February 2010

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Hola Friends!  I love spaghetti with meat sauce.  Always have.   I make mine with brown sugar so it is a little bit sweet and uses a base of Prego.  Prego is one of the cheapest spaghetti sauces out there and I love it (with a few additions). On a side note, I am not sure why I do this and it is totally dorky, but I always say “She is prego-ragu”, if someone is pregnant.  Weird, but true.

 Anyways,  I used to think my recipe was the best – until I tried this one at our good family friends, Debbi and Steve’s house.  Debbi is a wonderful cook - not to mention a great singer, dancer and hula hooper :) .  She is the appetizer queen (I am hoping she will send me some of those recipes soon)!  Her and Steve very graciously organized my dad’s memorial reception and hosted an after party at their house…where they served this amazing chicken and Italian sausage pasta sauce.  Which is actually a recipe of Debbi’s friend Leslie.  As soon as I ate the first bit, I asked for the recipe.  I only made a few changes, which is really strange for me.  It is fantastic and super simple to make for a crowd.  I served mine with ravioli, but you could use your favorite pasta.  Caesar salad recipe will be posted next. 

 Italian Sausage and Chicken Pasta Sauce

Printable recipe here

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 Tablespoon butter

1 White onion chopped

10 Large mushrooms sliced

3 Garlic Cloves minced

5 Links of uncooked (spicy or mild)Turkey Italian sausage cut into ½ inch pieces

4 Skinless Boneless Chicken breasts cubed (sausage and chicken is easier to cut if it is a little bit frozen

16 oz can diced tomatoes

1 Quart Prego Spaghetti sauce

1 T. Italian Seasoning

¼  cup dried basil

¼ cup dried oregano

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

6-8 servings of your favorite pasta

In a large stockpot, saute onion and mushroom in the olive oil and butter until soft and onions are translucent.  Add garlic and sauté one minute more. 

Add the chicken and sausage pieces and cook over med- low heat until the meat is browned and cooked through.

  Add the tomatoes, sauce, seasonings, brown sugar and vinegar. 

Stir well.  Simmer over low heat for at least 20 minutes up to an hour stirring occasionally.  You shouldn’t need to season with salt because the sausage has quite a bit of salt already.

Use over cheese ravioli or your favorite pasta.  Sprinkle with parmesan and enjoy.




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Jav’s 28thbirthday was yesterday and we had a few friends over to celebrate.  He keeps thinking he is 29 and not 28, which makes me laugh since I am 29.  I keep trying to convince him that he is actually 29 – it seems to be working.  Since his favorite possession in the whole wide world (with the exception of his MacBook Pro) is his IPhone, I thought I would try and make an IPhone cake.  Well, I tried:

He was really happy when he saw it!  And here are his many faces from the night:

Other pics from the night.

Mavie and Katie had a great time too:

Too much fun:

Disclaimer: I don’t really give my dog alcohol.  Only chocolate. He likes chocolate.  :)

When Jav was in high school he worked a local restaurant called Smoky Mountain Pizza.  He is obsessed with their Teriyaki Chicken Fettuccine and asked me to make it for him for his birthday.  After a few test runs, I think I finally succeeded.  It was pretty darn good.

Happy 29thJav!! The first of many to come :) .

On a side note – here is a link on how to pound meat from Chef Doughty at Boise State Radio.  It had me in hysterics.  http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/idaho/local-idaho-885382.mp3

Creamy Teriyaki Chicken Fettuccine
Printable recipe here

 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2lbs Chicken Breast Cut into bite size pieces (cutting semi-frozen is easiest)
2-3 Cups Assorted Fresh Veggies Chopped (I used broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms and sugar snap peas)
6-7 Servings Cooked Fettuccini

3 Tablespoons Butter
3 Tablespoons Flour
2 Cloves Garlic Minced
2 Cups Half and Half (I bet it would work with 2% milk, but don’t hold me to it.  If you try it let me know)
1 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan
1 Cup Soy Vay Veri VeriTeriyaki Sauce (Must be this brand. Mmm. So good.)

Heat olive oil in a medium skillet and cook chicken breast pieces until browned and cooked through.  Add veggies and ¼ cup of water and cook 5 minutes more on medium. Set aside.

In a medium stockpot melt butter with garlic over medium heat. 

Add flour and whisk constantly for two minutes, but do not let the flour brown.  Like you would a roux for an alfredo sauce. 

Slowly whisk in milk and bring slowly to a boil while stirring constantly. 

This mixture will thicken up after about 5 minutes of cooking.  Once thick, slowly whisk in parmesan and teriyaki sauce. 

 Let cook for two minutes more while stirring and pour over cooked chicken and veggies in the skillet. (this was a test run and I used different veggies).

 Set heat to low and stir until warmed through.  No need to season, there should be plenty of salt from the sauce. Serve over fettuccini.




