Category Archives: New Twist

>Lazy-way Chicken and Broccoli stuffed pasta

>So what do you get when you take cooked Lasagna noodles and spread them with a mixture of:
1 large grilled b/s chicken breast, shredded

1 cup broccoli stems (cooked) chopped fine

1/2 block of cream cheese

3 BIG fresh basil leaves

(blended together in the food processor)

and then roll the noodles up around the filling:

And then bake covered in a simple cheddar cheese sauce at 350 for 45 minutes, covered?

You get stuffed shell perfection, without the hassle of actually stuffing the shells! (and if you are me, you get The Hub to eat the part of the broccoli he usually won’t touch!)

BTW – I was running around Sunday afternoon and evening, and The Hub actually got this out of the fridge at the appointed time, then turned on the oven and baked these all by himself – I arrived home to a piping hot dinner just coming out of the oven! Sah-weet!

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Filed under Beyond Easy, Liquid Cheese, New Twist, Picture

>Steak with Asparagus "Pesto"


This is a genius idea – I stand behind that (less-than-modest) statement. That being said, my execution left plenty to be desired. (Making Keri a sad cook.)

The plan was this – use some lean, inexpensive, thin cuts of round steak to make yummy rolls, filling them with a sort of riff on pesto using the tender portion of Asparagus stems just below the “tree” tip which The Hub actually likes to eat. (I like to use this cut to wrap around filling, as in this recipe, which was fabulous!)

So I put the cooked stems into my trusty food processor:

And I processed them until smooth – then I added 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese and pulsed to mix.
I spread this mix on to the steak, which had marinated overnight in a balsamic vinegar and garlic mixture.
Then I rolled them up and baked them on a broiler pan at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.
All of this was fine – but upon biting into my creation, I knew immediately what needed to be done to solve the problem I was tasting. It was bland. Well, the filling was bland, the meat was actually a little too sweet from the balsamic reduction I paired with it at the last minute.

So, what should I have done? #1 – I didn’t salt the filling, because I thought the cheese would be enough. WRONG!!! Needed some salt to kick the flavor of the Asparagus up a bit. #2 – I omitted nuts in the “pesto” ripoff. Bad call. Traditional pesto has toasted pine nuts, but this would have benefited from some almonds in the mix to add a little complexity to the flavor. #3 – Balsamic was too strong a flavor for the marinade, and FOR SURE for the sauce. It was sweet when I was wanting something savory. No Bueno.

I served it all with my usual baked potato casserole, and I got to use my pretty new dishes (thanks to The Hub for buying them for me – I love them!) so it wasn’t a total loss, but I was disappointed that I didn’t execute my awesome idea in a better way.

This filling will rise again, I promise. In a much tastier version, natch.

And I will return to the kitchen tonight, licking my wounds a bit, but still happy to be there. 🙂

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Filed under Missed the Mark, New Twist, Picture

>Inside-out Shepherd’s Pie


I have a confession. I can be a little lazy after a long day of work. But even when I am feeling a bit, um, “undermotivated” shall we say, I still love cooking a yummy dinner for the fam when I get home. Not only does cooking soothe my stressed-out soul, all of the “yummy noises” The Hub makes when consuming my creations do wonders for an ego bruised by slaying office dragons all day.
That being said – it never hurts to keep things as easy as possible, right? And so I give you the Inside-out Shepherd’s Pie. All of the delicious flavor of the comfort food classic, with none of the extra assembly required!
Shepherd’s pie is very forgiving, and I probably never do the exact same thing twice, but it is usually something like this:
-Make mashed potatoes (or use flakes, or use leftovers – this is a great way to use up leftover mashed potatoes!) I dice potatoes small and boil them on the stove until tender before draining and adding a few splashes of milk and whipping them with my trusty hand mixer. Don’t forget to taste and season with S&P.
-brown 1/2 lb of stew meat, cubed beef, or ground beef
-to the pan add 1 can of veggie beef soup and 1 can of water, stirring and scraping the pan bottom to deglaze the pan
-add 1 shake off the bottle of Worcestershire Sauce
-bring mixture to a boil
-mix two teaspoons of corn starch with two tablespoons of cold water and stir well
-add the corn starch slurry (yep that stuff you just made is a “slurry”) to the boiling beef mixture and stir rapidly until mixture thickens.
Spoon mounds of mashed potatoes on to serving plates, making a well or indentation in the top of each mound.
Ladle beef mixture into potato well and allow to spill out over the sides of the mound.
Sprinkle with paprika and cheese if desired.
*Added bonus, not having to worry that when you attempt to serve your Shepherd’s pie, it is going to fall apart in a messy heap. “Messy Heap” is what you are aiming for. 🙂

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Filed under Ground Beef, New Twist, Penny Pincher, Picture

>Breakfast For Dinner – Sweet Potato Casualty


Having “Breakfast for Dinner” night is a great way to shake things up a bit AND pinch pennies. Our latest BFD night included one of my favorite breakfasts with a new twist.

