[chocolate cake with chocolate frosting]

This recipe is by far the easiest I've ever made from scratch.  Sure, you can buy the box, but this actually tastes better and is simple to halve if needed.  Enjoy...

2 cups granulated white sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup Cocoa, like Hershey's
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs at room temperature
1 cup milk (I've used 1%, works great)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
Chocolate Frosting (recipe below)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray two 9-inch round baking pans with Pam Baking Spray, (the genius stuff that has the flour in it).  

Stir together: sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla.  Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Add a small amount of the boiling water and continue mixing.  Slowly add the rest of the boiling water and continue to mix until well combined.  Pour the batter into the prepared pans.

Bake 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cakes.  Cool 10 minutes then remove from the pans and continue to cool completely on a wire rack.  Frost with the chocolate frosting and serve.

Other Pans:
13x9x2 Pyrex pan: 35-40 minutes
3 8" round baking pans: 30-35 minutes
12-cup Bundt Pan: 50-55 minutes, cool 15 minutes, then remove
Cupcakes: (makes 30) Fill 2/3 full with batter, bake 22-25 minutes

Chocolate Frosting
1 stick unsalted butter
2/3 cup Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Melt the butter.  Mix the butter and cocoa in a mixing bowl.  Slowly add the powdered sugar and milk, alternating between the two.  Continue to beat until it's spreadable.  Add a little more milk if needed.  Add the vanilla and continue to whip until you like the consistency.  (I just keep whipping until it's spreadable, but I like it thick). 

[cilantro grilled chicken breast]

I wanted something simple and foolproof, so I found this.  
Turns out it's damn good.

1 pound (2 large breasts) boneless skinless chicken breast, butterflied
2 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil
salt & pepper
2 tablespoons Cilantro Herb Butter, recipe follows

Preheat a grill.  Prep the coals (if using charcoal) to indirectly cook the chicken.  Lightly coat chicken with oil and sprinkle each evenly on both sides with salt and pepper. Grill chicken breasts for about 4 to 5 minutes on each side, or until thoroughly cooked; the meat should be solid white throughout and the internal temperature will read 165 degrees F. Remove from grill and immediately cover with foil while the chicken rests.  To serve: top with 1 Tbsp of the cilantro herb butter on each breast.

Cilantro Butter:
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp minced red onion
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Dash Worcestershire sauce
1 lemon, juiced
1 Tbsp white wine
In a bowl or mixer, whisk all ingredients until thoroughly combined. (I prefer to use my stand mixer and whip the butter mixture).  Refrigerate until ready to use.

[australian beer-barbecued wings]

based on 'Austrailian Beer-Barbecued Wings' by Steven Raichlen
wing with sauce
Note: prep takes 4 hours for marinating the wings

12-16 whole chicken wings
1/4 cup peanut oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup Foster's Premium Beer
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

BBQ Sauce
2 Tbsp peanut oil
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup ketchup
1/3 cup Foster's Premium Beer
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp honey
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp black pepper

Rinse the wings under cool running tap water.  Drain and blot with paper towels.  Make two or three deep slashes, to the bone, in the meaty part of each wing.  In a large non reactive bowl mix the following: 1/4 cup of peanut oil, 1/4 cup of lemon juice, 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 cup of beer, the salt and the 1 tsp of pepper.  Add the wings to the mixture and toss to coat.  Cover the bowl and marinate in the fridge for 4 hours, turning occasionally.  