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I love my pal Scott’s balls!  I mean, these things are so amazing – holy yum!  I used to work with Scott at Orca Bay Seafoods.  He is hilarious and gives better advice than anyone I have ever met in my life.  I think it is because he has 7  sisters (give or take a few).  He also makes a mean cheese/meat plate that we would pass over our shared cubicle wall while talking on the phone to each other even though we only had 3 feet between us.  

Here is a pic of Scott with his cute son Hayden that I stole from his Facebook.

While I worked at Orca Bay, Scott would bring in these amazing chocolate peanut balls and the ladies at the office would swoon.  People would practically beg him to bring them in more often.

 I have missed his balls so much since I left Orca Bay almost 2 years ago.  Well, the other day, I was the very fortunate recipient of a fed-exed package of balls!!  They lasted about 3 hours and then they were all gone and I felt very ill. However, it was worth it! They are like little bites of chocolate peanut butter heaven.

He not only sent me these balls, but also was generous enough to share his coveted recipe.  I would recommend making these now.  You will not regret it.

Scott – Thank you again very much!  Ricardo would so be proud. I miss Ricardo stories greatly.

Scott’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Printable recipe here.

1 Cup    Powdered sugar (sifted)

1 Cup    Finely chopped pecans

1 Cup    Peanut butter (creamy Jif, of course)

1 Tbsp  Melted butter

1 Tsp  Vanilla extract

1-12oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine all but chips into bowl and mix well. I find doing it by hand is the only way to get it mixed really well. Put the mix in the refrigerator for about 1 hour. After the mix hardens a bit, roll into 1″ balls, and put back into the fridge for 30-40 minutes. This just keeps it from getting too mushy when it gets dipped in the chocolate, which gets quite warm.

Melt chocolate ships in double boiler (with a little parafin wax for a nice sheen) and, using two standard teaspoons, drop the balls in the chocolate and cover generously, then drop onto a wax paper covered cookie sheet, and return to the fridge. I usually do this in the evening and leave the balls in the fridge overnight, so i am not sure exactly how long it takes to get the balls into their mouthwatering goodness. This recipe usually makes about 20 balls, so I almost always double it. – Scott

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Okay, so this is going to be my first guest blog and hopefully not the last. Since today was Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be nice to help out Lindz and put a special bonus episode on the site.

First off, I’m really lazy, and I like to be able to throw food together about a quickly as I can eat it. The fact that Lindzee makes delicious and healthy food has been a godsend for a guy that ate Bacon Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburgers and dollar tacos like they was going out of style. While I am no chef, there are some things that I can make that I am proud of. With a name like Javier Barrera, you can guess that it most likely involves a shell of some sort, or end with -urrito. Also, breakfast is my most favorite genre of meal since it generally involves either bacon or sausage. Having said all of this, you can only imagine that I’m going to combine the two to make the most perfect meal for my most perfect girl.

Continuing forward, this is what you’re going to need to make some delicious Sunday hangover – er, Valentine’s Day breakfast burritos. Since I’m a hungry man, I’m going to give you a recipe to make 4 breakfast delights, enough to serve an equal number of people.

  • 1 lb of turkey sausage
  • 1 lb potatoes o’Brien, frozen
  • 5 eggs
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 tbl olive oil
  • 4 large tortillas, I recommend jalapeno cheddar flavor if you can find them.
  • 8 oz graded cheddar jack
  • 1 handful of fresh cilantro
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 dash Cholula brand hot sauce

First off, let’s start cooking the turkey sausage in a large saute pan. Turn the burner to medium high, and squeeze the delicious ball of health into the pan. When it first hits, its going to look much like the container that it was in. Using a spatula, break up the sausage so that it can cook evenly. Cook the sausage for about 10 minutes so that its pretty well cooked, but not fully.

There will be a little bit of juice from the water in the sausage, and a bit of fat. Go ahead and drain that into an empty beer can or whatever you use for that sort of thing.

Put the olive oil into the pan with the sausage, and swirl the pan so that the oil completely covers the bottom. Turn the heat down to medium, and throw the potatoes o’brian in with the sausage. Put a lid partially on the pan so that the water can escape from the frozen potatoes as it cooks. We’ll let this cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally so that we can finish cooking the sausage and brown the potatoes evenly.

While the bulk of our food is cooking, let’s crack our eggs into a large bowl. Put a couple of dashes of Cholula hot sauce into everything. Pour the milk into the bowl and beat the eggs mercilessly with two forks. When you’re done, you should have creamy mixture. If you don’t see bubbles, then you didn’t do it hard enough.

I also take this time to layout my burrito shells and put the cheese on them. As long as my counter is clean, I just do it on there for simplicity sake. Put about two oz of the shredded cheddar jack on each of the shells. We’re also going to need to turn on our oven to 350 degrees at this time. Baking everything for about 8 minutes will allow for the cheese to melt fully, and give the outside a nice texture.

Check your sausage and potato mixture. When it looks like its safe to eat, let’s go ahead and turn the heat down to medium low and pour our eggs in. I was kinda experimenting and put some cilantro in with the eggs, however, I quickly realized that it was probably not going to release the flavor properly. I would just recommend that you enjoy the photo with my mistake, and just put the cilantro in after we’re done cooking this mixture.

