Monday, December 31, 2007

King Crab Legs and Creme Brulee

Mmm...it's a New Years Eve feast tonight at our house!! We always have king crab legs to eat for dinner tonight, and I got some good looking ones this year! The boy is going to Grandma's house for a NYE party with his grandparents (I'm sure it will be thrilling...my mom has always been one to celebrate NYE when it turns midnight on the east coast), the husband and I are going to an afternoon hockey game, then it's home for our feast! And probably some college football.

Since we have king crab legs so rarely, I always have to look up how to do them. This website had great tips on cooking them. I think this is somehow the same website I always find...I should probably just bookmark it. I normally bake them, but the husband is thinking of grilling them. He thinks we've done it that way before, but I don't remember. So here's how I do them, taken from the above website.

King Crab Legs
For whole (defrosted) crab legs, bake in a 350 oven for 8-9 minutes. Serve with melted butter.

*****

Pretty easy, huh. I put them in a roasting pan because normally the legs I buy are pretty big, so that's the easiest way to get them all cooking at the same time.

So, on to creme brulee. I heart creme brulee. I heart it very much. I think around this time last year (may have even been for NYE) I was looking for a creme brulee recipe because I had FINALLY gotten one of the sets with the blow torch. I had literally been asking for one for years for Christmas, Mother's Day, anniversary, my birthday...an occasion in which a gift is received, I asked for one. Last Christmas the husband came through and got one for me. Woo hoo! Then we went to use it and realized we had no fuel for it. Much sadness. But now we have the fuel and I wanted to do something fancy, so we're having creme brulee for dessert tonight. Anyway, I found this recipe online and it was awesome and easy, what could be better?!

Easy Creme Brulee
2 cups heavy cream
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup or so of light brown sugar.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Whisk the cream, egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla extract together in a bowl. Mix it all up until it gets nice and creamy. Pour this mixture into ramekins. Place the ramekins in a baking pan. Fill the baking pan with hot water, about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Place the pan with the ramekins in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour or so. After 45 minutes or so check them every ten minutes. You'll know they're done when you can stick a knife in one and it comes out clean. Remove the ramekins from the baking pan, set them on the counter, and let them cool for 15 minutes or so.

Then put them in the refrigerator and let them chill overnight.

Sprinkle a thin layer of the light brown sugar on the top of each. Make sure it's a THIN layer, but also make sure it completely covers the custard. Now torch it! Or, if you don't have a torch, you can put them under the broiler for a minute or so. The point is, you need to caramelize (melt and let harden) the sugar.

*****

Okay, I somehow missed the part about letting them chill overnight. DAMN IT!!! So I guess we'll be enjoying creme brulee tomorrow night. I'm so bummed. I did buy some spicy tuna rolls yesterday just in case we wanted an appetizer, so at least we have those in addition to the crab legs. Anyway, back to the creme brulee. Last time I made this I had to use the broiler, and they turned out just fine. Just watch them closely so they don't burn!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Review

Oh man, was that chicken last night good!! We both devoured our pieces. Super yummy, and the sauce is just incredible. The orzo didn't turn out as well as it usually does, I think we didn't put enough cheese in it or I maybe used too much liquid.

My friend Jen B. called me last night to ask about how I cut the chicken, so I figured I'd take pictures as I went last night. OH!! And I got new cookware yesterday so you can see my fancy schmancy new stuff! :)




This is how I cut the chicken breasts to stuff them. Technically one breast is two servings, but I wasn't in the mood to be healthy last night. See how I made a little pocket? By the way, the husband FREAKED OUT when he saw me using the camera around raw chicken. He must not know I always keep one hand chicken-free when handling chicken.





Here's the chicken after I stuffed it.





Here's the chicken cooking in the sauce. Like my new cookware? Costco, baby!!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sun-Dried Tomato Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Folks, this is one of my absolute favorite dinners!! We haven't had it in forever, so I'm really excited. Some friends were supposed to come over for dinner tonight, but we never heard back a final confirmation from them, but I'm making it for us anyway. Surprisingly (after you've tasted this), this is a Weight Watchers recipe! After our holiday binge eating I'm trying to do more WW recipes and really make sure we get back to eating healthy.

Sun-Dried Tomato Stuffed Chicken Breasts
2 Tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, without oil, minced
2 oz. soft-type goat cheese
1 tsp thyme, chopped
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 4 4-oz breasts
1/8 tsp salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp black pepper, or to taste
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup wine, dry, white
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 cup canned chicken broth, fat-free
1 Tbsp canned tomato paste
1 Tbsp parsley, chopped

IN a small bowl, stir together sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, and thyme. Using a sharp paring knife, cut a horizontal slit through the thickest part of each breast, creating a pocket. Be careful not to cut all the way through. Stuff each chicken breast with 1/4 of the cheese mixture. Season with salt and pepper and dust with flour.

Spray a large nonstick skillet with olive oil cooking spray and warm over high heat. Add chicken and brown well. Remove and set aside. Add white wine to pan and boil until almost all evaporated.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together cornstarch and 2 Tbsp chicken broth until smooth. Whisk cornstarch mixture, reminaing chicken broth and tomato paste into white wine. Return chicken breasts to pan. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook over low heat until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

*****

Mmmmm...yum, yum! I can't wait to have this. I need to stick my wine in the fridge so I can enjoy some while I cook. This is a really versatile recipe because you can use just about anything for the stuffing. I'm skipping thyme and using fresh basil because I have some. I normally buy some kind of herbed goat cheese, but the store I shopped at this week only had plain. I've also used prosciuto that I've had on hand, and that was really good. Capers would probably be a yummy addition as well!

On the side we're going to have Creamy Parmesan Orzo, which is one of my favorite side dishes. I think I have some frozen peas I'll heat up as well. Oh man, I'm so excited for dinner! Oh, and the sauce you make is so super good. Did I mention I'm excited?!

Spinach, Mushroom, and Provolone Cheese Quiche

Forgot to post my recipe for yesterday! We waited until Will went to bed and had dinner while we watched Pirates of the Carribbean 3. I think we're probably the only people in the world that hadn't seen it. Anyway, this recipe was in one of my Pampered Chef cookbooks, and I came across it the other day while working on my cookbook indexing project (which I'll get back to if the boy keeps napping for awhile!).

Spinach, Mushroom, and Provolone Cheese Quiche
3 eggs
1/2 cup half and half
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
Dash of ground black pepper
1/2 package (10 ounces) frozen, chopped spinach, thawed, well-drained, and patted dry
1/3 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded provolone cheese

Preheat oven to 375. Spray small baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk together first five ingredients in medium bowl. Set aside. Combine remaining ingredients, spoon into bottom of dish. Pour egg mixture over filling ingredients. Bake 30-35 minutes or until middle is set. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Cut in half and serve.

*****

The thing I hate about Pampered Chef cookbooks is how the recipes use the names of their products. So this one uses the "Small oval stoneware baker," so I'm not sure what that equates to. It's about 8-10 inches long and 4-5 inches wide, I would guess.

I changed a few things about this recipe. I used Egg Beaters instead of eggs, roasted red peppers, and Italian blend shredded cheese instead of provolone. And I've been inspired by Jessica Seinfeld's "Deceptively Delicious" cookbook and had just pureed some cauliflower, so I added in a spoonful. I think that and the Egg Beaters caused an increase in the cooking time, mine probably baked for closer to an hour I think.

It was okay. I don't know if it would be better without the cauliflower, but you couldn't really taste it. I like the Vegetarian Frittata I make a lot better. Not really sure what the difference is between a frittata and a quiche except that this had flour mixed in with the eggs?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Fisher Nutty Bacon Cheese Ball

I hope everyone had a good Christmas!! Ours was great, although it looks like a toy tornado swept through our house. My son is the only grandchild on my side of the family, so he gets completely spoiled. My family spoiled the husband and me quite a bit this year as well, so pretty much the entire downstairs of my house is pure chaos. We have some errands to run this morning and then I'm cleaning house and hopefully making this place look presentable once again!

I've gotten a few days off from cooking which has been nice. We spent Christmas at my mom's last night and had quite the feast. All I had to take was a cheese ball and cranberry sauce. I saw this recipe on Oprah a couple weeks ago and it looked freakin' awesome. I was so excited to try it.

Fisher Nutty Bacon Cheese Ball
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup milk
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup (1 ounce) blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup finely minced green onions (white part only)
1 jar diced pimento, drained
3/4 cup Fisher pecans, divided (Of course, any nut will do!)
10 slices of bacon, cooked, drained, finely crumbled and divided
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup minced parsley
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds

Place cream cheese in mixer bowl. Attach bowl and flat beater to mixer. Turn to Speed Two and mix 1 minute. Stop and scrape bowl. Turn to Speed Two and gradually add milk, mixing until well blended about 1 minute. Stop and scrape bowl. Add cheeses, onions, pimientos, half of the bacon and half the pecans. Turn to Speed 4 and beat until well blended, about another minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer mixture to a large piece of plastic wrap. Form into a ball and wrap tightly. Repeat with the remaining mixture. Refrigerate (or freeze) at least 2 hours.

Combine the remaining bacon and remaining pecans, parsley and poppy seeds in a pie plate. Then, remove the plastic wrap and roll the cheese ball lightly in the bacon/nut mixture until evenly coated. Wrap it back up in plastic wrap and refrigerate again until ready to use.

*****

I initially tried to make just one big ball, but that wasn't working, so I ended up spliting the mixture in half and making two. There were 13 people at Christmas dinner last night, and we only went through one of them. The finished product after you roll it in the mixture was really pretty--and festive with the red pimentos in the cheese and the green parsley. I just realized I forgot to put poppy seeds in it, but I don't think it made any difference. It was totally awesome, if I do say so myself. I served it with Wheat Thins, but really any cracker would do or maybe even celery sticks.

