Friday, September 30, 2011

My First Apple Pie

I am obsessed with apples lately and was excited about all the different kinds overflowing my local grocery store. So, on a whim I decided to pick up some things and make my very first apple pie! Why not, right? Here is what I did and it turned out absolutely delicious and was so easy!

Fire Level: yellow


  • 2 pie crusts (eventually I will make my own, but this time I just bought frozen)

  • 2 tbs cinnamon

  • 1/2 cup butter

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup white sugar

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I like the dark brown sugar)

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 6-8 Granny Smith apples

Step 1: Thaw Crust

Keep one crust in the foil pan it comes in. For the other crust, after thawed, pressed it out onto the counter and cut it into strips.

Step 2: Prepare apples

Peel the skin off the apples, and dice them up into cubes, removing the core. Then toss them in a bowl with cinnamon and make sure the apples are thoroughly coated.

Step 3: Prepare the sauce

Melt the butter in a sauce pan and stir in the flower until it is desolved, almost forming a paste. Then add both sugars and water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the temperature to medium low and let simmer for about 5 minutes.

Step 4: Prepare your pie

While the sauce is simmering, pour your apples into the bottom crust of the pie. They should form a heaping mound of apples. Then take the strips of the other pie crust and lay them across the top of the apples in a criss-cross pattern. Press the ends of each strip into the edge of the bottom crust of the pie.

Step 5: Pour on the good stuff

Gently pour the sauce over the crust and into the apples. Make sure you pour very slowly so that the sauce seeps into the apples and does not run off the top and onto the counter.

Step 6: Bake your pie

Bake the pie for 15 minutes at 425 degrees uncovered. Then, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking another 35-45 minutes covered with foil.

Step 7: Enjoy!

Remove and enjoy. I like serving with vanilla ice cream or vanilla frozen yogurt.

The Great Apple Debate

I love this time of year. There are apples, apples everywhere! I never used to be a big apple fan. I think it was the texture/thought of biting into it that bothered me, however recently there have been many nutrition articles about how good they are for you. They are wonderful for staying full, healthy and fit, so I decided to go on a quest. I am going to try every kind of apple I come across and determine which ones are my favorite. Here is what I have tried so far:

Honeycrisp: These are my favorite so far. They are kind of big so I actually get full eating one, but they are juicy and have a slight sweetness to them. The flavor is delicious!

Granny Smith: One of the most popular apples, these are easy to find, but are extremely sour. I can't eat one very easily buy itself. I either have to mix it with yogurt or eat it with peanut butter.

Golden Delicioius: I think this apple isn't crispy enough for me. It's kind of soft in the middle and doesn't have a whole lot of flavor.

I am going to continue to update this list as I try more kinds. Any recommendations?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Healthy and Flavorful Dinner

So I've been trying off and on to eat healthier... really want to shed some weight before the wedding. Here is a recipe I made a couple weeks ago that Zerek and I just loved. Give it a try and I hope you like it!

Fire Level: yellow-orange

Chicken Kebabs and Citrus Pico w/ Herbed Couscous

1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons chili powder (leave this out for yellow)
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 24 (2-inch) pieces
1 large red onion, bell pepper, or any other vegetables you want to include on the skewers, cut into 32 (2-inch) pieces
Cooking spray
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons minced seeded jalapeño pepper (leave this out for yellow)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup diced peeled avocado

1. Preheat broiler. Combine first 9 ingredients in a shallow dish; let stand 15 minutes.
2. Thread 4 onion pieces, bell peppers, and 3 chicken pieces alternately onto each of 8 (12-inch) skewers. Place skewers on broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil 12 minutes or until chicken is done, turning occasionally.
3. Combine and next 6 ingredients (through 1/4 teaspoon salt) in a bowl. Gently stir in avocado right before serving.

