The cure for the I-do-not-feel-like-cooking mood


When I was younger and fresh out of the Marines Corps, I could live on the simple, staple foods, like hot dogs, burgers, and grocery store pizza. It was nothing for me to hit the local Aldi’s grocery store, spend $20, and have enough groceries to last me a week or two. . . and that included coming home with one heck of a variety!

Now that I’m a little older and married, my palate and taste have matured, and I have learned to enjoy the more sophisticated foods and finer tastes in life. Thus, last night’s dinner. I had managed to work myself into one of those I-do-not-feel-like-cooking moods, after a really bad finish to the workday. Luckily, we have the coolest place very close to the house that saves me from time to time.

Since I’m not as young as I once was and yet not quite old enough to be considered old (however old that is), I am not a fan of the frozen pizza. I know there are several companies vying for the title of the best frozen pizza, but, as far as I’m concerned, they can all keep them. I’m also not a terribly big fan of delivery pizza either. If it’s there, I’ll probably eat it; however, it’s not my first choice. I will only go to a pizza buffet if I happen to have my nieces and nephews with me, and that’s more about just spending time with them than savoring the food.

However, like I said, I have a wonderful establishment close to the house that truly is a dinner salvation. What is it, you ask? . . .  Papa Murphy’s Pizza! Let me tell ya, this franchise takes pizza to a whole new level. I am generally not a fan of franchises; I prefer the mom and pop places. Now I realize there are some good pizza joints, and, if you want to sit out, drink a beer, and enjoy a pizza, by all means indulge; however, if you want to amaze your family, friends, or neighbors with a superior pizza, let me tell you that Papa Murphy’s Pizza! will impress.

When you walk into a Papa Murphy’s Pizza! store, the entire staff welcomes you like they mean it. It’s not like other places where the staff greets you with an insincere, rehearsed, droned out “hellooo!” The Papa Murphy’s Pizza! staff is really, genuinely glad to see you. They are also very helpful, because your first visit could be a little overwhelming with so many choices, but, it’s okay, I got you covered! After your initial welcome, you will begin to enjoy the typical smells of a pizza place, only this one is in a bright, clean atmosphere. Along a long counter you will see a plethora of fresh ingredients typical of any pizza place. Walking to the order counter, the cashier and staff will take you through the process of how everything works. Up above the counter of is a list of specialty pizzas they offer, everything from an overfilled pepperoni to a gourmet chicken garlic pizza. A word to the wise. . .  their pizzas are HUGE! My wife and I get a large pizza and always have enough to last a couple days after if we choose. After selecting your style of pizza, you can watch as they hand-make your custom-ordered pizza. With friendly staff you can laugh and talk with, you even find out some of their secret menu items on even on the menu. I won’t tell you what they are; that you will have to find out for yourself. Once all the toppings are on your pizza, they will plastic wrap it up and include clear, easy instructions on how to bake it at home. That’s right! YOU cook it! Papa Murphy’s is a take-’n-bake pizza joint. That, to me, is what makes it brilliant. They make it, and you bake it FRESH and enjoy it piping hot, fresh out of the oven at home.

So yesterday, after my bad finish to the day, I got a laugh, a smile, and a great pizza. This trip, we tried the Herb Chicken Mediterranean deLITE® with Olive Oil, Garlic, Mozzarella Cheese, Spinach, Grilled Chicken, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Feta Cheese and Zesty Herbs on cracker-thin crust. It was amazing and made dinner for less than $11 dollars (not to mention all those leftovers for lunches or snacks!).

The pizzas at Papa Murphy’s Pizza! are fantastic quality, inexpensive, and you can have a gourmet pizza on the table in less than 20 minutes with fresh, healthy ingredients. Now that’s a recipe for success! Check out their website for details at www.papmurphys.com

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Filed under Dinner, Quick Dinners

Chicken Fajita Salad


With some pretty hefty cooking time coming up on our Memorial Day weekend camping trip, I decided to make simple fare the rest of this week at home. This way we can enjoy easy-to-prepare, small-portion dinners before I have to prepare a couple of crowd-satisfying feasts. Last night’s dinner was just that simple, yet still healthy and delicious. A super-quick blend of salsa and fresh bell peppers serves double duty as salad dressing and seasoning for the chicken fajita salad. It’s a recipe a novice cook could make as well as a seasoned chef. Depending on the type of salsa you use, the salad will vary in heat.

Chicken Fajita Salad

Ingredients

1 Teaspoon Canola Oil

2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts

½ Teaspoons Ground Cumin

1 Teaspoon Chili Powder

½ Teaspoon Paprika

½ Teaspoon Garlic Powder

½ Teaspoon Onion Powder

Salt & Pepper, to taste

1/2 Cup Prepared Salsa

1/2 medium Onion, chopped

¼ Each of Yellow, Orange, & Red Bell Peppers

2 Cups Lettuce (we used baby Spinach because it’s what we had on hand)

1/2 Cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

2 8-inch Corn Tortillas cut into thin strips

4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil, for frying tortilla strips

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a non-stick skillet heat oil over medium high heat.

