Archive for February, 2012


Pork and Hominy Chili

February 23, 2012

It has been cold the past few days so I decided I wanted to make a soup or stew.  I pulled out a few of my cookbooks and let David pick between a few recipe options.  He decided Pork and Hominy Chili sounded interesting so we headed to the grocery store and picked up the necessary ingredients.  It turns out it was pretty good, although the recipe called for entirely too little meat and seasoning.  We quadrupled the meat amount and more than doubled the seasoning.  I’ll share the exact recipe from my Cooking Light cookbook and then share what I did differently.

-2 teaspoons canola oil
-8 ounces boneless center-cut pork chops, trimmed and cubed  (I used one pound)
-1 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium)
-3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
-2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
-1 tablespoon chili powder
-2 teaspoons ground cumin
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
-1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
-1/4 cup no-salt-added tomato paste (I used a whole small can)
-1 (15.5-ounce) can golden hominy, rinsed and drained (I used two cans)
-1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
-1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth (I used two small boxed broths)
-1/4 cup light sour cream (I did not use this)

-Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add pork to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in chili powder and next 4 ingredients (through red pepper). Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in tomato paste, hominy, tomatoes, and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.

My edits were listed in the ingredients, but I did almost double the ingredients from the chili powder through red pepper flakes.  There wasn’t nearly enough seasoning in the small amount they included, but of course I did add lots more meat and hominy.

Overall, it was pretty delicious and I think I’ll make it again.  I cooked it for a couple hours so the pork would be really tender.  I think it might even be better with leftover pork roast or pulled pork.  The more tender the better!

Happy eating!

This recipe can be found online at:


Adventures in Wet Bread, AKA Bread Pudding

February 23, 2012

If you’re one of my good friends, you are probably reading the title and are a bit perplexed.  You may be asking yourself, “Why on earth is Amanda taking an adventure into the world of wet bread?”  Well, the answer is graduate school.  haha.  I am responsible for bringing food for class one day of the semester and I chose the day before Mardi Gras.  I wanted to make sure to fix up a delicious Louisiana feast and the week prior we had King Cake so I was left with the thought of bread pudding.  I looked through a couple of my good ole trusty Louisiana cook books and ended up with a non-Louisiana version by non-other than Paula Deen.  How can you really go wrong with Paula Deen?  Let’s see how this goes and how they liked it.


2 cups granulated sugar
5 large beaten eggs
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups cubed Italian bread, allow to stale overnight in a bowl  (I used fresh tough bread from the Mexican bakery around the corner)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened  (I am liberal with butter, like Paula)
1 cup chopped pecans

For the sauce:
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup brandy (I substituted Whiskey)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan.

Mix together granulated sugar, eggs, and milk in a bowl; add vanilla. Pour over cubed bread and let sit for 10 minutes.

In another bowl, mix and crumble together brown sugar, butter, and pecans.

Pour bread mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over the top and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven.

For the sauce:
Mix together the granulated sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir together until the sugar is melted. Add the brandy, stirring well. Pour over bread pudding. Serve warm or cold.

It is seriously that easy.

I baked it for 35 minutes and then turned off the oven, covered it and let it cool with the oven.    I had to taste test it of course, yummy!  (I never thought those words could come out of my mouth about wet bread!)

Seriously.  Delicious.

Happy Eating,


Mini Cakes

February 20, 2012

Many of you don’t probably didn’t know that I don’t actually have a full size oven.  I have more of a “toaster” size oven, so I get slightly more creative with my baking!  I don’t often get the urge to bake and it certainly doesn’t help that my little oven can cook only 6 cookies at a time, 6 muffins at a time, etc!  Tonight, I beat the little oven and made delicious, adorable, and fairly quick – mini cakes (cause everything is cuter when it’s mini)!

So tonight I decided I wanted to bake something more bite sized, but I wanted to be quicker than 6 cookies at a time!  I decided to bake a chocolate cake which I would then cut into smaller circles and decorate!  Since I am not the baker my sister is, I used a box cake mix.  I then used a biscuit cutter in the smallest size I had to cut the cake into smaller circles.  As you can see below, I have a bit of cake left over.  Mmmm

Anyway – I cut the circles while the cake was still a bit warm, and then let them cool.  Once cool, I melted a bit of chocolate icing to pour over the top. While the icing was still warm, I dropped some pieces of walnut on the top.

And finally – I drizzled just a bit more icing on top to keep them from falling off and because you just can’t have too much chocolate.  Mmm.


