Banana Bread

My little boy seriously loves fruit. I have to keep the fruit hidden at mealtimes until he is done eating other things otherwise he will only ask for fruit. Honestly, that is probably all he would eat if I let him. His favorites fruits to eat are strawberries and blueberries, or any other type of berry he can get his hands on. He never met a berry he didn’t like. I try to throw in other fruit, such as bananas, to mix things up, but he isn’t quite as enthusiastic about eating them. As a result, some of the bananas were looking a little sad and brown in the fruit bowl the other day. Since he was napping, I decided to make some banana bread.

I had never made banana bread before, so when I started making this recipe I was a little surprised with how many steps were involved. Looking at some other recipes after the fact, I realized this recipe is a little more complicated than other recipes. But it is definitely worth the effort because this banana bread turned out fantastic.

To get started, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Banana Bread from Cooks My Books

Place peeled bananas in a microwave safe bowl, and then cover it with plastic wrap. Use a paring knife to cut a few vent holes in the plastic. Microwave the bananas for about 5 minutes, so they will get soft and release some liquid. Line a strainer with cheesecloth, and place it in a similar sized bowl. Pour the soft bananas into the strainer lined with cheesecloth. Let the bananas sit for about 15 minutes, stirring on occasion, until ½ to ¾ cup of liquid has drained.

Pour banana liquid into a small pan. Boil over medium heat, stirring consistently, for about 5 minutes or until it has reduced by about half. Make sure to watch it because it can bubble over easily.

Stir reduced banana liquid back into the bananas, mashing the bananas until there are no large chunks.

Banana Bread from Cooks My Books

Using a stand or hand mixer, combine the banana mixture with the butter, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla.

Banana Bread from Cooks My Books

Add the flour mixture, and stir with a spatula until only some streaks of flour remain.

Add walnuts, if using. Mix until combined. I don’t like nuts in my baked goods, so I skipped this step.

Pour the banana bread batter into a greased loaf pan. Sprinkle the sugar over the top of the uncooked batter.

Banana Bread from Cooks My Books

Bake for 55 to 75 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 15 minutes.

Banana Bread from Cooks My Books

Remove from pan and continue to cool on a wire rack.

Banana Bread from Cooks My Books

Banana Bread

Category: Bread

Banana Bread

Ingredients

  • 1¾ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 5 very ripe bananas, peeled
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. Place peeled bananas in a microwave safe bowl, and then cover it with plastic wrap. Use a paring knife to cut a few vent holes in the plastic. Microwave the bananas for about 5 minutes, so they will get soft and release some liquid. Line a strainer with cheesecloth, and place it in a similar sized bowl. Pour the soft bananas into the strainer lined with cheesecloth. Let the bananas sit for about 15 minutes, stirring on occasion, until ½ to ¾ cup of liquid has drained.
  4. Pour banana liquid into a small pan. Boil over medium heat, stirring consistently, for about 5 minutes or until it has reduced by about half. Make sure to watch it because it can bubble over easily.
  5. Stir reduced banana liquid back into the bananas, mashing the bananas until there are no large chunks.
  6. Using a stand or hand mixer, combine the banana mixture with the butter, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla.
  7. Add the flour mixture, and stir with a spatula until only some streaks of flour remain.
  8. Add walnuts, if using.
  9. Pour the banana bread batter into a greased loaf pan.
  10. Sprinkle the sugar over the top of the uncooked batter.
  11. Bake for 55 to 75 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and continue to cool on a wire rack.

Notes

Recipe adapted from: Brown Eyed Baker

https://cooksmybooks.com/2018/03/05/banana-bread/

Hot Chocolate Mix

I have been thinking about hot chocolate a lot lately. Probably because it has been snowing here for a few days and I’m freezing my buns off. I have always loved hot chocolate. Even the thought of taking sips from a big mug on a cold day makes me grin.

When I was a kid, I remember happily making hot chocolate from the little Swiss Miss packets. But when I was a little older, everything changed one day when my mom said “I found this recipe for a hot chocolate mix in an old cookbook. Let’s give it a try.”

It took a couple of times to get the mixture just how we wanted it, but after that I was hooked. I never wanted anything else. And with only 4 ingredients, it is super simple to make.

