Monday, June 30, 2008

Sweet and Sour Sirloin Stir-Fry with Mashed Potatoes

It's more than 12 hours later, and I'm still not sure how I feel about this dish. I saw Rachael make it on TV (well, I saw some of it - I may or may not have fallen asleep) and bookmarked it on the Food Network's site.

It was definitely... different. I for sure didn't DISlike it... I'm just not so sure I loved it. But it was nice to venture away from chicken for a change...

This was an easy dish to prepare, although really? I don't know how people cook Asian food on a regular basis w/out having their arms burned off. That oil can FLY on such high heat! Yowza!

(Oh, I decided to do my blogs a bit differently. From now on, I’m going to link to the original, as always, but write out what I actually do. This way, when I remake it, I know what I did and don’t have to sift through some notes.)

· 1 ½ pound piece sirloin, 1-inch thick
· 2 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled and cubed
· Salt
· 3 tablespoons canola oil
· 1 large bunch broccoli, chopped
· 1 cup shelled frozen edamame
· 1 cup frozen peas
· 3 tablespoons brown sugar
· ¼ cup stir fry sauce
· ¼ cup yellow mustard
· ¼ cup ketchup
· 2/3 cup milk
· Freshly ground black pepper
· 3 tablespoons butter
· Handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
· Handful fresh dill, chopped
· Handful fresh chives, chopped

Pop the meat in the freezer for a few minutes to stiffen it up for slicing.

Place potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil. Salt the water and cook the potatoes until tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain.

Halve the steak lengthwise then very thinly slice the meat. Heat the oil in a very large skillet over high heat. When oil wafts smoke and ripples, add the meat and stir-fry until caramelized 3 minutes. Add peppers and stir-fry 2 minutes then add in scallions and edamame for 2 minutes more. Stir together the sugar, soy, mustard and ketchup and pour over stir-fry the last minute of cooking. Season, to taste, if necessary.

Mash potatoes with buttermilk, salt and pepper, hot sauce, parsley, dill, chives, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve with stir-fry on top!

Linguine with Chicken Ragu

Giada strikes again...

I really enjoyed this dish. I've never made sauce with chicken before, and the difference in flavor was subtle yet interesting. I do wish, however, that I used a more flavorful sauce; I used the sauce in the post below that I wasn't crazy about.

Ryan ate this like it was his last meal; I couldn't believe how much he had. I wish I had taken a picture of him with spaghetti all over his face. So cute.

Anyway, this meal will be making more appearances in my kitchen, although I suppose I should cater to my husband's strange spaghetti adversity and just use a shorter cut pasta...

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 4 cups Marinara Sauce
  • 1 pound linguine
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the juices evaporate and the chicken is golden, about 10 minutes. Add the shallots and garlic and saute until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and stir to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the skillet. Add the rosemary and mix well. Add the marinara sauce and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently until the flavors blend, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the linguine and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid. Add the linguine to the ragu and toss to coat, adding some reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve.

Quick Marinara Sauce

I love making marinara sauce and trying out new variations. My ultimate goal is to come up with my OWN variation that will be my signature recipe that I can pass down to future generations...

This one by Giada, however, wasn't really it. I loved that it was so easy, but because it's "quick," the sauce didn't really have the time to allow the flavors to meld together. This recipe will probably only be used in the future as a "stand-by" sauce when I don't have time to make it for real.


  • 2 28-oz cans whole tomatoes in juice
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, stemmed
  • 1/2 cup EVOO
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • s&p

In a blender, puree the tomatoes with their juice and basil until almost smooth. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until very tender, about 12 minutes. Stir in the tomato puree, oregano, and sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and continue simmering until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Menu: June 29

My weekend's plans are a bit sketchy right now, so I've only planned through Thursday. Also, I didn't make everything last week, so there are a couple of rollover recipes...

Sunday: Linguini with Chicken Ragu

Monday: Sweet and Sour Sirloin

Tuesday: French Onion Casserole with French Onion Risotto

Wednesday: Baked Gnocchi

Thursday: Turkey Provencal with Broccoli and Cheese Polenta

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers: Parmesan Chicken

Another successful Barefoot Blogger recipe!

This yummy Parmesan Chicken was selected for us by Megan. And what an unbelievable choice... I am in absolute love with this meal.

First of all, could this have BEEN ready any faster?? My side dish of garlic carrots even took longer to prepare than this chicken.

Plus, I was completely blown away by the aroma and taste. It is astounding that something so ridiculously simple could taste and smell so elegant. I will make this again for sure; this would be such a great summery entertaining meal, even! YUM!

  • 4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 1/4 cups seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
  • Unsalted butter
  • Good olive oil
  • Salad greens for 6, washed and spun dry
  • 1 recipe Lemon Vinaigrette, recipe follows
Pound the chicken breasts until they are 1/4-inch thick. You can use either a meat mallet or a rolling pin. (I cheated and bought thin-sliced breasts.)
Combine the flour, salt, and pepper on a dinner plate. On a second plate, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of water. On a third plate, combine the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Coat the chicken breasts on both sides with the flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture and dredge both sides in the bread-crumb mixture, pressing lightly.
Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan and cook 2 or 3 chicken breasts on medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken breasts. Toss the salad greens with lemon vinaigrette. Place a mound of salad on each hot chicken breast. (With apologies to Ina, serving salad on TOP of chicken seemed a little backwards to me, so I reversed it!) Serve with extra grated Parmesan.

