Get Off The Couch and Cook

Get Off The Couch and Cook -

Jalapeno Popper Dip

jalapeno-popper-dip-titleWith all the ingredients of jalapeno poppers, this dip is a fun and fast way to serve a crowd!


Happy Secret Recipe Bonus Day!  In months where there are 5 Mondays instead of the usual 4, the Secret Recipe Club has decided to do an optional theme day for anyone who wants to take part.  This is the first one with “Tailgating” as the theme since football season will be starting soon.

I was assigned Sid’s Sea Palm Cooking this time around.  She hosts a monthly tapas night which sounds like it would be so much fun!  If I had a larger apartment, I would think about doing that but I can only seat about 4 others comfortably.  Even though she made this Jalapeno Popper Dip as one of her SRC assignments a couple of years ago, I was still drawn to it because, you know, jalapeno popper dip.


Admittedly, I am not into sports – at all – much less football.  My disinterest in the sport is considered a major sin here in the Bible Belt.  But, I love the foods associated with football.

When Mr. C and I were still together, he would watch the Super Bowl every year and I would make a host of unhealthy appetizers to go with the game.  Hoagies, BBQ lil smokies, pizza rolls, taquitos, nachos, etc.  I would have a food hangover the next day but it’d so be worth it.


I’ve also never been tailgating but it looks like it’d be a lot of fun.  When I was a kid, my dad’s family shared a season pass to the Minnesota Vikings home games so Mom & Dad would go watch them play a couple times a year and would make a weekend of it.  For one game, they’d usually take a weekend for just the 2 of them while my sister and I would stay with my maternal Gramma or my paternal Grandparents.*  For the 2nd game, they’d sometimes take my sister and I with them and my Dad & sister would go to the game and Mom & I would go shopping.

When I was 13 or 14, Mom suggested that Dad take me to the game which was pretty exciting for me!  I didn’t care at all about the game, but it was such a treat to get to do something with Dad and no one else.  We went to see a scrimmage between our beloved Vikes and the Cincinnati Bengals.  I have no idea who won.  What I do remember is Dad explaining the game to me, watching the various people on the sidelines while dad explained what each person did, begging Dad for a hot dog and getting lost on our way back to the hotel.

It was a lot of fun! 🙂


Isn’t amazing how a simple dish can trigger fun childhood memories, even when they aren’t directly related to said memory?

*Speaking of grandparents, Sid is a volunteer cook at her local Senior Center.  I think that is really cool. 🙂

5.0 from 1 reviews
Jalapeno Popper Dip
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 6 slices of bacon, cut into ½" pieces
  • 3 jalapenos, seeded, quartered, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp jarred minced garlic
  • 2 ~ 8oz pkgs cream cheese, softened
  • ½ c mayonnaise
  • 8 oz cheddar, shredded, divided
  • 7 oz can green chiles, drained
  • 1 Tbsp hot sauce (I used Frank's)
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 c panko breadcrumbs
  1. Preheat oven to 375º. Coat an 8" baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon, stirring frequently, until mostly cooked and starting to brown, 5-7 minutes. Stir in the jalapeno and 2-3 minutes, until softened and bacon is golden brown. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Remove the bacon-jalapeno mix from the pan with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel lined plate to drain. Drain the grease from the pan but set the pan aside.
  3. In a large bowl, blend the softened cream cheese, mayo, and half the cheese. Add the green chiles and hot sauce and stir to blend. Stir in the bacon-jalapeno mix.
  4. Spread the mix evenly into the prepared baking dish.
  5. In the skillet from the bacon, melt the butter over low heat. Stir in the panko until the breadcrumbs are well-coated with the butter. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining cheddar cheese. Sprinkle evenly over the cream cheese mix in the dish.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and the cheese is melted.
  7. Serve warm with crackers, corn chips, tortillas, etc.

 Loading InLinkz ...

Hoisin Pulled Pork

hoisin-pulled-pork-titleHomemade hoisin sauce and a bit of pineapple juice is all it takes to make a super easy Asian pulled pork in your slow cooker!


