Monday, March 31, 2008

Pork Chops and Golden Apple/Raisin Sauce

I'm not really much of a pork fan, but I try to cook it once a week or so; otherwise, we'd be eating chicken every night!

This is a Rachael Ray dish (surprise...) and wasn't bad. Ryan, as usual, wouldn't touch the pork, but he did gobble up the apples like nobody's business.

I thought that using 4 apples was WAY too much; I was initially wary of chopping up so much and I wish I had followed my instinct. I have a plastic container in my fridge FULL of the stuff... I also wasn't super crazy about the mustard/syrup thing at the end.

Not my favorite meal, but it was edible...

Pork Chops, Golden Apple and Raisin Sauce, and Whole Wheat Pasta Mac-and-Cheddar
(I didn't do the mac-and-cheese thing.)

1/2 pound whole wheat shells or penne pasta
4 golden apples, cored and chopped
1 cup cloudy apple cider
3 tablespoons brown sugar
A handful golden raisins
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 large center cut pork loin chops, 1 1/2-inch thick
Black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 rounded tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1/2 pound extra-sharp white cheddar
A few grates nutmeg, to taste
Dash hot sauce
2 cups broccoli tops, cut into small florets
2 tablespoons spicy brown or grainy Dijon mustard
1/4 cup maple syrup
Heat a large pot of water for pasta. Season water with salt and cook pasta to al dente.

Add apples to a medium pot and stir in cider, sugar, raisins, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Place pot over medium-high heat and cook until tender, about 12 minutes.

Season chops with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add chops and cook 6 to 7 minutes on each side.

While chops cook, heat 2 tablespoons butter in a sauce pot over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook a minute then whisk in milk and season with salt and pepper. Grate cheese and stir into sauce and season with nutmeg, to taste, and a dash of hot sauce. Reduce heat to low.

Add broccoli to pasta last 2 minutes of cook time. Drain and return to pasta pot. Add cheese sauce and stir to coat.

Add mustard and syrup to chops and glaze, 1 minute.

Serve pork with apple sauce, macaroni and cheddar with broccoli along side.

Swedish Meatballs

I have never made Swedish meatballs before, and I really don't know what possessed me to put it on the week's menu. Actually, the only time I can even recall eating it was when I bought a Lean Cuisine.

What's interesting is that when I went in search of a recipe, I found I had actually starred this one in my Google Reader; since this isn't something I ever crave or cook, I figured it was fate and that I was destined to prepare this meal for my family.

Or something.

This was really easy and quick to make; it wasn't until I started blogging it that I even realized it was a Rachael Ray recipe... but it was very good. I will definitely do this again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Menu: March 31

I was sick for most of last week, so I never got to making much of the menu; I've carried many of them over to this week.

Swedish Meatballs w/ Egg Noodles

: Pork Chops with Golden Apple and Raisin Sauce, Veggies

Tuesday: Cheeseburger Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes

Wednesday: Calzones

Thursday: Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole (from The Brown Eyed Chef)

Friday: No cooking - Yankee Game!!

Saturday: No cooking - wedding

Monday, March 24, 2008

Butternut Squash Risotto

I needed something to go along with my Provencal Chicken, so I figured I'd give Rachael Ray's Butternut Squash Risotto another try.

I made it once a few months ago and didn't like it. I used brown rice, though, in an effort to be a bit healthier, and I think that had a negative effect on the texture.

This time, however, it still seems a tad try and not as "creamy" as she swore it would be when I saw her show. It was still good, though...

  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or chopped
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 (10-ounce) box cooked frozen butternut squash
  • Nutmeg, grated, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 7 or 8 leaves fresh sage, slivered (I omitted.)
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano (I omitted.)

Bring 1 quart stock plus 1 cup water to a simmer in a sauce pot then reduce heat to low.

Heat a medium skillet over medium to medium-high heat with olive oil. When oil ripples, add the onions and garlic and soften 2 to 3 minutes. Add rice and toast 2 to 3 minutes more. Add wine and cook it out completely, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes. Ladle in stock in intervals, a couple of ladles at a time. Allow liquids to evaporate each time. Risotto will cook 18 minutes, total, from the first addition of liquid. Defrost the squash in your microwave in a dish to collect any liquids and stir in squash the last 3 minutes of cook time, season with nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. In the last minute of cooking time, stir in butter in small pieces, sage leaves and cheese, serve.

Chicken Provencal

This recipe intrigued me when I first saw it on Bella Lately's blog. I bought herbes de Provence once... I can't remember why. But I was excited to find a recipe in which to use it again!

