Sunday, January 31, 2010

Roasted Vegetable Pasta

Everyone in my house is sick with a nasty cold. I figure the boy can have a day of TV and movies in the name of "resting to get better" so while he's doing that I can get caught up on my blog posts.

Several years ago I went to a work dinner at TGI Friday's. I'm not a huge fan of chain restaurants, but it wasn't my choice for dinner, and it was paid for so I wasn't going to complain. I ended up having a vegetable pasta dish that was actually really good. It somehow popped into my head recently and I wanted to try and recreate it. I found what I thought was the recipe with a simple Google search, but I wanted to change it up a little because I wanted to roast vegetables, not grill them. In case you're interested, here's the comparable recipe I found.

Claire's Roasted Vegetable Pasta

1 eggplant, peeled and cubed
1 zucchini, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, cubed
1 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. dried pasta
Balsamic vinegar
Shredded parmesan cheese

Combine eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, and onion pieces on a cookie sheet and toss with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast at 400 for 25-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, saute mushrooms with garlic in small amount of olive oil.

Cook pasta according to package directions.

When all components are done, toss together in a big bowl. Drizzle tossed pasta and vegetables with balsamic vinegar and parmesan cheese. Serve.


I hate writing out my own recipes, especially this late after I originally made it. This turned out really good. It wasn't exactly how I remembered the TGI Friday's dish tasting, but it was quite good. I used some penne and some farfalle because it's what I had in the pantry. We all ate this and really liked it. The balsamic vinegar gave it a nice little zip. I think this would also be good cold or room temperature as a pasta salad.

I have a picture of it, but I'm typing this on our laptop and the picture is on my computer.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pappardelle with Quick Bolognese Meat Sauce

I think I have one dinner to post from last week still, but I figured I might as well be current and then go back to that when I have a chance. It was pretty tasty so I definitely want to share it.

I had to do a bit of dinner rearranging this week. The husband and I recently joined a gym, and he suggested we meet there tonight after he left work so I could show him around a bit and we could work out together. I already had a crockpot meal planned for tomorrow night and wasn't sure if I could come up with another with ingredients I had on hand. I remembered a package of Trader Joe's pappardelle pasta in the pantry with a recipe on the back of it that sounded easy, and I had everything on hand. So I decided we'd have that tonight, I'd make it up in the afternoon, then throw it in the crockpot on the warm setting so dinner would be waiting for us when we got home. I'll tell you below whether or not it worked!!

Trader Joe's Egg Pappardelle with Quick Bolognese Meat Sauce

8 oz. TJ's Egg Pappardelle pasta
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 Tbsp garlic, minced
1/2 cup red wine
2 cups marinara sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over moderate heat. Add beef and saute until lightly browned and crumbly. Add onions and garlic and saute until onions are transparent. Drain fat and return mixture to pan. Add red wine and marinara. Stir and simmer 10-15 minutes to blend flavors. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to cooking instructions. Drain well, add pasta to sauce. Heat pasta and sauce together on low heat 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle with parmesan.


I kind of broke the Pantry Challenge because I had to go buy wine for this, but I figured that was easier than coming up with a different dinner. Plus we'd drink it anyway, so it's not like I was buying it just to use for this recipe!! I had a jar of TJ's marinara sauce in the pantry which worked out great.

I was kind of hesitant of how this would turn out. When I tasted it before putting it in my slow cooker I wasn't sure about it. The pasta tasted really egg-y to me. It ended up coming out okay. It sat in there on the warm setting for 2.5 hours. There could have been more sauce, but I don't think it was overly saucy to begin with, so it may not have been just from the crockpot drying it out. This worked pretty well for dinner to be ready when we got home, then all we did was heat up some bread, throw some salad mix in bowls, and heat up some frozen broccoli.

I don't think I'd go out of my way to make this again, but it's something I'd make again if I had everything on hand and needed a quick dinner fix, kind of like I needed tonight.

No picture, I was starving by the time we got home and couldn't be bothered with finding a camera. Oh, and can I just say I'm so fortunate that I get to stay home?! I don't know how I'd get dinner on the table at a decent time if the husband and I were both getting home late like we did tonight!

