Saturday, December 29, 2007

Basil Baked Tilapia


With all of the heavy holiday food we've been eating I was really in the mood for something a little lighter. I've recently discovered that I LOVE tilapia, so that's what I decided to make. I love risotto with fish but I thought it would be a little too heavy with our light meal. Baked rice seemed like a lighter choice. At the very last minute I decided that I wanted to have a cream sauce for the fish (so much for a light meal, haha). To make the cream sauce I heated a tablespoon of butter in a small sauce pan. To that I added 1/3 cup of the lemon wine sauce that the fish cooked in and 1/4 cup of flour to act as a thickener. When the flour was well combined I added 1/4-1/3 cup of half and half. I was very please with the flavor of the sauce. Now for the tilapia recipe!

Basil Baked Tilapia
(Recipe source: recipezaar.com)

1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup fresh basil leaves
4 thin fish fillets, like tilapa
1 lemon, juice of
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons plain breadcrumbs
paprika
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450*.
2. Pour wine and butter into glass measuring cup and microwave on high until butter begins to melt, about 1 minute.
3. Spread basil leaves over bottom of 9 X 13 glass baking dish, reserving a few large ones for the top of the fish.
4. Place fillets over the remaining basil.
5. Remove the wine mixture from the microwave and add fresh lemon juice.
6. Stir or whisk the wine mixture and pour over the fish.
7. Season the fish with the salt and pepper.
8. Sprinkle the onion powder and bread crumbs evenly over the fish, then add paprika.
9. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, place in lower third of preheated oven, for 12 minutes.
10. Uncover fish and continue to cook until fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork, about 2-3 more minutes.
11. Serve at once.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Another Christmas Cookie...




This one came from my Kraft food magazine. My friend/co-worker Michelle and I made cookies for all of the other girls in the office. And this was one of our favorites. We also made sugar cookies and buckeyes, but didn't take pictures of those. Next time I make these I will make sure to roll them into thinner ropes. Our's puffed up a lot more than I thought they would.

Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies
(Source: Kraftfoods.com)


1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2-1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
4 squares BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, melted
1 pkg. (6 oz.) BAKER'S Premium White Baking Chocolate (we dyed half of the white chocolate red with red food coloring)
12 hard peppermint candies, crushed (we didn't have any so we skipped this part)

PREHEAT oven to 350ºF. Beat cream cheese, butter, sugar and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add flour and baking soda; mix well. Blend in semi-sweet chocolate. (Dough will be stiff.)

ROLL tablespoonfuls of dough into 52 balls. Roll each ball into 3-inch-long rope. Place, 2 inches apart, on baking sheet, bending top of each slightly to resemble a candy cane.

BAKE 10 to 12 min. or until puffed and set; cool 5 min. on baking sheet. Transfer to wire racks; cool completely. Microwave white chocolate as directed on package; drizzle over cookies. Sprinkle with crushed candies. Let stand until chocolate is firm.

Gingerbread Bars

 


Ok, so I've not been so great at updating this thing... Oops :) I also missed my daring baker challenge this month. December and Christmas just snuck up on me and before I knew I had no time left to complete the challenge. I promise to get back on the ball with the January challenge. In the mean time check out what the other Daring Bakers have been up to here.

Even though I did not have enough time to make my Yule Log I still had some baking to do. Most of what I made this holiday season I have made before. But this I just recently saw on Peabody's blog. I thought it sounded delicious and most importantly, easy! I used the recipe almost exactly as it appears on her blog. The only change I made was using maple syrup instead of molasses because I had already started when I realized I didn't have any. I still think they came out great. Oh, and I added some colored sugar crystals to the top to make them festive.

I also think that I should mention that I am very excited because my dear husband got me a brand new SLR digital camera for Christmas. I'm still figuring out how to use all of the bells and whistles but I'm pretty happy with how this photo turned out. Now on to the recipe...

Gingerbread bars -

(Original Source: McCormick.com; as found on Peabody's blog)

1 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon ground Ginger
1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
1 egg
1/3 cup molasses (I subbed maple syrup)
3 tablespoons water
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13×9-inch baking pan with foil. Spray foil with no stick cooking spray. Mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda and salt; set aside.
2. Beat butter and 3/4 cup of the sugar in large bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in egg until well blended. Gradually beat in flour mixture until well mixed. Stir in molasses and water just until blended. Spread evenly in prepared pan.

3. Beat cream cheese in large bowl with electric mixer until smooth. Beat in remaining 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla extract until smooth. Reserve 1/2 cup of the icing; refrigerate remaining icing. Spoon dollops (about 1 teaspoon each) of the reserved icing over batter in pan. With knife or spatula, swirl icing through batter to marbleize.

4. Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Lift out of pan using foil. Cool completely on wire rack. Invert and peel off foil. Spread refrigerated icing over bars. Cut into bars. Store in refrigerator

Monday, November 26, 2007

I'm a Daring Baker!!!




I am very excited to announce that this month I completed my first Daring Baker challenge!! I have been watching others blog about their DB experiences for months and I finally decided to step up to the plate and give it a whirl. In case you are wondering the Daring Bakers are a group of baking bloggers that complete a challenge once a month. Every month some one new chooses a recipe and everyone follows the exact same recipe and then on the same day they post about their experience. The whole idea behind the group is that you step out of your comfort zone and really push your skills to the limits, hence the name DARING Bakers. Of course my first month would require yeast (doh!). I have a little bit of yeast experience, but not much. Plus most of the experience that I have is with a bread machine. One of the rules of this challenge was that we had to knead by hand, so no bread machine. This months challenge was Tender Potato Bread and the event was hosted by Tanna. Thanks to Tanna for hosting this event and coming up with a great challenging recipe.

Everyone kept commenting on how sticky the dough was, but, I couldn't believe it when I finally started the kneading process. I used at least an extra cup (probably more like a cup and a half) while kneading. The dough stuck to my hands, my counter top, my bowl, the scraper I was using to scrape the dough off of the counter, it was quite comical. It took about 10 minutes to knead. Then I left it rise. I was a little nervous at first because in the first hour it did not rise at all. I decided to stop peeking and not check it again until the full 2 hours had passed. To my delight it had doubled in size when I checked again.

The next part really had me laughing. Instead of falling out in a large ball when I tried to dump the dough out of the bowl, it came out like the insides of a pumpkin. Ooey, gooey, sticky and stringy. More kneading and more flour and I finally felt like I was ready to form the dough into the rolls I had been dreaming of all day. This was not as successful as I had hoped it would be. I would form the ball then set it in the pan and one minute later it would start to spread out like a big thick pancake. I some how managed to fit 12 dough "balls" into my 9x13 pan. Now if and when I make this recipe again I will skip the second rise. For one, they already filled the pan with out rising. And two, they almost tripled in size! They were sticking out of the top of the pan a full 2 inches.

