Goodcookbecky's Blog

Letting the juices of life (or food) drip from my chin!

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Greek Orzo Salad

Greek Orzo Salad

I know I have posted this one before, but it truly is one of my favorite salads to make with barbecue food.  Greek flavors of feta pair perfectly with the tomato, cucumber, artichoke, and olive flavors.  Orzo pasta fills in the quantity nicely.  You can add more to stretch the salad for a larger crowd. My original post.

Greek Orzo Pasta Salad
Serves 6-8

  • 3/4 lb Orzo Pasta (I love the Barilla Brand)
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and diced (I like the hot house or English ones they are most consistently good)
  • 1 can artichoke hearts
  • 1 can black olives (Greek style if you desire, but can be made with just regular olives if you wish)
  • 1 package cherry or grape tomatoes (chopped tomato is fine too)
  • fresh basil, chopped (to taste or 1 tsp of dried basil works in a pinch)
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled or cut in cubes if you like larger pieces of feta
  • 1/2 jar roasted Red Peppers (optional)

For the Dressing:

  • 6 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. mint
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Cook the Pasta according to the directions.  Prepare the vegetables, and put in a large bowl.  When the pasta is cooked, drained and cooled, add to the chopped veggies.  Combine the ingredients of the dressing and pour over the pasta salad.  Combine.  Add the feta cheese last, it seems to hold together better then.  Enjoy.  This really is quite addicting.  I think you will find it is as well.

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Greek Orzo Salad

Veggies and Feta

Red Wine Vinegar Dressing


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Stuffed French Toast

Strawberry Stuffed French Toast

Waking up with a plan for breakfast is always a good thing.  Strawberry and Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast has got to be a good plan for the day!  My husband got me a new camera for my birthday, so of course I took pictures.  If you have the time to make these- it is a move you won’t regret!

I found this recipe at Tasty Kitchen around Mother’s Day.  I loved the presentation of it.  Mine did not look as delicious as the one on the site, but it sure did taste good.  It had a few more steps than I usually have for breakfast it was well worth the effort to make.  The family loved them.

Strawberry and Cream Cheese Stuffed Toast Adapted from Tasty Kitchen

  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup strawberry preserves
  • 2 packages fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 loaf of french bread, cut into 2 inch slices
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • butter
  • Powdered sugar, to dust


  1. Cream softened cream cheese with Strawberry preserves until smooth with a fork.  Cut up about 12 medium sized strawberries into a small dice and stir into the cream cheese mixture.
  2. Slice the remaining strawberries in slices and then cut them with a quarter turn so they are little “sticks” and add 1/2 cup sugar to let the juices come out.
  3. Slice the french bread into 2 inch slices and then slice just the top of them in half (do not slice all the way through!).  Use your clean fingers to pry the bread apart, forming a little pocket, so you can stuff them with about 2 Tbsp of cream cheese mixture.
  4. Preheat a non stick skillet over medium heat.
  5. Beat the eggs with milk, vanilla extract and cinnamon for the french toast egg dip.
  6. Add butter to the heated skillet and move the butter around so it melts evenly to coat the bottom of the pan.
  7. Dip the stuffed french toast in the egg mixture and then add to the fry pan.
  8. Let them turn golden brown and turn to toast the other side.
  9. Place on a platter and dust with powdered sugar.
  10. To serve, top the french toast with the strawberries (and sugar) mixture.  Enjoy!

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Hawaiian Chicken

Here is a simple to make; easy to eat chicken recipe.  I found this on allrecipes.  The sauce is sweet and tangy and pairs perfectly with the chicken and rice.  My family asks for this on a fairly regular basis.  Other than the 1 hour cooking time, it is a cinch to prepare!  This is simple enough for a child to prepare but sophisticated enough for the whole family to enjoy!

Hawaiian ChickenAllrecipes


  • 1 (10 oz) jar sweet and sour sauce (I like the simmering sauces)
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 4 Tbsp white wine (or chicken broth)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 4 chicken breast halves, skinless, boneless


Preheat oven to 400F (or put in crock pot and cook for 6-8 hours on low)
In a bowl, combine sweet and sour sauce, brown sugar, orange juice, white wine and melted butter/  Mix well.
Place chicken in a greased 9x13x2 baking dish (or in crock pot) and pour sweet and sour sauce mixture over chicken.  Bake at 400F for one hour.

Great served over garlic seasoned steamed rice.  (For the garlic rice: bring 2 cups water, 1 tsp salt, 1 Tbsp butter and 1 tsp garlic seasoning to a boil.  Add 1 cup rice.  Stir, cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.  Turn off burner after 15 minutes and let sit another 15 minutes or more)  The garlic seasoning I like is “Lizzie’s Kitchen Oh So Garlic Seasoning”

Recipe Notes

I have made this several times and it is delicious!  It has become one of our regular recipes in the rotation.

