Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Easy French Dip Sandwiches

Source: All Recipes

A few years back, I made a very complicated French Dip recipe, which included cooking a roast in a crockpot and shredding the meat myself. And to be honest, the end result was...average.

This version is far easier, and may be the easiest recipe I make. It's delicious!

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

Easy French Dip Sandwiches


1 can of beef broth (or enough to cover roast beef slices)
1 pound thinly sliced deli roast beef
8 slices provolone cheese
4 hoagie rolls, split lengthwise

1. Set the oven to broil. Place the hoagies, inside up, on a cookie sheet and broil for a few minutes until the rolls are toasted. Remove and set oven to 350 degrees.

2. While the rolls are under the broiler, bring the beef broth to a low boil in a saucepan. Add in sliced roast beef, and warm for about 3 minutes, or until hot. Remove with tongs, draining, and place the meat on the hoagie rolls and top with provolone cheese.

3. Bake the sandwiches in the preheated oven for 5 minutes, or until the cheese just begins to melt. Serve the sandwiches with small bowls of the warm broth for dipping. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Linguine with Chicken and Sauteed Vegetables

Source: All Recipes

I found this recipe a couple of years ago--I've made some modifications to the original, but I really like the resulting flavor. 10 cloves of garlic seems like a LOT, but as long as you mince them finely and cook until golden, they seem to lightly flavor the vegetable oil and add the right taste to the dish without being overpowering. It comes together quickly and is a great weeknight dish!

If using frozen vegetables, cook the chicken first in the oil until cooked on the outside, then add the vegetables.

I think one reason I LOVE this dish is tossing the noodles with the garlic oil and sprinkling them with salt makes them SO tasty! If you have garlic oil on hand, you could do this with other pasta dishes as well.

Chicken with Chicken and Sauteed Vegetables

Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Ready In: 40 Minutes
Yields: 6 servings

1/2 cup vegetable oil
10 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 (12 ounce) package uncooked linguine pasta
salt to taste
1 cup chopped broccoli
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 cup sliced green beans
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1 pound chicken tenders, cut into bite-size pieces
3 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Mix in garlic. Cook and stir until golden. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Place linguine in pot and cook 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Set aside 1 tablespoon garlic oil and toss remainder with pasta to coat. Season pasta with salt.

4. Heat reserved garlic oil in skillet over medium heat. Mix in chicken and 2 tablespoons soy sauce. Cook until chicken juices run clear. Mix in vegetables and remaining soy sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Toss with linguine, and enjoy!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Pioneer Woman's Whiskey-Glazed Carrots

Source:The Pioneer Woman

First off...this recipe is DELICIOUS. I have more of a "salty" tooth than a sweet tooth (see exhibit A: popcorn and sunflower seed addiction) but I just LOVED these sweet, but crunchy carrots! Such a nice addition to the table!

Even though they almost set my kitchen on fire.

Well, not the carrots, but Mr. Jim Beam himself. As I was adding it to the very hot skillet, I don't know quite what happened, but flames shoot up from the pan (as my camera was pointed at it, no less). My husband, fortunately, is much more level-headed than I. He knew the flames would die down quickly, but we didn't escape without the smoke detectors going off. And smoke filling the house. And things had been going so WELL.

Anyway, fire scare aside, I would most definitely make these again! I probably just need to be a little more careful when pouring the whiskey and turn down the heat a bit.

Pioneer Woman's Whiskey Glazed Carrots

2-3 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into thick circles
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup Jack Daniels or other whiskey
3/4 to 1 cup of brown sugar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over high heat. Add carrots in 2 batches, cooking for 60 to 90 seconds each batch. Remove from skillet.

2. Pour in whiskey and allow to evaporate 30 seconds. (Tip: do not set your kitchen on fire in the process.) Reduce heat to medium, and add remaining butter. When butter melts, sprinkle brown sugar over the top. Stir together, then add carrots to skillet. Cover, and continue cooking for 5 minutes.

