No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars – ★★★★★

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Does this even need a description? Perfect, heavenly, dangerous, mouthwatering, delectable… Should I go on? These babies are the absolutely perfect ending to a great meal. I would only suggest making sure you have a ton of people with you to eat them because they are addictive! This recipe really saved me because I cannot bake to save my life! Thank you http://www.mybakerlady.com for this wonderfully perfect no bake recipe 🙂 Perry clearly gave 5 stars and this is why:

“I don’t know what Kelsey put in the peanut butter layer to make them crunchy but these bars are better then Reese’s cups. I didn’t know what to think when Kelsey said she didn’t have to bake them but now I get it. They are gooey chilled bars that are best shared with friends. I hope this becomes her go-to desert. I would have eaten the whole pan myself so for that alone they get five stars.”

Serves: 15    Calories: 389/bar      Time:  5 minutes for assembly and 1 hour chill time

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of butter, melted
  • 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1.5 cups of milk chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl mix together the butter, graham crackers, sugar, and peanut butter. Mix well
  2. Press evenly into a 9×13 baking pan.
  3. In a microwave safe container melt chocolate chips in 30 second intervals mixing between intervals. (Mine took a 30 second zap and then an additional 20 second zap.)
  4. Scoop melted chocolate over the pressed peanut butter mixture. Evenly spread chocolate over with a knife of the back of a spoon.
  5. Refrigerate for an hour before serving and cut into 15 squares
  6. Enjoy!
*Original recipe belongs to http://wp.me/pr0i6-Ko
**Photo is an original belonging to me
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Cheese Enchiladas with Spanish Rice – ★★★★★

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Perry has been asking me to make enchiladas for a few weeks now so when he told me a few of his band mates were coming over for dinner I had to make them for him. I’ve made chicken enchiladas before, but I personally hate the way chicken tastes when it reheats. I used the excuse of having a vegetarian coming for dinner as a reason to skip the chicken and go right to cheese. I’m SO glad I did because these came out amazing. Everyone enjoyed them which not only makes me happy but also proves I made the right decision going 100% bean and cheese. These bad boys were filled with creamy deliciousness and covered with a cheesy tomato sauce. I’m not going to lie, I surprised myself with this one 🙂 The rice was just your typical Spanish rice. Nothing too special but it really complimented the enchiladas perfectly. Perry gave five stars and this is why:

“When I rate a recipe 5 stars it is because I keep going back for more. If I go to the stove and start scooping out of the pan after I’ve already cleaned my plate you know it is a five star recipe. I have wanted enchiladas for weeks now and Kels really nailed my craving with this dinner. The sauce itself could be an appetizer with chips. I’m hungry just thinking about it. The rice was a nice side for the enchiladas because it wasn’t anything over the top. Five stars!”

Serves: 6-8      Calories: 364/2 enchiladas   157/half cup         Time: 35 minutes for Enchiladas    30 minutes for Rice

Ingredients for Enchiladas:

  • 12 small corn tortillas
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese + 1/2 lb grated cheddar cheese , divided
  • 2 (11 oz) cans of red enchilada sauce
  • 1 (15 oz) can of pinto beans
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 4 tbsp canned green chilies

Directions for Enchiladas:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit 
  2. Over Medium heat add pinto beans to a large pan. Mash the beans a little bit then add butter and water. Simmer for 5 minutes
  3. Add salt, pepper and onions. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes
  4. Add green chilies and 1/2 lb of grated cheese. Mix well. 
  5. Spray a 9X13 baking dish with cooking spray and pour one can of enchilada sauce in bottom of pan. 
  6. Fill each tortilla with about 1/4 cup of cheese mixture. Roll the tortilla and place seam side down in pan
  7. Pour remaining can of sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle the remaining grated cheese on top 
  8. Bake for 20 minutes
  9. Enjoy!

