Mama Mandola’s Sicilian Chicken Soup (Carrabba’s Italian Grill Restaurant)

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One of my favorite restaurants is Carrabba’s Italian Grill. Every time I go there I always order this soup with my entree. It is one of my most favorite soups ever. Yes, as you can probably tell by now, I LOVE soups!!! This soup does take a long time to cook ( About 2 hours total cook time, and about 1 hour prep. time) so make sure you make this soup on a day that you have time as this is definitely not one of those quick weeknight dinner recipes. But it is all worth it, and you will know what I mean once you taste this amazing soup! I always make a big pot of it and we eat it for 2 days. It tastes just as great on the 2nd day as it does on the first. I got the recipe from a cook book, but after making it several times I have adjusted some things to perfect this soup and make it taste exactly like it does at Carrabba’s. I always make this soup when someone in my family is sick, it is the most comforting soup to eat if you are sick, and according to legends, this soup has restorative powers. If you love this soup at Carrabba’s then you will enjoy it just as much at home. Actually no…you will enjoy it much more because you can eat as much of it at home as you want and not have to pay by the bowl! Lol.  😉

Mama Mandola’s Sicilian Chicken Soup {Serves 10-12}

Ingredients:

  • 1 Whole Chicken (About 3.5 to 4.5 LB)
  • 4 Garlic cloves
  • 1 Can (14.5 Oz.) Diced tomatoes in juice
  • 3 Green Bell Peppers
  • 4 Medium baking Potatoes, Russet or Burbank
  • 4 Celery Ribs
  • 1 large yellow Onion
  • 3 Carrots
  • 1 small bunch (or 1/2 cup chopped) Flat Leaf Parsley
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 Cup Ditalini or other “Soup Pasta” (I used little shells)

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Directions:

1) Wash the Carrots, Green bell peppers, Celery ribs, and Potatoes and put it all in a large bowl. (This just makes things faster and easier.) Get a cutting board and cut all of the veggies. Cut the Celery ribs into 1/4 – inch dice, cut off the white parts on the ends. Cut the Green bell peppers into 1/4- inch dice, make sure to wash it inside, and get all the seeds out, also cut out the white parts of the peppers inside. Peel the Carrots and cut them into 1/4- inch dice. Peel the Potatoes and cut them into 1/2- inch dice.

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2) Remove the giblets from the Chicken. To do this, put the chicken with its legs up, then take a spoon and remove the giblets from the hole in between. Throw the giblets out, you will not need them for the soup. Once the giblets are removed, thoroughly wash the chicken both outside and inside. Place it on a  pasta colander in a big bowl to drain excess water.

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3) Get a large pot. Put the chicken in the pot first, with the breasts facing down (Kinda like the Chicken is face down, back up). Then put all your cut vegetables on top of the Chicken. Add the can of diced tomatoes AND their juice on top. Then add enough cold water to cover everything by 1 inch.

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4)Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, skimming off the foam that rises to the top with a big spoon, into a small bowl. Add in the finely chopped parsley, Garlic (using a garlic press), 1 Tablespoon Salt and 1 teaspoon Pepper.

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*That’s a picture of the foam that rises to the top, and needs to be removed!!!*

5) Reduce the heat to Medium-Low ( I had it on 3.5). Partially cover the pot, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through well and almost falling off the bones, about 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours. (I did an hour and 40 minutes, and my chicken was 5 LB cuz that’s the smallest one I found in the store.)

6) In a separate small pot boil water and cook your soup pasta according to the package instructions. When it is ready, drain out the water and set it aside. Fill about half a tea kettle with water and bring it to a boil, you will need this boiling water soon.

7) Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a large bowl and let it cool for about 15 Minutes. Its okay if some parts of the chicken such as a leg or wing break off in the pot, just take out the broken pieces using a big slotted spoon. Keep the soup in the pot simmering.

