Saturday, May 31, 2008

Friday, May 30, 2008

Orange Beef and Broccoli

I tore this out of the May, 2008 issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray, even though I'm not a big beef eater. I say that a lot about beef and pork, don't I... but truthfully, I'm just a poultry girl. I could chicken or pasta every night and be very happy.

But I try to vary my menu, so once in awhile I'll throw in some cow or pig.

This dish was okay, but not spectacular. I think the orange flavor was a bit strong, so next time I might lessen the amount of zest. Also, I can't help but think that this would be SOOOOO GOOD with chicken...
  • 1 bunch of broccoli
  • 1 1/4 cup of beef broth
  • 3 TBSP hoisin sauce*
  • 2 TBSP soy sauce*
  • 2 TBSP plum sauce*
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • zest of one orange, juice of half an orange, and wedges for serving
  • 1 3/4 boneless sirloin
  • 1/4 veg oil
  • 1 jalepeno chile, thinly sliced (I omitted.)
*The recipe suggested a time-saver: use a bottle of Asian Stir-Fry Sauce in place of the hoisin, soy, and plum sauces. I did just that - I used 7 tablespoons.
1. In a large skillet, bring 2 cups salted water to a boil. Cut the broccoli into 1-inch florets. Boil until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes; drain the broccoli and rinse under cold water. Reserve the skillet.
2. In a small bowl, stir together the broth, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, plum sauce and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Stir in the orange peel.
3. Slice the steak 1/4 inch thick, then cut the slices crosswise into thirds; toss with the remaining 3 tablespoons cornstarch.
4. In the reserved skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the steak and jalapeƱo and cook, turning, until the meat is barely pink, about 2 minutes. Transfer the meat to a paper-towel-lined plate; discard the excess oil. Add the broth mixture to the skillet and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the meat, broccoli and orange juice and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Serve with the orange wedges.

Ooh, another tag!!

I've been tagged by Shawna over at Daily Deliciousness. She's a new blogger (like me!) and I've already starred a few of her things. Check her out!

The rules:
Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

What was I doing ten years ago?
Hmm... in this time in 1998 I was counting the days until my high school graduation. Actually, by now I was probably pretty emotional about leaving my friends and my family and my security zone and venturing out into something new...

What are five (non-work) things on my to-do list for today?
1. Play with my son!
2. Go to Bed, Bath, and Beyond
3. Maybe make my menu and shopping list for next week
4. Make dinner (but that's already done!)
5. Hopefully finish The Memory Keeper's Daughter so I can finally start Jennifer Lancaster's new book.

Five snacks I enjoy:
1. FiberOne bars
2. Anything chocolate
3. Microwave popcorn
4. Bananas
5. Did I mention chocolate?

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
1. Buy a house and create my dream kitchen
2. Buy my family new homes and cars
3. Go back to school
4. Continue my son's college fund
5. Buy an obscene amount of shoes

Places I’ve lived:
1. Only in NJ!

Jobs I’ve had:
1. Babysitter
2. Waitress at a pizzaria
3. Checkout at Grand Union
4. Daycare worker
5. ER secretary
6. High school English teacher

TAG! You’re it...
1. Christina
2. Angie
3. Rachel
4. Melissa
5. Jenny

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Chicken Stew

Mmm. I love comfort food. Who doesn't? So when I saw this recipe on Culinary Kicks, I knew I'd love it.

I ended up making some changes, so it was a bit different from how I imagined it, but it was still good! I wanted it to go with mashed potatoes, but mine had gone bad. :( Instead, I planned to serve it with pasta but ended up just combining it with the penne. It still turned out to be yummy! The picture doesn't do it justice; the lighting was weird so it looks dark, but it is actually very pleasing to the eye.


  • 2 large chicken breasts, about 1.5 lbs
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 2 celery ribs, sliced
  • 2 cups frozen mixed veggies
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp flour

Heat the water in a large pot until boiling, then add chicken breasts, bay leaves, oregano, and parsley and cook for 30 minutes.

Remove chicken breasts and set aside until cool enough to handle. Add the celery and mixed veggies to the chicken broth.

Shred the chicken and return it to the pan. Bring to a boil. Cook for 15 more minutes until veggies are soft.

In a jar with a screw top, place milk and 2 heaping Tbsp flour. Close it up and shake vigoriously for a bit until all the flour is mixed and no lumps remain. Add to the stew and bring to another boil. (I just whisked everything together in a bowl.)

