What did you have for lunch?

image

As I’m on the journey I am learning so much more and my relationship with food has changed for the better. I don’t look as food as an escape but as nourishment. Today for example I had a filling breakfast of oatmeal made with almond milk and banana slices.

image

And for lunch I made this delicious grilled chicken taco. Inside is grilled chix chicken marinated in a tomato sauce I created, sauteed with spinach, corn, and red cabbage. Lastly I added a lil salsa and avocado. .let’s just say DELICIOUS!

So I hope today you take the time toneay something not only delicious but will nourish your body 🙂

Happy Eating,
Norah ♥

image

Advertisements

Let’s Do Something New This Week: Smoothie Challenge!

Highlights of this weekend :-)

Highlights of this weekend 🙂

Hello My Fit and Fun Foodies,

I hope everyone had a great weekend! Mine was filled with great company, food, and not so much relaxation. I went to see one of my best friends in the lovely city of Brooklyn and we had a great time! We went out to a chic art mag event followed by ending the night with drinks and not so healthy but great food from Soco. The next day I started off the day right by going to Cornerstone and having delicious Steak and Eggs

Steak and Eggs were sooo good!

Steak and Eggs were sooo good!

while sipping on some DELICIOUS Mimosas

Mimosas!

Mimosas!

. The rest of the day I went home and relaxed and today I enjoyed a great and spiritual day with my family.

This weekend I have learned that I have become wayyy more positive and upbeat about life. Who knew that make healthy and great life style choices can make you so much more happier and see a more positive outlook on life. This fitness and clean health journey has been something that I have fallen in love with. Its become almost an obsession and while I do have times where I am so tired I cannot even move, I still will force myself to have my workout. Dedication is key and I am happy to say that I am BEYOND dedicated to leaving a healthier and happier lifestyle.

Essential smoothies: [Image from: ipad.appstorm.net]

Essential smoothies: [Image from: ipad.appstorm.net]

This week what I would like to do is start a two week smoothie challenge. For two weeks I will have a smoothie for both breakfast and as a afternoon snack. They will be generally low carb smoothies, but there will be days where I indulge in a higher carb fruit. I also will limit my carb intake and eat loaded veggies with either chicken or fish on the daily. It will be fun and interesting to see where this will go but I will let you know how it goes and meanwhile I will posts my most favorite smoothie recipes!

Smoothie Recipe Chart [Image from: goodcleanhealth.com]

Smoothie Recipe Chart [Image from: goodcleanhealth.com]

So my friends on that note hope you all have a happy and healthy week filled with great food and good memories! And remember, try to create something exciting and new this week 😉

Found this lovely quote while shopping: Create yourself a new life <3

Found this lovely quote while shopping: Create yourself a new life ❤

Sweet Sundays: Oreo Chocolate Madness!!!

Chocolate Oreo Madness :-)

Chocolate Oreo Madness 🙂

Hola My Foodie Lovers and Friends! ESPECIALLy the Sweet Tooths :-)!

First off hope everyone had an amazing weekend, hopefully filled with fun, good food, and of course some much needed REST! I know for myself my weekend was pretty decent and it actually taught me a lot (I know how can two days really teach you anything, but it did!). Lately I have been feeling that I am at a crossroads. There are so many different opportunities to choose from and with a busy yet pretty much redundant schedule I was losing my love for life. In other words I felt like I was stuck in a HUGE rut! People around me seem to have a lot more going while me was same old same old! Than I realized that I cannot just sit there and let life pass me by, but rather create new opportunities and experiences for me. I almost thought that running away from this place was the best option but I realized that it would not help my situation of my lack for lust of life. So I decided to LIVE, LIVE, LIVE. I am expose myself to new and more exciting experiences and hope that it will cure this “ailment” so to speak LOL. Only time will tell but I will DEFINITELY keep you in the know 😉

This week I was inspired to bake because not only had it been a while, but I wanted something to pick me up from my “funk”. Cooking as I have said before is one of my forms of therapy and I love to go through the pantry and create new dishes or treats that I know my family and coworkers would enjoy. Thats when I decided to make a cake with crushed Oreo’s and a yummy chocolate drizzle. Decadent I know but oh so yummy! I even cheated a little bit from my clean “diet” and had a small slice just to test it out of course. This cake recipe is simple and oh so delicious and is HIGHLY recommended for the chocolate lover 🙂