Lemon Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Yield: 6 servings

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ravioli with Creamy Tomato Sauce

I think I've mentioned before that I really wanted Giada's Family Dinners. Well, for my birthday, my awesome friend Jennifer delivered! I couldn't wait to dive in; there are already a ton of recipes that I've bookmarked. Jen - thanks again - you are awesome!

First up is this Ravioli with Creamy Tomato Sauce. Holy moly - this dinner cooked up in absolutely no time, and was every bit as tasty as it was speedy.

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds spinach ravioli or tortelloni
  • 1 cup purchased marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add about 1/4 cup olive oil to the water to help prevent pasta from sticking. Add the ravioli and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain the ravioli, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Toss the ravioli with the remaining oil to coat.
Meanwhile, bring the marinara sauce to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisking often. Whisk in the ricotta and enough reserved cooking water to thin the sauce to desired consistency. For a thicker sauce, use less pasta water; for a thinner sauce, add more water. Return the sauce to a simmer. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
Spoon 3 tablespoons of sauce over the bottom of each of 6 bowls. Arrange the ravioli over the sauce. Drizzle the remaining sauce over the ravioli. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and the basil, and serve.

Chai Latte Brownies

My good friend Jennifer and I had babies 6 weeks apart and were on maternity leave together. We'd meet up pretty much weekly to walk our darlings around the mall, grab lunch, or just take a load off in each other's living rooms.

One of our favorite places is a little coffee shop near her house where the iced chai's are to DIE for (Starbucks is a fabulous second best). Ultimately, no get-together was complete without some sort of chai.

So you can imagine my sheer glee when I found this recipe for Chai Latte Brownies over at Jen and her gorgeous daughter Stella were coming over for a little playdate today, so I whipped these up as a little tasty surprise.

I must confess, however, that I was very disappointed. Don't get me wrong; these were good. Fudgey, a little cake-like, and gooey. But they were severely lacking in the "chai" department.

When I first read the reviews of this dessert, I was adequately forewarned that they would end up dry, considering that there is an unbalanced liquid-to-dry ratio. Several of the reviewers offered solutions, including upping the amount of milk and decreasing the amount of flour.

I was then hit with a moment of culinary brilliance, and since those are rare, I knew I needed to act. I already knew I needed more than the 1/4 cup of milk; I also knew that I needed to buy most of the spices. What if I added some concentrated Tazo Chai with the milk?

Of course, buying the box was easier said than done, and I ended up with a box of teabags instead. I heated up some milk (about a cup) and steeped 3 teabags in there for about 15 minutes.

I don't know if I needed more tea... or maybe I should have used water... but I was a bit let down by this. I don't think I'll make these again- at least, not without trying another improvisation.

  • 1/4 cup 1% low-fat milk (I used about a cup of skim.)
  • 3 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 3 whole allspice, crushed
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 (1-inch) cinnamon stick (I swapped out the above 4 ingredients in favor of 3 Tazo Chai teabags steeped in the milk.)
  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 6 3/4 ounces)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, remove from heat, and let stand 15 minutes. Strain milk mixture through a fine sieve into a large microwave-safe bowl; discard solids. Add chocolate chips and butter to milk mixture; microwave at HIGH 20 seconds or until chips and butter melt, stirring until smooth. Cool slightly; add eggs, stirring with a whisk.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and the next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture, stirring just until combined. Spread evenly into a 9-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until center is set. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 20 pieces.

Yield: 20 servings (serving size: 1 brownie)
CALORIES 130 (26% from fat); FAT 3.8g (sat 1.9g,mono 1.5g,poly 0.2g); IRON 1mg; CHOLESTEROL 27mg; CALCIUM 29mg; CARBOHYDRATE 23.5g; SODIUM 110mg; PROTEIN 2.2g; FIBER 1.1g

Cooking Light, MARCH 2007

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Roast Citrus Chicken...

This title actually has a very long name: Roast Citrus Chicken with Lemon-Thyme Gravy, Smashed Potatoes, and Green Beans. Hey - it's a Rachael Ray recipe. Hers always have long titles!

Anyway, I saw her make this on her morning talk show a few days ago and bookmarked it. I love how I got a whole, complete meal with little effort. At first glance, it might look like a lot of steps, but it's really not. Tons of downtime with this one to catch up on your email, listen to the answering machine, whatever! (For blogging purposes, I broke up the ingredients list by "dish" - I thought it might be a little easier that way.)

Just like Rach promised on her show, this smells DELICIOUS... and it definitely tastes good too. I couldn't get my gravy as thick as hers, and I needed way more than a "splash" of stock in the potatoes, but this was a GOOD MEAL. Yum-o!

  • 4 legs and 2 whole chicken breasts, cut in half (I used thighs instead of legs.)
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 10 fresh bay leaves (Dried.)
  • 2 lemons, sliced, plus the juice of half, divided
  • 1 cup green Cerignola or Sicilian olives (I omitted.)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), for drizzling

Smashed Potatoes:
  • 4 large Idaho potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into about 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup part-skim or whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup (about a handful) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/4 (about a handful) Italian parsley, chopped
  • Splash of chicken stock

Green Beans:
  • 2 pounds green beans, stem ends removed
  • EVOO for drizzling
  • S&P
  • (I also added some tomato wedges.)