To make the mix, stir the dry milk, powdered creamer, powdered sugar, and Nesquik together in a large bowl until combined. That’s it. You’re done. If you want the mix to have a more uniform look, like the ones you get at the store, you can put the mix in a food processor or blender and process it in batches. Return to the bowl and mix together again. Store in an airtight container. I use quart size mason jars. The mix will fill up about 4 of them.

Hot Chocolate Mix from Cooks My Books

To make the hot chocolate, add 3 to 4 tablespoons of the mix to 1 cup of hot water. Stir until the mix has dissolved. Add marshmallows or whipped cream, if desired, and enjoy.

Hot Chocolate Mix from Cooks My Books

Hot Chocolate Mix

Category: Beverage

Ingredients

  • 25.6 ounce package of instant dry milk (about 8 cups)
  • 8 ounce jar of powdered non-dairy creamer
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 cups of Nesquik (instant chocolate drink mix)

Instructions

  1. To make the mix: Mix everything together in a large bowl until combined. Store in an airtight container.
  2. To make the hot chocolate: Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of the mix to 1 cup of hot water. Stir until the mix has dissolved. Add marshmallows or whipped cream if desired.

Notes

Recipe adapted from: Make-A-Mix Cookery

https://cooksmybooks.com/2018/02/25/hot-chocolate-mix/

Teriyaki Chicken and Vegetable Rice Bowls

I won’t hesitate to admit that I’m a bit of a Pinterest addict. Before I had my son, I could easily browse garden tips, home decorating ideas, and recipes for hours. During one of these sessions, I came across a recipe for teriyaki chicken. I decided to give it a try because it was pretty similar to recipe I made with shrimp, only it had an awesome homemade teriyaki sauce. And I already had all of the ingredients to make it, which was an added bonus.

This recipe quickly became one of my husband favorite things to eat. And I don’t feel guilty about eating it often. It’s even great leftover. You can’t go wrong with chicken, vegetables, and rice.

First, make the teriyaki sauce by adding the soy sauce, 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water, brown sugar, honey, rice vinegar, and garlic to a small saucepan. Mix  everything together and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat.

In a separate bowl, whisk together cornstarch with the remaining 2 tablespoons water, then add to the saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow to a boil for 1 minute longer, making sure to stir continuously so the sauce doesn’t burn. Remove from heat.

To cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the chicken breasts in half in order to make 2 smaller chicken breasts. I do this so the chicken will cook faster, but you can skip this step if you want. Just adjust your baking time.

Place breasts in a lightly greased 9 by 13 baking pan, then season with salt and pepper. Next, brush the chicken breasts with some of the teriyaki sauce.

Teriyaki Chicken from Cooks My Books

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Let the meat rest for about 5 minutes, and then cut into strips or cubes.

Teriyaki Chicken from Cooks My Books

To cook the vegetables, place the butter and chopped vegetables in a large pan with lid over medium heat. Next, season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Cover and cook until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Teriyaki Chicken from Cooks My Books

To assemble the bowls, first scoop a layer of rice into the bowl. Next, add a layer of vegetables, then a layer of chicken. Finally, drizzle the desired amount of teriyaki sauce over the top. Serve and enjoy!

Teriyaki Chicken from Cooks My Books

 

Teriyaki Chicken with Veggies and Rice

Category: Entree

Teriyaki Chicken with Veggies and Rice

Ingredients

    For the Teriyaki sauce
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup water, divided (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons, and 2 tablespoons)
  • 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch
    For the Chicken, Vegetables, and Rice:
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2 breasts)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, small chunks
  • 1 cup carrots, shredded
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 8 ounce package mushroom
  • Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
  • 4 cups cooked rice of your choice

Instructions

  1. For the teriyaki sauce: In a small saucepan, add the soy sauce, 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water, brown sugar, honey, rice vinegar, and garlic. Mix together and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. In a separate bowl, whisk together cornstarch with remaining 2 tablespoons water, then add it to the saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow to a boil for 1 minute longer, making sure to stir continuously so the sauce doesn’t burn. Remove from heat.
  2. For the chicken: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut each chicken breast in half in order to make 2 smaller chicken breasts. Place breasts on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Brush the breasts with some of the teriyaki sauce. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Let the meat rest for about 5 minutes, and then cut into strips or cubes.
  3. For the vegetables: Place butter and vegetables in a large pan with lid over medium heat. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Cover and let cook until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
  4. To assemble the bowls: First scoop a layer of rice into the bowl. Add a layer of vegetables, then a layer of chicken. Drizzle teriyaki sauce over the top. Serve immediately.