3. Remove lid and add salt and pepper. Continue cooking until carrots are done and glaze is thick, about 5 more minutes.

4. Pour onto a platter and serve immediately. Sprinkle with chopped chives if desired.

Campbell's Green Bean Casserole

Pretty basic stuff here...we were denied green beans on Thanksgiving, so my husband requested it for Christmas. I went with the Campbell's version, easy to prepare and always good! Alternatively, if you love cheese as I do, omit the soy sauce and add 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese to the bean mixture, and top with a little bit more when you add the final onion topping.

I made this hours ahead of time and refrigerated it until I needed to cook it--it turned out perfectly! I also used frozen green beans and cooked them in the microwave per the package instructions.

Campbell's Green Bean Casserole

Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake: 30 minutes
Serves: 6

1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp soy sauce
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
4 cups cooked cut green beans
1 1/4 cup french fried onions

1. Stir the soup, milk, soy, black pepper, beans and half the onions in a baking dish.

2. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until the bean mixutre is hot and bubbling. Stir the bean mixture and top with the remaining onions.

3. Bake for 5 minutes or until the onions are golden brown. Serve and enjoy!

Garlic Rosemary Roast Chicken with Potatoes

Source: The New Best Recipe

First of all, I know I have already posted a recipe as "Best Chicken Ever," but if I had to pick one to compete, this would be it.

My favorite thing about my New Best Recipe cookbook is the FLAVOR each dish ends up having. The flavors for the chicken melded nicely, and neither the garlic nor the rosemary were overpowering. They just...were. It was divine.

But backing up a bit, this is the first year my husband and I have been on our own for Christmas. I didn't want to do a giant spread, but I wanted to have a few good dishes. So after thinking about it, these were the dishes I decided on:

Garlic Rosemary Roast Chicken with Potatoes
Green bean casserole (my husband's favorite)
Pioneer Woman's Whiskey Glazed Carrots
Side salad

Overall, it's not very much, but I make maybe two simple dishes, max, per meal, so I knew the key to making this was to prepare as much as possible in advance. So early Christmas morning, I prepared the chicken brine, and while the chicken was soaking, I made the green bean casserole and put it in the fridge, cut the carrots, and sliced the potatoes, then put everything back into the fridge until it was time to start cooking the bird.

Also, I had planned to cook both the chicken and the green bean casserole at the same time. Turns out our oven only has one rack, which I figured out as I was about to put the chicken in. So I cooked the casserole first, covered it, and then cooked the bird. Once that was done, I put the casserole back in and heated it for about 10 minutes. It worked out perfectly. But I do need a new rack!

Also, in reading The New Best Recipe, one thing they talked about was a V-rack for roasting a bird. Instead of just laying the chicken in a roasting pan, it cooks much better if it can be elevated and the air can circulate around it constantly--plus, the bottom of the chicken doesn't soak in the drippings. I have a Calphalon stainless steel roasting pan which came with a V-rack, but I'm pretty sure you can purchase them seperately.

On a last note: brining. This flavor brine results in a VERY tasty and moist chicken, but the downside to brining is your chicken may lack a crisy skin. The solution to that is to brine as early as a day in advance and then let the chicken air out in the fridge, in a pan with a rack, or turning every so often and patting dry. My chicken aired out for about 5 hours before I cooked it, and the skin was pretty good.

I had also kind of thought of the potatoes as a "throwaway" dish. I mean, nice and all, but nothing mind-blowing. However, I really enjoyed them! They ended up being a whole seperate side dish, lightly seasoned with the salt, pepper, garlic, and chicken drippings. Yum!

I was pretty pleased with my first Christmas dinner. Other than almost lighting the kitchen on fire...but that's a story for my whiskey glazed carrots recipe!

Garlic Rosemary Roast Chicken with Potatoes

1/2 cup of table salt
10 garlic cloves, unpeeled
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds), trimmed of excess fat, chicken rinsed and patted dry, giblets removed and reserved for another use

2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 pounds red or Yukon gold potatoes
10 cloves unpeeled garlic cloves
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper


1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Combine the salt, garlic, and rosemary in a zipper-lock bag; seal, pressing out the air. With a meat pounder or rolling pin, pound the garlic cloves until crushed. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, stockpot, or Dutch oven and stir in 2 cups of hot water; let stand 10 minutes to release flavors. Add 1 1/2 quarts cold water and stir until the salt is dissolved. Immerse the chicken in the brine, cover, and refrigerate 1 hour. (I had a 6 pound bird, so I let it sit for an hour and a half.)

2. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Set a V-rack in a small roasting pan and lightly spray the rack with nonstick cooking spray.

3. FOR THE PASTE: Stir the rosemary, garlic, salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1 tablespoon of the oil together in a small bowl. Rub about 1 1/2 teaspoons of the paste in the cavity of the chicken. Carefully loosen the skin over the breast and thigh on each side (I had to make a small cut in the skin): slip half of the remaining paste under the skin on each side of the breast, then, using your fingers, distribute the paste over the breast and thigh by rubbing the surface of the skin. Tie the end of the drumsticks together with kitchen twine and tuck the wings behind the back. Rub all sides of the chicken with 2 teaspoons of the oil and season with pepper. Set the chicken, breast-side down, on the prepared V-rack and roast 15 minutes.

4. FOR THE POTATOES: While the chicken is roasting, quarter 1 1/2 pounds of red or Yukon gold potatoes; toss the potatoes, 10 unpeeled garlic cloves, 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a medium bowl. After the chicken has roasted 15 minutes, scatter the mixture in a single layer in the roasting pan and roast for another 15 minutes.

5. Remove the roasting pan from the oven; decrease the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Using tongs or wads of paper towels, rotate the chicken breast-side up, brush the breast with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil. Stir the potatoes. Continue to roast until the chicken is medium golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast and thigh registers about 160 to 170 degrees, respectively, 20 to 25 minutes, adding more water to the roasting pan if the liquid evaporates. Transfer the chicken to a large plate. (My chicken took about 40 more minutes to reach 160 degrees at 6 pounds.)

6. While the chicken rests, transfer the potatoes and garlic to a large paper-towel lined plate and pat with additional paper towels. Carve the chicken and serve with the potatoes and garlic. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Pasta Pomodoro

Source:All Recipes

It's Christmas Eve! I have a fairly complex spread planned for tomorrow, so I really didn't want to cook anything too complicated tonight. I had all these ingredients on hand, so this pomodoro fit the bill!

Very simple. I added in the chicken WITH the chicken and onions, but in retrospect, I should have added the chicken in the beginning, browned it, and then removed it to cook the onions and garlic.

I made quite a few changes from the original recipe based on the reviews, but I loved the end result! The pasta is a little "wet"; if you'd like a more creamy sauce, you might substitute the diced tomatoes for crushed and add in some Italian seasoning.


3 chicken breasts, sliced
2 (8 ounce) packages angel hair pasta (I used linguine)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can of diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 can chicken broth
1/2 cup of white wine
Crushed red pepper to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (or 1 tsp dried)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 minutes or until al dente; drain.

2. Pour olive oil in a large deep skillet over high-heat. Brown chicken slices and remove from pan. Saute onions and garlic until lightly browned. Reduce heat to medium-high and add in the cooked chicken, diced tomatoes, vinegar, chicken broth, and wine; simmer for about 8 minutes.

3. Stir in red pepper, black pepper, basil and cooked pasta, tossing thoroughly with sauce. Simmer for about 5 more minutes and serve topped with grated cheese.

Apple pear martini

I drank this at a bar the other night and it was SO GOOD! I think it tastes very "holiday" because of the cinnamon. This is my go-to martini right now!

Apple pear martini

1 shot of pear vodka
1 shot of apple juice
A couple of dashes of cinnamon

Pour the vodka and juice over ice in a shaker and shake cinnamon over the mixture. Shake and pour into a martini glass. Top with a dash of cinnamon. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 21, 2008


We received some Henckles knifes at our wedding shower, and though I have a sharpening steel, I've always worried I'm not really sharpening them as good as I can. Everything I've read has said to keep it at a 30 degree angle and hell if I know what a 30 degree angle is when I'm pulling it along the steel. I just signed up for a trial issue of Cook's Illustrated magazine and the November/December issue confirmed my suspicions. A sharpening steel doesn't sharpen--it's a tuneup device. As it reads, "As you cut with a sharp knife, the edge of the blade can get knocked out of alignment. The knife may seem dull, but its edge is simply misaligned. Running the knife blade over the steel repositions that edge. But you can't reshape a blade that's rounded and worn down--that's when you need a sharpener to cut away metal and restore the 20-degree angle of each side of the edge."