About an hour before the chicken is finished marinating, start making the BBQ Sauce.  Heat the 2 Tbsp of peanut oil in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, ginger and hot pepper flakes and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the ketchup, 1/3 cup of beer, 2 Tbsp of lemon juice, 2 Tbsp of Worcestershire sauce, 2 Tbsp of vinegar, brown sugar, honey, soy sauce, mustard, and 1/2 tsp of pepper and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium/low and let the sauce simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.   Remove the BBQ sauce from the heat and let sit until ready to use.  

beer barbecued wings
As the chicken is reaching it's 4 hour marinating time, start the grill and get the heat to medium/high.  (We use charcoal - takes about a half hour to prep).  Pull the wings from their marinating sauce, (toss the sauce the chicken was marinating in), and place on the hot grill, trying to spread the wings as much as possible to expose all the skin.  Grill the wings, flipping several times, for 11 minutes.  (Watch for hot spots: grill marks = good, burned skin = bad).  Divide the BBQ sauce and use half for the wings.  Brush the sauce onto the wings and grill for 5 minutes, flipping and brushing on more sauce halfway through.  Chicken should no longer be pink in the center.  Remove the chicken from the grill and place the on a platter.  Cover the platter with foil and let the chicken sit for 5-10 minutes to let juices run clear and the chicken rest.  

Serve with the reserved sauce for dipping.  Cut up some celery and serve with Blue Cheese Vegetable Dip (for the celery and wings).

[crustless spinach quiche]

a full pie of awesome
Yields 6 servings (can easily be chilled and enjoyed in about a week)

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
5 eggs, beaten
3 cups shredded Muenster Cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9 inch pie pan.  
Heat oil  in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft.  Stir in spinach and continue cooking until excess moisture has evaporated.
In a large bowl, combine eggs, cheese, salt and pepper.  Add spinach mixture and stir to combine.  Scoop into prepared pie pan.
Bake in the preheated oven until eggs have set, about 30 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Note: For individual servings - distribute the spinach mixture into a greased muffin pan.  Each muffin tin should be a little less than half full.  
You can also use any other additional vegetables you want like mushrooms, sliced red pepper, scallions, green olives, tomatoes.  Feel free to mix up the cheese too - it's really just according to your preference.

[pancakes from scratch]

Promise you'll never use Bisquick again...
1 egg
1 cup 1% milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Beat egg, milk and vanilla together.  Combine remaining ingredients and stir into the batter, until smooth.  Don't over mix.

Pour a little batter onto a hot griddle.  Allow them to cook until the tops of pancakes are bubbled, then turn with spatula.  Cook just until the underside is lightly browned.

Makes about 10 (4") pancakes.  Recipe may be doubled. 

[minestrone w/ turkey meatballs]

This is just the 'easy minestrone' recipe with turkey meatballs, but it makes a world of difference and it's amazingly good.  You're welcome

Serves 2-3
Turkey Meatball Ingredients:
1/2 small onion, grated or finely chopped
1 1/2 garlic cloves, minced 
1 large egg
1/8 cup dried bread crumbs
1 1/2 Tbsp ketchup
small handful of fresh Italian parsley leaves, chopped.  (or a large pinch of dry)
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 pound extra lean ground Turkey (I use the 99% fat free stuff)
2 Tbsp olive oil

Meatball Directions:
(These can be prepared ahead of time and then chill in the fridge for a day or two before you make the soup.)
Add the onion, garlic, egg, bread crumbs, ketchup, parsley, Parmesan, salt & pepper to a large bowl and blend. Mix in the turkey. Shape the turkey mixture into 1 1/4-inch-diameter meatballs. Place on a large plate or baking sheet. 
Heat the oil in a heavy large frying pan, or electric skillet, over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and saute until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. (Note to self - turkey browns quickly - turn often).  Turn off heat. Transfer the meatballs to a paper towel covered plate.
Let the meatballs sit and prepare the soup...
Soup Ingredients: 
1 14-oz can Cannellini beans
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup tomato-based pasta sauce, I use Prego Traditional
4 oz ditalini passta
Red Pepper flakes, optional

Soup Directions:
Bring the chicken broth and the pasta sauce to a boil in a large saucepan.  Drain the beans and add them to the broth. Carefully add the meatballs and bring the pan to a boil and then add the ditalini, cooking according to the time on the package instructions.  (Usually 10 minutes).  (Depending on your desired level of spiciness, shake some red pepper flakes into the soup - I usually do about 4-6 shakes).  Once the pasta is tender, switch off the heat, remove the pan to a cool surface and let stand for 10 minutes.   Serve the meatball minestrone with Parmesan, if desired.