Notes

Recipe adapted from: https://www.cookingclassy.com/teriyaki-grilled-chicken-and-veggie-rice-bowls/

https://cooksmybooks.com/2018/02/18/teriyaki-chicken-vegetable-rice-bowls/

Sugar Cookies

Last year in early spring, we went to visit one of my sisters in Arizona. We had so much fun while we were there. We saw a road runner and butterflies while visiting the Botanical Gardens,  and soaked up some much needed sun at the pool. It was almost Easter, so as a fun treat my sister made some sugar cookies from a recipe that she had gotten from a family member on her husband’s side. They were so good that I asked for the recipe. With Valentine’s Day coming up in a few days, I thought this would be a great opportunity to share the recipe with the world.

First, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Sugar Cookies from Cooks My Books

Cream together the butter and sugar using a stand or hand mixer.

Sugar Cookies from Cooks My Books

Add eggs and extracts and beat until just combined.

Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and mix well.

Sugar Cookies from Cooks My Books

Scrap dough onto well-floured surface. Roll out thick.

Sugar Cookies from Cooks My Books

Cut desired shaped and place on lightly greased cookie sheet.

Sugar Cookies from Cooks My Books

Bake for 8 minutes, and then let cool on a wire rack.

Sugar Cookies from Cooks My Books

For the frosting: Cream the butter using a stand or hand mixer on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.

Reduce speed of mixer to low, and add the powdered sugar slowly. Mix until incorporated.

Add the vanilla and mix until combined, then increase the speed of the mixer to medium-high for around 2 minutes, or until frosting becomes light and fluffy. Add food coloring if desired.

Frosting from Cooks My Books

Frost cookies and serve.

Sugar Cookies from Cooks My Books

Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

    For the Cookies:
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup softened butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
    For the Frosting:
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • Food coloring (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar using a stand or hand mixer.
  4. Add eggs and extracts and beat until just combined.
  5. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and mix well.
  6. Scrap dough onto well-floured surface. Roll out thick.
  7. Cut desired shaped and place on lightly greased cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 8 minutes, and then let cool on a wire rack.
  9. For the frosting: Cream the butter using a stand or hand mixer on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.
  10. Reduce speed of mixer to low, and add the powdered sugar slowly. Mix until incorporated.
  11. Add the vanilla and mix until combined, then increase the speed of the mixer to medium-high for around 2 minutes, or until frosting becomes light and fluffy. Add food coloring if desired.
  12. Frost cookies and serve.
https://cooksmybooks.com/2018/02/11/sugar-cookies/

Quick and Easy Cheeseball

Yesterday, I was watching the Super Bowl with my husband when he said “We need some finger foods. We usually have snacks during the Super Bowl.” I racked my brain for something that would be quick to make. I wanted to make something that we already had all of the ingredients for so I didn’t have to go to the store. It took a minute, but then it came to me. A cheeseball.

I went to the kitchen and grabbed my family cookbook. I could look up the recipe – butter, cream cheese, black olives, and green onions. Seemed simple enough. And then I remembered there was some leftover bacon in the fridge from breakfast. Everything is better with bacon right?

Before you start mixing anything, make sure that your butter and cream cheese are room temperature. To do this, I usually leave the butter out on the counter. For the cream cheese, I put in it the microwave using the  softening function.

Once they are softened, cream together butter and cream cheese in a bowl using a stand mixer or hand mixer.

Quick and Easy Cheeseball by Cooks My Books

Stir in olives, bacon, and green onions with a spatula until well incorporated.

Quick and Easy Cheeseball by Cooks My Books

Scoop the mixture onto a sheet of wax or parchment paper. Roll into one large ball or two small balls. Usually, I will do the one large ball.

Roll the ball(s) in the chopped walnuts until completely covered, if desired. You can skip this step if you just aren’t a fan of nuts, or have an allergy. This is also were having two smaller cheese-balls comes in handy, because you can roll one in the chopped walnuts and leave the other plain. I skipped this step this time because we were out of walnuts.

