Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cream Puffs

How is it that something so simple can be so beautiful, creamy and perfect for any occasion? Breading and cream - it honestly can't get any better than that. I received a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook when I got married that was made specifically for newlyweds. I l.o.v.e it. Every recipe I have made has turned out fabulous, and I love all of the tips and fun ideas for making meals festive and special for any occasion. This cream puffs dessert is yet another tried-and-true recipe that I absolutely love. I literally threw this dish together in less than an hour for our Sunday dessert. The breading turned out perfectly soft and had a fabulous flavor. And the cream... Well, let's just say I ate the leftovers with a spoon until it was gone. The other wonderful thing about this recipe is you can make it as simple or as fancy as you want! The cream puffs are beautiful drizzled with chocolate and sprinkled with powdered sugar on top, but taste just as wonderful with the simplicity of the bread and the cream. If you like cream puffs at all, you will love this recipe. (Picture courtesy of Deaf Lion)

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 box vanilla pudding (3/4 oz.)
  • 1 cup whipped cream

In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter and salt. Bring to boiling. Add flour all at once, stirring vigorously until mixture forms a ball and sticks together. Remove from heat and cool for 10 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon after each addition. Stir each egg until completely combined before adding the next one.

Drop 12 heaping tablespoons of dough on to a greased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes until they are firm and a light golden color. Transfer puffs to a wire rack and cool. Cut tops from puffs and remove the soft dough from the inside.

Make up the vanilla pudding according to package directions. Once set, stir in the whipped cream until completely combined. Fill the puffs with the whipped cream and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Keep in fridge until ready to serve.

Tip: These also make a wonderful summer dessert served with ice cream and caramel sauce rather than the pudding mixture.

Red Chile Chicken and Rice

I am a big fan of the classic red beans and rice dish but I've never liked the acidity caused by the meat and the spices. This recipe has officially solved all of those problems! Hearty, comforting, and full of fiber, this dish is yet another one-pot-wonder recipe that only dirties one pan! It's made up of fluffy rice, red chile chicken, hearty black beans, and a punch of flavor from onions, cheese and tomatoes. It has a wonderful creamy flavor and is perfect for a weeknight meal when time is short and everyone is hungry. And don't worry about the exorbitant amount of chili powder - it's not spicy at all and creates a wonderful flavor (and an amazing red color). (Picture and recipe adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.)


  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil, divided

  • 2 large chicken breasts, cut into small 1-inch pieces

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. chili powder, divided

  • 1 tsp. salt

  • 1/2 medium onion, diced

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 1/2 cups rice

  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth

  • 1 can red beans (can also use black or pinto)

  • 1 can diced tomatoes (optional)

  • Sour cream, cheese, green onions and cilantro for garnish

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium-large pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 Tbsp. chili powder and salt. Place chicken in the pot, stirring occasionally until it is browned and cooked through (about 2-3 minutes). Remove the chicken to a plate. Add the second tablespoon of oil to the pot and saute the onion, garlic and rice. Cook on medium-low, stirring for several minutes until the rice begins to brown. Add the remaining 1 Tbsp. chili powder and the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and cover, cooking for 10 minutes.

Add the chicken, beans and tomatoes to the pot and stir everything to combine. Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, green onions and cilantro on top.

Monday, February 28, 2011

BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy BBQ Dressing

BBQ Dressing? I know it sounds weird, right? Wrong! This dressing seriously made this salad. I'm a huge fan of anything southwestern - particularly when it's loaded with black beans, corn, tomatoes, avocado and cilantro. The ingredients in this recipe are the basic necessities for a good southwestern salad with a smooth, creamy bbq dressing loaded with flavors including cilantro and lime juice. Simple, refreshing, and healthy describe this dish perfectly. If you like filling and zesty dinner salads, you'll love this one! (Picture and recipe adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe)


  • 2 cups cooked chicken, diced or shredded
  • 1 cup bbq sauce
  • 1/2 head iceburg lettuce, chopped (or favorite kind of lettuce)
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • handful cilantro
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese


  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk*
  • handful fresh cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/3 cup bbq sauce
  • 1/4 cup ranch dressing

Salad: Mix chicken and bbq sauce together in a medium bowl. Layer lettuce and other salad ingredients in a large bowl or plate.

Dressing: Put everything in a blender and mix until fully combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

*If you don't have buttermilk on-hand, simply put a little less then 1/3 cup of milk in a bowl with 1 Tbsp. lemon juice or white vinegar. Mix together and let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes or until slightly curdled.