Sunday, December 14, 2008

Spaghetti a la Betsy

With apologies to The Pioneer Woman, I have modified her Penne A La Betsy and used spaghetti! Since I had leftover heavy cream, I decided to try this recipe since it's been in my Google reader forever. It was quite tasty. It reminds me of a recipe that I have made with sausage but instead of tomato sauce, it's 1 can of diced tomatoes.
from The Pioneer Woman Cooks blog

¾ pound penne pasta (I used thin spaghetti)
3 tablespoons butter, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound large shrimp
1 small white onion, finely chopped (I also added mushrooms)
2 cloves garlic, minced (I used 3)
½ cup white wine
1 (8-ounce) can plain tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon fresh parsley (I omitted)
5 chopped basil leaves, chiffonaded
salt & pepper to taste

Boil water and cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, while water heats and pasta cooks, make the sauce. Melt 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet. Add the shrimp and cook for a few minutes, until opaque.

Remove to a plate to let cool. Heat 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in the skillet. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally.

While the onion and garlic are cooking, chop the shrimp into small, bite-sized pieces.

Add the wine to the pan and allow to reduce for a few minutes.

Stir in tomato sauce. Add the heavy cream and stir well to combine. Add shrimp back to the skillet and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the parsley and basil and mix well.
Drain pasta and return to pot. Add the sauce to the pot and stir well to combine. Serve.

Apple Spice Bars

These bars are seriously some of the best ever! The recipe is from Katie's blog, Good Things Catered. I know that anytime I make a recipe of hers, it will come out delicious! I made these once before, but my husband got to them before I could take a picture.

from Good Things Catered

2 c. plus 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg (I used more like 1/4 tsp)
1/8 tsp allspice (I used more like 1/4 tsp)
small pinch ground cloves (I omitted since I didn't have any)
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 apples, cored and diced (a little less than 2 c.) (I used 3 small Honeycrisp apples)
cinnamon sugar for sprinkling

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 9x13 pan with foil and baking spray.
-In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves.
-Whisk to combine well and set aside.
-In bowl of stand mixer, combine sugars and butter and beat on medium high until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
-Add eggs, one at a time, beating well to combine.
-Add vanilla extract and beat to combine.
-Turn mixer on slow and fold in flour mixture a little at a time until just combined.
-Fold in apples.
-Spread mixture evenly into prepared pan and sprinkle top generously with cinnamon sugar.
-Place in oven and bake until cooked through, when top slightly bounces back to the touch, about 30 minutes.
-Remove from oven and let cool completely before removing from pan, cutting and serving. (bars will be very soft)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Mexican Lasagna

Here's a simple recipe that has been getting a lot of attention on various cooking blogs--Rachel Ray's Mexican Lasagna. It's kind of like eating a taco in casserole format. It was quite tasty and very easy to make.
from Rachel Ray
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground chicken breast, available in the packaged meats case (used 1.5 lbs ground turkey)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped (used whole onion)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
  • 1 cup medium heat taco sauce or 1 (14-oz) can stewed or fire roasted tomatoes (I used 1 can of diced fire roasted tomatoes)
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels (I used one can of corn)
  • Salt (omitted)
  • 8 (8 inch) spinach flour tortillas, available on dairy aisle of market (I used regular tortillas)
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar or shredded pepper jack (I used shredded Mexican blend)
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil - twice around the pan. Add chicken and season with chili powder, cumin, and red onion. Brown the meat, 5 minutes. Add taco sauce or stewed or fire roasted tomatoes. Add black beans and corn. Heat the mixture through, 2 to 3 minutes then season with salt, to your taste.

Coat a shallow baking dish with remaining extra-virgin olive oil, about 1 tablespoon oil. Cut the tortillas in half or quarters to make them easy to layer with. Build lasagna in layers of meat and beans, then tortillas, then cheese. Repeat: meat, tortilla, cheese again. Bake lasagna 12 to 15 minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly. Top with the scallions and serve.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Chicken Piccata Pasta Toss

One of my favorite dishes is chicken piccata. Now I already have a favorite recipe that I make all the time. I wasn't quite sure that anything could be as good. However, this recipe that I saw on Lauren's Kitchen and And A Cookie For Dessert sounded pretty damn good. So in the interest of trying something new, I took the plunge and it was actually quite good. Not quite as good as my tried and true recipe, but good in a different kind of way.

Chicken Piccata Pasta Toss
from Rachel Ray's website
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 1/3 pounds chicken breast tenders, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 shallots, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 2 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 6 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 pound penne rigate pasta, cooked to al dente (I used thin spaghetti)
  • Chopped or snipped chives, for garnish (omitted)
Heat a deep nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add two tablespoons of EVOO and the chicken to the pan. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Brown chicken until lightly golden all over, about 5-6 minutes.Remove chicken from pan and return the skillet to the heat.

Reduce heat to medium. Add another tablespoon EVOO and one tablespoon butter, the garlic and shallots to the skillet. Sauté garlic and shallots three minutes. Add flour and cook two minutes. Whisk in wine and reduce liquid one minute. Whisk lemon juice and broth into sauce. Stir in capers and parsley. When the liquid comes to a bubble, add remaining 1/2 tablespoon
butter to the sauce to give it a little shine.