Tonight it's back on track for dinner. I think we're going to have pizza, but I'll decide for sure later in the day.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Chicken Parmesan

I forgot to post my recipe yesterday! Not sure why, we did absolutely nothing all day. The husband and boy didn't even get out of their jammies. I would have stayed in mine, too, but I had to run to Walgreens to pick up some pictures. We waited until Will went to bed to have dinner. It was so yummy. We haven't had this in so long. The original recipe was from a show that's no longer on Food Network, but I've modified it a bit over the years. I'll write it how I made it, but you can make it with as many chicken breasts as you want or need.

Chicken Parmesan
2 chicken breasts
1 egg
Italian bread crumbs
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
Marinara sauce
Mozzarella cheese

Slightly pound out chicken breasts to make flat. Break egg into one dish and mix. Pour bread crumbs into another dish. Dip chicken breats into egg, coating both sides. Dredge chicken breasts in bread crumbs. Heat olive oil in skillet, add chicken. Cook chicken approximately five minutes per side or until no longer pink inside. Spread some marinara over each piece of chicken, add more marinara to skillet around pieces of chicken. Sprinkle mozzarella over each piece of chicken. Cover skillet until cheese is melted.

*****

We usually have spaghetti on the side with it. Normally I use just the white of the egg, but last night I used Egg Beaters. It was so yummy. I honestly can't remember the last time we had this, and it used to be in high rotation in our kitchen!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Chili Cheese Tortilla Wraps

Man, I feel like I'm making stuff this week that we have all the time! All of my chores are done, so I'm going to spend the rest of my son's nap time going through cookbooks and finding new recipes to try. Or recipes I haven't made in awhile. I think I'm going to make up a spreadsheet. What can I say, I used to be in finance, and I have a thing for spreadsheets.

We're going with some friends to look at Christmas lights tonight, so I wanted something easy that could be made ahead of time. We always like this, and we haven't had it in a couple weeks, so I figured what the heck.

Chili Cheese Tortilla Wraps
1 16-oz can nonfat refried beans
1 8-oz package nonfat cream cheese, cut into cubes and softened
1 4-oz can diced green chilies, drained
3/4 cup chopped green onions
1 cup nonfat shredded cheddar cheese
4 98% fat free flour tortillas

Spray inside of slow cooker with cooking spray. Combine refried beans, cream cheese, chilies, and green onions in slow cooker and mix well. Cover and cook on low heat for 4 hours or high heat for 2 hours, stirring once or twice during cooking. If cooking on low heat, increase to high. Stir in 3/4 cup of the cheesse and sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese over top. Warm tortillas. Spoon bean mixture into tortillas; roll and serve immediately. Can be served with tortilla chips instead of tortillas.

*****

I didn't feel like chopping up green onions, so I skipped that. I didn't drain the green chilies either, so I figured that would compensate for the green onions.

Tomorrow night is a new recipe I don't think I've posted on here yet. Exciting, huh? ;) It's one we used to have a lot but haven't had in forever!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Sloppy Joes

I was taking dinner to someone from my MOMS Club tonight that had a baby recently and figured I'd just make us the same thing I made her, only I used Boca grounds for ours instead of hamburger. So yummy...I love Sloppy Joes!

Sloppy Joes
1 pound hamburger (or one box Boca grounds)
1 can Campbell's Chicken Gumbo Soup
1-2 cups ketchup, depending on taste (or how sloppy you like them)

Brown hamburger in skillet. Add in chicken gumbo soup, gradually add in ketchup until mixture reaches your desired consistency. Serve on hamburger buns.

*****

These were so yummy! The husband almost washed all the leftovers down the sink, but luckily I caught him in time. Phew! There's enough left for at least two more sandwiches.

Review

The fish tacos were fan-freakin'-tastic! We both really liked them. There were no leftovers. I had forgotten how good they were, I think it was August last time we had them. I definitely need to get them in higher rotation.

I feel like we've been having a lot of the same stuff over and over lately, so after Christmas next week I think I'm going to revisit some cookbooks I haven't used in awhile to come up with some new ideas. My brother got me one for Christmas I can't wait to read through and use!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Blackened Fish Tacos

Now I'm officially caught up! I had bought tilapia a few weeks ago on Manager's Special at the store. They always have tilapia on Manager's Special...not sure why, but it means I get it for cheap which I like. I was trying to use up some stuff we had on hand and eat healthy this week after our food-fest in Seattle, and I remembered seeing this recipe on my blog awhile back when I was scrolling through looking at old recipes. This is one I probably would have forgotten about entirely had it not been for my blog! Just giving myself a little pat on the back. :) We really liked it when we had it before, so I'm looking forward to having it again tonight.

Blackened Fish Tacos
Slaw:
1/4 cup sliced green onions with tops
2 Tbsp snipped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp Cajun or blackened fish seasoning
2 cups broccoli slaw mix

Fish:
1 pound tilapia or catfish fillets
1 Tbsp Cajun or blackened fish seasoning
1 avocado, seeded and sliced
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed
3 medium radishes
Additional snipped fresh cilantro (optional)

For slaw, combine green onions, cilantro, lime juice, oil, garlic, sugar, and Cajun seasoning. Whisk until blended. Add slaw mix; toss to coat. Cover; refrigerate until ready to serve.

Heat grill pan over medium heat 5 minutes. Moisten fish fillets with water and sprinkle with Cajun seasoning. Lightly spray pan with vegetable oil. Place fillets in pan; cook over medium heat 10-12 minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork, carefully turning once. Remove from heat. Flake fish into bite-size pieces.

Cut avocado in half lengthwise; remove seed and cut flesh away from skin. Cut one avocado half into slices. Reserve remaining half for another use. Warm tortillas in microwave or oven. Once heated, top tortillas evenly with slaw mixture and fish. Grate radisehs evenly over fish. Top with avocado slices and sprinkle with additional cilantro.

*****

I think the only thing I'm changing is that I'm using regular cole slaw mix, not broccoli slaw mix. And I didn't buy radishes because I don't think the husband likes them. And we don't like corn tortillas, so I'm using flour.

Tofu Lo Mein

Okay, getting more caught up. This was what we had for dinner last night. It's one of our favorites, and I had a package of tofu in the fridge. This is also one of my favorites because it's super cheap. Roughly $1.50 for a package of tofu, $0.15 for the ramen noodles, and $1 for the bag of frozen vegetables. Can't beat that!

Tofu Lo Mein
1 (16 ounce) package extra firm tofu
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 (3 ounce) packages Oriental flavored ramen noodles
1 (16 ounce) package frozen stir-fry vegetables
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon soy sauce, or to taste

Press tofu between paper towels to remove some of the water; cut in to bite size cubes. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu, and fry until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.

Meanwhile bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add noodles from ramen packages, reserving the seasoning envelopes. Boil for about 2 minutes, just until the noodles break apart. Drain.

Add the stir-fry vegetables to the pan with the tofu, and season with the ramen noodle seasoning packet. Cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables are tender, but not mushy. Add noodles, and stir to blend. Season with soy sauce to taste and serve.

*****

I remembered too late (i.e. as I was cooking) that the last time we had this we decided it needed two packages of ramen noodles because one wasn't really enough. Oops. Hopefully I'll remember that next time. This time also I waited until I had added the vegetables to start cooking the ramen, otherwise it gets really sticky just sitting there.

Chex Mix

I'm sure everyone has this recipe, but I figured I'd post it anyway. To me, it's just not the holidays if I don't have a big thing of Chex Mix sitting around. I think I get that from my mom. Of course that means I spend all day snacking on it, but it's just so darn tasty. I also had a coupon for Chex cereal, so how could I not make it?!

Original Chex® Party Mix

6 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
3 cups Corn Chex® cereal
3 cups Rice Chex® cereal
3 cups Wheat Chex® cereal
1 cup mixed nuts
1 cup bite-size pretzels
1 cup garlic-flavor bite-size bagel chips or regular-size bagel chips, broken into 1-inch pieces

Preparation Directions:
1. Heat oven to 250°F. In ungreased large roasting pan, melt butter in oven. Stir in seasonings. Gradually stir in remaining ingredients until evenly coated.
2. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool, about 15 minutes. Store in airtight container.

*****

I don't add bagel chips to mine, just the nuts and pretzels. And I don't really like Wheat Chex, but I always include them anyway. I don't know why. I know there's a microwave way to do this, too, but I like the oven way. Plus that way requires a large microwavable bowl, and my son broke my large microwavable bowl, so I didn't have much choice this year.

Four Layer Bars

Well, we are back from our trip to chilly Seattle. We had a great time, but man alive was it cold up there! My mom--who lived there for roughly 40 years--said on the last day, "I just don't know how people live here." Amazing what constant sunshine will do to you! :) We got to visit with a lot of friends and spend time with my brother. It was really fun.

My son was having major grandma and grandpa withdrawals yesterday, so I wasn't able to get much done while he napped, so I never had a chance to update my blog. My MOMS Club had a cookie exchange today, and this is what I made to take to it. These are one of our favorites. I stumbled across the recipe a couple years ago, and the husband goes crazy for them. The recipe came from kraftfoods.com

4-Layer Bars
1 pkg. (2-layer size) yellow cake mix
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
1 egg
3 cups JET-PUFFED Miniature Marshmallows
1 cup candy-coated chocolate pieces
1/2 cup PLANTERS COCKTAIL Peanuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine cake mix, butter and egg. Spread into lightly greased 13x9-inch baking pan. Bake 16 to 18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Top immediately with remaining ingredients. Bake an additional 2 minutes or until marshmallows begin to melt. Cool completely. Cut into 32 bars to serve.

*****

I had to make two batches to have enough to take today, and I messed up cutting the first one and cut 24 bars when I meant to do 30. I think I like them cut into 24 instead of 30 (or 32 as recommended here). The pan cut into 30 had pretty small pieces.

