Spicy Cheese Fondue

Mr. Smith goes absolutely crazy for this fondue. It is so easy and believe me, it is better than The Melting Pot has to offer (at less than half the price, thankyouverymuch).

This is our new Superbowl tradition, even though we don’t generally watch the game. We are PuppyBowl people around here. I am not proud of the fact, it is what it is. I married the only man in the world that isn’t into sports. Whoopie!

So skip the over priced restaurant that wants you to COOK YOUR OWN DINNER (thanks I can do that at home for FREE!). You don’t have to use the slow cooker, I use a sauce pan on the stove and it works just fine. Either way, go for it!

1/4 cup flour

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 pound Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1/2 pound sharp cheese, shredded

1 (12 oz.) can beer

1 clove garlic, minced

1 can (4 oz.) green chilies and/or chopped jalapeno peppers to taste

Mix flour with chili powder and toss over shredded cheeses. Pour beer into slow cooker and cover with shredded cheese mixture. Place garlic, green chilies and jalapenos, if desired, over cheese, but do not stir until cheese has begun to melt.

Serve with cubed french bread, green apples, baby carrots, broccoli, and tortilla chips.

Mr. Smith’s Perfect Chocolate Bundt Cake

Well, the news was all good. The tumor was benign! We can all celebrate the fact that Mr. Smith is well and is on the mend. He is still a little swollen, bruised and in pain, but that is temporary. Get the ticker tape parade ready!

Ok, they probably don’t have those anymore. Seeing as how they probably don’t use ticker tape machines anymore. Not in the age of the internets!

In honor of Mr. Smith’s surgery/reprieve from the governor, I am going to share his favorite cake recipe.

The great story about this cake is that Mr. Smith used to wax poetic about the chocolate bundt cake that my mother-in-law used to make. Now, my mother-in-law is not someone that could ever be described as domestic or maternal. Okay, you have all heard about those mothers in the animal kingdom that eat their young? That’s her.

Apparently, in one of her more nurturing moments she used to make this cake (or a version of it). Of course, as many of you know, we no longer have any contact with my delightful mother-in-law that doesn’t include lawyers or law enforcement. She is a real gem.

Obviously, with a family like that, we aren’t exactly having coffee together and trading recipes. Quite frankly, I would be afraid to engage in such an exchange.

So, here I was with my dear Mr. Smith. He wanted his favorite cake. He missed his favorite cake. So into the archives I dove and I came up with this one.

Another recipe from my mother’s dear friend Susan. This cake is a real heart-stopper, not much nutritional value, but it is yummy. The amazing part, Mr. Smith LOVES it. It is exactly the right recipe. I was able to recreate his beloved bundt cake and recapture his youth. The happy part!

I had done an end run around the evil mother-in-law and it pleased me to no end!

The funniest part was when my father-in-law found I out I had made the cake. He was astonished that I had the recipe. She would never give it to the likes of me!

HA! I may be delayed, but I will NOT be stopped!

So, here is the mythical cake in all its glory. Make to celebrate something and have a happy Monday!

Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

Mix together:

4 eggs

1/2 cup warm water

1/2 cup oil

1 cup sour cream

Add: 1 small package chocolate instant pudding

Then add: 1 package yellow cake mix

Last add: 1 cup chocolate chips (or more if you are feeling sassy and Mr. Smith usually is)

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour in greased floured bundt or tube pan or 2 loaf pans.

Slice and store in plastic air tight containers to avoid the cake drying out.

That Graham Cracker Thing

This dessert is one for the ages. Mr. Smith refers to it as “That Graham Cracker Thing.”

So easy, so so so so very very yummy, addictive even and sort of healthy. Okay, not exactly healthy, but as desserts go, it is more healthy than most. Also, you can dictate exactly how sinful you want to make it.

It Graham Crackers, vanilla pudding mixed with Cool Whip and topped with easily the SWEETEST chocolate frosting you will ever encounter. Just like an eclair.