Add chicken back to the pan and heat through, 1-2 minutes. Toss hot pasta with chicken and sauce and serve. Adjust salt and pepper, to your taste. Top with fresh snipped chives.

Swedish Meatballs

The other night, I had a yen for Swedish Meatballs. I have no reason why! Luckily I had a package of ground turkey and sour cream in the refrigerator. I also happened to have starred a recipe in my Google Reader so I was in luck. What follows below is the recipe from the A Taste of Home Cooking blog, originally a Rachel Ray recipe. Unfortunately, my picture is not quite as nice!

Swedish Meatballs and Egg Noodles
Comfort Foods: Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals

1 pound ground chuck, or ground beef, pork and veal mix
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
1 small onion, finely chopped (or grated on a box grater)
A few drops Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper

3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup dry sherry
1 cup beef broth
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup sour cream

1 bag wide egg noodles
1 tablespoon butter
A handful of chopped parsley

Cook egg noodles according to package directions. While waiting for the water to boil, make the meatballs and sauce.

To bake meatballs: preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix ingredients for meatballs in a medium-size bowl. Form bite-size balls and place on nonstick baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes.

To cook meatballs on the stovetop: preheat a nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Mix ingredients for meatballs in a medium-size bowl. Form bite-size balls and add directly to the pan as you roll them. Once the last ball has been rolled, give the pan a good shake and place a lid or aluminum foil over the top. Cook meatballs 10 to 12 minutes, turning them occasionally. Remove meatballs to a paper towel-lined plate, wipe out pan, and return to heat to make the sauce.

To make the sauce: melt butter over medium heat. Sprinkle in flour and continuously whisk until a smooth paste is formed. Slowly add sherry while continuing to whisk sauce; cook until sherry reduces by half. Add broth in a slow stream and continue to whisk until sauce thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon. Turn off heat and whisk in salt, pepper, Dijon mustard and sour cream.

Once the noodles are cooked, drain them and toss with butter and parsley. Add meatballs to the sauce, stir to coat, and serve over the noodles.

Savory Sweet Potato Fries

Now I am normally one who likes sweet potatos made sweet, like spiced mashed potatoes or candied. But I decided to stray from the norm and was pleasantly surprised. Here's the recipe I tried with my additions in italics. Enjoy!
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (omitted)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt (used sea salt)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 lb medium sweet potatoes
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (used olive oil)

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Coarsely grind coriander, fennel, oregano, and red pepper flakes in an electric coffee/spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Stir together spices and salt.

Cut potatoes lengthwise into 1-inch wedges.

Toss wedges with oil and spices in a large roasting pan and roast in middle of oven 20 minutes. Turn wedges over with a spatula and roast until tender and slightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes more.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Chicken Cobb Burger

There is a new cooking group called Dinner Divas that is all the rage. I haven't officially joined because I am so bad at updating my blog that I am sure I'll fall behind. But this recipe looked so good that I had to try it. It was a great recipe but the burger was so huge that I had to serve the salad on the side instead of on top. I also used ground turkey and added a bit of Essence to the meat for extra flavor.

I also had a bad cooking accident as a result of trying to imitate Alton Brown's advice on de-pitting the avocado. I sliced my finger pretty good with the knife. This is something I will never try to do again.

Chicken Cobb Burger
from Bobby Flay on Food Network

For the burgers:
8 (1/2- thick) strips bacon
1 1/2 pounds ground chicken (I used ground turkey)
2 tablespoons canola oil
Salt Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
4 burger buns, split
1 large ripe beefsteak tomato, cut into 4 slices
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into 8 slices

For the vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely shredded romaine lettuce

For the burgers:
Heat the grill to medium. Place the strips of bacon on the grill (lay them across the grate so they don't fall through) and grill for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown and slightly crispy. Remove the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Increase the heat of the grill to high.

Form the meat into 4 (8-ounce) burgers, brush with the oil and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Grill the burgers until golden brown on both sides and cooked completely through, about 5 minutes per side. Top the burgers with the blue cheese, close the cover, and continue cooking until the cheese begins to melt, about 1 minute longer.

Place the burgers on the bottom half of each bun and top with a slice of tomato, 2 slices of avocado, 2 slices of bacon and some of the dressed romaine. Cover each burger with the bun tops and serve.

For the vinaigrette:
Whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, Worcestershire, garlic, sugar, salt, pepper and oil in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using to allow the flavors to meld.

Just before assembling the burgers, place the romaine in a medium bowl and toss with the vinaigrette.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Lunch Lady Bars

Last week I needed something simple to take to a work potluck luncheon. I came across this recipe for Lunch Lady Bars on the Yum blog. They reminded me of Nestle's Tollhouse Cookie Bars. Luckily the recipe was enough to bring to work and have some leftover for home!

Lunch Lady Bars
originally from
2 1/2 c. Flour
1 tsp baking soda soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup oil
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla (I used almond flavoring since I was out of vanilla)
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used regular semi-sweet chips, not mini)

Combine dry ingredients. Set aside. In bowl mix together oil and sugars. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. Gradually add dry ingredients. Mix in 3/4 c. of chocolate chips. Spread into 9x13 pan. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 c. chips on top. Bake at 350 for 15-25 minutes or until light golden brown.