3. Add vegetable oil to small saucepan, set to medium high heat, add and fry tortilla strips until golden brown and crispy (5 to 8 minutes). Remove from oil and allow to cool and crisp up while you prepare the rest of the meal.

4. Mix all spices together and coat both sides of the chicken breasts. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon over tortilla chips to coat.

5. Cook both breasts 3 minutes on each side until a nice, almost black, crust forms; then place in the oven for 5 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked.

6. While chicken is in the oven, julienne the onions and peppers.

7. Remove chicken from oven and set aside on a cutting board to rest.

8. Add onions and peppers to pan and begin to sauté until onions become translucent, then add salsa and heat through.

9. Dice chicken and add to the onion mixture.

10. Mix well until all flavors are combined (about 5 minutes).

11. Serve over lettuce and sprinkle with cheese and tortilla strips. You can add sour cream and guacamole to your liking.

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Filed under Camping Recipes, Chicken, Dinner, Quick Dinners, Salads, Spices

Help! One-Pot Dishes!


Lodge Mfg L10D03 Cast Iron Dutch Oven 7 Qt.

Ok, Foodies, I have a camping trip coming up Memorial Day weekend, and I need a little help. We have several guests coming along on this camping trip, and we will be consuming large quantities of alcoholic beverages and food. I need more dutch oven and group drink recipes. I have some great dishes, like our seafood boil and my award-winning chili. We will be doing a huge seafood boil, which I will be sure to post about, along with pictures; however, it’s just too hot for chili. Does anyone have some great campfire dutch oven recipes or just dutch oven recipes? I have some great ideas, but wanted to see what else was out there. Post your recipe in the comments or a link to a recipe you like. Also, if you have some great group drinks, I’d love to see those too! We will be making The Manly Housewife Trashcan punch and Manly Manhattans. (Both recipes will be posted soon!)

Thanks in advance.

The Manly Housewife

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Manly Housewife Good Morning Coffee


It’s Monday morning, and it’s one of those mornings where the world just seems to be a step behind. I can’t figure out how to get out of first gear. It’s one of those mornings when a regular cup of coffee won’t be near enough to motivate and inspire me. I need to spice it up, get the creative juices flowing, and maybe get out of this Monday morning funk. Don’t those days when you can’t wake up just drive you bonkers? I mean, I would be able to understand if it had been a heavy night of drinking, but there wasn’t even a single glass of wine to blame. Although perhaps that’s the problem; maybe a glass of wine last night would have yielded a better sleep and I would now be fully refreshed. But who can have just one glass of wine? I mean come on. . .

On mornings such as these, where I just can’t get going,  I make a quick, wonderful cup of coffee that would also be perfect as an afternoon, pick-me-up treat or as late-night, after-dinner dessert.

Manly Housewife Good Morning Coffee

Ingredients

1 Coffee Cup, filled ¾ full of fresh-brewed coffee

½ Hot Chocolate Mix

Nutmeg (I use fresh nutmeg and shave it in the coffee with a grater 2 or 3 times)

¼ Tablspoon of Cinnamon

½ Tablespoon Sugar

Milk (optional)

Whip Cream (optional)

Directions

1. Fill coffee cup three-quarters full with fresh-brewed coffee.

2. Add hot chocolate mix, cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg, and milk, and stir.

3. Top with whip cream and dust with hot chocolate then enjoy!

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Filed under Breakfast, Camping Recipes, Desserts, Drinks

Blackened Chicken and Shrimp Pita Nachos with Avocado Ranch


Last night’s dinner was inspired by one of those nights that you look at what’s left in the ‘fridge, just throw it together, and hope for the best. We call it tempting fate. It’s impetuous, fun, crazy, and a little worrisome, when you’re not quite sure if the flavor combinations you are throwing together will come out like you imagined. After looking through the pantry, the ‘fridge, the freezer, and the spice rack, I felt sort of like the old TV show MacGyver. Where he would take a shoestring and a piece of bubble gum and make a bomb to get out of some sticky plot. If you have never seen it, you can check it out here. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0165375/

What I found were an assortment of items that I thought combined would make an enticing dinner, and, let me tell you, it worked wonderfully!

Blackened Chicken and Shrimp Pita Nachos with Avocado Ranch

Ingredients:

Blackening Spice

1 Tablespoon Chili Powder

Teaspoon Paprika

Teaspoon Garlic Powder

Teaspoon Onion Powder

And a dash of the following

Salt

Fresh-Cracked Black Pepper

Cayenne Pepper

Additional Ingredients for 2 people

1 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast

1 Pound of Shrimp, shelled, deveined, and tailless

3 Wheat Pitas

1 Cup Shredded Colby Jack & Cheddar Cheese

3 Green Onions, chopped

Dressing

Following the directions on 1 package of Ranch dressing mix

Add 1 Avocado and blend until smooth

*If it’s too thick, you can thin with a little milk to desired consistency.