Following the advice of several other Daring Bakers I baked the rolls at 425 for the first 10 minutes then dropped down to 375 for the last 20 minutes. The end result was more of a bun than a dinner roll, but they were still pretty tasty. I served them for a late Thanksgiving that we had with friends on Saturday night. They all seemed to enjoy the rolls and actually took the left over ones to make breakfast sandwiches the next day.

All in all I am very pleased with my first challenge. I hope to have a prettier picture next month (these rolls were not very photogenic). But until then, happy baking!


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thanksgiving Shepard's Pot Pie?


Tonights dinner was kind of a cross between Shepard's pie, pot pie and thanksgiving dinner. I was inspired earlier today by the Shepard's pie in Elly's blog. But I don't like to use peas as an ingredient and I didn't have any corn. So I decided to make it more pot pie like with a Thanksgiving like feeling. It turned out really great. We both had seconds and I almost went back for thirds.

Shepard's Pie
(source: me)

2 cups mashed potatoes (I made mine with red potatoes,skin on, sour cream, milk and butter)
1 lb ground turkey
2 carrots cut into bite size peices
1 celery stalk cut into bite size piecs
1/2 small onion
2 tbsp butter
1 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp corn starch
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a large skillet, then add the carrots, celery and onion.
Cook until the vegetables are tender.
Season the vegetables with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning.
Add the ground turkey and cook through.
Dissolve the corn starch in the chicken broth.
Add the chicken broth slurry to the cooked ground turkey and let simmer until the broth begins to thicken.
Put the turkey mixture in the bottom of a casserole dish.
Top the mixture with 2 cups of mashed potatoes and smooth the potatoes out using a spoon to create small peaks.
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Then broil on high for 2 or 3 minutes until the peaks turn golden brown.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Tilapia and Risotto



After having only 2 posts for the entire month of October, I had to redeem myself. I needed to make something that was really really good. Luck would have it that yesterday the Allrecipes recipe of the day actually looked really good to me. It has also been a long time since Jesse and I have had fish, so it was perfect. Unfortunately, when I went to the store they only had frozen halibut and that wouldn't work. The gentleman behind the counter was very helpful and told me that Tilapia is also a great mild flaky fish and would make a good substitute. And it turned out fantastic. For the side dish I made risotto, but I made it very very plain because usually Jesse isn't a huge fan of risotto, so I wanted it to be more rice like with a touch of creaminess. I also served this with julienned carrots, orange bell pepper and red bell pepper.

On to the recipes.

Pan Fried Halibut Steak with Light Green Sauce
(Recipe source Allrecipes.com , Submitted By: Charter Guy)

* 4 (8 ounce) halibut steaks
* salt and pepper to taste
* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour for dusting
* 1/4 cup melted butter
* 1/4 cup dry white wine
* 1 lemon, juiced
* 1/2 cup heavy cream
* 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
* 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
* 2 tablespoons drained capers

DIRECTIONS

1. Rinse the halibut steaks and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper, then dust with flour.
2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the halibut steaks in the butter for 4 to 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Remove from the skillet and keep warm.
3. Reduce the heat to medium, and stir the wine into the pan, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom. Mix in the lemon juice, then stir in the cream. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes or until it starts to thicken. Season with parsley, basil and capers, and stir for another minute. Serve halibut with sauce spooned over it. Garnish with additional parsley if desired.

My changes and tips :
Obviously I used tilapia instead of halibut, it was a nice substitute.
I also cut the basil and parsley in half.
I forgot to use capers (whoops!)
When I flipped the fish over to cook on the other side I added the julienned vegetables to pan and let them cook.
I only used about 1/2 of the juice from my lemon and it was still very powerful.


My Plain Risotto

1 cup Arborio rice
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups HOT vegetable broth
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Melt butter in a large skillet
Add the arborio rice and let it soak up the butter. Next add the white wine, let simmer until it is cooked out.
Add the HOT vegetable broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and waiting until the broth is almost completely absorbed before adding more.
When adding the final 1/2 cup of vegetable broth season with salt and pepper.

NOTE: We served with just a touch of the sauce from the tilapia, since there was soooo much extra!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Chocolate Chocolate Monster Cookies



Well at least that's what I am calling them! The recipe is actually a "create your own cookie" base dough. I just picked the mix in's. I made these cookies to send to my sister who is going to school in Baltimore (soooooo far away!). I call them monster cookies because of the cute orange and black m&m's with jack o'lantern faces on them.

Chocolate Chocolate Monster Cookies
(base dough recipe from The Cookie Bible

1 recipe "create your own cookie" chocolate cookie dough
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup M&M's

*****I WILL POST THE ACTUAL RECIPE THIS EVENING!!!*****

Garlic Studded Pot Roast


Saturday evening we had my in-laws over for dinner. We had some errands to run so I wanted to make something that didn't take a long time to prep. It also had to be something that I KNEW would be good but also blog worthy (since I haven't updated at all in October). The recipe that fit the bill was my Aunt Ari's Garlic studded pot roast (and I'm adding this post at work so the recipe below is how I remember it not the way she wrote it). I served it with mashed potatoes and snow peas.

Ari's Garlic Studded Pot Roast
3-4 lb chuck roast
24 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 tbsp olive oil
salt
pepper
1 cube of beef bouillon and 2/3 cup hot water or 2/3 cup beef broth
fresh thyme and rosemary

Start by using a knife to create 24 holes in the roast, about an inch and a half deep. Stuff the garlic cloves into the holes. Season the outside of the roast with salt and pepper. In a dutch oven, heat the olive oil until it ripples. Brown each side of the roast for 4-5 minutes. Don't be afraid to let the meat get really brown, this is what makes it so good! When the meat is brown pour beef broth over the meat (to come up about an inch) and put the fresh herbs around the meat. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for 3 to 4 hours or until meat is tender.

Cooks note - I do not have a dutch oven so I just browned the meat and transferred to a covered dish in my oven. I cooked it at 425 for 20 minutes then reduced the heat to 325 and cooked for 3 1/2 hours. I also made a gravy with the pan drippings!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Chili and Beer Bread


Another one of my favorite fall treats, Chili! Of course you can not serve chili with out some sort of bread, and around here we love beer bread. It is delicious and really really easy to make. If you're afraid of yeast, then this is the recipe for you.

For the chili I pretty much used the same recipe I used for my friend Katie when I froze some meals for her. This time I just used 2 cans of beans, turkey instead of beef and we added some macaroni noodles.


Beer Bread- get ready for the easiest bread recipe you'll ever see!

3 cups self rising flour
2 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 12 oz can or bottle of beer
Optional - 2 tbsp melted butter

Combine all ingredients and bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes. Top with melted butter before baking if you like.

Note: The richer the flavor of the beer the richer the flavor of the bread. We only had Bud Light tonight so that is what I used, but it is better with a fuller flavor beer.

Sorta S'mores


I received another package from my friend Annie this weekend! I was so excited because it was a fall themed package. Complete with the fixins for s'mores. To make things even more perfect, Saturday we had PERFECT bonfire weather. I was really in the mood for brownies so I decided that instead of regular s'mores I would make a brownie version. I made plain brownies but gave them a graham cracker crust. Then we roasted marshmallows over the bonfire and topped the brownies off. They were pretty darn good. Thanks again, Annie!

