Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Meatloaf with Smothered Mushrooms and Cheesy Cauliflower

I thought this looked interesting when I saw it on the Food Network's website, but I wasn't a big fan. It was good, don't get me wrong, but nothing great; I much more prefer Rachael's Cheeseburger Meatloaf. Much more flavor and a little simpler.

I don't really have much else to say about this. I guess I'm just kind of "ehh" about tonight's meal...

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds ground beef, pork and veal mix (meatloaf mix) or ground sirloin – your choice
  • 1 small onion, peeled and halved
  • 4 sprigs fresh sage, finely chopped, about 2 tablespoons
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 handfuls bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, eyeball it
  • 1 rounded tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 1/3 cup, about 3 ounces, Boursin or other garlic and herb soft cheese
  • A handful grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg, eyeball it
  • 3 tablespoons chives, chopped or snipped, about 12 blades
  • 20 crimini or baby portobello mushrooms
  • 1 rounded tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • A shot Scotch or dry sherry, optional
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half or cream, 1 turn of the pan

Place meat in a bowl. Grate onion using a box or handheld grater directly over the meat bowl. Add sage, egg, bread crumbs, Worcestershire and mustard, salt and pepper then mix meat to combine. Score meat into 4 sections and form 4 oval shaped loaves, 1 to 1/2 inches thick.

Preheat 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatloaves and cook 6 to 7 minutes on each side. Remove to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.

While meatloaf cooks, add chicken stock and 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan, to a deep pot. Trim away greens and stems from the base of cauliflower. Cut away the core with a sharp paring knife. Set cored head into pot with broth. Cover pot and bring liquid to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cook cauliflower, covered, until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Uncover the pot and mash the cauliflower. Let some liquid cook off as you smash the cheeses into the cauliflower. As the mixture thickens, turn off heat and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in chives and transfer cauliflower to as serving dish.

Once meatloaves are removed, place the skillet back over medium heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan, and the mushrooms. Cover the skillet with foil and nest the foil into pan with a second smaller skillet, smothering the mushrooms. Cook until deep brown and tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove the foil, add flour and cook a minute longer. Add in a shot of Scotch or sherry, if you have either on hand, then whisk in the beef stock. Stir in half-and-half or cream and bring to a bubble. Season the mushroom gravy with salt and pepper, to taste.

Place the meatloaves on dinner plates and douse with hot, smothered mushroom gravy, spoon the cauliflower alongside.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Chicken Piccata with Lemon, Capers, and Artichoke Hearts

I like Chicken Piccata and I really liked the Chicken/Artichoke dinner I've made, so when I saw this Robin Miller recipe on the Food Network's website, I saved it immediately.

It's super easy to make and it really tasted great. I didn't make enough for leftovers, though - bummer! But I was very satisfied with this dish; I'd make it again for sure.

  • 4 (4-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 1/4 cup drained capers
  • 1 cup quick-cooking brown rice
  • 1/2 cup frozen lima beans (I omitted.)

Place chicken in zip-top bags and pound with a meat mallet or rolling pin until 1/4-inch thick. Remove chicken from bag and season all over with salt and black pepper. In a shallow dish (or plastic bag), combine flour, lemon zest, paprika, and garlic powder. Mix well. Add chicken and turn to coat. Remove chicken from flour mixture and shake off excess flour.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and saute 2 minutes per side, until golden brown and cooked through. Add lemon juice, wine and chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer 5 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and sauce thickens. Add artichoke hearts and capers and simmer 1 minute to heat through.

Cook rice according to package directions, adding lima beans at the beginning of cooking process. Serve chicken and sauce with rice.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

WC Recipe Exchange: Banana Bread

See? Now THIS is why I love the What's Cooking? board.

I entered, for the second time, the recipe exchange. You submit a recipe of your own, and you get "assigned" someone else's to make and blog about. This time, the theme was "Family Recipes."

I would never, ever have thought to put pineapple in banana bread. And making it with Bisquick?? That is PERFECT for a not-very-great-baker like me. The woman running the exchange must know me very well. :)

I had this loaf in the oven in no time. Seriously. I preheated the oven, started the bread, and I was done before the oven was ready. And my oven is quick.