Ingredients:

  • For  Cake:
    • 1 box of Betty Crocker Moist Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix
    • 3 Eggs
    • 1-1/4 cup of Milk (I used 2%)
    • 1/2 cup of cooled melted Butter
    • 1 tsp of Vanilla Extract
    • 1 box of Instant Chocolate Pudding Mix
    • 1-1 1/2 cups of crushed Oreo Cookies
  • For Oreo & Chocolate Drizzle/Ganache Topping
    • 9 ounces of Bittersweet or Semisweet Chocolate Chips
    • 1 cup of Heavy Cream
    • 1 cup of crushed Oreo Cookies

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven for 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium size bowl combine dry ingredients: cake mix and pudding mix and set aside.
    Cake and Pudding Mix

    Cake and Pudding Mix

     Also crush your Oreos for both the cake and your cake topping and set aside.

    Crush Oreo Goodness!

    Crush Oreo Goodness!

  3. In a medium-large size bowl whisk together your eggs, milk, and melted butter till combined.
    Egg Mixture

    Egg Mixture

    Than pour your cake mix into the egg mixture and whisk till combined and smooth.

  4. Pour in your crush Oreos and fold into your cake batter till combined.

    Oreos folded into cake batter

    Oreos folded into cake batter

  5. Spray your tube cake pan with baking non stick spray and pour in your batter. (I was lucky enough to find and aluminum angel food cake pan so cleaning was essentially a breeze!)

    Cake batter in pan

    Cake batter in pan

  6. Bake the cake for 20 to 30 minutes or until center of the cake is baked (toothpick test).
  7. Once bake remove from pan and let the cake cool till cold to touch.

    Delicious and warm cake!

    Delicious and warm cake!

  8. Meanwhile you can make your chocolate ganache: add your chocolate chips into a medium size heat proof bowl and set aside. Add your heavy cream into a small sauce pan and heat till simmering (small bubbles in the corners). Than pour your heavy cream to your chocolate chips and whisk till combined and has a velvety texture. (This recipe makes about 2 cups so you can use the amount desired for your cake!)
  9. Once cake is cooled pour about half your ganache onto your cake (I use a cup to pour the ganache to make it easier). Than add your crushed Oreos and pour the rest onto your cake (Make a drizzle effect).

    Finishing of a ganache and drizzle oreo cake

    Finishing of a ganache and drizzle oreo cake

  10. Let this set for about 20-30 minutes before serving.
  11. Slice this yummy cake and ENJOY!

    Sliced deliciousness :-)

    Sliced deliciousness 🙂

This cake was yummy and I think it came out pretty awesome! It was moist and soo delicious and it was gone in about an hour at work. I wanted to put up this recipe because its deliciously homemade and easy enough for any baker who is just starting. It does not matter that the starter is a cake mix, creativity makes anything yours. So go out and buy any cake mix and add some delicious add ins! You never know what you can create 😉

Love you all and hope you have a happy and yummy rest of your Sunday and a great week!

Norah 🙂

Life Motto [Image from: www.verybestquotes.com]

Life Motto [Image from: http://www.verybestquotes.com]

The Beauty of a Hand

The Beauty of a Heart

The hand can hold the talent to create some beautiful things…

Hey my friends,

I wanted to take a new approach to poetry by writing a recipe within a poem. It was a bit tricky but I think it came out unique yet beautiful. Hope you enjoy 🙂

The Beauty of a Hand

These hands

These overused yet simple hands

Sometimes manicured to perfection

But most of the time simple and ordinary

No polish on the fingers

Nails tend to get long

Your simple yet beautiful hands

 

They tend to create a beautiful thing

A beautiful thing you say…

Yes a beautiful thing..