After making the Asian pork sandwiches, I still had part of a pork loin that I needed to use up and, since I was still drooling over those sandwiches, I wanted to carry on with the Asian flavors.  I also had some pineapple juice in the fridge that longed for attention so I started searching recipes. I across a recipe for pork and pineapple kebabs that were brushed with hoisin (which sounds delicious, btdubs) so I figured my homemade hoisin with pineapple juice would be perfect for an Asian pulled pork.

This worked out so well!  The pineapple juice lightened, brightened, and heightened the hoisin sauce considerably.  Mr. O and I both agreed that this pulled pork would make awesome Asian tacos with some shredded cabbage and bits of pineapple.


Oh!  Oh!  See the carrots behind the pork?  I made my gingered peas and carrots and used rainbow carrots.  Did you know that was even a thing?  I didn’t know that carrots came in different colors.  I had no idea that it was even a thing so imagine my surprise and delight when I saw them on sale at Kroger.

Little known fact about me: I love rainbows and rainbow-decorated things.  Most of book bags in school had rainbow-colored handles, my shoelaces were rainbowed, and my favorite necklace in the 3rd grade was a piece of rainbow-colored ribbon with a red heart bead.  I still sort things like my art supplies by ROY G BIV.  As I got older and realized that the rainbow was also a symbol for the LGTB community, it made me love the rainbow even more.

So rainbow carrots made me the happiest person in the produce aisle.

I’m sure I got a few weird looks. 🙂


Hoisin Pulled Pork
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • ½ c pineapple juice
  • ½ c reduced sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ c natural peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp jarred minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp sweet chile sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  • 3-4 lb pork loin
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together everything but the pork until well blended.
  2. Place the pork loin in a 4-qt slow cooker and pour the pineapple-hoisin mixture over the pork.
  3. Cover and cook on low 6-7 hours or on high 3-3.5 hours.
  4. Shred in the slow cooker, removing any large bits of fat.


Asian Pork Sandwich

asian-pork-sandwich-title Sweet & salty marinated pork, tangy quick-pickle slices, savory mayo and fresh cilantro are sandwiched between a soft hoagie roll to make a bite that satisfies all your taste buds.


Have you ever had a sandwich where you take one bite, chew just a couple of times and stop with your eyes rolled back into your head and just sigh happily with a long “Oh-my-gawd-this-is-so-good”?  And then have that moment repeat a few times while you are still eating?

This is one of those sandwiches.


The pork is thinly sliced and marinated for a few hours in a mix of soy sauce, brown sugar, and other Asian ingredients.  Then it’s quickly pan-fried and topped with cucumbers that have been quick-pickled and a mayo mixed with hot sauce, fish sauce and sesame oil.

I know!  I was skeptical of the mayo, too, until I tasted it.  It was a really good and easy spicy Asian sauce that I can see on other things, like baked on chicken or a dipping sauce for egg rolls.


I had this sandwich a couple of times for lunch in the days after I made this for dinner and it made for the best lunch I had eaten in a while.  I just kept the components separate and built the sandwiches at my desk.

My supervisor asked what I was making and truly seemed a little jealous as I described it to him.  Here’s how you can make people jealous, too!

Asian Pork Sandwich
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 6 ~ 8" sandwiches
For the pork
  • ¼ c low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp jarred minced garlic
  • 1½ tsp Sriracha
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 lb pork loin, sliced into ¼" slices
For the cucumbers
  • ¼ c rice wine vinegar
  • ¼ c white wine
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 medium cucumber, thinly sliced
For the mayo
  • ½ c mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp Sriracha
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • ½ tsp sesame oil
For the sandwiches
  • 2 ~ 24" baguettes or loaves of Italian bread, cut in half lengthwise
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • ½ c fresh cilantro leaves
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, fish sauce, garlic, Sriracha, ginger and sesame oil until well blended. Place the pork slices in a resealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over the meat. Seal the bag and massage the marinade into the slices of meat until all are well coated. Refrigerate for about 4-5 hours.
  2. When ready to cook, heat the boiler on high. Place the loaf halves cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Place 5"-6" below the broiler and broil for about 5 minutes or until golden brown.
  3. in a small bowl with a cover, mix together the rice wine vinegar, white wine, soy sauce, honey and brown sugar until the brown sugar is dissolved. Add the cucumbers and stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
  4. In another small bowl with a cover, stir together the mayo, Sriracha, fish sauce, and sesame oil. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
  5. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and cook the pork in batches, about 2-3 minutes per side until cooked through. Place the cooked pieces on a plate and cover with foil to keep warm while cooking the rest of the pork pieces.
To assemble the sandwiches:
  1. Spread the cut sides of the bread with the mayo. On the bottom buns, layer the pork slices. Top with cucumbers, cilantro and bun tops. Cut each sandwich into 3 pieces.
You can easily halve this recipe if you don't want leftover or have fewer people to feed!

