Super Fast & Easy Oatmeal Cookies

These cookies are so addicting, and they really couldn’t be easier. They’re toddler friendly (what cookie isn’t?!), and not sooo terrible for them either. My Cizzle loves them so much she insists on helping make them, including licking the mixing utensils.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 packets lower sugar instant oatmeal any flavor (maple brown sugar is our fav), or 1 1/2 cups quick oats plus an extra 1/4 cup sugar

Cream the butter and sugars in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well, then add in the vanilla.

Combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon in a small bowl and slowly incorporate into the creamed butter sugar mixture. Fold in the oats, and any other mix ins you like (cranberries and white chocolate chips are yummy!!). Then cover the dough and chill for about twenty to thirty minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, then roll out 1 inch balls of the dough and place about two inches apart. Bake 8-10 minutes and cool completely before scarfing!

Note: if you want a little bit more of a healthy cookie for your little one, you can certainly substitute 1/2 cup of applesauce for 1/4 cup of the butter and 1/4 cup of the sugar. The babes will never know the difference!! Trust me, mine doesn’t!!!

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The Best Darn Shoyu Chicken (aka Broke ‘Da Mout Chicken)

2-3 pounds chicken pieces (I like to use boneless skinless thighs)
1 cup Aloha Shoyu or any kind of soy sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons sweet chili sauce, preferably Mae Ploy
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1 tablespoon Hawaiian sea salt
2 tablespoon freshly grated Ginger
1/3 cup water

Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl, and transfer all but 1/2 cup to a large plastic bag or Tupperware big enough to hold all the chicken. Immerse the chicken in the marinade and let sit for at least 6 hours, preferably over night.

Take the chicken straight out of the marinade and throw it on a preheated grill at medium low for about 6-7 minutes per side or until cooked through (try not to cook it over too high of heat or the sugar in the marinade will make the chicken burn easily, lower and slower is better here).

Heat remaining 1/2 cup of marinade over low heat in a small sauce pan for about 10 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

Serve chicken with steamed sticky white rice, and drizzle the thickened sauce over top. Mmmm, soo ono!!

Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies

This recipe originates from the back of a package of Toll House Semisweet Chocolate Chips, but I’ve made a few tweaks for this specific cookie. I’ve been making the original chocolate chip recipe since I could measure flour, and I have to admit, I have it memorized (scary!).

With the small adjustments I’ve made, these cookies always turn out to be everyone’s favorite, including mine.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 package semi sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, sift together the first three ingredients. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter, vanilla, and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add one egg at a time, and beat well after each addition. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, and beat well until it is all mixed in. Fold in the coconut, and chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet (I like to use parchment paper for easy clean up!), and bake for 9-11 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and the middles have set. Let cool on a cooling rack as long as you can stand it, because they come out piping hot, then enjoy with a glass of ice cold milk.

Simply Roasted Chicken

I love those rotisserie chickens you can get from the deli counter at the supermarket, and the ones at Costco are even more fabulous. But there’s something about roasting your own chicken in the oven that seems extra special (and kind of impressive if you’ve never done it before).

The smell will get you first, that savory chickeny, sumptuous smell. Then when you take it out of the oven, it’s a sight to be seen, with it’s glistening golden skin, and tender juicy meat. But once you bite into your first piece of homemade, oven roasted chicken perfection that doesn’t take all day or even a whole lot of patience, you’ll never want to waste your time with store bought precooked cluckers ever again. Mmmm… cheekehn, guuuod cheekhen!

1 whole chicken, 4-5lbs
Salt & Pepper
Butchers twine or tin foil

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Wash your chicken inside and out, and remove any giblets and the neck (you can use them for stock if you want to make gravy later). Dry VERY well inside and out as well. This part is super important, as the more moisture there is, the less crispy your skin will be.

Season the clucker in the cavity and all over the skin generously with salt and pepper. Place on a roasting rack with wings tucked underneath, and tie up the legs with butchers twine (or you can use a crumpled up piece of tin foil if you don’t have twine).

Bake at 425 degrees for 60 minutes or until a meat thermometer stuck in the thickest part of the thigh reads 160 degrees. Remove from oven, resist the urge to cut into it and devour your masterpiece, and let rest for at least ten minutes.

Then devour away!!! (PS the leftover bones make a great stock when simmered in water for a few hours with a bay leaf and a whole onion.)

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Rasta Nachos

My husband Dan’s favorite thing to eat is nachos. Any kind of nachos! The nuclear yellowish orange cheesy nachos with jalapenos you get at a baseball park, Roberto’s Carne Asada nachos, Memphis Championship BBQ’s nachos, and any other combination of chips, cheese and toppings. Honestly!