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*I know, it looks beautiful doesn’t it? Lol JK! But Trust me, it tastes really good in the end.*

8) Add the boiled water from the tea kettle to the soup pot, I added between 1/4 to 1/2 a tea kettle, Until the soup was a little more then half of the pot. *You do not have to add extra water if you don’t want to. But I HIGHLY recommend it, because if you don’t the soup will be just way too thick and makes much less servings!*

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9) When the Chicken has cooled down, remove the meat, and discard the skin and bones. Be careful not to mangle the meat much, but keep it in neat pieces. Tear or pull the Chicken into large bite-sized pieces. I prefer hand -pulled chicken to chopped chunks. Put the pieces of chicken into a small bowl.

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10) Using a potato masher or large slotted spoon, mash some of the potatoes in the soup pot, to lightly thicken the broth. Add the cooked soup pasta to the pot. Then add the large bite-sized pieces of Chicken to the pot. Let it heat through on Medium heat, for about 10 Minutes. *Best when served hot!*

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* I forgot to take a picture of the pot with the end result. So this is a close up of the soup and how it looks in the pot. Sorry, I’m still new to this!*

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Oxi Clean, Stains, and Forgiveness

This past Sunday after church, we went to a restaurant for lunch with our friends and my husbands brother. My son Abel was wearing a brand new outfit that particular day. He is only 2 years old, and as you may have already guessed, He is a very sloppy eater. By the time we were done eating he had orange juice and ketchup all over his shirt. Of course we were not very happy about that since he had only worn that shirt just once and now it was ruined, But there is not much you can do about such hard to remove stains, and sloppy eating 2 year old’s, who don’t like to wear a bib. When we got home, my husband soaked that shirt in the sink with some Oxi Clean laundry stain remover, In hopes of making the stains less noticeable when we would wash it later on. Soon enough when he took the shirt out of the sink, to hang it to dry before throwing it into the laundry, the spots were completely gone. Not just less noticeable but completely gone and no trace of them! And looking at that shirt and Oxi Clean, it reminded me of the sermon that was preached by Pastor Mike Whitson that Sunday morning at church, about the forgiveness of sins. I was reminded yet again about how great and loving our God is and how truly merciful He is to us. Just as those dirty stains were washed off of my sons shirt, Jesus washed away all my dirty stains, all my sins are gone without a trace and once He forgives us our sins, no matter how big and bad they are, he does not remember them. Hebrews 10:17 “Then he adds, “I will no longer hold their sins and their disobedience against them.” So if God has showed his grace and mercy to us, and has forgiven us our sins, we need to remember that those sins are gone and He has forgotten them forever. Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” This means that we ourselves need to get over our past. If God no longer holds our past sins against us then we should not hold them against ourselves. No matter how bad, big, dark or embarrassing our past was, we are made clean through the power of His blood. Matthews 26:28 “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. We need to learn to forgive ourselves. Yes, forgive ourselves, and let go of the past, that comes back to haunt us every now and then. 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We need to stop looking back, and stop thinking about our past because none of us had a perfect past, we were all sinners before we came to God in our brokenness with repentance. Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” I find it amazing how God speaks to me through the simplest most random things, like a bottle of Oxi Clean to remind me that I am forgiven and made clean. Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” …Thank you Jesus for dying on the cross for such a sinner as I am and for shedding your precious, precious blood for me, as unworthy as I am. Ephesians 1:7 “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” and For loving me even when I was a sinner. For washing away my sins with the power of your blood. For having mercy on me. For making me new again, and for opening up the door of Salvation for me. I am humbled and forever grateful Lord. Thank You…

Guacamole (With baked Pita bread)

 

5E2D23CE-E5AF-4234-857B-D239424E27B6This Guacamole is a perfect appetizer or snack. Everyone loves it and it is so easy and fast to make! This recipe was inspired by my sister, Larisa, who one day brought it over our house as a snack when we were grilling by the pool. We ate every last bit of it while we were waiting for the burgers and hot dogs to be done, And even my son who was never a fan of avocados, really enjoyed it. By the way, I thought I should mention that this Guacamole is a perfect side/snack for a cook out! We usually pair it with baked Pita bread, although it would work with pita chips, tortilla chips, or just on top of bread too. But we enjoy eating it with fresh, hot out of the oven Pita bread! 🙂

Guacamole {Serves 4-6}

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 ripe Avocados (They have to be a little soft to the touch)
  • 1/2 a Lime, juiced
  • 1 Small Onion, Finely diced
  • 1 Large Tomato
  • 1 Small bunch of fresh Cilantro (About 4 Tablespoons)
  • 2-3 Garlic Cloves (More or less, depending on your love of garlic)
  • 1/8 teaspoon Ground Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Bag of Pita bread (Optional but highly recommended!)