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 8 sprigs thyme, leaves removed
  • Juice of 2 lemons (a few tablespoons of juice)

Preheat the oven to 450.

To a roasting pan, add the chicken, garlic, bay leaves, lemon slices, olives and onion. Drizzle everything with EVOO, season with salt and pepper, and transfer to the oven. Roast, turning the chicken pieces occasionally, until they are golden brown and cooked through, about 30-35 minutes.

While the chicken is roasting, place the potatoes into a pot of cold water over medium-high heat. Bring the water to a bubble and cook the potatoes until tender, about 10 minutes depending on their size. Drain the potatoes and return them to their cooking pot to dry off and cool down slightly. Add a splash of chicken stock, the ricotta, grated Parmigiano and parsley to the potatoes and smash them. Place with the lid on the pot to keep them warm and reserve.

When the chicken is about halfway done, arrange the green beans on a cookie sheet. Drizzle them liberally with some EVOO and season with some salt and pepper. Place in the oven with the chicken and roast for about 15 minutes, until tender.

When the chicken is almost done, place a medium-size pot over medium heat and melt the butter. Sprinkle the flour over the butter and cook it for about 1 minute. Whisk the chicken stock into the roux along with the thyme. Season the gravy with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and a splash of lemon juice.

To serve, place a few pieces of chicken per person on each plate along with some of the mashed potatoes and roasted green beans alongside, topping everything off with some of the lemon-thyme gravy.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Basil-Tomato-Mozzarella Burgers

I found this recipe on the Food Network's site and thought it looked good, although I did tweak it a little. For example, the burgers? Way too blah for me. So below is MY recipe for the burgers, although I pretty much kept to the salsa and mayo steps.

I ended up cooking these on my grill pan on the stove since Ryan was awake and I couldn't really go in and out of the house! (Speaking of Ryan... I also learned that he'll eat anything if he can dip it in something...)

The burgers were REALLY good! I wasn't a fan of the salsa, but I think it's because I realized I don't really like raw onions. Next time, I will cook them first. And the mayo? YUM! I also used it to dip my fries into. I had no rolls, so I used these sandwich flats from Pepperidge Farm, I think.

I submitted this recipe to Joelen's Grilling Blogging Adventure - check it out to submit your own entry or to get some new ideas!

For the burgers:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • About a tablespoon balsamic vinagrette dressing

Combine all ingredients and form into 4 patties. Place on heated grill pan. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side. Turn and cook for 3 more minutes. Serve with Basil Mayonnaise and Tomato Salsa.

Basil Mayonnaise:
  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • Salt and pepper

Place all ingredients in a blender. Puree until smooth. (I didn't do this; I just chopped the basil pretty finely and mixed it together by hand.)

Tomato Salsa:

  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pimento olives, chopped (I omitted.)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Let stand for 30 minutes.

Half-Whole-Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was so excited this morning when I saw that Amanda had created a recipe for cookies that uses an almost 50-50 ratio of whole-wheat to white flour. That automatically makes these cookies healthy, right? ;)

I did wish that they were a little "fluffier"; I'm much more a fan of full, rounder cookies than flat ones, but they were still very good!

Oh, and the hand in this picture? Not intentional. But I guess that's what happens when you try taking pictures of cookies around a toddler.

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375.

Sift together flours, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar together. Add vanilla and then eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Slowly stir in flour mixture. Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 9 - 11 minutes, or until golden brown.

Let cool completely on wire rack.

Menu: June 23

I have been so slacking in the planning department. But I have (sort of) regular computer access, AND the school year is over... so between the two, I should be back to "normal." Anyway, here's what's cooking this week:

Monday: Mozzarella Cheeseburgers and Spicy Steak Fries
Tuesday: Roast Citrus Chicken with Lemon-Thyme Gravy, Smashed Potatoes, and Green Beans
Wednesday: Ravioli with Creamy Tomato Sauce
Thursday: Parmesan Chicken
Friday: Sweet and Sour Sirloin Stirfry with Ranch Mashed Potatoes
Saturday: My first attempt at homemade gnocchi!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Zucchini Slices

I'm always looking for new snacks and meal ideas for my 19-month-old son. This was so simple and easy, and he LOVED them! Thanks a bunch to Kristy for inspiring this snack!

  • 1 zucchini
  • approx 1/3 cup egg substitute (you can certainly use 1-2 eggs)
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 450. Lightly spray a baking sheet.

Peel and slice zucchini into 1/2" slices.

Combine breadcrumbs, basil, oregano, and garlic powder. Dip each slice into the egg, and then toss in breadcrumb mixture. Place on the baking sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until crispy, flipping over halfway through.

Here are a couple of shots of Ryan enjoying his little snack (yes, it's lunchtime and he's still in his jammies):

Friday, June 20, 2008

Two-Sauce Weeknight Lasagna Bowls

A couple of weeks ago, I was on the phone w/ my grandmother. She knows how much I love to cook and try new things, so she was telling me about an episode of Rachael Ray where she made this fake lasagna dish. She described it so well that I had to look it up and check it out.

