Never Switching To Decaf

Ramblings about life, family, cooking and photography.

Grilled eggplant May 30, 2012

Filed under: Food — travit @ 10:43 pm
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I made this tonight to go along with our Italian sausage sandwiches. The tanginess of balsamic really brought out a lot of sweetness in the eggplant. Super easy and super tasty.

Eggplant, washed and cut into 1/2″ thick slices.
Kosher salt sprinkled on eggplant slices
1/2 cub olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1. Whisk olive oil and vinegar in bowl.
2. Brush on eggplant slices.
3. Grill for 20-25 minutes, turning once while cooking.
4. Serve and enjoy. To protect yourself from major burns, resist urge to eat directly off of grill.


Baked chicken strips May 24, 2012

Filed under: Cooking,Food,Uncategorized — travit @ 10:02 pm
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My kids love chicken strips but I absolutely hate the mess and the work that comes along with  frying them and the strips they sell in the frozen food section are awful.  If I wanted to eat soggy rubber, I’d chew on my flip flop.  Over the years, I’ve learned how to get crispy and delicious chicken strips (or nuggets, if you prefer) straight from the oven.


  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts sliced into even sized strips or nuggets
  • A shallow dish with seasoned flour.( I always add salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, and paprika and then whatever else I have lying around and I’m in the mood for)
  • A shallow dish with 2-3 eggs beaten
  • A shallow dish with 1 cup of panko bread crumbs


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Spray a baking sheet with your favorite cooking spray.
  3. Dredge the chicken through the flour mixture.
  4. Next put it into the beaten egg and coat well. (It helps to keep one hand dry so that your hands don’t turn into Floured Hulk hands)
  5. Coat chicken strip with panko.
  6. Place on baking sheet and continue until all chicken is coated.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn over the strips.  Bake for another 15-20 or until chicken is cooked through.

Serve with your favorite dipping sauces and vegetables.  Total prep time is about 15-20 minutes and cook time is about 45 minutes.  Sure it takes longer than getting them out of the freezer, but they taste so much better!


Chicken fried rice: an experiment May 23, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — travit @ 7:35 pm
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I made chicken fried rice tonight for dinner and I added cherries and a little bit of cherry juice. It added a nice sweetness to the rice. It was a big hit and likely to be a new favorite around here What do you like to put into fried rice?


Carnitas Tostada – Crockpot Version May 17, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — travit @ 7:47 pm
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Tonight’s dinner needed to be simple because I knew I would buried under a pile of math homework, so I turned to my trusty crock pot for the assist.  I took a version of my standard pork taco recipe, which I’ve adapted from recipes I’ve gotten from friends over the years, and put it in the crockpot.  If only I had remembered to take pictures of it.



  • 3-4 lb. pork roast
  • 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup of washed and chopped cilantro
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 1/2 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 cup of water


  1. Put the roast into the slower cooker, I used a boneless roast to avoid picking out bones later
  2. cover with water.
  3. Add remaining ingredients. Squeeze lime juice over roast and add lime zest for extra flavor.  Salt and pepper to taste. 
  4. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until pork shreds easily with a fork.
  5. After cooking, move shredded pork to hot cast iron skillet. Cook in skillet until the pork becomes crispy.
  6. Serve on tostada shells with your favorite toppings.  I like homemade guacamole, sour cream and vegetables. 

Chocolate Covered Pretzel Cupcakes May 11, 2012

Filed under: Food — travit @ 9:27 pm
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chocolate covered pretzel cupcakes

Cupcake, delicious cupcake

The fundraiser was a giant success today.  We raised a lot of money for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.  These little babies were the biggest hit and sold out first.  You just can beat that salty and sweet combination. Everyone who tried them love them, so much that I never even got the chance to try one! Wait until they find out how easy they were to make.


Chocolate cupcakes -24. I used a boxed cake mix (gasp!) and prepared according to package directions

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

Crushed Pretzels

24 small pretzels

1 bag of Wilton Candy Melts of your choosing


While cupcakes cool, melt the candy melts according to package directions.  Dip small pretzels into melted chocolate and set to cool on waxed paper lined cookie sheet.  Put in fridge to set.

Once cupcakes are cooled, frost the cupcakes.