Jumping on the Bandwagon--Blueberry Crumb Cake

Wow - it's been a long time. I finally have something new to post. Last weekend, I made a fabulous blueberry crumb cake from my Barefoot Contessa at Home cookbook. Her recipes never disappoint, so this cake was scrumptious! It reminded me of Drake's coffee cakes, but with blueberries. Also it made a lot of streusel topping which was a bonus!

Blueberry Crumb Cake
from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa at Home

For the streusel:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

For the cake:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (3/4 stick)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2/3 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup fresh blueberries
Confectioners' sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round baking pan.

For the streusel:

Combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl. Stir in the melted butter and then the flour. Mix well and set aside.

For the cake:

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, lemon zest, and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Fold in the blueberries and stir with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out with a knife. With your fingers,
crumble the topping evenly over the batter. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely and serve sprinkled with confectioners' sugar.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I've Been Tagged or Someone's Actually Reading This!

Yay! Someone is actually reading my blog. I was tagged for a meme by Lovetoeat's Weblog. She is one of the awesome girls on the cooking board that I frequent.

1. Why did you start your blog? I decided to start my blog as a way of keeping track of the many recipes that I was collecting. Our camera is really old, so the pictures on here aren't the best, but they aren't the worst I've seen either. It also serves as a diary of sorts, but with recipes attached.

2. How did you come up with your blog name? It's a play on my name and cooking style.

3. Do your friends and family know about your blog, and what do they think? I haven't really gone "public" with my blog to other friends & family, but have shared it with the message boards I frequent. My husband knows about it since I am always taking pictures of our food.

4. How do you write posts? This is one thing that I've been bad about. After spending 9 hours at work in front of a computer, sometimes the last thing I want to do at home is go online. I also get behind in downloading photos. I tend to do a bunch of posts at once.

5. Have you ever had a troll or had to delete unkind comments? Nope.

6. Do you check your stats or care how many people read your blog? If you care, how do you increase traffic? I do check the stats, mostly to see if anyone is even reading this. I also find it interesting to see what Google searches lead to my blog.

Saturday BBQ Dinner

Last weekend, we decided to have a pre-Father's Day dinner with steaks on the grill. My husband did the grilling and I did the cooking. This was the day of cooking failures (see Strawberry Meringue Cake post)! I tried a new marinade from that was okay. It wasn't anything to write home about, but it was passable. The mini macaroni & cheese bites that I was so excited to try, didn't really come out right. The sauce was incredibly thick so I kept adding milk to thin it out and then the mac bites fell apart coming out of the pan. And the spinach "brownies" I had made in the past didn't seem the same. For what it's worth, the recipes are below.

Marinade for Steak I

1 cup vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Dijon-style prepared mustard
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced

In a medium bowl, combine the oil, soy sauce, vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, ground black pepper, mustard, onion, and garlic. Mix together well, and use to marinate your favorite meat.

from Food & Wine
1/2 pound elbow macaroni
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for brushing
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (1 packed cup)
4 ounces deli-sliced American cheese, chopped
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika

Preheat the oven to 425°. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain, shaking off the excess water.

Brush four 12-cup, nonstick mini muffin tins with butter. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano; tap out the excess.

In a large saucepan, melt the 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and cook, whisking, until boiling, about 5 minutes. Add the cheddar and American cheeses and whisk until melted. Off the heat, whisk in the egg yolk and paprika. Fold in the macaroni.

Spoon slightly rounded tablespoons of the macaroni into the prepared muffin cups, packing them gently. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmigiano on top.

Bake the mini macs in the upper and middle thirds of the oven for about 10 minutes, until golden and sizzling. Let cool for 5 min­utes. Using a small spoon, carefully loosen the mini macs, transfer to a platter and serve.

Strawberry Meringue Cake

So this was an interesting recipe...I made this cake to go with our cookout last weekend. I had high hopes for the recipe but it just didn't come out right. The cake part was very good - dense like a pound cake - and the strawberries + whipped cream combination was good. However, the meringue layer just didn't work. I don't know if it wasn't cooked enough or what, but the meringue was spongy and not crisp.

Strawberry Meringue Cake
from Joy of Baking

Cake Batter:
4 large egg yolks
1 cup (100 grams) sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) (114 grams) unsalted butter

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup (60 ml) milk

Meringue Layer:
4 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons (28 grams) granulated white sugar
1 pound (454 grams) fresh strawberries, sliced (Add a little sugar if necessary)
Confectioners Sugar (powdered or icing) for dusting top of cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Grease and flour two - 8 x 1 1/2 inches (20 x 3.75 cm) round cake pans. Set aside.
Cake: Separate the eggs while they are still cold, placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another bowl. Cover the two bowls with plastic wrap and allow the eggs to come to room temperature before using (about 30 minutes).

In a mixing bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 2 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat in the vanilla extract.

With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans, smoothing the tops with an offset spatula. Set aside while you make the meringue layer.