Coincidentally, the day I went to the Food Network's website to see the recipe, the show aired. Cool! And yes indeed, it looked amazing.

And yes indeed, it TASTES amazing!

I was at first intimidated by the number of ingredients, but it's really all stuff I have on hand anyway. I love dishes where I don't have to buy a lot of stuff!

It was super easy to throw together, and I just love the white sauce mixed in first. It really adds a whole 'nother level of flavor and sets it apart from regular old pasta with meat sauce.

  • Salt
  • 1 pound Campanelle pasta
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, a couple of thick slices, chopped (I omitted.)
  • 3/4 pound ground beef pork and veal mix or ground beef
  • 1/2 large carrot, peeled and grated or finely chopped
  • 1 small to medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, 2 chopped or grated, 1 peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice, a couple of pinches
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste (I actually ended up also adding some crushed tomatoes; I really couldn't imagine this "lasagna" dish without it!)
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • Nutmeg, to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus some to pass at table
  • A handful fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
Heat large pot of water to a boil, salt water and cook pasta to al dente.
While pasta water comes to a boil, heat olive oil in a medium sauce pot over medium-high heat, add pancetta and render 2 to 3 minutes then add meat and break up as it browns. When the meat has begun to caramelize and develops a nice brown color, 4 to 5 minutes, add carrot, onion, 2 cloves of garlic, allspice, salt and pepper and a bay leaf. Cook 3 to 4 minutes more to soften onions and carrots bits then stir in tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes, then stir in wine and cook out 1 minute then stir in stock and reduce heat to simmer.
While red sauce cooks, cut remaining whole clove of garlic and rub the inside of a medium sauce pot with it. Melt butter in pot over medium heat. Add in flour and whisk together a minute or so then whisk in milk and bring to a bubble, reduce heat then season sauce with salt, pepper and nutmeg, thicken 8 to 10 minutes.
Toss pasta with white sauce and 1/2 cup grated cheese. Serve pasta in individual bowls and top with a ladle of meat sauce in the middle of the bowl for mixing in. Garnish with parsley.

Lemon Risotto with Asparagus

I have so very very much fallen in love with risotto! I know I should stop because it can't be the healthiest side, but I can't resist. It is sooooo good...

Last night I wanted to make something to go along with the grilled chicken, and this recipe for Lemon Risotto with Asparagus from Cooking Light seemed perfect!

It seemed like an awful lot of broth, but I used every drop. Next time I will probably use a combination of broth and water just cut back a little on the sodium. Overall, however, it was fantastic! Ryan pretty much only ate that... minus the asparagus. Hee hee! And I have to confess that my risotto-to-chicken ratio was more than a little unbalanced. :)

(It's a lame picture of my leftovers because I accidentally deleted the real shot!)

  • 3 (14 1/2-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked Arborio rice
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups (1-inch) diagonally cut asparagus (about 1 pound)
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Bring broth to a simmer in a large saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add rice and rind; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in wine, and cook 3 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly.
Add 3 1/2 cups broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes). Stir in asparagus. Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in cheese and juice. Sprinkle with thyme.
Yield: 6 servings (serving size: about 1 1/4 cups)
CALORIES 307 (14% from fat); FAT 4.9g (sat 1.9g,mono 2.4g,poly 0.3g); IRON 1.2mg; CHOLESTEROL 6mg; CALCIUM 154mg; CARBOHYDRATE 51.2g; SODIUM 532mg; PROTEIN 11.7g; FIBER 2.7g
Cooking Light, MARCH 2002

Multigrain Pancakes

I was very excited this morning to use the mix I made last night to cook these up for Ryan and me. I think it may have even been easier than Bisquick! Awesome.

I made three kinds - blueberry, strawberry, and of course, chocolate chip for me. :) I wonder if it'd be weird to throw some dried fruit into the mix...

(The picture isn't any good. I took a really nice one before we ate, but then accidentally deleted it and had to take a quick one with what was left...)

Here's Ryan enjoying his "blue" pancake:

  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups Multigrain Pancake Mix
  • Vegetable cooking spray

Combine first 3 ingredients in a bowl; stir well. Add pancake mix, and stir until smooth (batter will be slightly thick).
Spoon about 1/4 cup batter onto a hot nonstick griddle or nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray. Turn pancakes when tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked.

Yield: 10 (4-inch) pancakes

(serving size: 1 pancake)CALORIES 121 (36% from fat); FAT 4.9g (sat 1.1g,mono 1.3g,poly 2.2g); IRON 0.9mg; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 56mg; CARBOHYDRATE 16g; SODIUM 203mg; PROTEIN 3.7g; FIBER 0.1g

Cooking Light, SEPTEMBER 1995

Multigrain Pancake Mix

I was looking through Cooking Light's website for some breakfast ideas for Ryan when I found this recipe for Multigrain Pancake Mix. I had most of the ingredients on hand, so after a quick stop at the store, I was in business.

I love that it's just a 2-step process to making the mix. So simple; I may never buy Bisquick again! I do wish that I had doubled (at least!) this recipe; it only makes enough to use twice.
  • 1/2 cup regular oats
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup unprocessed wheat bran
  • 1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
Place oats in food processor, and process until smooth. Add remaining ingredients; process until smooth. Store in a tightly sealed container in refrigerator.
Yield: 4 cups
Cooking Light, SEPTEMBER 1995

Grilled Chicken with Gremolata

I will always have a soft-spot in my blogging heart for BMK's Reservations Not Required. Hers was one of the first blogs in my reader, and I believe her post for Veggie Enchilladas may have been the first I starred. It was definitely one of the first of my entries.