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Directions:

1) Cut the avacados in half and scoop them out, using a spoon, into a big bowl. DO NOT throw out the seeds from the middle of the avocados, You will need them at the end (to keep the guacamole fresh).

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2) Mash the avocados using a fork or potato masher, Until it gets to your desired consistency. Some people like it chunky, some like it smooth. I like mine smooth.

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3) Using a citrus press, juice half of a lime and add the juice to the avocados.

4) Cut the tomatoes into little dice. Finely chop the onion and cilantro. Add it into the bowl.

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5) Using a garlic press, add the garlic cloves. Then add 1 teaspoon of salt and the 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Mix well. Then add the 3 avocado seeds to the bowl. *The secret of the avocado seeds is that the seeds will keep the guacamole from turning brown and keep it beautifully green. Its a neat trick I learned from a friend.

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6) Add the 1-2 Tablespoon of Olive oil and mix very well. It can be served right away but for best results, refrigerate it for at least 1 hour.

*The Pita bread I just cut into 6 triangles and stick it in a small conventional oven on 300- 350, for about 5 minutes. They are the perfect companion for this tasty Guacamole! and the whole bag serves 4.*

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And there goes my hubby dipping the baked Pita bread into the yummy Guacamole! I’ve heard this is the BEST guac in the world. But don’t take it from me, try it yourself! 😉

Perfect Chicken Salad

IMG_0900Home made Chicken Salad is so much better tasting then anything you’d buy at a grocery store. I like buying my own organic chicken and other ingredients so I know exactly what goes in it, that’s why I always make my own! This chicken salad is the perfect combination of ingredients. It’s not too dry and not mushy either. Keep in mind it does take some time to make but it’s definitely worth it! It’s great as a side dish but I love making croissant sandwiches with this chicken salad! When I make it for parties or get togethers it’s always a big hit and everyone asks for the recipe so that’s why I’m posting it. I make a big batch of it because we eat it for a couple days as a side or a croissant sandwich on the go. Super convenient lunch for days! This is how much I would make for a party or get together. But if your not planning on making a big batch, you can easily make half of this recipe. Also feel free to add grapes, dry cranberries, eggs, or nuts as some people like it that way. I personally like to keep this recipe simple so I don’t add anything else to it. 🙂

Perfect Chicken Salad {Serves 18-20}

Ingredients:

  • 6 LB Chicken Breast (With no skin or bones) *Organic tastes best
  • 2 Cups Real Mayonnaise (I use Hellman’s brand)
  • 7 Celery ribs
  • 5 Scallions
  • 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice (From 1 Large Lemon)
  • 4 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley Leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Cilanto
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Montreal Chicken seasoning

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Directions:

1) Wash the Chicken breasts thoroughly. Then pat them dry with paper towels.

2) Put the Chicken breasts on a baking sheet rimmed with aluminum foil. (I used 2 baking sheets to fit all the Chicken breasts.)

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3) Preheat your oven to 400 Degrees. With a cooking brush, rub some olive oil on each Chicken breast. Sprinkle salt on each chicken breast, Chicken seasoning, and some pepper on them.

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4) Stick the seasoned Chicken breasts in the oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, Until they turn slightly golden on the outside.

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5) Meanwhile wash and finely dice the celery ribs. Then wash and chop the scallions (Both white and green parts of it.) Set aside in a bowl. Wash and finely mince the parsley and cilanto, add everything to the bowl.

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6) When your Chicken breasts have cooled off, Shred them into bite-sized pieces, You can do this by either finely chopping the Chicken breasts or breaking it into pieces with your hands or using 2 forks. I always preferred to just do it with my hands by pulling it apart and breaking it until it looks almost shredded. *Note: I tried shredding it with a shredder before and the pieces were way too small, Making the salad mushy.*

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7) Put the shredded Chicken breasts in a large pot or large bowl. Add the celery, green onions, parsley, and cilantro. Then add the mayonnaise to the pot. Mix it all together.

