Archive for the ‘Comfort Food’ Category

Peanut Butter Squares

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010


A grade school legend...the Peanut Butter Square

Growing up we called them Peanut Butter Squares, some called them Hollywood Squares (anyone who grew up in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio) – these little peanut treats are sure to bring back memories of grade school lunches.  

I borrowed this recipe from the Hollywood Squares recipe originally printed in the Cuyahoga Falls News-PressAfter going over the ingredients, I was a bit hesitant in preparing it – it’s really nothing but sugar and fat.  Not the best recipe to be publishing so early in 2010 when many resolutions are already hanging by a thread.  

These Peanut Butter Squares are certainly delicious and very rich.  Kind of like a peanut butter cup on steroids.  One tiny square and your peanut butter craving will be cured.  Yep, I said “peanut butter craving” – I get them all the time.  I usually cure mine with a bit of Skippy Peanut Butter mixed with vanilla ice cream.   Now I have a new medicine.     

Peanut Butter Squares, aka Hollywood Squares 


  • 2 cups peanut butter
  • 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup graham cracker crumbs
  • ½ cup melted butter


  • 4 squares semi-sweet baking chocolate
  • 2 tablespoon peanut butter


1.)     Combine all ingredients except topping ingredients.  Mix well and place in a buttered 9″x13″ square pan.  

2.)     Melt the topping ingredients together and spread over the top of the peanut butter mixture. 

3.)     Chill until topping is firm. 

I’ve got a question…does anyone know where the term “Hollywood Square” originated?  In my school we simply called them Peanut Butter Squares, but in my husband’s they called them Hollywood Squares.   We grew up 40 minutes away from each other.   

Peanut Butter Squares on Let’s Get Cookin’ 

Hollywood Squares on Tasty Kitchen

Shredded Chicken Tacos

Monday, August 17th, 2009
Shredded Chicken Tacos

Shredded Chicken Tacos

After an entire weekend of cooking and sampling recipes for the blog, I realized something – good recipes are hard to find.   It is difficult to find recipes that are not only nutritious, but that are also tasty and easy… recipes you won’t get bored with. 

I like simple flavors; I like rustic cooking; I like spicy; I like southwestern flavors; I like the combination of sweet and salty; but something I don’t like much…olives.  This is why the perfectly pretty and dainty tomato basil tartlets with olive tapenade didn’t make the cut.   I honestly couldn’t tell if I liked them or not.   I just couldn’t get around that overpowering olive flavor.  If I would have only gone with my gut and replaced the olive tapenade with a rich tomato sauce – you would be reading a different post.  But anyways, I digress…

Finally after a weekend of hot pans, mountains of dirty dishes and a load of unsatisfying cooking I made a real winner – shredded chicken tacos. Not your traditional ground beef hard shell tacos, but rather a shredded chicken taco with gooey Chihuahua cheese.  Mix in some crisp lettuce, diced tomato, fresh cilantro and a bit of Siracha and you are set. This is a recipe that is nutritious – it is tasty – it is easy.  It is all of those things and more.  Hold onto this one – you may end up using it often. 

Shredded Chicken for Chicken Tacos

Yield: 6 to 8 servings 
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and quartered
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 dried chili peppers
  • ¾ cup of your favorite beer
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1.    Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot or saucepan and add water to cover. Turn the heat to high, bring to a boil. Partially cover and adjust heat so mixture simmers steadily. Skim any foam that comes to the surface. Cook until meat is very tender, about 40 minutes. Remove the chicken from the liquid and set aside to cool.

2.    Strain the solids from the simmering liquid and return to the heat.  Let simmer until slightly reduced.  Turn off heat and let cool. 

3.    While your simmering liquid is cooling, shred your chicken thighs.  Do so by pulling the pieces of chicken apart by hand – this seems to be the easiest and most effective way.

4.    Once your simmering liquid is cooled, add about ½ cup of it back into the shredded chicken and toss.  Your chicken is now ready; you can now assemble your shredded chicken tacos.

Shredded chicken thighs

Shredded chicken thighs

Shredded Chicken Taco Assembly

What You Will Need:

  • Flour or corn tortillas, 6 inch in diameter
  • Cheese, shredded –  I like Chihuahua cheese for this recipe
  • Lettuce, shredded
  • Tomato, seeded and diced
  • Cilantro, the leaves removed from the stems
  • Sour cream
  • Siracha, or your favorite hot sauce
Chihuahua cheese for chicken tacos...delicious

Chihuahua cheese for chicken tacos...delicious


1.)   Wrap your tortillas in foil and place them in an oven at 350 Degrees to soften for 5-7 minutes. 

2.)   Lay your softened tortilla down on a plate, add your shredded chicken and top with your favorite toppings.  Be sure to add hot sauce.   

3.)   Eat and repeat.


Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Pecan Topping

Friday, June 19th, 2009
Mashed Sweet Potatoes With Pecan Topping

Mashed Sweet Potatoes With Pecan Topping

Looking for a tasty, healtier alternative to mashed potatoes?  My mashed sweet potatoes are sweet, crunchy, creamy – just delicious.  They work well with most of your summer time staples…hamburgers, hot dogs, ribs, chicken – the list goes on and on. 