Once again, Cook's Illustrated, you have persuaded me to buy something I never would have considered! I bought the Chef'sChoice 310 sharpener on sale at Kohl's. It retails for $74.99. It's an electric sharpener. You first have to re-condition the blade in the first set of sharpeners, and then run the blade through the final set. From that point on, you just run it through the final set for maintenance.

In any case, my knives most definitely are sharper since I ran them through and it's good investment to keep my knives in good shape!

Chicken Fajitas

I found this fajita marinade recipe on All Recipes. I've never made fajitas before, and this marinade was so simple and easy!

And, I always love it when I find a recipe I actually like that turns out to be healthy, too! This had plenty of flavor, and I'll definitely be making it again!

Fajita Marinade I

Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Ready In: 15 Minutes
Yields: 8 servings


2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I went a little light on this. Season to your heat threshold!)
1/4 teaspoon ground black

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
Sliced chicken breasts (I used 4 thin-cut breasts for the two of us)
1 red pepper, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
1 medium white onion, sliced
Optional toppings: salsa, sour cream, queso cheese


1. In a large resealable plastic bag or glass bowl, mix together the lime juice, water, olive oil, garlic, soy sauce, salt, and liquid smoke flavoring. Stir in cayenne and black pepper.

2. Place desired meat in the marinade, and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or overnight.

3. Heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and marinade, peppers, and onion and heat until chicken is cooked through and onions are translucent. As the fajita mixture is finishing, heat another skillet over low heat. Heat tortillas, about 5 seconds each side, until heated through. Top tortillas with fajita mixture and any preferred toppings. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cheddar Baked Chicken

Source: All Recipes

I've seen this on a couple of blogs now, and I liked how easy it looked, as well as tasty.

The end result WAS very tasty--I loved the topping and the chicken was incredibly moist. I did, however, feel it was a bit too salty, and I love salt! I think the next time I make it, I'll cut the salt out of the flour mixture.

Cheddar Baked Chicken

Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 40 Minutes
Ready In: 50 Minutes
Yields: 6 servings

1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1 cup crispy rice cereal
3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut in half (or pounded thin)
2 tablespoons butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Coat a medium baking dish with 1/4 cup melted butter.

2. In a bowl, mix the flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. In a separate bowl, beat together the egg and milk. In a third bowl, mix the cheese, bread crumbs, cereal. Dredge chicken pieces in the flour mixture, dip in the egg mixture, then press in the breadcrumb mixture to coat. Arrange in the prepared baking dish. Drizzle 2 tablespoons butter evenly over chicken.

3. Bake 35 minutes in the preheated oven, or until coating is golden brown and chicken juices run clear. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cranberry Cake

Source: My mom/probably some cookbook somewhere

Yaaay! The Christmas season is upon us. I am staunchly against any and all Christmas things before Thanksgiving (I almost went into a rage when I saw Santa at the mall early November), but now I can start enjoying it. We put up our tree and decorations this weekend, and I am making Cranberry Cake for a meeting I have tomorrow.

To be honest, I don't even LIKE cranberries. I don't like sour things in general. But this cake is super yummy, thanks to 2 cups of sugar and a teaspoon of almond extract.

Best of all, it only has 5 ingredients and is a snap to put together!