The only addition I made to this recipe was to sprinkle some chocolate chips on top. Really, what CAN'T be improved with the addition of some chocolate chips??

This was DELICIOUS. I will for sure make this again. My husband and son LOVED it; Ryan even cried when "his" piece was gone. THANK YOU for a wonderful addition to my files!!

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-3 over-ripe mashed bananas
  • 2 cups Bisquick
  • Small can crushed pineapple, mostly drained

Beat first 3 ingredients until fluffy. Add bananas and blend. Add last 2 ingredients and beat until mixed well. Put in a greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to 1 hour. This is best served warm with a pat of butter.

Menu: April 28

I usually go through my saved recipes on various websites, my Google Reader, cookbooks, computer files, etc... This week, for some strange reason, I didn't even finish going through my recipe box on the Food Network's site before I had my whole menu done. Thanks mostly to Rachael and Giada, here's what's cooking at my house this week!

Monday: Chicken Piccata with Lemon, Capers, and Artichokes

Tuesday: Meatloaf with Smothered Mushrooms and Cheesy Cauliflower

Wednesday: Chicken with Creamy Mustard Marsala Sauce and Butternut Squash and Vanilla Risotto
Thursday: Florentine Mac and Cheese with Roasted Chicken Meatballs

Friday: Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Pork

Saturday: Chili Dog Cheeseburgers and Fiery Fries

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Apricot Pork Chops

I was perusing the Cooking Light website when I came across this recipe for Apricot Pork Chops. It looked pretty good (and super easy) so I figured I'd add it to the menu.

This WAS fast!! It was done before I could catch up on my Google Reader posts for the day. :) I can't attest to its quality, however; I was so hungry when I got home that I snacked during cooking - so then I wasn't hungry when it was ready. Whoops! Pat said it was good, though...

  • Cooking spray
  • 4 (4-ounce) boneless loin pork chops
  • 1/4 cup prechopped onion
  • 1/4 cup apricot preserves
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add pork to pan; cook 6 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan; keep warm.

Add prechopped onion to pan; sauté 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in preserves, soy sauce, garlic, and salt; cook 3 minutes or until thickened. Add pork to pan, turning to coat. Sprinkle with green onions.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 pork chop and 1 tablespoon sauce)

CALORIES 231 (32% from fat); FAT 8.3g (sat 2.5g,mono 3.6g,poly 1.2g); PROTEIN 23.9g; CHOLESTEROL 73mg; CALCIUM 24mg; SODIUM 345mg; FIBER 0.5g; IRON 1.2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 15.2g

Cooking Light, JULY 2005

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Outback's Alice Springs Chicken

I don't even look at the menu when I go to the Outback, one of my favorite places to eat. We get a Bloomin' Onion for an appetizer and I order Alice Springs Chicken, no bacon, with a side of garlic mashed. De-lish. Sometimes I'll have a Wallaby Darned to drink, but usually I'm sipping a raspberry iced tea. And on the rare occasion that I actually order dessert, it's a Chocolate Thunder From Down Under.

What can I say? I'm a creature of habit.

You can therefore imagine my glee when over a year ago, my mom found this recipe online. I don't know if this is the site where she found it, but it appears here too.

Now, this is not as good as the steakhouse's. But if your budget or schedule doesn't allow a night out, this is definitely a good second best.

• ½ cup Dijon mustard
• ½ cup honey
• 1 ½ tsp vegetable oil
• ½ teaspoon lemon juice
• 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
• 1 tbsp vegetable oil
• 2 cups sliced mushrooms
• 2 tbsp butter
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tsp pepper
• 1 tsp paprika
• 8 slices bacon, cooked (I omitted.)
• 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
• 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
• 2 tsp finely chopped fresh parsley

Combine the mustard, honey, 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and lemon juice in a small bowl. Whip the mixture for about 30 seconds. Pour about 2/3 of the marinade over the chicken breasts and marinate them, covered, in the refrigerator for about 2 hours. Chill the remaining marinade until later.

