Easy Cheesy Spanish Rice

Spanish Rice

I love being able to help people out, so when someone asked for our Easy, Cheesy Spanish Rice recipe, I excitedly said, “Sure!”

My kids love this rice.  They cheer every time I make it and fight over the leftovers – of which there’s never much.  It’s easy to throw together, full of flavor, and makes a great side dish.  We love to eat it alongside tacos, enchiladas, nachos, or just beside a big taco salad.

Everyone in our house loves rice, so I tend to make a double batch each time we make it.  That means we’re ending up with a large bowl of this Spanish rice, but that’s okay – it’s good and moist, so it reheats well.  Not that there is much of this left – we usually eat the majority of it.

I make this rice in my rice cooker; I bought this appliance at a great discount last year after struggling to cook different varieties of brown rice properly.  The procedure should work just the same, however, for preparing regular not-minute rice.

Easy Cheesy Spanish Rice

Ingredients

  • rice
  • chicken stock
  • water
  • olive oil
  • salsa
  • shredded cheese (Monterey Jack, Colby Jack, or cheddar)

Instructions

  1. Measure your rice directed.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  3. Replace 1/2 of the water with chicken stock.
  4. Add 1/2 c. of salsa.
  5. Replace the remaining missing liquid with water.
  6. Cook as directed.
  7. Stir in 1/2 - 3/4 c. of shredded cheese.
  8. Cover rice again, let sit for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  9. Serve hot.
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Grandma’s Whoopie Pies

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I hear it’s long been a debate between Pennsylvania and Maine bakers as to who first created the whoopie pie.  My great-aunt even joined the fun and always told the story of one of her ancestors naming the treat at their family store; in my hometown they’re usually considered an Amish thing, but that doesn’t stop the rest of us from making – and loving – them.

They’re my absolute favorite baked treat, and I have many fond memories of them.  My mom used to bake large quantities of them, wrap them individually in waxed paper, and hide them around the house and in the freezer.  While she was at work, my dad and I would seek them out and enjoy them.  I even remember some emerging from the freezer and then dancing impatiently beside the woodstove, watching them as they sat on the brick barrier beside the stove, waiting for them to thaw just enough for us to nibble and gnaw on them.

My great-aunt seemed to bring them to every family get-together and often served them to visitors, too, and Aunt Mary was an excellent baker.  My great-grandmother, though she made them more rarely (at least by the time I came along) could bake absolutely anything, and when she offered you a whoopie pie, you happily sat down and enjoyed it with a glass of fresh milk – and maybe angled for an extra one.

whoopie Pies

I love having some of their recipes, and since we recently lost Aunt Mary and my kids never got to meet Grandma, it feels a bit like introducing them to my Big Helper and Little Man when we make their recipes together.

whoopie pies

Yesterday we tackled Grandma’s amazing whoopie pies.  It was hard not to be impatient as they danced around in excitement and flour flew, but in record time we had a finished batch of whoopie pies, ready for sharing consumption.

whoopie pies

Making whoopie pies is a bit more work than traditional cookies, as you have to making icing, too, (and I hate making icing) but they’re worth it.  Since the kids (and a visiting aunt) made the process happen speedily yesterday, I definitely see whoopie pies appearing – and probably disappearing – in my kitchen more often from now on.

whoopie pies

 Want to make Grandma’s Whoopie Pies?  Try her recipe here:

For the cookies:
1 c. Crisco
2 c. sugar
2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
4 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
1 c. cocoa powder
1 c. sour milk
1 c. hot water
 
For the icing:
2/3 c. Crisco
5 T. milk
1 t. vanilla
pinch of salt
3 c. powdered sugar
 
Directions for the cookies:
Cream the Crisco and sugar until fluffy.
Mix the rest of the dry ingredients together.
Mix the dry ingredients alternately with the sour milk and the hot water.
Bake the cookies at 350 for about 8 minutes on a greased cookie sheet.
When the cookies are completely cool, ice the flat side and place a cookie of the same size and shape on top, flat sides together. 
Store in an airtight container or wrap well in waxed paper.
For the icing: 
Combine all ingredients and mix until fluffy.
 
What are your favorite treats?
 

Grilled Zucchini Pizza

Zucchini

I’m always trying to find new ways to get veggies in my people. 

Since My Little Man ate a head-and-a-half of Romaine for lunch yesterday – by itself, like an apple – it’s not that I’m worried about rickets or anything. 

I like expanding our palates, though, and it’s always fun to cook and eat a wider variety of foods.  Since everyone here frowns at the sight of zucchini on the kitchen counter, I decided to start with that – and I’m glad I did.

We like this best when the zucchini is sliced then.  Grill it long enough to soften it a bit and get the pizza toppings sizzling.  You can add whatever you’d like to make it your own perfect pizza bite.

