Restaurant-Inspired appetizers from Tai Pei

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With the holidays approaching that means we are all short on time!   The last thing I want to be doing during this season is being stuck in the kitchen.   Not only are the holidays here, we have family parties, work parties, school parties and of course football season.   My husband this year is in to fantasy football.    Which means I often have a living room full of men screaming at the T.V. watching countless games.  When they are here I like to have some snacks around for them to enjoy.    Which makes these restaurant inspired finger snacks perfect for any occasion!

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Homemade Marinara Sauce

Who loves Italian food, I know I do!!!  I love anything Italian.   I love the pasta, the marinara sauce, lasagna, spaghetti, alfredo sauce and lets not forget the bread.  So here I am cooking spaghetti for dinner and I just realized I have no spaghetti sauce in the pantry.  I was not in the mood to go to the store in fact it was my lazy day and I don’t even think I got out of pajamas.  So I got to looking on the internet for a quick and tasty marinara sauce that I can make for dinner.

I have never been a huge fan of Marinara sauce but when I saw few recipes online they were all basically the same recipe so I thought I would give it try.   At first I thought it was a little bitter and I was slightly worried it was not going to taste good with my pasta.  But  once I added it to the pasta, my taste buds started

ringing!!   It was so so good!  I’m thinking there will no longer be any jarred spaghetti sauce in this house.   This tastes so much better.

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Pork Chili Verde

I love love Mexican food!  I especially love me some smothered bean and cheese burritos!  That is always my go to Mexican dish at any restaurants.  I have been on the hunt for quite some time to find the perfect Pork Chili Verde sauce!  Well we can all stop looking now…just in case you were looking!

We had some down time at work the other day and we were deciding on where we wanted to order for lunch.  We started talking about Mexican food and got on the talk of who had the best Pork Chili Verde smothered burritos.  Well ladies this day changed my life not only did I get to have one for lunch I also got one of the best homemade Pork Chili Verde recipes from my co-worker.  Well I put this recipe to the test and I completely fell in love with it.

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Rumbi Teriyaki Rice Bowl

We love going out to dinner…but honestly who doesn’t!  We love Rumbi’s because it is quicker then a restaurant but classier then the a fast food restaurant.   Plus with a 1 year old we only have about 20 minutes to eat before he is ready to start running for the door.

  There is just something about not having to worry about what to make for dinner.   I don’t have to worry about going to the grocery store and again with toddler sometimes that can be nightmare.  I don’t have to cleaning it up.  Because if your like me I put off emptying the dishwasher all day and now I have both sided of the sink full of dirty dishes.

 Well in the real world I wish I could afford to go out to dinner every night, but since we are unable to do that we have to go ahead and make some copycat recipes instead.   My mom came across this recipe awhile back and she told me made again recently and that it was really good.  So I thought why not add to our families menu for the month.

I’m so glad I did because it seriously it the spot!

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Homemade Calzones with Pizza Sauce

Who doesn’t like pizza!!   I personally would like to have often but if I am lucky we have about once a month.   It is always nice on that nights just grab a Little Caesar’s or Domino’s.  I recent’y went out to Italian restaurant with my friends.   They ended up ordering Calzones.  I honestly have never had a calzone before.   I gave her’s a try and I fell in love them them
So I got to thinking why not give it a try and make my own homemade calzone.  I rocked it!!
The crust was perfect the veggies were the right amount of crispyness and the cheese was extra extra gooey!
The nice thing about making calzones you can personalize each one.  Which is perfect for those
 picky eaters.
Homemade Calzone

Homemade Calzones with Pizza Sauce

Dough:
1 cup 2 Tbsp hot tap water
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 cups flour
1 tsp sugar
3 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp yeast

In a medium sized bowl add the hot water, yeast and sugar and lightly stir and let sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy.  Slowly add flour 1 cup at a time. Add salt after first cup of flour and continue with the rest.  Knead by hand until well combined and dough is soft and bouncy to touch.  Form dough into a ball and place in bowl.  Spread oil on top.  Cover and let rise for 2 hours or until doubles in size.
Makes about 4-8″ calzones.  Dough freezes well.

Here is my recipe for Pizza Sauce

Toppings:
Meat: Pepperoni, ham, chicken, bacon, sausage
Veggies: Peppers, onions, mushrooms, olives, tomatoes
Mozzarella Cheese
Spices. red peppers or italian seasoning

Split dough into 4 equal balls and roll dough out to about 8″ circle.  On half of the dough lay out your meat, top with cheese and then your veggies.  Fold the top over and pinch the sides together. Cut 3 small slits on the top.  Bake on the bottom shelf at 425 degrees for about 10-12 minutes.  Serve with warm pizza sauce and enjoy. If you have a pizza stone use it!  If don’t have one a baking sheet will be fine.

 

My homemade pizza sauce

We absolutely love pizza!  It is always my go to meal when im driving home late from work.  Well I decided one night that I was going to make pizza at home.  I thought I had some jarred sauce in the pantry but apparently not.  So thank heavens for Google to save the day!  This sauce was fantastic and quick, the best part is I had all the ingredients at home already.
 