Meringue: In a clean bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the sugar and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Beat in the vanilla extract.
Divide the meringue between the two cake pans, gently smoothing the tops with an offset spatula. Bake for approximately 25 - 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. The meringue layers will have turned a light brown and will be crisp to the touch but soft inside. Place the pans on a wire rack to cool. When completely cooled, remove from pans.

Shortly before serving whip the cream with the sugar until soft peaks form. Slice the strawberries and, if necessary, add a little sugar to sweeten them. Place one of the cake layers, meringue side down, on a serving platter. Spread or pipe half of the whipping cream onto the cake and top with half the strawberries. Gently place the second cake layer, cake side down so the meringue layer is facing up, onto the first layer. Spread or pipe the rest of the whipping cream and then strawberries on top of the meringue. Dust with confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar. If not eating immediately, cover and place in the refrigerator until serving time. The assembled cake will hold in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Serves 8 - 10.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Sunday Barbeque

I had chicken breasts that needed to be used by Tuesday, so I decided to make a home cooked meal for Sunday dinner. My husband requested barbecue chicken and I turned to my standby cookbook, Weber's Big Book of Grilling. I served it with a German potato salad and jalapeno cornbread. It was all very good!

Warm Potato Salad with Beer Dressing
For Beer Dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup finely chopped white or yellow onion
1 cup lager beer
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons German or Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For Potato Salad:
3 1/2 pounds red-skinned potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley

For Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in small frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, lager, vinegar and sugar. Boil until liquid is reduced by a third, about 5 minutes.

Transfer onion/beer mixture to food processor. Add mustard and blend until smooth. With machine running, drizzle remaining oil through feed tube to form smooth dressing. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm.

MEANWHILE, PREPARE SALAD: Steam potato slices until just tender, about 12 minutes. Gently toss warm sliced potatoes in large bowl with 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Toss warm potatoes, red onion, green onions, celery and parsley with warm dressing. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper and serve warm.

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
from Barefoot Contessa at Home

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups milk
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated, divided
1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts, plus extra for garnish, 3 scallions
3 tablespoons seeded and minced fresh jalapeno peppers

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don't overmix! Mix in 2 cups of the grated Cheddar, the scallions and jalapenos, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar and extra chopped scallions. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Mesquite-Roasted Chicken
from Weber's Big Book of Grilling

2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon cracked black peppercorns
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons granulated onion
1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 (3.5-4 lb) whole chickens (I used thin boneless chicken breasts)

1 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons granulated onion
2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin

Mesquite wood chips, soaked in water to cover for at least 30 minutes

Make the rub: in a bowl, combine all the rub ingredients; set aside.
Chickens: remove and discard the neck, giblets, and any excess fat from the chickens.
Rinse the chickens, inside and out, under cold water; pat dry with paper towels.
Remove the backbones and cut each chicken in half.
Coat each chicken half thoroughly with the rub, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.

Make the sauce: in a small bowl, whisk the sauce ingredients together along with ½ cup water.
Follow your grill’s instructions for using wood chips; grill the chicken halves skin side up, over indirect medium heat until the juices run clear and the internal temperature reaches 170° in the breast and 180° in the thickest part of the thigh, about 1 ¼ hours.

Remove from the grill and loosely cover with foil; let rest for about 5 minutes before cutting the halves in two.

Serve warm with the sauce on the side.

Chicken Enchiladas with Creamy Green Sauce

We recently joined Costco and got a coupon for a free roast chicken. So instead of eating it straight out of the box, I decided to make enchiladas. I came across this recipe on the Reservations Not Required blog, but the original recipe is from Everyday Food. It turned out delicious. I served it with black beans and lime which I found on the same blog.
Chicken Enchiladas with Creamy Green Sauce
Serves 6
3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves (I used a whole rotisserie chicken)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
5 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 jars (16 ounces each) medium green salsa (I used Pace brand)
3/4 cup heavy cream
12 corn tortillas (6-inch)
12 ounces Monterrey Jack cheese, coarsely shredded (3 cups)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Season chicken with salt and pepper; place with garlic on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast (avoiding bone) registers 165 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine salsa and cream.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Once chicken is cool enough to handle, shred meat, discarding skin and bones. Peel and chop garlic. In a large bowl, combine chicken, garlic, and 1/2 cup salsa mixture.

Stack tortillas flat, and wrap in damp paper towels; microwave on high for 1 minute to soften. Working with one tortilla at a time, dip in salsa mixture, lay flat, and fill with 1/3 cup chicken mixture. Roll up and arrange, seam side down, 8 enchiladas lengthwise and 4 crosswise in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Top with remaining salsa mixture, then cheese.

Bake until cheese is browned and salsa is bubbling, 40 to 45 minutes; let rest 10 minutes. Serve, sprinkled with cilantro, if desired.

Black Beans with Lime
Serves 6
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 scallions, white and green parts separated, thinly sliced (I used onions)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 cans (19 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add white part of scallions, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until softened, about 3 minutes.

Add beans, chili powder, and 1/4 cup water. Cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in lime juice; season with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with green part of scallions.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Very Yellow Dinner-Beer Batter Chicken & Hash Brown Casserole

I realized as I was plating this dinner, that besides being extremely fattening, it was all very yellow. The picture is probably not too appetizing but these two recipes were very tasty and VERY fattening. I realized that most of our dinners this week were not very health conscious!