Herbed Couscous:


3/4 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth

1 cup couscous

2 tbsp. fresh parsley

2 tbsp. fresh chives

1/4 tsp. salt


Combine 3/4 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan; boil. Stir in 1 cup uncooked couscous. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Stir in 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Delicious and Healthy Italian Dish

I know it's been a while since I've posted. I haven't really cooked all that much since I've been back in Dallas. However, now that the fiance and I have moved into our new home it will be hard to keep me out of the kitchen. It is so much more fun to cook in AND we bought a French door refrigerator that I am absolutely in love with!
One of the first meals I cooked when we moved in last week was a dish I found on the Cooking Light website. I find some of the greatest recipes from there and it is the magazine subscription I have had for years and will never give up! Here is the recipe, with my caveats and additions of course. It's really easy to make and is only 202 calories per serving (this was just for the chicken). I added angel hair pasta and capers to this dish and doubled the amount of sauce, which made it a delicious Italian meal that reminded me of chicken picatta.

Lemony Chicken Saltimbocca
Fire Level: yellow

  • 1 (4-ounce) chicken cutlets (I used small boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Keep in mind the calorie count for this recipe calls for a 4 oz breast, which is small)

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 12 fresh sage leaves

  • 2 ounces very thinly sliced prosciutto (cut into 8 strips)

  • 2 teaspoons EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), divided

  • 2/3 cup fat free, low sodium chicken broth

  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon corn starch

  • 2 tabelspoons capers (this is my addition and it really made the dish!)

  • Lemon wedges (optional)

  • Shredded parmesan cheese (if you can freshly grate it, even better! - this is also my addition)

  • Angel Hair Pasta (this is my addition as well and is how I made it into an easy Italian meal)

Step 1: Prep the Chicken
Sprinkle the chicken evenly with salt. Place 3-5 sage leaves (depending on the size of your breast) onto the top of each breast. Then, take a strip of prosciutto and wrap it around the breast, securing the sage leaves between the two meats. If you have to, you can use toothpicks to keep the prosciutto in place, but I don't suggest it. It's ok if it doesn't look perfect, that's when it usually tastes better anyway! :)

Step 2: Prep the Water
Put water in a pot on the stove to begin boiling for your pasta.

Step 3: Cook the Chicken
While the water is heating up, we will begin to cook our chicken. In a large skillet, heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Swirl the oil around the pan to coat it. When you feel some heat coming from the pan, place your chicken into the pan. Cook the chicken on each side until it is done. The recipe says two minutes on each side, but since I used breasts instead of cutlets it took longer than that. What I like to do to determine when the chicken is done, is pay attention to the sides of the breasts. When your chicken is cooking, you will see the sides of the breast begin to turn white as the bottom cooks and the cooking moves up toward the middle of the breast. When it is about to the center, flip the chicken breast over onto the raw side. The cooked side should be a golden brown. Cook the breasts on the opposite side for the same length of time and your chicken will then be cooked all the way through. You can double check it by poking the breast at its thickest point with some tongs. It should be firm.

When the chicken is finished, put on a plate and stick in the microwave to keep it warm while you finish the dinner. Do NOT put the pan in sink or clean it. Keep it on the stove.

Step 4: Pasta
While your chicken is cooking, the water should have started to boil and you can throw in your pasta. Cook it to package directions, usually about 7-10 minutes for angel hair.

Step 5: Make the Sauce
Combine the broth, lemon juice, and corn starch in a small bowl. Add this mixture and 1 teaspoon of olive oil to the pan the chicken was cooked in. With a whisk, stir the mixture, making sure to get all of the chicken remnants from the bottom of the pan and mixed into the sauce. Bring to a boil and then stir constantly with a whisk until the sauce has slightly thickened. Stir in the capers for just 30 seconds or so to get them mixed into the sauce and warmed up.

Step 6: Plate and Enjoy!
Place the angel hair pasta onto a plate and put a chicken cutlet/breast on top of the pasta. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and pasta, sprinkle with some parmesan, and enjoy! You could also put a lemon wedge on the plate in case you want to add a squeeze during dinner to kick up the sauce a little.

Optional Sides: I would suggest serving with garlic bread, but since we are trying to eat healthy, I served this dish with a tossed vinaigrette salad and it was perfect. See earlier posts for a great vinaigrette. I will be posting another recipe for dressing soon too.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Who doesn't like buffalo wings?!?