Place on plate(s) and chill in the refrigerator until set.

Quick and Easy Cheeseball by Cooks My Books

Serve with your favorite crackers. I usually use wheat thins because they are sturdy and won’t crack when I’m trying to scoop up some cheeseball.

Quick and Easy Cheeseball by Cooks My Books

 

 

Quick and Easy Cheeseball

Category: Appetizer

Quick and Easy Cheeseball

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  • 1/2 cup cooked chopped bacon
  • 3 to 4 green onions, chopped
  • chopped walnuts (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix together butter and cream cheese in a bowl using a stand mixer or hand mixer until incorporated.
  2. Stir in olives, bacon, and green onions with a spatula until evenly mixed.
  3. Scoop the mixture onto a sheet of wax or parchment paper and roll into one or two balls.
  4. Roll the ball(s) in the chopped walnuts until completely covered.
  5. Place on plate(s) and chill in the refrigerator until set.
  6. Serve with your favorite crackers.
https://cooksmybooks.com/2018/02/05/cheeseball/

Parmesan Chicken

A few years back, I was trying to decide what to make for dinner. I was bored with my usual go-to chicken dinners, so I decided to try something new. After poking around on the internet for a bit, I stumbled across this recipe for Parmesan Chicken on Simply Recipes. After looking over the recipe, I decided to make it for two reasons.

  1. I had all the ingredients
  2. Little bites of paremsan chicken baked in butter sounded delicious.

Since then, I’ve made it many times and it has always been a big hit. I’ve even had family members request that I make it for special occasions. But don’t take my word for it, give it a try for yourself.

(This post contains affiliate links)

To get started, melt the butter in a bowl or pie plate. Add the minced garlic and stir together. Then, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, dried parsley, salt, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and black pepper in a separate bowl or pie plate.

Dip the chicken chunks into the garlic butter to coat. Be sure to reheat the butter if it starts to thicken.

Parmesan Chicken by Cooks My BooksIMG_0058
Pieces in garlic butter

Next, move the pieces to the pie plates with the breadcrumb mixture and coat. When I first started making this, I would use small bowls, but I’ve found it’s easier to use pie plates.

Parmesan Chicken by Cooks My Books
Pieces coated in breadcrumb mixture

When coated with the breadcrumb mixture, place the chicken into a greased 9 by 13 baking dish (or whatever size you have), leaving a little bit of space in between each piece. Depending on the amount of chicken, you might need to use more than one baking dish. When all of the chicken is in the pan, drizzle the remaining garlic butter over the chicken pieces.

Parmesan Chicken by Cooks My Books
Ready to go in the oven

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit (75 degrees Celsius).

Parmesan Chicken by Cooks My Books

We usually eat this with spaghetti marinara and corn.  Yum!

Parmesan Chicken

Category: Entree

Parmesan Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 pounds of skinless boneless chicken breast, cut into small chunks

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (230 degrees Celsius).
  2. Stir the minced garlic and the melted butter together in a pie plate.
  3. In a separate pie plate, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, dried parsley, salt, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and black pepper.
  4. Dip the chicken chunks into the garlic butter to coat. Be sure to reheat the butter if it starts to thicken.
  5. Next move the pieces to the pie plate with the breadcrumb mixture and coat.
  6. When coated with the breadcrumb mixture, place the chicken into a greased 9 by 13 baking dish, leaving a little bit of space in between each piece. When all of the chicken is in the pan, drizzle the remaining garlic butter over the chicken pieces.
  7. Bake the chicken for 10 to 15 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit (75 degrees Celsius) or higher.
  8. Serve with spaghetti marinara. Enjoy!
https://cooksmybooks.com/2018/01/28/parmesan-chicken/

Pollo Rey Fiesta Veggie Burrito Copycat

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I remember being  surprised when I took my first bite of the burrito. It was was heaven on a flour tortilla. After that day, whenever I would go to Pollo Rey I would order the Fiesta Veggie Burrito. So when I heard that Pollo Rey would be closing in the fall of 2017, I knew that if I wanted another veggie burrito I would have to make it myself.

