Monday, October 2, 2017


I love salsa.  I like it year round though, and I have yet to find a store bought salsa that I love.  I love going to restaurants and eating their salsa.  That salsa is good salsa.  That salsa can not be bought in a store.  Insert sad face; my sad face.  I have tried lots of fresh tomato salsa, and while I do like it...I don't love it.  I like fresh tomatoes in pico de gallo salsa, but not so much in regular salsa.  In these types of salsa I like canned tomatoes.  The taste is more predictable, and they are the same year round.  I also have made this salsa several times...and each time I love as I stand around the food table and hear comments like "wow did you try this salsa," and "hey (insert name), did you try the salsa? It's so good."  That's how I know that one of my recipe is good...when others make comments to me not knowing that I was the one who made it!!  That sounded really arrogant as I wrote it...whoops!  Anywho...ego aside...this recipe is really delicious!!!  It also goes PERFECT with the Miguel's White Queso!!

28 ounce can whole plum tomatoes including juice
1 small white onion peeled and roughly chopped
1 - 2 jalapeno peppers seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin or to taste
1 teaspoons salt or to taste
1/4 - 1 teaspoon to 1 granulated sugar optional and to taste
1 - 2 handfuls cilantro I prefer 2
About 3 tablespoons lime juice

Add all ingredients to food processor in the order listed. Pulse a few times to break up the large pieces, then process until texture is as smooth as desired.
Taste the salsa and based on personal preference, adjust as necessary.
Transfer to airtight container and let sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or 1 day for best flavor. Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!

Miguel's White Queso

Miguel's is a Mexican restaurant in SoCal that is sub-par Mexican food.  However, it quickly became our favorite Mexican restaurant when we realized there was unlimited white queso brought to the table while you wait for your food.  Like they bring it quicker than they refill your water.  The stuff is liquid gold.  So delicious and good on just about everything.  I always mixed it with their salsa in order to feel a little healthier.  We tried a few copycat recipes before we realized that the restaurant used to hand out free recipes when they first opened.  Lucky for us, people plastered the internet with pictures of the recipe!  Now that we no longer live near Miguel's, this recipe will be a staple at all our fiestas!!!

2 cups whipping cream
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp chicken base
2 Tbsp clarified butter
1 Tbsp flour
1 jalapeno, minced
1 Tbsp jalapeno juice, from bottled jalapeno
1ounce Monterey jack cheese, shredded
1ounce cheddar cheese, shredded

Heat whipping cream in a heavy saucepan over high heat. Stir in sour cream when it's ready to boil. After sour cream dissolves, reduce heat to medium.
Stir in chicken broth and jalapeno sauce and simmer.
Meanwhile, make a roux by heating butter and flour. Whisk until mixture turns a pale gold.
Increase heat on cream mixture until almost boiling and then add roux. Whisk briskly and constantly until roux is incorporated.
Remove from heat, stir in minced jalapeno and the cheeses.
Can be served with tortilla chips or as a sauce for dishes.

Cilantro Lime Chicken with Avocado Mango Salsa

This chicken is the perfect dish when you feel like Mexican food, but don't want to make all the fixins to go with it.  This is the protein marinated in the delicious south of the border flavors, and topped with the perfect salsa combination of savory and sweet.  I serve it along side some cilantro lime rice, but the dish is fine stand alone!  I love taking this meal into a family too.  It looks super fancy, is very fresh, and is so easy to whip up!

Chicken Marinade
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4-6)
Juice of 3 limes
1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
½ cup olive oil
1 Tbsp. honey, or more to taste
1 tsp. kosher salt, or more to taste
fresh cracked pepper
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tsp. cumin
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. ground coriander

Avocado Mango Salsa
2 avocados, diced
1 large mango cubed
2 roma tomatoes, diced
¼ cup shallot, finely diced
¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
Juice from ½ lime
¼ tsp. garlic powder
fresh cracked pepper & salt to taste

Combine the marinade ingredients in a food processor and blend. Pour into a large resealable bag and add chicken and marinate for a few minutes, up to overnight.
Mix together Avocado Mango Salsa ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.

Grill chicken over medium-high heat (or on stovetop) until no longer pink inside. Serve chicken with avocado mango salsa and enjoy!

Cinnamon Rolls

I don't claim to be an expert baker by any means, but for some reasons...these cinnamon rolls always turn out.  They are super easy to make and always taste delicious.  Unfortunately they are full on the fat and don't skimp at all on the taste. This leads to some fun rolls in your tummy and onto your thighs!!  Still worth making them...just as a special treat!

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup milk warm
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup margarine I used softened unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup brown sugar packed
3 tbsp cinnamon
1/3 cup margarine softened

Cream cheese icing
6 tbsp margarine I used unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt

For the rolls, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl. Let it sit for about 5 minutes. If the yeast is good, it will start to froth up. Add sugar, butter, salt, eggs, and flour to the bowl of a mixer and mix well.  Pour the milk/yeast mixture in the bowl and using the dough hook, mix well until well incorporated.  Place dough into an oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.  Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, until it is approx 16 inches long by 12 inches wide. It should be approx 1/4 inch thick.  Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.