While this may not be the *healthiest* way to eat your veggies, it’s certainly a tasty and healthier way to eat your pizza!

Grilled Zucchini Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 zucchini
  • pizza sauce
  • shredded mozzarella
  • olive oil
  • garlic
  • dried oregano
  • pizza toppings of your choosing

Instructions

  1. Wash zucchini.
  2. Slice zucchini thin - about 1/4".
  3. Brush both sides of each zucchini slice with a light layer of olive oil.
  4. Layer each slice with a small amount of pizza sauce, cheese, herbs, and your favorite pizza toppings.
  5. Grill on a hot grill until toppings are sizzling and zucchini is cooked through.
  6. Serve.
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How do you eat your veggies?

Mile-High Buttermilk Pancakes

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I’ve got this thing for pancakes.  I love fluffy, rich pancakes dripping with syrup.

Of course, I don’t actually like the huge amounts of empty calories that accompany those tall stacks of sticky goodness, so for years I’ve been trying to create a recipe that would keep the tasty goodness but put some nutrition back into those calories.

I think this one will do it. Pancakes

These are the fluffiest pancakes I’ve ever seen.  They beat out all those pancake-house offerings by far.  In fact, when I made them a few weeks ago, the batter rose so much that it spilled over the edge of my bowl and creeped down the sides!

Pancakes

The rising continues on the griddle.  These pancakes are definitely fluffy – and they’re made with white-wheat flour and ground flax seed, so they’re also full of fiber and nutrients. 

Topped with a bit of butter and some real maple syrup, and I’ll choose a stack of Mile-High Buttermilk Pancakes over those empty restaurant ones any day.

Mile-High Buttermilk Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1/3 c. brown sugar
  • 2 c. white-wheat flour
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 2 T + 2 t. baking powder
  • scant 1/4 c. ground flax seed
  • 2 T. melted butter
  • 2 c. buttermilk
  • 2 eggs

Instructions

  1. Stir together dry ingredients.
  2. Add the wet ingredients and combine until just mixed.
  3. Fry on a hot griddle, flipping when pancakes rise and get bubbly on top.
  4. Serve with your favorite pancake toppings.
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How do you like your pancakes?

This is my favorite pancake gear!

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R & R Wednesday

 

Triple-Chocolate Brownie Pie

Chocolate Brownie

Last week I suddenly realized that it was Pi Day and I had made no plans for pie.  Not a catastrophe, I know, but it’s fun to celebrate those light-hearted holidays with the kids.  They make fun opportunities to learn on the fly, and I decided to challenge the kids to create some sort of chocolate brownie pie.

And then we headed down a rabbit hole during school, as we often do, and time got away from us.  I ended up playing around, and this is what I created.

It’s a simple, quick pie to make that’s chock-full of chocolate.  With an Oreo-crumb crust and chocolate chips in the brownie batter, there’s a lot of molten chocolate in this pie – and that’s before you add the ganache topping.

It’s good cold but way better warm, when the chocolate oozes out and the gooey richness melts onto your tongue.

Serve it with some whipped cream and a big glass of milk and you’ll have happy customers.

Forget creating a new pie – this is what we’ll be making next year on Pi Day.

Triple-Chocolate Brownie Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. whole-wheat flour
  • 1/3 c. cocoa powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1/3 c. chocolate chips + 1 handful more
  • scant 1/3 c. whipping cream
  • 15 Oreos, cream scraped out and crushed

Instructions

  1. Press Oreo crumbs into a pie pan.
  2. Mix sugar, flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, eggs, butter, vanilla, and the handful of chocolate chips well.
  3. Smooth into pan over the crumbs.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.
  5. Cool.
  6. Meanwhile, heat cream until just shy of bubbling.
  7. Pour hot cream over chocolate chips.
  8. Whisk until chocolate is melted and smooth.
  9. Let ganache cool until thick, at least 20 minutes.
  10. Pour ganache over the top of the pie.
  11. Serve warm.
  12. Store in refrigerator.
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Nutty Oatmeal Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Cookies

I’ve got a thing for cookies.  Especially oatmeal cookies.

I think it’s because they seem healthy.  I mean, all those oats are just chock-full of fiber, and that’s a good thing, right?

The great thing about these particular cookies is that they really are pretty good for you.  Full of nut butters, nuts, and oats – with a fairly low amount of sugar – they make a rather decadent healthy treat.

These Nutty Oatmeal Chip cookies just might be my new go-to cookies for traveling and field trips and the like.  I love how soft and chewy they are – and yet the nuts provide just the right amount of crunch.

The only problem with these cookies is trying to keep some in the house.  Somehow they ‘magically’ disappear from the kitchen whenever I make them.

Maybe you’ll have better luck at hanging onto them than I do.

Then again, if your family is anything like mine – you probably won’t.