Cranberry Cake

2 cups of sugar
3/4 cup of butter, softened
3 eggs
1 teaspoon of almond extract
2 cups of flour
1 package of cranberries (I used a 7.5 ounce container, anything close will do.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together sugar and butter. Add in eggs, one at a time, and almond extract. Add in flour and mix well. If using a mixer, remove from mixer and stir in cranberries. Pour into a 9 x 13 dish. The mixture at this point is pretty thick, so you'll have to spread it out. Once done, it should be about an inch to an inch and a half high. Bake for 45 minutes. Let cool and slice. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Chicken Marsala, or, This Sauce is the Sh!t

Source: The New Best Recipe

Oh, MY. It has been YEARS since I've attempted a chicken marsala, mainly because the chicken is always decent, pretty good, but nothing mind-blowing. Usually you coat the chicken, cook it for a bit, then add in the marsala and mushrooms, which causes the coating the fall off.

However, my beef with chicken marsala is over. While I was busy trying to take a pretty pretty picture of the meal, my husband was eating, saying, "This is really good. No, this is REALLY good."

I am converted. I was slightly doubtful when I wasn't a huge fan of the sauce with my spaghetti and meatballs dinner version from TNBR, but this dish is pure heaven. The method of sauteing the chicken before putting in a warm oven while you make the sauce produced a delicious chicken that wasn't overbaked, and then topping with the sauce was just that much more amazing. Yum. This definitely goes on the MUST MAKE AGAIN list!

Chicken Marsala

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup of unbleached flour
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
2 1/2 ounces pancetta, cut into 1 by 1/8 inch pieces (found in your "fancy" cheese and meat deli section)
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced (2 cups)
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 1/2 cups of Marsala
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves (which I just noticed, I completely forgot)

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position, place a large heatproof dinner plate on the rack, and heat the oven to 200 degrees.

2. Pat the chicken breasts dry. Place the flour in a shallow baking dish or pie plate. Season both sides of the chicken cutlets with salt and pepper to taste. Working with one cutlet at a time, coat both sides of the chicken with flour. Lift the breast from the tapered end and shake to remove excess flour; set aside.

3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Place the cutlets in a single layer in the skillet and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Using tongs, turn cutlets and cook on the second side until golden brown and meat feels firm when pressed with a finger, about 3 more minutes. Transfer the chicken to the heated plate and return the plate to oven. (I just used a casserole dish.)

4. Set the skillet to low heat and add the pancetta. Saute, stirring occasionally and scraping the pan bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen browned bits, until pancetta is browned and crisp, about 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to paper towels to drain.

5. Add the mushrooms to the pan and increase the heat to medium-high. Saute, stirring occasionally and scraping the pan bottom, until the liquid released by the mushrooms evaporates and the mushrooms begin to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato paste, and cooked pancetta and cook, stirring constantly, until the tomato paste begins to brown, about 1 minute. Off heat, add the marsala. Return the pan to high heat and simmer vigorously, scraping the browned bits from the pan bottom, until the sauce is slightly syrupy and reduced to 1 1/4 cups, about 5 minutes. Off heat, add the lemon juice and any accumulated juices from the chicken. Whisk in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until incorporated. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.

It's very important to use UNSALTED butter in this recipe. The pancetta is pretty salty, and you'll also be seasoning the chicken with salt and pepper. I didn't add any additional seasonings once the sauce was done--I thought it was perfect on its own!

Brining Chicken Pieces

I've noticed an inconsistency in my chicken. Sometimes it's great, sometimes it's rubbery. Sometimes it's tasteless. I've had different results cooking a chicken recipe the same way twice. I went to Google with my gripes. I don't know if this is the answer to my prayers, but my searches brought me to All About Brining. Well, first I found this site which talks about how many meats are much more lean that they were in the days of yore, which leads to tasteless meat, and how brining was a possible solution. Now, I don't know if this has anything to do with meat quality, but I'll do anything for a tastier meal. Furthermore, I had never thought about brining chicken pieces. I hear about whole turkey brining, but had never translated that to chicken breasts. Here's a simple recipe for chicken and pork:

All-Purpose Brine

1 quart cool water
1/2 cup Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt
1/2 cup sugar
Mix in a non-reactive container until dissolved. Substitute 1/4 cup + 2 TBSP Morton Kosher Salt or 1/4 cup table salt for Diamond Crystal.