(I didn't make ANY alterations - this recipe was perfect for me as is!)

The chicken was nice and tender and juicy. The flavors were amazing! It was really quick and easy to make; there's really nothing to it. As usual, however, my chicken needed extra time in the pan.

  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried herbes de Provence
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Fresh thyme sprigs (optional)

Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/2-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling
pin. Sprinkle chicken evenly with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chicken; cook 6 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.

Add garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add broth and herbes de Provence; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook until broth mixture is reduced to 1/2 cup (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat; add butter and lemon juice, stirring until butter melts. Serve sauce over chicken. Garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 chicken breast half and about 2 tablespoons sauce)CALORIES 248 (30% from fat); FAT 8.2g (sat 1.8g,mono 4.5g,poly 1g); PROTEIN 40.2g; CHOLESTEROL 101mg; CALCIUM 32mg; SODIUM 376mg; FIBER 0.3g; IRON 1.5mg; CARBOHYDRATE 1g Cooking Light, JANUARY 2005

Menu: March 24

Monday: Chicken Provencal, Butternut Squash Risotto, Veggies

Tuesday: Turkey Burgers, Sweet Potato Fries

Wednesday: Meatloaf Muffins, Mashed Potatoes, Veggies

Thursday: Cheesy Baked Tortellini

Friday: Swedish Meatballs w/ Egg Noodles

Saturday: Deep Dish Pot Pie

Sunday: Pork Chops with Golden Apple and Raisin Sauce, Veggies

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Beef and Potato Stroganoff

I got this recipe from the Oct 2006 issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray. It was one of those that I clip out, store somewhere, and forget about for a year or two until I stumble across it and think, "Wow, I should make this..."

So tonight, I did.

It was just "ehh." It was super easy to make, so it would be a great weeknight meal, but I just wasn't all that impressed with it. Perhaps it would have tasted better if I used actual beef or sirloin rather than the turkey.

  • 4 large russet potatoes (about 3lbs)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 pound assorted mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder (I chose to use an actual onion.)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder (See above - I used a couple of cloves of garlic.)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup sour cream at room temperature
  • Snipped chives, for garnish

1. Pierce the potatoes all over with a fork and microwave on high until cooked through, about 9 minutes. (Mine took almost 20!).

2. In a large skillet, heat the butter over medium-high heat, add the mushrooms and cook until golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in the onion powder, garlic powder and 3/4 cup water (I used beef stock.) and boil to reduce the liquid by half, about 2 minutes; stir in the heavy cream and remove from the heat.

3. In a medium saucepan, brown the ground beef over high heat, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the mushroom mixture; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Slice one-third off the top of each potato and chop the tops. Using a spoon, hollow out each potato, leaving a thick wall. In a microwavable bowl, mash together the chopped potato, potato centers and sour cream. Season with salt and pepper and reheat in the microwave.

Return the beef and mushroom mixture to a simmer. Stuff the hollowed potatoes with the beef mixture and top with chives. Serve with the mashed potatoes.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


I have spent the last 2 or 3 days frantically searching for my antiquated iPod Mini or whatever they were called a couple of years ago.

I KNOW I took it to the hospital... when I gave birth to Ryan... in November... of '06...! And I THINK I took it on vacation... last summer...

So I can't find it. And I'm sad.

BUT - I have the potential to be very happy again soon; Jerry over at Cooking by the Seat of my Pants is giving away a FREE iPod Touch - that's SO much better than the one I have (had?).

Anyway, go enter... I sure am!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Creamy Chicken with Artichokes

I noticed that several bloggers in my Google reader had prepared this recipe from Cooking Light. I had also ripped it out of the magazine and filed it in my Big Fat Cooking Binder.

However, I noticed that Pleasure Cooker put an interesting spin on it; she swapped in artichokes for the asparagus. I like artichokes, so onto the weekly menu it went...

Her adaptation was perfect; I didn't change a single thing! (Sorry, Brooke - no humorous and unexpected subs... hee hee!)


  • 3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, drained
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet. Sprinkle chicken breasts evenly with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place flour in a shallow dish. Dredge chicken in flour. Add chicken to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.

Add wine, broth, garlic and artichokes to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook 2 minutes. Add cream cheese and stir until melted. If sauce needs to thicken, mix 2 tablespoons of broth with 1 1/2 tablespoons flour and add to sauce. Remove from heat; stir in juice. Serve sauce over chicken.

Monday, March 17, 2008

It's HERE!! TCHO Chocolate!!