Creamy Hash Brown Casserole
From Southern Living

1 (32-ounce) package frozen hash brown potatoes (I used Simply Potatoes southwest style)
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can fat-free cream of chicken soup (I used fat-free cream of mushroom soup)
1 (8-ounce) container light sour cream (I used regular sour cream)
1 small onion, chopped
1 (5-ounce) can low-fat evaporated milk (I used 5 oz skim milk)
1/4 cup light butter or margarine, melted (I used butter)
1 teaspoon dried rosemary (optional) (I omitted)
1/2 teaspoon salt (I omitted)
1/4 teaspoon pepper (I omitted)
Vegetable cooking spray
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese (I used Mexican blend cheese)

Stir together first 9 ingredients in a large bowl.
Spoon mixture into an 11- x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle cheese evenly over top.

Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until bubbly and golden. Remove from oven, and let stand 10 minutes.

Beer-Battered Fried Chicken Tenders
recipe source unknown

1 ½ pounds chicken tenders (raw)
¾ cup vegetable oil

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 egg
¾ cup pale ale

Dipping Sauce:
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons pale ale
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, 1 teaspoon salt, lemon zest and cayenne pepper to make batter. In a small bowl, beat together the egg and ¾ cup pale ale or other beer. Pour beer mixture into flour mixture, stirring until just blended and slightly lumpy. Set aside.

To make dipping sauce, beat together in a medium bowl, mayonnaise, heavy cream, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons pale ale, and salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a large, deep saucepan, place the vegetable oil. Warm over medium heat. Place chicken tenders in batter mixture. Remove tenders one at a time and gently place in hot oil; it should sizzle loudly. Cook chicken in three batches, turning, about 6 minutes per batch, or until crispy on the outside and fork can be inserted into chicken with ease. Remove chicken from pan with a slotted spoon. Set on a plate lined with several paper towels to drain. Serve chicken hot accompanied by dipping sauce.

Cajun Pasta

Here's one of our favorite dishes from my Southern Living cookbook - Cajun Pasta. I didn't have green or red peppers on hand, so I used mushrooms which I love.

Cajun Pasta
from Southern Living Cookbook Classics

1 1/2 cups water
1/2 pound unpeeled medium-size fresh shrimp
2 skinned and boned chicken breast halves, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1/2 pound andouille or Cajun smoked sausage, sliced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used red wine and it turned out fine)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon Cajun or Creole seasoning (I used Emeril's Essence)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon cracked pepper (optional)
1 green pepper, cut into thin strips
1 sweet red pepper, cut into thin strips
1 (16-ounce) package fettuccine, uncooked

Bring water to a boil; add shrimp, and cook 3 to 5 minutes or until shrimp turns pink. Brain; rinse with cold water. Peel shrimp, and devain, if desired. Set aside.

Cook chicken and next 3 ingredients in olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, until meat is lightly browned; remove chicken mixture from skillet and set aside.

Add wine to skillet. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer 3 to 5 minutes or until wine is reduced to 1/4 cup.

Combine chicken broth and flour, stirring until smooth. Add chicken broth mixture, whipping cream, Cajun seasoning, tomato paste, and if desired, cracked pepper to skillet. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes.

Add chicken mixture and pepper strips; cook until thoroughly heat. Keep warm.

Cook fettuccine according to package directions; drain. Combine fettuccine and chicken mixture. Toss gently.

Serves 6 to 8.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Baked Buffalo Chicken Nuggets

I had this recipe starred in my Google reader for awhile now and just got around to making it. It was very good, despite the kind of bizarre picture. Our camera is in great need of updating and is on our list of things to buy. So don't pay attention to the picture, walk, no run to Amber's Delectable Delights to see a great picture and the original recipe! I served ours with blue cheese dressing and tater tots as a side!
Buffalo-Style Chicken Strips with Ranch Dressing
(Adapted from:

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten (I used 2 large eggs, not just whites)
1 1/2 cups coarsely crushed cornflakes
1 pound chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips
Cooking spray
1/3 cup hot sauce (I used Frank's Hot Sauce)
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (I used Tabasco)
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup fat-free ranch dressing (I used Ken's Blue Cheese dressing)
4 celery stalks, cut into 1/4 x 3-inch sticks (I omitted)
4 carrots, cut into 1/4 x 3-inch sticks (I omitted)

Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine first 6 ingredients in a shallow dish, stirring with a whisk. Place egg whites in a shallow dish. Place cornflakes in a shallow dish. Working with 1 chicken strip at a time, dredge in flour mixture. Dip in egg whites; dredge in cornflakes. Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining chicken strips, flour mixture, egg whites, and cornflakes.

Lightly coat chicken strips with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until done, turning once.

Combine hot sauce, pepper sauce, and Worcestershire in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in butter. Drizzle hot sauce mixture over chicken. Serve with ranch dressing, celery, and carrots.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

We had some fresh shrimp from the grocery store in need of a good recipe. I received a Food Network cookbook for Christmas that I was thumbing through and found this recipe from Giada. We had never had Shrimp Fra Diavolo so we weren't sure what to expect. The sauce was quite thin but we loved the addition of the onions. Enjoy!