After the chicken has marinated, preheat the oven to 375F and heat an ovenproof frying pan large enough to hold all four breasts and 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. (If you don't have an ovenproof frying pan, transfer the chicken to a baking dish.)

Sear the chicken in the pan for 3-4 minutes per side or until golden brown. Remove pan from heat but keep chicken in the pan.

As the chicken is cooking, in a small frying pan sauté the mushrooms in the butter. Brush each seared chicken breast with a little of the reserved honey mustard marinade (not the portion that the chicken soaked in) being sure to save a little extra that you can serve on the side later with the dish.

Season the chicken with salt, pepper and paprika. Stack two pieces of cooked bacon, crosswise on each chicken breast. Spoon the sautéed mushrooms onto the bacon, being sure to coat each breast evenly. Sprinkle 1/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese evenly onto each breast followed by 1/4 cup of Cheddar.

Bake the pan of prepared chicken breasts for 7-10 minutes or until cheese is thoroughly melted and starting to bubble. Sprinkle each breast with 1/2 teaspoon parsley before serving. Put extra honey mustard marinade into a small bowl to serve on the side.

Garlic and Chive Mashed Potatoes

When I order Alice Springs Chicken at the Outback, I always order garlic mashed potatoes rather than the "Aussie Chips" that are the meal's default side. Since I was making this chicken dish tonight, I searched the internet for a yummy-sounding, but easy, recipe. Tyler Florence over at the Food Network's website had just what I needed.

I don't have a food mill or a potato ricer, so I just threw these into the KA Mixer. I didn't quite get the creamy texture that I would have otherwise, but they were still really good. A tad garlicky, but good!

  • 4 to 6 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives

Put the cut potatoes into a large pot, cover them with cold water, and add a large pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and simmer until the potatoes are fork tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, in a small pot heat the cream, butter, garlic, and thyme. While the potatoes are still warm, press them through a potato ricer or food mill into a bowl. Stir in the warm cream a bit at a time, straining out the solids, until the potatoes are fluffy. Season with salt and pepper and gently fold in the chives. Serve immediately.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Baked Ziti

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I love pasta. I don't usually make baked pastas, though, except for the occasional lasagna or baked tortellini from Giada. But this recipe for Baked Ziti from Taste and See looked really good!

It was very quick and easy to make, and everyone loved it, Ryan included. He ate a ton! The best part is that there's plenty of leftovers, since I doubled this. Now we have lunch for tomorrow too.

  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 8 ounces ziti rigate (ridged) or other short pasta
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
  • 1 jar (24 to 26 ounces) tomato sauce (about 3 1/2 cups) (I used the sauce a couple of posts down and just eyeballed the amount.)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente, according to package instructions; drain and reserve.

In a small bowl, combine ricotta, egg, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and half the mozzarella; season with salt and pepper.

In the bottom of a shallow 2-quart casserole dish, spread half the tomato sauce. Top with ziti, then ricotta mixture and remaining sauce. (I mixed the ricotta mixture in with the pasta and some sauce.) Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan and remaining mozzarella. Place casserole on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until top is browned and sauce is bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes.

Roasted Asparagus

I was a veggie-roasting-virgin until about a week ago when I made broccoli. YUM! Brooke commented and suggested I try asparagus; a few days later, a roasted asparagus recipe appeared on Liz's Cooking Blog. Perfect! Here is her recipe, which was the easiest thing ever, and SO good!

  • 1-2 lbs asparagus (look for thin spears)
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly-cracked pepper
  • Lemon

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Snap bottoms off of spears and lay spears in one layer on a jelly roll pan.
  3. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Roast for 10-15 minutes, or until a sharp knife easily slides into the thickest part of a spear.
  5. Lightly squeeze lemon juice over asparagus and serve.

Basic Marinara

I saw this recipe for sauce in the October 2007 issue of Cooking Light. It's so easy and effortless, yet it tastes delicious. It's pretty much my go-to recipe for sauce now. I do change it up depending on my mood - adding beef, using diced in place of one can of crushed tomatoes, adding veggies, whether I cut the onions into chunks or puree them, using fresh herbs... Regardless, this is one easy recipe, and I almost always have what I need on hand, so I can make this on a whim.