It can start with the opening of a simple cookie mix…

That leads to the mixing and intertwining of something simple yet beautiful…

The marriage of an egg, stick of butter and of course lots of sweet chocolate chips

Creating a dough so rich yet a bit grainy to the tip

The beauty of a simple dough

The beauty of a simple dough

 

The use of this hand can shape a simple yet perfect heart

Perfect like a heart shape pan

Butter it up with sweet nothings

Tell me secrets that you have never shared

Press them down towards my soul like dough to a pan

Let it sink in into every corner like my heart

Show my heart the true joy of knowing you

Light a fire like you would and oven

Engulf me in your heat 350 degrees

Let me settle in your warmth

Love me not only for 10 to 15 minutes

But love me for a lifetime

 

Perfect shaped heart <3

Perfect shaped heart ❤

 

Let this beauty cool till cold to the touch

Awing at the perfect form

Love comes in all types of forms

It can be showered in words, actions, even a simple gesture

But for these hands they shower love in pink icing

The sweetness so decadent it is covered and written on this beautiful heart

Use these hands…

To show me how you love me

To show me how you care

Actions clearly speak louder than words…

 

Your hands

Your simple yet beautiful hands…

They have created

They have used

These hands have shown kindness

These hands have shown strength

 

My beautiful hands tell a story

Sometimes pure

Sometimes dark

But with a simple idea

They create not only beauty

They create…

Love

 

Love can be shown in any form

Love can be shown in any form

 

 

 

Sweet and Simple Chocolate Chip Cookies With a Hint of Nutella

Chocolate and Nutella Gold

Instagram Photo: Chocolate and Nutella Gold

Happy Sunday My Sweet Toothed Foodies,

I hope you all are having a great sunday, mine of course was traditional and relaxing with church and brunch with the family. Nothing beats my sunday morning than a great service followed by some yummy food! After brunch I was lucky enough to whip up a quick batch of cookies and I thought why not play with it. I had a Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix and I was  OF COURSE craving cookies. This by far is one of my favorite mixes not only because the results are some yummy cookies but you can make the mix your own with your own variations.

Image from bettycrocker,com

Image from bettycrocker,com

As you all know I love to experiment with all kinds of food products so of course I had to make these cookies with a twist, Nutella!!! Now if you know me I am a LOVER OF NUTELLA! I grew up eating Nutella when a family member brought a jar overseas or was lucky enough to find it in a store. I remember countless times eating Nutella on toast or bagels while watching cartoons or movies to now baking Nutella into cupcakes and delicious creme frostings. Basically Nutella is an honoree family member in my family who must always be in my house (aka in my pantry LOL). Now on to the recipe, this is just my version of making quick and easy chocolate chip cookies with a delicious Nutella swirl!

Heaven on EARTHH!

Heaven on EARTHH!

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix
  • 1 large Egg
  • 1 softened stick of Unsalted Butter
  • 1 tsp of Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tbsp of All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 -1 cup of Mini Hershey Kiss Chocolate Chips or any kind of Chocolate Chips
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of Nutella (Hazelnut Chocolate Spread)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven for 350 degrees F
  2. In a medium size bowl combine your chocolate chip cookie mix, one egg, unsalted butter (chopped into pieces), vanilla extract, all-purpose flour, and chocolate chips
    Pre-Mix Cookie Dough

    Pre-Mix Cookie Dough

    and mixed till combined. (I like to mix it with my hands but a wooden spoon will do)

    nutella2

    Mixed Cookie Dough

  3. Split your cookie dough is half and scoop in some Nutella and swirl it with the cookie dough.

    Swirled Nutella Cookie Dough

    Swirled Nutella Cookie Dough

  4. Use an ice scooper and scoop on some dough and place on your baking pan to bake for 10-12 minutes (**Cookies will be done when you can lift the corner slightly)

    nutella4

    Chocolate Chip and Nutella Swirl Cookie Dough

  5. Remove and let them cool slightly or like many others just enjoy the soft and warm cookie fresh out of the oven!

    Finished Product...delicious cookieness!

    Finished Product…delicious cookieness!

Now that you got the gist of how to make simple and easy Chocolate Chip Nutella Swirl Cookies now go and make your own! This is definitely a crowd pleaser and the kids will love this as well. So next time you pick up a cookie mix get creative 🙂

Creativity is Key :-)

Creativity is Key 🙂

Happy Baking 🙂

Rice Cooker Series: 123 Flavorful Chopped Grilled Chicken!

Grilled Chicken Tacos!

Grilled Chicken Tacos!

Hello my foodies!