Jessica's S'more brownies

First make a graham cracker crust and press into 9 inch round pan (chop graham crackers in a food processor to equal about 1 cup, combine with 1/4 cup butter). Bake the crust for 15 minutes at 350 while preparing brownie batter (I used the Hershey's best recipe with half regular cocoa and half dark chocolate cocoa). Pour the brownie batter over the graham cracker crust and bake according to brownie recipe. Let cool for 15 minutes then top with roasted marshmallows!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Penne Rustica


So I probably gained 10 pounds eating this and you'll probably gain 2 pounds reading the recipe. But oh my was it delicious! I found this recipe on a message board that I frequent and it didn't source the original recipe, if you know where it came from please let me know so I can properly source it! I will say that I don't think the recipe is very well written, I will put my changes in italics. Even so, I will absolutely make this again! If you are making this for just two people definitely cut it in half!

Penne Rustica
(Source unknown)

Sauce:
1 tbsp Butter
1 tbsp Garlic (I used 4 cloves)
1/2 tbsp Dijon Mustard
1/2 tspn Salt
1/2 tspn Chopped Rosemary
1/2 cup Marsala Wine
1/8 tspn Cayenne Pepper
4 cups Heavy Cream (I used half and half and it was just fine)
I also used a tsp of red pepper flakes
1/4-1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Saute butter, garlic and rosemary until garlic begins to brown (DON'T burn your garlic, it will be bitter. I added the wine as soon as the edges of the garlic turned golden). Add Marsala wine and reduce by 1/3. Add remaining ingredients and reduce by half of original volume set aside. (I added parmesan cheese now)


Penne:
1/2 oz pancetta or bacon
9 ea. Shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 oz. grilled chicken breast, sliced
16 oz. penne, pre-cooked
3 oz. butter (I used less than a tbsp)
1/2 Tbsp shallots,chopped
Pinch of Salt & pepper
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp paprika
a sprinkle of red pepper flakes
sprinkle of cayenne peppe
r

Saute pancetta until it begins to brown. Add butter, shallots and shrimp. (I first melted the butter, then cooked the pancetta, then added the shallots and shrimp)Cook until shrimp are evenly pink but still translucent.(I used precooked so really I only warmed them) Add chicken, salt and pepper; mix thoroughly. Add sauce and 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese (I had already added the parmesan cheese)and simmer until sauce thickens. In a large bowl(I added my cooked pasta to my skillet then just put it right in my casserole dish), combine shrimp and chicken mixture with precooked pasta. Place this mixture into single serving dishes or one large casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese (I'm not sure where the cheese was "remaining" from, but I did add little more to the top, LOL) and sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 300*(400) for 10-15 minutes.

Chicken and Chilies Casserole


OK, so it's probably not the most healthy recipe I have posted on my blog. But it is delicious and super easy to prepare ahead of time. I originally found the recipe on Allrecipes.com, but because I never read through recipes properly and I always have to change things it became more of an inspiration recipe for me. Below is the recipe as I made it, if you would like the original recipe click here.

Chicken and Chilies Casserole

1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup cream cheese
2 tbsp dry onion flakes
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp cumin
1/2-1 can Rotel (diced tomatoes and chilies) OR 1 4 oz can diced chilies
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 (2 pound) package frozen southern style hash brown potatoes
1 1/2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 cup tortilla chips, crushed


In a large bowl, combine sour cream, cream cheese, onion flakes, garlic powder, cumin, Rotel, salt and pepper. Stir in potatoes, chicken and 1/2 of the cheese. Place in a casserole dish and top with tortilla chips and remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Can be prepared a day ahead.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Coriander and Cumin Rubbed Pork Chops



Tonight I had 2 pork chops thawed but no idea what to make. I've tried a lot of good pork chops recently but I wanted something new to post here. The problem is I hate fruit mixed with savory food. So pork chops and applesauce - ICK! Most of the pork chop recipes I have come across have some sort of nut or fruit in them. Finally I remember a meal I made a long time ago that I remember being really delicious. Coriander and Cumin rubbed pork chops. I am a huge fan of cumin so this was perfect for me. The added bonus was that I finally got to use the grill pan I purchased over a month ago! I served the pork chops with my own version of Spanish rice.


Coriander and Cumin Rubbed Pork Chops
(Source: Allrecipes.com)

* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 tablespoon ground cumin
* 1 tablespoon ground coriander (I used less)
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
* 2 boneless pork loin chops
* ground black pepper to taste
* I also used a little bit of cayenne pepper and chili powder, just a dash

Mix the salt, cumin, coriander, garlic, and 1 tablespoon olive oil to form a paste. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper, and rub with the paste.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a skillet (I used my grill pan) over medium heat, and cook the pork chops about 5 minutes on each side, to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F (70 degrees C).

Spanish Rice
(Recipe courtesy of What's Cooking in the Orange Kitchen)

2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup basmati rice
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
Seasonings to taste : chili powder, onion flakes, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper

Start by heating the olive oil in a pan. When the oil is hot add the rice and lightly toast for 2-3 minutes. Add the vegetable broth and seasonings. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the rice from the heat, add the crushed tomatoes and let sit covered for another 5 minutes. Fluff with fork and serve.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

White Chicken Chili


This is one of my all time favorite meal. Don't get me wrong, I love regular chili, but there is just something about a chicken chili. Yum! This is Ava's recipe and it takes no time at all to put together.

White Chicken Chili
Recipe courtesy of Ava

4 cups cooked chicken, cubed or shredded
1 cup onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped or minced
1/3 cup olive oil
6 cups HOT chicken broth
2 tsp pepper
1 cup flour
7 tsp fresh cilantro (1-2 tsp dried)
1 1/2 Tbsp Cumin
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp Tabasco
1 4oz can chopped green chilies
3 cans navy beans
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped

In a large pot cook onion and garlic in oil until onions start to sweat.
Add chicken and cook together for 3 minutes.
Add HOT water.
Add flour slowly, stirring constantly (a whisk works best) until thick
Add the rest of the ingredients, stir well, and simmer for 15-30 minutes.