Sorry it's taken so long to update my blog. With finishing grad school and moving, I haven't had much time to cook. But, that's all going to change now that I am home living with my fiance full-time. I love cooking for him!
So, like most guys, one of Z's favorite recipes is buffalo wings. This doesn't make the best or most healthy meal in the world, but I found a recipe that could perhaps change all of that. I found this recipe in Cooking Light and made it for Z and one of his friends. It was delicious! So of course I had to share. :) I serving has 392 calories. If you cut down the filling, this could cut it down even further.

Blue Cheese-Stuffed Chicken with Buffalo Sauce

Fire Level: yellow-red

  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 tbs. reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbs. 2% reduced-fat milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 tbs. butter, divided
  • 6 tbs. finely chopped, drained, bottled roasted red bell peppers (you can find these in the same grocery aisle as the olives, capers, etc.)
  • 2 tsp. water
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. hot sauce (we like things FIERY at our house, so I added more like 1 to 1 1/2 tsp. To make this a yellow recipe, remove this ingredient completely)

STEP 1: Prep the Ingredients
Get all your ingredients out, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, grab a mixing bowl, spoon, a large oven-proof skillet, and small sauce pan. Also get out a few shallow dishes (wide bowls or plates with high edges will work). Place the flour in one dish, the panko breadcrumbs in a second, and mix the egg and milk in a third.

STEP 2: Prep the Chicken
Take the chicken breasts and make a "pocket." To do this, identify the thickest part of the chicken breast. Take a knife and cut a slit along the upper corner of the breast about an inch or so long depending on how long the thick portion of the breast is. Be sure to cut the slit deep enough to be able to stuff the cheese mixture into it, but make sure you do not cut all the way through or else the cheese mixture will melt out the other side of the breast. If this sounds confusing, check out this cheesy video which demonstrates how to do this:

STEP 3: Make the good stuff!
Combine the first 4 ingredients in a mixing bowl. Don't worry about getting the mixture smooth or making sure the blue cheese chunks are all blended. Chunky is good!

STEP 4: Finish off the chicken
Stuff the chicken with the mixture, dividing it evenly among each breast. Unless you want to stuff a little extra in the chicken breast that is going to your honey. :) Then, take each breast and bread it. First, dredge each chicken breast in flour, then dip it in the egg mixture, and finally dredge it in the panko bread crumbs.

STEP 5: Freak out your honey
After finishing each chicken breast, you will notice your fingers are caked in a floury, flaky, paste-like substance. Chase around your kids or sweetheart with your zombie hands! Well, I thought it was funny...

STEP 6: Cook the Chicken
Heat a large, oven-proof skillet over medium-heat. An oven proof skillet will not have plastic or rubber handles, anything that would melt in the oven. I didn't have an oven-proof skillet, so I first cooked the chicken in a regular skillet, then transferred the chicken to a casserole dish for the oven portion.
Add 1 tbs. butter to the pan and swirl it around until the butter melts. Arrange the chicken in the pan and cook for 4 minutes or until browned on the bottom side. Turn the chicken over and place the skillet in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until done.

STEP 7: Make the Sauce
While the chicken is baking, combine the remaining butter, bell peppers, water, Worcestershire, and garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the ingredients to a simmer. Remove from the heat and stir in the hot sauce right at the end.

Pour the sauce over each chicken breast and dig in!!

Sides: I served this dish with homemade mashed potatoes and corn on the cob. It was a delicious meal!!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Enchiladas you can't beat!!!

Hi everyone! I am sorry I haven't posted in a while. Time just got away from me. Plus, I haven't been cooking a whole lot of great meals. It's so hard to cook for one person. I always end up having so many left overs that just sit my refrigerator forever because I get tired of the meal and end up throwing it out. As an apology, I am finally going to post my enchilada recipe so many of you have been asking about!! This is one of my favorite recipes to make for large groups of people. Not only is it delicious, but it is also inexpensive and you can make it ahead of time and just pop it in the oven 30 minutes before you are ready to eat! It's a great dish for summer pool parties and lake days when you want to spend minimal time in the kitchen. Enjoy!!