Once everything has been cooked – which should be about 6 – 8 minutes or so, let’s evenly scoop everything into the 4 shells. It should be about two ladles full in each one. Let’s now take our cilantro and put a couple of pinches in each one. Slice up your avocados, and place a few slices evenly into each one.

Now, this is going to be the hardest part for most people, and is what makes burritos a true art form. The roll is crucial for a number of reasons. First off, its great to have a well rolled burrito when you’re driving in your car and trying to eat at the same time. Keeping the food in the shell allows you to get to work without looking like you require a bib – which may in turn lead to that promotion that lets you finally sell that 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee with the paint peeling off. Furthermore, a perfect roll is great because it gives your street cred with other Mexicans such as myself, and its nice to have that when its 2am and you’re the last person in line at the taco stand. Rant, off…

Okay, so take the sides of the shell that are perpendicular to the breakfast stuffing. Fold in, keeping your pointer and bird fingers on the top. Take your thumbs, and begin to roll the part of the shell closest to you forward.

Keep your two fingers on the side while you do this as it helps keep the shell nice and tight. Once you have the sides covered with the back, take your four fingers and repeat. Once everything has been rolled you can use your hands and pat it down and help the contents settle. Place this on a baking pan, and repeat for the other burritos.

Let’s go ahead an put them in the oven, and let them bake for about 8 minutes.

Enjoy this time with the fact that you only have one dirty pan, a spatula, two bowls, and a couple of forks. Once your food is done, grab a cup of coffee, turn on your DVR recording of COPS – Women Behaving Badly, and enjoy your morning.

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Happy Valentines Day!    Of course, this is one of my favorite holidays, only because there is so much pink stuff in the stores during this time.  It takes me a lot longer to get through a store during this time of year.  I did restrain myself and only purchased three additional pink household items this month.  Only one of which was for Mavie.  I think he might be getting a little sick of pink.  This is the look he gave me when I told him we wanted to buy him a pink raincoat.

You may have noticed that there is a considerable lack of desserts on this blog.  This isn’t because I hate sweets – definitely not the case.  It is only because I royally suck at baking.  I am just terrible at it.  All that measuring, preheating exactness makes me sweat.  I think it is because I inherited my dad’s lack of attention to detail – We are more big picture people and assume things will work themselves out in the end :) .  Baking doesn’t really work that way, apparently you need to make sure and have the correct ingredients in the right measurements.

 I have tried to post dessert recipes before only to realize that I could never tell other people how to bake.  Here are some of my past results:

I was at Target and saw the cutest “I Heart U” pink cookie cutters.  Of course, I had to have them.  

This meant that I would need to bake something.  I asked Jav what his favorite cookie was and he said “those chewy molasses spice cookies”.  I decided I would attempt these for Valentines Day.

I did some searching on the internets and chose to combine a few recipes I found.  See! This is how I bake.  I read once that you should have all of your ingredients at room temp when baking.  Who has time for this?  When I want sweets I don’t have time to sit around waiting for eggs to gently warm up! So I improvise and heat things up in the microwave.  When dough needs to be chilled for hours, I speed it up and just place it in the freezer.  Don’t listen to any of this – I should not be teaching anyone anything about baking.  However, these cookies turned out really good!  Jav liked them a lot.  Just follow the directions.   That is the hardest part for me.

 Chewy Molasses Cookies with Cream Cheese Icing

Step 1- Pour yourself a large glass of wine.


3/4 cup butter, melted

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup molasses

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, ginger, cloves)

½ cup white sugar

In a bowl, mix butter, brown sugar, egg and molasses together until combined.

 In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt and spices until well combined.  Add dry ingredients to the molasses mix. 

 Cover and chill for an hour in the fridge (don’t recommend the freezer).

Preheat oven to 375.  Roll dough into small balls in your hand and then roll in the white sugar.  Place cookies 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. 

Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Cool and then frost with cream cheese icing.  Eeks. Went a little crazy with the bright pink.

 The icing isn’t necessary, but I thought it was yummy!

Cream Cheese Icing  (adapted from the Repressed Pastry Chef magnificent cream cheese icing)

I really like this icing recipe because it is the only one I have found that is pipeable. 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter – COLD
1 cup powdered sugar (divided in two parts)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (I use clear, so it doesn’t turn it brownish)
1 8oz pkg of cream cheese – room temperature (not this again- eyeroll), divided in three parts
1 tablespoon shortening

Beat ½ cup sugar and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and combine very well. Add the first third of the cream cheese and combine very well. Add the shortening and combine very well. Add the remaining cream cheese one piece at a time, combining very well after each. Gradually add the rest of the sugar and combine thoroughly until light and fluffy.


I have gotten a few requests to add printable recipes.  Click here for a printable recipe of the cookies and icing.


Hope your day is filled with fun!





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