Pumpkin Cookies with Browned Butter Frosting


I felt like doing some more fall baking today. These cookies fit the bill perfectly. I am very pleased with the way they turned out. Very moist and tender. Almost a cake like cookie. My only issue was with browning the butter, but that was my fault and not the recipe. Be patient when browning your butter! :)

Pumpkin Cookies with Browned Butter Frosting
(Recipe courtesy of Betty Crocker Fall Baking)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup (from 15-oz can) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Browned Butter Frosting
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 to 4 tablespoons milk
1/3 cup butter (do not use margarine or spread; it will burn)

1. Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, beat granulated sugar, brown sugar, 3/4 cup butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally, until well blended. Beat in pumpkin and eggs until well mixed. On low speed, beat in flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
2. On ungreased cookie sheets, drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls.
3. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until almost no indentation remains when touched in center. Immediately remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 45 minutes.
4. In medium bowl, place powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 3 tablespoons milk. In 1-quart saucepan, heat 1/3 cup butter over medium heat, stirring constantly, just until light brown.
5. Pour browned butter over powdered sugar mixture. Beat on low speed about 1 minute or until smooth. Gradually add just enough of the remaining 1 tablespoon milk to make frosting creamy and spreadable. Generously frost cooled cookies.
High Altitude (3500-6500 ft): Bake 12 to 14 minutes.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Cheesy Potato Soup



As you could probably tell from previous posts I am SO ready for fall. I have actually already decorated my house and I am transitioning into my fall cooking. Tonight felt like a soup night. What I really wanted was a nice rich potato soup. I searched online and found about a million recipes, of course none of them seemed to have all of the elements I was looking for. So I decided to just wing it. Here is what I came up with, I think it was pretty darn good.

Cheesy Potato Soup
Recipe courtesy of me :)

5-6 baking potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
2 cloves of garlic
1 small-medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, shredded
1 big or 2 small celery stalks, cut into tiny pieces
1/2 stick butter
32 oz HOT reduced sodium chicken broth
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese
1/4 cup of flour, divided
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1-2 tsp dry rubbed sage
1-2 tsp dry parsley flakes

Start by boiling potatoes with one clove of garlic, roughly chopped. While the potatoes are cooking start preparing your veggies. In a big stock pot melt the butter. Then add the onions and one clove of chopped garlic to the butter and saute for 1 minute. Add the carrots and celery and cook for another 3-4 minutes or until the onions are translucent and celery tender. Season the veggies with salt, pepper, sage, and parsley. Add 1/8 cup of flour and create a paste. At this point the potatoes should be finished (about ten minutes) drain them and set aside. To the paste in the stock pot add the hot chicken broth. Next stir together 2 cups of milk and 1/8 cup of flour until no more flour chunks remain. Add the milk slowly to the stock pot and return to a simmer. After a few minutes add half of the drained potatoes. The other half of the potatoes should be lightly mashed then added to the pot. Finally add the cheese. Let the cheese melt and all of the ingredients simmer together for about 15 minutes then serve!

*I topped my soup with some crumbled bacon.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Sharing my love of cooking....

Some good friends of ours are getting married in October. Tomorrow is the bridal shower and the theme is Kitchen Gadgets. What could be more perfect ;) As part of my gift I put together a collection of must have recipes for newlyweds. Most of the recipes I chose were simple with not a lot of ingredients. Some of them were just must haves. This is the 3rd book like this that I have made and I think this is was the best one yet. Instead of using tabs or page numbers I color coded everything. I designed a template page in photo shop and then just c&ped the recipes in. The book is made from a 8 1/2 x 8 1/2 scrapbook. I bought the scrapbook at Target and the paper at Michaels (on a side note, why the heck is it so hard to find a pack of PRIMARY colors in 8x8?? I had to cut down 8 1/2 x 11 paper)Check it out!




Monday, September 3, 2007

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies


I like to cook, but I LOVE to bake. It is weird because it is actually really theraputic to me. Something about shaping little cookies and watching things rise. I just love it. So this weekend I asked Jesse to take me to Barnes and Noble so I could find a new baking book. I was looking for something that would have more than just recipes. I wanted something that would have a lot of tips and some explanation of why things work the way they do. I found a book called The Cookie Bible. So far I really like this book a lot and the first cookie I tried was a huge success!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
(Recipe courtesy of The Cookie Bible)

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 squares (1 ounce each) unsweetened baking chocolate
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter flavored crisco
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp all- purpose flour (next time I will omit the extra 2 tbsp it was just a touch too crumbly)
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup finely chopped peanuts (I omitted these because I didn't have any)
36 miniature peanut butter cups, unwrapped (I used 28)
1 cup peanut butter chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place sheets of foil on countertop for cooling cookies

Combine chocolate chips and chocolate squares in microwave-safe measuring cup. Microwave at 50% power until smooth. Cool slightly.

Combine sugar and crisco in standing mixer (or large bowl with hand mixer). Beat at medium speed until blended and crumbly. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then salt and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add chocolate slowly. Mix until well blended. Stir in flour and baking soda on low until well blended. Shape dough into 1 1/4 inch balls. Roll in nuts. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased aking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until set. Do not overbake. Press peanut butter cup into center of each cookie immediately. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet then transer to foil to cool completely.

Place peanut butter chips in heavy resealable sandwich bag and seal. Microwave in 30 seconds increments kneading bag periodically until smooth. Cut tiny tip off corner of bag. Squeeze out and drizzle over cookies.

It tastes like fall!!


With it being the first day of September I decided to make a roast. There are a few things that just scream fall to me; jeans, sweatshirts, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin anything, leaves, and a good pot roast! I pretty much look forward to fall starting January 1st. It's my favorite time of year. So many great things happen between labor day and Christmas. It makes me happy just thinking about it. Anyway, this post was about food right? This is a really basic roast that takes about 5 minutes to throw together and 6 hours to cook. The flavor is amazing and it pairs perfectly with mashed potatoes (then again I think everything pairs well with mashed potatoes ;))

1.5 pounds english cut roast (beef)
1 small onion cut into chunks
1 small package mushrooms, cleaned with a damp cloth
1/2 can chicken broth
1 packet onion-mushroom soup
1/2 cup white wine (although this time I forgot and left it out)

Lay out the onions and mushrooms in the bottom of your crock pot. Sprinkle with half of the soup packet. Lay the meat over top of the veggies, then sprinkle with the other half of the packet. Pour the wine and chicken broth over top of everything and cook on high for about 6 hours. You could cook it on low for longer.

Once the roast is finished I like to skim the fat off the remaining liquid and then use the liquid to make a gravy. Mmmm mmmm!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ginger Cream Cookies


The fun friday theme this week is Around the World - Asia. I had a really hard time coming up with something to bake. I thought about doing something savory but I was really in the mood to bake. So I flipped through my trusty Betty Crocker: Baking for Today cookbook and came up with something I think fits the theme. Sure it isn't authentic Asian, but there is ginger in it. ;)

Ginger Creams
(Recipe courtesy of Betty Crocker: Baking for Today)

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter softened
1 egg
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp groung ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Vanilla Butter Frosting (recipe below)

In a large bowl cream sugar, butter, eggs, molasses and water. Stir in the remaining ingredients (except frosting). Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hr

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 8 minutes and then cool on wire rack. When completly cool frost.

Vanilla Butter Frosting
1/4 cup butter softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
About 1 tablespoon milk

In a medium bowl, mix butter and powdered sugar. Beat in vanilla and milk until smooth and spreadable.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops


This is the second time I have made this and it was just as good this time!! I love the crispy outside and the meat on the inside is super tender. It is a great easy recipe that can be finished in under 30 minutes. I found this recipe on my good friend Annie's blog and the original recipe from Giada on Every day Italian. I served this with mashed potatoes and broccoli.

Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops
Recipe Courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis


Ingredients:
2 large eggs
¾ cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan
4 pork chops
salt and pepper
3 tbsp. olive oil

Directions:
Whisk the eggs in a bowl to blend. Place the bread crumbs in a plate. Place the parmesan cheese in another plate. Sprinkle the pork chops generously with salt and pepper. Coat the chops completely with the cheese, patting to adhere. Dip the chops into the egg, then coat completely with the bread crumbs, patting to adhere.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pork chops, in batches if necessary, and cook until golden brown, about 6 minutes per side. Transfer the chops to a plate and serve with lemon wedges.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sugar cookies


I have really been craving sugar cookies lately then last night there was a post on my cooking board about them. It must be fate, right? ;) So tonight I pulled out my favorite recipe. It's pretty simple and always reliable.

Ava's Sugar Cookies
Recipe courtesy of Ava

1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup butter flavored Crisco (you can sub regular butter if you like)
2 eggs
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tbsp vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine sugar and Criso in a large bowl (I use my standing mixer)beating at medium speed. Add eggs, syrup and vanilla. Beat well. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add gradually to the creamed mixture at low speed. Divide dough into quarters and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Sprinkle 1/4 of dough with flour and roll out onto floured surgacte to 1/4" thickness. Cut out with floured cutters (I used my pampered chef medium scoop, which is why they look like ice cream in the picture). Place 2" apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 5-9 minutes. Don't overbake. Cool 2 minutes and frost.

What's that smell?


I have to say that I am a pretty lucky girl, pretty much anything I make Jesse will try. He doesn't always love it but he will always eat it. Usually I can tell he doesn't like something because he won't eat all of it and he certainly won't go back for seconds. Tonight.... he wasn't quite as subtle. LOL. Let's just say Jesse doesn't like gruyere cheese and he REALLY doesn't like french onion soup. I on the other hand, loved it!! Too bad I probably won't be able to make it again :( Seriously though, this is a great recipe. Here it is for all of the stinky cheese lovers in the world. Now I better go order a pizza....

French Onion Soup
Recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence; Ultimate Bistro Episode

1/2 cup unsalted butter
4 onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 fresh thyme sprigs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup red wine, about 1/2 bottle
3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 quarts beef broth
1 baguette, sliced
1/2 pound grated Gruyere

Melt the stick of butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and salt and pepper and cook until the onions are very soft and caramelized, about 25 minutes. Add the wine, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the wine has evaporated and the onions are dry, about 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Dust the onions with the flour and give them a stir. Turn the heat down to medium low so the flour doesn't burn, and cook for 10 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Now add the beef broth, bring the soup back to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

When you're ready to eat, preheat the broiler. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle the slices with the Gruyere and broil until bubbly and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

Ladle the soup in bowls and float several of the Gruyere croutons on top.

Alternative method: Ladle the soup into bowls, top each with 2 slices of bread and top with cheese. Put the bowls into the oven to toast the bread and melt the cheese.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Bourbon Chicken


I have really been craving baked garlic rice lately but I haven't been able to decide what to have with it. Just a few days ago my friend Amber posted her bourbon chicken in her blog and it looked and sounded amazing. I asked her if she thought it would go well with the baked rice and she thought it would. And boy was she right! Dinner was so good tonight. Jesse really enjoyed it. On to the recipe!

Bourbon Chicken
(Source: RecipeZaar.com, as seen on Amber's blog)

Ingredients:
2 lbs boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1-2 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 teaspoon ginger
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup apple juice
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce

Directions:
Heat oil in a large skillet.
Add chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned.
Remove Chicken.
Add remaining ingredients, heating over medium heat until well mixed and dissolved.
Add chicken and bring to a hard boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Serve over hot rice and ENJOY.

These are the changes that I made-
*I tossed the chicken in about 2 tbsp of seasoned flour (salt, pepper and garlic powder) before browning in the skillet, just enough to lightly cover the chicken.
*Per Amber's suggestion I used about a 1/4 cup of slurry (cornstarch and water) to help thicken the sauce

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Chicken and mushrooms in a roasted garlic cream sauce




This meal was soooooo good! I can't wait to make it again. Which is lucky because we were having company over and I was worried about trying something new, practically recipe free!

I was originally going to make this recipe "Chicken
and mushrooms in garlic white wine sauce
", but after reading the reviews I was afraid it would bland. So I took the basic idea and ran with it.

Chicken and Mushrooms in a Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce
(My recipe)
1 pound of chicken breast cut into bite size pieces
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp dry sage
1 tsp dry parsley flakes
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup of sliced mushrooms
1 bulb of garlic roasted (400 degree oven for 1 hour with a drizzle of EVOO)
2 tbsp butter
a drizzle of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1 tbsp flour
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 bag of No-Yolk egg noodles

Start by combining the flour, sage, parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper in a bowl.
Toss the bite size chunks of chicken in the flour mixture to coat.
In a large skillet melt 1 tbsp of butter and a drizzle of evoo
Saute the chicken for a minute then add the mushrooms and some of the
roasted garlic (I think I squeezed in 3 cloves for this part). Continue to saute for 5 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the skillet and cover in foil. (Now is also a good time to cook your egg noodles)
To the skillet add the remaining tbsp of butter and flour.
Then add the chicken broth, white wine and remaining roasted garlic. Let simmer for 5 minutes.
Slowly add the half and half and let it reduce.
When the sauce has thickened return the chicken and mushrooms to pan and let simmer.
Serve with the egg noodles.

Diet cake?!?!?



Who would of thought that this was possible? I was actually really amazed with how well this turned out. The cake was SO moist it was amazing. Actually it was so moist I had a really hard time with the "icing" and stacking the 2 round cakes together! When I make this again I will definitely just make a sheet cake and leave it in the pan to serve. While the final product of the double layer cake looked great it was a serious pain the butt!! Other than that this is the easiest "recipe" in the WORLD!

I have seen this recipe so many times but I have never seen it sourced before. I think it is a weight watchers recipe but I can't say for sure. If you know where the idea originally came from feel free to let me know!!

Diet Cake
(source uknown)

1 box strawberry cake mix
1 can of Sprite Zero
1 tub light Cool Whip
1 pint of strawberries cut into slices

Combine the box of cake mix and diet soda and bake according to the directions on the box. Ice the cake with room temperature Cool Whip (if it's cold it will be really hard to spread). Top with sliced strawberries and serve!

Pulled pork, coleslaw and mac and cheese


Can you think of three things that go together more perfectly? Growing up I always had BBQ and coleslaw together. I'm not sure if it is a regional thing or not, but I like to put the slaw right on the sandwich! The crunch of the slaw with tang of the BBQ is just perfect. If you haven't tried it before you should!