(Tonight, I was in the mood for chunks, no meat.)

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups chopped yellow onion (about 3 medium)
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
3 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion to pan; cook for 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add sugar and the next 7 ingredients (through fennel seeds); cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in vinegar; cook 30 seconds. Add broth and tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat for 55 minutes or until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Menu: April 21

Monday: Baked Ziti and Roasted Asparagus

Tuesday: The Outback's Alice Spring's Chicken

Wednesday: Cheeseburger Meatloaf

Thursday: Apricot Pork Chops

Friday: Pizza

Saturday: No Cooking - Spending the day in Philly

Sunday: French Onion Mac and Cheese

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Best Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie

This recipe from allrecipes.com has been spreading through the Nest's "What's Cooking?" board like wildfire. It pops up regularly on my Google reader, and it's one of those where I say, "Man, I gotta make that one day."

Well, tonight was the night. And OH. MY. GOD. are they good! Pat kept coming in and trying to steal dough, and I think he would have taken one right off the cookie sheet if I had let him. I don't know what it is about them that makes them so unique, but they are freaken GOOD.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.
  4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Pork Milanese with Creamy Caper and Lemon Sauce

I saved this in my "Recipe Box" on the Food Network's website because it looked pretty easy, light, and yummy. Coincidentally, this episode aired the day before I was planning to make it. I TiVo'ed and was blown away by how simple and FAST this really was to make.

I thought that the sauce tasted a bit too lemony; next time, I probably won't use a whole lemon. Also, there was WAY too much sauce; I will for sure halve the recipe or even make only a quarter of it. There was a TON left!

We both really liked this. Even Ryan, who I don't think has EVER eaten more than a bite or two of a pork chop, ate almost a whole one! Look:

Source: Giada diLaurentiis, foodtv.com


Creamy Caper and Lemon Sauce:
  • 2/3 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained and chopped
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pork Milanese:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 thin-cut pork chops
For the Creamy Caper and Lemon Sauce: Combine the mascarpone and mayonnaise in a medium bowl. Slowly add the milk, stirring as you go, until all the milk is incorporated. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine. Set aside.

For the Pork Milanese: Combine the flour and the 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper in a shallow dish and stir together. Crack the eggs into another shallow dish and beat until combined. In a third shallow bowl, place the breadcrumbs. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Dip the pork, 1at a time first in the flour, then the eggs, then the bread crumbs. Warm the vegetable in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot place the breaded pork in the pan. Cook until golden and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer the pork to a serving platter and serve with the sauce alongside.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mozzarella-Stuffed Meatballs

I've made these Rachael Ray meatballs before, and they were goooood. I wanted something extra to go along with my hearty bolognese, so these guys won! I found it a bit hard to get into nice round balls, but it worked. And both times I've made this, I had cheese leak out. Doesn't bother me any - who doesn't like gooey strands of mozzarella??

  • 1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup milk or water
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • Salt
  • 1 pound lean ground sirloin (I used turkey.)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into 20 (1/2-inch) cubes
  • Whatever sauce you are making to go along with the meatballs (I used the bolognese from the previous post.)
In a medium bowl, soak the bread crumbs in the milk.

Add the beef, chopped garlic, parsley, Parmigiano-Reggiano, egg and 1 teaspoon of salt to the soaked bread crumbs and stir with a fork until combined. Place about 2 tablespoons of the mixture in your hand and press a mozzarella cube into the center. Shape the meat around the cheese, forming a ball. Repeat with the remaining meat and mozzarella.

Stir the sauce and raise the heat to medium- low. Carefully place the meatballs in the sauce, submerging them completely. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook without stirring for 20 minutes.