I am back again with another creative and yummy way to use the rice cooker. I am not sure if I ever told the back story of how I started using my rice cooker for things other than rice…well here it goes! In my current job I have the pleasure of running a food program for a preschool/childcare center. I create monthly menus, prep and make the food, do weekly food orders, I do it all! When I first started I was introduced into a kitchen that was not like the typical commercial kitchen I was used too, in my opinion my now kitchen is a better version home kitchen but with a big freezer and fridge with:two convection and convectional ovens, a movable stovetop (its on wheels), dishwasher, two food warmers, and two rice cookers. Now with these kitchen appliances you can make lots of things but you have to be creative and think bigger. Everyday when I go into work I think of, what can I do to make this recipe better. I love that I even have the creative freedom to make anything in that kitchen mind. (I know I am going sooo off topic and your saying go to the recipe!) But I just wanted to say without this creative freedom it would be difficult to truly enjoy what I do. As you have read, creativity is a way a life for me and without it I feel lifeless. I am sure every single one of you feel the same way one way or another. But in short that is the back story of the birth of my countless rice cooker recipes haha! Now on to the recipe!…

This recipe in my opinion is one of my favorites to make. I love how the chicken comes out and you can make this recipe in sooo many different ways! It is also very simple (Beauty of the Rice Cooker my friends!). So without further ado the Grilled Chicken for Quesadillas, Tacos, and many other things LOL.

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 pounds of coarsely chopped Grilled Chicken Breasts (I used frozen grilled chicken breast that I had thawed)
  • 4-5 Chicken Bouillon Cubes
  • 1 can or 1-2 cups of Diced Tomatoes
  • 1-2 tsp of Minced Onion
  • 1-2 tsp of Minced Garlic
  • 1-2 tsp of Chicken Poultry Seasoning
  • 1-2 tsp of Garlic and Pepper Powder
  • 1-2 tsp of Onion Powder
  • Paprika (Sprinkle for color)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • ***All seasoning measurements are optional, in my opinion seasonings should be measured according to YOUR taste level, so you can add less or more to make this dish yours 🙂

Directions:

  1. Coarsely chop your cooked grilled chicken breasts to small shredded pieces and set aside.

    Chopped Grilled Chicken

    Chopped Grilled Chicken

  2. In your rice cooker add about 1-1 and 1/2 cups of warm water and add your bouillon cubes, minced onion and garlic, onion and garlic powder, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper to taste and to create a broth.

    Chicken Broth

    Chicken Broth

  3. Once your broth is boiling add your chicken and stir your chicken in the broth.
    Chicken Stirred in Broth

    Chicken Stirred in Broth

    You will notice it seems a bit dry but your chicken will create more juice.

    Chicken moistened

    Chicken moistened

  4. As your chicken is cooking add your diced tomatoes and paprika to your chicken and let your chicken cook for at least 10 to 15 minutes till serving time.

    Chicken w/ Diced Tomatoes and Paprika

    Chicken w/ Diced Tomatoes and Paprika

  5. Now your chicken is finally cooked!
    Chicken Cooked and Full of Flavor

    Chicken Cooked and Full of Flavor

    The chicken is tender and filled with flavor, it is also low cal for all our health conscious foodies! You can make delicious dishes like chicken tacos, burritos, nachos, quesadillas, the list goes on and on!

    Making of a Chicken Quesadilla

    Making of a Chicken Quesadilla

  6. Serve hot and enjoy 🙂

    Chicken Quesadilla w/ corn and salsa

    Chicken Quesadilla w/ corn and salsa

This dish was something I just came up with and its a favorite of everyone at my job. It is filled with delicious flavor and I am sure if you make this it will be a favorite of yours as well! I hope you guys experiment with this yummy dish and even a create a taco night!

Chicken Tacos!

Chicken Tacos!

Happy Cooking 🙂

Rice Cooker Series: Simple Yet Yummy Penne with Meat Sauce

Yummy Penne w/ Turkey Meat Sauce!

Yummy Penne w/ Turkey Meat Sauce!