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8) Squeeze out the juice from 1 Large lemon, using a lemon press. It should measure out to about 2 Tablespoons and add it to the salad. Then sprinkle more salt and pepper only if necessary. I sprinkled a little bit of each. Mix again very thoroughly. Don’t forget to store it in the refrigerator and keep it covered with a lid or foil.

*You can eat this salad as a side or make yummy croissant chicken salad sandwiches with it. We just toast some croissants and spread the Chicken salad in the middle, sometimes adding lettuce and tomatoes.*  🙂

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Simple Braised Potatoes

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These braised potatoes are a Russian comfort food. Every Russian person that you ask will know about this dish, and like me, grew up eating it. I am convinced that these braised potatoes are my 2 year old son’s favorite food. His favorite part to eat is the meat, which he calls “Myaka” (His Russian way of saying meat) Lol and of course anything with potatoes. He would literally eat this every day, Or anything with potatoes in it. Yes, He definitely has my husbands Ukrainian genes!… These potatoes are a perfect weeknight dinner option as they are fast to make and taste so good.  Next time you are craving your mothers braised potatoes that you basically grew up on, Give this recipe a try. It may not taste exactly like your mom’s, but as close as it can get! 😉

Braised Potatoes                                                                                                                                (Serves 8-10)

Ingredients:

  • 4 to 5 LBS Gold Potatoes (Gold tastes best for this recipe)
  • 3 Carrots
  • 1 Large onion
  • 2.5 LB Pork shoulder (Boston Butt)
  • 2 Tablespoons Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 Small bunch Parsley
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon Mrs.Dash Original seasoning
  • Salt/Pepper to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons of Ketchup (I used Organic Ketchup)
  • Fresh or Dried Dill
  • 3-4 Cloves of Garlic

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Directions:

1) Do your prep work first. Peel the potatoes and put them in a large bowl of cold water. Wash, peel, and shred your carrots. Peel and finely dice the onion.

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2) Wash the meat thoroughly, then cut it into about 1/2 inch cubes.

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3) Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pot, on Medium-High heat(I did 6.0). Throw in the meat, season it with salt and pepper, and stir. Meanwhile cut your potatoes into about 1 inch cubes.

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4) Keep cooking and stirring the meat until it looks well cooked. Then add in the 2 tablespoons of butter.

5) Fill an electric tea kettle all the way with water and turn it on. (Bringing it to a boil.)

6) Next throw in the onion and carrots into the pot. Mix very well. Then add the Paprika, Garlic powder, Mrs.Dash, and some more salt and pepper.

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7) Mix well, then add the 3 Tablespoons of ketchup and mix. (Organic ketchup tastes best). Add the 2 Bay leaves and mix again.

8) Add the potatoes to the pot. DO NOT stir. Keep the potatoes on top of the meat mix. It is important for the potatoes to stay on top so that they do not turn soft and end up like mashed potatoes. Fill your pot with the boiled water from the tea kettle, Just enough water to fully cover the potatoes. *If you need to boil a little more water in the tea kettle then do so, and add it to the pot.*

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9) Bring it to a boil and then turn the heat down to a low setting. (I did a 3).

10) Cover the pot and simmer for about 25 to 30 Minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through and soft. Meanwhile cut your parsley and dill. I only cut the parsley leaves, not the stems (Although some will still make their way into the pot lol), and I cut it very finely.Then peel your garlic cloves.

11) When the potatoes have about 8 minutes left to cook, open the pot. Add in the parsley, and minced garlic. Lastly throw in the dill. Cover the pot back up, until the potatoes have cooked through. When it is ready, very gently mix it.

