"Whatever floats your boat" Brownies

I have been trying out a lot of new recipes lately and this one is AWESOME! I'm not one who loves to bake (love to cook, hate to bake! Its too hot here!) but this recipe is so dang easy why wouldn't I make it?

1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

1-2 cup chocolate chips (semisweet, white, butterscotch, peanut butter) or raisins, or chopped maraschino cherry or chopped nuts or M&M's or Reese's pieces or miniature marshmallows. Just whatever you like!

1 Preheat oven to 350°F.
2 Grease an 8 inch square pan or line with foil.
3 In a medium bowl combine melted butter and cocoa and stir until cocoa is dissolved.
4 Add sugar and mix well.
5 Add eggs one at a time and stir until well combined.
6 Stir in vanilla, flour and salt until you no longer see any flour (do not over mix).
8 Spread in pan and bake for approximately 25 minutes.
9 DO NOT OVER-BAKE -- your brownies will come out dry. Adjust time/temp accordingly for your oven. If you do the knife/toothpick test, it should come out with moist crumbs, not clean.
10 Cool completely before cutting into squares.
11 For double recipe, bake in 9x12 pan and add 5 minutes to baking time.

Bourbon Chicken (NO Bourbon used!)

I'm not sure why its called bourbon chicken but this recipe is alcohol free! I will usually add some kind of stir fry veggies to this. I also cut the red pepper flakes to 1/4 teaspoon for the wimps in my house (as you can tell, I'm not one of them!) This is a fast and easy dish. I usually double the sauce and then thicken it with cornstarch. But its yummy either way.


2 lbs chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1-2 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 teaspoon ginger
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup apple juice
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce

1 Heat oil in a large skillet.
2 Add chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned.***I just boil my chicken and then cut it up with kitchen shears. Its much easier that way!***
3 Remove chicken.
4 Add remaining ingredients, heating over medium Heat until well mixed and dissolved.
5 Add chicken and bring to a hard boil.
6 Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
7 Serve over hot rice and ENJOY.

Mexican Rice

This is another one of those recipes that I make over and over again because my family can't get enough of it! It tastes like the rice that is served at your favorite Mexican place. Enjoy!

***I have made some changes from the original recipe (I copied and pasted it here and then made my changes) so if something doesn't make sense, please let me know and I will clarify!***

SERVES 8 -10

12 ounces tomatoes, very ripe and cored
1 medium white onion
1 can chilies
2 cups long grain white rice
3 Tablespoons olive oil
4 minced garlic cloves
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons salt


1 Adjust rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350.
2 Process tomato, onion, chilies, and tomato paste in processor or blender until pureed and thoroughly smooth.
3 Place rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until water runs clear- about 1 1/2 minutes. Shake rice vigorously to remove excess water. This step removes the starch from the rice so it will not stick. IF YOU OMIT THIS STEP YOUR RICE WILL NOT BE DRY AND FLUFFY.
4 Heat oil in heavy bottomed oven safe 12 inch straight sided saute pan or Dutch oven with tight fitting lid over medium high heat about 2 minutes. (The recipe is very specific about this but I used a 10 inch dutch oven and it worked out fine.) Drop a few rice grains in and if they sizzle then it is ready. Add rice and fry stirring until rice is light golden and translucent, about 6-8 minutes.
5 Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and cook , stirring constantly until fragrant, about 1 1/2 minutes.
6 Stir in broth, pureed mixture and salt. Increase heat to medium high, and bring to a boil.
7 Cover pan and transfer pan to oven to bake until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 30-35 minutes. Stir well after 15 minutes.

Tips and tricks!
If you can't get good, fresh tomatoes you are better off using canned tomatoes. Don't use those awful hard and under ripe tomatoes that are at most supermarket chains.

Do not skip any of the steps. It may seem stupid-but rinsing the rice to remove the starch is very important if you want fluffy rice. It will only take two minutes of your time but it makes the difference.

Leftovers are just as delicious the next day so this is a perfect dish to make ahead time for potlucks. This rice also freezes well. For Freezing Ahead: Cool, portion and freeze in a Ziploc bag. To reheat from frozen: Place in a Pyrex dish and warm in the microwave, stirring every 2-3 minutes until heated through.

El Pollo Loco Flame Broiled Chicken

OK, I'll admit it, I've never been to El Pollo Loco so I'm not sure if this is the same thing or not. However, this chicken is delish! I serve it in corn tortilla's with cheese and avocado sauce (listed at the end of recipe) My hubby and kids eat it up and ask for more! Plus, it's something you can feel good about feeding your family.

1/2 roasting chicken, cut into pieces.

*** I use boneless, skinless chicken breasts most of the time. Just watch the cooking time on the grill, they cook a lot faster.***

1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 cups orange juice
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon yellow food coloring

1 Combine the marinade ingredients in a large bowl.
2 Add the chicken to the marinade, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour. ***I marinate it longer if I remember too! The longer you marinate, the better***
3 Preheat grill to med/high heat. Cook the chicken on the grill, leaving the cover of the grill open. When the chicken has cooked for about 25 min, marinade the chicken once again for about 5 minutes. Place the chicken back on the grill and continue to cook for another 20-25 min or until done.

***This can also be frozen! Just mix up some marinade, add the chicken and Voila! Dinner is done for a crazy night!***

Avocado Sauce

1 ripe avocado, peeled & pitted
1 fresh jalapeno, cut into quarters (I use green chilies to accommodate the timid in my house)
1 cup water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced
2 tablespoons diced onion

1 Combine all ingredients in a blender & puree.
2 Optional: For chunkier salsa, after pureeing, place in bowl.
3 Mix in one diced avocado into pureed mixture.