I am very proud of this meal because it was completely from scratch! I even made my own BBQ sauce!

Beer BBQ Pork
(My own recipe)

1 bottle of good flavorful beer (I like Shock Top or Blue Moon)
2 cups of BBQ sauce (my recipe to follow)
2-3 lbs pork shoulder roast

The night before put the pork in a dish and pour the bottle of beer over the meat. Cover and let marinade overnight.
The next morning drain half of the beer from the meat and put the remaining beer and pork in a crockpot.
Pour the BBQ sauce over the meat and cook on high for 6-8 hours.
About 30 minutes before serving shred the meat with a fork and leave the lid off the crock pot (while still on high) to thicken the sauce a little bit.

My version of BBQ

1 can tomato sauce
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes or tomato puree
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp finely chopped onions
1 tsp prepared mustard
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp regular paprika
a sprinkle of chili powder


Put all of the ingredients in a sauce pan and simmer for 30 minutes.

Cole Slaw
(Adapated from Amber)

Ingredients
1 bag cole slaw mix [or 1 head finely chopped cabbage and
1/4 c shredded carrot]
1/3 c sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 celery seed
1/4 c milk
1/2 c mayonnaise
1/4 c buttermilk
1 1/2 tbsp white vinegar
2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients and beat until smooth.
Add the finely chopped cabbage and carrots.
Mix well - cover and refrigerate AT LEAST 2 hours before serving - this time is vital for the best flavor.

Tip - If you like your cole slaw in smaller pieces pulse the cabbage and carrots (or Cole slaw bag mix) in a food processor for 1 second 3 or 4 times. Do this in 2 batches so it is evenly chopped.

My version of mac and cheese

2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup extra sharp vermont white
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 pound cooked to al dente elbow noodles

Start by making of roux with the butter and flour.
Slowy add the milk and let it reduce down for about 3 or 4 minutes.
Add the spices
Add the cheese and mix well until the cheese is melted and the sauce is thick.
Pour the cooked noodles and cheese sauce in a casserole dish and bake for 15-20 minutes at 350. Or until the edges start turning golden brown.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Fettucini Alfredo


What a fantastically rich dinner. I decided to go with a pretty basic recipe since it was my first time making it. That's about all I can say about it!

Fettucini Alfredo
(Recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence)

Alfredo Sauce:
1 pint heavy cream - (I did use half and half I didn't want to be too bad!)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Freshly cracked black pepper
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

To prepare alfredo sauce: Heat heavy cream over low-medium heat in a deep saute pan. Add butter and whisk gently to melt. Sprinkle in cheese and stir to incorporate. Season with freshly cracked black pepper. In a large stockpot, cook pasta in plenty of boiling salted water for 3 minutes. Quickly drain the pasta and add it to the saute pan, gently toss the noodles to coat in the alfredo. Transfer pasta to a warm serving bowl. Top with more grated cheese and chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Hershey's Best Brownie


I am always in search of a new and delicious brownie. I don't know how I have never tried this classic recipe but I haven't. This brownie turned out great. I didn't have a square pan so I just used a round one and cut it into pie shape and drizzled with chocolate syrup. Mmm that was good, the only thing it was missing was ice cream. I might be running to the store :)..........


Best Brownies
(Recipe Courtesy of Hershey's Kitchens)

Ingredients:

* 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 2 eggs
* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
* 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup chopped nuts(optional)
* CREAMY BROWNIE FROSTING(recipe follows) (I omitted this, I prefer my brownies with out frosting)
* I also added about 2 tbsp of hershey's chocolate syrup and 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


Directions:
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 9-inch square baking pan.

2. Stir together butter, sugar and vanilla in bowl. Add eggs; beat well with spoon. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually add to egg mixture, beating until well blended. Stir in nuts, if desired. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan.

3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Prepare CREAMY BROWNIE FROSTING; spread over brownies. Cut into squares. About 16 brownies.

Spicy Garlic Lime Chicken Pasta


What a great summertime dinner! This is the second time I have made this dish and we really enjoy it. The subtle lime taste is nice and refreshing and I love the spicy heat in the back ground of the dish. I made exactly like the recip the first time and this time I tweaked it just a bit. Changes are noted in bold.

Spicy Garlic Lime Chicken Pasta
(Recipe Courtesy of Amber)

Ingredients:
1 cup chicken broth
1.5 tbls lime juice (adjusting amount to your liking)
1 tbls corn starch (I used more like a tbsp and a half)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (I used a lot more than this, I like things spicy!)
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder (I used dried onion flakes instead)
1/4 tsp dried thyme (I ommitted this)
1/4 tsp dried parsley (I ommitted this)
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (cut into bite size pieces)
1 tbls butter
Few drizzles of olive oil
8 oz pasta (I used whole campanelli)
1-2 cups broccoli florets
Optional - Parmesan cheese for topping

Directions:
1) Bring pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. During the last 5 minutes of pasta cook time add the broccoli into the boiling water. Drain.
2) Mix together all the sauce ingredients (chicken broth through parsley) and set aside. (I actually cut the chicken into pieces and then put the spices right on the chicken like a dry rub)
3) Meanwhile, heat butter and olive oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add bite size chicken pieces into heated pan. Cook chicken until no longer pink. Pour the sauce ingredients into the pan with the chicken and bring to a simmer. Let simmer until chicken is cooked through and sauce has thickened. (When the chicken was finished I added the cornstarch then when that was dissolved I added the lime juice and then the chicken broth)
4) Toss cooked broccoli and pasta with the chicken and sauce (I let it simmer for another 2 minutes in the sauce!). Sprinkle with parmesan cheese if desired and serve.

Adventures in Freezing!


My very good friend Katie had her first baby last Saturday! It is such an exciting/stressful time for her. I knew that the last thing she would want to do would be COOK! She is going to have more important things to do, like take care of her ADORABLE baby. So I decided instead of bringing her a few baby outfits after his birth I would bring her some frozen meals that would only need to bede-frosted and baked.

It took me about 4 hours or so in the kitchen to get everything prepped and ready to freeze. I bought those disposable aluminum pans to put everything in so she wouldn't have to worry about cleaning and returning any dishes. Once it was in the pan I pressed saran wrap over top of it and made sure all of the air was out. Then I wrapped it in heavy duty aluminum foil. On the top of each dish I wrote the name, directions for thawing/cooking and the date that I made it. For the chili I bought those crock pot liners and I put it in a plastic glad ware bowl. That way she could just take the whole liner out pop it in her crock pot and throw the liner away when finished! NO MESS! If you have any questions about preparing meals to freeze feel free to e-mail me at Jigginjessica @ gmail.com.

The menu and recipes -

Meatloaf Muffins

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes -
(Recipe Courtesy of the Best from Ohio Cookbook)

Ingredients: (I cut this recipe in half)
5 pounds potatoes, peeled and cooked
1/2 cup butter
1/2 sour cream
1 8 ounce package cream cheese
1/2-1 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 package Good Seasons Italian Dressing (I actually just used 1/4 cup of already made italian dressing)

Mash potatoes: add rest of ingredients. Whip together then put in a
casserole dish. Set in refrigerator overnight (or a couple of days or
FREEZE) Bakeun-covered at 350 for 45 minutes.