If you know me in real life, you know that I am a chocoholic. My greatest vices in life are chocolate, coffee, and my son. So when Blake announced a contest for some TCHO Chocolate, I was determined to win.

I reminded my husband a billion times that I HAD to be on the computer at 9:30pm so I could be among the first 40 responders to Blake's blog. I had my comment typed and copied, so that all I'd have to do it his paste it in and I'd be good to go.

Well, the pause in American Idol that night was well worth it, because I succeeded! And today, waiting for me in my mailbox was the most adorable silver bubble wrap envelope. Seriously, that was the coolest envelope ever. Who's with me on that one? I need to get me some...

Anyway, I wish I could say that I did something really cool with it, like baked some awesome cookie using the chocolate... but alas, half of it is already in my belly, and I would venture to guess that the rest won't be too far behind. This is some SERIOUSLY GOOD CHOCOLATE. You have to check them out and order some for yourself.

Thank you SO MUCH, TCHO - you guys rock, and I will for sure be ordering from you! And Blake, you rock too for bringing this delightful piece of heaven into my life... and into my mouth.

Okay, I kind of went a little overboard with the pictures. But you have to understand that I spent all afternoon trying to take cute little pictures of my son in his St. Patrick's Day shirt, so it was refreshing trying to capture something that wasn't running away from me...

(I was so proud of this last picture. I just wish I knew how to rotate it on here...)

Easy Bistro Chicken, and Tomato and Mozzarella Quesadillas

This chicken was one of the easiest meals I made in a LONG time. Thank goodness for Kraft Foods and their magazine - this one is a keeper. The chicken was so juicy and tender... fabulous. Loved it. You need to make it tonight!

The only problem I ran into is that my breasts are too big. Ha! I mean CHICKEN breasts (although the same could be said for... oh, never mind). I buy my meat at BJs, and their chicken breasts are HUGE. So I had to leave mine going for longer than the recipe said.

But anyway.

I threw together some Italian quesadillas, which came out a bit too soggy and not quite cheesy enough... but not bad. I guess I should have thrown in a veggie or two, huh...

Easy Bistro Chicken, from Kraft Foods

  • 2 tsp. oil
  • 3 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 can (15 oz.) stewed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/4 cup KRAFT Zesty Italian Dressing
  • 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 4 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves (1 lb.)
  • 1 cup KRAFT Low-Moisture Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese
  • 2 slices OSCAR MAYER Ready to Serve Bacon, crumbled (I omitted. Bacon = ewwie to me.)

HEAT oil in large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and onions; cook 5 min., stirring occasionally. Stir in tomatoes, dressing and tomato paste.

ADD chicken; cover. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 12 min. or until chicken is cooked through.

SPRINKLE with cheese and bacon; simmer, uncovered, 5 min. or until cheese is melted.

Irish Muffins

(And by "Irish," I mean that they are green. 'Cause I dyed them.)

Ryan's daycare was having a St. Paddy's Day party today, and I volunteered to make muffins.

I used a recipe for Healthy Blueberry Muffins from My Tiny Little Kitchen Creations, and they were awesome. My only problem was that I forgot to add the green food coloring until AFTER I had reached "mixing completion;" so they were a bit more Play-Doh-ish than I would have liked. But hey - my audience was a bunch of toddlers, so whatever.

(Special thanks to Cara's Cravings for the tips on turning a regular muffin recipe into one for mini's...)

  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/4 stick), softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used Vanilla.)
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries
  • 1 Tbsp flour (if using defrosted frozen berries)


Adjust the oven rack to the middle-lower part of the oven. Preheat oven to 375°F (I did 325).

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together, beating until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated after each one. Beat in the grated lemon peel.

Beat in one half of the dry ingredients until just incorporated. Beat in one third of the yogurt.

Beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients. Beat in a second third of the yogurt. Beat in the remaining dry ingredients and then the remaining yogurt. Again be careful to beat until just incorporated. Do not over beat. Fold in the berries. If you are using frozen berries, defrost them first, drain the excess liquid, and then coat them in a light dusting of flour.

Use a standard 12-muffin muffin pan. Coat each muffin cup lightly with olive oil or grapeseed oil using a pastry brush, or with a little butter. Or use one of those convenient vegetable oil sprays. Distribute the muffin dough equally among the cups. Bake until muffins are golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Test with a long toothpick (we use a thin bamboo skewer) to make sure the center of the muffins are done. Set on wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from the tin and serve slightly warm.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Menu: March 16

Usually, the hard part of menu-planning is narrowing down all the yummy-sounding dishes at my fingertips. Between my cookbooks, magazines, blogs, etc... I have enough recipe ideas to last a lifetime.