Hello My Creative Foodies,

So I decided to start a series of post about dishes I have made or recipes I have tried using a rice cooker. In my previous posts I have shown a couple recipes (Creative Mac and Cheese) that I have used the rice cooker for certain components of the dish. Using a rice cooker is quick and simple and it is an alternative than using a stove. Since I started my current job I use my rice cooker at least twice a week. I love the simplicity and the easy clean up. I recommend the rice cooker for anyone especially people who like cooking made easy and fast. A good rice cooker makes not only nice and fluffily rice every time but you can use it for other things such as sauces, soups, certain meats such as chicken, the list goes on!

One of the dishes I love to make is penne with turkey marinara. It has since than become a staple dish on our current menu and it is so easy yet DELICIOUS to make! I recommend it to anyone who is not only a pasta lover, but wants something quick and healthy with A LOT of FLAVOR 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups of your favorite brand of Turkey Meatballs (My favorites are Perdue or Shady Farms)
  • 1 can of crush tomatoes
  • 1 can of Hunts diced tomatoes (If you enjoy a chunky marinara sauce, if not just two cans of crushed tomatoes)
  • Olive Oil – enough to coat the bottom of the rice cooker pot
  • 2-3 tsp of minced garlic (I love Garlic but maybe one tsp is just enough for you, its all about your taste buds :-))
  • 1-2 tsp of minced  or chopped onion
  • 3 tbsp of Sugar
  • Chopped Parsley and Basil to taste
  • Italian Seasoning to taste
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Water (if sauce is too thick, splash some hot water to think it out)
  • Cooked Penne Pasta
  • Parmesan Cheese to sprinkle (optional)

Directions:

  1. What I love about the rice cooker is you can make Pasta! So before you make your yummy sauce, you can boil enough water for your pasta and add some salt, olive oil, garlic and onion powder for taste. Set aside once cooked.

    Cooked Pasta

    Cooked Pasta

  2. In a clean pot add your mince garlic and onion and add enough oil to cover the onion and garlic.
    Olive Oil and Garlic with Onion

    Olive Oil and Garlic with Onion

    Saute for a minute or so than add both your crushed and diced tomatoes and stir. Add your seasoning: salt, basil, italian seasoning, sugar, pepper, and any other seasonings. I like to add garlic and onion powder to enhance the flavor.

    Sauce with Herbs and Spices

    Sauce with Herbs and Spices

  3. Let your sauce cook and simmer while occasionally stirring for about 10-20 minutes. *** Rice cookers can cook at a quick rate compared to stovetop so keep a close eye. Also if you do not stir, your sauce can burn from the bottom so REMEMBER to STIR! lol )

    Cooked Plain Marinara

    Cooked Plain Marinara

  4. While your sauce is simmering either thaw out your turkey meatballs or id there already thawed using your hand crush your turkey meatballs till it resembles ground turkey.
    Crushed Turkey Meatballs

    Crushed Turkey Meatballs

    Add your ground turkey to your sauce and simmer for about 10 minutes while stirring.

    End product of delicious meat sauce

    End product of delicious meat sauce

  5. Once sauced is made you can pour on your penne and ENJOY! ***Warning: sauce is SUPER HOT so DO NOT BURN YOURSELF! Lol 🙂

Now that you know how I make quick and easy penne with meat sauce I hope you all try it. The beauty of using a rice cooker or any kitchen appliance in that  nature is you can be creative and do something different. Even with this simple recipe, thinking outside the box can result in delicious outcomes. So let’s throw on our aprons and get CREATIVE!

Happy Cooking my friends 🙂

Creative Quote (Image from inmyownstyle.com)

Creative Quote (Image from inmyownstyle.com)

When Distraction Leads to New Creations… Chocolate Caramel Bundt Cake

Chocolate Caramel Bundt Cake!

Chocolate Caramel Bundt Cake!

Hey My Sweet Tooths and Chocoholics (I admit I am one of each!)

I am finally making my first baking post in a looong time! I guess when you get consumed with work and life you tend to not have time to do what you love! Well I finally took the time to test out a recipe that I have been trying to make for the longest! Well it all started when I stumbled on the recipe online while looking for a new cake recipe to try out. The recipe ended up on allrecipes.com. I have to say allrecipes.com is one of my top sites to look for recipes because it not only has all kinds of sweet and savory recipes but the reviews are honest and really helpful. While on the cake hunt I happen to have found a recipe called “Better than Sex Cake”. The name alone would make anyone stop and be like for real?! So I looked through the recipe and I thought why not give it a try! The combination of chocolate and caramel with sweetened condensed milk, I was like that’s my kinda combo!