So one day we decided to fiddle with an idea for a Caribbean style nachos recipe, that included slow cooked jerk seasoned pulled pork, pineapple, and a bunch of other things that we had in the fridge. This recipe is all his, the execution was up to me. And boy did this collaboration turn out to be a hit! We both hope you enjoy these as much as we did!!

The Caribbean Pulled Pork–
2 pounds of boneless country style pork ribs, or shoulder roast
1 cup Caribbean jerk marinade
Enough water to cover the pork

Put the pork, marinade, and water in a slow cooker, and cook on low for 6-8 hours. (Or if you’re in a hurry to try these babies, you can put the same ingredients into a large pot, bring it to a boil, turn down the heat to low, and simmer for about two hours. You’ll get the same effect, but the meat won’t be AS tender as the slow cooker method).

Remove the meat with a slotted spoon, and shred with two forks, then set aside. It will be literally falling apart, and so flavorful and juicy you’ll want to use this pork for everything!!

The rest of the kitchen sink–
1 bag blue corn tortilla chips
2-3 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pineapple chunks in juice, drained
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium red onion, diced
1/2 bunch cilantro chopped
1/4-1/2 cup pickled jalapeño slices
1 avocado, diced
2 tbsp lime juice

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a 9″ x 13″ baking dish by lining the bottom and sides with parchment paper or foil. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the black beans, pineapple, bell pepper, red onion, cilantro, and half of the jalapeño slices, and set aside.

Dump about half the chips into the lined baking dish, top with half of the pork, drizzle with a tiny bit of the jerk marinade, then add half of the bean mixture on top, and sprinkle with half the cheese. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients, ending with cheese.

Bake at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until the middle layer of cheese is melty. Remove from the baking dish, place on a serving platter, top with remaining jalapeño slices, the avocado, and lime juice. Then pop in your favorite reggae album, and dive into the flavor party that’s about to happen in your mouth!

(Now, obviously this makes quite a large serving. Please feel free to halve this recipe, but take my word for it, even if there’s only two of you, there probably won’t be any leftovers!!)

Chicken Enchisagne

I’ve been making this recipe for as long as I’ve been cooking for a crowd… which is longer than I’d care to admit. It’s super easy to put together, even easier to cook, is great as leftovers, and is one of my favorite “go-to’s” for a potluck since you can prepare it the night before.

I’ve tried many variations on the ingredients, and have found each to be unique and as wonderfully delicious. Please check those variations out at the end, and feel free to create your own and share as well!

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large can of your favorite red enchillada sauce
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cloves of garlic, smashed and peel removed
3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
2 cups of shredded cheddar or jack or your favorite combo of cheeses
1 small onion, chopped
1 can of large black olives, drained and sliced in half
1/2 bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
18-20 corn tortillas
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Grease or spray a 9″ x 13″ baking pan (I like glass for this recipe), and set aside.

In a medium pot, add your smashed garlic, and extra virgin olive oil, and sauté for about a minute, until just fragrant. Add the enchillada sauce and cream of chicken soup, and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer on medium low for about ten minutes, or while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.

In a large mixing bowl, add your shredded chicken, onions, black olives, and cilantro, and combine well. Add all but 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese and lightly fold together, being careful not to squish the cheese into lumps!

Remove your sauce from the heat, and start by dunking one tortilla into the sauce, covering it completely on both sides. Place the enchi-sauce soaked tortilla in the prepared baking dish in the corner, and repeat until the bottom of the dish is covered in six to eight overlapping saucy tortillas!

Take about half of the chicken mix, and sprinkle over the tortillas. Repeat the tortilla soaking, and top the chicken mixture with another layer of them. Then sprinkle the rest of your chicken mix on top, and do a final layer of saucy tortillas.

Top with the remaining 1/4 cup of shredded cheese (this would be the point where you could throw some foil on top and and wait until morning to bake!), and bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until it’s bubbling all the way through.

Cool for about ten minutes before cutting into eight portions (or six if you’re really hungry!), and serve the yummy enchisagne with a dollop of sour cream on top.

Now, here are a few variations I’ve tried and really liked:

Green Chile Shrimp Enchisagne
Replace the enchillada sauce with green enchillada sauce, omit the black olives, use pepper jack cheese instead of cheddar, use about two cups of cooked diced shrimp in place of the chicken, and add a can of diced green chiles to the shrimp mixture. This is fabulous with a little extra cilantro on top too!

Chipotle Chicken Enchisagne
Add one to three chopped chipotle chiles in adobo to the chicken mixture (depending on how hot you want it), replace the onions with green onions, add about 1/4 cup of sour cream to the sauce mix along with a few teaspoons of the adobo sauce.

Shredded Beef Enchisagne
Replace the chicken with 1 1/2 cups cooked shredded beef seasoned with cumin chili powder and garlic salt, and instead of adding cheese to the meat mixture, sprinkle it on top before adding the tortilla layers.