1 pound large shrimp
1 teaspoon salt, plus additional as needed (I omitted)
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons
1 medium onion, sliced
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup dry white wine
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
3 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves (I omitted)
3 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves

Toss the shrimp in a medium bowl with 1 teaspoon of salt and red pepper flakes. Heat the 3 tablespoons oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and saute for about a minute, toss, and continue cooking until just cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Transfer the shrimp to a large plate; set aside. Add the onion to the same skillet, adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan, if necessary, and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices, wine, garlic, and oregano.

Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Return the shrimp and any accumulated juices to the tomato mixture; toss to coat, and cook for about a minute so the flavors meld together. Stir in the parsley and basil. Season with more salt, to taste, and serve.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Now that's what I call generous. The wonderful cooking blog Cooking by The Seat of My Pants is giving away a FREE ipod! I hope I win, since I must be the last person on earth who doesn't have one.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Shrimp Jambalaya

I bought some shrimp the other night and was looking for a recipe that I hadn't made before. I decided to make a jambalaya, which is something we haven't had in awhile. Since it was pretty late, I searched for a recipe that was quick to make and was not too complex. Here's what I made, with my substitutions in italics. It was excellent and easy to make!
Jambalaya with Shrimp and Andouille Sausage
Cooking Light magazine

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
6 ounces andouille sausage, sliced (omitted since I didn't have any)
1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1 bay leaf
2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth (used 1 can chicken broth)
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon tomato paste (omitted)
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (used Frank's Hot Sauce)
1 (14.5-ounce) can no salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained (used roasted variety)
1/2 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp (used 1 lb shrimp)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (sprinkled some dry on top before serving)

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion, chopped bell pepper, minced garlic, and sausage; sauté 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Add rice and the next 7 ingredients (through bay leaf); cook 2 minutes. Add broth, water, tomato paste, hot pepper sauce, and diced tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Add shrimp; cook 5 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Stir in parsley.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 426(27% from fat); FAT 12.7g (sat 3.9g,mono 2.8g,poly 1g); PROTEIN 25g; CHOLESTEROL 117mg; CALCIUM 99mg; SODIUM 763mg; FIBER 4.9g; IRON 5.1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 52.7g

Lia Huber , Cooking Light, APRIL 2005

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Salmon with Basil-Dijon Cream Sauce

I am always on the quest for the perfect salmon recipe. I came across this recipe and was glad to see that it was Weight Watchers friendly, although with my substitutions, it probably wasn't so. It was a delicious way to serve salmon. I would probably cut the sauce recipe in half next time because we had a lot of sauce left over for just the two of us. I served it with some sauted spinach with blue cheese and pine nuts.

Pan-Seared Salmon with Basil-Dijon Cream Sauce
from the Dinner with Danielle blog
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon shallot or red onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup fat-free milk (I used whole milk)
  • 1 tablespoon Weight Watchers whipped cream cheese spread (I used sour cream)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped into thin ribbons
  • 4 ounces boneless salmon fillet
  • pinch salt
  • pinch pepper
  • non-stick cooking spray
Heat oil in a small saute pan over medium heat. Add garlic and shallot, stirring constantly, until shallot starts to soften and edges become slightly brown, 2-3 minutes. Immediately add white wine and whisk in mustard until fully incorporated.

Whisk in milk until fully incorporated, then whisk in whipped cream cheese until fully incorporated. When cream cheese melts, stir in basil and remove from heat promptly. Using a rubber spatula, transfer sauce into a small bowl and set aside

Season all sides of salmon with salt and pepper. Heat same saute pan over medium-high heat. Lightly coat with non-stick cooking spray. Place salmon (top-side down) onto center of pan and cook until slightly brown (2-3 minutes). Reduce heat to medium-low.

Using a large spatula, flip salmon over, cover pan, and continue cooking until internal temperature reaches about 140 degrees, 4-5 minutes. Uncover and remove from heat. Transfer salmon to a plate and drizzle sauce over fish.

6 Servings
1 WW point per serving

Chicken with Beans and Spinach

I've had this recipe starred in my Google Reader for quite some time and have just now decided to make it. It was wonderfully good! Plus it gave me a chance to make real bacon, something I haven't made in a long time. It comes from Elly who participates in a cooking message board that I belong to and also happens to have an excellent blog. With the success of this recipe, I can't wait to try her other recipes.

Chicken with Beans and Spinach
from Elly Says Opa blog

Chicken Stew with White Beans and Spinach
Serves 2-4 (but really? probably 2 :)

3 slices bacon, chopped
4 chicken thighs, bone-in and skinless
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. oregano
1 can cannellini or other white beans, drained
2 cups fresh spinach
salt and pepper

In a large saute pan with lid, cook the bacon until it has rendered its fan. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour off the bacon fat until about 1 Tbsp. remains in the pan.

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper and sear it in the bacon fat, to brown, on both sides. Remove from pan.

Add the onions and cook until tender. Stir in the garlic and once the garlic becomes fragrant, stir in the tomato paste. Cook approximately one minute.