This week, however, I was in a rut. The only thing I knew I wanted to make was Brooke's "Bread and Pasta All in One," but aside from that... I had nothin'.

But rest assured, blog readers (if there are any...!); I've figured it out!

Sunday: Dinner at Nana's - YAY! :)
Monday: Easy Bistro Chicken (from Kraft foods) with a side of tomato and mozzarella quesadillas
Tuesday: Turkey burgers with sweet potato fries
Wednesday: Creamy Chicken with Artichokes (from Pleasure Cooker)
Thursday: Leftovers (or take out, if we have no LO's left)
Friday: Bread and Pasta All in One (from ...And a Cookie For Dessert)
Saturday: Beef/Potato Stroganoff (from Everyday with RR)

Happy Cooking!

Friday, March 14, 2008

French Onion "Soup" Mac and Cheese

My dad used to not cook much, and his "specialty" was macaroni and cheese. It's SO easy and SO unhealthy but SO YUMMY! I make it sometimes, but it's never as good as his.

Every Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember, my mom would make French Onion soup for the "second course." DE-LISH! Every year she contemplates making something new, but too many people whine and complain and beg her to keep it. Hee hee! It's VERY good.

Anyway, so when I first saw this recipe on the Food Network's website, it seemed a perfect "marriage" of my parents (haha, get it? Marriage? 'Cause they ARE married! Ha!). I immediately earmarked it for a Lenten Friday, and couldn't wait to try it. I was a bit apprehensive, however, because it was so "different" - I had visions of us scrambling to order pizza in order to rectify the dinner.

Overall, I liked it. It was heavier than I expected - I couldn't finish my portion (or maybe that's because of the snacking I did while cooking... hmm...). But I will definitely do this again. It was a terrific wintery comfort food.

While I was actually cooking it, I was forced to make more substitutions than I intended, so I'll be interested in trying this again "for real."

  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Bechamel Sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk or half-and-half
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces Gruyere, grated (I apparently totally forgot to buy this, and didn't realize it until I was mid-meal... so I just used ALL mozzarella... EEK!)
  • 3 ounces mozzarella grated

French Onion "Soup":

  • 2 tablespoons butter, plus 1 tablespoon (or nonstick spray)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large white onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons honey (I thought I had some, but apparently didn't... so it was omitted.)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dry sherry
  • 2 cups beef stock (I used veggie since it's Friday.)
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme leaves (I used dried.)
  • 1 pound pasta, cooked al dente (elbow macaroni, ziti, or fusilli work well) (I wanted to use elbows because they're so much easier for Ryan, but I accidentally grabbed ziti and didn't realize it until I poured half of them into the pot!)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Topping: Combine bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese in a small bowl and set aside.

Bechamel Sauce: Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over low heat in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and stir to combine. Stir constantly, for about 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium and whisk in the milk or half-and-half, adding a little at a time and cook until thickened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Lower heat, season with the salt and pepper and add Gruyere and mozzarella cheeses. Stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Set aside.

French Onion "Soup:" Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan. Add onions, cover, and cook 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove cover, add garlic and honey, and continue to cook uncovered, stirring frequently, until onions are caramelized, about 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and a generous amount of pepper. Remove pot from heat and add sherry. Return to heat and stir to remove browned bits from bottom of pan. Reduce sherry by half, then add stock and thyme and cook until almost all liquid is evaporated. Remove from heat.

Grease a 3-quart baking dish or casserole with the last tablespoon of butter or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Combine cooked pasta with onion "soup" mixture and bechamel sauce, and stir well to combine. Transfer pasta to baking dish and sprinkle with bread crumb/Parmesan topping.

Bake until top is golden brown and cheese is bubbly, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Williams Sonoma

I DROOL over kitchen stuff. Seriously. For me, it's all about lattes, shoes, and kitchen gadgets. Life doesn't get any better than that...

Kate over at The Clean Plate Club is giving away a FIFTY dollar GC to Williams Sonoma. WAHOO!
Go check it out to enter...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Cheeseburger Meatloaf

Yep, another Rachael recipe. Not too surprising, however, when you consider that I own seven of her books, subscribe to her magazine, and watch her TV show when I can...

Anyway, this was pretty good. It was a bit weird because of the meat/quantity thing (see my notes) but it was good. I'd make it again. It's from her magazine, but when I ripped it out, I forgot to write which issue. I looked for it online, but couldn't find it.