So when I saw her post for Grilled Chicken with Gremolata (a Giada DiLaurentiis recipe), I knew I wouldn't be disappointed.

I was very right.

This chicken prepares and cooks so freaken easy! It was on the table before I even really got my risotto going. And it was so tender and juicy and flavorful... yum. An awesome summer dish that will for sure be making encore appearances in my kitchen.

[I have no picture because I accidentally deleted it and can't retrieve it and it is all gone! I will reinsert a photo when I make this again.]

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts halves
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a small bowl, combine the parsley, extra-virgin olive oil, lemon zest, oregano, and garlic. This is the gremolata, set it aside.

Rub olive oil over both sides of the chicken, season with salt and pepper. Grill over medium-high grill for about 5 minutes per side. Serve with the gremolata over the top.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Chocolate Mint Bars

I can't rave enough about my subscription to Cooking Light that my mother-in-law gave me for Christmas. It is so awesome, and really, who DOESN'T love food that taste amazing AND is good for you??

A few months ago, this recipe for Chocolate Mint Bars was on the cover. Of course, I tore it out and filed it safely away. It even taunted me when I'd see the magazine at the checkout line at the grocery store. I never got around to making them...

...Until now! Today was my last day of school (YAY!) and therefore, Ryan's last day of daycare (well, until September...). When he starts up again, he'll be in a new room, so I really wanted to bake something special for his teachers. They are so wonderful and loving and amazing... I cannot rave enough about these ladies. We will miss them! But I figured Ryan's departure from Infant C was the perfect occassion to break out this recipe.

I saved a couple for us, and they were divine. The bottom layer was so rich and fudgey, and the mint was just enough to have flavor without being overpowering. I will be making these again!

These were very easy to make, although it does a bit of time because of the layers. I had to bake them a little longer than the recipe says, but that's okay. And the edges were a little messy, but again - that's okay.

(Side note: Whenever I bake something, Pat is ALWAYS sniffing around the kitchen hoping for a beater or spoon to lick. I handed him the spatula with the mint layer and warned him that he wouldn't like it... oh, the expression on his face was priceless! He told me he much more prefers plain old brownie batter. Hee hee!)

Bottom layer:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (about 4 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 (16-ounce) can chocolate syrup
  • Cooking spray

Mint layer:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons fat-free milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 2 drops green food coloring


  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons butter


1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. To prepare bottom layer, lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and salt; stir with a whisk. Combine granulated sugar, egg substitute, 1/4 cup melted butter, 2 tablespoons water, vanilla, eggs, and chocolate syrup in a medium bowl; stir until smooth. Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture, stirring until blended. Pour batter into a 13 x 9–inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 23 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

3. To prepare mint layer, combine powdered sugar, 1/4 cup melted butter, and next 3 ingredients (through food coloring) in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer until smooth. Spread mint mixture over cooled cake.

4. To prepare the glaze, combine the chocolate chips and 3 tablespoons butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until melted, stirring after 30 seconds. Let stand 2 minutes. Spread chocolate mixture evenly over top. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Cut into 20 pieces.


20 servings (serving size: 1 piece)

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 264(30% from fat); FAT 8.7g (sat 5.2g,mono 2.5g,poly 0.4g); IRON 0.9mg; CHOLESTEROL 38mg; CALCIUM 12mg; CARBOHYDRATE 45g; SODIUM 139mg; PROTEIN 2.8g; FIBER 0.5g

Cooking Light, MARCH 2008

Monday, June 16, 2008

NY Deli Mac and Cheese

I am a sucker for mac and cheese. I love to try new ways to make it; it's just the ultimate comfort food. So when I saw Rachael Ray make this variation, I dove for her website to print out the recipe.

I didn't realize until after it was in the oven that I used a 12oz box of pasta and not a full pound, so it was a tad cheesier than she probably intended (but still gooooood!). Also, rather than pastrami, I used half ham and half turkey. Roast beef would be good in here too; use your favorite lunch meat!

  • 1 pound cavatappi pasta, or any shape you like
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons butter, plus 1 tablespoon, divided
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup spicy deli mustard
  • 3 cups New York aged sharp cheddar (12 ounces), grated
  • 1/2 pound deli pastrami, roughly chopped
  • 6 slices rye toast, crumbled (I just used a handful of breadcrumbs.)

Pre-heat broiler to high or oven to 400°F.

Place a large pot of water over high heat and bring it up to a boil to cook the pasta. Once at a boil, add some salt and the pasta and cook until al dente, according to package directions.
While the pasta is cooking, heat a medium size skillet over medium heat and add the butter.

When the butter melts, add flour and cook about a minute. Whisk in stock, milk and spicy mustard and bring up to a bubble. Stir in the cheese in a figure-eight motion, reserving enough to sprinkle on the top of the casserole, until it's all melted. Fold in the pastrami and season with salt and pepper to taste.