Adapted from



Italian Zucchini & Tomatoes

italian-zucchini-tomatoes-titleMy favorite summer vegetables come together again in the slow cooker, this time with an Italian flair and lots of cheese!


I think I could eat zucchini with tomatoes just about every day, especially since cooking them in the slow cooker makes it such an easy and inexpensive side dish.  Using a mandolin makes slicing the zucchini go a lot more quickly; I got mine at the grocery store for about $6 which is probably one of the best $6 I’ve ever spent.  I was able to slice through all the zucchini in less than a minute per courgette.

I ended up using canned diced tomatoes for this because I wanted the tomatoes be almost a sauce.  I did consider baking this but…ugh.  Oven.  No thanks!  It’s still way too hot for that if I can avoid it whenever possible.


One thing about this dish that made me giggle with glee is that the mozzarella and Parmesan turned orange thanks to the tomatoes.  Yeah, I’m easily amused. 🙂

I actually used the leftovers from this for my snack at work to which I got several comments as people walked by.  I love talking to people about food and recipes and cooking and ingredients…. it just makes me happy.  Especially if I can either get them excited about cooking or if they already share my excitement for food.


Italian Zucchini & Tomatoes
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 6-8 servings
  • 2 ~ 15oz cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 tsp dried parsley *
  • 1 tsp dried oregano *
  • 1 tsp dried basil *
  • 1 tsp garlic powder *
  • ½ tsp dried thyme *
  • ½ tsp dried marjoram *
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 lb zucchini (6-8 small), cut into ¼" slices
  • ½ c freshly grated Parmesan
  • 8 oz mozzarella, shredded (2 cups)
  1. In a medium bowl, mix the cans of undrained tomatoes with all of the seasonings.
  2. Place about ¼ of the tomato mixture in the bottom of a 4- to 5-qt slow cooker. Top with half of the zucchini slices then half of the remaining tomato mixture. Top with half the Parmesan then half the mozzarella. Repeat with the remaining half of the zucchini, remaining tomato mixture, and remaining Parmesan and mozzarella.
  3. Cover and cook on low 5-6 hours or high 2.5-3 hours.
* Instead of all the individual herbs, you could also use 2 Tbsp of Italian seasoning


Oven Roasted Tomato Pizza

oven-roasted-tomato-pizza-titleFresh tomatoes are roasted and blended for an amazing sauce on a simple pizza.

Happy Secret Recipe Day!  This month I was assigned Catherine’s Living The Gourmet which she and her kids have been doing since 2008.  I really enjoyed the photography quite a bit on LTG!  I ultimately decided on doing the Oven Roasted Tomato Pizza for a number of reasons: 1) it’s been a little while since I’ve made pizza, 2) tomatoes are in season and on sale and 3) this fresh sauce intrigued me.

I was also loved how simple the sauce was.  Yeah, it meant turning the oven on and it made my kitchen reach over 84º while I was making this but it was so very worth it!


I used my own pizza crust recipe and I also opted to use 2 lbs of on-the-vine tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes simply because of the price.  $2.99/pint vs 77¢/lb was kind of a no brainer for me but I would love to make this again using the juicy little mouth bombs!

I will most certainly be making this again someday.  I want to add some fresh basil to it next time, too, and maybe some fresh mozzarella to make a margherite pizza using this fresh sauce.