Example of Better Than Sex Cake : allrecipes.com Image from Erica

Example of Better Than Sex Cake : allrecipes.com Image from Erica

I decided to make it with my sister as something fun to do on a cold day. The process was a lot of fun to make but heres the thing. I kinda winged the recipe LOL. I had thought I memorized the recipe in my head but I did not make the exact recipe and made something entirely different! (I blame it on my sister for making me laugh and distracting me LOL) I have to say I still like the results and the cake was flavorful and very rich. So without further ado here is Chocolate Caramel Bundt Cake!

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix (I used Betty Crocker)
  • 1 and 1/4 cup of Carnation Whole Milk
  • 1 can of Carnation Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1/2 cup of Melted (Unsalted) Butter or Margarine (cooled)
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 tsp of Vanilla Extract
  • 1 box of Chocolate Fudge Instant Pudding Mix
  • 1 jar of Caramel Sauce
  • (Optional) 1/2-1 cup of Chocolate Chips to melt for chocolate drizzle
  • Utensils and Gadgets
    • Whisk
    • Rubber Spatula
    • Wooden or Plastic Mixing Spoon
    • Baking Nonstick Spray w/ Flour
    • Large and Medium Mixing bowls
    • Standard Bundt Pan
    • Wire Cooling Racks
    • (Optional) Decorative Squeeze Bottles for chocolate and caramel (Can be found in craft stores such as Michaels and AC Moore)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven at 350 degrees F and spray your Bundt Pan
  2. In a Large Bowl add in your dry ingredients: Chocolate Cake and pudding mix and mix together with a whisk till combined

    Cake and Pudding Mix

    Cake and Pudding Mix

  3. In a Medium Size bowl add your wet ingredients: Whole Milk, Melted Butter, Eggs, and Vanilla Extract and whisk till combined

    Egg and Milk Mixture

    Egg and Milk Mixture

  4. Pour your milk and egg mixture to your cake mix bowl and mix till combined**cake batter will be very thick. (**The reason why I like this method of combining your dry and wet ingredients is your cake batter will mix more efficiently and your cake will have a fine texture)

    Chocolate Cake Batter

    Chocolate Cake Batter

  5. Pour Cake batter in your greased bundt pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or till cake springs back when you touch it or toothpick method

    Before Baked

    Before Baked

  6. After it is Baked

    After it is Baked

    Once cake is done remove from oven and poke holes throughout cake with either a toothpick or knife and pour sweetened condensed milk. Once soaked in take your wire rack or even your cake plate and flip cake over (**WARNING!!!: By mistake I had left the cake soaked in the sweet condensed milk for WAY t0o long and it had become stuck in the pan! (I told you my sister distracted me!) So my friends if your cake does become stuck, DO NOT PANIC! Just simple put your pan carefully in a hot water bath for a couple of minutes and your cake will come right out unharmed. DO NOT FORCE IT OUT!)

    Sweet Condensed Milk being poured into cake

    Sweet Condensed Milk being poured into cake

  7. Once cake is ready and cooled, drizzle both caramel and chocolate onto the cake. I used my decorative tubes to make the drizzle easier and there a great investment for any baking project!
  8. Serve and enjoy!

    Chocolate Caramel Bundt Cake!

    Chocolate Caramel Bundt Cake!

The chocolate cake is rich with flavor and quite delicious. I had made a cake for my family and for my coworkers and they had both enjoyed the cake very much. I hope some of you may even try out this recipe and let me know what you think! I have to say I had a lot of fun making this with my sister. During that time we caught up with stuff going on in our lives, joked around A LOT and I even taught her a couple baking tips. So next time you bake, do it with someone you love, whether your sibling, child, significant other, or a friend; you will see how much fun you will really have! So my friends hope you get inspired with a new baking recipe and even if you get distracted you never know what delicious creations you come up with!

Happy Baking 🙂

Baking quote <3

Baking quote ❤ (Image from pininterest.com)

For Those Winter Days…Creative Cream of Chicken & Rice Soup

Cream of Chicken and Rice Soup

Cream of Chicken and Rice Soup

Hey my culinary foodies!