Cook for a few minutes, until thick and bubbly. Season to taste with plenty of salt and pepper. Serve over mashed potatoes, egg noodles, rice...whatever floats your boat. (I reserved and added about two ladle-fulls of the starchy cooking water to make it a little more liquidy.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Corn Muffins

I really have to be in the mood for cornbread. I am not usually a fan; when we go to Boston Market or something, Pat is always snatching my little pieces, and I am happy to see them go.

Lately, though, I've kind of wanted it... and when I saw this recipe for muffins on Brooke's site, I starred it for later use. Today, I was totally feeling the cornbread, had all the ingredients, and went for it.
Not only was this good, but it was FAST. I couldn't believe how easy it was to make! And though it pains me to admit this, I ate three. And pieces of a fourth.
*hangs head in shame*
This is a recipe that is sure to make future appearances in my kitchen!
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Spray or lightly grease a 12-cup muffin pan.In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder. Stir in egg, milk and vegetable oil until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Sweet and Sour Pork Chops

I'm sure I've said this before, but I'm not a huge pork fan, so I'm always on the lookout for something interesting and exciting to spice things up. When I saw this recipe on Cakes to Bake, I figured I'd have a new one to add to the pork rotation.

Mine didn't look as good as hers, although that could be because I used white vinegar instead of cider vinegar - whoops. I'll be curious to try it the real way...

It wasn't too bad, but nothing fabulous. Pat liked it, though... so maybe it's just me and my weird thing with pork...


  • 1 package of boneless pork chops
  • 3/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/3 cup of cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons of cold water

Sprinkle the pork chops with the pepper.

In a large skillet coated with cooking spray, cook the pork chops over medium heat for 4-6 minutes on each side until lightly browned.

Remove the pork chops from the pan and keep warm.

Add the water, vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce to the skillet. Stir to loosen the bits on the bottom of the pan.

Bring to a boil.

Combine the cornstarch and cold water until smooth. Stir into the skillet.

Return the pork chops to the pan.

Reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for 4-5 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees.

Menu: May 25

I am late this week... again... and very unorganized. This lack of computer thing is really messing with me...

Also, there will likely be no pictures this week because I left my camera at my cousin's house during a barbeque. :(

Sunday: Rotelli Bolognese

Monday: BBQ @ Cheryl's

Tuesday: Sweet and Sour Pork Chops and Corn Muffins

Wednesday: Out to the Cheesecake Factory for my birthday :)

Thursday: Chicken Stew and Mashed Potatoes

Friday: Orange Beef and Broccoli

Saturday: Breaded Pork Chops

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Roast Chicken with Lemon, Potatoes, and Asparagus

I'm so glad I found this recipe from Reservations Not Required, because I apparently missed it when going through my Everyday Food magazine!

You know those commercials that talk about Roast-a-phobia? Well, I for sure have it. Short of Thanksgiving (and my mom helps me!), I have never, ever purchased or prepared a full bird. So I don't know some of the "lingo." When I first saw this post, I thought I could buy a package of pieces of a full chicken. Now, maybe I can; but there were none to be found at the grocery store when I went shopping, so I used chicken thighs. Anyone know if I'm living in my own chicken fantasy land, or if such a thing does exist?

Anyway, this dinner was super easy to prepare, even though it takes awhile to roast (and you have to do it in steps). I love dishes that contain all major food groups all in one pan!


  • 1 1/2 pounds new potatoes, halved

  • 3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

  • Coarse salt and ground pepper

  • 1 package cut-up whole chicken (about 3 pounds)

  • 1 bunch asparagus (1 pound), trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

  • 1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges

  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Place potatoes and half the butter in a roasting pan; season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing once, until potatoes are golden, 20 to 25 minutes.
Place chicken, skin side up, on top of potatoes; season with salt and pepper. Roast until chicken begins to brown, about 20 minutes.
Scatter asparagus, lemon, remaining butter, and thyme around chicken. Roast until asparagus is tender and chicken is opaque throughout, 5 to 15 minutes. Serve chicken, vegetables, and lemon drizzled with pan juices.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

I needed another muffin recipe for my in-service day tomorrow, and I knew I wanted to do this one from Brooke. I had starred this long ago and never got around to making to them; I was pysched to get to them today!

I obviously have to wait until tomorrow to try them out, but the batter? Oh. My. God. So good and tasty. And I adore dump-and-mix steps - no worries about the order of the ingredients and additions!


  • 3 cups flour

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 1 tsp nutmeg

  • 1 tsp ground cloves

  • 4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

  • Pinch of cardamom (optional) (I omitted because I didn't have any.)