[easy minestrone]

Serves 2-3

1 14-oz can Cannellini beans
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup tomato-based pasta sauce, I use Prego Traditional
4 oz ditalini
Red Pepper flakes, optional

Bring the chicken broth and the pasta sauce to a boil in a large saucepan.  Drain the beans and add them to the broth. Bring the pan to a boil and then add the ditalini, cooking according to the time on the package instructions.  (Depending on your desired level of spiciness, shake some red pepper flakes into the soup - I usually do about 4-6 shakes).  Once the pasta is tender, switch off the heat, remove the pan to a cool surface and let stand for 5-10 minutes. 

[breakfast bars]

These are so easy and they get better as the week goes by.  Snack on them during the day, or enjoy one for breakfast. 
Based on Nigella Lawson's recipe of the same name.

1 14-oz can condensed sweetened milk
2 1/2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup low salt, or unsalted, peanuts

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  Oil a 9x13-inch baking pan, (I use my Pyrex).  Warm the condensed milk in a saucepan.  Meanwhile, mix all the other ingredients in a large bowl and add the warmed condensed milk, using a rubber spatula to fold and distribute.  Spread the mixture into the oiled pan and press down until the surface is flat.  Bake for 1 hour.  Let the pan cool on the counter for 15 minutes, then cut into four across and four down to make 16 chunky bars.  Let them continue to cool until they're room temperature.  Store in a ziplock bag or plastic container.  They get better as they sit.

[dutch oven chicken pot pie]

Campbell's Cheddar Cheese Soup
Campbell's Cream of Celery Soup
1/2 cup 1% milk
Chicken, cooked and cubed (1 boneless skinless breast per person, recipe below)
1 medium onion, diced
Canned peas, (small can with the pull top)
3 carrots, (cleaned, peeled and sliced)
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Canned Biscuits

Line a clean dutch oven with foil (for easy cleanup).  
Prepare 30 briquettes.  Place a large piece of foil on the ground where you'll place the dutch oven, (should be a fairly flat and clean area).  Gather all of the briquettes on the foil on the ground and place the Dutch Oven on top of all the briquettes.
Heat soups and milk in the dutch oven, stirring occasionally, (a large wooden spoon is best).

Stir in cooked chicken, onion, peas, carrots, salt and pepper. Let the mixture come to a boil, then remove the Dutch Oven from the coals.  Open the can of biscuits and place the biscuits over mixture.  Dot each biscuit with butter.  

Arrange the briquettes so 6 are on the foil (to be under the oven), and 18 are set aside to be placed on top.  (You'll have extra - this is so you can choose the best briquettes.)  Put the lid on the Dutch Oven and place over the 6 briquettes.  Carefully place the 18 briquettes on the lid.  Bake for 45 minutes, or until brown on top, rotating the dutch oven 45 degrees every 15 minutes or so.  Let rest and prepare each serving with one or two biscuits per person. 

[erin's master recipe for cooked chicken breast]
Skinless, boneless chicken breasts
Salt & Pepper
Olive Oil

Place the chicken breasts between sheets of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet (or large frying pan) until each is about 1/4 inch thick.  
Heat a small amount of olive oil (about a tsp per breast) in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.  Once the pan is hot, place the breasts in the pan and cook about 6 minutes per side, or until each side is golden brown.  When both sides are browned, place them on a large piece of aluminum foil.  Carefully fold the foil around the chicken so they are fully enclosed in a foil package.  Let the chicken rest in the foil on the counter for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes: serve, slice or chill for another use.  (For this recipe above, cube the chicken and chill until ready to pack for camping.  Keep chilled with your cold food until ready to use.)