So if anyone lives up north you probably feeling as cold as I am! It is FREEZING!!! I mean living in NY has its many advantages, the cold winters is NOT one of them! One way to comfort yourself is making a nice bowl of hot soup. While I’m not a soup person, this cold front were having would convert a non soup person into a soup lover! At work today I made a Cream of Chicken and Rice Soup for the children and I have to say the children loved it. While I like to make soups from scratched for the most part, I am a fan of Campbells Cream of Chicken Condensed Soup.

Campbell's Cream of Chicken

Campbell’s Cream of Chicken

I used it as the starter of my soup, and I have to say it makes life easier ESPECIALLY when you have to make soup for 100+ kids. Even when using condenced soup from a can you can be so creative especially with cream of chicken, you can use it for not only soup but different sauces, cassoroles, the list is endless. Here is my quick and easy Cream of Chicken and Rice Soup.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of Campbells Cream of Chicken Condensed Soup
  • 2 (cans) of Hot Water – use the can for the hot water
  • 1-2 cups of Fresh or Frozen Veggies – I used broccoli, peas, carrots, and corn but you can pick whatever works for you

    Broccoli, Peas, Corn, and Carrots for color and flavor..gorgeous huh :-)

    Broccoli, Peas, Corn, and Carrots for color and flavor..gorgeous huh 🙂

  • 1/2 – 1 cup of Cooked Brown or White Rice – while I am a rice lover and love lots of rice some may not so the amount of rice is up to you

    Cooked brown rice to add texture to the soup

    Cooked brown rice to add texture to the soup

  • 2 tsp of Garlic powder
  • 2 tsp of Onion powder
  • Parsley to sprinkle in and on top of soup
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Pour the can of soup in your pot and scrap off the rest with a rubber spatula

    Cream of Chicken Soup in pot

    Cream of Chicken Soup in pot

  2. Add cans of hot water and whisk soup till combined

    Soup and Hot Water being whisked

    Soup and Hot Water being whisked

  3. Add spices and herbs and set your soup under medium heat till simmering

    Herbs and Spices added to the soup

    Herbs and Spices added to the soup

  4. Combine veggies and rice to soup and simmer for about 20 minutes

    Cream of Soup w/ Veggies and Rice

    Cream of Soup w/ Veggies and Rice

  5. Add salt and pepper to soup and set to low heat
  6. Serve and enjoy the hot soup with nice crunchy bread, cold or hot sandwich 🙂

    Cream of Chicken and Rice Soup w/ Turkey Grilled Cheese

    Cream of Chicken and Rice Soup w/ Turkey Grilled Cheese

I told you that this recipe is easy! You can add whatever spices get you going or any veggies you like the choice is yours. Being creative no matter how you start a dish is the beauty of cooking. So I hope you get a chance to either make your own version or if you do not have the time go to your fave  local restaurant and buy a nice cup or bowl of hot soup, find a good movie and keep warm in your favorite blanket when you get the chance on a cold day.

Enjoy and keep warm my culinary friends 😉

MACing it Up! Creating Your Signature Mac and Cheese

Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese w/ tomato and grilled chicken

Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese w/ tomato and grilled chicken

Hey my culinary peoples!

So during this long and crazy week I had the pleasure to make Mac & Cheese for the kiddies. Normally I would make a standard mac and cheese but lately I have been experimenting with different old recipes that I normally use. Maybe because it is the new year but I definitely been in my creative flow and have been making new changes to recipes ever since!

Now Mac & Cheese is nothing to really mess with, while it is a simple dish, many make different variations and there is always a debate about whose Mac and Cheese is the best! Reason why I love Mac and Cheese, you can be as creative as you want to be You can go either simple or gourmet, death by cheese or subtle, or even add various things like chicken, bacon, veggies, the possibilities are endless. So in my search for a unique way to make mac and cheese, I came across this homemade baked mac and cheese recipe (Courtesy of divascancook.com). What was unique about it was they had added cream cheese to their cheese mixture and I thought that was just brilliant! Once I had tried the recipe I knew it would become a stable for future mac and cheese creations. Another thing that I about the recipe was how creamy and flavorful the mac and cheese to the point it resembled the Haitian baked macaroni and cheese that I LOVEEEE (A staple side dish at any haitian event involving food, if you do not believe me ask any haitian person!) The haitian mac and cheese or macaroni de gratin, is filled with yummy flavors such and onion and garlic, they many put different meats and cheese or keep it simple. Now that you clearly know how much I love Mac and Cheese we will now get to the recipe!