*Note: Some people add less water, so just enough to cover the potatoes. But this is the way I grew up eating braised potatoes, and I always enjoyed the delicious gravy that the potatoes and meat make on their own.*

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Zuppa Toscana Soup

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Today we have snow in Charlotte. Third day in a row. In February! It is freezing cold outside and the snow just keeps piling up. This soup is the perfect soup to warm you up on such a day as today, So I made a big pot of it for my family. This soup is famous in the chain Italian restaurant, Olive Garden. So of course I had to try to make it at home. There are many different recipes for this amazing soup, but this recipe is my own. I have been making it this way since we got married. The way I came up with this recipe is by putting together all the things that I tasted in the soup when I tried it at Olive Garden. It came out great and I have been making it that way for many years now and anyone who has ever tried it, Loved it. My grandmother from Massachusetts always requests me to make this soup when she comes to visit us. So I decided to put this yummy recipe here so that others can try it, and for those that already have tried it and loved it, to be able to make it for their own families. 🙂

Zuppa Toscana Soup {Serves 10-12}

Ingredients:

  • 1  1/2 LB Italian Sausage (Mild)
  • 7 Slices of Thick Cut Bacon
  • 4-5 Redskin potatoes
  • 12 Cups Water
  • 2 Tablespoons Oil
  • 4 Chicken Bouillon Cubes
  • 1 1/2 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 Large onion
  • 1/2 OR 3/4 teaspoon, Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (Depending on how spicy you like your soup. I do 3/4 teaspoon because we like it with a little spicy kick)
  • 1/2 a Bunch of Kale
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder

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Directions: 

1) Get the ground meat out of the Italian sausages. I do this by holding the sausage with one hand and with the other squeezing out the ground meat. I shape the ground meat into little round balls. Then set it aside in a plate.

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2) Cut your slices of Bacon into little pieces. (As pictured below.) Set aside in a plate.

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3) Finely chop your onion.

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4) Heat 2 Tablespoons of oil in a large pot on Medium-High heat. (I did a 7.5) Throw in the Italian sausage and crushed red pepper flakes. Mix the sausage every once in a while so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pot. Add in the garlic powder.

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5) When the sausage is a little cooked through, add in the bacon pieces and chopped onion. Don’t forget to keep mixing.

6) Saute everything until the sausage and bacon is cooked through and the onion is soft and translucent.

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7) Then add the water to the pot. Bring it to a boil.

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8) Meanwhile cut your potatoes. *Leave the skin on! Note that this will not taste as well with regular potatoes, only Red Skin Potatoes. But when I had to substitute with regular potatoes I peeled off the skin.*

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9)When the water boils, add the cubes of chicken bouillon. *I Cut my cubes so that they dissolve faster.*

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10) Then add the potatoes into the pot.

11) Cook until the potatoes are soft. About 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile wash and chop the Kale. Only cut the leafy part of the kale, Into about 1 inch pieces. Cut off the stem completely because you will not need it, you can throw it out.

12) Then add the heavy whipping cream to the pot. cook until it is thoroughly heated.

13) Add in the pieces of Kale. Stir well. Once the Kale is soft and the heavy whipping cream has heated through, your soup is ready! If you have to add salt/pepper you can do so. *My soup was perfect so I did not add any. Probably because the chicken bouillon cubes have salt in them.* I serve this soup with Hot fresh bread sticks, or take and bake bread. It tastes best hot out of the oven to go with this soup.

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Beef And Broccoli Stir Fry

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This beef and broccoli stir fry is just as delicious as it looks. It tastes even better than any Chinese restaurants that I have ever tried. The beef is so soft and tender, the broccoli so refreshing, and pairing it with Jasmine rice is the perfect combination. The sauce is perfect and light. This meal is healthy and tastes great! When I make it, I add extra extra broccoli because my 2 yr old son absolutely loves broccoli and that is pretty much all he eats. I know what your thinking, a 2 yr old who loves eating broccoli? Without me having to make him? That is impossible! But I kid you not, my son would pick broccoli (or any other green vegetable) over other food any day! Yes, we are lucky that he naturally loves his veggies, and he has the cutest way of saying “Boccoli” Lol. Anyhow, next time you are craving this Chinese beef and broccoli rice, Try making it instead of take out. It will be much healthier and you will be very satisfied with how yummy it is!

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry {Serves 8}

Ingredients: ( NOTE that there are more Ingredients below!)