I have talked before about the recipes that I have been cooking since my girl scout days, and Casualty was a staple camp breakfast for good old troop 1062. Loved it then, love it now.

The traditional recipe (amounts vary according to number of hungry BFD eaters) that we cooked as scouts involved using a big dutch oven over a camp fire to cook chopped up bacon, rendering the fat, then cooking thin-sliced or small diced potatoes in the bacon drippings, adding some diced onion, and then pouring scrambled eggs over everything and letting it all cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggs set. Then topping the whole thing with plenty of shredded cheese and serving in a big heaping pile. It looks like a mess, which must be why we called it “casualty”. It is SO good.

I decided to mix it up (and make it a little healthier) this time. I started out with some leftover sweet potatoes and yams which had accompanied adobo chicken last week, and some extra lean turkey bacon all into a hot pan coated with canola spray:

All of that cooked together for a bit to crisp up, and then I added 2 whole eggs and 4 egg whites, all of which had been scrambled with a splash of milk and a pinch of dry mustard powder. Last week King Soopers had some grade B eggs in the manager’s special section, so I snatched some up – I assure you they are just as good as grade A, and so much less expensive:

For some added kick, a few generous splashes of Louisiana hot sauce:

Then some chopped up American cheese (use what ya have, I always say):

And then the lid went on until the cheese got all melty. mmmmmm, melty.

I served it in a nice messy pile next to a thick slice of fresh-from-the-broiler sourdough toast and left the hot sauce close by in case we wanted things EXTRA spicy.
I think my troop leader would be proud.

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Filed under New Twist, Penny Pincher, Picture

>Cookie Exchange Cheese Dip

>I’ve had a few ladies who attended ask me how I made the crock-pot cheese dip that I brought to the cookie exchange. It is almost as sadly simple as the cookies I took, and not from a dip recipe or anything. I knew I wanted to do something different than the (always delicious, btw) Ro*tel/cheese type dip with tortilla chips (mostly because I thought it would be done by others, and it was.. it was actually a very cheesy CE, much to my extreme delight!)
So I whipped up a double batch of this cheese sauce and poured it into the crock pot. Then I added:
-1 bunch scallions, white and green sections, diced
-2 diced Roma tomatoes
-1 Tablespoon of prepared refrigerated horseradish

I stirred it all up and let it stay nice and warm in the crock pot, and served with Triscuts. My inspiration was all those delicious cheese balls and spreads you find around the holidays, with port or horseradish or other wonderful things mixed in – they always call for a hearty cracker, and they ALWAYS call for Keri to have another shmear on said crackers.

Anyway, the dip turned out well, and held really well in the crock pot for the hours of the party.

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Filed under Liquid Cheese, New Twist, Party ideas

>Herb rubbed pork chops and "twice baked" potatoes

> I love everything about twice baked potatoes. Everything EXCEPT the process of actually making them. All that scraping and refilling of the potato-y centers, it is just too much for me.
So I cheated last night and boiled 2 medium diced potatoes until they were just tender and flaky, then drained and smashed in the hot pot with a fork until they were smashed, but not totally smooth. Then I added two tablespoons of light sour cream, 1/4 cup 2% milk shredded cheddar, 1 tablespoon of Olivio spread, and 1/4 cup fat free milk. I stirred the ingredients together and divided into two medium ramekins, sprinkling 1/2 an additional tablespoon of the cheddar

over each of the ramekins and adding some diced scallions to mine (no onions for The Hub.)
I placed the potatoes under the broiler just long enough to make the cheese on top slightly brown and crusty.
This got served along side boneless loin pork chops, which I pulled out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking and rubbed each side with this rub:
1 teaspoon oil mixed with 1 tablespoon cumin, 1/2 tablespoon thyme, 1/2 tablespoon parsley flakes, 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper (mixed until it forms a paste and divided between two thin chops)
I let that sit while I tended to the boiling potatoes, and then cooked the chops off for 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven on a flat roasting rack.
The chops sat loosely covered with foil letting the juices redistribute while I broiled the potatoes before serving.

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Filed under New Twist, Picture

>Flat-bread in a Jiffy!!