Oh, and to spread the cake mix, I usually just use my hands to spread it around.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tacos

Nothing exciting for dinner tonight, just tacos. We leave tomorrow morning for Seattle for six days, so I won't be on for awhile. We've rented a house to stay in while we're there, so I may end up cooking dinner some while we're there. If I do, I'll let you know what I'm making. Should be a fun but interesting trip...my son was diagnosed with an ear infection this morning. Great news the day before we're flying somewhere. At least I took him in to see the doctor! He has pain reliever ear drops and antibiotics, so he should be in decent spirits for traveling. Let's hope anyway!

So my tacos are pretty no frills. I'm using soy grounds instead of hamburger. I just follow the instructions on the taco seasoning packet...brown a pound of hamburger, add water and seasoning mix. I'm a tortilla kind of girl, I don't really like the shells. If we have refried beans I usually heat some up to have in the tacos and on the side. We're pretty minimal with toppings, too. Cheese, sour cream, salsa, lettuce and tomato if we have those. I am trying a new brand of soy grounds this time, so I'm hoping they're okay. I saw them at Trader Joe's and picked up a package. They were cheaper than the Boca Grounds I usually get but only by $0.30 or so.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Review

The beef surprise was super yummy! Our only complaint was the minute rice I made to go with it...I hate minute rice. The husband had to work late, so I didn't know when he'd get home to make normal rice. But the sauce and the meat were really yummy. I didn't have celery like the recipe called for, but I did have a red pepper I used instead. I think that was the only difference. I would definitely make this again! Thanks, Jen, for a great recipe!!

Oh, and I love Jen's enamel pot. I must have one!!

Jen's Beef Surprise

Tonight is another Jen B. creation!! I've been dying to try this ever since she sent me the recipe. I almost made it one night a couple weeks ago, but I didn't have any sour cream. I was so bummed. It's still cloudy and gray in Phoenix, so a dinner like this will be so good tonight!

Jen's Beef Surprise (as written by Jen)
1) In a medium sized bowl, mix flour and seasoning with 1-2 lbs. of cubed beef stew meat. Seasoning includes: salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper (to taste for each). Each piece should be well coated with flour mixture.
2) Brown meat mixture in enamel pot with canola oil (2-3 tablespoons)
3) Remove browned meat mixture from pot; leave brown bits on bottom
4) Brown diced onion, celery (about 2 stalks), and 1-2 tablespoons of minced garlic with approx. 2 tablespoons of butter and salt to taste until onions are translucent and mixture is soft
5) Deglaze pot with 1-2 cup chicken stock and 2 cups red wine
6) Add 1 tablespoon of minced ginger, 1 tablespoon of worsteshire, 1 bay leaf, and a pinch of the following dried herbs: parsley, marjoram, thyme, rosemary (to taste). Add a little more salt and pepper to taste.
7) Cook COVERED on Med-Low heat for 2 hours (burner gas level between 2 & 4 on my stove), checking every ½ hour to make sure the liquid is sufficient. Liquid should be approx. 2 inches around pot. Add more chicken stock, water, and/or red wine to add more liquid if needed (add to taste—depending on what you like).
8) In a separate bowl, make mixture of 1 cup milk, 2-3 tablespoons of flour, and ½ cup of sour cream. Mix together with a wisk until combined. Ladel some of the hot liquid from the beef mixture into the milk mixture to thicken (1-2 ladels). Once liquid is incorporated, return all liquid to enamel pot.
9) Heat through to thicken for approx. 5-10 minutes on MED heat on stovetop.
10) Serve with egg noodles.

*****

Doesn't this just sound SO GOOD?! We're going to have it over rice instead of noodles, but that's all I'm doing differently! I bought some asparagus last week that I need to use up, so I'll roast that to go along with it. YUM. I can't wait for dinner!!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Review

The tortilla soup was SO GOOD!! I could definitely tell the cilantro wasn't there, but it was still good. I added a dollop of sour cream to mine, and it was really good. John wasn't sure what he was going to think about it, but he said he really liked it.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Oh man, I've been waiting a week and a half to make this! My MOMS Club has a cooking club and this was the recipe that was done for December. This is why I cooked the whole chicken last night, so I could use the leftovers for this! My friend Jen B. made it...her recipes have so far all been awesome!

Chicken Tortilla Soup
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 container (12 ounces or so) salsa
6 regular cans chicken broth (or 2 large)
1 lime, juiced
1 bag tortilla chips
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
Hot sauce to taste
Shredded cheese to taste
Cooked chicken to taste

In a large stock pot, heat olive oil. When oil is heated, saute onions until translucent. Add garlic and saute for a few more minutes. Add cooked chicken, chicken broth, salsa, and bring to a boil. Add any aditional vegetables (i.e. corn, tomatoes, black beans, etc.) at this step. Once boiling add cilantro, lime juice, and hot sauce to taste.

In individual serving bowls, place some broken-up tortilla chips in bottom and sprinkle with cheese. Pour the hot soup over the chips and cheese and serve.

*****

I realized when I was getting stuff out for it that I forgot to get cilantro. I hope it turns out okay without it...the cilantro really gave it a fresh flavor when Jen made it. I added in some canned corn to mine, when Jen made it she had some tomatoes she needed to use and added those. My best friend's mom makes tortilla soup and adds avocado when she serves it, and that's really good.

So far the sample tastes I've had are really good...I can't wait to have some!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Crockpot Roast Chicken

I have to say I'm more excited for what I'm doing with the leftover meat from this chicken than for the dinner tonight. It's so good...I can't wait to share the recipe tomorrow! It's totally overcast in PHX today and raining off and on, so it's nice to have a chicken cooking away in the crockpot. It's only been in for an hour, but my house smells so good already.

Frances' Roast Chicken
3-4 lb whole frying chicken
half an onion, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp dried basil

Sprinkle chicken cavity with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. Put onion and celery inside cavity. Put chicken in slow cooker. Sprinkle with basil. Cover, cook on low 8-10 hours or high 4-6 hours.

*****

I rubbed some of the poultry seasoning and basil under the skin of the chicken to flavor the meat a little. Also I thought I had celery, but when I took it out of the fridge parts of it were fuzzy. Gross. So, I just added more onion. Before I put the onion in the chicken I sprinkled it with basil and the poultry seasoning. I think we're going to have feta mashed potatoes and asparagus with it.

Oreo Balls

More Christmas treats today!! My MOMS Club does a Secret Sister program, so I made these for my secret sister. The recipe comes from my friend Lindsay, and they are oh-so-yummy!! I thought it was cake or something in the middle, I was shocked that it was Oreos! I changed up this batch a bit, but I'll get in to that after the recipe.

Lindsay's Oreo Balls
1 package Oreos
1 package chocolate almond bark
1 package cream cheese, softened

Chop up all the Oreos and mix with cream cheese. When you cant see cream cheese anymore you're good to move on. Melt your bark as directions say. When that's done you roll the Oreos into balls and dip in bark and get it all over the Oreo stuff and than take it out and put on aluminum foil until cooled. Keep in fridge until time to enjoy.

*****

I put the Oreos in a big Ziploc bag and crush them with a rolling pin. Then once the Oreos and cream cheese are mixed together, I form the little balls and put them on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper (aluminum foil would work too). I use tongs to dip the balls into the chocolate, much less messy that way.

So for this batch, I had bought a box of Trader Joe's Candy Cane Jo-Jo's (their version of Oreos) and used those instead of regular Oreos. Dear lord are they ever fantastic! The cookies on their own are laced with crack, I'm pretty sure, so mixed with cream cheese and dipped in chocolate...wow. The cookies are basically Oreos but in the filling there's chopped up candy canes. Amazing--and I don't even like candy canes. Thankfully most of these are going to my secret sister and the rest got eaten at our play group this morning. I think I only brought home four or five which isn't bad at all.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Spiced Pecans

Turns out we're going to have dinner with some friends tonight, so I'm off the hook for cooking! I made a Christmas treat today and thought I'd share this recipe. I don't know why I only make these at Christmas--they're good any time of the year. The recipe comes from my mom's friend Nancy Kronoshek. Every time I walk into the kitchen I have one...I need to put them in some kind of container so they aren't just sitting out!

Spiced Pecans
1 egg white
1 t. water
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 lb. pecan halves

Blend all ingredients but pecans with fork in a large bowl. Add nuts and stir until coated. Roast on ungreased cookie sheet at 225 for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Store in an airtight container.

*****

These are good on their own or they're yummy in salads, too. Like a spring mix salad with feta and craisins or spinach salad with strawberries, red onion, and balsamic vinegar.

I've got a toddler trying to climb into my lap, so I guess that's all I'll say about the pecans!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Marinated Ahi Tuna

Hey guys!! Hope you all had a good weekend, even though it's Wednesday. We had a great time in Vegas, and my best friend's wedding was AWESOME. She looked so beautiful! We were definitely ready to come home yesterday--four days in Vegas is about a day and a half too long.

I'm kind of taking the easy way out for dinner tonight becausse I wasn't going to have time to go grocery shopping today, so it had to be something I already had on hand. Luckily I picked up some more of those yummy marinated ahi tuna steaks when I was at Trader Joe's last week. I can't wait to have them--they were so good last time! With it, we're having mushroom risotto...also a TJ's product. I'm on a risotto kick, I don't know what it is. I had it twice in Vegas!

So dinner preparation should be pretty easy--sear tuna, heat risotto. I hope no one was expecting some grand meal on our first day home. ;) I don't remember what's on the list for tomorrow night, but I worked up a menu for the next week while sitting in the car yesterday. We're actually leaving again next Wednesday, so I'm using up a lot of things we have on hand so I don't have to buy a bunch of groceries and then leave again.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Review

The casserole was so good!!!! I love this dinner. I used the amount of mayonnaise it called for, but it was a little more mayo-y. Other than that it was really good. I hope the leftovers I froze turn out okay. I think I'd read somewhere that things with mayo don't freeze well. But it wasn't a lot of mayo, so maybe it will work. Nice to have something in the freezer I can pull out when we need a quick dinner.

Like I said on the recipe, we're heading to Vegas tomorrow for my best friend's wedding. We'll be home Tuesday, but I'm not sure if I'll cook or not. Depends what time we get home.