[sake it to me chicken]

Serves 2-4
adapted from Steven Raichlen's recipe 'Sake Chicken' from the recipe book 'Beer-Can Chicken and 74 Other Offbeat Recipes for the Grill'
Just pick one

For the rub: 
2 tsp sesame seeds
2 tsp wasabi powder
2 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp ground black pepper

1 chicken (3 1/2-4 pounds)
2 Tbsp sesame oil
3/4 cup sake
1-2 tsp lemon zest
Lime Teriyaki Glaze (recipe below)

1 clean empty 12oz beer can

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Make the rub.  Put the sesame seeds, wasabi powder, salt and pepper into a spice mill or clean coffee grinder.  Grind to a fine powder.  

Wash the chicken with room temperature water and dry with paper towels.  Sprinkle half the rub into the cavity of the chicken.  Drizzle 1 Tbsp of sesame oil on the outside of the chicken and rub the rest of the rub into the skin.

Make two additional holes to the top of the clean beer can with a knife or bottle opener.  Using a funnel, pour the sake into the can of beer and add the lemon zest through the opening.  Place the beer can (now filled with lemon zest and sake) upright into a large Pyrex Pan.  Carefully hold the chicken upright, with the opening of the cavity at the bottom, and lower it onto the beer can so the can fits into the cavity.  Place the Pyrex pan with the chicken carefully into the oven and cook for 1 hour and 45 minutes.  Baste the chicken with the leftover 1 Tbsp sesame oil before the final 30 minutes.  (Cook until chicken has reached 180 degrees internally).
Remove from the oven and tent with foil for 10 minutes.  Carefully remove the can from the chicken and cut the chicken to serve.  Serve with the Lime Teriyaki Glaze for dipping.

Teriyaki Lime Glaze:
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 cup sugar
2 cloves garlic, peeled and flattened with a large knife or cleaver
1/4 cup fresh lime juice

Combine the soy sauce, sugar and garlic in a medium saucepan and stir to mix.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is thick, 4-6 minutes.

Stir in the lime juice and briskly simmer until the glaze thickens slightly, 5 minutes.  (It will thicken more as it cools).  Remove from the heat and let it sit, covered, until the chicken has finished cooking.  When you remove the chicken from the oven, discard the garlic before pouring the glaze into a large bowl or individual dipping bowls.

[lemon bars]

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
6 Tbsp all-purpose flour
6 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 13x9x2-inch pan with Pam or Pam Baking Spray.  Make the crust: combine the flour, powdered sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl.  Cut in the butter to make a crumbly mixture.  (If you have a mixer, mix the butter in with the whisk attachment).  Press the mixture into the prepared pan.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, make the filling.  MIx the eggs, granulated sugar, flour and lemon juice.  Pour this over the baked crust and bake for 25 minutes longer.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired, when the bars are done.

[honey glazed carrots]

serves 2 generous servings
1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 pound carrots, cut into 1-inch lengths, halved if thick
1/2 cup chicken broth (or water)
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbsp red-wine vinegar
coarse salt and black pepper
1 Tbsp unsalted butter

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high.  Add carrots; cook, stirring once, until beginning to brown, 2 minutes or less.  Add broth, honey, and vinegar; season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until crisp-tender, 10 minutes.  Uncover, and cook over medium-high until carrots are tender and liquid is syrupy, 7 to 9 minutes more (there should be only a small amount of liquid remaining).  Remove the skillet from the heat; add butter and swirl skillet until melted.  Season with salt and pepper.

[long island iced tea]

mix with ice:
1 oz Gin
1 oz (White) Tequila
1 oz (Light) Rum
2 oz Vodka
3-4 oz Cola/Pepsi
3-4 oz sweet & sour

top with floater of:
Triple Sec
or Cointreau
or Bacardi 151

[erin's un-named cocktail]

2 oz Black Raspberry Belvedere Vodka
2 oz Peach Schnapps
2 oz sweet & sour
2 oz Sprite
1 oz/splash Grenadine

Mix all and serve over ice.

[sweet tart]

2.5 oz (1 1/2 shots) Chambord
4 oz (2 shots) Vodka
2.5 oz (1 1/2 shots) Amaretto
2.5 oz (1 1/2 shots) lime juice
0.5 oz (3/4 shots) Sugar Syrup

Shake all in martini shaker, strain into a glass and top with Sprite.