To make filling, combine the butter or margarine, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.  Spread the mixture evenly over the surface of the dough. Alternatively you can spread the butter first on the dough and then the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture.  Working carefully, from the long edge, roll the dough down to the bottom edge. The roll should be about 18 inches in length. Cut the roll into 1 1/2 inch slices. You might find it easier if you use a piece of floss vs a knife.  Place the cut rolls in the prepared pan. Cover them with a damp towel. Let them rise again for another 30 minutes until they double in size.

Bake for 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Cooking time can vary greatly!  While the rolls are baking make the icing by mixing all ingredients and beat well with an electric mixer until fluffy.  When the rolls are done, spread generously with icing.

Fresh Spring Roll with Peanut Sauce

These are my favorite food. This dish is fresh, easy'ish' to whip up, and actually saves well in the fridge so you can enjoy the goodness for days!!  These seem quite intimidating at first to make, but once you do it once they are a sinch!!  I love making them with some satay chicken (essentially I just put chicken tenders on a stick with some salt and pepper) and then I use the peanut sauce for them too.  They just seem to round out the dish and makes it more of a meal...and I'm my kids hero if I make any dish that includes meat on a stick!!

Spring Rolls
10 rice paper (found in most grocery store Asian isles)
2 cups shredded iceburg lettuce
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cucumber deseeded and sliced thin
30 large shrimp cooked (I like to buy raw and then sautee with some butter, salt, pepper, and a pinch of yellow curry powder)

Peanut Sauce
1/2 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup coconut milk
2 Tbsp Thai red curry paste
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp Sugar
2 Tbsp ground peanuts
salt and pepper to taste

For the spring rolls, get a bowl with warm water big enough to submerge the rice paper.  Soak the rice paper for 30 seconds or until the paper is slightly pliable.  Lay flat and then put 3 tbsp lettuce, 1 tbsp carrots, 1 tbsp cilantro, and a few sticks of cucumber.  Fold over once side of the rice paper so the veggies are covered.  Place three shrimp on top of the rice paper with the veggies underneath.  Fold the two sides over, and then roll into the remaining side.  Think burrito when doing this.  There is no real wrong way to do's just the easiest way I have found to keep the shrimp and veggies in tact while getting the tightest roll.

For the peanut sauce, combined all ingredients except peanuts in a small stockpot and whisk together until well incorporated.  Bring to a light simmer and then turn off heat.  Salt and pepper to taste and then transfer to a bowl.  Top with peanuts and serve along side the spring rolls.  I like to add a little sweet chili sauce to the dipping process too for a little extra sweet and spicy mix!!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Cheesy Funeral Potatoes

These potatoes have been dubbed "funeral potatoes" by what I can only imagine is the Mormon culture.  Recently we went to Grandma Mechams funeral where these were served and before that, my Grandpa Papenfuss' funeral where these were also served.  The only thing I can think of is that they are so delicious they put a smile on everyone's faces despite the sad situation they are in the midst of.

With my recent boycot of "cream of..." anything, funeral potatoes were one of my first recipes nixed from the blog.  They had a big honkin can of the stuff and it just wasn't going to cut it.  The canned mixture was a main star of the dish so I wasn't sure how a homemade substitution would do.  Well this recipe proves that sometimes homemade is best!!  The roux is relatively easy, and the cheesy deliciousness that transpires because of it is just amazing!!

8 tbsp salted butter
1 28-32 oz bag frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
2 cups chicken broth
salt, pepper, seasoning salt to taste
1 1/2 ups shredded Montery jack cheese
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar
2 cups kettle cooked potato chips
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup green onions sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and melt 6 tbsp of the butter.  Add the onions and cook until translucent.  Sprinkle the flour over the top of the onions and stir to incorporate. Cook for a minute or until the mixture starts to look like "wet sand."  Whisk in them milk and chicken broth and continue mixing until there are no more lumps.  Bring the mixture to a boil and continue boiling until mixture thickens.  Season to taste with salt, pepper, and seasoning salt.  Turn off the heat and add the Montery Jack, cheddar, and sour cream.  Add the hash browns and mix everything together.  Grease the bottom of a 9x13 pan and pour potato mixture into it.

Take the remaining 2 tbsp butter, crushed chips, and Parmesan cheese.  Mix together and sprinkle over the top of the potatoes. Sprinkle green onions over top of chip coating (optional). Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes, remove foil and bake for 15 more minutes or until the top is golden brown and the potatoes are bubbling around the edges.

Bavarian Cream Pie

This dessert is the Papenfuss family #1 most requested recipe. It's a simple recipe, but when all the flavors and textures are combined it makes something magical.  We make it for every birthday, every holiday, every scout auction, everything...and it is always a hit!!

1/2 cup butter
1 cup chopped pecans - divided
1 cup flour
1 8oz package cream cheese - softened
1 cup powdered sugar
16 oz whipped cream - divided
1 large package instant chocolate pudding

Melt butter and mix well with 3/4 cup pecans and flour.  Pat into the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until the crust comes together and is a light golden brown.  Cool completely.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar.  Beat until fluffy.  Add 12 oz of whipped cream and fold together.  Put on top of the crust.  Mix the pudding packets with 2 1/2 cups cold milk and mix until thick consistency.  Layer on top of cream cheese mixture.  Use the remaining whipped cream and layer on top of the pudding. Sprinkle on the remaining 1/4 cup of chopped pecans.  Keep in refrigerator if not serving immediately.