A tip to make this recipe even easier is to buy the pre-wrapped sweet potatoes that you microwave. There is no need to remove the wrapping, pierce or wash – just throw them in the microwave for about 5-10 minutes.  For this recipe I microwaved 4 at a time.

Once the sweet potatoes are cooked, remove them from the microwave and let them cool; you want them cool to the touch so you can remove the inside goodness from the skin.  Once they are cooled, slice them in half and spoon out the inside into a baking dish and mash them with a potato masher.

Mash the Sweet Potatoes With a Potato Masher

Mash the Sweet Potatoes With a Potato Masher

This recipe is not only simple, it is nutritious.  Sweet potatoes packed with vitamin A, they are also a great source of vitamin C, iron, calcium and fiber.  The recipe does, however, contain a good amount of sugar and fat in it.  But don’t worry – if you are cooking for someone on a special diet it is easy to adjust this recipe. I was cooking for my mother, so I adjusted a portion of the recipe to suit her diet; I used less of the topping (contains brown sugar and butter) on her portion.  Sweet potatoes are a good option for diabetics as they have the lowest glycemic index rating amongst all root vegetables.

If you wanted to adjust the sugar content even further to make a diabetic friendly version, I would suggest eliminating the brown sugar completely from the topping and replacing the maple syrup with sugar-free syrup.  Sweet Potatoes are naturally sweet so they don’t need much help.

I tried both the full fat, full sugar version and the trimmed version and I must say – they were both excellent.



  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, I use the Pecan Pie glazed Pecans by Emerald Nuts
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

The Rest:

  • 6 prewrapped microwavable sweet potatoes
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons salt


Preheat oven to 350°F.

1.) Mix the brown sugar, pecans and butter in small bowl. Set aside – preferably in the fridge to chill.

2.) Prepare a glass baking dish with butter. I simply put a bit of butter on a paper towel and wipe. You could even substitute canola oil as well.

3.) Cook your sweet potatoes in the microwave. Remember, you have to pierce sweet potatoes before putting them in the microwave unless you buy the pre-wrapped microwaveable sweet potatoes. Cook on high for about 8-10 minutes until tender to the touch. Let cool.

4.) Once your sweet potatoes are cool, place them in a dish and mash with a potato masher.

5.) Beat eggs, maple syrup, vanilla, lemon juice and salt in large bowl. Mix in the mashed sweet potatoes.

6.) Transfer sweet potato mixture to prepared dish. Sprinkle pecan topping evenly over mixture.

7.) Bake until sweet potato mixture is set and the pecan topping bubbles, about 1 hour. Let stand 15 minutes and serve.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009
Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

These are so good we had to post them.  Use our Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe to make these heavenly ice cream sandwiches!   We used half a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Vanilla in each.  Yes, these will not be posted under our Healthy Food catagory.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cookies – Big Style!

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009
Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Who wants a cookie?   You will… after reading this recipe.  These are my mom’s “famous” chocolate chip cookies – the recipe is adapted from the Toll House Cookie recipe.  She uses jumbo eggs, and a mixture of light and dark brown sugar.  These two changes do something magical to the recipe – they are the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever eaten.  Chewy and buttery - with a great balance of flavors.  Not too much chocolate – just enough in every bite. 

This recipe makes 24, 4 inch cookies.  Yep, that’s why we say Chocolate Chip Cookies – Big Style!  That’s one big cookie.


Ground Turkey Three Ways

Monday, April 20th, 2009
Turkey Burgers

Turkey Burgers

My mother is known for making some of the best meatballs around.  The flavor, of course, is great – but it’s the texture of the meatballs that makes them special.  She says it all has to do with how you mix the ground meat.  Whether it is beef, pork, veal or turkey – it’s all in how you mix it.  

So what is this special ground meat mixing technique?  It starts with the utencil you use, a large pronged fork is best.   Lightly lifting and separating the meat as you gently combine all of the ingredients.  This gentle fluffing of the ground meat  creates little air pockets and keeps  the ground meat airy.  Never, never mash it together and don’t use your hands – you will tend to mush it all together like you would a dough.  This only creates a dense product.  

So now that you know how to mix ground meat properly…what can you do with it?  Well, here are three variations using ground turkey.  Ground Turkey Three Ways…


Golden Brown Potato Rolls

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009
Potato Rolls

Golden Brown Potato Rolls

I honestly think one of the most hearty, comforting foods you can eat is bread, especially my mother’s homemade Potato Rolls.  So, you can imagine how pleasantly surprised I was when her Potato Roll recipe ended up in my inbox yesterday.  Thanks Mom!

These freshly baked rolls not only taste great, they smell incredible.  There really is nothing like the smell of freshly baked bread, right?  The potato in these rolls not only adds moistness, but also gives the roll a really fine texture – not so much squishy, but rather “pillowy”. 


Simple Chicken Pot Pie

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009
Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

A recent Food Network program prompted this sudden exploration in Pot Pie. Growing up pot pie was something that strictly came from the freezer. Thick pie style crust concealing a whole lot of gravy peas and not much more. I can’t say I would ever consider pot pie to be a comfort food…times have changed!