When I was working as an auditor, I would eat out quite a bit. Mostly because I was really bad at remembering to pack my lunch. But it was also because my downtown Boise office was within walking distance of TONS of great restaurants. On any given day of the week, I could eat whatever my little heart desired, from bagels to sushi and everything in between. But when I got pregnant, there was one thing that I wanted more than anything else – a burrito.

Luckily for me, there were multiple burrito options that I could choose from depending on what kind of burrito I wanted. If I wanted sweet pork, I would walk to Costa Vida. If I wanted chicken, I would make the short drive to Parilla in Hyde Park. On the days I wanted a veggie burrito, I would head to Pollo Rey.

I had never had a veggie burrito before I went to Pollo Rey. One day, some of my co-workers were going so I decided to tag along. I remember staring up at the menu and trying to decide what to get, when one of the ladies I was with ordered a fiesta veggie burrito. Shortly after it was my turn, so I panicked and ordered the same thing.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I remember being  surprised when I took my first bite of the burrito. It was was heaven on a flour tortilla. After that day, whenever I would go to Pollo Rey I would order the Fiesta Veggie Burrito.

In the summer of 2017 I heard horrible news. Pollo Rey would be closing the coming fall. I knew I had to go have one last burrito. So I packed my little boy in the car and we met some friends downtown for lunch. As we were eating, I paid special attention to what was in the burrito. I knew that from then on if I wanted a veggie burrito I would have to make it myself. Here is what I came up with.

(This post contains affiliate links)

The first thing I did was chop the vegetables. I used a mandolin for the zucchini and summer squash so they’d have a more uniform size, and the remaining vegetables I chopped by hand, except for the carrot because I bought a bag of shredded carrots at the store. Then I threw them in a big pan with a lid along with some butter, salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. I covered the vegetables and let them cook, stirring occasionally until they were tender.

Fiesta Veggie Burrito by Cooks My Books

Meanwhile, I opened a can of black beans and put them in a separate pan to warm up. I also made some Cilantro Lime Rice to include in the burrito. If you prefer Mexican Rice then you can make that instead.

When everything was ready, I warmed up some flour tortillas on our cast iron griddle. When the tortilla was ready, I added the rice beans, cheese, vegetable mix, sour cream, salsa, and avocado into the tortilla and wrapped it up.

Fiesta Veggie Burrito by Cooks My BooksFiesta Veggie Burrito by Cooks My Books

Not to pat myself on the back, but it was just as good as the ones I used to get at Pollo Rey.

Pollo Rey Fiesta Veggie Burrito Copycat

Pollo Rey Fiesta Veggie Burrito Copycat

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow summer squash, chopped
  • 1 cups carrots, chopped or shredded
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 or 2 bell peppers, shopped
  • 8 ounces of mushrooms, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • garlic powder
  • 15 ounce can of beans of your choice
  • Prepared rice of your choice (either cilantro lime or Mexican rice)
  • cheese
  • sour cream
  • salsa
  • guacamole or avocado chunks
  • Tortillas

Instructions

  1. Place butter and vegetables in a large pan with lid over medium heat. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Cover and let cook until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, warm your choice of beans in a small pan, and prepare your choice of rice.
  3. Warm the tortillas, either in the microwave for one minute or using a flat cast iron pan on the stovetop.
  4. Assemble your burritos by adding the above ingredients into your warm tortilla, and wrap it up. Enjoy!
https://cooksmybooks.com/2018/01/21/pollo-rey-fiesta-veggie-burrito-copycat/