Ziti Bolognese

I could seriously eat pasta every single day and not get sick of it. Actually, when we were first married, I probably made some sort of pasta dish at least 3 times a week. Then I wondered why I gained like 20 pounds... Anyway, I try not to make it more than once a week or even two, so when I DO make it, it has to be goooood. I saw this recipe on Culinary Infatuation and starred it - I love a good, chunky sauce! Pat is not a fan of spaghetti (I know! And still, I married him anyway...) so I used ziti instead.

This did take me a long time to cook, but that's my own fault. I have a really bad habit of not thoroughly reading recipes until it's time to actually make them. Many a time I have been screwed by not counting the time I needed to marinade... or thaw... or whatever.

Anyway, this was a tad much for a weeknight, but SO WORTH IT!! My house smelled amazing while it was simmering. Next time, I am totally doubling it so I can make lots. Mmmm...

  • 1 lb. ground chuck (I used turkey.)
  • 2 slices thick cut bacon minced (I omitted.)
  • 1/2 cup carrots small dice
  • 1/2 cup onions small dice
  • 1/2 cup celery small dice
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 cup cremini mushrooms chopped
  • 2 Tbs. fresh basil chopped
  • 2 Tbs. fresh oregano chopped (I used dried.)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup whole milk or half and half
  • 1 cup merlot
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes put in the food processor and pureed for 5 seconds (I am too lazy to do the puree thing, so I used a can of crushed and a can of diced. Like I said, chunks are gooooood. Oh, and I didn't know what size can to use - I used two 28oz and it was perfect!)
  • 1 Tbs. tomato paste
Heat a large pot over medium high heat. When it comes to temperature, add bacon and sautee until brown. Remove from pot and discard all but 1 1/2 - 2 Tbs. rendered fat. Add carrots, onions, celery and mushrooms and saute until soft. Add ground beef and garlic. When almost completely brown drain in a strainer and return to pot. (I skipped this because it didn't make sense to me. But maybe it has to do with getting rid of bacon fat? So since I didn't use bacon it didn't apply to me anyway?)

Add fresh herbs and bay leaves and let cook a couple minutes. Add milk and let cook until almost evaporated (8-10 minutes). Add Wine and let cook until almost evaporated (8-10 min.)
finally add tomatoes and paste and stir to combine. Let cook for an hour and a half. Serve over whichever pasta you fancy, top with parmesan and enjoy!

Kung Pao Chicken

When we get Chinese, Pat and I always get Chicken and Broccoli. Some may call us boring; some may say we're creatures of habit. *shrug*

Anyway, I've always tried making my own at home, and it never comes remotely close to Kam Luang Kitchen a few blocks away. While this recipe from It's Melissa's Kitchen still wasn't there, it was probably the closest I've ever come.

I used broccoli instead of peppers, and I also threw in a can of mushrooms. Oh, I also added chicken broth to make more sauce. Next time, I will do two things: use thin-sliced chicken, and double the ingredients for the sauce. I love extra sauce!

Ryan ate it too, and he's been picky lately. So this meal scores extra points. :)

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 pound total), cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce, divided
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (I used broccoli.)
  • 1 onion, peeled and very coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts (I omitted.)

Combine chicken and 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce. Chill 30 minutes. In small bowl, combine remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, crushed red pepper, and water. In wok or large skillet, heat canola oil over medium-high heat. Add reserved chicken mixture and garlic and stir-fry 3-4 minutes or until brown. Add bell pepper and onion and stir-fry 3 minutes. add cornstarch mixture. Cook, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened. Add peanuts and toss. Serve over rice.

Serves 4

Sweet Potato, Ham, and Marshmallow Casserole

Every year for Thanksgiving, Nana makes a sweet potato casserole w/ little marshmallows on top. YUM! While I know I could never replicate hers, I was excited to try this version for dinner (I believe she got the recipe from tasteofhome.com).

It was just okay. I thought it was too dessert-ish and not really hearty. I ended up just eating the toasted marshmallows (not that there's anything wrong with that... hee hee!). This is something that maybe I'd do for a side, but not for an actual meal. Rather than ice cream, I felt like I needed a salad for dessert.

(Oh, and I doubled this! We threw out the rest because neither of us said we'd eat it again. Definitely don't double this, and use it as a side!)