Here it is:

  • 2 tablespoons "EVOO"
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped (I just used white.)
  • 2/3 cup ketchup (I also added about a tablespoon of mustard.)
  • 2/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup bread-and-butter pickle chips, chopped (I omitted because Pat doesn't like pickles. I'd love to try this WITH the pickles...)
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (I actually used 2lbs, because I have my ground meat frozen in 1-lb packages. I added a little extra of everything. Oh, and I used turkey instead of beef.)
  • 8 ounces cheddar, cut into 1/3" cubes (I just used shredded.)
  • 2 pounds new red potatoes
  • 3/4 heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 400. Lightly oil a rimmed backing sheet. In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring until slightly softened, about 3 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the ketchup, bread crumbs, eggs, and pickles; mix in the onions. Crumble in the beef, add the cheese, and mix together. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and shape into a 4x12" loaf. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 160, about 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, half the potatoes and place them in a large pot with enough salted water to cover by an inch. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain, return to the pot, and mash with the cream.

Let the meatloaf rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with the mashed potatoes.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Mocha Chip Scones

"My scone? MY scone!"

Ahh, I love Friends. Similarly, I love coffee. And chocolate. And baked goods. So what could be better than a Mocha Chip Scone with which to enjoy my ginormous morning coffee?

I'm not usually a big Sandra Lee fan, but when I saw this recipe on the Food Network site, I knew I had to make it. For me, breakfast during the week is usually a FiberOne bar, or, lately, a VitaTop, which is usually frantically consumed during my early morning prep period at school.

Well, move over, stuff-in-a-box; these scones just might become my new regular. They are. So. Good.

I can't really taste the coffee, which seems odd, but otherwise - DELIGHTFUL! Even Pat liked them, and he's not really the scone type. (Although he DOES like anything with chocolate chips...) I will FOR SURE be making these again - and SOON!

1/4 cup brewed coffee (recommended: Folgers Gourmet Supreme Roast Coffee), double strength, cooled (I used Dunkin Donuts coffee, and afterwards I realized that it was cinnamon-flavored. Oh well - cinnamon goes quite nicely with coffee and chocolate, right?)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 large eggs, lightly beaten separately
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups baking mix (Thank you to the lovely girls on the Nest who very nicely, without mocking me, informed me that this is simply Bisquick. And an even bigger thank you to Patrick who, when he was mere blocks from home, turned right back around and went to the store to get me more when I was in the middle of baking!)
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup white baking chips (I just used all chocolate.)
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 tablespoon heavy cream
White decorating sugar or sanding sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, combine coffee, cream, 1 egg, and vanilla extract; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine baking mix, sugar, white baking, and chocolate chips.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and work into a crumbly dough. On a lightly floured surface, form dough into a 9-inch disk (approximately 1/2-inch thick). Cut into 12 wedges and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Set aside. (I found this to be very difficult. She wasn't kidding when she said "crumbly" dough! It was almost impossible to form it into the disk, cut into wedges, and place on the sheet. I made quite a mess...)

In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon cream and remaining beaten egg. Brush tops of scones with egg mixture and sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with butter!

Deluxe, Divine, Chicken Divan

With a name like that, you KNOW it's Rachael Ray.

I was a bad meal planner this week. Tonight's scheduled dinner is way too similar to last night's, but I didn't realize it until the chicken was already mostly defrosted (and I'm not using chicken anymore this week). I mean, it is almost EXACTLY the same, only with chicken instead of beef. This is the one I was planning on.

And this is what I ended up with (with MANY modifications, since I wasn't prepared for this one!):

1/3 cup sliced almonds, a couple of handfuls (I omitted.)
1 quart chicken stock
1 lemon, zested (I used lemon juice because I had no lemons!)
2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme (Nope - dried.)
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 1/2 cups white rice
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds chicken breast cutlets, 8 cutlets
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning, 1/3 palm full
2 tablespoons plus about 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, divided
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of pan
1 1/3 pounds, a large bunch, asparagus spears, trimmed of tough ends (Frozen...)
6 or 7 large button mushrooms, sliced (Canned.)
1/3 cup half-and-half (Milk.)
1 rounded tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons, a couple sprigs, fresh tarragon, leaves chopped
(Nope - dried.)
2 scallions, chopped (I omitted.)

Toast almonds in a small skillet until golden. Set aside.

Bring 2 3/4 cups chicken stock, the zest of 1 lemon, thyme sprigs and a tablespoon of butter to a boil in a medium pot with a tight fitting lid. Add rice to water, stir. Return the water to a boil then reduce heat to simmer and cove the pot. Cook 18 minutes or until tender, remove from heat. Remove the thyme sprigs, the leaves will have fallen off in the rice.