Chicken Spectacular

We were supposed to go to dinner at our friends Jake and Kim's tonight, but my son (whom I love very much...I've been repeating this all day and you'll see why) woke up at 1:15 AM and never went back to sleep. So we weren't really up for going anywhere tonight since I've been up since literally the middle of the night. I had to come up with a last minute dinner, and while I was looking in the pantry I realized I had everything for this casserole because I was going to make it with chicken leftovers but didn't have enough chicken. So I just cooked up some chicken and voila! This is one of my favorite dinners, and we haven't had it in forever!

Chicken Spectacular
3 cups cooked chicken (about 1 3/4 pounds boneless breasts), cubed
3 cups seasoned long grain and wild rice, prepared
14 1/2-ounce can French-style green beans, drained
8-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) lower fat condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup fat free mayonnaise
3/4 cup onion, diced
1 cup fat free Cheddar or cheddar-Jack cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350º. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except cheese. Place in greased 9- by 13-inch pan and top with the cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 35 minutes. *There are several sizes of\par packages of long grain and wild rice mixes, generally ranging from 4 to 6 ounces. We tested this recipe with a 5-ounce package.

Makes 8 main-course portions.

*****

I ended up freezing about half of it because we are heading out of town tomorrow for my best friend's wedding. It's so good, I didn't want it to go to waste. I've never frozen it before, so we'll see how it turns out.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Vegetarian Frittata

It seemed like it had been awhile since we had this, and all I was missing was spinach. Plus we really like it and it's really healthy.

Vegetarian Frittata
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch crescents
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, cut into a chiffonade
1 bell pepper, preferably red, roasted, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch die
6 large eggs
1/2 tsp salt
8 grinds cracked black pepper
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Generously butter a 9 or 10 inch pie plate. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan. Add onions and saute until browned. Add the spinach and cook just until wilted. Stir in the roasted pepper and remove from heat. Spoon the vegetables into the buttered pie plate, distributing evenly. Let cool.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a larege bowl just until yolks and whites are blended. Add salt, pepper, parmesan cheese. Mix thoroughly.

When vegetable mixture has cooled, pour egg mixture over it, again making sure that the ingredients are evenly distributed. Dish can now be set aside, covered and refrigerated, for up to 8 hours before baking.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 450. Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until the edges of the frittata are golden brown and the center is set but still slightly creamy. Do not overbake. Remove frittata to a rack and let cool approximately 15 minutes. Carefully loosen frittata from the paln with a metal spatula. Slide out and continue to cool on rack. To serve either hot or at room temperature, slide frittata onto a flat surface and cut into wedges.

*****

I use Egg Beaters instead of eggs, and this time I grated my own parmesan. I think before I've been lazy and just used the Kraft parmesan. Fresh grated parmesan really makes a difference--plus in the long run it's a lot cheaper.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Portobello Parmesan

I went to Trader Joe's yesterday (alone...what a treat!!) and got some portobello mushrooms. We were going to have them grilled in pitas, but I didn't have the balsamic vinegar I needed for that. So we had this instead which was fine by me because it was so good the first time we had it. Yum yum, this is one of my favorite dinners!

Portobello Parmesan
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing the grill pan
4 to 6 Portobello mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup marinara sauce (store bought or homemade)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill.

Drizzle 3 tablespoons of olive oil over both sides of the mushrooms. Sprinkle the mushrooms with salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil on the grill to prevent the mushrooms from sticking. Grill until the mushrooms are heated through and tender, about 5 minutes per side.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Spread 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Place the grilled mushrooms on top of the marinara sauce and top with the remaining marinara sauce. Sprinkle with the cheeses and top with the butter pieces. Bake until the cheese melts and the top is golden, about 15 minutes. Serve.

*****

Sorry for the late post today. My son for whatever reason hasn't been napping which means my precious mommy alone time has been drastically reduced, so I haven't had a chance to update my blog until late. The upside of that, however, is I can tell you now that it was fan-freakin-tastic since we already ate it. I literally savored my last bite.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Review

We weren't impressed with the chicken last night. The cooking time was way longer than what was listed on the recipe. I probably had it in at least 20 minutes more than the time it gave, and there were still parts I threw out when I cut it up because they were pink. Yuck! I'll stick with cooking whole chickens in the crockpot, they always come out done that way. I may try this recipe sometime in the crockpot. I think the only issue would be that the skin wouldn't crisp up, but we don't eat the skin anyway, so I don't think it would matter. It had good flavor, it just took way too long to cook!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Rosemary Roasted Chicken & Potatoes

I forgot to put my chicken in the crockpot this morning, so I had to come up with a different recipe. I had seen this one in the Kraft Food & Family magazine and thought it sounded good, so this is what we're having, although I'm not doing the potatoes with it. I want to do some kind of potatoes, but I don't really feel like peeling them, and I don't have toppings for baked potatoes. I have a box of au gratin potatoes in the pantry I may mix up for us to have with it.

Rosemary Roasted Chicken & Potatoes
6 oz. (3/4 of 8-oz. pkg.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
2 tsp. dried rosemary leaves, divided
1 tsp. pepper, divided
1 whole roasting chicken (3-1/2 lb.)
6 Tbsp. KRAFT Zesty Italian Dressing, divided
2 lb. red potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
6 slices OSCAR MAYER Bacon, crisply cooked, drained and crumbled
2 green onions, sliced (about 1/2 cup)

PREHEAT oven to 375°F. Mix cream cheese, 1 tsp. of the rosemary and 1/2 tsp. of the pepper. Starting at neck of chicken, use handle of wooden spoon or fingers to carefully separate skin from meat of the breast, thighs and legs of chicken, trying not to tear the skin. Spoon cream cheese mixture under skin; use fingers to push and spread some of the mixture out to thighs and legs. Place chicken in shallow baking pan. Brush with 2 Tbsp. of the dressing.

TOSS potatoes with remaining 4 Tbsp. dressing, remaining 1 tsp. rosemary and remaining 1/2 tsp. pepper in separate 13x9-inch baking pan. Bake chicken and potatoes 1-1/4 hours or until chicken is cooked through (165ºF), stirring potatoes every 30 min.

TRANSFER chicken to large serving dish, reserving juices in pan. Let chicken stand 10 min. before serving. Meanwhile, add bacon and onions to potatoes; mix lightly. Spoon around chicken in dish. Spoon off and discard fat from reserved chicken juices in pan. Serve chicken and potato mixture with reserved juices.

*****

I didn't have red potatoes and didn't know how regular potatoes would be with the skin left on and done this way. I'll be using the chicken leftovers for a casserole on Tuesday night. Tomorrow night I'm meeting some friends for dinner, so there won't be anything served in our house!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Chili Cheese Tortilla Wraps

I hope everyone has been enjoying the Thanksgiving weekend! I've been enjoying not having to cook! ;) I was going to post my apple pie recipe, but it didn't turn out how it used to, so I figured it wasn't worth it. Not sure what the problem was with it, but I wasn't pleased with the outcome, although everyone that had it said they liked it. Last night we ended up getting pizza to help the husband's depression after LSU lost to Arkansas...he equated it to a girl eating ice cream after a break-up. Whatever--just meant I didn't have to cook!

The husband is off playing golf this afternoon, and tonight we want to go to a holiday lights parade. I figured crockpot was the way to go so I wouldn't have to figure out timing on a dinner that we could have in the brief time between when he gets home from golf and when we have to leave for the parade. We haven't had this in awhile, and it's one of our favorites, so I thought it would be a good way to go. Actually I need to get it thrown in the crockpot so it's ready to eat when we need it!

Chili Cheese Tortilla Wraps
1 16-oz can nonfat refried beans
1 8-oz package nonfat cream cheese, cut into cubes and softened
1 4-oz can diced green chilies, drained
3/4 cup chopped green onions
1 cup nonfat shredded cheddar cheese
4 98% fat free flour tortillas

Spray inside of slow cooker with cooking spray. Combine refried beans, cream cheese, chilies, and green onions in slow cooker and mix well. Cover and cook on low heat for 4 hours or high heat for 2 hours, stirring once or twice during cooking. If cooking on low heat, increase to high. Stir in 3/4 cup of the cheesse and sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese over top. Warm tortillas. Spoon bean mixture into tortillas; roll and serve immediately. Can be served with tortilla chipos instead of tortillas.

*****

I just realized I'm not sure if I have green chilies or not. That's something I usually keep on hand, but I may have used the last can for enchiladas a couple weeks ago. Oh well, I don't think it will make too much difference if I don't have them.

I should be back on the blog wagon after today since it will be back to making dinner every night. I need to review my list of what I have planned, but I think there's some good stuff coming your way!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Review

Okay, we have no leftovers from the tofu lo mein tonight. It was so good!! I think next time I make it I'll use two packages of ramen noodles becuase the noodles were definitely under-represented. It was so good, but my second helping was mostly veggies.

I'm only making macaroni and cheese for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow night, but I'll post the recipe again.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!

Chocolate Almond Pie

Here's one of the pies I'm making for Thanksgiving. It's a Paula Deen recipe and oh-so-yummy! I know I've made it once before, but I don't remember if it was for last Christmas or just some random occasion. I came up with a bit too much filling. I feel bad throwing it away because it's so good, but at the same time there isn't enough left for a second pie, and lord knows I don't need to sit and eat it--even though I really want to!

Chocolate Almond Pie
16 to 20 large marshmallows
4 (1 1/2-ounce) chocolate bars with almonds (recommended: Hershey)
1/2 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (8-inch) graham cracker crust

Melt marshmallows and candy bars in milk in double boiler. Remove from heat and cool. Whip cream until stiff and fold into cooled mixture. Add vanilla. Pour into prepared crust and chill. Good as is, or topped with whipped cream.

