While you read this, I’ll be in sunny California! This is my first real vacation for the year, so I’m super excited for this. It’s time for our annual family get together, which can be both wondrous and stressful. Luckily, things are going fairly well and I’m just relaxing on the beach.
Let me back up a bit. We made this chili the week before we left. It’s not only easy (which is awesome because we’re still unpacking) but also makes up a lot of servings. We were able to eat this all week long. Usually we ate it for lunch because it heats up very nicely in the microwave.
This chili has a secret weapon, which is cocoa powder. It adds just a bit of richness while the chocolate taste goes undetected. Chocolate and beef actually complement each other quite nicely and the chocolate actually just enriches the beef flavor. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did! This chili became quite the regular over last winter.
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WE’RE FINALLY IN OUR NEW APARTMENT!!!! I’m sorry for all the caps, but I can’t tell you how excited I am to finally be in my own space again. Do we still have boxes everywhere? Of course! Is any room organized?! Nope!! But it’s mine and I love the new place. This is a biiiiig step up from our last apartment. Once we get all the kitchen stuff put away, I’ll have a lot more counter space to work with. I hope to be able to do more stuff like breads and doughs.
For now though, I thought I’d keep it simple and comforting while I try not to stress over the overwhelming thoughts of “OMG why do we have so much and where is the best place to put it!?!?” I get overwhelmed pretty easily though. My brain just shuts off when I see all these boxes and all these potential places. We’re getting there...but I’m still counting down the days to my vacation!
This tuna noodle casserole is something I’d make when I was in high school. Of course I complained every minute about how laborious a task it was to put together. It’s a one pot dish…so it’s a super time saver. Back then, if it wasn’t cookies, I didn’t want any part of the preparation. Now though, it brings me back to those days. I haven’t made it in quite some time. In fact, I haven’t bought tuna for quite some time, but with all the stress of the move, it was time for a little comfort. I hope you find this just as comforting as I did.
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Now that we’ve settled down a bit, I was getting nostalgic for some easy comfort food. We’re still waiting for our next apartment to become finalized, and in the meantime Bren (my boyfriend) and I are staying with his family. The great thing about this is that I’m just about less than 5 minutes away from work. The bad thing is that we don’t really have any space to ourselves. Overall though, it’s been nice to be able to come home so quickly and sit down to dinner.
My mom used to make this dinner while we were growing up, but neither of us have made it in years. It’s super easy, and the hardest part is waiting for the chicken to cook. I used a peach mango jam, but apricot would work just as well. Peach or apricot mix best with the Italian dressing. If you try a different flavor, let me know how it tastes!
We’ve always used Wishbone Italian dressing for this dish. I do not recommend using a creamy Italian for this. You really do need the oil based dressing to mix with the jam. All you do is mix the dressing and jam together, pour it over the chicken, and bake until done. We like serving this with rice!
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Things have been getting crazy around here. Between trying to get things packed up for our move and the bustle of work, I have not had much desire to get in the kitchen and get some dinner on the table. Making cookies is one thing. Making dinner is another. Lately I’ve been getting home and changing straight into PJ’s. Convincing myself to get up from the couch is so difficult. It feels so good to lay down for just a bit.
That’s why I like this tetrazzini recipe that my mom gave me. I tweaked it a bit from her version, but this is a simple, quick, and tasty dinner that’s on the table in less than 30 minutes. Even I can convince myself to get in the kitchen for 30 minutes. Plus, that’s less time for the stove to heat up this apartment (it was in the 90’s today and will be tomorrow…stoves/ovens and high temperatures do not mix well with me).
I added some jalapenos to the mix to spice it up just a bit. They made all the other flavors come to life just that tiny bit more to push this dish from the “it’s fine” category to “we’re making this again”. If you really want to avoid the jalapenos, I’d recommend adding just a hint of cayenne (maybe 1/8 teaspoon) to help bolster the other flavors. And, if you’re really dead set against any spice, it’s perfectly fine to leave it out all together.
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Remember how we made these whisky burgers a while ago? No? Well then go over there and check them out! I promise they’re delicious. Now, you might be wondering what all that had to do with these burgers. See, the thing is I never would’ve thought to put amaretto in my burger…probably never in a million years. My boyfriend got to talking with a coworker about us adding whisky to our burgers, and her reply was along the lines of that sounds good but I’m going to try it with amaretto instead. That is when a beautiful thought was planted into his head.
So he kept nagging at me, trying to convince me that it would be a good idea. I resisted for a while because I wasn’t sure how the sweet liqueur would taste in a burger. Well I finally gave in, and all I have to say is, I’m sorry it took so long for me to try this out. I’ll give this one to him. He’s right and everyone should go out and mix up a few of these, right along with the whisky ones. The amaretto gives a nice sweet balance to the salt and pepper seasoning.
The other awesome thing about these burgers is the cheesey surprise in the middle. Not only did we add amaretto to these, but we also stuffed these with Havarti. I think the subtle creaminess of the Havarti was a nice complement to the other flavors, but I’m sure you could substitute your favorite cheese and still enjoy this burger. All I have to say is try these now! And I’m very glad that I bought the cast iron grill skillet!
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