While the rice cooks, season chicken with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Dredge chicken in about half cup of flour then discard the rest. Heat a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, and 1 tablespoon butter to the large skillet. To the hot butter and oil, add the cutlets and cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove the meat to a large platter and cover with foil to keep warm.

Bring an inch or 2 of water to a simmer in a shallow pan and season with salt. Add asparagus and cook 4 minutes until just tender but green. Remove and add to chicken platter to keep warm.

Return chicken skillet to the heat and add 2 tablespoons butter. Melt butter, add the mushrooms and saute for a couple of minutes. Whisk in 2 rounded tablespoons flour. Cook the flour 1 minute then whisk in 1/3 cup white wine, a couple of glugs. Cook off wine, 30 seconds, then whisk in 1 1/4 cups of chicken stock (remainder of the quart) then the half-and-half. When sauce bubbles, stir in mustard and tarragon and let sauce simmer and thicken 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir scallions into rice and fluff with fork. Make a bed of rice on each dinner plate. Top with a serving of steamed asparagus then 2 cutlets of chicken. Cover the chicken with the tarragon sauce, allowing the gravy to spill over edges into asparagus and rice. Sprinkle the plates with toasted nuts. Wow! Can you believe you made this?

I think I'm done with this recipe. The first time I made it (maybe a year or two ago), I LOVED it. It was perfect. I've made this a few times since then, and each time it comes out differently - and never as good. Because of that, it's not a "go-to" recipe by any means (for me, anyway), but it was the best I could do on short notice tonight. :)

Tonight, it was... okay. I over-steamed the asparagus (in case you couldn't tell from the picture!) and under-cooked the chicken (had to go back and redo it).

This is a meal that tastes FABULOUS - but aside from the first time I ever made it, I can't seem to get it right. I think I just might give up. Life's too short. ;)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Perfect Winter Beef Stew

As its name suggests, tonight's meal was just right for a windy, blustery day in NJ. I was a tad skeptical of the fact that it doesn't call for ANY spices or herbs... but I think it's okay without them. Maybe I'd add a touch of thyme... I don't know. What do you think?

I tore this out of an issue of Kraft Food, but unfortunately, the issue month/year did not survive, so I can't properly credit this recipe...

  • 3/4 cup Italian dressing
  • 2 lb beef for stew, such as boneless beef chuck eye roast
  • 6 slices of bacon, chopped (I am not a bacon person, so I skipped this.)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 3 cups sliced carrots
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled, cut into large chunks
  • 1 can (14 1/2 oz) stewed tomatoes, undrained (I realized after I started that I bought a 28oz can... oh well!)
  • 1 can (14 1/2 oz) beef broth
  • (I also chopped 3 celery stalks)
Trim excess fat from meat and cut into even 1" chunks. Place into a large resealable bag, and pour in the dressing; refrigerate at least 30 minutes (I did a couple of hours).

Cook bacon in a large pot on medium heat for 5 minutes or until crisp. Remove from pot using a slotted spoon. Discard excess bacon fat (the recipe goes into detail about how to do this safely and NOT just pouring it down the drain).

Add onion and mushrooms to pot (I started w/ some EVOO since I skipped the bacon thing); cook on medium-high 10 minutes or until softened. Remove beef from marinade; discard marinade. Add beef, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes WITH their liquid, broth, and bacon to the pot.

Bring to a boil, stirring occassionally. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Uncover; continue to simmer 15 minutes or until meat is tender and sauce is thickened, stirring occassionally.

Makes 8 servings.

I LOVED this. It was a bit time consuming for a weekday meal (really, just because of the time it needs to marinate and simmer), but definitely worth it. Pat even slurped the bowl, and as far as Ryan goes... well, see for yourself:

Menu: March 9

Sunday: Beef Stew from an old Kraft magazine

Monday: "Chicken in a Pot, No Pie" - Rachael Ray

Tuesday: Cheeseburger Meatloaf - Rachael Ray

Wednesday: NO COOKING! I'm thinking... Chinese.

Thursday: Citrus Pork Stir Fry - Kraft Magazine, 2005

Friday: French Onion "Soup" Mac and Cheese - FoodNetwork's Ultimate Recipe Showdown

Saturday: Baked Potato Soup - Jill's Blog

Happy Cooking!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Awwww! *blush*

I cannot believe that, after only 2 weeks of being a food blogger, I have earned this:

I "know" Kayte from two different boards, and she is truly one of the sweetest people I "encounter" on a daily basis. Check out her blog - YUM!!