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Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers are a hit around our home, but what really makes them a star is the cheese sauce that I make to go with it.  It really goes well with the flavor of the meat and peppers.  I paired it with fresh corn on the cob and garlic seasoned brown Basmati rice.  I have to say the peppers almost did not make it to the photo – we were hungry and devoured them like they were the last food on earth.

I usually buy pre-stuffed peppers (I like the ones they sell at the meat counter at Henry’s) They are turkey meatloaf stuffed peppers – any meatloaf mix will do though.  The cheese sauce is easy to prepare in the microwave with things I usually have in my pantry or fridge.

Stuffed Peppers with Spicy Cheese Sauce

Serves 5-6

  • 5-6 meatloaf filled green bell peppers

For the Cheese Sauce:

  • 1 (14 oz) can Rotel diced tomatoes and chilies (Mild)
  • 8 slices American cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Cook the peppers in a baking dish (I add some water to the bottom to keep them moist) and cover them with foil.  Bake for one hour.  Remove the foil and continue cooking for another 15-30 minutes or until the meat is to temperature with a meat thermometer. (Mine were at 165 for the turkey meatloaf mix). Note:  When you serve the peppers, use tongs and tip them halfway to let the moisture drain into the baking dish before putting on the plate, or you may have a puddle of water on the plate.
  2. For the cheese sauce: Combine half a can of Rotel tomatoes with chilies with 8 slices of American cheese slices.  Microwave for a minute and stir.  Continue microwaving it until it is a smooth sauce.  Serve with the peppers.  This cheese sauce is delicious.  The leftover sauce could be used for tortilla chips later.  It makes plenty of cheese sauce.

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Homemade Lemonade

Is there anything more refreshing than a glass of fresh Lemonade on a hot summer day?  My children are always asking me to pick up lemons so they can make lemonade.  After seeing what is added to a purchased lemonade in preservatives and flavorings and dyes, I prefer to know what is in this simple enough to make beverage.

Homemade Lemonade

Serves 6

  • 6 large fresh lemons, squeezed (yields approximately 1 cup lemon juice)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 cups water

Squeeze the lemons of their juice to make one cup of lemon juice.  Add 1 cup sugar and 6 cups of water. Stir.  Chill or add ice cubes and enjoy immediately!

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

I made Chicken Tortilla Soup in the crock pot for dinner tonight.  As the weather starts to warm up in Southern California, I love grabbing my crock pot to cook the food for me without heating up the kitchen.

I usually cook my own chicken or put a frozen chicken breast or two into the crock pot and cook it all day, but I had several pieces of chicken left from my recent trip to El Pollo Loco so I used that.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Serves 6

  • 1 cooked chicken, skinned and de-boned and chopped up
  • 1 can whole tomatoes, chopped (14 oz)
  • 1 can tomatoes and chilies (12 oz)
  • 1/2 small can enchilada sauce (16 oz)
  • 1 small bag frozen corn kernels
  • I package McCormick Recipe Inspirations combos for Garlic Lime Chicken Fajitas (new product- see below)
  • 4-6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained (15 oz)


  • shredded cheese
  • avocado
  • fried tortilla strips

Directions:  Put all the listed ingredients (except the toppings) in a crock pot and cook for 6-8 hours on low (or 4 hours on high).

Top with cheese, avocado or fried tortilla strips (to make these cut small strips out of a flour tortilla and fry them in hot canola oil.  Remove when they are golden brown and drain on a paper towel.

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McCormick Seasoning

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Thomas Keller House Vinaigrette

A few weeks ago I posted a guest post by “the peche”  He had a link to Thomas Keller recipes on his site that also included the Keller House Vinaigrette.  I made the recipe today, but cut the amount in half.

Thomas Keller House Vinaigrette (1/2 recipe)

  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup canola oil

Whisk the Dijon mustard and red wine vinegar together in a bowl and slowly whisk in the canola oil until it is well blended.  It will thicken as it emulsifies.  Your arm will feel like falling off.. I know this because mine felt like it would.. so if you wish, use a blender to combine and slowly drizzle the oil in.

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Wiener Schnitzel

I grew up in Austria.  My favorite meal was Wiener Schnitzel, which is a Breaded Veal Cutlet.  It has become difficult to find veal and often pork will be substituted for it.  Well, a Baron’s Market opened near me and while I was browsing the meat section I discovered veal cutlets.  I could not believe my eyes.  So tonight  I made Wiener Schnitzel.  The famous dish of Vienna, Austria.  Best served with a squeeze of lemon.  My first bite took me back to Austria.  Delicious.  Great with garlic roasted potatoes and a fresh green salad with a Vinaigrette dressing.