When the pasta is done, drain it well and combine with sauce. Pour into a baking dish and top with reserved cheese and crumbled rye toast. Dot the top of the casserole with butter and place in oven until cheese is brown and bubbling.

Pork Chops Marsala

I was kind of disappointed with this recipe from Cooking Light. I think much of it was my own fault, though; I shouldn't have used PAM to coat my pan like the recipe said. Also, I think I overcooked it, as it was rather tough. The flavor was good, though, so I'd like to try this again sometime.


  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
  • 4 (4-ounce) boneless center-cut loin pork chops (about 1/2 inch thick)
  • Cooking spray 1/3 cup minced shallots (about 2)
  • 2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
  • 1 (8-ounce) package presliced mushrooms
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup Marsala wine or dry sherry
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place 1/4 cup flour in a shallow dish. Dredge pork in flour. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add pork to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove pork from pan.

Add shallots, garlic, and mushrooms to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until moisture evaporates. Add remaining 2 tablespoons flour and thyme to pan, and cook for 1 minute, stirring well. Combine chicken broth and Marsala, stirring until smooth. Gradually add broth mixture to pan, stirring constantly with a whisk; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes or until sauce thickens.

Return pork to pan; cook 2 minutes or until desired degree of doneness, turning to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4 servings (serving size: 1 pork chop and 1/2 cup sauce)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 242(25% from fat); FAT 6.8g (sat 2.5g,mono 2.9g,poly 0.6g); IRON 2.1mg; CHOLESTEROL 67mg; CALCIUM 44mg; CARBOHYDRATE 15.4g; SODIUM 299mg; PROTEIN 27g; FIBER 1.1g

Michele Powers
Cooking Light, APRIL 2007

Lunch Lady Bars

If Brooke and I weren't friends in real life, I sure would want to be just because of her cooking! When I saw these lunch lady bars a few days ago, I knew they'd be the perfect dessert to bring to my department's end-of-the-year party.

They were so simple to make, and they were an absolute hit. I made 4 dozen (I doubled the recipe), and minus the handful that Pat (fine - and I) sampled the night I baked them, they were almost completely gone. My supervisor kept telling me how wonderful they are, and several colleagues asked for the recipe.

I think that what I love best about these is that they are kind of a dressed-up chocolate chip cookie. So delicious, yet a bit more impressive than its ancestors.


  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips/chunks (I just may have "accidentally" used more than this...)

Preheat oven to 350. Combine first three dry ingredients. Set aside. In bowl beat together oil and sugars. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. Gradually beat in dry ingredients. Mix in 3/4 c. of chocolate chips. Spread into 9x13 pan. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 c. chips on top. Bake for 15-25 minutes or until light golden brown.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ranch Mashed Potatoes

I just made a fraction of this Cooking Light, but it was enough for the three of us. It was pretty good; nothing spectacular, but good. Ryan, however, ate almost the entire portion of what I dished out to photograph! This really is something I'd probably make again, although I wouldn't actually plan it out; I'd just kind of dump what I had in the bowl.

  • 13 cups cubed red potato (about 4 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried dill
Place potato in a Dutch oven; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until tender; drain. Place potato in a large bowl. Add sour cream and remaining ingredients; mash with a potato masher to desired consistency.

Yield: 12 servings (serving size: 2/3 cup)

CALORIES 197 (21% from fat); FAT 4.5g (sat 2.7g,mono 0.9g,poly 0.2g); IRON 0.6mg; CHOLESTEROL 14mg; CALCIUM 47mg; CARBOHYDRATE 35.9g; SODIUM 206mg; PROTEIN 4.3g; FIBER 3.2g

Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2007

Zesty Citrus Chicken

I can't describe to you how delicious this chicken from Cooking Light is. I chose to marinate it overnight rather than just for a few hours, and I would recommend that for sure. It was so tender and juicy and wonderful, and just thinking about it makes me want more.

  • 6 limes
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
  • 6 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour or all-purpose flour (about 1 ounce)
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 12 thin orange slices
Grate rind from limes, reserving 2 tablespoons rind; set aside. Squeeze juice from limes to equal 3/4 cup.
Combine lime juice, lemon juice, and chicken in a large zip-top plastic bag. Seal and marinate in refrigerator 2 hours, turning bag occasionally.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Remove chicken from bag, reserving 2 tablespoons marinade. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, paprika, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Dredge chicken in flour mixture. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add 3 chicken breast halves; cook 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Place chicken in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and chicken.
Combine lime rind and brown sugar; sprinkle over chicken. Combine reserved marinade and broth; drizzle around chicken. Top each chicken breast half with 2 orange slices. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until chicken is done. Place chicken on a serving platter. Strain any remaining liquid in dish through a fine mesh sieve over a bowl. Discard solids. Spoon sauce over chicken.
Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 chicken breast half and about 1 tablespoon sauce)
CALORIES 332 (14% from fat); FAT 5.1g (sat 1.2g,mono 2.2g,poly 0.8g); IRON 2.2mg; CHOLESTEROL 99mg; CALCIUM 56mg; CARBOHYDRATE 29.9g; SODIUM 533mg; PROTEIN 41.5g; FIBER 3.8g Cooking Light, MARCH 2007

Caramel Apple Pork Chops

Oh, this dish by Kristy's Recipes is goooood. And perhaps the best part is that the house smelled like apple pie while it was cooking! (And nothing is cooler than making a dish where you already have all of the required ingredients.)