Nutty Oatmeal Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2/3 c. peanut butter
  • 2/3 c. chopped almonds
  • 1 1/2 c. white wheat flour
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1 c. softened butter
  • 2 t. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. oats
  • 1/2 c. chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Cream butter and sugar.
  2. Stir in peanut butter and nuts.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well.
  4. Stir dry ingredients together.
  5. Add dry mixture to wet mixture.
  6. Mix well.
  7. Add chocolate chips.
  8. Chill for 1 hour.
  9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  10. Drop dough by spoonfuls onto tray.
  11. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes.
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A Little R & R

Double Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake

Cheesecake

My husband took me out for Valentine’s Day about bought the most amazing piece of cheesecake for our dessert.  I’ve never had anything like it – it was the perfect chocolate food.  Smooth, silky, and rich, it was absolutely wonderful.

So color me thrilled when he decided later that he’d try to make one for me himself.

This is what he came up with.

The texture is a bit different than the restaurant version, but it’s no less amazing.  It’s chocolate-y and rich and completely decadent. 

I think that he needs to make these on a very regular, frequent basis – right??

If you like cheesecake or chocolate or dessert, grab your supplies and get baking.  You won’t be sorry.  (The extra-good news, besides the it’s-delicious part?  This cheesecake is easy.  No water baths, no foil bibs for the pans, no myriads of ingredients necessary.  All told, for a cheesecake, it’s pretty simple – which means you get to enjoy it sooner.)

Oh – and be prepared to hide the results.  You won’t want to share.

Double Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake

Ingredients

  • 18 crushed chocolate sandwich cookies with the icing removed
  • 2 T. melted butter
  • 3 8-oz packages of cream cheese
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 3/4 c. hazelnut liqueur
  • 8 oz. semi-sweet Baker's chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
  • 3 eggs

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Mix cookie crumbs and butter.
  3. Press crumb mixture into the bottom of a 9" springform pan.
  4. Bake crumb crust for 10 minutes.
  5. Beat cream cheese, sugar, liqueur, and vanilla with mixer until blended.
  6. Add melted chocolate and mix well.
  7. Mix in eggs individually.
  8. Pour cream cheese mixture over crust.
  9. Bake for 50 minutes.
  10. Chill for 4 hours before removing from pan.
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Are you a cheesecake fan?  Try this amazing Black Magic Cake, which has a cheesecake center, or these Party Perfect Cheesecakes.  Yum!

 

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A Little R & R

Home to 4 Kiddos

Tell It to Me Tuesdays

Garlic Alfredo Pasta

Garlic Alfredo Pasta

 

Every night’s a good night for pasta, right?  When a meeting got thrown into the mix at the last minute, the meal I had planned wouldn’t work.  I was stumped – I had a beautiful, cook-and-serve-immediately dinner on the brain, and now we needed something that could be prepped ahead of time.

That’s where this Garlic Alfredo Pasta dish comes in. 

I’ve been hungry for some pasta fettuccini Alfredo, anyway, and this dish has all of those flavors.  Instead of serving it as individual dishes, though, as I normally would, I combined it into a casserole that contained all the food groups – and lest that sound ‘weird,’ trust me – these are delicious combinations.

It’s not exactly a one-dish dinner, of course, since each component needs to be prepared individually, but it’s definitely a cut above your typical casserole.  It would be a great dish to double and stick the second into the freezer or to gift one to a friend or neighbor. 

So what is Garlic Alfredo Pasta, anyway?

It’s marinated chicken with steamed broccoli and pasta smothered in a light, garlicky Alfredo sauce and topped with gooey mozzarella cheese.

Yum.

Garlic Alfredo Pasta
Serves 4
A decadently creamy take on Fettuccini Alfredo
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646 calories
77 g
83 g
19 g
42 g
10 g
465 g
725 g
9 g
0 g
7 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
465g
Servings
4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 646
Calories from Fat 163
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 19g
28%
Saturated Fat 10g
50%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 83mg
28%
Sodium 725mg
30%
Total Carbohydrates 77g
26%
Dietary Fiber 6g
25%
Sugars 9g
Protein 42g
Vitamin A
34%
Vitamin C
108%
Calcium
48%
Iron
17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 12 oz pasta
  2. 2 chicken breasts, cleaned, cut in 1-inch pieces
  3. Italian marinade
  4. 1 lb frozen broccoli
  5. 4 T. butter
  6. 4 T. flour
  7. 2 T. minced garlic
  8. 1 1/2 c. chicken broth
  9. 1 1/2 c. whole milk
  10. 3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  11. 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
  12. salt & pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Saute the chicken in the Italian dressing in a hot skillet. Toss frequently for 4-6 minutes until browned and cooked through. Remove from heat.
  2. Cook pasta. Add the broccoli to the pasta pot for the last 5 minutes of cooking time.
  3. Drain pasta and set aside.
  4. In the empty pasta pot, melt the butter.
  5. Stir in the garlic and simmer for 2 minutes.
  6. Stir in the flour.
  7. Slowly add the chicken stock, stirring constantly.
  8. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly. Simmer for 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens.
  9. Stir in the grated Parmesan cheese.
  10. In a buttered casserole dish, layer the chicken, the pasta, and the broccoli.
  11. Pour the sauce over the top.
  12. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the top.
  13. Bake for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees until hot and bubbly.
  14. Serve immediately.
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calories
646
fat
19g
protein
42g
carbs
77g
more
A Nest in the Rocks http://anestintherocks.com/
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Soft and Chewy Oatmeal-Chip Cookies