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 4 eggs

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 2 cups canned pumpkin

  • 1 ¼ cups vegetable oil

  • 8 oz package cream cheese*

  • Chopped nuts (I omitted.)

*The best cream cheese to use is the cheesecake flavored kind (I used plain because I didn't even notice this note until I was blogging about it - whoops!). Put the entire tub or brick on a piece of tin foil, and shape it into a long log. Put it in the freezer while you mix and fill the pans, up to an hour. Unwrap and cut with a sharp knife. If the disks are too big around, cut thick slices and then cut them in half. This keeps the cream cheese in one big lump, and also lets you push it down into the batter. (Best. Tip. Ever.)

Preheat oven to 350. Mix ingredients together except cream cheese and nuts. Fill muffin tins (greased or paper cups) half full. Put 1-2 tsp cream cheese in the middle, pressing down. (Make sure you really get it in there - I didn't do mine deep enough, and I ended up with raised blocks. I had to smooth it out immediately after taking them out of the oven.) Sprinkle with 1 tsp chopped nuts. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from the muffin part (do not touch the cream cheese!). Let cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove to racks to cool completely. Do not touch the cream cheese until it cools, as it is very very hot.

Makes 24 muffins.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Oreo Cake

I first encounted this Oreo Cake when Brooke and her husband came over for dinner and she made this. I was so enamored with this cake and was thrilled when she told me it simply came from the seasonal Kraft magazine; that meant I already had the recipe and didn't need to harass her for it (this was before my days of blogging).

I waited for the perfect opportunity to make this cake, and it's here; next week is a coworker's 50th birthday, and due to days off and vacations, we celebrated her special day today. I quickly volunteered to make the cake and knew this Oreo cake would be perfect.

(Ignore the fact that it's in the pan; I wanted to photograph it nice and pretty on my stand, but I was afraid I wouldn't be able to move into the pan w/out ruining it!)

This cake was just as yummy as Brooke's. Even though I knew it was pretty good, I was astounded by how many compliments it received! This baby's a crowd-pleaser!

  • 1 pkg. (2-layer size) devil's food chocolate cake mix
  • 4 squares BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, cut up
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping
  • 12 OREO Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, coarsely crushed

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Prepare and bake cake mix as directed on package in two 9-inch round baking pans. Cool 5 min.; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire racks.

MICROWAVE chocolate and butter in small microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Cool 5 min.

BEAT cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Gently stir in whipped topping and crushed cookies. Place one cake layer, top-side down, on serving plate. Spread top of layer evenly with cream cheese mixture. Cover with remaining cake layer, top-side up. Spoon chocolate glaze over top of cake. Let stand until set. Store in refrigerator.

Pizza Casserole

I love a good pizza, but I can never make them well myself. Whenever I do venture into the Land of DIY Pizza, it's always a Boboli crust with ricotta, mozzarella, basil, and tomato slices. I mean, that's good and all, but there's nothing WOW about it. Nothing can take the place of either my grandmother's pizza or a good gooey slice from our local pizzaria.

When doing it at home, however, this is a pretty good substitute. I saw it on Brooke's blog not too long ago and starred it right away for future use, and last night I decided to go for it. It was so easy and it tasted great. I always seem to be wary of a recipe that doesn't call for any spices or herbs, but I guess I need to learn how to trust the food! This was fabulous, and while it's probably not the most figure-friendly dish out there, it's a wonderful quick weeknight recipe.

  • 1 lb of extra lean ground beef
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Package of mushrooms
  • 1 jar of tomato sauce
  • Spray of Pam
  • 1 10 oz can refrigerated pizza dough
  • 6 oz of part skim mozzarella cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 425. In a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, cook onion, garlic until softened, add meat stirring until it's browned. Drain, if necessary, and return to skillet.

Add mushrooms and tomato sauce, and cook until heated through and most of the sauce has been absorbed (you want your meat mixture more on the dry side then the saucy side).

While meat cooks, coat a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Unroll pizza crust dough, and press into bottom and halfway up sides of the baking dish. Pre-bake in the oven for 5 minutes.

Remove from oven, then add a layer of cheese, then a layer of the meat mixture, then top with a layer of cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 425° for 12 minutes or until crust is browned and cheese melts. Cool 5 minutes before serving.

French Onion Meatloaf

A couple of weeks ago, someone on the cooking message board posted a link to her blog detailing a "Fried Onion and Ranch Meatloaf." I went right to her site, starred it in my Google Reader, and planned on adding it to my menu.