Chicken and Chilies Casserole:
(Recipe Courtesy of Allrecipes.com)

INGREDIENTS

* 1 cup sour cream
* 1 cup light cream (I subbed cream cheese)
* 1 cup chopped onion (I used dry onion flakes)
* 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon pepper
* 1 (2 pound) package frozen loose-pack hash brown potatoes
* 2 1/2 cups cubed cooked chicken
* 2 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
* I also added 2 tsp Cumin and garlic powder to this. Then I crunched up tortilla chips and sprinkled across the top before I baked. It gives it a nice crunchy texture and a lot of taste.


DIRECTIONS

1. In a large bowl,combine sour cream, light cream, onion, chilies, salt and pepper. Stir in potatoes, chicken and 2 cups of the cheese. Pour into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with remaining cheese before serving.

5 Cheese Stuffed Shells

Chicken Tetrazzini:
(Recipe Courtesy of Cooking Light)

Ingredients

1 tablespoon butter
Cooking spray
1 cup finely chopped onion
2/3 cup finely chopped celery
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 (8-ounce) packages presliced mushrooms
1/2 cup dry sherry
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 (14.5-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 1/4 cups (9 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 cup (4 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
7 cups hot cooked vermicelli (about 1 pound uncooked pasta)
4 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 (1-ounce) slice white bread
Preparation
Preheat oven to 350°.

Melt butter in large stockpot coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, pepper, salt, and mushrooms; saute 4 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Add sherry; cook 1 minute.

Lightly
spoon flour into a measuring cup; level with a knife. Gradually add flour to pan; cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly (mixture will be thick) with a whisk. Gradually add broth, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.

Add 1 3/4 cups Parmesan cheese and cream cheese, stirring with a whisk until cream cheese melts. Add the pasta and chicken, and stir until blended. Divide the pasta mixture between 2 (8-inch-square) baking dishes coated with cooking spray.

Place bread in food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs form. Combine
breadcrumbs and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese; sprinkle evenly over pasta mixture.

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove casserole from oven; let stand 15 minutes.

To freeze unbaked casserole: Prepare through Step 5. Cool completely in refrigerator. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing to remove as much air as possible. Wrap with heavy-duty foil. Store in freezer for up to 2 months.

To prepare frozen unbaked casserole: Thaw casserole completely in refrigerator (about 24 hours). Preheat oven to 350º. Remove foil; reserve foil. Remove plastic wrap; discard wrap. Cover casserole with reserved foil; bake at 350º for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 1 hour or until golden and bubbly. Let stand 15
minutes.

Yield 2 casseroles, 6 servings each (serving size: about 1 1/3 cups)

Chili:
(Recipe Courtesy of ME:))

Bare with me here. I just make chili up off the top of my head. So this is probably not an exact recipe!

1 pound lean ground sirloin
1/2 onion chopped
3 cloves garlic crushed
3 tbsp chopped green chilies
A drizzle of EVOO
Seasonings to taste - Cumin, Chili powder, Garlic Powder, Paprika, Cayenne Pepper, Salt, Pepper, Bay leaf
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1/2 can petite diced tomatoes
1 can red beans (I only used half because Katie doesn't like beans, for me though, I'll use 2 cans)

In a large stock pot drizzle EVOO and saute onions and garlic until onions are translucent. Add the ground beef and brown. Add the green chilies and seasonings to the browned meat and let simmer for a minute. Then add the tomatoes and beans. Let simmer on low for a couple of hours. Or transfer to crock pot.

Creamy Lemon Squares


Once again it was food friday at work and I knew I wanted to bake something! This week the temperature has been almost 100 degrees every day. So it is HOT outside. Knowing this I didn't want to make anything heavy and I want it to be refreshing. I remember the lemon squares my aunt had made and I thought perfect! What's more refreshing on a hot summer day than lemon! They turned out great! Even people that said they normally don't like lemon loved them.

Creamy Lemon Squares
(Recipe Courtesy of Kraft Foods)

20 Reduced Fat NILLA Wafers, finely crushed
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold margarine
1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Neufchatel Cheese, 1/3 Less Fat than Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. flour
3 Tbsp. grated lemon peel, divided
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. CALUMET Baking Powder
2 tsp. powdered sugar

PREHEAT oven to 350ºF. Line 8-inch square baking pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan; set aside. Combine wafer crumbs, 1/2 cup flour and the brown sugar in medium bowl. Cut in margarine with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; press firmly onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake 15 min.
MEANWHILE, beat Neufchatel cheese and granulated sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs and 2 Tbsp. flour; mix well. Blend in 1 Tbsp. lemon peel, lemon juice and baking powder; pour over crust.
BAKE 25 to 28 min. or until center is set. Cool completely. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and remaining 2 Tbsp. grated lemon peel just before cutting into squares to serve. Store leftover squares in refrigerator.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Blueberry muffins


While strolling through the grocery store last night I came across a sign that said blueberries 2 for 4. I don't typically use fruit as ingredient but I make an exception for blueberry muffins. I was a little bit nervous because I have only ever made them from a box before. But I thought why not, they were on sale! So first thing this morning I made a batch and we had them for breakfast. They were very good. This recipe is a keeper!

Blueberry Muffins
Source: Annie's Eats

Ingredients:
1 ½ c. flour
¾ c. sugar
½ t. salt
2 t. baking powder
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1 egg
~1/3 c. milk
1 cup blueberries (or more)

streusel topping:
¼ c. sugar
2 T. and 2 t. flour
2 T. butter, cubed
¾ t. cinnamon

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400°. Grease or line 8 muffin wells with muffin liners.

Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. Pour into lined muffin cups; fill to the top.

To make streusel topping, combine listed ingredients and mix well with a fork until crumbly. Sprinkle over tops of muffins.

Bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Chocolate Chip Dream Bars


Mmmmm mmmmmm! These are delicious! They have a rich chocolate taste with a hint of caramel. Always a big hit!


Chocolate Chip Dream Bars
Recipe courtesy of Betty Crocker: Baking for Today Cookbook

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bag (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (1 cup)
1 cup milk chocolate chips
Chocolate Glaze
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1. Heat oven to 350°F. In medium bowl, mix 1/2 cup brown sugar and the butter. Stir in 1 cup flour. Press in ungreased rectangular pan, 13x9x2 inches. Bake 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, mix eggs, 1 cup brown sugar and the vanilla. Stir in 2 tablespoons flour, the baking powder and salt. Stir in semisweet and milk chocolate chips. Spread over crust.
3. Bake bars 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
4. In 1-quart saucepan, heat all Chocolate Glaze ingredients over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted. Drizzle glaze over cooled bars. Refrigerate at least 1 hour until firm. For bars, cut into 8 rows by 4 rows. Store at room temperature.