[black raspberry lemonade]

1 part (2 oz) Jack Daniels
1 part (2 oz) Chambord

Stir in:
1 part (2 oz) sweet & sour
2 parts (4 oz) Sprite

MIx alcohol, then stir in the sweet & sour and sprite.  Serve with ice.

[shark bite]

3 oz Bacardi Rum
2 oz Bols Creme de Bananas
3 oz sweet & sour
3-4 oz orange juice
2-3 oz grenadine
1 oz floater Bacardi 151

Mix all and serve over ice, adding floater last.

[sex on the beach]

3 oz cranberry juice
3 oz orange juice
2 oz vodka
1 oz Capt. Morgan Rum
1 oz grenadine

Mix and serve over ice.

[ben's mai tai]

1.5 oz orange juice
1.5 oz pineapple juice (Dole)
1 oz light rum (Bacardi)
1 oz coconut rum
1 oz triple sec or Cointreau
0.5 oz Amaretto (or almond syrup)
0.5 oz Dark Rum (Bacardi) and/or Bacardi 151

Mix all ingredients and serve with ice in a glass.

[spatchcocked jack daniels chicken]

I made this up based on a meatball BBQ sauce I had and our love of Jack Daniels - and a spatchcocked chicken recipe I read once... we LOVE it - enjoy.
Heat 1/2 cup Jack Daniels in a medium saucepan on medium-high heat.  Let simmer until reduced by half.
Remove from heat and add the following to the warm saucepan:
1/2 cup Jack Daniels (yes, another 1/2 cup)
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp dry mustard
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 cup freshly diced white onion

Mix well and bring to a simmer, lower heat and continue to simmer for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the backbone from a 3 1/2 pound whole chicken.  Flip the bird over so the breasts are up and press down to flatten the chicken and break the breast bone.  
Place chicken in a roasting pan and lightly season with salt, black pepper and garlic powder on both sides.  With a basting brush, brush both sides of the chicken with the BBQ sauce.  Place the chicken breast side up and place the roasting pan in the oven and cook the chicken for about 1 hour, or until the chicken reads 175 degrees with an instant read thermometer.  When it reaches 175, remove from the oven and cover with foil for 10-15 minutes.  Cut into segments, (breasts with wings, drumstick with thigh) and serve with BBQ sauce.

[master recipe for american sandwich bread]

based on the recipe of the same name from The Best Recipe by The Editors of Cooks Illustrated
3 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup warm milk (110 degrees)
1/3 cup warm water (110 degrees)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons honey
1 package (about 2 ¼ teaspoons) rapid-rise yeast
PAM® Baking
vegetable oil for coating bowl

Adjust oven rack to low position and heat oven to 200 degrees. 
Once the oven temperature reaches 200 degrees, maintain heat for 10 minutes and then turn off oven heat.

Mix flour and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with dough hook.  Mix milk, water, butter, honey and yeast in 1-quart Pyrex liquid measuring cup.  Turn machine to low and slowly add liquid.  When dough comes together, increase speed to medium and mix until dough is smooth and satiny, stopping machine two or three times to scrape dough from hook, if necessary, about 10 minutes.  Turn dough onto lightly floured work surface; knead to form a smooth, round ball, about 15 seconds.

Place dough in very lightly oiled bowl, rubbing dough around bowl to lightly coat.  Cover with plastic wrap, place in warm oven until dough doubles in size, 40 to 50 minutes.
Gently press dough into rectangle 1 inch thick and no longer than 9 inches.  With the long side facing you, roll dough firmly into cylinder, pressing with your fingers to make sure dough sticks to itself.  Turn dough seam side up and pinch it closed.  Place dough in PAM® Baking- greased 9x5x3-inch loaf pan and press it gently so it touches all four sides of pan.

Cover with plastic wrap; set aside in warm spot until dough almost doubles in size, 20 to 30 minutes.  Heat oven to 350 degrees and place an empty loaf pan on bottom rack.  Bring 2-3 cups of water to boil on stovetop.