Somehow I got it in my head that it was a "FRENCH Onion Meatloaf," so when it was time to make it for my family, I decided to see what I could come up with. This is HUGE for me, folks; rarely do I have a culinary "vision" where I decide to deviate from a recipe too much. I am NOT the kind of cook who can just get an idea and whip it up; I need something in writing!

Anyway, so the other night my brother Jonny was coming over with his girlfriend to try to fix my computer. I asked him what I could make for him for dinner, and he said, "Hmm. Make something weird. Last time we came for dinner, you made something odd, and it was cool." (That "something odd" was florentine meatballs.) So I figured my attempts at a French Onion Meatloaf would be perfect.

This meatloaf was okay. I didn't love it, but I do have big ideas for the future. I think the soup mix and the fried onions made it a bit too dry; I served it with some gravy, but I'd like to avoid that in the future. I think I'll add some broth or something to the meatloaf to give it a little more moisture. In trying to compare it to my mom's awesome French Onion Soup, I think I will also saute some sliced onions and throw them in, and maybe do a little something with mozzarella.

So stay tuned - this is not the last you will see of this meatloaf!

A BILLION thanks to Adventures in Home Cooking; without your post, my little meatloaf idea would never have been born! And your recipe sounds delightful and I do plan on making it soon! :)

1 egg, beaten
1lb ground beef
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 T. Italian seasoning
2 & 1/2 T. Ketchup
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
6 to 8 oz. French-fried onions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat egg. Combine with beef, soup mix, Italian seasoning, bread crumbs, ketchup, and about half of fried onions. Shape into a loaf and place in a lightly greased 9 x. 5 inch pan. Sprinkle remaining fried onions onto top; gently press them into the loaf a bit so they "stick." Bake, covered loosely with foil, for 50-60 minutes, or until meatloaf is cooked through.

Cappuccino Muffins

My district has an all-day inservice tomorrow, and they have always provided us with a lunch for these types of things. However, our darling governor has recently set in motion some legislature which prohibits any educational state funding to be used to feed the faculty. Thanks, Johnny boy. You're swell.

So, our department has decided to pull together for a little pot-luck action. I signed up to bring Giada's Creamy Orzo (YUM!) and a couple of different kinds of muffins.

When going through my GR for ideas, I came across this one from The Food Duo. And... it's a recipe from William Shatner! Go figure!

(I haven't eaten them yet, so I can't give a verdict... but they sure as hell look and smell yummy!)


  • 2 cups flour

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 egg

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400° and grease muffin tins or line with paper baking cups.

Sift all dry ingredients together into a bowl and make a well in the center of the mixture.

Beat the egg together with the milk and the melted butter. Add the vanilla.

Add to the dry ingredients along with the chocolate chips and mix until just moistened.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full.

Bake until just done, approximately 20 minutes.

Blogging Hiatus...

If you can believe it, I have lost TWO computers in the past couple of weeks.

First, my darling son spilled coffee all over my work laptop. Terrific. Then my personal laptop crapped out. Fabulous.

I have updates... they'll arrive soon. I know you miss me.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Wow! I've been tagged!

Melissa over at Melissa's Kitchen tagged me, and now I'm "it." (Make sure you check out her blog - I've gotten many a yummy idea from her!)

1. Why did you start your blog?
I am totally loving this cooking thing and am obsessed with new recipes to try out. I started lurking on the What's Cooking? board and spent tons of time ogling everyone's blogs. I guess I wanted to play too, so I started it up, and just a few months later, I have 70-something posts!

2. How did you come up with your blog name?
Well, my name is Lauren and I cook in my kitchen. I am VERY original.

3. Do your friends and family know about your blog, and what do they think?
Some of them, yes. I don't know what they think; it's not like I send out surveys. ;) But some people will at times reference a post, and it makes me so happy to know that other people are reading my culinary babble. And if I don't post my menu, Denise gets very antsy until she knows what I'm cooking for the week. :)

4. How do you write posts?
I don't know what this means. I type. That's all.

5. Have you ever had a troll or had to delete unkind comments?
Not on this blog, no. I have had random commenters on the blog I keep for my son, so I made that one private and password protected. But I haven't had an issue with this one. Who would leave unkind comments on a cooking blog??

6. Do you check your stats or care how many people read your blog? If you care, how do you increase traffic?
No, but that's because I don't know how! A couple of times I've checked how many people have subscribed to my blog (64!) but that's about it.

Hmm, I will tag:
1. Kayte
2. Brooke
3. Ally
4. LovesToEat
5. PickyPalate

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Oatmeal Apple Cinnamon Mini-Muffins

I'm always on the hunt for new breakfast ideas for my 18-month-old. When I saw this muffin recipe on The Blooming Chef, I knew I had found a winner. Not a lot of sugar... fruit... oatmeal... what's not to love?