  • 4 boneless pork chops
  • 3 tablespoons Splenda brown sugar blend, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tart apples - peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1/2 cup reduced sugar apple juice
  • 3 tablespoons almonds (I omitted.)

Preheat oven to 350. Line a casserole dish with foil.Melt butter in skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg, and 2 tablespoons Spelnda Brown Sugar Blend. Add apples. Cook 5-6 minutes; turning often.

Place pork chops in prepared pan. Pour apple mixture evenly on top of pork chops. Pour apple juice over pork chops and apples. Cover with foil. Bake 20 minutes.Remove foil sprinkle remaining brown sugar blend and almonds on top. Bake an additional 15 minutes.

Barefoot Bloggers: Pasta, Pesto, and Peas

I was so, so, so excited to join the new blogging group: Barefoot Bloggers. For you non-Ina junkies out there, the title relates to Ina Garten on the Food Network, not the fact that we must cook sans shoes.

As an Ina fan, I think this group is AWESOME. There are so many of her recipes that I've hesitated to try, and I hope this helps me expand my cooking horizons, so to speak.

(Don't tell Pat that these recipes are from the Barefoot Contessa; he is NOT a fan, and I can't let him judge the food before he eats it. And sweetie? If you're reading this? It's a big lie and I would NEVER cook any of her food. Love and kisses...)

So the first reicpe was Pasta, Pesto, and Peas, chosen by Elizabeth at Ugg Smell Food. Now, I must confess: this recipe caused me much stress.

First, I didn't think I liked pesto. I wasn't sure why - I love its ingredients. But for some reason, I had it in my head that I was not going to like this.
Then, I agonized over the actual pesto recipe. See, Ryan is not yet 19 months, and is still too young for peanuts. Therefore, I wondered, was he too young for the other nuts? I wasn't sure. I googled and emailed people and posted on boards before I just decided to keep the recipe as is, sans nuts.
Then, as I was cooking, it tasted like a garlic monster threw up. I LOVE garlic, but the flavor was so intense. I knew I'd have no problems with vampires...
But somehow? When it was all together? It was fabulous. FABulous. I cautioned Pat that there was a lot of garlic, and he told me he thought it was perfect. Just like me. (Okay, I added that last part.)
  • 3/4 pound fusilli pasta
  • 3/4 pound bow tie pasta
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups pesto, packaged or see recipe below
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 cups good mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
  • 1/3 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cook the fusilli and bow ties separately in a large pot of boiling salted water for 10 to 12 minutes until each pasta is al dente. Drain and toss into a bowl with the olive oil. Cool to room temperature.
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree the pesto, spinach, and lemon juice. Add the mayonnaise and puree. Add the pesto mixture to the cooled pasta and then add the Parmesan, peas, pignolis, salt, and pepper. Mix well, season to taste, and serve at room temperature.
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)
  • 5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups good olive oil
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Place the walnuts, pignolis, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.
Notes: Air is the enemy of pesto. For freezing, pack it in containers with a film of oil or plastic wrap directly on top with the air pressed out.
To clean basil, remove the leaves, swirl them in a bowl of water, and then spin them very dry in a salad spinner. Store them in a closed plastic bag with a slightly damp paper towel. As long as the leaves are dry they will stay green for several days.
Yield: 4 cups

Creamed Spinach Gratin

I admit it. I am just learning to like spinach. In the past, you couldn't pay me to put that green crap in my mouth. But now? YUM! Look at that, my mom was right when she'd tell me that I'd like it when I was older...

When I saw this recipe for Creamed Spinach Gratin on Christa's Kitchen Creations, I couldn't wait to try it. It looked so simple, yet delicious - and it was!

  • 1 (10-ounce) bag fresh spinach
  • Cooking spray
  • 2/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup tub-style light cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup (1/4-inch-thick) sliced tomato
  • 1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375°.
Remove large stems from spinach. Tear spinach into 1-inch pieces; place in a colander. Rinse spinach under cold water; drain. Set aside.
Place a large Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium heat until hot. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add spinach; cover and cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Add cream cheese, oregano, salt, and pepper. Uncover and cook an additional minute or until cream cheese melts.
Spoon spinach mixture into a 1-quart gratin dish or shallow casserole coated with cooking spray. Arrange tomato slices in a single layer on top of spinach,and sprinkle with breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Double Chocolate Bakeshop Muffins

My breakfasts during the week are usually FiberOne bars, or something equally grab-and-go. On the weekends, I like to indulge a bit more on the most important meal of the day.

Last Saturday, I had some time to kill but was really in the mood for muffins. Brooke inspired me to buy Small-Batch Baking, and everytime time I use it, I am grateful to her all over again. I pulled it out but all of the ones that REALLY caught my eye required ingredients that I didn't have. So... I went for the chocolate!

(This is an awful picture. I was in a rush and didn't play with it enough to try to get a better one!)

  • Unsalted butter, at room temp, for greasing the muffin cups
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tablespoons nonfat buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I ran out, so I used white chocolate.)

Also need - 1 jumbo muffin pan (see "note" at the bottom for adaptations for a regular tin.)

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350. Lightly grease only the bottoms of the muffin cups; then rub a little of the butter around the rim of each cup. (This will help them to form a rounded top.)