  • 1 large sweet potato, about (10 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 fully cooked ham slice (1/2 pound and 3/4 inch thick)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 can (8 ounces) pineapple chunks, drained
  • 1/3 cup miniature marshmallows (I used jumbo because, well, they looked tempting in the store!)

Peel sweet potato and cut into chunks. Place in a microwave-safe dish; add water. Cover and microwave on high for 7-9 minutes or until tender; drain and set aside.

Cut ham into two pieces. In a skillet, brown ham in butter on both sides. In a bowl, combine pineapple juice and brown sugar; stir until sugar is dissolved. Pour over ham. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5-7 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Transfer ham to a greased shallow 1-qt. baking dish. Place sweet potato and pineapple around edge of dish. Pour brown sugar mixture over the top.

Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 12-15 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle marshmallows around edge. Bake 3-5 minutes longer or until the marshmallows are golden brown. Yield: 2 servings.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Menu: April 13

Sunday: Out for a belated tenure-celebration dinner! YAY! I'm thinking Maggiano's...

Monday: Kung Pao Chicken and white rice

Tuesday: Sweet Potato Ham Casserole

Wednesday: Pasta Bolognese with Mozzarella-Stuffed Meatballs

Thursday: Pork Milanese with Creamy Caper and Lemon Sauce with mashed potatoes and veggies

Friday: Pizzaria Uno Pizza (they sell them "fresh" at the grocery store!)

Saturday: Chicken and Asparagus with Creamy Orzo

My sous chef!

My sweet Ryan, currently 17 months, has millions of toys. Seriously. You should see my living room. Looks like Toys R Us threw up.

So he has all these options, and what he choose to play with? He LOVES to go into my utensil drawer and pull out the same three things: a wooden spoon, a teaspoon measuring spoon, and a half teaspoon spoon. That's it. He walks around the house holding those things and tries to feed you his imaginary food.

He also loves to "help" me cook by dumping stuff in whenever I let him. I think we're looking at the next Emeril, people...

Fudgy Mocha Toffee Brownies

We had plans to go to Brooke and Joe's last night for dinner, and I was bringing dessert. In addition, George and Denise were popping by earlier in the day; Pat and George played golf, and Denise and Ryan and I went shopping. So I was looking for something to satisfy both events!

Cooking Light's recipe for Fudgy Mocha-Toffee Brownies fit the bill. Sort of. They were very good, but VERY sweet. For ME to say something is too sweet is really saying something... I think the problem was that I couldn't find toffee chips, so I used butterscotch. This would have been much better with either the toffee, plain chocolate chips, or maybe even peanut butter.

But... you live, you learn, right? In my book, there's no such thing as a bad brownie, so we're good.

  • object2="> Cooking spray object2=">
  • object2=">2 tablespoons instant coffee granules object2=">
  • object2=">1/4 cup hot water object2=">
  • object2=">1/4 cup butter object2=">
  • object2=">1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips object2=">
  • object2=">1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour object2=">
  • object2=">1 1/3 cups sugar object2=">
  • object2=">1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa object2=">
  • object2=">1 teaspoon baking powder object2=">
  • object2=">1/2 teaspoon salt object2=">
  • object2=">1 teaspoon vanilla extract object2=">
  • object2=">2 large eggs object2=">
  • object2=">1/4 cup toffee chips


Preheat oven to 350º.

Coat bottom of a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.

Combine coffee and hot water, stirring until coffee dissolves.

Combine butter and chocolate chips in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at high 1 minute or until butter melts; stir until chocolate is smooth.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine coffee mixture, butter mixture, vanilla, and eggs in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add coffee mixture to flour mixture; stir just until combined. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle evenly with toffee chips. Bake at 350º for 22 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.


20 servings

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 145(30% from fat); FAT 4.8g (sat 2.4g,mono 1.8g,poly 0.3g); PROTEIN 2.2g; CHOLESTEROL 30mg; CALCIUM 23mg; SODIUM 121mg; FIBER 1.1g; IRON 0.9mg; CARBOHYDRATE 24.9g

Cooking Light, JANUARY 2005

Chicken Marsala

I starred about a bajillion recipes for Chicken Marsala in my trusty Google Reader. After going over them a bunch of times, I decided on this one from A Cookie A Day. I'm not good at improvising recipes (at least, not on purpose!), and this one seemed like one where I'd make the fewest changes.

