (I don’t remember why we do this, but Emeril said to do this, so I do it!)

Your favorite rice (I like using Uncle Ben’s Instant Brown Rice because I can easily make 1 serving!  It’s SO EASY!  Just throw rice, water and a touch of butter in a pot.  That’s pretty much it!)

Directions:

1.  Preheat skillet or wok with a drizzle of canola oil, tablespoon or so

2.  Start cooking rice

3. Start cooking your “hardest” vegetables first.  In this case, the broccoli and green beans.  TIP: Keep the pan covered, stirring/flipping often until they start to get tender.  You can blanch these first if you want, but I feel this way keeps the nutrients a little better…and I’m lazy.  (If your pan doesn’t have a lid, any will work as long as it mostly covers, or you can even use a pizza pan!)  Then add remaining veggies and about half of the sauce.  Still keeping pan covered and stirring often.  

4.  Once vegetables are about where you want them, time to add the chicken.  If you are using a wok, use traditional method of pushing veggies up the sides, placing chicken in the bottom.  If you are using a skillet, TIP: push as far as you can to one side of the pan, then slide this side of pan OFF heat source.  You can also remove them if you’d like, but again, I’m lazy.  Once chicken starts to brown, add remaining sauce and cook through.  Then stir veggies back in.

5.  Ready to plate!  Spread rice in bottom of dish, dump chicken and veggie mix on top and ENJOY!  

I promise you will NOT be disappointed!! 

Quick Chicken Stir Fry @shecooksinstilettos.com

PAMA ‘n’ Pineapple Sangria!

PAMA n Pineapple Sangria @ shecooksinstilettos.com

 

When the 4th of July was approaching, I decided to turn my favorite new cocktail into a SANGRIA!  This is TOO good to waste your time with stories, so let’s get right to what’s in it!:

Makes enough for a crowd!  About 15-20, depending on how much you and your friends drink!  😉

1 3-liter bottle Rose’ Wine (You could also use a Blush or a Zinfandel)

1 1/4 cup PAMA brand Pomegranate Liqueur

3/4 cup Dark Rum (I used Bacardi Gold)

2 cups Pineapple Juice

1 12 oz can (or 1 1/2 cup) Dry Ginger Ale

For the fruit I used (for a 4th of July theme) frozen blueberries, frozen pineapple “stripes”, and frozen watermelon “stars” – I’ll show you what I mean!  🙂

Prepping the Fruit:

The night before you plan to serve, FREEZE YOUR FRUIT!  I know, this is totally not typical of sangria, and you do not have to do this.  But this will give you an idea of things you can do for different themes.  And the frozen fruit will help keep your sangria cold without watering down with ice!

Since this was for the 4th of July, I got as close to “red, white and blue” “stars & stripes” as I could.  I wanted to find starfruit to make this easier, but alas poor Yorich, I could not.  So my friend and I had the idea of using a cookie cutter to make watermelon stars!  (Plus, red, so bonus!)  So let’s start on cutting stars…

PAMA n Pineapple Sangria @ shecooksinstilettos.comPAMA n Pineapple Sangria @ shecooksinstilettos.com

Start by cutting the watermelon in half (or less, depending on the size of your watermelon).  Remove the rind, and cut into disks.  Next grab your cookie cutter!  TIP:  Make sure you cut your disks the same depth as your cookie cutter!

PAMA 'n' Pineapple Sangria @ shecooksinstilettos.comPAMA 'n' Pineapple Sangria @ shecooksinstilettos.com

TIP:  I recommend using an “open” cookie cutter so you can push the watermelon out, or use something like a chopstick to push it out.  We had to use that trick here since there is an opening, clearly they are not made for fruit!  (And thankfully my grandmother gave me cookie cutters from her Christmas stash!  I think the scalloped edge is somehow more patriotic, don’t you think? 🙂  Sadly, though, the scalloped edge did not hold up to freezing and sangria saturation. Oh well.)

Finally, lay them flat layers in a zip-top bag to freeze

PAMA 'n' Pineapple Sangria @ shecooksinstilettos.com PAMA 'n' Pineapple Sangria @ shecooksinstilettos.com

Now onto the Pineapple “Stripes”

Use the same cutting technique as above to “peel” a whole pineapple, after lobbing off the top, of course.  Then with the pineapple still standing, cut straight down the middle.  Lay the flat sides down, cut straight down the middle again in order to “core,” but still leave it strips, or “stripes” in this case.