Remove plastic wrap from filled loaf pan and place pan in oven.  Immediately, pour heated water into empty loaf pan, close oven door.  Bake until instant-read thermometer inserted at angle from short end just above pan rim into center of loaf reads 195 degrees, about 40 to 50 minutes.  Remove bread almost immediately from pan, transfer to a wire rack, and cool to room temp.

[brandied-bacony chicken]

1 chicken, 3-3 1/2 pounds
2 strips bacon
1/4 cup brandy

Clean the chicken and set in a roasting pan - breast side up.  Heat the oven to 425.  In a small skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until it's crisp and the pan is full of fat, about 4 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, place the strips of bacon straight into the cavity of the chicken.  Pour the brandy into the still-hot pan (off the heat), and let it bubble for a minute.  Pour the pan of brandy over the chicken.  Roast the chicken for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until juices run clear between the leg and body.  Let sit for 10 minutes before carving.

[warm potato salad]

based on Nigella Lawson's recipe of the same name
8-10 small red potatoes, washed and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove,  minced
1 Tbsp sherry
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 Tbsp dijon mustard

In a sauce pot bring 3 inches of water to a boil.  Add a little salt and the potatoes.  Boil the potatoes for 12 minutes, or until done.  Turn off the heat.  Drain the potatoes in a strainer and leave them in the strainer.  Return the pot to the warm stovetop.  Add the olive oil and the garlic clove to the warm pot and stir until fragrant.  Add the red wine vinegar, sherry and mustard.  Stir until combined.  Add the potatoes and green onions to the mustard mixture and stir to coat.  Season with salt and pepper as desired.  Place in serving dish, (or leave in pan), and let sit at room temperature up to 1 hour.  If you want, you can also chill the salad, but serve at room temperature.

[lemon-dill chicken]

So easy, it's stupid... but tasty.
1/4 cup salted butter, or smart balance
2 large boneless chicken breasts, cut in half
1/2 cup sherry
1/2 tsp dried dill
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt (omit if using cooking sherry)

Melt butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook chicken in butter about 6 minutes, turning once, until light brown.  

Mix sherry, dill, lemon juice and salt; pour over chicken and bring to a boil, reduce heat.  Cover and simmer about 10 minutes.  Remove chicken from skillet; keep warm by covering with foil.  

Heat wine mixture to boiling.  Boil about 3 minutes or until reduced by about half; pour over chicken. 

[caramelized vegetables]

This recipe is so easy and so tasty, I was kicking myself that I'd never used my balsamic vinegar this way.  I know it's not that hard, and the veggies aren't really caramelized, but they look and taste like they are and we love it.  
2 pounds small red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces (depending on how big the potatoes are, I cut them into quarters so I have little 1 inch wedges)
1/2 tsp salt
1 pound asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/3 cup salted butter or Smart Balance (I always see how much butter this truly is when I'm cutting it, so I tend to use a Tbsp or so shy of 1/3 cup)
1 large onion, chopped (white, yellow or red depending on what you have or like), (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar

Heat 2 inches of water to boiling in a 3-quart saucepan.  Add potatoes and 1/2 tsp salt.  Heat to boiling; reduce heat to medium.  Cover and cook about 12 minutes, or until tender, drain and set aside.

Heat 1-inch water to boiling in the saucepan that held the potatoes.  Add asparagus.  Heat to boiling; reduce heat to medium.  Cover and cook about 5 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain and set aside.  

Melt butter in the same saucepan over medium-high heat.  Cook onion in butter about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and opaque.  Stir in vinegar and brown sugar.  Add the potato and asparagus to the onion mixture and toss to coat everything.  Season with pepper and serve immediately, or pour contents into large Pyrex pan and keep warm (about 200 degrees) until ready to serve.  (I like to make this first and keep it warm so it sits together and the potatoes soak up even more of the liquid).  

This dish could easily serve 6 people, or 2 very hungry people with a small main dish of fish or chicken.