Make 1 quart of brine for each pound of meat, not to exceed 8 quarts (2 gallons). Soak meat for 1 hour per pound, but not less than 30 minutes or longer than 8 hours. If brining multiple pieces, base the brining time on the weight of an individual piece.

It's also important to note that chicken pieces float. Put a small dish or bowl over the chicken so it's completely submerged.

Rinse well once done, and pat dry.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Zesty Chicken Cutlets Parmigiana

Source: 30 Minute Meals

I have to be honest. I haven't tried a lot of Rachael Ray recipes, as I often hear her name and "the devil" in the same sentence. However, I got her original 30 Minute Meals as a wedding gift and thought, what the heck.

I find most of her meals, however, are NOT "30 minute meals." I've caught her program a couple of times, and sure, it's easy to throw something together when most of your ingredients are premeasured and right there in front of you. Or maybe I'm just slow.

My lack of prep skills aside, this is a solid chicken parm. I don't think I've made chicken parm before with crushed red pepper, and it really adds a nice element to the dish. I also typically dip the chicken breasts in an egg, but I think the lemon juice also adds good flavor.

One note: holy marinara sauce! I LOVE this marinara, but being that I made 4 chicken cutlets,
it was way, WAY too much. Cut it in half if you're making a similar amount.

In any case, I cannot deliver my final verdict on Rachael Ray just yet, but I can recommend this tasty recipe!

Zesty Chicken Cutlets Parmigiana

1 pound of spaghetti

3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste (or from a jar. Whatevs.)
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
A handful of freshly flat-leaf parsley (I was out, so I used 1 tablespoon dried)
2 cloves of garlic, popped from skin and left whole
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound of chicken breast cutlets
Fresh mozzarella (enough to lay a slice over each cutlet)

Quick Marinara Sauce

3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 pinches of crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespooons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cans (28 ounces each) crushed tomatoes
15 to 20 basil leaves, chopped
2 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves stripped from stem and chopped
A handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped (or 1 Tbsp dried)

1. Bring a big pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta until al dente.

2. Make the marinara by heating the crushed red pepper, garlic, and olive oil over medium heat until the garlic sizzles. Add in crushed tomatoes and herbs. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let sit while you prepare cutlets.

3. Pour lemon juice into a shallow dish. In a plate or pie pan, mix Parmesan, bread crumbs, pepper, red pepper flakes, and parsley. Dip the chicken cutlets in lemon juice, then in the bread crumbs, pressing to coat in breading.

4. Set oven to broil. Heat 2 whole garlic cloves in saucepan over medium heat. When garlic sizzles, remove cloves and saute chicken cutlets for 4 minutes on each side. When cutlets are done, arrange in an ovenproof serving dish and cover with a layer of marinara. Top with a slice of fresh mozzarella. Place platter under broiler to just melt cheese.

5. Take platter right to the table. Toss drained spaghetti with sauce and serve as a side dish. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pioneer Woman's Cooking Schedule

I love The Pioneer Woman. If I made her recipes every day, I'm sure my husband would be as big as a house, but they are always good, and her photography is amazing.

I had emailed her a few days ago asking what her schedule was leading up to Thanksgiving. I don't know if she saw the email or was planning to do it anyway, but she's posted her Thanksgiving Cooking Schedule. As someone who can easily get overwhelmed when there's a lot going on, I found it very helpful, and hopefully you do too!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Source: The New Best Recipe

This was my first dish from the cookbook and it HALFWAY did not disappoint. The meatballs were the bomb--very light and tasty. It was the sauce that confused me. For my tastes, meatballs should be accompanied by a sweet sauce to balance the meaty flavor, and my sauce had an almost tomato paste flavor to it. Hmmm. I am wondering if I had a bad batch of crushed tomatoes, or if I should have added some sugar to cut down on the acidic taste. The recipe says to dump out the vegetable oil after frying the meatballs, and then add in the olive oil to the same pan to make the sauce. If you also like a sweeter sauce, my suggestion would be to make the tomato sauce in a separate pan from the meatballs.