Soft & Chewy Oatmeal-Chip Cookies @ A Nest in the Rocks

I know a recipe’s good when someone asks me to make it again.

Or when it disappears really, really fast.

That’s what happened with these cookies.  They were gone overnight – literally (we did share a few with some kiddie friends) and then everyone started clamoring for more.

These cookies are just that good.  While they have the usual amounts of cookie-sugar, though, they’re also have lots of fiber, making them decently healthy cookies.  At least, cookies that you can feel good about feeding your family.

Your family won’t care, though.  They’ll be too busy eating them.

Soft and Chewy Oatmeal-Chip Cookies
Yields 2
An incredibly soft and chewy chocolate chip oatmeal cookie
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
17 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
17 min
Total Time
1 hr
2960 calories
373 g
449 g
139 g
61 g
78 g
678 g
1681 g
151 g
4 g
49 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
678g
Yields
2
Amount Per Serving
Calories 2960
Calories from Fat 1218
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 139g
213%
Saturated Fat 78g
392%
Trans Fat 4g
Polyunsaturated Fat 12g
Monounsaturated Fat 37g
Cholesterol 449mg
150%
Sodium 1681mg
70%
Total Carbohydrates 373g
124%
Dietary Fiber 30g
119%
Sugars 151g
Protein 61g
Vitamin A
65%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
44%
Iron
87%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 c. softened butter
  2. 1 c. brown sugar
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 2 t vanilla extract
  5. 1/2 t baking soda
  6. 1 t salt
  7. 1 1/4 c white-wheat flour
  8. 3 c oats
  9. 1 c chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Cream butter and sugar together.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla.
  3. Mix well.
  4. Add baking soda, salt,, flour, and oats, mixing after each one until just combined.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips.
  6. Drop on baking sheet by the tablespoon.
  7. Bake at 325 degrees for 12 minutes.
  8. Cool on tray for 5 minutes.
  9. Remove from tray.
Adapted from Panthera
beta
calories
2960
fat
139g
protein
61g
carbs
373g
more
Adapted from Panthera
A Nest in the Rocks http://anestintherocks.com/
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A Little R & R

 

Slow Cooker Mongolian Chicken

Slow Cooker Mongolian Chicken @ A Nest in the Rocks

 

That’s why I was excited to find this recipe.  It sounded so good to me – and yet we didn’t have all of the original ingredients, so we played around a little bit.

We ended up with something that takes a few minutes to throw together and then cooks on its own.  There are no last minute items to do, which makes it especially great for those days when you have little time at home before dinner.

If you’re a fan of Asian food, this is definitely a recipe to try because it’s just as tasty as it is simple.

What’s your favorite busy-night dish?

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Home to 4 Kiddos

Slow Cooker Mongolian Chicken
Serves 4
A tasty and healthy Oriental-style dish
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
4 hr
Total Time
4 hr 10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
4 hr
Total Time
4 hr 10 min
318 calories
31 g
96 g
4 g
38 g
1 g
203 g
1908 g
20 g
0 g
2 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
203g
Servings
4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 318
Calories from Fat 37
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 4g
6%
Saturated Fat 1g
6%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 96mg
32%
Sodium 1908mg
79%
Total Carbohydrates 31g
10%
Dietary Fiber 1g
5%
Sugars 20g
Protein 38g
Vitamin A
102%
Vitamin C
3%
Calcium
5%
Iron
11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1" pieces
  2. 1/2 c. soy sauce
  3. 1/4 c. cornstarch
  4. 1 clove of garlic, minced
  5. 1/3 c. brown sugar
  6. 2 grated carrots
Instructions
  1. Toss chicken with cornstarch. Set aside.
  2. Whisk sugar, water, soy sauce, and garlic together.
  3. Add liquid mixture to slow cooker.
  4. Add grated carrots and stir to combine.
  5. Stir chicken into slow cooker.
  6. Cook for 4 hours.
  7. Serve over rice with veggies.
Adapted from The Recipe Critic
beta
calories
318
fat
4g
protein
38g
carbs
31g
more
Adapted from The Recipe Critic
A Nest in the Rocks http://anestintherocks.com/