Homemade Broccoli Cheese RiceARoni

Have you ever made a boxed version of something and thought to yourself, “I wonder how hard it would be to make this from scratch?” I had that exact thought as I was making a box of RiceARoni a while back. So I decided to do some poking around online to find a recipe.
Guess what? I found a recipe on Pinterest by Life Currents. And guess what else? It was super easy to make. Turns out RiceARoni is a combination of rice and Orzo pasta. Honestly, I think the hardest part for me was finding the Orzo pasta. Mostly because I kept accidentally walking past it in the pasta aisle at the grocery store.
I’ve made this recipe a few times now, and have made some tweaks. There has even been a few occasions where I thought I had broccoli in the fridge but didn’t, or I forgot to put the cheese on, and it was still super good. I usually make a double batch of the recipe to make sure that we have leftovers. 🙂
Before I start cooking, I like to chop up the veggies first. I try to make the onion bits on the smaller side, but usually leave the broccoli a little larger. If you’d like the final product to look like the boxed version, then I would recommend chopping the broccoli into smaller pieces.
To get started, put the oil and onion in the pan over medium heat. Cook until the onions start to get tender. This will take a few minutes. Then add the garlic and cook for a minute longer.
Note: Make sure the pan you choose has a lid, as you will need to cover it later on.
Broccoli Cheese RiceARoni By Cooks My Books
Next, stir in the rice and orzo pasta until they are coated with oil. Let the rice and pasta cook for a few minutes. The pasta will brown and the rice will start to look translucent.
Broccoli Cheese RiceARoni By Cooks My Books
Next, stir the broth into the RiceARoni mixture. I’ve used both chicken broth and vegetable stock when I’ve made this, or a combination of the two. It is delicious either way. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low  (it should still boil on low). Cover and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until a majority of the broth has been absorbed.
Broccoli Cheese RiceARoni By Cooks My Books
Stir in the broccoli. Re-cover and cook until all the liquid has been absorbed and the broccoli is tender. (If you accidentally wait too long to put in the broccoli, don’t panic. You can always add a little more broth to help the broccoli cook and it will turn out just fine.)
When the broccoli is tender, remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the cheese to melt, or serve as is and let each person add as much cheese as they want. Or both. Enjoy!

Homemade Broccoli Cheese RiceARoni

Homemade Broccoli Cheese RiceARoni

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ cup jasmine rice
  • ½ cup orzo pasta
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 cup finely chopped broccoli
  • ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Place olive oil and onion in a large pan (that has a lid) and warm over medium heat until the onion starts to get tender. Stir in the garlic and cook for about a minute.
  2. Add the rice and orzo to the pan, stirring to coat in the olive oil. Allow to cook for a few minutes until the orzo starts to brown and the rice becomes translucent. Don't let it sit for too long without stirring or it will burn.
  3. Add the chicken broth to the pan and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook covered for around 10 to 15 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  4. When a majority of the broth has been absorbed, stir in the broccoli and cook covered until tender, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in cheese to melt and/or sprinkle on top. Enjoy!
https://cooksmybooks.com/2018/01/15/homemade-broccoli-cheese-ricearoni/

Easy Garden Fresh Salsa

It seems like forever since I wrote a blog post. Probably because it has been. But I promise I haven’t been ignoring writing for no reason. I have been in the garden pulling weeds, making sure everything was growing, or trying to figure out what to do with 50 pounds of cucumbers. Literally 50 pounds of cucumbers. But I didn’t start writing this post so I could rant about cucumbers. I wanted to write today because our tomatoes are finally starting to ripen and I’m super excited about it. 

I already made a list of all the things I plan to make with them, but I since I haven’t blogged in a while I figured I’d start with something simple. Today I wanted to share with everyone a recipe for a simple garden fresh salsa.
Easy Garden Fresh Salsa by Cooks My Books

In the past, I’ve mentioned that I’m a little obsessed with vegetables in unusual colors. For example, last year we had a yellow tomato plant. The yellow tomatoes looked so pretty in salsa. SO, when picking out plants this spring I made sure to include a yellow lemon boy heirloom tomato plant.

Do you have to include yellow tomatoes in your salsa? Nope. It will taste just as good with any color tomato that you decide to use. The best thing about this recipe is that you can tweak it to taste however you want it. 
Easy Garden Fresh Salsa by Cooks My BooksTo get started, chop 4 to 5 cups of tomatoes. I used roma tomatoes and the yellow lemon boy tomatoes. Roma tomatoes aren’t as juicy as other tomatoes. They are usually the main ingredient in making tomato paste because of their lower moisture content. If you want a less juicy salsa, you can use all roma tomatoes.

Kitchen Tip: When you are cutting the tomatoes, try putting a towel under your cutting board. This will keep your cutting board from wiggling around, and it will hopefully soak up any excess tomato juice that drips off.

Next, chop the onion and jalapenos. I used 2 small red onions, but white or yellow will work just as well.