This is one of those that people will beg you to make. You will find yourself pining for it. Even when you make a lowish-cal version, it tastes soooooo decadent. Mix it up a little and try a different flavor of pudding, it could work. I have even used cinnamon graham crackers a few times and it was AMAZING!

Make it to take for a pot luck dinner. Make it for dessert after Sunday dinner. Make it and eat the whole thing yourself and don’t feel guilty for a moment. Okay, maybe for a moment, but it will pass, I assure you.

I would strongly advise that you make this ahead of time. I am talking a bare minimum of 4 hours, but 6 or so is much better. Once you have tasted it, it is extremely hard to wait that long, but it is worth it.

Leave the house, take a drive, go shopping and try to forget about it. Even though you won’t, it will be a lovely thing to come home to.

I served this when my cousin Denise and her husband David were visiting one time, and to quote David, “Now, this is what I call dessert!”

You know, just writing about this is making me want it again. I will have to make it this weekend and post some photos.

Maybe I will make it as a little boo boo present for Mr. Smith after his surgery.

Awesome White Chicken Chili

I am generally not a big fan of chili. Ok, truth be told, I hate the stuff. Its all red and meaty and yucky. Sorry. Not very appetizing for a food/cooking blog.

Kidney beans freak me out. First of all, there is that name. Do I really want to eat anything with the word “kidney” in it? Nope. Not going to eat actual kidneys, can’t really stomach the kidney beans. They are big and have a pasty, grainy thing going on that I just can’t tolerate.

Also, so many chili recipes have beef in some form in them and I am just not down with the red meat in soup notion. Call me neurotic, call me a picky eater…and you would probably be right on both counts.

This chili recipe is in a word…awesome!

It is from Cooking Light, so it is pretty healthy. It is also the tastiest chili I have ever eaten. In my opinion, you just can’t go wrong with cumin, the stuff is such a great flavor. It adds such a great spicy flavor without heat that I love.

I made this when my cousin and his family were here for dinner. It is one of those recipes that is very easily doubled and you will be so glad that you did.

When I worked in an office (like about a million years ago, or maybe just four years ago) I would take this for lunch. After I warmed it in the microwave, everyone would be very jealous and asking what I was having. Pretty ringing endorsement, if you ask me!

Go ahead, try some White Chicken Chili, you know you want to!

Ultimate Coffee Cake

In my family, on your birthday, you get the dinner and cake that you choose. Over the years, the cake concept has been morphed to include pie, coffee cakes, cupcakes, etc. Basically, you get your choice for dinner and dessert.

Every year my mother asks my father what he wants for his birthday dinner and what kind of cake he wants. Every year, he requests Spaghetti and Meatballs for dinner and Coffee Cake for dessert. Every year she says, “No. I am not making that.” You see, my mother hates Spaghetti and Meatballs and does not feel that Coffee Cake is appropriate. If my brother or I had made these requests, she would have made them both without even a second thought. My father, however, is not entitled to his choice because my mother hates to cook and feels that he should choose a cake that she would like.

I know, I know. They have been married for 43 years. Somehow they have an understanding. I don’t get it, but it works for them.

My father’s birthday is coming up and this is the cake he always requests for his birthday cake. So again this year I will override my mother and make it for him anyway.

This cake is a MEAL! It is a huge cake and keeps beautifully. If you don’t like pecans, use walnuts. If you don’t want the nuts at all (Mr. Smith hates nuts in all foods) leave them out. It has the perfect streusel to cake ratio, in my opinion. Too many recipes are too stingy with the good stuff and this one could never be accused of THAT!

NOTE: The baking time, for me, was not enough, so you may need to tack on some extra baking time for the tester to come out clean.

Just put on your eating clothes and wait for it to call to you from the kitchen. Because it will. And you will have to listen. Just because sometimes when the Sour Cream-Orange Coffee Cake with Chocolate-Pecan Streusel calls, you have to take the call!