  • 2 LB Beef Tenderloin or Flank Steak ( I used beef tenderloin)
  • 1/2 a pot of water, for boiling
  • 4 Tablespoons Vegetable oil
  • One, About 2 inch piece of Fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into thin pieces
  • 2 LB Broccoli florets
  • *Rice or Jasmine rice* (I used Jasmine rice)

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For the Marinade: 

  • 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 4 teaspoons Sherry cooking wine
  • 1 teaspoon Sesame oil
  • 4 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon White pepper

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For the Sauce:

  • 6 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 6 Tablespoons Oyster Sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Sesame Oil
  • 3 teaspoons Sugar
  • 6 teaspoons Corn Starch
  • 24 Tablespoons (1 and 1/2 Cups) water

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Directions:

1) Mix the ingredients for the Marinade in a large bowl and set aside. Wash your beef thoroughly.

2) Cut the beef into thin and small pieces. (As pictured below.)

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3) After you cut all the beef, put it into the bowl with the marinade. Mix it well so that it absorbs the marinade. Let let it marinate for at least 15 minutes. (But it will take longer because it marinates as you do the other steps, so it will marinate for at least half an hour.)

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4) While your meat marinates, Wash the broccoli and cut it. Cut off the stems leaving only a little stem on each floret.

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5) Fill a large pot half way with water and bring it to a boil on High heat. When it boils, add a few drops of oil to the water. Then throw in the broccoli florets.They should take about 2 minutes to cook through. Remove the broccoli using a colander, draining out all the water. Set it aside for later.

6) Cook your rice according to the instructions on the pack. *I like to use Jasmine rice. Especially for this recipe because it tastes great!*

7) While your rice is cooking, Heat 2 Tablespoons of oil in a wok or large skillet, over Medium-High heat(I did 7.5).  * I like to use the wok for this recipe because everything stays in the wok when you mix it.*  Stir fry the beef, mixing it every once in a while, Until the beef is browned on the outside but still a little pink on the inside. Using a large slotted spoon, take out the beef, put in a bowl and set aside for later.

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8) Combine all the ingredients for the Sauce into a bowl and set it aside.

9) Heat 2 more Tablespoons of oil in the wok or skillet, Add the ginger and stir fry it until it is aromatic.

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10) Transfer the beef back into the wok, mixing it, and stir fry until the beef is cooked all the way through and is no longer pink inside. Then add the broccoli. Stir to combine.

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11) Pour the sauce into the wok. Mix well to combine all the ingredients well.

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12) Give the sauce a few minutes to thicken. And it is ready to eat! Serve it over a bed of rice.

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Shrimp Pasta with White Wine

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This Shrimp and white wine pasta is one of my favorite dinners to eat. It is by far the best tasting homemade Shrimp Spaghetti that I have ever tried. It tastes like something an expensive Italian restaurant would serve.  My favorite thing about it is how easy it is to make and how fast, about 30 Minutes. The pasta cooking, and peeling the shrimp is what takes up most of the actual time, and the cooking part takes only about 10-15 minutes. That is why I love making this recipe for guests, It is quick to make but tastes like you spent hours by the stove! I usually serve this dish with some Italian salad and fresh bread sticks,(The frozen bread sticks that I stick in the oven for a few mins), It makes it feel more like you are eating out in a fine Italian restaurant. By the way gentlemen, with Valentines Day coming up this week, This is a perfect recipe just in time for you to surprise your lovely lady with. Trust me, a beautiful romantic dinner that you prepared yourself will make her much happier than just taking her out to eat. Make it special this year, And if your lady likes seafood this recipe will be a hit! You can thank me later 😉

Shrimp Pasta with White Wine {Serves 6-8}

Ingredients:

  • 1 LB box of  Spaghetti (Regular spaghetti works best for this recipe although you can do any spaghetti of your choice)
  • 2 LB RAW Shrimp, Thawed (Cooked Shrimp will not work)
  • 3/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 3/4 Cup of White Wine ( I use Pinot Grigio, Imported from Italy, Semi-dry)
  • 1/2 of a Lemon
  • 1/2 a bunch of Parsley leaves
  • 4-6 Garlic cloves (If Big cloves then 4, If small then 6)
  • Salt/Pepper to Taste
  • About 1/2 a stick ( 4 Tablespoons) of butter
  • Frozen Bread sticks  *I usually get the twisted bread sticks. They are optional for the side, but highly recommended! and pair perfectly with this pasta*

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Directions: 

1) Peel your shrimp, removing the tail and the rest of its “shell” off. *If your shrimp are frozen, You will need to give them at least 1 hour to Thaw. The fastest way to thaw them is by putting them in a large bowl and filling the bowl with ice cold water. Mix them every once in a while. The ice cold water will cause them to thaw.*

2) After you peel your shrimp, Wash them thoroughly, and Set aside in a plate.