Sunday, January 24, 2010


So, I was lying awake in the middle of the night last night wondering how it is I always end up getting so behind on my blog. I really have no idea because it's not like I'm not on the computer during the day (in actuality I should probably step away from the computer more often, but that's a whole other can of worms) and it's not like it really takes a long time to do. So I'm hoping that starting this week I can stay more current on updating. I noticed I'm down one follower--maybe someone got annoyed that I keep forgetting to post. :(

Anyway, I'm going back a week for this recipe. I've made it before, so I'll just post the link, but I took pictures this time so I wanted to add those in. When we were in New Orleans a few weekends ago we had grand plans to swing by Central Grocery on our way to the airport and get a muffuletta sandwich to eat on the plane, only to find out the store is closed on Sunday. D'oh! We were pretty disappointed as that was one of the top places we were most excited about eating at while we were there. Strangely enough no where at the airport sold them, so the husband had a muffuletta hankering. Even though it broke my Pantry Challenge rule for the month, I told him I'd get everything to make it for our date night dinner that Friday. Let me just say that this is not a cheap sandwich to make. But, oh, is it ever so tasty!!!

Muffuletta Sandwich

The husband was kind of worried when he saw the pile of bread on the counter that I had pulled out from the loaf, but when I explained to him that we got more sandwich that way, he was all for it. Here's the olive salad in the bread:

All wrapped up and ready for the fridge!

I used one of my bigger cookbooks to weight it down. Then I didn't think that was enough so I tied twine around it to really press it down, but I didn't take a picture of my extreme measure.

Check out all the layers!!

In actuality, I think the amount of meat could be scaled back a bit, especially since I added ham onto it too. My olive salad only sat for about six hours, and I think I had the sandwich pressed for a little over two hours. It was tasty! The husband had the wedge that was left the next day for lunch, which I'm sure was even more fantastic as that would really give the juices from the olive salad time to soak into the bread. Just typing this out and looking at the pictures makes me want another one!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

I won!!

Wow, this is so exciting! I was on the phone with my mom while booking the boy's birthday party on the Chuck E Cheese website (not my choice for his party, by the way!), and I got an email that my blog had been selected as the winner for one of Foodie Blog Roll's contest winners! I had honestly forgotten I'd even entered which made it that much more exciting!! I will soon be receiving a copy of Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois and a box of Bob's Red Mill organic hard white wheat flour!

I'm so excited to get it!! I held the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day cookbook hostage from the library for awhile and really liked it (although I never actually used it), so I'm really looking forward to getting this! And I love Bob's Red Mill products, too. What an exciting Friday night this has turned out to be!!

The Foodie Blog Roll Contests: Winner!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Holy onion, Batman!

In my vegetable basket this week from Bountiful Baskets (actually I think it was in the Italian add-on pack I included) was what has to be the biggest onion I have ever seen. EVER! To me, this thing is state fair entry worthy, but maybe I just don't get around much. It's entirely possible.

So, I have a challenge for you--all 17 of my followers and whomever else reads this but doesn't follow it--what the heck do you do with an onion that's the size of your entire hand? Think I'm exaggerating? Here's a picture:

I honestly have no idea what to do with this, so I'm leaving it up to you guys. Leave me a comment with your suggestions. Just please don't suggest onion rings because I've already admitted I have a problem frying foods. Whoever has the best suggestion, that's what I'll do with the onion. So it's a contest of sorts, but the only real prize is bragging rights.

Oh, and I'm going to be really sad and just might spend an afternoon crying if no one has any ideas and I don't get any comments. Not to guilt you into it or anything, but you don't want that hanging over you, do you?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Barefoot Bloggers: Indonesian Ginger Chicken

Okay, I really want to go to bed now, but I was so excited to actually be posting my Barefoot Bloggers recipe on the right day that I'm staying up to do so! I'm so dedicated, I know. Okay, not really. I just checked this week to see what the January recipes are that we're going to be making. When I saw the title of this one I thought for sure I'd have to go buy a bunch of fancy ingredients which would totally defeat the Pantry Challenge, so I was pleasantly surprised when all the ingredients are things I have on hand. I even had a whole chicken I could use! Thanks to Todd of A Cooking Dad for choosing an easy and tasty sounding recipe to kick off the new year!