Thanks SO SO SO much, Kayte! You made MY day with this!

Now, I'm going to share this with ten people who make MY day:

Ladies, many of you probably don't even know who I am! (Except for Jen and Brooke, my "in real life" friends... hee hee!) But I read your blogs daily and have "starred" many of your posts. You inspire me - and you make my day. Pass this along to others who make YOUR day...

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Pork Chops

First, welcome to the new site. Why the change, you might ask? Well, to save myself from a LOT of embarrassment, let's just say that you shouldn't always trust free online translators. Always ask your mother. Your mother is ALWAYS right (Hi, Mom! xo).

Anyway, tonight's dinner is courtesy of Melissa, who found this one on If you look at her blog entry for this dinner, you'll see that her sauce is MUCH thinner than mine... I don't know why. Hers looks so much better. I don't know what I did wrong...

This was a good dinner, but I do wish the sauce hadn't been so clumpy and thick and jelly-like.

Pineapple Pork Chops

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 boneless pork chops
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup pineapple juice

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, and brown the pork chops about 5 minutes on each side. Remove chops from the skillet, and set aside.

Mix the chicken broth, soy sauce and vinegar into the skillet, and bring to a boil. Return the pork chops to the skillet, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes, to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F . Remove chops from the skillet, reserving broth mixture, and set aside.

In a bowl, blend the brown sugar, cornstarch, and pineapple juice. Mix into the skillet with the chicken broth mixture. Bring to a boil. Serve with the cooked pork chops.

Veggie Enchilladas

Ahh, Lent. Meatless Fridays. Why is it that I can go DAYS w/out meat, but as soon as a Lenten Friday rolls around, I'm tempted to sell my organs for a slab of beef?

Anyway, before we had Ryan, Fridays during Lent usually consisted of penne/vodka or pizza. But now that the little tyke is here and eating what we eat, we try to be a little more health conscious and include a tad more protein.

I stumbled upon this recipe when I first discovered food blogs. I don't really know why I "starred" it since it's not really something I would ordinarily like... but I am SO glad I did. This was so ridiculously good... And my family agreed. Pat has been asking for it again almost as soon as I made it the first time, and even Ryan enjoyed it.

This was SO easy to make and so delicious. I know, I already said it's good... but it deserves to be said as often as possible. :)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for baking dishes
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin (I used a little less because I didn't want it to be too spicy for Ryan)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 3 cups grated pepper Jack cheese (12 ounces) (I followed the wise bmk's suggestion and used cheddar - actually, I think I used a "taco mix")
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 box (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 box (10 ounces) frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
  • 16 corn tortillas (6-inch)
Make sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add 1 teaspoon cumin, flour, and tomato paste; cook, whisking, 1 minute. Whisk in broth and 3/4 cup water; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook until slightly thickened, 5 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Make filling: In a large bowl, combine 2 cups cheese, beans, spinach, corn, scallion whites, and remaining 1 teaspoon cumin; season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil two 8-inch square baking dishes; set aside. Stack tortillas, and wrap in damp paper towels; microwave on high for 1 minute. Or stack and wrap in aluminum foil, and heat in oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Top each tortilla with a heaping 1/3 cup of filling; roll up tightly and arrange, seam side down, in prepared baking dishes.

Dividing evenly, sprinkle enchiladas with remaining 1 cup cheese, and top with sauce. Bake, uncovered, until hot and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool 5 minutes; serve garnished with scallion greens.

Thanks, bmk, for a wonderful addition to my repertoire! (And thanks Everyday Food for inspiring her!)

Giada's Chicken Piccata

Two consecutive days of Giada! And both were winners...

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, halved crosswise
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • all-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (approx 2 lemons)
  • 1/4 cup drained capers, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (Uhh... yeah... I totally forgot about this.)
  1. Season the chicken with the salt/pepper. Dredge the chicken in the flour to coat lightly.
  2. In a large saute pan, melt 2 tbsp of the butter with the 2 tbsp of oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook just until brown, about 3 minutes per side (I did mine a bit longer because, as per usual, I forgot to pound it!). Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a plate.
  3. Add the broth, lemon juice, and capers to the same pan and bring to a boil, scraping up the bits from the bottom of the pan.
  4. Return the chicken and simmer until cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  5. Transfer the chicken to a platter, and whisk the 2 remaining tbsp's of butter into the sauce. Pour the sauce over the chicken, garnish with parsley, and serve.
I thought this was delish! I made mashed potatoes to go along with it, and next time I will double (or maybe even triple...) the ingredients so I'd have a nice sauce to cover both.