Ashley's Beef Enchiladas
Fire Level: yellow-red

  • 3 pounds ground beef (or sirloin, or chuck, depending on how lean and inexpensive you want to go)
  • 1 large can refried beans
  • 2 10 oz. cans enchilada sauce (I prefer the red sauce. Get the mild for yellow fire level, medium or hot for orange-red fire level)
  • 1 package of burrito size flour tortillas (you can go wheat if you want to be healthier, but come on, this isn't a healthy dish, the flour is soooo much better!)
  • Lots of your favorite salsa (remember your salsa will affect your fire level too, so choose accordingly)
  • Pickled jalapenos (this is optional of course, depending on how fiery you want to get)
  • 1 package shredded cheddar cheese (you can substitute a Mexican blend for an extra kick)

Step 1: Cook ground beef
Cook up all your ground beef in a large skillet, making sure to break it all up. Then drain it in a colander under hot water. This is a trick my mom taught me a long time ago to rinse some extra fat and grease off of the meat. For this recipe, it also cools off the meat which is necessary. You will see why below! :)

Step 2: Add in the Flava!
In a really large mixing bowl, pour in your grand beef, your large can of refried beans, and about a cup or so of salsa. You want to mix it all together really well. What you will find is the refried beans like to clump together, so it's really hard to get everything mixed in well. This is where the fun part comes in! Take off all your rings, wash your hand really well, and dig into the mixture with those claws!! Any break or pizza dough maker will tell you, no utensil mixes better than the two instruments God gave you. Kneed all the mixture together so that everything is well blended.

Step 3: Wash your hands
Your hands will feel gross and gooey once you remove them from the mixture, so you will want to give them a good washin'. :)

Step 4: Put it all together
Cover the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish with enchilada sauce. Take each flour tortilla one by one and scoop a couple large spoon fulls of the beef mixture down the middle of a tortilla. Wrap them up really tight and lay them into the pan. Once all your enchiladas are in the pan really tightly up against one another, cover them all with more enchilada sauce. You want to make sure every inch of tortilla is covered with sauce.

Step 5: Top it off with my favorite
CHEESE! Cover the top of the enchiladas with cheese. You can also cover the enchiladas witih jalepenos before the cheese to add in an extra bet of fire! Then, you want to cover the enchiladas with aluminum foil. This is VERY important. When cooking, you want to keep the aluminum foil on at all times or else the cheese will become crispy and rubbery.

Step 6: Store or Cook
If you are not planning to eat for a while, you can put the enchiladas in the refrigerator until you are ready to pop them in the oven. When you are ready, cook them at 350 degrees for about 30-45 minutes, depending on your oven. Once the cheese is all the way melted, they will be ready!!

Step 7: Serve
Let the dish set for a few minutes. I don't cut out each individual enchilada/burrito tortilla as one individual enchilada. It's better if you cut them in squares as if you are cutting brownies.

Sides: Serve with jalepenos, salsa, and sour cream. I also like to serve with Spanish rice. Lipton has a rice side dish packet that is really delicious and easy to make. I think it makes a great addition to the dish.

ENJOY! This is the recipe I get more requests for than any other, so eat with caution, and yes, it's ok to go back for seconds. :)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ashley's Best Turkey Chile Chili

Yesterday I was in the mood for chili so I decided to whip up a batch from some things I had lying around the house. It turned out to be wonderful!! The best chili I have ever made. Here is what I did. Enjoy!!

Ashley's Best Turkey Chile Chili

Fire Level: yellow - red

Ingredients (for orange)
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 hatch chiles
  • 1 can diced zesty tomatoes (drained)
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes (drained and tomatoes torn into pieces)
  • 1 can whole kernel sweet corn (drained)
  • 1 can red kidney beans (drained)
  • 1 can chili beans
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 packet chili seasoning mix
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • **For yellow, remove the chiles and used regular diced tomatoes rather than the zesty.
  • **For red, add a tablespoon of red chile peppers, or add in some diced jalepeno

Step 1: Roast the chiles
Cut the chiles in half lengthwise, deseed and destem. Put them on a baking sheet, skinside up, and into the oven on broil. Once the skins have turned black, peel the skins off the chiles and cut the roasted chiles into pieces.