Indonesian Ginger Chicken

1 cup honey
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup minced garlic (8 to 12 cloves)
1/2 cup peeled and grated fresh ginger root
2 (3 1/2 pound) chickens, quartered, with backs removed

Cook the honey, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger root in a small saucepan over low heat until the honey is melted. Arrange the chicken in 1 layer in a shallow baking pan, skin side down, and pour on the sauce. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the baking pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover the pan, turn the chicken skin side up, and raise the temperature to 375 degrees F. Continue baking for 30 minutes or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh and the sauce is a rich, dark brown.


I forgot to get a whole chicken out to defrost, so I decided to just use chicken breasts instead. And I didn't have any fresh ginger on hand, so I just threw in a couple teaspoons of the powder stuff to make up for it. And I missed the part initially about marinating overnight. Oops. I mixed up the marinade and then just poured it over the chicken breasts and let it sit all day. Oh, and I cut all the marinade ingredients in half since I was just using four pieces of chicken instead of two whole ones.

This was FANTASTIC!!! All four of us devoured what was on our plates. The butternut squash mash I made to go with it was not so good, however, so I'm not even going to bother typing it out. None of us ate that. Sad waste of a butternut squash. Anyway, make this chicken! It's easy, it's tasty, and if you have a well-stocked kitchen, you should have everything on hand for it!

Oh, and I also made another side dish from the Make it Fast, Cook it Slow cookbook--rice in the crockpot!! Instead of posting the recipe, here's the link to it on her blog. I don't remember if I've shared before that I'm not good at making rice. Brown rice and basmati I can make okay, but plain ol' white rice always comes out gummy. I was intrigued by making it this way, and's the best rice I've ever had!!! Mine took about two hours to cook, maybe a few minutes longer. Then I just turned off the crockpot and kept tasting it every now and then to make sure it wasn't getting gummy--and it didn't!! And it sat for at least 30 minutes. This is definitely my new favorite way to make rice.

Check out my cool retro crockpot! It was my grandma's...I love it!

Crockpot Tamale Pie

One of the cookbooks I got for Christmas was Stephanie O'Dea's Make It Fast, Cook It Slow. If you don't recognize her name, you might recognize her blog--A Year of Slow Cooking. I've been to her blog several times, and I can't believe how many of her recipes I want to try.

I was flipping through it and saw this one and thought it sounded great--healthy, vegetarian, and I had everything on hand for it. The husband and I are both going to Bible study groups on Wednesday nights, and they both start at 6:30. So it's going to be crockpot dinners for awhile on Wednesday nights.

Crockpot Tamale Pie

1 can drained and rinsed black beans
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
1 can drained corn
1 T chili powder
1 t cumin
1/2 t paprika
1/4 cup diced onion
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 package corn bread mix (plus ingredients required for mix...milk and egg)

Spray your crockpot with cooking spray. Dump in the filling ingredients--cheese, too!-- and stir well to distribute the spices. You will not be able to stir this again, so please check to see that the spices aren't in a clump anywhere.

In a separate bowl, mix together the cornbread topping. When finished, pour evenly over the filling, spreading with a spatula if needed.

Cover and cook on low for 4-7 hours or on high for 2-4.


Her actual recipe included making your own corn bread topping, but I had some mix in the pantry and figured there was no point reinventing the wheel, so to speak. And I skipped the onion and just used onion powder instead because I was feeling lazy.

So, she's not kidding when she says to spray the crockpot with cooking spray. I didn't really spray mine enough and some of the edges of the cornbread stuck to the sides. I think mine cooked for a little too long because it was a bit dry. It was still good, but had I checked on it sooner it would have been better. I think I like my normal Tamale Pie recipe better than this version, but this was still good and easy.

The golden top in the crockpot before we dug in:

(I really wish I had better lighting in my kitchen!!)