Dip the frosted end into crushed pretzels.  I sifted the crushed pretzels with the strainer to remove fine powder. Coat the top of the cupcake with the crushed pretzels.

Stick chocolate covered pretzel into center of cupcake.

That’s it! Super easy, huh? What are you favorite easy cupcake tricks?


Baking for Boobs May 10, 2012

Filed under: Cooking,Food — travit @ 9:18 pm
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It’s a big day at work tomorrow.  We’re having a bake sale to help raise money to support me in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.  It’s less than a month away and I still have a lot of money to earn and training to complete.  Hopefully this sale will help me on the way towards that.  We’ve been touched by cancer too much in our family so I’m not just walking for breast cancer but to bring an end to all cancers.

Some of my fabulous co-workers have agreed to help bake so I only needed to make two things for tomorrow. I decided to try two new recipes.

First up, caramel and chocolate covered marshmallows.

Pardon my lousy cell phone/instagram picture


20 lollipop sticks

20 marshmallows

1 bag of unwrapped caramels

1 bag of Wilton candy melts (I used dark cocoa)


  1. Put sticks into marshmallows
  2. Melt caramel in microwave according to package directions
  3. Dip marshmallows into caramel and coat (Lesson I learned: marshmallows dipped in super hot caramel start to melt. Duh.)  Place onto cookie sheet on your favorite nonstick material.  Because they will stick.  A lot.  No really, they are sticky little mofos.
  4. Place in fridge to chill for about 3o minutes
  5. Melt candy melts on 1/2 power in microwave
  6. Dip caramel covered pops into the chocolate and coat well.  Put on wax paper and back into the fridge.
  7. Once fully chilled, wrap and serve.  Or rap and serve depending on your MC skills.

Tomorrow, I will post the recipe for the chocolate covered pretzel cupcakes.  Um, yum!





Simple Barbeque Chicken Pizza May 6, 2012

Filed under: Cooking,Food — travit @ 7:56 pm
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I don’t know about you but May is easily our busiest month of the year.  School year activities are winding down while summer activities are ramping up.  Plus our weekends are full of picnics, family parties, and recitals.  As a result I want to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible.  On our way to a party today, my husband reminded me that we had leftover barbeque chicken in the fridge and requested that I try to make one of his favorite restaurant items for dinner,  barbeque chicken pizza.  This turned out to be a quick, easy, and delicious way to use up some leftovers.

Warning dear reader: I have cooking skills.  I have photography skills. I have no skills when it comes to taking pictures of food and making it look edible.

I received the following recipe for the crockpot barbeque chicken from my brother Tony, I would link you to his twitter but he never actually tweets and I fear I would be wasting your time.


2-3 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breast

1 large bottle of barbeque sauce

1 cup of Italian dressing

1/2 cup brown sugar

4 TBSP Worcestershire sauce


  1. Put chicken breasts into slow cooker.
  2. Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour over chicken
  3. Cook on low 6-8 hours or low 3-4 hours.  Chicken is ready when it shreds easily with a fork.

I usually serve the chicken on a roll with a vinegar based cole slaw and hot sauce.  I also usually have a ton leftover which  made it the perfect topping for this pizza.

To make the pizza using the leftover chicken, I made my standard pizza crust.  I use a slight variation of this recipe.  It’s a New York style pizza crust but you can use any crust that you choose.  I live in the Chicago area but I think Chicago style pizza crust is the Devil’s cracker.  I expect hate mail for this.

I cook the crust for 5 minutes at 400 degrees before adding any toppings. I find this helps get the crust a bit crisper.

Layer your toppings on top of the partially baked crust.  I added the leftover barbeque chicken, shredded mozzarella, and diced red onions.

Barbeque chicken pizza prior to baking

After the toppings have been added. Ready for the oven

Bake for another 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown.

Barbeque chicken pizza after baking

This is how it looked after coming out of the oven.

Verdict: The whole family loved it.  Yes, even the kids.  It’s a non-Christmas miracle!  I’ll make it again, next time I will experiment with a wider selection of vegetables.

Do you have a favorite non-traditional pizza recipe?  Or a great way to re-purpose boring leftovers? Share them in the comments section.