Her photography is MUCH better than mine, so of course hers looks yummier! But this was very good and I would for sure make it again.


  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • kosher salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 slices of bacon or pancetta, chopped (I omitted.)
  • 2 cups baby portabellas mushrooms
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tbsp.)
  • 1 tbsp. minced onion
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups Marsala wine (sweet) (I didn't have enough, so I did a combo of Marsala and chicken broth.)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice (1 small lemon)
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter cut into pieces, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley leaves.


Season both sides of chicken breasts with salt and pepper; working one piece at a time, coat both sides with flour.

Lift breast from tapered end and shake to remove excess flour; set aside.

Add oil to hot skillet and heat until shimmering.

Place floured chicken in single layer in skillet and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Using tongs, flip chicken and cook on second side until golden brown.

Remove and set aside.

Return skillet to low heat and add pancetta; sauté, stirring occasionally and scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits until pancetta is brown and crisp, about 4 minutes.

With slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towel–lined plate.

Add mushrooms and increase heat to medium-high; sauté, stirring occasionally and scraping pan bottom, until liquid released by mushrooms evaporates and mushrooms begin to brown, about 8 minutes.

Add garlic and onion Sauté until tender.

Add cooked pancetta and tomato paste.

Stir while sautéing, until tomato paste begins to brown, about 1 minute.

Off heat, add Marsala wine, then place the chicken back in the pan, cover and simmer until chicken is cooked all the way through.

Uncover the pan, return pan to high heat and simmer vigorously, scraping browned bits from pan bottom, until sauce is slightly syrupy and reduced to about 1 1/4 cups, about 5 minutes.

Off heat, add lemon juice and any accumulated juices from chicken; whisk in butter 1 tablespoon at a time.

Season to taste with salt and pepper (if needed) and stir in parsley.

Pour sauce over chicken and serve immediately.

I served it over mashed potatoes, but pasta would be just as yummy!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Random Kitchen Tip

I use a TON of recipes from the internet and magazines. I keep them all in a big fat binder, safely tucked away in sheet protectors to ward off against splatters.

I don't know about anyone else, though, but lugging that big binder around and then having it take up so much space on the counter is annoying. Plus, it's inconvenient to then have to keep leaning over to try to read it.

So... a solution!

I pull out the page that I'm using and clip it with a magnetic bag holder - then I stick it on my microwave! Voila! Recipe is safe from flying cooking debris, and it's at perfect eye level. Plus, who wouldn't welcome more counter space while cooking??

Creamy Orzo

Seriously? This is the best thing I've eaten in a long time. I cannot believe that I never thought to do this myself. Giada's Creamy Orzo was a HUGE hit in my house last night, and for good reason. It's creamy... yummy... not too unhealthy... DELISH! My only regret is that I halved the recipe; I would have loved more leftovers!

I wish that I had made this when there was more daylight... the picture does not do this side justice. It looked so much yummier in person...

  • 1 pound orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, juices drained (I used a bunch of grape tomatoes that I cut in half)
  • 1 1/4 cups whipping cream
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a heavy large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the orzo and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy large frying pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic, and saute until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until they are tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in the cream and peas. Add the orzo and toss to coat. Remove the skillet from the heat. Add the Parmesan to the pasta mixture and toss to coat. Stir the pasta mixture until the sauce coats the pasta thickly, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to maintain a creamy consistency. Season the orzo with salt and pepper, and serve.

Lemon Fennel Pork Chops

When I saw this recipe on Apple A Day, I knew I had to try it! I am iffy about pork chops, but Pat likes them... plus, how many days in a row can I really eat chicken? So I like to include a pork chop recipe once a week or so. This recipe is an adaption from Giada diLaurentiis.