3) Cook your spaghetti according to the instructions on the box. *Don’t forget to add salt to your pasta.*

4) While your spaghetti is cooking, Begin the sauce. Fill a small sauce pan with the olive oil. Set it on Low-Medium heat (I did a 4.0)

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5) While you wait for the olive oil to heat up, peel your garlic and mince it into the sauce pan. Then add the shrimps in. Mix very well.

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6) Finely chop your Parsley leaves and add them to the sauce pan *Try not to get any Parsley stems into the pan, pick them out of your cutting board before you add it into the sauce pan.* Mix very well.

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7) Then add the Wine to the sauce pan.

8) Take your lemon and squeeze it through the citrus express. If you do not have one, you can just squeeze in the lemon juice with your hand, but be careful not to get any seeds in, because sometimes they like to sneak into the sauce pan as you squeeze out the juice. Throw away the lemon once you are done.

9) Mix the sauce very well and turn the heat down to low. (I did a 3.0)

10) By this point your spaghetti should already be done cooking. Drain the water out of the pot using a pasta colander. Then add the butter to the pasta. *I cut my butter into thin slices and throw it in, that way it spreads out on all the pasta.*

11) Pour the shrimp and wine sauce into the big pot of pasta and mix it very well.

12) I serve the spaghetti in a big glass serving bowl. And I always pair it with an Italian salad and fresh bread sticks. Enjoy! 🙂

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Grilled Homemade Hamburgers

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This past Sunday we celebrated my husbands birthday. Since Sunday is such a busy day, with church and all, we decided to make it a cookout party. Also it was because we have not eaten a burger since last summer and were really craving one. The burgers turned out great! And it was a good idea to grill because while the guys were outside grilling, I only had to do some quick prep work inside with the girls and I actually got to hang out and enjoy our friends rather then running around in the kitchen cooking up a storm. Everyone loved the burgers and gave them a thumbs up! One of Mike’s friends even suggested we open up a burger place Lol. So I decided to share how I make burgers. These home made burgers taste so much better than the frozen store bought ones, and are actually much cheaper to make! 🙂

Grilled Homemade Hamburgers {Serves 10-12}

Ingredients:

  • 3.75 LB Ground Beef (We bought ground beef patties at Costco, We bought 7.5 LB because I used half for the party and froze the other half for another time)
  • Kraft Original barbecue sauce
  • Salt/Pepper to taste

Toppings for the hamburgers:

  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • 1 large Purple Onion
  • Cheese (We used Havarti cheese)
  • Mayonnaise
  • Ketchup
  • Hamburger Buns (bag of 12)

Directions:

1) Take your ground beef. *We bought ground beef patties at Costco, They were shaped into circles so it makes things much easier* If you buy regular ground beef, you can just make a huge cylinder log and cut off circles for your burgers.

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(These are the patties that I used from Costco, And I cut them in half)

2) Cut your circles (if from Costco then cut the circles in half) If from another store, Cut your log of ground beef into circles. These will be your burgers.

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3) Shape out your burgers. I do this by pressing down on the burger to make it even, then flatten it out with a knife. Then I use the knife and my fingers to even out the outside of the burger, making it perfectly round.

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4) When you are done shaping out all the burgers, put them on a serving tray. Or large cutting board.

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5) Generously put salt on each burger. Then add some pepper to it. (I only spice up one side of the burger, and it distributes  to the rest of the burger while it grills)

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6) Pour 1 big drop of Barbecue sauce on each burger.