>Several weeks ago I bought a box of Jiffy Pizza Crust mix. My whole family worships at the altar of Jiffy mixes of all kinds, and this seemed like a cheap and easy way (seriously, they are like 33 cents or something crazy like that) to make some fresh pizza for grilling at home.
Except last night, with The Hub no where in sight for dinner, I got a hankering for something a bit different. So, with apologies to LaLa’s (BTW, whoever does their website, are you serious? I have NEVER seen it actually load right with no funny spacing or pics over words.. bummer) and their Tramezzinos (or in homage to them, perhaps,) I broke out the Jiffy Box and followed the directions (all you do is add 1/2 cup hot water mix, cover and let rise for 5 minutes, then kneed just a bit).
After rising, before kneading:
Then I split it into 4 sections, and rolled each one nice and thin (BTW, the stuff rolls out great, so easily – not sticky or dry) and used the good old George Foreman to grill each round for 6 minutes:
Meanwhile, for my Tramezzino filling, I sauteed some cubed up round steak with garlic and then tossed in some spinach to wilt.. the whole thing got a drizzle of balsamic and a good toss to coat it all:

Mmmmmmm – the crust was chewy and grilled and warm, the filling was delish. Perfection from a box!

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Filed under Beyond Easy, New Twist, Solo Meals


> When I was making my Aunt Keri’s Kitchen creation this week (Italian beef stew) I did have the fore site to double the batch of the basic stew so that I could split it and save half for us to microwave for dinner when the kitchen was out of commission this week… Clear off a tiny sliver of table (the microwave is literally just outside the frame of the pic on the left, in the living room!) and add a loaf of fresh crusty bread, and it was actually a really great meal…

To make the Italian Beef Stew for my favorite newly expanded little family, I took my basic stew recipe, added 2 teaspoons of freeze-dried basil, a can of well drained San Marino Tomatoes, 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic, and a roughly chopped small onion. I simmered the stew with the additional ingredients for 30 minutes before allowing it to cool and packing it into an oven-safe disposable container for easy reheating. They got a loaf of crusty roasted garlic bread to mop up the extra yummy gravy too.

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Filed under Aunt Keri's Kitchen, Beyond Easy, New Twist, Picture

>Lazy Chef’s Stuffed Chicken

> I wanted stuffed chicken breasts this week.. sort of my version of Chicken Cordon Blu. But the LAST thing I wanted to do was butterfly, pound, stuff, roll (very securely to prevent leaks) and babysit stuffed chicken after the week I have been having at work. So I concocted a plan to cheat a bit and still get what I was craving!

To start, I cut two b/s chicken breast portions in half by laying each flat and pressing firmly with my full palm on the top of the chicken, while carefully moving my knife in a horizontal sawing motion until I was all the way through the breast. Then I had two thin fillets of chicken that stacked together perfectly, like this:

I brushed both sides of each fillet with some of this delicious salad dressing for flavor and moisture:

And then I coated each fillet in some seasoned breadcrumbs before placing them on a sprayed cooking rack (letting the air circulate all around the chicken helps crisp them up in the oven.)

I baked the coated fillets in a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes (thin pieces cook nice and fast and crispy in high heat) and then removed them from the oven and added to the bottom fillet of each set 1 slice of ultra lean turkey bacon:

On top of the bacon I broke up one wedge of Laughing Cow Light Swiss Cheese spread each:

Then I placed the other half of each fillet on top of the cheese, and put the chicken back in the oven to melt the cheese and finish browning the tops of the chicken:

The finished product (pictured at the top of post) was SO TASTY!! The filling was yummy, the chicken was juicy with plenty of crunch from the coating, and since I just put the finished product back in the oven long enough to melt the cheese, none of the filling oozed out and was lost during cooking.
I served it with mixed steamed veggies. SO GOOD. Definitely doing this again soon!!

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Filed under Beyond Easy, Chicken, My Faves, New Twist, Picture

>Crowd Pleasing Casserole!

>So last night I tried out a casserole recipe I was considering for the next Aunt Keri’s Kitchen delivery. It is called “Sicilian Casserole” in the busy cooks section of and I admit, I had my doubts. It is one of those things that could either be REALLY to-die-for delicious, or TOTALLY beyond disgusting, but nothing in between.
The reviews on it were really good, so I decided it was worth experimenting on The Hub (lucky him, eh?)

It is freaking amazing!!

Here is the recipe

I used ground turkey instead of ground beef. Also, since we all know that The Hub doesn’t like onion, I obviously omitted that, and in place of a premixed Italian seasoning, I added a tablespoon of freeze-dried Basil and 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (the kind from a jar). I am also not a huge fan of sour cream in things like this, (sometimes it is TOO tangy,) so I used half of the amount called for.
Other than that, I followed the recipe to the letter, and may I say it is not only VERY tasty, but it could really feed a crowd – it is a very hearty, dense, flavorful casserole. I expected it to be really runny, but the bottom layer set up nicely, and it cut and held its shape perfectly! It would be a total hit with kiddos, I’d wager.
So easy and so good – a great new twist on the old “baked pasta” standby!

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Filed under New Twist