Anyway, this was good. Perhaps a TAD too "herb-y," but that can easily be controlled next time. I did kind of sort of forget that it needed time to marinate, so it barely got the minimum 30 minutes in the fridge...

  • 2 large or 3 medium garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
  • 2 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried rubbed sage
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/4 c. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lbs. pork chops

1. Put garlic and all herbs in a small bowl.

2. Squeeze lemon juice over garlic and herbs.

3. Add olive oil in a constant stream while whisking.

4. Put pork chops and marinade in a plastic zip-top bag. Give the chops a rub to ensure that herbs stick.

5. Place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, up to overnight. Turn bag over halfway through the time.

6. You can really cook this however you'd like - I cooked it on the stove top in a little bit of olive oil. I'd like to try grilling it next time...

Roasted Broccoli and Tomato

I don't know about you, but veggies for me usually come out of my freezer. I've been buying the steamer ones lately, and they taste good. Adequate. Fine. Sufficient.

Brooke mentioned roasted vegetables once, either on her blog or on a message board we're both on. She said how the taste was so much better, it's so easy, blah blah blah. I wondered what could possibly be easier that popping a bag into the microwave, but I figured I'd give it a shot. ;)

Thanks the the broccoli that my in-laws brought us, and about 4 tons of cherry tomatoes I bought at BJs, this recipe from the Food Network looked perfect.

It was easy to make and tasted terrific. I think I just might be a convert... sorry, Bird's Eye - your frozen steamer bags are awesome, but I'm goin' fresh and roasted!

  • 2 bunches broccoli, cut into 2 1/2-inch long florets
  • 1 medium shallot, roughly chopped
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, whole
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Add broccoli to a large bowl. Add the shallots, cherry tomatoes, garlic and red pepper flakes with 4 tablespoons oil in large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat and spread onto large baking sheet. Roast until the stems are tender-crisp and lightly golden brown, about 18 minutes. Grate the Parmesan over the broccoli while it's hot.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Chicken Cordon Casserole

I could not agree more with the Brown Eyed Chef's view of chicken: rolling it SUCKS. I can never get it to stay rolled, even with toothpicks, and all the "stuff" comes out. It's a mess, and I immediately pass over any recipe that involves rolling.

This casserole, however, was SO SO SO SO easy to assemble!! I was done prepping it in a matter of minutes, no exaggeration.

The only difference is that I used a 9x12 Pyrex, so my chicken fit in a single layer. Plus, my chicken breasts are always big and fat because I buy them at BJs, so I knew there'd be no way that the bottom layer would cook.

This dinner was absolutely DELICIOUS!! Funnily enough, I remembered while I was cooking that I do NOT like Swiss... Oops! But combined with the Laughing Cow and the ham, it was so good. The flavors blend together so nicely and it was really good. The cheese was nice and melty, the chicken was tender and juicy... Definitely a keeper!

  • 8 oz chicken, pounded to about 1/2 inch
  • 2 slices of swiss cheese, cut in half (I used enough to cover the Pyrex - maybe 4 slices?)
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese (I used Laughing Cow Garlic and Herb.)
  • 2 slices lean thin sliced deli ham (See cheese note.)
  • 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/8 cup chicken broth

-Spray a casserole dish with a non stick spray.
-For the first layer lay out half the chicken. Sprinkle with a small amount of breadcrumbs.
-For the next layer spread cream cheese over 2 swiss cheese halves and lay over chicken.
-On top of the swiss cheese lay out ham.
-Next is another layer of chicken, topped with bread crumbs and another slice of swiss cheese.
-Pour a small amount of chicken broth around the edges so they don't dry out.
-Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes. Check to be sure that the BOTTOM layer of chicken is cooked thoroughly.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Menu: April 7

Monday: Pasta (based loosely on this, but different)

Tuesday: Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole with Roasted Broccoli

Wednesday: Lemon Fennel Pork Chops with Creamy Orzo

Thursday: Chicken Marsala with Mashed Potatoes

Friday: The T2: Turkey Chili Turkey Chili Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries

Saturday: Veggie Enchilladas

Happy Cooking!
Related Posts with Thumbnails