Mexican Chicken Casserole

So, part of my blog hiatus--other than being sick all last week--was due to a weekend trip the husband and I took to New Orleans for his cousin's wedding. We had a fantastic time eating and drinking...mostly drinking. ;) I had one of the best foods I have ever eaten in my life...Chargrilled Oysters at Acme Oyster House. Lordy mama, were they ever tasty. Grilled oysters on the half shell with a seasoned butter and romano cheese. Wow. I could have eaten just those the entire time we were there.

Anyway, now it's back to the daily grind since the vacation is over and my cold is gone. I'm still trying to stick to the Pantry Challenge, and so far so good. I had a different casserole planned for Tuesday night, but after putting all the ingredients into the Points calculator on the WW website, I realized it was going to be too many. So I checked out the Cooking Light website for some other chicken casserole ideas. I was excited to find this one as it also gave me a chance to make my own corn tortillas with the tortilla press I got for Christmas!

Mexican Chicken Casserole

1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 (4.5-ounce) cans chopped green chiles, divided
1 3/4 pounds skinned, boned chicken breasts
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup evaporated skim milk
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup (2 ounces) tub-style light cream cheese
1 (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
Cooking spray
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded reduced-fat extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 ounce tortilla chips, crushed (about 6 chips)

Combine broth and 1 can of chiles in a large skillet; bring to a boil. Add chicken; reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until chicken is done, turning chicken once. Remove chicken from cooking liquid, reserving cooking liquid; cool chicken. Shred meat with two forks, and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 can of chiles and onion; sauté 3 minutes or until soft. Add reserved cooking liquid, milk, Monterey Jack, cream cheese, and enchilada sauce; stir well. Stir in shredded chicken; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Place 4 tortillas in the bottom of a 2-quart casserole coated with cooking spray. Spoon 2 cups chicken mixture over tortillas. Repeat layers twice, ending with chicken mixture. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and chips. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Nutritional Information
Calories:369 (28% from fat)
Fat:11.4g (sat 5g,mono 3.8g,poly 1.4g)


I think all I changed was using less chicken. Then in turn I added in less of the liquids because I didn't want it to be too saucy. The finished product was FANTASTIC! I could have used more of the sauce. It wasn't dry, but it could have been more saucy. Especially when we've had the leftovers, it could have used a little more sauce. My tortillas came out pretty good for my first attempt at making my own. I don't normally like corn tortillas, but these were good.

This is definitely something I'd make again! The husband and I loved it. I had the boy taste the sauce and he thought it was too spicy, so he got to have a quesadilla instead. It wasn't nearly as spicy once it was all melded together in the casserole, so I think he would have been fine eating it.

Pioneer Woman's Chicken Fried Steak

I have a night home alone (well, kids are here but sleeping), and I'm spending it updating my blog and catching up on DVR shows. Exciting life I lead, isn't it? I know you're jealous!! I realized it had been a week since I'd updated, so I needed to get back on the blog bandwagon.

I put off posting this one because it required typing out a recipe instead of finding it online and just copying it. Then as I was getting ready to type it, I figured I'd check my good friend Google and see if he could help me out. Lo and behold, he did! I'll give credit below with the recipe.

Chicken fried steak reminds me of my grandpa. He loved a good chicken fried steak. One of my biggest regrets is that I never took him to a restaurant here in Phoenix, TexAZ Grill, that has by far the best CFS I have ever had. It's seriously the size of a platter, covered in awesome gravy, and served with mashed potatoes and a biscuit. Lordy mama, it's awesome. My friend Benah and I frequented the place quite often when we were both pregnant. But now she's a vegetarian, and I'm determined to get skinny, so it will be a long time before I eat there again. Sad.

Anyway, my friend Jen A. emailed me that she had tried PW's CFS and it was awesome. I figured the last week of the year before the husband and I started our diets was the perfect time to have it. And I even found cube steak on sale. Obviously the Good Lord wanted me to make this, right? That's what I thought too.

I found the recipe typed out on a blog called Framed - My Life One Picture At A Time. And now that I've copied the recipe she (I think she anyway) painstakingly typed out, I will check out her blog more thoroughly. It's the least I can do, right?