2 slices of white bread, crusts removed and torn into pieces
1/2 cup of buttermilk or 6 tablespoons plain yogurt thinned with 2 tablespoons of whole milk
1 pound of ground meat, preferrably 3/4 pound of ground chuck and 1/4 pound ground pork
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablspoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1 large egg YOLK (no whites)
1 small garlic clove, minced fine or pressed through a garlic press
3/4 teaspoon of salt
Ground black pepper
1 to 1 and 1/2 cups vegetable oil for frying

Tomato Sauce

2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced fine
1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil leaves
Salt and ground black pepper
1 pound of spaghetti
Parmesan cheese for serving

1. For the meatballs: Combine the bread and buttermilk into a small bowl. Mix and let sit for 10 minutes, mashing occasionally with a fork, until a smooth paste is formed.

2. Place the ground meat, cheese, parsley, egg yolk, garlic, salt and pepper to taste in a medium bowl. Add the bread-buttermilk mixture and combine until evenly mixed. Shape 3 tablespoons of the mixture into 1 1/2 inch round meatball. (Use a light touch--if you compact the meatballs too much, they become dense and hard. And, as I found, if you are TOO light-handed, they will be hard to turn over in one piece. Balance, people, balance.) You should have about 14 meatballs when done.

3. Pour the vegetable oil into a 10 or 11 inch saute pan to a depth of 1/4 inch. Turn the heat to medium high. After several minutes, test the oil with the edge of a meatball. While the oil sizzles, add the meatballs in a single layer. Fry, turning with tongs several times, until nicely browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Regulate the heat as needed to keep the oil sizzling but not smoking. Transfer the browned meatballs to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside.

4. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a large pot.

5. For the sauce: Discard the oil in the pan, but leave behind any browned bits. Add the olive oil and garlic and saute, scraping up the browned bits, just until the garlic is just golden, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, bring to a simmer, and cook until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Stir in the basil and salt and pepper to taste. Add the meatballs and simmer, turning them occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Keep warm over low heat.

6. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta to the boiling water and stir to separate the noodles. Cook until al dente, drain, and return to the pot. Ladle several large spoonfuls of sauce (without the meatballs) over the spaghetti and toss until well coated. Divide the pasta among individual bowls and top each with a little more tomato sauce and 2 or 3 meatballs. Serve immediately, topping with Parmesan if preferred. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cha-cha's White Chicken Chili

Source: All Recipes

My husband is gone this weekend, which means...I didn't shower till 1:00, I was in my robe most of the day, and I had a Gilmore Girls marathon. It also meant I wanted something low-key for dinner. White chicken chili is so easy and yummy!

We also just bought a Canon Rebel XSi (our Christmas gift to each other), so warning...this entry's going to be a little photo-heavy! Full directions are at the end.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Ready in: 30 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

Boil and dice 3 chicken breasts.

Chop up an onion.

Crush 3 cloves of garlic.

Heat one teaspoon of vegetable oil in a stockpot and add the onions.

Cook until tender. Add in one 4 ounce can each of diced jalapenos, chiles, the garlic, 2 teaspoons of cumin,

1 teaspoon of oregano,

and 1 teaspoon of cayenne, IF YOU DARE! Actually, I don't think it needs it. After you add the other ingredients, taste to see if it's hot enough for your taste. A full teaspoon of cayenne would make it FAR too hot for me!

Cook the ingredients until tender, about 3 minutes.

Then, add in 2 cans of chicken broth

and 3 cans of white beans.

Let the whole thing simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, grate 1 cup of pepper jack cheese.

Remove from heat and add the cup of cheese, stirring slowly until melted. Enjoy!

Full directions:

3 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed (I prefer minced, actually)
1 4 oz can of diced jalapenos
1 4 oz can of diced chiles
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 teaspoons of cumin
1 teaspoon of cayenne (optional)
2 cans of chicken broth
3 cans of white beans
1 cup of shredded pepper jack cheese

1. Heat the oil in a large stockpot. Add in the onions and cook until tender. Add in the jalapenos, chiles, garlic, oregano, cumin, and cayenne if using. Cook for about 3 minutes. Add in chicken broth and beans, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Remove from heat. Add in cheese and stir until melted. Enjoy!