I have a trick for the chocolate glaze. Fill a gallon zip lock baggie with your chocolate chips and about a splash of vegetable oil. Microwave the bag for 30 seconds. Then remove from the microwave and squish the bag with your hands. Repeat this in 10 second incriments until the chocolate is melted all the way. It shouldn't take long. Then cut just a tiny piece from the corner of the bag and use like a pastry bag. No mess and easy to apply!

Feta stuffed burger and greek pasta salad


This was just a great summer grilling meal. The pasta salad was light and refreshing and the burger was flavorful. We will probably have this a couple more times before the summer is over. I actually stuffed Jesse's with Monteray Jack cheese because he isn't a huge fan feta and since there was feta in the pasta salad I didn't want to over load him.

Feta Stuffed Burger:
Recipe courtesy of me :)

1/2 pound lean ground beef
2 tbsp worcester sauce
Dry onion flakes
Grill seasoning
2 tbsp crumbled feta cheese

WIth your hands combine the ground beef, worcester, dry onion flakes and grill seasoning. Then form 4 thin burgers. In the middle of one of the burgers put the feta cheese. Top with another thin burger and use your hands to form one solid burger, with the cheese on the inside. Grill for about 4 minutes on each side. We had these burgers on wheat buns with ketchup and onion.

Greek Pasta Salad:
Recipe courtesy of me :)

1/2 box tri-color rotini pasta
15 cherry tomatoes cut in half
1/2 of a cucumber cut into bite size pieces
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup greek vinegarette dressing

Cook pasta according to package and drain well. Then combine the remaining ingredients a bowl with a lid. Put the lid on and shake the salad up until the dressing is evenly distributed.

Smoky Grilled Butterflied Chicken


Wow! It didn't expect cutting up a chicken to be pleasant, but I think it was a little more gross than I thought it would be. I liked the flavor of the chicken so I will probably make this again, but next time I will just used split chicken breast that require no cutting. ;) I served this chicken with sautteed mushroom orzo (this is the second time I have made this) This time I used swiss cheese instead of the 4 italian cheese blend. Next time I will stick with the italian cheese. I love swiss cheese but you couldn't really taste the swiss. The italian cheese had much better flavor. On to the recipe!

Smoky Grilled Butterflied Chicken
(Source: Martha Stewart)

1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 whole chicken (3 to 4 pounds), rinsed


1. Combine vinegar, oil, garlic, paprika, and salt in a nonreactive baking dish or large resealable plastic bag.

2. Remove backbone from chicken using kitchen shears. Place chicken, breast side up, on cutting board, with legs extended on both sides. Press firmly on breastbone to break it and flatten chicken. Add to marinade. Cover dish or seal bag, and refrigerate at least 4 hours (or overnight), turning occasionally.

3. Preheat grill to medium. (If you are using a charcoal grill, coals are ready when you can hold your hand 5 inches above grill for just 5 or 6 seconds.) Remove chicken from marinade; discard marinade. Place chicken, skin side down, on grill. Close cover, and grill 15 minutes. Flip chicken, and close cover. Grill until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of the breast registers 165 degrees, about 20 minutes more.

Happy Cooking

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Grilled pork chops and zucchini...


That's right, zucchini made another appearance in tonight's dinner. We have so much zucchini!! Anyway, I'm not sure tonight's dinner is really "blog worthy" since it was really super simple, but it took a pretty picture so I thought why not. Here's what I did -
Pork chops- Poke some holes with a fork and season with a little salt and pepper and some grill seasoning (tonight I used McCormick Hamburger seasoning) Grill for about 4 and 1/2 minutes on each side or until no longer pink inside.

Zucchini- Slice into strips about 1/8-1/4 inch wide. Put the strips in a gallon iploc baggie and ligthly pour some EVOO over the strips. Then sprinkle some salt, pepper, and grill seasoning over the strips. Seal the bag and give a couple light shakes. Grill for about 4 1/2 minutes on each side. And learn from me. Place the strips on the grill horizontally (I guess that is how I will describe it) I put a couple on the other way and they almost slipped through the cracks!!

Mashed potatoes - Same as I always make but I decided to kick it up a bit with some.....GRILL SEASONING (less than a tsp). Why not, I already had it out!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Blondes do have more fun :)


I have been on a big baking kick lately. Already this week I have made chocolate chip cookies and cinnamon coffee cake. I was trying to think of something new I could make so I decided to go with the traditionalblondie. I made a peanut butter blondie once and it was good, but I wanted a plain one. I added chocolate chips and funny enough it tasted a lot like a giant chocolate chip cookies. It was just a bit gooey-er inside. The texture was a lot like a brownie. All in all I am pleased! Of course I served them a la mode with some chocolate sauce :)


Basic Blondie
Recipe courtesy of Deborah

INGREDIENTS:
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspooon salt
Additional mix-ins of your choice (chocolate chips, candies, nuts, etc.)


DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 8x8 baking pan.

2. In a large bowl combine melted butter and brown sugar, beat until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Add flour, baking powder and salt and mix until combined. Fold in any additional mix-ins and pour into baking pan - spread evenly. (I just used my standing mixer)

3. Bake for 20-25 minutes until set in the middle. Allow to cool before cutting into squares.

Chicken Stuffed Shells


This was a great dinner. It took me a little longer than I thought it would but I think it was worth it. Next time I think I will leave the chicken in bigger chunks. Other than that I will leave it all the same!

Chicken Stuffed Shells:
Recipe courtesy of Amber


Ingredients:
15 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
2 teaspoons oil
2-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 ounces cooked chicken (I used 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts)
1(15 ounce) container fat free ricotta cheese
1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 (28 ounce) can low fat marinara sauce (I used my own sauce)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp parsley
Parmesan cheese for topping (I used fresh mozzarella instead)
I added 4 cheese italian blend and fresh basil to the ricotta mixture.

Directions:
* Heat oven to 400 degrees.
* Spray large baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
* Cook pasta shells according to directions and drain.
* Boil chicken and shred. (I sauted the chicken with some seasonings and diced it into very small pieces)
* Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
* Combine chicken and garlic, cook for 3-5 minutes.
* Remove from heat and stir in ricotta, breadcrumbs, parsley and salt and pepper to taste.
* Spread 1/2 cup sauce in the bottom of the baking dish.
* Fill cooked shells with chicken mixture and place filled sides up in baking dish.
* Pour remaining sauce over shells.
* Bake covered with foil for 15-20 minutes, remove foil and continue baking until filling is lightly browned.
* Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Doesn't have much to do with food.....

...except for that we ate a TON of it while I was there. I just wanted to show off my adorable family. Last weekend I went to MD to visit my sister and my aunts family. They all read this blog so I thought they would be excited to see some pictures of themeselves :)

My mom, sister, me, and my aunt at a local Winery.


Alli eating a Nilla wafer


Harris and I enjoying some Rita's


Christian eating a lemon