PW's Chicken Fried Steak

3 pounds sliced cube steak
2 large eggs
3 1/2 cups milk
3 1/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon red pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
3 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup canola oil

1. Beat the eggs with one cup of milk and place in shallow dish

2. Mix 3 cups flour with 2 teaspoons salt, paprika, cayenne and black pepper, place in shallow dish

3. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Dip in eggs, then flour, then back in eggs, coating thoroughly each time. Place on empty plate until ready to cook.

4. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Fry meat 3 pieces at a time until golden, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove to paper towel lined plate and keep warm.

5. After frying all the meat, pour out all grease except for 1/4 cup and heat up the grease. Sprinkle 1/3 cup flour over the grease and whisk it together.

6. After a couple of minutes the flour mixture will turn brown. Whisking constantly, pour in 2 cups of milk. Let gravy come to slow boil to thicken. Add more milk as needed if it gets too thick. This should take 5-10 minutes.

7. Generously season with salt and pepper.

8. Place meat on plate and spoon gravy over. Serve with mashed potatoes and whatever other veggie you like


I think I have a frying deficiency. Honestly if there's any method of cooking that I have to suck at, I'm glad it's frying since I don't do it very often. I thought the CFS was just okay. I don't think it had anything to do with the recipe, I think it was all on my end. And to top it off, we'd just had my grandma's fried chicken and gravy a few days before. The husband said as we were eating, "I don't want this to come across the wrong way, but I think it was too soon for you to make gravy after we had your grandma's." I have to admit, he was right. She's almost 92 so has probably close to 80 years experience making gravy. I can probably count on both hands the number of times I've attempted to make gravy. This wasn't bad by any means, just not as good as some other CFS I've had over the years. If you don't have a problem frying foods, I suggest trying it as I'm sure it's fantastic if done correctly.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Recap of the past few days...or maybe week

Our house has been infected with some horrible sickness. Well, not really, just the baby and me got it. It started out as a cold then Monday night it turned into a stomach bug, now it's just back to a cold. Yuck. We didn't do a whole lot yesterday, but updating my blog about food just really didn't appeal to me at all. Thankfully I'm feeling much better today, although food still sounds questionable. I'm resting in bed while the baby naps and the boy has "quiet time" in his room (I put it in quotes because he's not really quiet nor does he stay in his room), so I figured I'd bring my laptop along and get some blog updating done.

I really don't think I made anything new over the past week, so I'm just going to link to previous recipes and add in pictures if I took them since I may not have in the past.

Pot Roast

Andrea's Lasagna (which, by the way, is DEFINITELY my favorite lasagna recipe!)

Rick Bayless' Chipotle Shrimp (This wasn't as good this time...I used three chipotle peppers, and I think it was too many because it was REALLY spicy! The husband didn't even finish eating his, so I'll definitely use just two from now on when I make it.)

Aunt Holly's Gumbo

Cashew Chicken (I thought I took a picture of this, but it's not on my hard drive...I'll have to see if it's on my phone.)

I think that about does it for my past week or so of cooking. We had the shrimp on New Year's Eve and the gumbo on New Year's Day, then over the weekend we went to my mom's for dinner on Saturday, and Sunday I had a girl's night out with my friend Jen and my mom. Cashew Chicken was Monday night and then I haven't cooked since. And honestly as much as I love that Cashew Chicken recipe, I'm not sure if I can ever eat it again, which is very disappointing.

I do have one new recipe to post, but it's from Pioneer Woman, so I'll probably just link to her website (assuming it's on there since I used her cookbook for the recipe) but put the picture of ours on it. if I have to type it out, it might be tomorrow or early next week before I do it.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Pantry Challenge

I know I need to go back and update some things (gosh, how often have I said that lately?!), but I wanted to share this. There's a money saving blog I follow,, that my cousin introduced me to recently. She (Money Saving Mom, I don't know about my cousin) is doing an Eat From the Pantry Challenge for the month of January. I've decided to play along and try to stick it out for as long as I can. I have a decent supply of meat in my freezers, lots of grains and pasta in the pantry, a decent amount of canned goods. I'm excited to challenge myself and see what I come up with. If you want to play along, too, follow the link above to get all the details. It's not a contest or anything, you don't have to do it, I just think it will be good to 1) save money on groceries for a month, and 2) challenge myself to see what I can come up with based on what I have. Should be an interesting couple weeks!