[beer in the rear chicken]

I was always hesitant about making this since I knew our Weber wouldn't be able to hold a chicken, but then on a very cold day I thought "screw it - I'll make it in the oven."  The result is the tastiest and most cost efficient meal I've ever had the pleasure of making.  (And I mean pleasure - this is so damn easy).  This is only slightly adjusted from Paula Deen's recipe of the same name - I am fully convinced this woman can do no wrong in the taste department.
1 chicken (3 1/2 pounds)
Lawry's seasoned salt
Paula's House Seasoning (see recipe below)
One 12-oz can Pabst (not glass - must be can)
1 tall sprig rosemary

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Wash and drain the chicken, pat dry with paper towels.  Coat the chicken inside and out with seasoned salt and house seasoning.  (It's nearly impossible to over-do this - just season it all so it's covered and rub it in).  
sit on it
Open the can of beer (it's better if it's cold, it won't foam up as much when you put in the rosemary).  Pour off 1/4 cup of beer and discard into your mouth or the kitchen sink.  Insert the rosemary into the can, (it's fine it it's poking out if it's tall).  Place the beer can upright into a roasting pan or Pyrex pan with a tall rim (my pan is 10"x13" with about a 2" rim).  You might need an assistant for this step: While keeping the can upright, sit the chicken on top with the can entering his cavity and keeping him happily upright. 

Carefully place the pan with the chicken (with the beer up his rear) into the oven and cook for an hour and 45 minutes, or until the juices run clear when poked with a fork.  When you think it's done, let it rest with foil tented on top for about 15 minutes.  Carefully remove the chicken from the can of beer and cut up and serve.  (Discard the beer and rosemary).  

Serves 2-4, depending on how hungry you are.  (We never have leftovers... remember - it's only a very small chicken).  

Note: If you find the chicken is not quite done, but you're already well past being able to stick him back on top of the beer, just place the cut up chicken back into the hot oven and cook until done. 
one more image of this - just because it's kinda funny

Paula's House Seasoning:
Keep this in a shaker with your seasonings - you should have a bit leftover after seasoning the chicken.
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper

[chicken fettuccine casserole]

Prep Time: 20 Min
Total Time: 50 Min
Serves: 2

4.5 oz refrigerated fettuccine
2 Tbsp salted butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth (from 32-oz carton)
1/4 cup half-and-half
3/4 cup cubed cooked chicken
1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and cut into thin strips
1 slice bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled
2 Tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 350ยบ. Drizzle square baking dish, 8x8x2 inches, with olive oil. Cook and drain fettuccine as directed on package.  While fettuccine is cooking, melt butter in 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour. Gradually stir in broth.  Heat to boiling, stirring constantly; remove from heat. Stir in half-and-half. Stir in chicken, tomatoes and bacon.  Add fettuccine to chicken mixture; toss gently to mix well. Spoon into baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake uncovered about 30 minutes or until hot in center.

[biscuit, ham and potato bake]

so simple... an easy Sunday morning feast
This recipe is based on a recipe by Pillsbury
Prep Time: 15 Min
Total Time: 55 Min
Serves: 2

2 Pillsbury Grands frozen buttermilk biscuits (from 25-oz bag)
2 eggs
1/3 cup 1% or nonfat milk
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
1 cup frozen potatoes, (diced hash browns, uncooked)
1/3 of a red bell pepper, diced
1/3 of a white onion, diced
1/2 cup diced ham
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (2 oz)

Place frozen biscuits on microwavable plate. Microwave uncovered on Medium (50%) 30 to 40 seconds or until soft.  Heat oven to 350°F. In medium bowl, beat eggs, milk and mustard with wire whisk until blended. Stir in potatoes, ham and cheese.  Drizzle 2-quart Pyrex pan with olive oil.  Cut each biscuit into 8 pieces; arrange evenly in dish. Pour egg mixture over biscuit pieces in dish. Press down with back of spoon, making sure all biscuits are covered with egg mixture.  Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until edges are golden brown and center is set. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
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