They taste great, too - moist and flavorful. Definitely a keeper.

  • 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 1 medium apple, peeled and cored, then diced

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Grease twelve 2-1/2 inch muffin cups or line with paper bake cups; set aside.

3. In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and oatmeal. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.

4. In another bowl, combine egg, milk, and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy).

5. Fold in the diced apple.

6. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each two-thirds full. Bake in a 400 (I did 325 since I was using a mini muffin pan) degree oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from muffin cups; serve warm.

Green Beans with Mustard Vinaigrette

My love affair with fresh veggies continues... thanks, Pleasure Cooker!

I don't really have too much to say about these... but they were really good.


  • 1 lb. of green beans, washed with ends trimmed
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • ground black pepper

Boil or steam the green beans to your desired level of crispness. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar and mustard in a small microwave safe bowl and add pepper to taste. Microwave for 30 seconds. Toss vinaigrette with cooked green beans.

Chicken Saltimbocca

Yet another Giada recipe... yet another success.

This was pretty quick and easy to create. I thought that placing and flipping the chicken with the lemon and prosciutto would be difficult and messy, but it wasn't at all. Go me!

I did think that the sauce was a bit thin, so I added... marscarpone! It is truly a Giada dish... ;)

The chicken was VERY flavorful and tender. The tomatoes tasted kind of weird to me... almost pizza-ish. Maybe I used a weird brand...? I'll have to check on that next time.

On a side note: I have her book, Everyday Dinners. I would like another one... maybe the Family Dinners one? Does anyone have it and would like to give me a review?


  • 4 veal chops, pounded 1/2 to 1/4-inch thick (I used thin-sliced chicken breasts.)
  • 4 thin lemon slices (I used 8 - two for each breast.)
  • 4 sage leaves, plus 1 teaspoon finely chopped (Didn't have any - used dried.)
  • 4 large slices prosciutto (Whoops - forgot to buy this! I used deli ham.)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5 can) whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup cream (Used whole milk.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the veal chops on a work surface and season with salt and pepper. Place a slice of lemon on top of each chop. Top with 1 leaf of sage. Lay a large piece of prosciutto on each chop and press to seal.

Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place the veal chops in the hot oil, lemon side down. Saute until the prosciutto starts to caramelize, about 2 minutes. Turn the veal over and saute for another 2 minutes. Remove to a platter and set aside.

Deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the chicken broth and reduce by half. Add the tomatoes, cream, salt, and pepper. Stir until combined and hot. Pour the sauce over the veal and top with the remaining 1 teaspoon finely chopped sage. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Scalloped Potatoes

When I first saw this recipe on Sweet Savory Southern, I starred it immediately and couldn't wait to try it. I put it on the menu and thought it'd be a great compliment to pork chops.

The week got away from us, and I never got to make these. I later found out that it was a touch of fate; my mother-in-law gave me an awesome slicer/shredder thing for my KA mixer for Mother's Day! I couldn't wait to use it and was psyched to have a package of red potatoes just waiting to be sliced.

I planned to take a picture of the potatoes being sliced, but that little bugger is FAST! I had seven or eight potatoes sliced and in the bowl in a matter of seconds. I cannot WAIT to use the rest of the inserts for various meals.

Onto the potatoes - YUM! I think next time, though, I'd add a little... something. Not sure what. Maybe some broccoli... that'd be good! Then I wouldn't also have to prepare a vegetable. ;)

  • 5-6 red potatoes, washed and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 a large onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream (or whole milk)
  • 1 Tbsp italian seasoning
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese or blend of cheeses
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
Begin by preheating the oven to 400 degrees. In a dutch oven or other heavy pan melt 2 Tbsp butter over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook 3-4 minutes until the onion cooks down a little. Add the garlic and italian seasoning and cook about a minute. Next add the chicken broth, milk, salt and pepper. Place the sliced potatoes into the pan, cover and let simmer about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are slightly tender. Top with the cheese and place the pan into the oven for about 15 minutes. Let sit 10 min before serving.

Herb Roasted Pork with Honey Dijon Mustard

This recipe from Sandra Lee was pretty easy. I know I have said this a billion times, but I ADORE meals that take two seconds to prepare because the oven does the work. This one was not only a snap to whip up, but it was pretty good too. Not my favorite pork recipe (hmm, do I even have a favorite?) but it did the job.