*****

I melted everything in the microwave because I don't like double boilers. I'd do it for a minute on medium and then stir, then repeat. It took about five minutes I think. I used 18 marshmallows. It worked out nicely because I had my stand mixer working on the whipping cream while I was doing the chocolate mixture. Shoot, I just realized I forgot the vanilla. Oh well, I don't think one missing teaspoon will make that much of a difference. Mine looks kind of crappy because I poured in too much filling then tried to figure out a way to scoop it out. I'm tempted to run to Walgreens or Circle K to see if they have Ready-Whip I could buy to make it look pretty on the edges.

Next pie is apple, but I think I'll wait and do that tonight with all the apple peeling involved.

Tofu Lo Mein

Okay, so I lied and I did go to a store, but it was a small, natural type market, so it wasn't that busy. And they had tofu for only $1.09! Sweet! So tonight we're having tofu lo mein because it's easy, and I have everything else on hand for it. We've only had it one other time, but it was really good.

Tofu Lo Mein
1 (16 ounce) package extra firm tofu
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 (3 ounce) packages Oriental flavored ramen noodles
1 (16 ounce) package frozen stir-fry vegetables
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon soy sauce, or to taste

Press tofu between paper towels to remove some of the water; cut in to bite size cubes. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu, and fry until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.

Meanwhile bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add noodles from ramen packages, reserving the seasoning envelopes. Boil for about 2 minutes, just until the noodles break apart. Drain.

Add the stir-fry vegetables to the pan with the tofu, and season with the ramen noodle seasoning packet. Cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables are tender, but not mushy. Add noodles, and stir to blend. Season with soy sauce to taste and serve.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Review

As usual, the spaghetti was really good. John and I each had seconds which is something we don't usually do. I think this is one of our favorite dinners now. I was going through past entries tonight (adding the "kid-friendly" tag to recipes I had forgotten it on) and saw that we have it pretty often. Since I buy feta at Costco, it's pretty easy because most of the other stuff in it I always have on hand.

I'm not sure what I'm going to make tomorrow night. I really don't want to cook because I'm going to make my Thanksgiving pies tomorrow, so we'll see if I end up making something or if we get take-out instead.

Greek Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Feta

I had something different planned for dinner tonight, but my grocery store was out of tofu when I went shopping last week, so I've had to do a bit of rearranging to accomodate that. It was either this or grilled pizzas, but we don't really have any pizza toppings, so that made the choice pretty easy to narrow down. Plus this has been good every time we've had it. I just wish we had some good bread to go with it, but you couldn't pay me to go to the store today or tomorrow--that's why I went last Friday and stocked up for this week and next!

Greek Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Feta
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 cups diced tomato
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 cups hot cooked thin spaghetti (about 8 ounces uncooked pasta)
1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese, divided
Freshly ground pepper
Lemon slices (optional)
Green onions (optional)

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oregano and garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, green onions, 2 tablespoons parsley, and lemon juice; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Combine tomato mixture, spaghetti, and 3/4 cup cheese; toss gently. Top with remaining cheese and parsley, and serve with pepper. Garnish with lemon slices and green onions, if desired.

*****

Can I just toot my own horn and say I love my blog because I make so many different things, this gives me a way to go back and see what I've made?! I was scrolling through August's recipes the other day and kept saying, "Oh I forgot about that!"

Anyway, I don't think I have green onions, so I'll either use regular onions or just skip them because I hate chopping onions.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Review

The pork roast was AWESOME. We really liked it, although there's quite a bit left over, so we'll probably have leftovers at some point this week. Friday everyone else will be eating turkey but we'll have pork roast. ;) I probably over-seasoned it a little bit since I made double the amount I should have, but it was still really good.

Oh, I forgot, we had au gratin potatoes with it. Nothing exciting, they were out of the box.

Herb Crusted Pork Roast

Last night's dinner was very no-frills, so I didn't even post it. We had tilapia with basically Italian seasoning on it, cooked in a skillet. So, don't feel like you missed out on anything. :)

Tonight's dinner was a Paula Deen recipe, given to me by my friend Jen B. It was REALLY good. I'll make a confession...for a long time I didn't know there was a difference between pork tenderloin and a pork loin roast. So when a recipe would call for pork tenderloin, I'd use a pork loin roast because they're on sale all the time. And then I'd get super frustrated that it took a lot longer to cook than what the recipe said. Once I figured out a tenderloin was something different, it made things a lot easier. :)

So the only recipe I really had for pork loin roast was one for the crockpot, a cranberry pork roast. It's really good, but I was glad when Jen told me about this so I could branch out. And really, it was SO easy to do. My house still smells super yummy from it!!

Herb Crusted Pork Loin

1 (4-pound) boneless pork loin, with fat left on
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dried basil or 2 teaspoons fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried rosemary or 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.

Place the pork loin on a rack in a roasting pan. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. With your fingers, massage the mixture onto the pork loin, covering all of the meat and fat.

Roast the pork for 30 minutes, fat side up, then reduce the heat to 425 degrees F and roast for an additional hour. Test for doneness using an instant-read thermometer. When the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees F, remove the roast from the oven. Allow it to sit for about 20 minutes before carving. It will continue to cook while it rests.

*****

The pork roast I bought was four pounds, but I cut it into a two pound roast and two one pound roasts (then I slice those and use them as pork chops). I forgot when I was mixing up the rub I was only doing half, so I tried to not use all of it. I cooked it at 475 for 15 minutes and then turned it down to 425, and it took about 40 minutes to get to 155 degrees.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Pumpkin Crumb Cake

I had Bunco here last night, so I didn't have to make anything which was so nice. It was a wine theme, so the food people brought was really good...baked brie, spinach artichoke dip, chocolate pie, hummus. Yummy!! I didn't eat all day in anticipation of it.

Now tonight we're going to my grandma's. My mom called Thursday night, I think it was, saying that one of her cousins was in town for a convention and wondered about getting together for dinner last night or tonight. So we're going over there tonight. It should be fun; I met this cousin at a family reunion we went to back in June. She's more my age than my mom's, I'd say 5-7 years older than me, and she and her husband have a son that's less than a year older than Will. Actually his name is William, too. I was told not to bring anything for dinner, but I had a can of pumpkin in the pantry and felt like making this cake. It's my friend Benah's recipe, and it's so yummy. I'm normally not a pumpkin fan, but this cake is really good!

Pumpkin Crumb Cake

Crust:
1 pkg (18 oz) yellow cake mix (take out one cup for topping)
1 egg
1 stick butter, melted

Filling:
1 lb can pumpkin
3 eggs
½ c granulated sugar
¼ c brown sugar
1 ½ tsp cinnamon (or 1/2 tsp each of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger)

Topping
1 cup cake mix
½ c granulated sugar
½ c chopped nuts (optional)
3 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix crust ingredients; pat into greased 9x13 pan
Beat filling ingredients; pour over crust
Combine topping and crumble over filling (use pastry blender)
Bake for 45-55 min.

*****

I sprayed some non-stick spray on my hands to get the crust spread out in the pan, per Benah's suggestion. If you don't have a pastry blender, you can use two knives to cut the ingredients together, but a pastry blender is a lot easier! I hate the two knife method--it was my main motivation to get a pastry blender!

Review

The crockpot lasagna was really good. I think the spinach really helped give it a little extra something instead of just being cheese, sauce, and noodles. However, I think probably half a box of spinach would have done the job, and it also could have used more cheese. I used Ragu garden combination for the sauce, so that gave it a little more "oomph" too with the vegetables in that.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Crockpot Lasagna

It's totally overcast here today which is so nice! I just wish it would rain more. It rained a bit this morning but not enough for my liking. Ironic that I left Seattle because I was so tired of the rain, now living in AZ, I can't wait for it to rain. The air here has just been so gross lately, we need a good rain to clean things out. We rarely seem to get cool, big thunderstorms or all-day rain, which is still weird for me, even though I've lived here eight years now. I'd just like one rainy day!! Of course, usually the one time it does rain all day is when I have a bunch of errands or something outside planned to do.

Anyway, I digress. Tonight we're having crockpot lasagna. I've made it before and posted in on here, but I think it's been awhile. I had found a non-meat recipe I was going to try, but it was just noodles, sauce, and cheese which sounded blah to me. So I'm using the recipe I made before but without the ground beef, and I added a box of frozen spinach in with the ricotta cheese. I used to have a really good vegetarian lasagna recipe (Jo, do you remember me making it in college and when you lived here?), but alas I can't find it anywhere. I think I threw it away when cleaning out my printed out recipes awhile back because I didn't think John would ever eat it. We'll see how this turns out. It's nice to have dinner all done, just have to wash the bowl I used to mix the cheese and spinach. Cross your fingers my son takes a good nap today so I can get my chores done and have some couch time! Weather like this makes me want to just lay on the couch. Plus Oprah looks like a good one today, I don't want to miss it! :)

The recipe I'm including is the way I made it last time, with meat.

Crockpot Lasagna
8 lasagna noodles, uncooked
1 lb. ground beef
1 tsp Italian seasoning
28-oz jar spaghetti sauce
1/3 cup water
4-oz can sliced mushrooms
15 oz. ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Break noodles. Place half in bottom of greased slow cooker. Brown ground beef and drain. Stir in Italian seasoning. Spread half over noodles in slow cooker. Layer half of sauce and water, half of mushrooms, half of ricotta cheese, and half of mozzarella over beef. Repeat layers. Cover. Cook on Low for 5 hours.

*****

Like I said above, I skipped the ground beef and mixed in a box of frozen spinach (defrosted and drained) with the ricotta to give it a little more texture and taste. And I didn't do the canned mushrooms because they creep me out, and I think they're gross. Some things just weren't meant to be canned!

Review

The puff pastry chicken last night was really good! John thinks next time I should splurge and get the fancy Alouette cheese, but I think really I should have used more cream cheese. Some bites had enough, others were kind of lacking. We really liked it, and we'll definitely have it again.

The brunch casserole was a big hit, too. None of it was left, and several people came up and told me how much they liked it. It's really an easy one to do. I love to have an occasion to make it.

Weekend Brunch Casserole

I have to take breakfast for my MOPS group this morning, so I figured I'd put the recipe here too. It's super easy and really good!