Step 2: Cook Turkey
While the chiles are roasting, cook the ground turkey until no longer pink.

Step 3: Saute
In a large pot, saute the onion and celery with a little bit of olive oil until softened.

Step 4: Simmer
Turn the burner down to Medium Low. Add the tomatoes, diced chiles, corn, and chili seasoning mix into the onion and celery mixture and let the whole batch simmer for about five minutes.

Step 5: Add it all In
Add in the beans, sauce, and turkey. Let the whole batch of chili simmer on Medium Low for about an hour, letting all of the flavors mix together.

Add-In Options:
Mix up a batch of corn bread to go with the chili. An easy and cheap mix is made by Jiffy.
You can also sprinkle with some cheddar cheese to add some creaminess.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Sweet Treat on a Snowy Day

So, what are you all doing on this snowy evening? If you are like me, you are getting a little cabin fever. When I get that way I like to whip up some cookies. Here is a great go to recipe that takes ingredients often found around the house. Enjoy!
Fire Level: yellow

Almond Sugar Cookies
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt

Step 1: Preheat the Oven
Duh! For any baking recipe the first step is always to preheat the oven. In this case it's to 375 degrees.

Step 2: Mix up the "wet" ingredients
Mix the sugar, butter, vanilla, almond, and egg until creamy

Step 3: Mix the "dry" ingredients
Mix the flour, powder, and salt together

Step 4: Combine
Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and continue to beat until well blended.

Step 5: Choose your baking method
Choose whether you want to make almond bars or cookies. Either spread the dough onto a greased cookie sheet for bars or place teaspoon full amounts of dough onto the cookie sheet to make individual cookies.

Step 6: Bake
Bake 'em up! cook 7-9 minutes until the edges are golden brown.

Step 7: Serve
If you are making bars, cut the cookie sheet into strips. Let cool and serve!

Step 8: Frost
If you'd like, you can frost the cookies. Simply mix some powdered sugar and milk together until the frosting is the right thickness.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Easy Breezy Pasta

I saw a really simple pasta dish on the Today Show one morning and I modified it with items I had lying around my kitchen. This is the perfect dish when you want something new, light, colorful, or when you are just cooking for one. I made this one night and ended up with three different meals out of the leftovers.

Fire Level: yellowred


  • Your favorite pasta noodle (I prefer angel hair)
  • Chopped bell peppers (vary the amount depending on how many people you are cooking for. Half a bell pepper for one serving, or one chopped green and one chopped red bell pepper for a more plentiful and colorful dish)
  • Crushed red pepper (for orange-red spice, leave out for yellow)
  • Minced garlic
  • Parsley or Dill (Fresh is preferable but I used dry spice and it was just fine)
  • Olive oil (also vary depending on how much you are making)


I also added a little lemon juice and shaved Romano cheese to the finished product to give it an extra pop of flavor.

STEP 1: Sauté the Peppers

Heat olive oil over a large skillet. Use slightly more olive oil than you normally would for sautéing. You want the bell peppers to be coated well in the oil

STEP 2: Cook Pasta

Meanwhile, bring your pasta to a boil and cook it until al dente.

STEP 3: Spice it Up

Add your crushed red pepper and minced garlic to the bell peppers. Make sure your pasta is finished before you do this. You don’t want to cook the garlic too long. Stir the spices in with the bell peppers for just a couple minutes until the garlic is tender but has not turned brown.

STEP 4: Add your Pasta

Add the pasta into the large pan with all of your spices and bell peppers. Mix until the noodles are coated in olive oil and the flavors are all mixed together.

STEP 5: Garnish

Poor your almost-finished pasta into a serving dish and sprinkle with either fresh parsley or dill, whichever flavor you prefer.

Serve with some baked bread (I like the "everything" bread from the Walmart bakery) and a dish of EVOO, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and thyme. You're set for a yummy dinner!


Since I was cooking for one, I had a lot of pasta left over. The next day I heated it up with a can of fire roasted, diced tomatoes. This gave it a completely different flavor and was delicious!