  • 1 pound pork tenderloin
  • 1/2 cup honey Dijon mustard, divided (recommended: French's)
  • 3 tablespoons fines herbs (recommended: Spice Islands) (I didn't have this, nor did I have ALL of the ingredients to make my own. So I just sprinkled on parsley, chives, basil, tarragon, and sage and called it a day.)
  • 1/2 cup organic chicken broth (recommended: Swanson)
  • 1 cup frozen pearl onions (recommended: C and W)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with olive oil cooking spray; set aside. Rinse tenderloin under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Cut into 4 servings. Use a pastry brush to brush 1/4 cup mustard on pork loin. Sprinkle tenderloin pieces with 2 tablespoons of the herbs. Place on prepared baking sheet. Roast in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine chicken broth and pearl onions. Reduce liquid by half and add remaining 1/4 cup mustard and 1 tablespoon fines herbs. Heat thoroughly. Serve roasted tenderloins hot with onions and sauce.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mini Thin Mint Cheesecake Cups

Wow. These little cups from The Picky Palate were fabulous.

I wanted something to make for Mother's Day and, as usual, went searching through my starred posts on Google Reader. These little guys seemed perfect - different, easy, and good.

I was surprised, actually, at exactly HOW easy they actually were. Maybe they just LOOK decadent...? Well, whatever, they were easy.

They also tasted great. In fact, Pat emailed me a little while ago and told me to take it easy tonight and that we'd just have leftovers for dinner. He also said that if we don't have enough leftovers, he'd be more than happy to eat the remaining few "little cheesecake things" for dinner.

  • 13 Thin Mint Cookies, ground in food processor or blender (you can also use the mint Oreos)
  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 8 oz softened cream cheese
  • 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons buttermilk
  • 5 Thin mint cookies coarsely crumbled
  • 1/4 Cup chocolate chips
  • 2-3 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 3-5 Thin mint cookies, crumbled (for top of cups) (I also topped the cups with chopped white and milk chocolate chips.)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Combine ground cookies and butter in a medium bowl. Drop about 1 Tablespoon of cookie mixture into 24 mini cupcake tins that has been sprayed with cooking spray. (If you have mini cupcake paper wrappers I'd use them, it was difficult to remove my cheesecake cups from the tin itself). Press crust into cups with back of a spoon.2. In an electric or stand mixer cream the cream cheese and sugar until well combined. Add egg and buttermilk until well combined as well. Stir in crumbled cookies. Pour cheesecake mixture into cupcake tins filled almost to the very top. Bake for 25-28 minutes or until cooked through. Remove and cool for 15 minutes. Melt chocolate chips in microwave until melted and smooth. Stir in heavy cream until smooth and shiny. Spoon about 1 Tablespoon over each cheesecake cup and sprinkle with additional crumbled cookies.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Florentine Meatballs

I've made this Rachael Ray recipe a bunch of times, but thought they deserved a spot in my blog. They are really easy to make and, since they are baked, you don't have to worry about giving them any attention while they cook. Plus - they're a great way to get some veggies into your green-hating husband or child. :)

Tonight I served them over egg noodles and a marinara sauce, but you can do anything. The original recipe calls for a specific sauce to go over them, but I've never tried it.

  • 1 box frozen spinach, defrosted in the microwave
  • 1 1/3 pound (1 package) ground turkey breast
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 3/4 cups milk, divided
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs, 3 handfuls
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, 2 palm fulls
  • Coarse salt and black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Wring defrosted spinach dry in a clean kitchen towel. Place turkey in a bowl and make a well in the middle of it. Add the spinach, all but 3 tablespoons of the onion, all of the garlic, 1 large egg, about 1/4 cup milk, bread crumbs, grated Parmesan, salt and pepper. Mix well. Form into 12 large balls and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Arrange on a nonstick cookie sheet and roast 20 minutes, or until cooked through.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Bruschetta Chicken

I was super excited about this meal as soon as I saw it on Picky Palate. However, as yummy as my pictures might look, this did NOT come out right. But... it is pretty much entirely my fault.

I should have just called it quits when I realized I had no fresh basil, but I plowed on with my bottle of dried. Clue number two: two of my four tomatoes were bad, and I realized TOO LATE that I should have then toned down the amount of garlic and balsamic vinegar... whoops.

Then, after it was ready, I set it up all nice and I took my pictures. The chicken seemed so juicy and I couldn't wait to dig in.

I started cutting it up, however, and realized it was still pink inside. UGH! Since it had the tomatoes and cheese, I didn't want to put it back in the skillet, so I threw it in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes.