Valentine’s is my favorite.

February 14, 2012

I’m not sure if I posted last year on Valentine’s day, but just in case I didn’t, I want all of you to know how much I love and adore this holiday.  I am not normally a pink heart and fuzzy stuffed animal lover.  (Well, I retract the fuzzy stuffed animal comment, I love those!)  I cannot resist pink and red and hearts and love when it comes to February.  I have no idea what it is about this day.

One of the best Valentine’s Days I have ever had was as a senior in high school.  Sarah and our best friend Kelly made shirts and were each other’s valentines.  It was amazing.

This year I was able to give Valentine gifts to three of my best friends when I saw them and it made me so happy!  Seriously, love and hearts and happiness, that’s what life is all about!

Happy Valentine’s Day to all our wonderful followers.  I hope your day is filled with unexpected smiles and love.  You deserve all the happiness in the world!

Love and happiness,


Oreo Balls

February 13, 2012

I came across this delicious treat when a girl from work made Oreo Balls for our staff Halloween party. After I took a bite, I knew I needed the recipe!  It is seriously one of the easiest recipes I may ever post on this blog.  (It’s easiest if you have a food processor.)  Here you go

One package Oreo cookies
One 8 oz. cream cheese
Chocolate to melt

Empty package of oreo cookies into food processor and blend until powder consistency.  You may have to adjust the cookies if they get all piled up.  I added a few at a time to help the process.  Empty container of cream cheese into food processor.  I recommend it being room temperature so it blends easier.  I had to work it into the oreos a bit more than I had hoped, but the moment came when it all mixed perfectly.  Next, scoop out equal balls of oreo mixture onto a parchment covered cookie sheet, shape into spheres and refrigerate for  20 minutes or until cold.

Melt chocolate (if you’re good at tempering, do that now, or use candy melts) and dip each ball into the chocolate.  Decorate as you wish.  I used some of my favorite Valentine’s sprinkles: X’s & O’s!

This recipe made exactly 25 balls in uniform size!  mmm.

And the final product looks like this:

Yummy!  And so easy, right?

Happy eating and Happy Valentine’s Day!


Mardi Gras Mambo!

February 9, 2012

Our family has a lot of roots to Louisiana so we are big on Mardi Gras!  I could eat King Cake everyday (cream cheese please)!  To get us into the Mardi Gras spirit, I made a great wreath for my front door.  It was ridiculously simple so there won’t be a ton of pictures for the process.

(If only my front door weren’t red! This would look better!)

Melissa has also made a few Mardi Gras wreaths that are different from mine so hopefully she’ll post something on those soon too!

Foam wreath
2 strands of Mardi Gras garland
Mardi Gras mask

To maximize the length of garland, instead of wrapping the garland all the way around the foam wreath core, wrap it back and forth across the front and pinned it in place with small pieces of wire.

Once I made it all the way around wreath’s front half, I tied a piece of gold ribbon and placed my mask over the front of that.

You could easily add a Happy Mardi Gras sign or some beads or anything else you’d like to bring in the Mardi Gras spirit!

Happy wreath making & Happy Mardi Gras!



Taco Casserole

February 6, 2012

Casseroles are one of my most favorite things to bake and I discovered some delicious taco bake casseroles a couple years back.  I modify them every time and make changes based on what is in my kitchen.  With that said, I’m going to post one of the original recipes and then discuss modifications I’ve made.

The recipe that first inspired me was from  

Tortilla Chips (or Corn Tortillas)
1 tbsp Chili Oil (I used Chili/Garlic Oil)
1 Onion, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 pound ground chicken (I’ve used beef and turkey before, Chorizo would be good too)
2 tbs Taco Seasoning (or your own seasoning)
1 can black beans, drained
1 cup salsa
1 cup shredded fat free or reduced fat cheese (I use more like 1 pound of cheese)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat oil in skillet and saute onion and garlic until soft.  Add meat and seasonings and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add beans, salsa or any other flavors (I think I put corn in here).  Mix well and let thicken.

Spray bottom of rectangular pyrex dish.  Layer bottom with chips or tortillas.  At this point, I layered everything like a mexican lasagna and in any order.

Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted.  The meat should be cooked already so you’re just letting all the flavors mix and settle.

You can serve with sour cream or olives or avocado or really anything you’d like!

I believe I added salsa on top after the final layer of tortillas were put on top to help soften and flavor everything. I love when the tortillas get a little crispy from the baking process so don’t cover completely, just make sure there is enough liquid to season the tortillas.

Happy Eating!