Add the wine to the pan to deglaze. Cook for about 2 minutes, scraping up the browned bits. Add the chicken broth, bay leaf, oregano, salt and pepper to taste, and bring to a boil. Add the chicken back in the pan. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mash about 1/3 of the can of beans with a fork or a potato masher--not into a paste, but just breaking up some of the beans (this will make the texture of the final product better). After the chicken has simmered 15 minutes, add the whole beans and the mashed beans into the pan. Cover, simmering an additional 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Add back in the bacon and the spinach. Cook just until spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes. Serve with some crusty bread to sop up the tomato-y goodness.

Chinese Takeout ATK Style

I received the America's Test Kitchen "Best New Recipe" Cookbook for Christmas and have just now made my first recipe. I had bought some rancher's reserve beef strips and decided to make the Stir-Fried Beef and Broccoli with Oyster Sauce. I was a bit afraid it would have too much of an oyster sauce flavor, something I am not that fond of. But leave it to the chef's at ATK to create a wonderful stir fry that tasted just like Chinese takeout. Enjoy!

Sitr-Fried Beef and Broccoli with Oyster Sauce
from The Best New Recipe cookbook

1 LB flank steak, sliced
3 TBS soy sauce
1 TBS dry sherry
2 TBS chicken broth
5 TBS oyster sauce
1 TBS light brown sugar
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp cornstarch
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBS minced fresh ginger
3 TBS peanut or vegetable oil
1 1/4 LBS broccoli, florets cut into bite-size pieces
1/3 cup water
1 small red bell pepper, diced
3 medium scallions, sliced 1/2 inch thick

Combine the beef and soy sauce in a medium bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 10 min or up to 1 hour, stirring once.

Meanwhile, whisk sherry, chicken broth, oyster sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, and cornstarch in measuring cup. Combine the garlic, ginger, and 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil in small bowl.

Drain the beef and discard the liquid. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons of the peanut oil in a non-stick 12 inch skillet over high heat until smoking. Add half the beef to the skillet and break up the clumps; cook without stirring, 1 minute, then stir and cook until the beef is browned around the edges, about 30 seconds. Transfer the beef to a medium bowl. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of the peanut oil to the skillet, heat until just smoking, and repeat with the remaining beef.

Add 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil to now-empty skillet; heat until just smoking. Add the broccoli and cook 30 seconds; add water, cover the pan, and lower the heat to medium. Steam the broccoli until tender-crisp, about 2 minutes; transfer to paper towel–lined plate.

Add the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil to the skillet; increase heat to high and heat until just smoking. Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until spotty brown, about 1 1/2 minutes.

Clear the center of skillet; add the garlic and ginger mixture to the clearing and cook, mashing mixture with a spoon, until fragrant, 15 to 20 seconds, then stir mixture into the peppers. Return the beef and broccoli to skillet and toss to combine. Whisk the sauce to recombine, then add to the skillet; cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened and evenly distributed, about 30 seconds.

Transfer to serving platter, sprinkle with the scallions, and serve.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Fish Tacos Aunt Sandy Style

One of our favorite dishes at our favorite pub is Fish Tacos. I haven't been that adventurous to try to make them myself, until I got a bag of frozen fish sticks. So I channeled my inner Aunt Sandy and created my version of Semi-Homemade Fish Tacos. Using the frozen fish sticks and making an Asian cabbage slaw, guacamole and cilantro cream, the resulting dinner was not too bad!

Asian Cole Slaw
from the blog Dinners for a Year and Beyond

5 cups shredded cabbage
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
dash of hot sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup toasted almonds, slivered

Mix together mayonnaise, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, hot sauce, and sugar. Add cabbage and almonds and toss to coat. Chill for about 30 - 1 hour before serving.

Not Your Mama's Tuna Noodle Casserole

No cream of crap here. Every now and then, I get a craving for Tuna Noodle Casserole. I love this recipe from my Betty Crocker Cookbook. It uses a mixture of flour and real milk instead of canned soup. I also like topping it with crushed plain potato chips!
Tuna-Pasta Casserole
from Betty Crocker's Cookbook Bridal Edition

Crumb Topping (see below) or 2/3 cup crushed potato chips
1 1/4 cups uncooked medium pasta shells or elbow macaroni (about 5 ounces)
2 tablespoons butter or stick margarine
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
1 cup shredded sharp process American or cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
1 cup frozen (thawed) green peas
2 (6-ounce) cans tuna in water, drained

Crumb Topping
2/3 cup crushed cereal (Wheaties, Cheerios or Country cornflakes or dry bread crumbs
1 tablespoon butter or stick margarine, melted

1. Heat oven to 350°. Make Crumb Topping; set aside.

2. Cook and drain pasta as directed on package.

3. While pasta is cooking, melt butter in 1 1/2-quart saucepan over low heat. Stir in flour and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until smooth and bubbly; remove from heat. Gradually stir in milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in cheese until melted.

4. Mix pasta, broccoli, tuna and sauce in ungreased 2-quart casserole. Cover and bake about 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Sprinkle with topping. Bake uncovered about 5 minutes or until topping is toasted.

