Alley's Recipe Book
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Alley

Southwestern Shrimp Bisque - total time 35 minutes


This super creamy soup can be lightened up using half milk and half cream.  Either way, it is pretty delicious!

1 chopped onion
1 tbsp olive oil
2 minced garlic cloves
1 tbsp flour
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tbsp chili pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes
.5 cup cream
1 pound raw shrimp
.5 cup sour cream
.5 avocado

1. Add olive oil to pot, add chopped onion, saute three minutes.  Add minced garlic, saute three more minutes.  Add flour and stir until combined.
2. Add a small amount of broth and stir until the broth looks creamy.  Add remaining broth and spices and bring to a simmer for five minutes.
3. Add cream and shrimp, continue to simmer until shrimp are pink and cooked.  Add sour cream a little at a time, stir to combine.
4. Serve with avocado slices on top!

Stuffed Red Potatoes - total time 45 minutes


Kind of like a bite-sized twice baked potato.  Cute and yummy!  Takes a little more time than how I normally make potatoes (mashed, hash, or baked & broiled), but it is nice to have something different.  Besides, the stuffed chicken had to bake for the same time.

15 small red potatoes
2 garlic cloves, minced
.25 cup sour cream
4 tbsp grated parm
salt & pepper
paprika

1. Boil potatoes whole for 15 minutes.  Drain and let cool.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cut top and bottom off of potatoes, add tops and bottoms to a bowl to mash, place cut potatoes into casserole dish.  Scoop out some of the cut potatoes with a teaspoon (add to bowl for mash).
3. Mash the 'extra' potato pieces.  Add sour cream, parm, salt, and pepper.  Mash.  Stuff top of the cut potatoes with the mashed potatoes.  Sprinkle paprika on top.
4. Put in oven for 15 minutes and serve.

not sure why, but putting a wooden spoon over a pot of boiling water prevents it from boiling over

 


 

Stuffed Chicken Parm - total time 45 minutes


Lots of flavors packed into one piece of chicken!


2 chicken breast (sliced in half)
.25 cup parmesan
1 egg
1 handful of fresh spinach, chopped
1 cup ricotta
2 fresh mozzarella (one for filling, one sliced for topping)
.5 cup italian bread crumbs
1 cup milk
.5 cup marinara sauce
salt & pepper


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Slice chicken breast in half making thin pieces of chicken.  Combine ricotta, parm, mozzarella, spinach, and egg.  Cover chicken with cheese mixture and roll them up.  
2. Dip rolled chicken into milk and then into bread crumbs.  Place in a casserole dish (put some olive oil in the bottom of the dish).  Put in oven for 30 minutes.
3. Pull chicken out of oven, add a spoonful of sauce to each chicken, top with a slice of mozzarella.  Put back in oven for five minutes.  Then serve!



Epic Fails

When you try new things in the kitchen, there are bound to be a few failures.  That doesn't mean you give up and never try the recipe again, just need to think about what went wrong or what you could change to make the recipe better.  Below are two epic fails, but I have some ideas on what to do next time.

Blue Berry Cake with Cream Cheese frosting
The recipe is supposed to be like angel food cake with blue food coloring.  I should have read through the recipe and thought about how frosting and angel food cake do not go together.  Besides the fact that angel food cake is very difficult to make (lots of whipping egg whites).  The cake ended up weird, the frosting a little tart, but the berry sauces was tasty.
Next time I'll use a regular cake recipe and regular cream cheese (I used Neufch√Ętel).

 BBQ Pulled Chicken - crock pot recipe
The chicken ended up so dry, it was awful.  Not even sure how chicken and barbque sauce could taste this bad.
Next time I may use chicken that has more fat content (legs instead of breasts), but I will definitely cook it for less time!  Never let food cook in a crock pot more than what the recipe says.  That means you can't stay at work too late or your dinner will be over cooked and gross.

Chicken Tortilla Soup - 10 minutes + slow cooker

A great soup and super easy to just throw the ingredients together and let the crock pot do the work.  I came home for lunch, threw it together, and dinner was ready when I got home!!

2-3 chicken breasts
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, diced
30 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp smoked paprika
.5 sour cream
2 green onions, chopped
1 handful tortilla chips, slightly crushed
.5 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

1. Add chicken, garlic, onions, tomatoes, broth, red pepper flakes, and paprika in crock pot and stir.  Turn on low heat and let cook for five hours.
2. Fish out chicken and shred on cutting board with two forks.  Add chicken back to crock pot with sour cream.
3. Scoop out into bowls and add tortillas, green onions, and cheese on top.

 soup before - soup after
 the chicken shreds easily after cooking in broth for several hours

Turkey Meatballs - 15 minutes + slow cooker

I made this as part of my Italian birthday dinner for my mom.  I was able to let it cook while I was at my nephews birthday party... came back and I was half done making dinner!  Stuffed shells, zucchini sticks, salad, and garlic bread rounded out the menu.  Super easy and really moist, tender meatballs.