Ingredients for Spanish Rice:

  • 1 (15oz) can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1.5 cups of reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1.25 cups of rice
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp oregano 
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp cumin

Directions for Spanish Rice:

  1. In a saucepan, combine all the ingredients.
  2. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. 
  3. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until rice is done.
  4. Enjoy!

*Both original recipes can be found at http://www.food.com

**Photo is an original belonging to me

Garden Fresh Guacamole – ★★★★★

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Last night we had friends over for a Mexican inspired dinner. If you follow my blog you know I’ve gotten into Asian and Indian cuisines so it was really nice to step back into SoCal and whip up a nice south of the border dinner. We started with two variations of fresh guacamole, hot (mild) and regular. The original recipe called for half of a jalapeño but instead I threw a whole one (with seeds) into one batch and left jalapeño completely out of the second batch. Six adults went through one whole batch so I think it’s safe to say it was a hit! Perry gave five stars and this is why:

“I hate it when you order guacamole in Mexico and the waiter brings back a bowl of chopped onion and tomato with very little bit of avocado. I understand that avocado is expensive, but isn’t it the core ingredient of guacamole? Kelsey’s guac was the opposite as it was chock full of avocado making it really creamy and fresh tasting. The hot guac could have been a little spicier but it was tasty nonetheless. Full stars for a great appetizer”

 

Assembly time: 20 minutes      Set time: 1 hour at room temperature

HOT Batch Ingredients:

  • 3 Haas avocados, halved pitted and peeled
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne 
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • Handful of cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Regular Batch Ingredients:

  • 3 Haas avocados, halved pitted and peeled
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne 
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • Handful of cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Directions:

  1. Decide if you want hot or regular guacamole and use that ingredient list above.
  2. In a large bowl place avocado and lime juice toss to coat. 
  3. Add spices and with a potato masher mush it up.
  4. Gently fold in the onion, jalapeño (if you are making it hot), tomato, cilantro and garlic.
  5. Let sit at room temperature for an hour before serving
  6. Enjoy!

*Original recipe found at http://www.foodnetwork.com

**Photo is an original belonging to me

 

Three Bean Vegetarian Chili – ★★★★★

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After being on vacation for 10 days it is now time to get back into healthy cooking/eating mode. We went all vegetarian this week and I have to admit I’m feeling pretty good about it. Perry requested that I try to make something that isn’t just vegetables on a plate, and what better way to do that then a veggie chili. The base of this recipe came from Betty Crocker, but I really built on her original recipe. I’m sure her chili is great but this recipe is better 🙂 We’ve packed this chili with three different kinds of beans to not only give an awesome taste and texture but to also increase our protein and fiber intake. To add a smokey flavor to our chili we used fire roasted diced tomatoes and it was absolutely delectable! Perry gave five stars and here is why:

My mother-in-law is a fantastic cook. I could eat seconds and thirds of everything she makes, but that comes at a cost. After staying with my in-laws for over a week the notches on my belt buckle started to get more and more loose. It is a new year so I wanted Kels to make meals less rich and more nutritious. She nailed this one on the head. My favorite thing about this chili is the garbanzo beans. They are a pleasant camouflaged surprise, and honestly they are not a bean I would expect to find in chili. The broth was nice and thick and the veggies were cooked to perfection. All the flavors and spices blended extremely well and I’m half tempted to have a bowl for breakfast. Five stars for flavor, nutrition, and garbanzo beans.”