Weekend Brunch Casserole
1 pound Bob Evans or Owens® Original Recipe Sausage Roll
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 (8 ounce) can refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
4 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Crumble and cook sausage in medium skillet over medium heat until browned. Drain.
Line bottom of greased 13 x 9 inch baking dish with crescent roll dough, firmly pressing perforations to seal. Sprinkle with sausage and cheese. Combine remaining ingredients in medium bowl until blended; pour over sausage.
Bake 15 minutes or until set. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting into squares; serve hot. Refrigerate leftovers.

*****

I forgot it was mozzarella that goes in it, so I bought some casserole blend of cheese. I don't think it will affect it at all. Oh, and I use at least six eggs. Four didn't seem like enough the first time I mixed this up.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Herbed Chicken in Pastry

This recipe came in a box of puff pastry I bought recently, and it sounded really good. My friend Jen B. tried it a couple weeks ago and said it was awesome, so I'm hoping for good things!!

Herbed Chicken in Pastry
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 tbsp. butter OR margarine
1/2 pkg. Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet)
1 egg
1 tbsp. water
1 container (4 oz.) garlic & herb spreadable cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Directions
SEASON chicken with salt and pepper if desired. Melt butter in skillet. Add chicken and cook until browned. Remove chicken. Cover and refrigerate 15 min. or up to 24 hours.

THAW pastry sheet at room temperature 30 min. Mix egg and water. Preheat oven to 400°F.

UNFOLD pastry on lightly floured surface. Roll into 14" square and cut into 4 (7") squares. Spread about 2 tbsp. of the cheese spread in center of each square. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp. parsley and top with cooled chicken. Brush edges of squares with egg mixture. Fold each corner to center on top of chicken and seal edges. Place seam-side down on baking sheet. Brush with egg mixture.

BAKE 25 min. or until golden.

*****

My only difference is that I cheaped out when I saw how much the cheese was, so instead I'm using garden vegetable cream cheese. I hope it turns out okay. I just couldn't justify $6 for a container of cheese when the cream cheese was like $1.50.

Review

The pork chops and swamp were fantastic!! Will loved the pork chops, even though he called it chicken. Hey, if he eats it, he can call it whatever he wants. He even "corrected" me one time when I told him to eat his pork; he looked at me and said, "chicken." The husband, who supposedly doesn't like swamp, had quite a bit on his potatoes and even had secons. I may have to start making double the amount of swamp, just so I can get the amount I want to have! :)

I took some pictures while I was preparing so you could see what I meant since the recipe might be a bit cryptic. Let me know if you think these would be more appropriate in the recipe itself and I'll figure out how to do that.



Here's the mustard on the pork chops. I just squirt some on there then spread it around with a knife. I find it's easiest to put the flour in a pie pan, then put the pork chop in, mustard side down, then put the mustard on the other side and flip.



Here's the pork chops in the frying pan with the noodle soup sprinkled around. You can sprinkle it on the pork chops, but then you don't get maximum swamp.



Here's the water added to the noodle soup.



And here's the swamp all done. See how it thickened up?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Pork Chops and Swamp

I'm sure you're saying, "Swamp? Huh?!" This is an old family recipe, I think my grandpa's mom made it. Or at least I know his sister makes it, so maybe it was hers and my grandma adopted it. Not sure. Anyway, when my brother and I were little we somehow started calling the gravy/sauce "swamp" and it stuck. Now our whole family calls it Pork Chops and Swamp.

Since it's a family recipe, I don't have exact measurements, so I'm just kind of winging typing it up and how much of everything.

Pork Chops and Swamp
4 pork chops (I like boneless but you can use bone-in)
mustard
flour
oil
1 packet Lipton Noodle Soup
Water

Spread each side of the pork chops with mustard, then dredge in flour. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a frying pan and add pork chops. Brown on each side. Sprinkle one packet of noodle soup in pan around the pork chops (not on the pork chops). Add water to pan to about the top of the pork chops. Cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring "swamp" and adding more water as necessary.

Serve with mashed potatoes using swamp as gravy.

*****

I'll try to remember to take some pictures while I'm cooking and when it's done so you can see what I'm talking about. I love swamp so much. John doesn't like it. I almost didn't marry him for that, but then I realized it meant more swamp for me. I made this for my friend Gina one time, and she liked it so much that when she and I have it, I make double the amount of swamp because we both love it. My mom always had to make double, too, because my brother and I like it. I'm so excited...this is one of my all time favorite meals!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Review

The meatballs turned out pretty good. John said they weren't as good as Lil' Smokies but that they came close, so that says a lot on its own. I didn't have quite enough chili sauce, so I just added in some BBQ sauce. We had it over rice which was yummy because the sauce is so good.

And, sure enough, I was the only one to eat any of the asparagus. Oh well, more for me! :)

Meatballs In Sauce

Creative title, huh? I wasn't going to be able to make it to the store today (normally I grocery shop on Monday), so I had to come up with something that I already had the ingredients for. I was flipping through a crockpot cookbook and saw a recipe for some kind of meatballs and remembered I still had a package of Trader Joe's Meatless Meatballs, and then I thought of the good Lil' Smokies recipe where you make the sauce with grape jelly and chili sauce, so I thought why not use that sauce but with meatballs instead of Lil' Smokies. So that's what we're having. I think the recipe link I found was for a crockpot one, but I'm just going to heat up the sauce and then throw in the meatballs. I figure we'll have rice with it, and I also have some asparagus that needs to be used. I'm the only one that will eat that, though.

Meatballs in Sauce
1 lb. meatballs
1 bottle Chili Sauce
1 cup grape jelly

Combine chili sauce and grape jelly in sauce pan. Heat through. Add meatballs. Serve.

*****

How's that for easy?! The TJ "meatballs" are already cooked, you just have to heat them, so I'll just have them heat up in the sauce after it's done. Brilliant! I love easy dinners. :)

Review

The tortilla pie last night was so good! Actually I may have posted it after we ate and already reviewed it, now I can't remember. We all really liked it. There's a small piece left I'm thinking of having for lunch, but then I wonder if I should be nice and save it for my husband because he really likes it.

I think I used less salsa than it called for, and I liked it better that way. I don't know, I never measure it out, but this time I used less than usual. It wasn't as soggy as it sometimes gets.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Tortilla Pie

I've posted this before, but I think it's been awhile since we had it. It's one of our favorites, and since John had to eat out all last week, I figured I'd make it for him this weekend. I'm such a good wife, huh. ;) Our friend Ed (Hi, Ed!) came over for dinner, and he liked it too. He even asked for a doggie bag because he couldn't finish his piece.

Tortilla Pie
1 (16 ounce) can refried beans
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
8 (8-inch) flour tortillas
1 cup chunky salsa, divided
2 (4 or 6 ounce) cartons guacamole
1 (8 ounce) package shredded Mexican cheese blend

Combine first three ingredients, stirring well. Place one tortilla in a lightly greased 9-inch cake pan; spread with half of bean mixture and top with another tortilla. Spread with 1/2 cup salsa and top with another tortilla. Spread with half of guacamole and top with another tortilla. Sprinkle with half of cheese and top with another tortilla.

Repeat layers with remaining ingredients except cheese. Pan will be full. Cover and bake at 350 for 20 minutes; uncover and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, 3-5 more minutes. Cut into wedges to serve. Garnish with sour cream, salsa, and guacamole if desired.

*****

I use a springform pan instead of a cake pan; I don't have a cake pan thick enough, and a springform pan makes it easy to slice it up and serve. I also use taco seasoning instead of the chili powder and cumin.

Now I have to figure out what we're going to have this week. Chicken is FINALLY on sale again, so we'll have some chicken in the house. Hooray! So I know one thing we'll have is puff pastry chicken. I can't wait to try it...sounds so good! And my friend Jen B. tried it and said it was really good.

My best friend is getting married in three weeks, and I'd like to lose 10 pounds before that. Really I'd settle for five, but either way we're going to be having some pretty healthy stuff over the next few weeks. A lot of them will probably be Weight Watcher recipes. I can never decide on those if I should post the WW Points for those or not. I guess it doesn't hurt.

Sloppy Joes

Okay, I'm slacking again. What can I say, I didn't cook Thursday or Friday nights! So given that, I'm not that far behind. Thursday night I was home alone, so I got Chinese take-out because the husband doesn't really like it, so we never get it. I know, he's weird. Then Friday night we had the leftover mac and cheese from my potluck. Way to say "Welcome Home," huh, with leftovers. ;)

Anyway, Saturday night we had Sloppy Joe's, so of course I was once again singing Adam Sandler's "Lunchlady Land." It's kind of tradition when we have sloppy joes. My recipe for them is kind of random, but they're SO good. I was thinking I could post them as vegetarian because we used Boca grounds, but I realized that won't work. You'll see why.

Sloppy Joe's
1 lb. ground beef
1 can Campbell's Chicken Gumbo soup
Ketchup
Hamburger buns

Brown and drain hamburger. Stir in can of soup. Add ketchup until mixture is at a good sloppy joe consistency. I meant to measure as I went, but I just squirt some in the skillet until it looks right. I'd guess it's between one and two cups. Just depends how sloppy you like them (which always makes me think of "Billy Madison" and the crazy lunchlady..."I know you kids like 'em sloppy!"). Serve on hamburger buns.

*****

So, like I said, I used Boca grounds instead of hamburger, but that was it. They're so yummy. Will didn't really eat them, but he has a tooth coming in and hasn't really been eating much of anything the past few days.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Macaroni and Cheese

Phew...finally caught up! Thankfully everything was either already in my blog or I found it online. I would have been upset if I'd had to go downstairs and get a cookbook!

Tonight we're having some friends from MOMS Club over for a potluck. I'm making macaroni and cheese. I was going to do Rachael Ray's Mac and Cheese Hot Dog Casserole, but I've since decided to just make John's mom's mac and cheese. If any kids want a hot dog, I'll heat one up for them.