2. Place the melted better, buttermilk, vanilla, and egg in a small bowl and whisk to blend. Set the mixture aside.

3. Place a large fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl. Place the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the sieve, and sift the ingredients into the bowl. Toss in the chocolate chips. Add the buttermilk mixture all at once and stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, dividing equally; they should be about three quarters full. Fill the empty muffin cups halfway with water to prevent scorching.

4. Bake the muffins until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.

5. Remove the muffin pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Carefully pour the water out of the empty cups. Turn the muffins out of the cups and let them cool, upright, on the wire rack for at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature. (They are best eaten the day they are baked but will keep for up to 1 day in a plastic bag at room temperature.)

Note: To make regular-size muffins, bake as directed about 15-18 minutes.

Yields: 2 jumbo muffins, or 4 standard muffins

Crockpot Salsa Chicken

I don't really use my crockpot too often because if I set it on low, it will done hours before I get home from work; if I set it on high, I don't get home early enough to turn it on. (Note to self: get crockpot with a timer and automatic turn-on!) Therefore, for me, the crockpot is more of a weekend appliance, which kind of defeats the purpose.

Anyway, when Ryan was home sick last week, I thought it was the perfect day to throw this in; I'd be home at the right times to control it, and I wouldn't have to take too much time away from him when he wasn't feeling well.

I served this Crockpot Salsa Chicken by LovestoEat over rice, and I really liked the flavors. The chicken was tender and juicy, and it was a great comfort-ish type food after a crazy day. The best part about this is that there is NO prep work - you don't even have to think ahead and defrost the chicken!

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts - FROZEN!
  • 1cup salsa-Fresh made salsa (I cheated and used one from a jar.)
  • 1 package reduced sodium taco seasoning
  • 1 can reduced fat cream of mushroom soup (condensed) or cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream

Add chicken to slow cooker.Sprinkle taco seasoning over chicken.Mix salsa and soup; pour over chicken.Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.At this point after the chicken was cooked, I shredded it with a fork (it was super easy). Stir in sour cream until heated, then serve. Serve over rice or tortillas.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

French Onion Risotto

My love affair with all things French Onion contines from my post below. What better side to my French Onion Pork Chops than... French Onion risotto!

I am very jealous of people who just have visions for a meal and can just create it. I mean, I can make alterations and adaptations, but I just don't have the... touch? to just whip something up.

Bethany, from This Little Piggy..., however, TOTALLY has that touch. And I am SO glad she does, because she used it to grace my kitchen table with this amazing side.

Like the pork, however, this photo just did not capture the deliciousness! I actually wish I had doubled the recipe to have even more, but my waistline is grateful that I did not.


  • 3 cups of any combo of beef broth and water (I used 2c broth and 1c water)
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Half of a large onion, thinly sliced
  • Fresh thyme (The store was out of thyme, so I used dried. I used about a tablespoon, maybe a bit less, but it was a tad too much.)
  • 2 tablespoons sherry, to taste (I used just a splash since I intended on feeding this to my toddler!)
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • Provolone or cheese of your choice, optional

In a medium saucepan, bring broth and water to a boil. Simmer on a low-medium heat.

Heat butter and olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add onion and cook 3-4 minutes until tender.

Add rice, stir, and cook 1-2 minutes. Add about 1/2 cup broth mixture. Cook on a low-medium heat. When almost all the liquid is absorbed, add the next 1/2 cup. Continue adding broth, 1/2 cup at a time. Before adding the last 1/2 cup broth, stir in thyme and sherry. Cook with remaining broth until rice is done. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir in cheese, if using.Makes about 4 small portions.

MY 100TH POST!! French Onion Pork Chops

WAHOO!! When I first started this blog, I feared it would be something that I did three times and then never touched again. Yet, 100 posts later...

*throws confetti*

Okay, onto the dinner. Can you tell I adore French Onion anything?? I mean, FO Mac and Cheese, FO Meatloaf... maybe I should create a FO label here... I just love my mom's soup so much, so when I see a dish influenced by this yummy Thanksgiving staple (at my house, anyway...), I am so psyched to try it out.

Angie from Adventures in Home Cooking recently posted her second attempt at French Onion Pork Chops, and I am SO glad she did - I loved everything she did and didn't alter a thing (that's a lie - I used mozz instead of provolone. Call me a weirdo, but to me, provolone smells like feet and I can't get past that enough to actually taste it).
I have said many times that I am NOT a big pork person, but I actually ate TWO chops! This was dee-lish.
(Don't judge this meal by the pics; try as I may, I just could not get a shot that did this dish any justice at all.)
I took note of her notes and incorporated them into the actual recipe:
  • 4 pork chops (I used a package of 6 but they were pretty thin.)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 pckg. Lipton onion soup mix
  • 2/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 to 2/3 stick butter, melted
  • 2 T. olive oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Season the chops with some s&p.
Saute the onion in a little bit of extra-virgin olive oil.
Combine soup mix and bread crumbs. Dip chops in egg and then in bread crumb/onion mixture, coating well. Place in a shallow pan; cover with onions.
Mix melted butter and olive oil in a small bowl and drizzle onto pork chops. Bake covered 1 hour, turning once. Makes four servings.
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