Wiener Schnitzel- Breaded Veal Cutlets

Serves 6

  • 6 veal cutlets, pounded to 1/4 inch thickness
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • plain dry breadcrumbs
  • lemon slices

Pound the cutlets with the smooth side of a meat mallet until it is pretty thin, but not so hard as to destroy the meat please.. it is after all veal (if you found it)  Very tender! Season with salt and pepper.  Dredge in flour, dip in beaten egg and then into breadcrumbs.  Stack the breaded cutlets onto a wire rack so they get a chance to dry a little (20-30 minutes is fine).  Heat about 1/2 inch canola oil or another vegetable oil in a large skillet (12 inch size works nicely).  When it is hot add two or three cutlets (if you can fit that many) to the oil and cook a few minutes on each side until golden brown.  Drip on a paper towel before removing to a platter and serve lemon slices on them.

They are really good with a little lemon juice squeezed on them.  If you have ever been to Austria and have had this dish, this will instantly take you back to the taste of Austria. Enjoy!

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Strawberry Shortcakes

I took advantage of the strawberry stand that is not far from my home again today.  The one that has California grown giant strawberries.  I grabbed my handy dandy bisquick mix and followed the recipe on the box for strawberry shortcakes.  My children were all suspicious by now.  What was Mommy up to?  What was she making?  Soon they also were up to their elbows in rinsing berries and cutting them.  We had them for dinner!!! I think they are ready to crown me Mother of the Year! 🙂  Just in time for Mother’s Day too! LOL

Strawberry Shortcakes

Serves 4

  • 4 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/3 cup Original Bisquick Mix
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 3 Tbsp butter, melted
  • cool whip topping (optional) I used Reddi Whip
  1. Mix sliced strawberries with sugar and set aside.
  2. Stir Bisquick Mix, milk, 3 Tbsp sugar, and butter until a soft dough forms. Drop by 6-8 spoonfuls onto a un-greased baking sheet. (I used parchment paper for even less clean up!)
  3. Bake 10-12 minutes at 425F or until golden brown.
  4. Split warm shortcakes top with strawberries and place top of shortcakes on top with Whipped Cream.

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Guest Post: Chicken Meatball Lasagnettes

Recently I have made a new friend on Twitter, who recently posted a recipe for the best things he had ever eaten.  That says a lot in my world and I was very impressed with this foodie’s posts and interest in food.   I’ve asked him if I could re-post his most recent recipe here and he gave me his blessing.  When you have a moment browse his site for recipe ideas and fantastic pictures!  I someday would like to attain to that level of photography.  Here is a link to his site:

The Recipe: Chicken Meatball Lasagnettes with Creme Fraiche Bechamel and Chicken Jus

Original Source: Barbara Lynch’s book Stir (link)

Here is my friend’s post on this recipe and his wife’s picture – Directly imported from their site ( big thank you for allowing me to re-post this the peche!  I hope to make this soon myself!  Dear Reader: Lasagnettes are really just mini lasagnas.

Let’s get this out of the way. This is the best meal we’ve ever made.
You know when you make something to eat, and you know it’s going to be good? But then you taste it, and it blows your mind and taste buds. And your soul?

This recipe is that something. It earned our eternal devotion to Barbara Lynch, the amazing chef and restaurant owner in Boston who is also the author of Stir. It’s light, creamy, salty, savory.
You must make this. And even if you don’t make this (which you can count as the greatest mistake in your life), read the recipe, because you can see the way Chef Lynch thinks. This recipe is all about building deep, concentrated flavor. For the jus alone, you’re going to cook down 16 cups of chicken stock into 2 cups of dark liquid gold.
I’ve included our changes/shortcuts/modifications. You should buy her cookbook so you can see exactly her approach for yourself. It’s a fantastic collection of great food (see her seared scallops with celery root gratinee).
This is a dish of components. This may look overwhelming, but break each element down. It’s not a big deal. Make this over a couple of days. Everything keeps perfectly for a day or two or three. You’ll have eaten every bite of it by day three.
chicken jus
  • 1 chicken, 7-8# (or whatever you can find)
  • 1 onion, chopped roughly
  • 1 carrot, chopped roughly
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped roughly
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped. Roughly if you feel like it.
  • 2 c dry white wine
  • 16 cups low-sodium chicken stock (do not use regular chicken stock. You’re condensing this down to 2 cups, so you want to control the salt)
  • 1 T coriander seeds
  • 1 T black pepper corns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a few fresh thyme sprigs
  • Kosher salt
  • Black Pepper
Preheat your oven to 350F. Get a roasting pan ready or use a cookie sheet covered with foil (easy cleanup).