Williams Sonoma Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad

This recipe is originally from the WilliamsSonoma catalog. This is old school, when the catalog was 5 x 7 and not the slick production that it is now.

I have always been a huge fan. When I saw this recipe, it just looked so good and sounded amazing. After a few days of discussion (my mother is not overly fond of trying new recipes, especially when they require ingredients that may be expensive/hard to find/never used for anything else ever again). This one only had a few oddball ingredients, so she gave in pretty easily.

The results were AMAZING! This salad has become a true favorite in our house. It is just the right balance of ingredients. Just enough chicken, just enough cheese, just enough lettuce. It just has everything.

Over the years, I have streamlined the process and have made the preparation must faster.

Rub for chicken

Skinless, boneless, about 1 1/2 pounds of chicken). I usually cube the chicken and just stir it into the “rub mixture.” I then throw it in a pan and saute it until it is cooked through.

In a bowl make the rub by combining:

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. cayenne pepper (I usually reduce this to 1/4-1/2 teaspoon, we are lightweights around here)

1 Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro (if you can find the stuff in a tube, it is so much easier than chopping the fresh stuff and the results are the same)

salt and pepper to taste

Rub the skinless, boneless chicken breasts with oil/herb mixture (if you are grilling them whole). Grill on both sides until tender, 15-20 minutes, set aside.

Salad dressing

4-6 tomatillos (Get some that are nice, plump and the color of green tomatoes under the husk. If they are starting to shrivel and feel mushy, don’t get them. When you are ready to use them, just remove the husk. Make sure to rinse the tomatillo off thoroughly, they have a sticky coating on them. Cut it into quarters and add it to your food processor).

1/4 cup olive oil

2-3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1-2 seeded ancho chilis (quarter and add to food processor)

1 Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro (again, the tube of cilantro will work just fine)

salt and pepper to taste

Process until pureed and set aside.

Wash, dry and tear 3 small heads of red or green leaf lettuce (I like to use a head of each) and arrange in a large bowl.

Cut chicken up (if you haven’t already) and arrange in center of lettuce.

Arrange 1 cup each of grated Cheddar Cheese and Monterey Jack Cheese around chicken and pour dressing evenly over salad.

NOTE: This is a big salad, you may not be able to finish it in one sitting. If you want to be able to keep the salad, don’t assemble it. Simply keep the components and assemble the salad when you are ready to eat it. It is wonderful if you make it ahead and serve for dinner, it is great the next day for lunch. You can take it to a party, etc.  The chicken with the rub is also an awesome addition to nachos or a quesadilla.

I hope you and your family love this recipe as much as we do!

Let me know what you think.

Flank Steak-ish

Tonight we had a version of a Steak House Dinner, without having to go to the Steak House. Since I have an aversion to spending that kind of crazy money when I don’t have it, this is the perfect deal for me. Plus, I have that thing about not liking to go out. And that thing about not being able to easily leave the stinkin’ house because I have these short, needy people that follow me around ALL THE TIME DEMANDING THINGS AND ATTENTION.

But I digress.

Anyway, Pioneer Woman posted this awesome Flank Steak Recipe a while back and I have had it kicking around the kitchen and my brain for a while. We weren’t able to locate a Flank Steak at the local grocery, so we went with a London Broil. A little thicker and more difficult to cook adequately for the crowd in this house. Anyway, I decided to make this tonight.

Can I just say…YUM. YUMMY YUMMY YUM YUM!!!

Early in the afternoon I mixed up the marinade, threw it and the meat in a freezer bag, threw that in a 9×13 pan (just in case of a nasty meat leak) and threw that whole mess in the fridge for 3 hours or so.

Cooked it up with some Twice Baked Potatoes and Broccoli Spears (sans hollandaise sauce…drat!) and you got yourself a real Steak House Meal, my friends. Feels decadent, but so isn’t.

A word of advice, do the thing with the marinade and make the dipping sauce for the meat. It is AMAZING! Trust me, trust Pioneer Woman…you will be soooooo glad you did.