PAMA 'n' Pineapple Sangria @ shecooksinstilettos.com PAMA 'n' Pineapple Sangria @ shecooksinstilettos.com

Now you can see the core if you look at the bottom (or top).  Since people may eat this, we will need to remove it!  (I mean you can eat it, but not too tasty or fun!)  So once you have it in quarters, you’re going to cut the core out by angling your knife around the core, and cutting diagonally.  Shown below:

PAMA 'n' Pineapple Sangria @ shecooksinstilettos.com PAMA 'n' Pineapple Sangria @ shecooksinstilettos.com

As best you can, cut straight pieces.  You’ll be cutting at an angle to do this.  This will give you “planks” that you can then cut into the final product “stripes!”  Then, the same as above, put into a zip-top bag and freeze overnight.

PAMA 'n' Pineapple Sangria @ shecooksinstilettos.com PAMA 'n' Pineapple Sangria @ shecooksinstilettos.com

That’s the hard part!  That’s it!  I also used blueberries, but I already had a frozen bag of these, OR you could buy fresh and put them in the freezer in a zip-top bag with the rest of the fruit the night before.  Next, we’re onto the good stuff!  THE WINE!

PAMA 'n' Pineapple Sangria @ shecooksinstilettos.com

 

This can be mixed the night before.  We, unfortunately, did not have enough room in the fridge for this much sangria!  So day of works too since you don’t need the fruit to infuse.  (But it does still help the flavors infuse better if you can mix it the night before!)  Mix based on ingredient list above, but of course make this to your own taste!  TIP:  Regardless of when you mix the sangria, DON’T ADD THE GINGER ALE until just before your guests arrive!  And since the pineapple juice will settle, give it a good stir before adding.  This way your ginger ale will stay bubbly as long as possible!  😀  (NOTE: The ginger ale adds a much needed “zing” to the punch so if when you taste test you think it seems a little flat, just wait!  If you want it stronger, then go for it per your taste!)

Just before your guests arrive, give it a good stir, add the ginger ale, then add the frozen fruit – CHEERS!

***If you actually have leftovers, I like to remove the fruit, I know this seems silly to some (some fruits, especially limes, don’t do well to sit for a long time!), and put the remaining punch in a pitcher to sip on later!***

AFTER PARTY NOTE:  If you are using a drink dispenser as I did, the blueberries…not the best idea!  LOL!  After a while of soaking, they can get sucked right into the nozzle!  Oh well.  Live and Learn!  😀

Low-Calorie Chicken & Stuffing Casserole

Grandma's low-cal chicken casserole @shecooksinstilettos.comDo you have those recipes that you just crave?  You know those recipes that take you back?  This is one of those dishes for me!  And the BEST part??  It’s LOW-CALORIE!  Yep, it weighs in at about 250 calories per serving!  Crazy right?  Oh, and did I mention how insanely easy this recipe is??  Let’s get to it!  (Oh, I should mention, this recipe is one passed down from my grandmother; pretty sure she got this off of a Campbell’s Soup can back in the day.  There are still versions of it around, but I’ve added my own touches.  But, as Bugs Bunny once said, “credits where credits is due!”)

 

HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

Grandma's low-cal chicken casserole @shecooksinstilettos.com1 half  Rotisserie Chicken

1 box Chicken Flavored  Stuffing

1 can Reduced Calorie/Fat Cream of Chicken Soup

1 can French Cut String Beans

1 stick butter (I use unsalted)

 

I should also mention since it only takes about a half of a rotisserie chicken, if I have no other uses for the chicken, I double the recipe and freeze!  (As I did today 🙂 )

Now then…

 

ASSEMBLY:

I call it assembly, because let’s face it, this isn’t “cooking!”

Step 1:

Have you ever seen anything yummier?  LOL!

Have you ever seen anything yummier? LOL!

(Preheat oven to 350)  Prepare stuffing based on package directions.  Once you’ve gotten to the stage of adding the stuffing mix and lidded the pot, it can sit and wait for you!