Cut off all the meat you can from the chicken. I didn’t strip ours clean (wing meat, really?). I focused on the breast, thigh, and leg meat. Set the meat in the refrigerator.

Remove all the skin from the chicken. Chop up the bones a bit (you want to expose some marrow), so that you have 8-10 pieces. I chopped off the wing tips because they seemed like they’d burn in the oven.
Throw the chicken on the pan, and get it in the oven. Roast until you get golden pieces (40 minutes was good. Go longer if you want. Or shorter.) See, you’re not wasting the meat you didn’t pick off — you’re roasting it into deep flavor for the jus.
Throw the bones in a pot. Heat over medium-high. Add in the onions, crrot, celery, and garlic.
Keep stirring them for about 10 minutes.
Add the wine. Reduce it by half.
Add the broth, stock, coriander, and bay leaves.
Reduce it over a good simmer until reduced to four cups. This may take a couple of hours. You could drink during this time.
Strain the jus through a fine strainer. Mash the broth out of the vegetables. Don’t leave any of the flavor behind.
Add the broth to a smaller saucepan. Reduce to 2 cups.
Add the thyme for 2 minutes right before serving.
Season to taste with salt and pepper
chicken meatballs
  • chicken meat
  • 1T vegetable oil
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped. Then chop it more finely.
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped.
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 1 c panko
  • 8 T grated Parm
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 T chopped thyme
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
Heat a pan over medium-low heat. Add the oil. Then the shallot and garlic for 8 minutes. You want them really tender but not browned. Take the pan off the heat.
In a small bowl, add the panko and cream together. Stir. Leave it alone to think about what comes next.
Grind the meat in a food processor until chopped finely. Dump it in a bowl. Add everything left on the list, along with 1 tablespoon of salt and 3/4 teaspoon of pepper. Mix together. Gently add the panko mixture.

Chef Lynch suggests frying a small bit of the meat as a patty in a skillet. Taste for seasoning (we needed more salt).

Heat the oven to 350 F.
Line a baking sheet with foil. Form 3/4 inch meatballs and place on the sheet. Don’t let them touch each other. Bake for 8 minutes or so. Ours needed to go for another 90 seconds.
creme fraiche bechamel
  • 4T unslated butter
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 3/4 c whole milk
  • 1/3 c heavy cream
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/3 c creme fraiche
  • white pepper (yes, you could use black, but it’s not the same)

Melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk for 5-8 minutes. It’s going to smell nutty, but don’t let it get very dark.

Add the milk, cream, and 1 teaspoon of salt. You could cook this for 7 minutes, but ours set up like glue in 2 minutes, and we thinned it out with a bit of milk and cooked it for the rest of the time.

Take it off the heat. Stir in the creme fraiche. Taste it. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Push the salt a tiny bit, especially if you’re afraid of salt.

  • Flat fresh pasta sheets; make your own (you’re so fancy, aren’t you?) or buy it like we did (could you use lasagna noodles here? Probably so. Don’t let the lack of fresh pasta stop you from making this. But try to find fresh. Try really hard.)
Heat a pot of water to boiling. Salt it.
Cut 4-inch rounds out of the raw pasta. Keep the scraps for another pasta dish.
Cook for 3 minutes. Plunge into an ice bath. Dry each piece.

to assemble the awesome

Heat the oven to 300.
On a baking sheet, place down parchment or a Silpat and spray a tiny bit of vegetable oil on top. This stuff will stick like a mother, and you don’t want it to fall apart at the very end.
Lay down a round of pasta. Cover with 1 tablespoon of bechamel. Cover with 3-4 meatballs. Lay down another bit of pasta. Meatballs. Bechamel. Pasta. Meatballs. Bechamel. Pasta. Stack it as high or as low as you want. You could cut the meatballs in half, but don’t.
Place a tablespoon of water on the baking pan. It’ll steam a bit. Bake for 15 minutes. Maybe a little less.
Use two spatulas to pick up the lasagnettes. Place them in a shallow bowl.
Spoon jus over the top. Spoon some around the base.
Top with some shaved Parm.
Sit down somewhere quiet. Use a big spoon. Get every component in that first bite. Savor. Pay attention to everything that’s happening in your mouth.
When all the lasagnette is gone, go ahead and tip the bowl into your mouth. Don’t let a bit of the jus go to waste.

Isn’t it brilliant?