Courtesy of plumsintheicebox.com

Example of Haitian Mac and Cheese: Courtesy of plumsintheicebox.com

I will not lie there are alot of steps to my new mac and cheese creation but once you make this once you will not miss a bit in the future. It is simple and fun and guess what, I made EVERYTHING in my rice cooker prior to baking it in the oven! (I told you I love that rice cooker!) Now lets get crackin!

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of Pasta – (Your choice of elbows, rotini, any of these pastas will do)
  • Equal parts of Chicken Broth and Water to boil the pasta (Example: 1 cup of water and 1 cup of chicken broth)
  • 1 cups of Chicken Broth
  • 1 cups of Evaporated Milk (such as Carnation Milk) or Half and Half
  • 2 tbsps of butter
  • 8 oz of Cream Cheese (1 package of cream cheese)
  • 1-2 cups of Diced Tomatoes (I used 1 can of Hunts Diced Tomatoes) or you can use fresh (I def will try in the near future :-))
  • 2-3 cups of Diced Grilled Chicken Breast 
  • Olive Oil (enough to cover the minced garlic in the bottom of the pan)
  • 1 Tbsp of Minced Garlic
  • 2 tsp Onion powder
  • 2 tsp Garlic powder
  • Paprika (to sprinkle on top)
  • 3 cups of Cheddar Cheese blend (I like to blend sharp and mild cheddar and you can even add montgomery as well or gouda – the desicion depends on your taste buds)
  • (Optional) 1/4 cup of Parmesan Cheese (to sprinkle with the cheese and on top of the baked mac and cheese you put it in the oven)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of Panko Bread crumbs (I found that panko bread crumbs are lighter and give the mac and cheese a great crunch)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Set oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Boil pasta with equal parts of water and broth till cooked and set aside or put in your baking pan
  3. In your rice cooker sautee your minced onion in some olive oil than pour in your diced tomatoes and stir in till simmering

    Diced tomatoes and minced garlic in Rice Cooker

    Diced tomatoes and minced garlic in Rice Cooker

  4. Meanwhile dice your already cooked grilled chicken breast and add the chicken to your diced chicken and minced garlic and simmer to enhance flavor.

    Diced chicken cooking in diced tomatoes and garlic (In Rice Cooker)

    Diced chicken cooking in diced tomatoes and garlic (In Rice Cooker)

  5. Meanwhile add chicken broth and butter to a medium size pot and reach to near boiling. While in the pot you can add in your seasonings such as garlic, onion, and salt and pepper. Than slowly add your milk or half and half to the broth and stir till near boiling and remove.
  6. Cut your cream cheese into chunks and add to your milk and broth mixture and whisk in, I had also used a hand blender to blend in the cream cheese to make the mixture smooth.

    mac and cheese 3

    Broth and milk mixture blended with cream cheese

  7. Once blended you can now stir in your cheddar cheese to the cream mixture than pour into your macaroni, than add your tomato and chicken mixture.

    Macaroni w/ chicken, cheese, tomato, and milk mixture

    Macaroni w/ chicken, cheese, tomato, and milk mixture

  8. Once all added sprinkle parmesan and cheddar cheese on top of macaroni mixture and put into the oven for 25 minutes or until golden.

    Mac and Cheese prior to being baked

    Mac and Cheese prior to being baked

  9. Serve straight out of the oven as a side dish to your fave meal or even by itself with your fave veggies.
  10. Enjoy and trust me you will!

    Bon Appetit!

    Bon Appetit!

I hope you are not overwhelmed with the recipe, this is one of my many creations of baked mac and cheese. Cooking should be looked as a creative form of expression, when I cook or bake anything I like to be creative and see how far I can take a standard recipe and make it my own. I encourage anyone who cooks or bakes to next time instead of following the recipe to the T to switch it up! You might surprise yourself on what kind of new creation you make 😉

Happy Cooking my culinary friends 😀