Want to win free stuff?

Then enter here!
(And tell her Lauren sent you.)

In addition to having a great blog, Megan is raffling off a basket of adorable spring things. You get one "entry" just for replying to her post, another for subscribing to her blog, and FIVE more if you post about it (like I'm doing...!).

So go enter... and check out her blog!

S'mores Cookies

Oh... my... god.

These just might be the BEST cookies ever.

When I first discovered food blogs and the Google Reader, this recipe was one of the first that I starred. (I love an excuse to use my KA mixer...) I made it for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and made it a total of three times! They are so unbelievably terrific - thanks, Culinary Infatuation! (She actually got the recipe from another blog - Cookie Madness. YUM!)

I omitted the nuts, but kept everything else the same. I pressed about 3 marshmallows into each cookie, so I have no idea if I stuck with the listed quantity.

EVERYONE loved these - my husband, my brother and his girlfriend, my mom, my in-laws, my friends... these are a crowd-pleaser for SURE.

Beef and Cheese Manicotti

When I think of manicotti, I think of Nina, my mom's cousin's wife. We go to their house every year for Christmas Eve, and she always makes the traditional fish dinner. As kids, we wouldn't eat the fish, so she would make manicotti for us and her own children. Now, we still aren't big seafood fans, so she still makes it for us. :)

I found this recipe in Giada's Everyday Italian and couldn't wait to try it. It was rather tedious for a weeknight, however; next time I will probably do it on a weekend when I have more time.

Here is the recipe, with my alterations in red:

1/2 pound ground beef (I used turkey, and I used a whole pound because that's what I had.)
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 (15-ounce) container whole-milk ricotta (I used part-skim.)
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella (No idea how much I used - I just grabbed fist-fulls. I heart cheese...)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced (I used one large one, and it tasted WAY too garlic-y... and I LOVE garlic. Maybe because there was already garlic in the sauce...?)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 teaspoons olive oil
12 (8-ounce package) manicotti (I started out with 14 since that's how many come in a package... but I had a few casualties...)
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce (I don't know how much I used - I just used some that I made over the weekend.)
2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces (I totally forgot about this step - whoops! But I don't think it made a difference... still yummy!)

Heat a heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, onion and ground beef. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until the meat browns and the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and cool.

Brush 1 teaspoon of oil over a large baking sheet. Cook the manicotti in a large pot of boiling salted water until slightly softened, but still very firm to the bite, about 4 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the manicotti from the pot to the oiled baking sheet and cool.

Meanwhile, combine the ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and parsley. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper to taste, and mix. Stir the cooled meat mixture into the cheese mixture.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Brush the remaining oil over a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Spoon 1 1/2 cups of the marinara sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. Fill the manicotti with the cheese-meat mixture. (This part was HARD! It took forever. Maybe it was just the whiny toddler who was scuttling around my ankles, but I ended up slicing the manicotti down the middle, spooning the mixture in, and trying to replace them nicely!) Arrange the stuffed pasta in a single layer in the prepared dish and spoon the remaining sauce over.

Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese, then the remaining Parmesan over the stuffed pasta. Dot entire dish with the butter pieces. Bake the manicotti uncovered until heated through and the sauce bubbles on the sides of the dish, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let the manicotti stand 5 minutes and serve.

I really enjoyed this dish. The flavors (except for the overpowering garlic!) melded together nicely, and I got a wholehearted "Good stuff, dude," from my husband.

I would definitely make this again.

My First Post!

I am finally doing it - plunging into the world of food blogging. I cook almost every night for my family, and I adore it. I am constantly, much to my husband's chagrin, buying new cookbooks and magazines (although I don't hear him complaining when I'm making him food...!). Recently I discovered the Nest's "What's Cooking" board and all the food blogs that come with it, and I'm thrilled to have a whole new world of cooking at my fingertips.

Now that I've leapt aboard the bandwagon, onto my first post - this week's menu!

Tonight: Chicken Piccata (from Giada's Everyday Italian)

Monday: Beef and Cheese Manicotti (from Giada's Everyday Italian)

Tuesday: Champion Chicken Parm (from Best of Cooking Light)

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Pineapple Pork Chops (this is from a food blog, but I don't remember whose - I will definitely credit her appropriately when I make it!)

Friday: Veggie Enchiladas (from Reservations Not Required)

Saturday: Winter Beef Stew (from an old issue of Kraft Foods)

I hope you like my blog... and I hope I can keep up! :)

Happy cooking,
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