Did you notice that I didn’t say how many jalapenos to use? That’s because it depends on how spicy they are. And how spicy you want the salsa to be. This time, I chopped up 4 jalapenos and the salsa ended up being between mild and medium. Other times when I use 4 jalapenos the salsa is too spicy for me to eat. If you don’t like spicy at all, you can skip the jalapenos or substituting for sweet or bell peppers. 

Lastly, add the cilantro, lemon juice, salt and pepper and stir everything together. Ta da! You have salsa. Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments or on the Cooks My Books Facebook Page.


Easy Garden Fresh Salsa

Easy Garden Fresh Salsa

Ingredients

  • 4 to 5 cups tomatoes
  • 1 cup onion
  • Jalapenos
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped Cilantro
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper

Instructions

  1. Chop the tomatoes, onion, and jalapenos and place them in a large bowl.
  2. Add the cilantro, lemon and salt and pepper.
  3. Stir and enjoy with your favorite tortilla chips.
https://cooksmybooks.com/2017/09/14/easy-garden-fresh-salsa/

Easy Crockpot Baked Beans

Have you ever been invited to a barbecue or a potluck and not known what you should take? I have many times. Luckily, many years ago my Mom helped to compile a cookbook of family recipes from her mother’s side of the family, who happen to have the last name of “Cook.” We call it the “Cook”book. There are quite a few recipes in this book that I have made over the years and taken to potlucks or parties including a cheese-ball, pumpkin cookies, and raspberry punch to name a few. But today, I’m going to share the recipe for Crock-pot Baked Beans.

If I was on top of things I would have shared this recipe before the Fourth of July so you could have used it for any barbecues you where invited to. But lately I’ve been spending most days in the garden pulling weeds, so the Fourth snuck up on me. But hopefully you will enjoy this recipe no matter when you decide to try it.

One day I’ll actually remember to take pictures before I start making something and not half way through. I’m still figuring out how to do this whole blog thing. At this point I’d already put all the beans into the crock-pot with the tomato sauce, brown sugar, maple flavoring, and liquid smoke. Then I mixed everything together.

Easy Crockpot Baked Beans from Cooks My Books

Wait, liquid wait? Yes, I did say liquid smoke. If you haven’t heard of it before, its a flavoring that adds a slightly smoky taste to the recipe. It comes in different smoke flavors, but for this recipe I used the hickory (cause honestly I thought that was the only way it came until I looked online). I found it at the grocery store by the BBQ sauce. Or if you can’t find it at a local store, you can get it on Amazon here.

Next, I added the chopped onion and hamburger meat to a frying pan over medium heat. To season the meat, I added salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. You can season the hamburger however you like. If you don’t have an onion on hand you could add onion powder.

As you can see from the picture, the hamburger I used was super fatty. I would definitely recommend draining the fat before you add the hamburger to the crock-pot.

 

Next, I cut the package of turkey bacon into pieces and cooked it in the same frying pan that I used for the hamburger.

When the turkey bacon was done, I drained the fat away (there wasn’t much), and added it to the crock-pot as well. This is what it looked like when everything was all mixed up.

Yummy right? All that’s left to do is turn the crock-pot on low, cover, and let it bubble up for about 4 hours.

This is how it looked when it was ready to eat.

Another thing I need work on is taking a picture when I put it on a plate. Which I forgot to do the day I made it because I was so excited to eat it. Oops. But you can always make it for yourself and see how it looks on your own plate. Enjoy!

Easy Crockpot Baked Beans

Category: Side Dish

Easy Crockpot Baked Beans

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium onion (about 1 cup)
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 package turkey bacon
  • 2 32 oz cans vegetarian baked beans
  • 1 16 ounce can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 16 ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 16 ounce can of white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 8 ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring

Instructions

  1. Add onions and ground beef to a medium skillet. Season to taste and cook until onions are tender and the meat has browned. Drain away the fat and transfer to crock-pot.
  2. Cook the turkey bacon in the same skillet until warm and starting to brown, drain if needed, then transfer to crock-pot.
  3. Stir in the beans, tomato sauce, brown sugar, liquid smoke, and maple flavoring.
  4. Cover and cook on low for about 4 hours. Stir before serving.
https://cooksmybooks.com/2017/07/14/easy-crockpot-baked-beans/