Still pink.

Ten more minutes.


It took a total of THIRTY MINUTES before the chicken was cooked. Now, I've said before that I have problems with chicken because I buy them at BJs and they are HUGE. But this was RIDICULOUS. The chicken ended up being overcooked and dry and my sides were cold and I was grumpy.

The flavor, however, was amazing. I cannot WAIT to try this dish again, using thinner breasts, fresh basil, and the right amount of tomatoes!

(Yes... the pictures above are of very undercooked chicken!)

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ Cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ Cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 4 Roma Tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, stacked, rolled and thinly sliced into chiffonade
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat a grill pan over medium heat on the stovetop. Spray with cooking spray. Combine balsamic and olive oil in a bowl. Season both sides of chicken with pinches of salt and place on grill. Brush top sides of chicken with balsamic mixture. Cook for 4-5 minutes and flip chicken. Brush with additional balsamic and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes or until cooked through. During the last 2 minutes of grilling place 2 slices of cheese over top each chicken to melt.

2. In a large bowl combine the tomatoes, basil garlic, salt and balsamic. Toss gently to combine. Place chicken breasts on a serving plate and top with tomato mixture. Serve warm.

YAY - Amano Chocolate!

A few weeks ago, Blake hosted a giveaway - more chocolate! I love this man. This time, I was one of 99 recipients of THREE Amano chocolate bars. I was beyond excited, and I have been patiently (okay, not-so-patiently) awaiting this awesome delivery.

And today - THEY CAME!!

I tried some of each one, and they are unbelievable. I am determined to use them for something special, though... Any ideas?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Taco Bake

My husband wanted to know why I made this tonight instead of a couple of days ago for Cinco de Mayo. I really couldn't come up with a logical answer, so I went with an old favorite: "Because I said so."

I'm SO mature.

Anyway, this is a dish from Loves to Eat, and I think it has a lot of potential. It was just kind of "ehh" as it stands; I wish I had taken her notes to heart and used diced tomatoes rather than sauce. I think that alone would have made a big difference; maybe I'd also add some onion. But it was good, and I'd make it again!

  • 1 lb. ground round (I used turkey.)
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 8 oz. seashell pasta
  • 8 oz package cream cheese (softened in microwave)
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 8 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

Brown ground beef, drain. Add taco seasoning and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, cook pasta according to directions. Drain. Mix softened cream cheese and sour cream in separate bowl.

Spray bottom of 9 x 13 pan with Pam. Put pasta in bottom of pan. Spread cream cheese mixture over pasta. (This is kind of hard to do. Just dollop spoonfuls of the mixture about an inch apart and spread the best you can.) Spoon ground beef mixture over this. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top.

Bake @ 350 for 30 minutes. Cool about 15 - 20 minutes before serving.

Who wants free stuff?????


So I entered this contest. I'd tell you to do the same, but then that's more entries, which will decrease my odds... so, uh, DON'T go enter.

Hee hee...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

M&M Chocolate Chip Cookies

Tomorrow is Teacher Appreciation Day, and I wanted to send something to the wonderful girls at daycare to thank them for taking such great care of my baby. I searched the internet and my blogs for something simple but different but good, and this recipe from Carrie's Cooking Adventure fit the bill.

I really liked how these came out! They reminded me of the Keebler Elf version... only better! In fact, my self-proclaimed-"cookie'd-out" husband started digging in, and was bummed when I chased him away. He even took on all the rest of the night's child-care responsibilities if I would go and make another batch. So I did. :)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups M&M’s, divided
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (I omitted.)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. Beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until well blended. Add eggs; beat well. Gradually add flour mixture, beating until well blended. Stir in 3/4 cup M&Ms (I also added in chocolate chips) and all the nuts. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto cookie sheet. Press 5-6 of remaining M&Ms on each cookie before baking.

Bake 9-11 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Yields about 3-3 1/2 dozen cookies.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Garlic Carrots

This recipe is just one of many starred posts from Good Things Catered. This carrot dish just looked so delicious (and not to mention EASY) so I had to try it out.

It was everything I thought it would be and more... so flavorful and delicious. I am loving all of my new recipes for fresh veggies; I haven't bought a frozen bag in weeks!

  • 6 large carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • ground pepper to taste

  1. In large skillet heat butter over medium high until melted.
  2. Add carrots and stir to coat all carrots with butter.
  3. Add garlic and stir to combine.
  4. Cook, stirring occasionally until carrots are crisp tender and beginning to brown slightly, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add water, swirl to coat bottom and cover skillet with lid.
  6. Cook, steaming carrots, to desired tenderness (5 mins +).
  7. Uncover skillet, add parsley, salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine.
  8. Cook off excess liquid and serve immediately.