Step 2:

Pull apart the chicken with your fingers to covered the bottom of a 2 quart casserole dish, sprayed lightly with cooking spray.  I like Grandma's low-cal chicken casserole @shecooksinstilettos.comto use exactly 1 side of the chicken, this means one breast, leg, thigh and wing.  I take MOST of the skin off, I do sprinkle in a bit here and there for extra flavor.  No sense in wasting that yummy herby flavor!  🙂  You don’t want big pieces here, but don’t make it too small or you’ll be in the kitchen forever!  (If you are doubling, as I did, get a comfy spot and have at it!  It does take a bit of time)

Step 3:

Grandma's low-cal chicken casserole @shecooksinstilettos.comNow it gets REALLY easy!  Ready for this?  Open a can of french-cut green beans, drain, dump and spread to cover the chicken.  (I use my fingers)  I know, that was tough!  Oh, you can also use peas, cooked broccoli or whatever, I just prefer the more mild flavor of the green beans.  Plus the shape matches the shredded chicken.  Yes, I’m OCD.  TIP:  I don’t drain to dry, a little extra moisture helps keep the chicken moist when baking.

Step 4:

Grandma's low-cal chicken casserole @shecooksinstilettos.comTruly…this is the hardest step for me.  Putting all that yummy stuffing on top of the green beans!  It doesn’t happen.  I ALWAYS keep a small bowl out for myself.  I consider it an appetizer while the casserole is baking!  😀

Step 5:

THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP:  Open and dump the can of cream of chicken soup on top of the stuffing.  IMPORTANT:  make sure you flip your spoon and go around the edges to create a little space, then push some of the soup down and around.  But not all the excess!  Leave some little “puddles” on top because next your going to make “holes” all around the casserole.  You’ll want to  push the soup down so that as it bakes it works its way through all the layers.  As I tried to show below.  (Yes, a metal spoon might be easier, but I’ve been making this for longer than I can say, so it doesn’t matter to me.)

Grandma's low-cal chicken casserole @shecooksinstilettos.com Grandma's low-cal chicken casserole @shecooksinstilettos.com

 

Step 5:

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until brown and bubbly.  THAT’S IT!  I know your friends or family will love it!  I also make this to take to work for Thanksgiving!

Grandma's Chicken Casserole @shecooksinstilettos.com

 

Now you’re ready to make the BEST freezer meal, ever!  Yes, this freezes really well!  TIP:  make sure you smash it down really well to not leave any air in the layers. Another TIP:  For the love – LABEL THIS!  I made this mistake in the beginning; you might think you’ll remember what it is, but things can look quite different when frozen.  This is one of those dishes!  It is pretty nondescript.  Final TIP:  Make sure anything you freeze is at refrigerator temp BEFORE putting in the freezer!  This will prevent large ice crystals from forming and piercing and drying your food as it thaws!  (Coming soon:  Microwave/Reheating tips!)

Grandma's Chicken Casserole @shecooksinstilettos.comGrandma's Chicken Casserole @shecooksinstilettos.com

Quick Tip: Salad-Ready Croutons

Salad-Ready Croutons @shecooksinstilettos.com

Trying to lose weight?  Trying to eat better?  If you’re like me you want to do those things, you really do!  But there are just certain things you don’t to give up.  Okay, I’ll eat a salad, but there are TWO THINGS I WILL NOT GIVE UP:  CROUTONS AND MY SALAD DRESSING!  They key is sticking to the serving size.

Salad-Ready Croutons @shecooksinstilettos.comI buy croutons with the best ingredients I can find, and still taste good!  I prefer New York Brand, Texas Toast “Seasoned” Croutons.  No HFCS or MSG, and I can pronounce the majority of ingredients…SOLD!

Here’s the only thing though, they are “rustic-style” so some of them can be HUGE!  The unit of measurement here for the serving size is “tablespoon.”  What?!  Why?!  Do you see these things?  You can’t measure this.  And even if you just say they are a tablespoon each, because they are huge, then you get TWO bites of crouton!  BOO!

Simple trick:  BREAK THEM UP!  This way you can measure easier, and get a little happy crunch in more bites!  🙂

Salad-Ready Croutons @shecooksinstilettos.comNow these come in a zip-top bag, but don’t try to crush them in this bag.  Some will get crushed too much, some not at all.  So put them in a gallon-size zip-top bag, lay them flat, then use a rolling pin, or a pan, and lightly break up. (I do like to lay a towel underneath to soften the blows.)  Then store in a plastic or glass container so they are ready when you are.  I prefer Tupperware modulars, personally, as they were originally made to keep food fresh much longer than traditional containers.  But that’s a story for another time…

Salad-Ready Croutons @shecooksinstilettos.comThat’s it!  Now you can measure a proper serving size and actually enjoy your salad!  AND at ONLY 35 calories per 2 tablespoons, and NO sugar, we can enjoy with NO GUILT!  😀