This recipe is copied exactly as my fantastic mother-in-law wrote them out for me. It's so yummy. I, of course, add more cheese than is called for. :) John will be bummed he missed this. Maybe there will be some left for him when he gets home on Friday!

Aurelia's Macaroni and Cheese
(these are "unmeasured ingredients", add to your taste)
hot boiled macaroni (8 to 12 ounce bag)
1 bag of shredded cheddar cheese (~8oz)
parmesan cheese (1/4 cup)
butter or margarine (1/2 stick)
few tablespoons of milk
salt/pepper

boil macaroni
drain
mix all other ingredients into the hot macaroni
place in 350 oven for about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted
(toss in other cheeses as you like. ie american is good)

*****

She makes it as part of Thanksgiving dinner, and there are NEVER leftovers. Since we'll be celebrating with my family this year, I've told John I'll make it for him so he has a little bit of his mom's dinner with my family's.

Wafflewiches

So the husband has been out of town this week at a conference in Vegas. He left Monday morning, so that night we went over to my mom's for dinner. My grandma came home with us and has been staying with us. I figure this is my chance to eat things we don't normally get to because of John's diet.

I had made these sandwiches some time ago, but John doesn't eat lunch meat anymore, so we haven't had them even though they're so good. It's a Rachael Ray recipe from her "Express Lane" cookbook. My grandma really liked them. Will's not so much in to sandwiches, so he didn't really care one way or the other.

Wafflewiches
2 tablespoons softened butter
4 tablespoons honey mustard
8 waffles, lightly toasted (such as Eggos)
1/2 lb sliced ham (deli-sliced)
1/2 lb sliced smoked turkey or honey roasted turkey breast (deli-sliced)
1/2 lb sliced swiss cheese (deli-sliced)
3/4 cup prepared cranberry sauce

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat; add in the butter; let melt.
Assemble the sandwiches by spreading the honey mustard on 4 of the waffles, then top with equal amounts of ham, turkey, and Swiss cheese. Spread the cranberry sauce liberally on the remaining 4 waffles and place them atop the sandwiches.
Fry the assembled sandwiches in melted butter and cook for a few minutes on each side until they are deeply golden in color and the cheese melts.

*****

It's kind of like a Monte Cristo sandwich, which I LOVE but can never find in restaurants (except for this one place in Seattle). Anyway, they were really good. My grandma really liked them, like I said. I let them go a bit too long in the frying pan, but you couldn't really tell from the taste of them.

I just realized I didn't review any of the recipes I just added. Oh well. They were all good and nothing super spectacular.

Teriyaki Drumsticks

In doing a freezer inventory recently I came across a bag of chicken drumsticks. We used to eat them on a somewhat regular basis, but they're slightly higher in cholesterol than a chicken breast, so we hadn't been eating them. I was tired of seeing them in there, so I decided to use them...for the easiest dinner ever! Normally I cook six, but there were eight in the bag, so I used all of them. Here's the recipe.

Teriyaki Chicken Drumsticks
6-8 chicken drumsticks
teriyaki sauce

Place drumsticks in crockpot, add teriyaki sauce almost to cover the chicken. If drumsticks are frozen, cook on high for about six hours. If thawed, high for probably two hours should do it.

*****

So easy, and it's so good. Then we had rice on the side and spooned some of the sauce onto the rice. Before I started buying the Yoshida's teriyaki at Costco, I'd just buy the bottle of teriyaki sauce at the grocery store that's roughly the same size as the soy sauce bottle. When I used that, I would pour the whole bottle in and use all of it.

Grilled Burgers

Saturday we were hanging out watching the LSU/Bama game and decided we were tired of soy burgers and wanted real meat. Bama took the lead, so I chose that as a good time for the boy and me to head to Walmart to see what we could find...since some choice words may have come out of the husband's mouth. They had lean hamburger for a reasonable price, so that's what I got. Oh man, were those burgers ever good!

Claire Knightly's Awesome Grilled Burgers
1 pound lean ground beef
1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup mix
1/2 cup red wine

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Form into patties. Grill until done.

*****

Normally we just top them with American cheese and some ketchup (if we have other fixings we'll use them, but generally we don't), but I still had some gorgonzola left from pizzas a few weeks ago, so we did two with American cheese and two with the gorgonzola. Oh man, the gorgonzola with the bit of wine in the meat--so good! Jerky John only left half of one of those for me to eat...actually I only had a half of each kind! Yup, one for me--THREE for him! Although, in his defense, he only had 2.5 that night, he had the last half of the gorgonzola one (that was supposed to be mine) at some point the next day. I obviously didn't hide it in the fridge well enough!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I know I'm behind!!!

I'll get caught up tomorrow, I promise!!! Really you haven't missed anything too exciting, but just think...tomorrow there will be FOUR recipes instead of one. That's something to look forward to, right? RIGHT!??

Friday, November 2, 2007

Pizza

Think of the soup recipe as another special bonus. There have been a lot of those this week! Tonight we're grilling pizzas after the little man is in bed. I wasn't sure what toppings to have, then I remembered we have all the stuff for one of the fancy ones we had a couple weeks ago--feta, caramelized onions, artichoke hearts, and roasted red peppers. YUM!! I can't wait!

Butternut Squash Soup

Here's another recipe from my friend Jen B. (there you go, getting your name in lights!). To be quite honest, when she sent it to me I wasn't sure if I'd like it, but I told her I'd give it a try. I had complete faith in her recipe, I just thought I didn't like squash. I was basing that on my extreme dislike of zucchini (thanks, mom, for trying to feed it to me too much growing up and sneaking it in to stuff!), but she assured me it was nothing like zucchini.

So, I found myself at Trader Joe's last week, and a butternut squash made its way into my cart. Only $0.99! I had cleaned house yesterday, so I figured I'd make up the soup this afternoon to have for lunch over the weekend if I liked it. And if I didn't like it, I wasn't out a whole lot. She originally got the recipe from Allrecipes.com but modified it, so I'm including her version.

Butternut Squash Soup
2 whole butternut squash
olive oil
salt
pepper
nutmeg
garlic powder
6 tablespoons chopped onion
4 tablespoons butter (not margarine)
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 package cream cheese

Roast Butternut Squash on a cookie sheet as follows: First, season with olive oil, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and garlic powder. Then, roast halved squash face down for 25 minutes and then face up for 25 minutes @ 375 degrees for a total of 50 minutes roasting time. When cool enough to handle, peel squash, and cut into chunks.

In a large saucepan, saute onions in margarine until tender. Add squash, chicken stock, marjoram, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Bring to boil; add cream cheese.

Puree squash and cream cheese in a blender or food processor in batches until smooth. Return to saucepan, and heat through. Do not allow to boil.

*****

I happen to have an imersion blender that I had never used, and it worked great for this!! Plus I hate pouring hot soup into a blender or food processor. Had a bad experience one time and don't want to repeat it, so that worked out great.

Oh, I actually only used one squash and half a block of cream cheese. Of course, I forgot I was going to cut the recipe in half until I was dropping the cream cheese in the pot, so I had to ladle out some of the chicken broth. I ended up adding some back in because it was pretty thick. It made a TON, so I can't imagine how much it would make if I'd made the whole thing!

I was kind of nervous when I dipped my spoon into the pot to try it because I didn't think I liked squash, but...lo and behold, I LOVED IT! I actually called Jen on the spot to tell her because she knew I was making it this afternoon. It was kind of hot, but Will had a bite and loved it, too. THe husband wasn't so sure, but by the time he tried it, it had thickened some from cooling, so he thought it would be good as a dip. What can I say...he's kind of weird, plus he'd been at happy hour. ;)

So, thanks Jen B., for another great recipe!!! I can't wait to have some of this for lunch tomorrow.

P.S. I think this could easily be made with vegetable stock instead of chicken to make a vegetarian version.

Review

The stroganoff was really good--big hit with our guests! I serve it over rice because that's how my grandma serves her stroganoff. Like I said in the recipe, I added in some cornstarch before the sour cream to help thicken it up.

Little hands are trying to close my laptop, so this will be a short review. Just know it was good!re

Crockpot Beef Stroganoff

We had some friends over yesterday (Thursday) night for dinner, so I was busy cleaning all afternoon and didn't get a chance to post my recipe. It was a crockpot recipe, which I love to use when we have people over because then I can just enjoy their company instead of having to be in the kitchen cooking.

Beef Stroganoff
1-1/2 lbs lean beef stewing meat, trimmed of fat
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced
10-3/4 oz. can 98% fat-free cream of mushroom soup
1 cup fat free sour cream

Combine all ingredients except sour cream in slow cooker. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Stir in sour cream. Cook on high for a few minutes to heat sour cream. Serve over rice or noodles.

*****

I actually used a beef roast that had been on sale this week at the market and cut it up instead of stew meat. Plus I find that this is really runny, so before adding in the sour cream I mixed in some cornstarch to thicken it up a bit. The recipe actually calls for one cup of water to be added, but the first time I did that it was waaaaay too much liquid, so I crossed that off in the cook book.

Review

Phew, I have a lot of catching up to do! The meatball sandwiches were good. John thought they'd be better on hoagie rolls or French bread, but I kind of liked them in the pita bread. I microwaved the meatballs, then mixed in some spaghetti sauce, spooned six meatballs into each pita half, added a little mozzarella, then put the whole thing in the micro again to melt the cheese. Super quick, easy, and cheap!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Meatball Sandwiches

I can't stop singing Adam Sandler's "Lunchlady Land" whenever I think of what we're having tonight...

Hoagies and grinders, hoagies and grinders
Navy beans, navy beans, navy beans
MEATBALL SANDWICH

Or at least I think it's meatball sandwich. I guess now that I think about it, it could be meatloaf. Oh well...when I sing it, it's meatball.