Fresh Raspberry Chicken

When I saw this recipe from It's Melissa's Kitchen, I starred it immediately. It has only been a few days since she even posted it, but I couldn't wait to give it a whirl.

I especially liked how it was a make-ahead kind of meal; I did all the prep work last night and just had to throw it in the oven tonight. Considering that I had to run a few errands (okay, go buy clothes) after work, this was perfect.

This tasted really good. The chicken was very tender and the fruit flavor was powerful without being too much. And I have to reiterate that I loved just dumping and baking!

Even Ryan liked this meal:

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup raspberry preserves
  • 3/4 cup frozen pineapple juice concentrate, thawed (I couldn't find this, so I just used regular pineapple juice.)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder (I omitted.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup fresh raspberries, mashed
  • another 1/4 fresh raspberries for garnish

Place chicken in a large ziploc bag. Toss in preserves, juice concentrate, soy sauce, vinegar, chili powder, curry powder, garlic powder and 1/4 cup mashed raspberries. Close bag and mix it all around. Marinate in fridge from 2 hours to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350. Dump all ziploc contents into baking dish. Bake, covered, 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven, transfer to serving platter, top with pan juices and remaining raspberries.

Serves 4

Chicken Salad Contessa

If you don't already think I'm a ginormous dork, you will after you read this post...

I really wanted a cool sandwich to make because I just bought a really nifty Wonder Bread sandwich container. Look:
How cute is THAT?!

Anyway, a quick search on the Food Network's website yielded this Barefoot Contessa recipe. It looked so easy and yummy, so I had to try it! It definitely lived up to everyone of my expectations. I think my sandwich repertoire has just grown; I'm psyched that I have enough for several sandwiches.

  • 2 split (1 whole) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on (1 1/2 pounds)
  • Good olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves (I omitted.)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts halves (I omitted.)
  • 1/2 cup good mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves, divided
  • 1 cup green grapes, cut in 1/2
  • Lettuce leaves, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts, skin side up, on a baking sheet and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Set aside until cool.

When the chicken is cool, remove meat from the bones and discard the skin and bones. Cut the chicken into a 3/4-inch dice.

Meanwhile, place the pecans and walnuts on a separate sheet pan and toast in the oven for 7 to 8 minutes until golden. Set aside to cool.

For the dressing, mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream, 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Fold in half the chopped tarragon leaves.

Place the diced chicken in a bowl, add the pecans, walnuts and grapes. Pour the dressing over the chicken and toss well. Sprinkle the remaining chopped tarragon leaves on top, and serve on a bed of lettuce leaves.

Chili Dog Cheeseburgers

This was by far one of the yummiest burger recipes I've tried in a LONG time. Probably not the healthiest, but hey - I'll skip dessert (Yeah. Right.). I can't wait to make this again...

I served this with French Fries topped with the leftover chili.

  • 8 slices center cut or other lean, thick-cut, smoky bacon (I omitted.)
  • 1 pound ground lean beef
  • 2 hot dogs, beef or pork, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon grill seasoning (recommended: Montreal Seasoning by McCormick)
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire, eyeball it
  • 1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon hot sauce, eyeball it, divided (I omitted.)
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • Vegetable oil, for drizzling
  • 4 slices deli sliced Cheddar (I used American.)
  • 1/2 cup chili sauce (I couldn't find this, so I used turkey chili.)
  • 4 kaiser rolls, split
  • 1/4 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves (Dried.)
  • 1/2 lime, juiced

Preheat broiler to high.

Place bacon on slotted broiler pan. Cook bacon 10 inches from the heat and cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side until crisp then adjust oven to bake setting for temperature recommended on fries packaging. (I obviously skipped this whole step.)

While bacon cooks, make the burgers. Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Mix beef with diced dogs, chili powder, grill seasoning, Worcestershire, 1 teaspoon of hot sauce and ketchup. Form 4 large patties. Add a drizzle of oil, 1 turn of the pan and add the patties. Cook burgers 6 minutes on each side, then top with 2 slices bacon and 1 slice of cheddar, each. Turn pan off, cover with loose foil tent and let cheese melt, 1 to 2 minutes.

Slather chili sauce on the tops of split keiser rolls. Place bacon chili-cheese burgers on bun bottoms and top each burger with lettuce, cilantro, and lime juice. (I also added sliced tomato.) Set bun tops in place. Pile fries alongside and serve.

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