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7) Using a spoon, spread the Barbecue sauce around the entire burger. *You will not taste the Barbecue sauce when the burgers are grilled, It will just make the burger more moist and add great flavor to it. Also it helps the burger to take in the salt/pepper*

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8) Grill your burgers on the grill however well you want them to be cooked. If you do not have a grill you can use your oven but it will take much longer to cook through and will not taste as good as grilled.

9) Put your favorite toppings and sauces on the burger and enjoy while it is hot off the grill!

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For the party I served these burgers with the buns, cheese, topping, Mayo & Ketchup, separate so that everyone could build their perfect burger. I also had baked potatoes, a veggie tray with dip, sweet & salty popcorn, Bush’s baked beans, blue corn tortilla chips along with sour cream and salsa. *But I don’t recommend making baked potatoes like I did because everyone was so full from the burgers and sides that nobody had any room for the potatoes! Lol*

Jello-Cream Dessert

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My husband loves jello. But a fluffy, sweet cream, layered with jello and fruit? That is his dream come true! Lol. He has always had a sweet tooth, but for some reason jello has always been his favorite dessert. So I am always on the look out for good jello ideas. I got the idea for this tasty dessert from my mom, when I first tried it at her house. This dessert is very easy to make and tastes really good. The cream on the bottom and Jello on top really compliment each other. I made this for my husband’s birthday because he likes jello even more then he likes cake. Everyone really enjoyed it!

Jello-Cream Dessert  {18-20}

Ingredients:

  • 2 (8 oz) containers of Cool Whip, Thawed
  • 2 (8 oz) packs of Cream Cheese, Softened
  • 2 Tablespoons( Or 2 little packets) Unflavored Gelatin
  •  2 (6 oz) packs of Raspberry Jello (Or any Jello flavor you want)
  • 1 container of Strawberries
  • 1 container of blueberries                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          IMG_0469

Directions:

1) Put the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer. (Or if you do not have one, you can use a hand mixer) Mix it on medium speed (I did 6) for a few minutes until it is creamy. *I cut my cream cheese into little cubes because that way it mixes faster and spreads out in the bowl rather then being all in one big blob*

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2) Fold in the Cool Whip. Mix it with a spoon to incorporate it into the cream cheese a little bit. Turn the mixer on again to Medium speed and let it mix for about 10 minutes until it is creamy and smooth.

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3) Take a large glass baking pan, and put the cream in it. Use a spatula and butter knife to evenly spread it out on the bottom of the pan. Then cover it with foil (Or a cover if your pan comes with one) and refrigerate the cream for at least 45 minutes.

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4) While your cream is in the fridge, Wash the strawberries and blueberries very well. Then cut your strawberries, removing the stem, into thin slices.

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5) When the 45mins go by and your cream has stiffened up in the fridge, Make the 2 Tablespoons (or 2 little pouches) Of unflavored Gelatin according to the package instructions.

6) Carefully pour the Unflavored Gelatin on top of the cream, Making a thin, clear jello layer. Be careful not to get it into the cream. Pour it evenly over the entire top, Smoothing it with a spatula if you have to.*Pouring it slowly and not all in one spot is important because if you pour too fast or all of it in one spot then it will make dents in the cream*

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7) When you are done pouring the Unflavored Gelatin evenly over the entire top of the cream, Cover it back up and put it back in the fridge until the Gelatin stiffs up. Since it will be a very thin layer, it won’t take too long to harden. I think I waited about an hour. * The reason you need to make this thin Gelatin layer is to separate the white cream and the raspberry jello, this way it stays neatly in it its place and the raspberry Jello does not fall through the delicate layer of the cream*

8) When you check the Gelatin and it stiffs up, Then make the Raspberry (or whatever flavor you are using) Jello according to the package instructions on the box.

9) Slowly pour the Jello on top of the Gelatin. Until you think that it is enough jello for the top. Don’t forget to leave a little extra room for the strawberries and blueberries. Put the strawberries and blueberries in the Jello liquid. Spread it out like how you want it to look when it stiffens up. Cover it and put it in the fridge.

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10) Once it stiffens up, It is ready to eat! It will look beautiful with the bright color of the Jello and the fruit. Serve it in the tray and cut it into squares as you serve it.

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