Directions

1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.    Add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to a skillet and turn to medium high        heat.

3.    Mix all blackened spice ingredients together.

4.    Heavily coat both sides of the chicken breast and shrimp.

5.    Once oil is just about to smoke, add the chicken breast .

6.    Cook for approximately 3 minutes on each side.

7.    Add shrimp and put in preheated oven for 10 minutes until chicken and shrimp are fully cooked.

8.    Meanwhile, cut each pita in half, then half again and half again,        forming small triangles and place on a non-greased cookie sheet.

9.    Place in oven the last 3 minutes with the chicken and shrimp to crisp up.

10.   Remove all items from oven and set to broil.

11.   Chop chicken into small pieces.

12.   Arrange pitas on serving plates 1.5 pitas per person and sprinkle         with a  of the cheese.

13.   Add chicken and shrimp, and sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the          top

14.   Place under broiler for 1 minute until cheese is melted.

15.   Add green onions and dressing and enjoy.

Kids will love this too

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Filed under Appetizers, Chicken, Kids, Party Food, Quick Dinners, Seafood, Spices

Instant Stir-Fry


We had one of those nights when there was little time to cook, and we needed to throw something together quickly. My wife and I were heading to our niece’s preschool graduation. I don’t remember having one of these when we were kids; is this a new fad or are these something that have been happening for awhile? I don’t have anything against these, mind you; I just don’t see the point. Of course the kids looked cute and responded with funny comments when asked what they wanted to be when they grow up. The answers ranged from, “a mommy” to one child saying, “a paleontologist.” I had to look up how to spell that, and a preschool graduate was using it in a sentence. Toward the end of the ceremony, which lasted and hour and half, the kids were stir crazy and practically needed to be duct taped to the seats they were so antsy to run around. I guess all in all this was for the parents’ benefit and not so much for the kids. I am still lost as to the point of the whole thing. . .

On with making the quick, eat-’n-run-out-the-door dinner. Before I got married, Ramen noodles were a staple dietary item in my cabinets. Loving to cook even back then, they were inexpensive and very versatile. I couldn’t just eat plain Ramen all the time; I had to add a little of this and a little of that. I found one cool secret that I still use to this day: Ramen noodles make the most fabulous stir-fry noodles ever. Break out a pan (in my case, a wok), and throw in some stir-fry meat, add a package of frozen vegetables, ramen noodles with the seasoning packet, and Wallah! Instant stir-fry!

Almost Instant Stir-Fry

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1 Pound Stir-Fry Meat (thinly sliced steak, ground beef, or thinly sliced chicken breast)

1 Package Shrimp-Flavor Ramen Noodles

1 Bag Frozen Mixed Vegetables (I use a red potato and sugar snap pea mixture)

Directions

  1. In wok or sauce pan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and turn to medium high heat.
  2. Add meat and stir-fry until meat is almost cooked through (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add vegetables, Ramen noodles, and spice pack to meat and stir-fry for approximately 5 minutes.
  4. Serve in a bowl with chopsticks and enjoy.

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Filed under Dinner, Pasta, Quick Dinners

Paprika Shrimp with Mango and Avocado Salsa


Summer is here! Now is the time to start breaking out those fantastic
light dishes that you have been craving since fall. The night before
last, we decided to dip into our personal stash of recipe cards and
see if we could find a golden gem we had forgotten about. We did, and
it’s a simple recipe that even the amateur cook could make easily. You
should see our recipe stash. It’s full of torn-out magazine articles,
printed recipes, and cookbook pages that through the years of
hand-me-down cookbooks with tattered bindings. We really should hire a
librarian to help better organize these recipes, but I think sometimes
half the fun is finding something you had forgotten you had. It’s like
finding a $5 bill in the pocket of those old jeans hanging at the back
of the closet.

We are also known for just logging into some of our favorite online
food sites and picking a random recipe and going for it. What a great
way to get some fantastic recipes and try something new. It’s always
nice to have that recipe around that doesn’t take a lot of work and
combines some of our favorite flavors. Lets dig in.

Paprika Shrimp with Mango and Avocado Salsa
Serves 4

Serve over a bed of Orzo Pasta

Ingredients
2 Avocados
1 Mango
1/2 Lime or 1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
3 Green Onions
Olive Oil
1/4 Teaspoon Sugar
1 Pound Large Shrimp
2 Teaspoon Paprika
1 teaspoon Louisiana Hot Sauce
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Cumin

Directions
1. Place oven rack 4 inches from the broiler and heat on high.
2. Cook orzo to the directions on the box (1/2 box will serve 4)
3. Dice the mango.
4. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, the avocado,
diced green onions, and lime juice to the mango and combine.

5. In a medium bowl combine the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, 1teaspoon salt, paparika, cumin, and hot sauce and stir well.

6. Add shrimp to hot sauce mixture and toss to coat.

7. Arrange shrimp on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil until shrimp are cooked through, about 4 minutes.


8. Serve with Mango Avacado Salsa

8 Comments

Filed under Quick Dinners, Salads, Seafood