1 pound ground turkey
.25 cup breadcrumbs
.25 cup grated parm
1 egg
fresh basil, rosemary, oregano - divided
5 garlic clove, minced - divided
salt & pepper
30 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 bay leaf

1. Add turkey, breadcrumbs, cheese, egg, 1 clove of garlic, and 75% of the fresh herbs and salt & pepper into a medium bowl.  Combine together and roll into balls.
2. Add crushed tomatoes, remaining garlic, and herbs to crock pot.  Stir and add meatballs.  Cook on low for five hours.
3. Serve or add cooked spaghetti noodles and then serve!


Mexican Stuffed Shells - total time 45 minutes


Tasty meal, kind of remind me of a more 'sophisticated' hamburger helper.  I plan on trying this with shredded chicken next time.

1 lb ground lean turkey
4 oz. fat free cream cheese
18-24 jumbo pasta shells
8 oz can of dice tomatoes
1 packet taco/enchilada seasoning
1 cup medium salsa
1 cup cheddar cheese
green onions
sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare noodles according to package.  Brown meat in pan.  When meat is no longer pink, add cream cheese, diced tomatoes, and taco seasoning.  Cook for about two minutes or until cream cheese is melted into meat.
2. Spray pan with olive oil.  Stuff shells with meat mixture.  Add shells to pan, opening down.  Spread salsa and any additional sauce from pan over shells.  Cover and place in oven for 20 minutes.
3. Add cheese, recover, bake additional ten minutes.
4. Add green onions and sour cream (optional) and serve!


Happy Easter

Happy Easter!  That means meat is back on our menu and my whole recipe book is fair game!  That also means I will really get to use my crockpot that I got for my birthday, which was a few days before Lent started.  Here's the menu for this week...

Mexican Stuffed Shells
Zucchini Enchiladas - this time adding spinach
Shredded BBQ Chicken (crockpot)
Chicken Tortilla Soup (crockpot)
Chicken Florentine Artichoke Bake

I wanted to share the progress of a gardening experiment I have been working on (and by working, I mean about 5 minutes of work).  Some of the potatoes I used in the baked potato soup that I made a few weeks ago had started to root, but only on one side of the potato.  I used the halves without root shoots in the soup and threw the other halves in a pot of dirt.  After about one week, I had little potato seedlings... and after two weeks I had good sized plants (which got a little frost damage, but they have recovered since I brought them inside).  Any way... just goes to show, something that would normally end up as food scraps in the compost or trash can become more food with just some dirt and time.


Make Your Own Chipotle

I'm a little picky on how my sandwiches are prepared.  There is a certain order of flavors that just tastes better in my opinion.  Same goes for burritos... I don't want to take a bite and it is just rice... I want a combination of flavors in every bite!  Plus, they never seem to get the proportions just right at Chipotle.  So I tried to make my own veggie burrito, Chipotle style.


Turned out pretty good!  My rice has more flavor (and more nutrients), same with the tortilla.  My salsa, lettuce, and peppers were local, supporting local, small business.  Everything is laid out so all the ingredients are in almost every bite.  It didn't take very long too make either... it might have even taken the same amount of time as waiting in the forever long line at Chipotle!  The rice took ten minutes, same with the peppers and onions... tortilla in the microwave for one minute and then just combining everything.


  


Anyway, we have been eating out a lot lately.  And we continue this trend through the weekend since we have a few Easter meals planned as well as dinner with friends tomorrow.  It will be easier to select a menu after Easter when everything in my recipe book is fair game again!  I have been wanting to try this new soup recipe, but it has shrimp, so I've been (somewhat) patiently waiting.

Banana PB Muffins - total time 40 minutes


These muffins are great for breakfast on the go or add some Nutella on top for a sweet treat!

3 bananas
2 tbsp butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
.333 cup brown sugar
.5 jar of Better'n peanut butter
.5 cup applesauce (or one snack pack shown below)
1 tsp baking soda
.5 tsp salt
1.5 cups flour


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Mash bananas in mixer.  Add butter, applesauce, eggs, vanilla, and brown sugar, blend together.  Add peanut butter (more if you want more peanut butter flavor, less if you want more banana flavor).
2. Add baking soda and salt.  Add flour slowly until well blended.  Transfer batter into muffin trays.  Bake 18 minutes for small muffins, 22 minutes for large muffins.

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