I wanted something fast since it's Halloween and we're heading to a Trunk-or-Treat thing at our old church, so we need something quick and easy. I bought soy meatballs at Trader Joe's last week (thanks again, Jo!), so we're using those. I'm going to be a bit adventurous with them and use pita bread instead of hoagie rolls (back to Lunchlady Land...) because I also bought pita bread at TJ's, and I think it might be interesting. Since I'm making this all up as I go tonight (with the hope there's a back-up dinner option at the Halloween thing), I don't have a real recipe to post (oh, and did I mention I've never actually made any sort of meatball sandwich before?), but I'll try and write one up. I'll do it for four servings.

Meatball Sandwiches
24 meatballs
spaghetti sauce
4 pita breads
mozzarella cheese

Heat meatballs according to package directions. Mix with spaghetti sauce. Stuff in pita, six meatballs per pita. Add cheese (amount to your liking).

*****

How's that for super casual? I picked six meatballs because that's what the serving size on the package was. It's rare that I completely wing a meal like I'm doing tonight, so I hope it turns out okay. I'll probably heat up the pitas a bit so they're a little easier to work with. So cross your fingers for me, and I'll report back on how they turned out!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Review

Oh wait...did I ever review the portobello parmesan? I don't think I did! It was EXCELLENT. Man, was it good. I was tempted to call Jen and sing her praises after the first bite. THanks, Jen, for an awesome recipe! We will be having that again for sure.

Now for the chicken. It was good. I should have used my regular food processor instead of my mini food chopper, but it turned out okay. The chicken was really good, I did it outside on the grill (less pans to clean!). We had it with baked potatoes. I guess it's almost like a pesto (minus the nuts) that goes on the chicken. I love the flavor of it.

Basic and Garlic-Slathered Chicken Breasts

It's taken me all day to figure out what to have for dinner, if I wanted to stick with what I had planned or do something different. This is what I decided upon because I bought basil at Trader Joe's this past weekend.

Basic and Garlic-Slathered Chicken Breasts
3 cloves garlic -- finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
olive oil -- to taste (+ additional for grill)
few drops lemon juice -- optional
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves

In a food processor or a mortar, process or mash the garlic together with the salt. Add the basil and pepper and continue to mix until well combined. Add just enough oil to make a paste. If desired, add a few drops of lemon juice. Set aside.

Pat the chicken dry. Place the chicken between 2 sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap and, using your hand, a skillet or a rolling pin, gently flatten it to an even thickness of about 1/2". Transfer to a resealable plastic bag or a plate, add the basil paste and shake or smear to coat the chicken evenly.

Preheat the grill or place a grill pan over medium-high heat. Lightly oil the rack or pan. Grill the chicken, turning once, just until cooked through, 3-5 minutes per side. Serve hot.

*****

We've had this before but not in a long time. It was really good when we had it. Not sure what we'll have with it. It took me this long to figure out what to make, it will be a last minute side dish decision!

P.S. I originally had the wrong title on there--that was the other option I was going to make. If you haappened to see it, watch for those on Saturday night.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Portobello Parmesan

So this is what we are having for dinner tonight. This recipe comes to me from my friend Jen Bowman (Hi, Jen!!). I can't wait to try it. I had seen a similar one somewhere but of course would never be able to find it if forced, and in all actuality probably would have forgotten about it if she hadn't told me she had a good recipe for it. I keep forgetting this is what we're having, then when I look at my dinner list for the week I get all excited.

Portobello Parmesan
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing the grill pan
4 to 6 Portobello mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup marinara sauce (store bought or homemade)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill.

Drizzle 3 tablespoons of olive oil over both sides of the mushrooms. Sprinkle the mushrooms with salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil on the grill to prevent the mushrooms from sticking. Grill until the mushrooms are heated through and tender, about 5 minutes per side.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Spread 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Place the grilled mushrooms on top of the marinara sauce and top with the remaining marinara sauce. Sprinkle with the cheeses and top with the butter pieces. Bake until the cheese melts and the top is golden, about 15 minutes. Serve.

*****

Doesn't this sound SO GOOD?!?!??! I almost start drooling whenever Jen tells me about recipes she makes because they all sound so good. She's even getting me to branch out and try squash, but that will be another bonus post later in the week. Which reminds me, I need to find out from her how long butternut squash last. Anyway, I only bought two mushrooms because once again I didn't look at the recipe before going to the store. But, I don't think the boy would eat it anyway, so it works out. I will probably cook up a little spaghetti on the side to have with it. That's what we usually have as a side when we have chicken parmesan. My marinara sauce will be Prego or Ragu, whichever it is I have open in the fridge. And I may increase the cheese a bit, too. Half a cup of mozzarella hardly seems like enough for cheese whores like we are!

Tomorrow's dinner is up in the air now, by the way. I bought fresh basil at Trader Joe's this weekend, so I was going to make a basil chicken recipe I have, but 1) I'm pretty low on chicken breasts, and 2) I kind of want to use it to make tomato basil soup to freeze. I don't know, I'll think on it and see what I decide to do.

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

AKA Lauren's Enchiladas
AKA White Girl Enchiladas

So this recipe originally came from my friend Lauren. Five of my friends and I started a monthly cooking club several years ago (before any of us had kids and could still go do fun stuff on week nights), and the hostess always made the main dish then we'd all bring side dishes or salad or dessert to go with. When Lauren hosted, this is what she made. It was so good. She sent me the recipe the next day, and I've been making it ever since. That was at least three years ago if not more. Remember awhile back I said that I had two enchilada recipes I used when I had leftover chicken? This is the other one. Since it was Lauren's recipe, I called it Lauren's enchiladas.

Now, probably two years ago or so I was telling my boss I was making enchiladas for dinner. She's Mexican and asked how I did them. I told her. She laughed and said, "Claire, no Mexican would make enchiladas that way. Those are white girl enchiladas." So, then they became "White Girl Enchiladas" which is a funny name I think.

Long story short (too late), this is what I made to take to my friend Cindy for dinner. Her little baby boy, Ryan Arthur, was born six weeks early but was only in the NICU for a few days before being sent home. I think this is his second or third week home now. I can't remember, I've had so many friends having babies lately and so many that are pregnant, I can't keep track of who was born or will be born when. Anyway, this is what they are having for dinner. I'm kind of jealous...it's one of my favorites.

White Girl Enchiladas
1-2 lbs chicken (depending on how much you are making)
1-2 small cans of diced green chilis
8 oz block of cream cheese
8-10 flour tortillas
15 oz. can Green Chili enchilada sauce
1 pkg. Cheddar/Mexican Cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cook chicken and shred or cut into small pieces in a pan on the stove. Cut up 8 oz. of cream cheese into small pieces so it melts easier. Mix chicken with cream cheese and 1-2 cans of diced green chilis (depending on how spicy you want them) in the pan on medium heat.

Fill each tortilla with mix and fold up. Place into a lightly greased cooking pan, folded side down. Pour cheese and sauce over the enchiladas and put in the oven for 20 minutes.

*****

I always use chicken that's already cooked when I make these, so I just use whatever I have left. Another easy option is to get a rotisserie chicken from the grocery. I also use the big can of enchilada sauce (even though I usually have some left) and pour a little of that in to the chicken mixture while it's on the stove.

Review (really a Trader Joe's review)

Okay, first I forgot to point out or mention that my anniversary dinner post was post #100!! How exciting.

Second, now I know I didn't actually make the ahi tuna steaks, but I felt I should let everyone know that they were FANTASTIC. I over-cooked them a bit, more like medium or medium-well, but they were still tasty. My uncle is a master at grilling, so I was telling him about them last night. He said he always overcooks them too, but a friend said you really only want to cook/sear the steak for about a minute on each side to get it perfect. This will become a regular purchase of ours at TJ's. They tasted fantastic, and you can't beat the price. We had a box of Oriental flavor rice-a-roni with it, so the whole dinner was only $6. Not bad for ahi tuna!

Oh, and I also discovered Trader Joe's Sparkling Mojito Beverage. I just had my first glass, and it is quite tasty. It says on the back it can be consumed on its own or with rum to make a real mojito. Although I was tempted to add in a little Bacardi, I held off. Although I think tonight during "Heroes" I may spike it and see how it is.

I heart Trader Joe's!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Marinated Ahi Tuna Steaks

Just kidding. Actually we are having that for dinner, but it was frozen marinated ahi tuna steaks from Trader Joe's. It was $5 per pound...how could I pass that up?! Two steaks in a package, and the marinade smells so good. Not sure what all is in it...ingredients were listed on the package, but now I don't remember what it was. I haven't ever cooked ahi before, but luckily I saw a recipe in one of my Barefoot Contessa books for it a couple days ago, so I looked up how to sear it. I hope it turns out okay. We're having rice-a-roni on the side. Classy and klassy. ;) Hey, it's an easy dinner for me, what more can I ask.

Tomorrow night we're going to my grandma's for dinner, so I'll be back on Monday. Actually Monday you'll get two recipes because I'm making something to take to a friend that just had a baby, so I'll post that and what we're having for dinner. Lucky dogs, y'all are! ;)

Now, back to my Hurricane.

Review

Fan-freakin-tastic. That's how everything we had last night was. The brie was awesome (I took a picture...will upload it and add it sometime this weekend). We actually ended up eating it plain, without crackers or anything, because it was so good.

Then the crawfish. Oh man. OH MAN. Was it ever good. We ate all of it. Every last bite. John finished his before I did and was trying to steal food off my plate. Needless to say, he got his hand slapped. Seriously. It smelled so good while the crawfish was cooking, and the gouda was so good with it. I'd highly recommend it. For those of you in AZ, the only places I've ever seen crawfish tail meat is Walmart and AJ's. Obviously it's much cheaper at Walmart, although I noticed the price had gone up since the last time I bought it.

THe only downside was that our shipment of Hurricane mix didn't get here until 9:00 PM! I guess there's a lot of backlog with all the So Cal fires. John had given up hope it was coming, but I kept praying (literally) and had my fingers crossed. We were actually out front when we saw the truck come around the corner. One of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen. And they're oh-so-tasty. We're actually having another round of them tonight. :)