Crumb Topping
2/3 cup dry bread crumbs
1 tablespoon butter or stick margarine, melted
Mix ingredients.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Valentine's Dinner 2008

Happy Valentine's Day 2008! For dinner this year, I decided to go with one of our favorite shrimp recipes, Spicy Shrimp Scampi and roasted asparagus. For appetizers, I came up with an idea to take crescent dough and fill it with a piece of brie and cranberry sauce, and make a mini muffin tart. I baked them in the oven for 10 minutes to brown them and melt the cheese. And for dessert, what better than Funfetti Cake with Strawberry Fluff icing. I also used pink sugar crystals to make a heart decoration.

Cranberry Brie Bites
Spicy Shrimp Scampi with AsparagusFunfetti Cake with Strawberry Fluff Icing

Hershey's Ultimate Brownies

Upon seeing so many yummy brownie recipes online, I am now on a quest for the perfect brownie. I found a recipe in my Hershey's cookbook for Ultimate Brownies and figured that would be a good start. The brownies were pretty yummy and the addition of chocolate chips gave them a little bonus! They were so good plain that I didn't bother with frosting them.

Ultimate Chocolate Brownies

3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup butter or margarine, melted and divided
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup HERSHEY'S SPECIAL DARK Chocolate Chips or HERSHEY'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan or two 8-inch square baking pans.

2. Stir together cocoa and baking soda in large bowl; stir in 1/3 cup butter. Add boiling water; stir until mixture thickens. Stir in sugar, eggs and remaining 1/3 cup butter; stir until smooth. Add flour, vanilla and salt; blend completely. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into prepared pan.

3. Bake 35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan, 30 to 35 minutes for square pans or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into squares. About 36 brownies.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Turkey Meatballs & Spaghetti

I have been on a quest to find the best meatball and spaghetti sauce. I recently tried two recipes that were wonderful. I used recipes on two separate blogs to make this dish. For the sauce, I tried a recipe from the Reading, Riting & Recipes blog. For the meatballs, I went to the Carrie in the Kitchen blog, and substituted the ground beef for turkey. I am pleased to report that both recipes were delicious!

1.5 pounds ground round (I used ground turkey)
1/4 cup finely shredded fresh parmesan cheese
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 tsp dry mustard
3/4 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400F.

Combine all ingredients except cooking spray in a bowl and stir well. Shape mixture into 1.5 inch meatballs. Place on a broiler pan coated with cooking soray. Bake at 400 degress for 15 minutes of until done.

Best Red Sauce Evah
1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Onions
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1/4 cup red wine
28 oz. Diced or Crushed Tomatoes (I used crushed tomatoes)
1 Can Tomato Paste (6 oz)
1 1/2 cups chicken or beef broth (I used beef broth)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried Oregano
2 Tbs Chopped Fresh Basil
3 Tbs Chopped Fresh Parsley
Salt & Pepper to taste
2-4 Tbs butter

Heat the EVOO in a large saucepan. Cook the onions until soft. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant. Add the wine and reduce until almost completely evaporated. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, broth and seasonings. Bring to a light boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. At end of cooking, add butter 1 Tbs at a time to round out the flavors and cut the acidity, tasting as you go.

Thai Coconut Chicken

If there is one thing that I love, it's Thai food. I have attempted to make Thai cuisine at home but it never turns out like it does at a restaurant. I found this yummy recipe on the Dinner With The Bickfords blog. I was also pleased to find out that it was Weight Watchers friendly.

Thai Coconut Chicken
2 teaspoons oil
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch strips
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon fresh ginger
1 Tablespoon packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste (I used green Thai curry paste)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 pound asparagus, cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces (I used onions, mushrooms, and green pepper)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 Tablespoon fish sauce (I omitted this because I hate fish sauce)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 cups cooked brown rice (I used Jasmine rice)

1. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet, then add the chicken and sprinkle with the salt. Saute until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

2. Heat the remaining oil in the same skillet over low heat, then add onion, garlic and ginger. Saute until fragrant and the onions are softened, about 6 minutes. Stir in the sugar, curry paste, and cumin; cook 1 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the asparagus, coconut milk and fish sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the asparagus is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.

3. Add the chicken and basil; heat through. Serve over rice.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

My Favorite Meal - Chicken Scaloppini with Lemon Sauce

Chicken Scaloppini with Lemon Sauce is one of my favorite meals. I love this recipe from my Southern Living Cookbook. I usually thicken the sauce with some arrowroot so it make a gravy to pour over the pasta. Enjoy!

Chicken Scaloppini with Lemon Sauce
Serves 6

6 chicken breast halves, skinned, boned, and halved
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 to 3/4 pound fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup Chablis or other dry white wine
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Place each chicken piece between 2 sheets of waxed paper; flatten to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or a rolling pin.

Combine flour and pepper; stir well. Dredge chicken in eggs and then in flour mixture, shaking off excess flour. Set chicken aside.

Heat butter and oil in a heavy skillet. Cook chicken in skillet over medium heat about 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown and done. Remove chicken to serving platter; keep warm.

Add mushrooms and 1/4 cup water to pan drippings; cook over medium heat, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Spoon mushrooms over chicken.

Add wine and lemon juice to the skillet, heat thoroughly. Pour sauce over chicken; sprinkle with parlsey.