Serves: 6+     Calories: 387 per 3/4 cup serving     Time: 60 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 fresh jalapeño peppers, finely chopped (if you like spice leave in the seeds.. Also Betty Crocker suggests serrano chiles if you do not like jalapeño peppers.)
  • 1 (15 oz) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can of kidney beans (I used dark red), drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1.5 cups of water
  • 1.5 tbsp chili powder
  • 1.5 tsp ground cumin
  • .5 tsp kosher salt (+more to taste)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • If you want to have a thick broth have some flour on hand, or even better masa flour 🙂
  • Optional: Greek yogurt and fresh cilantro to top

Directions:

  1. In a large saucepan heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Add onion, bell peppers, garlic and jalapeños. Cook for 5-7 minutes until veggies are tender. Stir frequently as to not burn.
  2. Stir in beans, tomatoes +juice, water, chili powder, cumin, and salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Cut in frozen corn and bring back to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer once more and cook uncovered for 5 minutes
  4. OPTIONAL: If your broth is too watery for your liking you’ll want to follow this step.  Scoop about a cup of broth from the saucepan. To that cup of broth add 1-2 tbsp of flour and mix until combined. Once combined add the broth back to the saucepan and mix it into the chili. Repeat this process until you find the texture you like. I had some masa flour on hand, which in case you are unaware is the flour used to make tamales. I used this instead of regular flour and it added an even more earthy corn taste that was perfect for this chili! Add additional salt to taste.
  5. Top with you favorite extras and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Betty Crocker inspired the base and the recipe for her chili can be found at http://www.bettycrocker.com/

Cambodian Lemongrass Curry – ★★★★★

ImageThe boys and I flew back east to have what we call “second Christmas” with my family. While we were there a friend of ours introduced me to a lovely spice shop in Princeton, NJ called Savory. I want to remind you that I do not make any profit from this blog and am not employed by Savory to review their store/products. This is 100% my honest and unpaid opinion. From the second I stepped inside the store I was in love. They had everything from sweet to salty and everything in between. I promised Perry I would only pick one thing since we had to bring it home on the plane. I walked the store for a while admiring their chai tea and lavender sugars when a section dedicated to curry caught my eye. We love curry so I knew my one item would be purchased from that corner of the store. They have a huge variety consisting of sweet, mild and even ghost curry (which Perry took a heaping taste of and almost died haha). I wanted to try something light but still a bit spicy, and without hesitation the employee nearby directed me to the lemongrass curry. I gave it a taste and I was sold! This blend makes a beautiful paste that is to die for when mixed with coconut milk. It is sweet and creamy with the first taste but ends with a nice heat. I chose to make it with carrots, corn and green beans because that is what I had in my fridge. Next time Perry suggested that I try potato, peas, baby corn and maybe bamboo shoots. You really cannot go wrong with your choice of veggie because this curry blend is so versatile that I think it will compliment any veggie. Also, no curry is complete without rice 🙂 Perry gave it 5 stars and this is why:

“When I was in my 20s my friends and I had our favorite Thai spots in L.A. We knew where to go for a good curry and naked shrimp. This recipe reminds me of those days and the awesome food we ate. There isn’t much room for improvement. My advice with any curry at any restaurant or even at home is to have extra sauce on hand. You can never have too much curry sauce. I give this five stars for flavor and a great trip down memory lane.”

Serves: 4     Calories: 285 (does not include rice… only curry and veggies I used)     Time:  40 mins

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp water
  • 3.5 tbsp Cambodian lemongrass curry powder (http://www.savoryspiceshop.com/blends/cambod.html)
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1.5 cups coconut milk
  • 2 cups of carrots, sliced diagonally
  • 1.5 cups of green beans
  • 1 cup of sweet corn
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp light brown sugar
  • OPTIONAL: White/brown rice

Directions:

  1. Mix together water, curry powder, canola oil and soy sauce to make a curry paste. Set aside
  2. Heat coconut milk over low heat for 6 minutes.
  3. Carefully spoon the curry paste into the heated coconut milk and combine well.
  4. Stir in your vegetables/lime juice/brown sugar, cover and cook until tender/crisp. Approximately 20 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
  5. To thicken your sauce cook uncovered for an additional 5-10 minutes.
  6. Serve over rice or serve on its own and enjoy!

*Photo is an original taken by me

**Original recipe belongs to Mike Johnston, owner of Savory Spice Shop:  http://www.savoryspiceshop.com/recipes/cambodian-lemongrass-chicken-curry.html