Homemade Pizza Sauce

1 can tomato suace
1 can tomato paste
2 garlic gloves
1 Tbsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp sugar

My Notes:
This recipe makes a lot of sauce so I placed the extra sauce in ice cube trays and froze.  When frozen I popped out and placed in a ziploc bag.  Put in microwave for a few seconds to defrost when needed.  Stays fresh in air tight container for 2 weeks in fridge or 3 months in freezer.

 

Homemade Scones with Honey Butter

First off the recipe is very far from being healthy…but hey sometimes you have to splurge and eat like crap to remember that you need to eat healthy..right?
Well this is recipe will make you forget about your diet!
These scones are nice and fluffy on the inside with lightly crisped on the outside.
Then the best part is drizzling them in homemade honey butter…yum yum!
Or even better with some Nutella, cinnamon sugar or even jam.
 

Homemade Scones with Honey Butter

1 Tbsp yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1 cup warm water
1 egg
4 cups flour, plus a little extra to lay out

Combine yeast and 1/4 cup of warm water to together and let sit for 5 minutes. Next add the butter, salt, sugar, 1 cup water, egg and mix together with your mixer.  Slowly add in the flour until will incorporated.
When all mixed if your ready to eat soon, lightly flour your table top and roll out your dough. With a pizza cutter, cut the dough into squares.(I kept mine about 1/4-1/2 inch thick and made about 5 inch squares).  I covered mine with Saran Wrap and let rest for about 45 minutes so the dough can rise.  If you make it ahead of time cover the dough and place in the fridge, until ready to use.
I used a deep fryer to cook my scones, just watch until they are lightly brown flipping occasionally.  If you don’t have a deep fryer, use a frying pan with a enough oil to cook scones.
This recipe makes quite a bit, it all depends on how think you make you them.  But if your a small family I would either half the recipe or cut the dough in half and freeze

Honey Butter

1 stick butter, softened
3 Tablespoons Honey
1-2 tsp vanilla

Mix with mixer until well mixed.  This recipe is an estimate of how I make it.  I always taste it and a little more honey if its not sweet enough, its up to your liking.
Stays good in fridge for about a month.

3 Packet Pot Roast

I have seen this recipe floating around on Pinterest for the past few months.  A few weeks back Smiths was having a good sale on roast so I bought a few and froze them.  The night before I got a roast of the freezer to let thaw.  In the morning I mixed all the packets together and poured it over the roast turned on the crock pot and went on with my day.  When I got home that night and opened the door the aroma of dinner smelled AMAZING!
The flavors of the trio were amazing!
I was a little leery at first but dinner was a huge success and I think I will start making this recipe more often!

3 Packet Pot Roast

1 pot roast
1 packet ranch dressing mix
1 packet brown gravy mix
1 packet italian dressing mix
1 1/2 cups water

Mix all 3 mixes together with water.  Pour over pot roast.  Turn crockpot on to high and cook for 5-6 hours or on low for about 8-9 hours.
If you want to make gravy with the juice of the meat.  It is awesome flavor and is great to have with some mash potatoes.  I added the juice into a saucepan and let it come to a boil.  In a small cup I added 1/2 cup water and about 1-2 Tbsp of corn starch and mixed.  Then it starts to boil slowly stir in the water with corn starch and until desired thickness.

My notes:
I did add about half an onion.  I thought I was kind of salty so next time I might try to find to see if any of the packets come in reduced sodium.

Fresh Homemade Salsa

There is nothing better then fresh homemade salsa.  We don’t ever really have the jarred salsa that often at our house, unless im feeling lazy or if its for a recipe.  I personally think fresh salsa is the best!  
Everything always tastes better when its fresh!
I can never get enough salsa in my life.  
 


Fresh Homemade Salsa
1 large can whole tomatoes
1 med onion
1 jalapeno
1/2 green pepper
cilantro
1 Tbsp garlic powder
dashes of salt

In a food processor add half the can of tomatoes, jalapeno and cilantro.  I like my cilantro and jalapeno pureed. Add in the rest of the tomatoes and lightly pulsate. We like our salsa chunky.  I like to chop my onion and pepper by hand by using my mini slap chop.  If you don’t have one I recommend getting one, such a time saver.  Or you can pulsated it in your blender with the rest of the tomatoes.  Add in the garlic powder and salt and serve immediately.

Black Bean & Corn Salsa

There is nothing I love more than tortilla chips!  What makes tortilla chips even better is SALSA!   I was given this recipe a few years back and it has stuck around.  I love that its so fresh, light and quick to throw together   I love how I don’t feel guilty for eating the entire bowl to myself, cause lets face it, it’s all vegetables.  Well except for the tortilla chips.
This would make a great addition to your Cinco de Mayo celebrations!
 


Black Bean & Corn Salsa 
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can corn, rinsed
3 roma tomatoes, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
2 avocados, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/4-1/2 fat free italian dressing
Jalapeno, chopped (opt)
Cilantro, chopped

Combine all chopped ingredients and mix together in a bowl, add italian dressing.  Serve with chips.

DON’T YOU JUST LOVE THE COLORS!
 
My Notes:
I also think this recipe is great to add to salads.  It has the fresh ingredients that I would normally add to a salad and there is already italian dressing mixed in so no need to add more.  
 
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