Oven Roasted Tomato Pizza
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 12 pieces
For the sauce
  • 2 lbs tomatoes, cored and quartered
  • ½ c packed fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp jarred minced garlic
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
For the crust
  • 2¼ tsp active dry yeast (or ¼ oz packet)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 c warm water (hot water directly from tap)
  • 2½ c bread flour or all-purpose flour OR 1½ c bread flour (or AP flour) + 1 c white-wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 Tbsp cornmeal
  • .
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
  1. Preheat oven to 450º. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the tomatoes skin side down. Roast 15-50 minutes until tomatoes are shriveled and juices have been released. Remove from the oven and place the tomatoes on a plate or in a bowl to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in the hot water, gently stirring to break up any clumps. Let stand until creamy and almost doubled, about 10 minutes. (I use this 10 minutes to measure out my flour, salt and oil and shred my cheese.)
  3. Stir in flour, salt and oil. Use hands to mix well. Let stand and rest 5 minutes.
  4. Lightly grease a baking sheet with cooking spray and sprinkle lightly with cornmeal. Press dough to shape on the baking sheet, making it as even as possible. Poke several times with a fork.
  5. Bake 5-7 min or until just starting to brown slightly.
  6. Meanwhile, add the tomatoes and the rest of the sauce ingredients to a blender or food processor. Pulse 6-8 times to blend.
  7. Spread the sauce on the prebaked crust and sprinkle evenly with the shredded cheese.
  8. Bake 10-12 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden brown.
Adapted slightly from Living The Gourmet


 Loading InLinkz ...

Spicy Honey Glazed Chicken with Pineapple

spicy-honey-glazed-chicken-titleWhether you heat up the kitchen with the broiler or brave the outside heat with the grill, this sweet and slightly spicy chicken comes together quickly!


Some days, I really wish I owned a grill.  Pulling into the parking lot of my apartment complex, I am more and more often being greeted by the smell of charred meat and charcoal which goes well with the typical Latin flavors I smell coming from the other apartments.  So now am I not only craving Mexican food all the time but also cheeseburgers and grilled chicken.

So I *could* get a grill but I am a lazy cook who prefers to be inside where it’s 80ºF instead of 97º.  Plus, grills are legally supposed to be 15 feet away from the building and I live on the 2nd floor.  Yeah, I could be a rule breaker like my neighbors but I have too guilty a conscious to do that and am too scared of getting caught.  Plus, I’d have to keep the grill inside when not in use and i don’t have room for that in my tiny apartment.


So… the broiler it is!

The nice thing about a broiler is that you can still get that delicious char on your food which called the Maillard reaction.  Mmm… delicious, delicious science….

Since I knew pineapple was on sale and since I wanted “grilled” meat, I knew that an adaptation of this recipe on Rachael Ray’s site would be just the thing I needed!  Just thought of caramelized pineapple was enough to make me drool several times when planning my menu.


It can be really easy to overcook chicken under the broiler which is why I usually pan-cook my chicken, but I seemed to do fairly well.  The thinner ends were certainly more dry than the meatier side but a little piece of pineapple was all that was needed to help out.  And the glaze that was slathered on at the end was certainly drool worthy which helped as well.

I ended up with a little bit of the glaze leftover so I drizzled it over my chicken just before I ate.  SO good!

Spicy Honey Glazed Chicken with Pineapple
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 6-8 servings
  • ½ c honey
  • 2 tsp hot sauce (I used Frank's Original)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved (6-8 pieces, 2 - 2.5 lbs total)
  • Canola or olive oil, for drizzling
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 pineapple, peeled and cored, cut into 6-8 pieces (the same number as you have chicken)
  1. Heat the broiler on high.
  2. In a small saucepan, mix together the honey, hot sauce, garlic powder, and Worcestershire and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and let simmer 1 minute. Stir in the lemon juice and remove from the heat. Set aside.
  3. Drizzle oil on the chicken pieces and rub to coat both sides well. Sprinkle the tops liberally with salt and pepper.
  4. Place the chicken on a baking rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Broil 6" from the heat for 6-7 minutes. Flip and broil 2-3 minutes.
  5. Remove the pan from the oven. While still on the pan, brush the glaze over one side of the chicken. Flip and glaze the bottom side. Remove chicken to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm; set aside.
  6. Place the pineapple slices on the broiler pan and season with pepper. Broil 4-5 minutes, flip carefully and broil another 2-3 minutes. Remove from the oven and glaze both sides of the pineapple. Serve each piece of chicken with a slice of pineapple.
Adapted from Rachael Ray


%d bloggers like this: