Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Beef Bourguignon

Source: Ina Garten

My husband and I recently went to Vegas and had a fabulous meal at Mon Ami Gabi at the Paris hotel. The entire meal was amazing, but in particular, their beef bourguignon blew my mind. It was so tender, so flavorful, so incredible. It took everything in me to not lick the plate! I have been thinking about this dish since then, and decided to give this version a go.


I don't mean to yell at you, really. But this is so fantastic and so special. I want to shout it from the rooftops. "I LOVE YOUR BEEF BOURGUIGNON, INA!"

The revisions I made were using brandy instead of cognac, and using turkey bacon instead of real bacon. It goes without saying this isn't a Weight Watchers meal. A lot of reviewers on the Food Network suggested things like letting the stew cool and skimming off the fat, using turkey bacon, and using a cornstarch slurry instead of the butter/flour mixture. But I say, what the hell. As long as you're not eating this EVERY day, you'll be fine.

If using turkey bacon, note it won't render as much fat as regular bacon. Adjust the heat in the pan as necessary.

I also left the pot in the oven for 2 hours. My suggestion would be to check on it after the recommended time, and then check every half hour until the meat is as tender as you'd like it.

We added in the pearl onions at the end, but I think next time we may leave them out. Neither of us ate them.

Instead of the bread, I made egg noodles as the stew was simmering the last 15 minutes, and then tossed them with a bit of butter and fresh minced parsley. Yum!

Beef Bourguignon


1 tablespoon good olive oil
8 ounces dry cured center cut applewood smoked bacon, diced
2 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
2 yellow onions, sliced
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
1/2 cup Cognac
1 (750 ml.) bottle good dry red wine such as Cote du Rhone or Pinot Noir (I used a Pinot)
1 can (2 cups) beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound frozen whole pearl onions
1 pound fresh mushrooms stems discarded, caps thickly sliced

For serving:
Country bread or Sour Dough, toasted or grilled and rubbed with garlic clove
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, optional


1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.

3. Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.

4. Toss the carrots, and onions, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper in the fat in the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac, stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices. Add the bottle of wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 1 1/4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.

5. Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. Saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter for 10 minutes until lightly browned and then add to the stew. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.

6. To serve, toast the bread in the toaster or oven. Rub each slice on 1 side with a cut clove of garlic. For each serving, spoon the stew over a slice of bread and sprinkle with parsley.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Herb-Rubbed Grilled Chicken with Orzo

Source: Annie's Eats

I'm always looking for a new, easy chicken recipe. I love chicken - it's lean, easy to cook with, and I always have some! This recipe was simple and quite good!

Just last week my husband mentioned, "I never thought you would really COOK when I met you." That's true, I never used to actually make dinners! Throughout the years, I've been cooking more and more, and actually learning along the way. I've always said I can READ a recipe, but I really can't create anything new. The reason I bring up all this when I ate this recipe I thought, "Hmmm...I think some crushed tomatoes would be really good instead of the diced tomatoes, and maybe a little bit of white wine." It's kind of cool to me I'm getting to the point where I can actually TASTE something and think about how I could change it :)

Herb-Rubbed Grilled Chicken with Orzo

8 oz. orzo pasta, uncooked
2 chicken breasts, butterflied into halves (4 pieces total)
Salt and pepper
2 tsp. Herbes de Provence
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, with juices
2 cups broccoli florets
½ cup heavy cream
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


1. Bring a saucepan of salted water to boil. Add the orzo and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water.

2. Season both sides of the chicken breast halves with salt and pepper. Sprinkle evenly with the Herbes de Provence. Heat the olive oil in a 12- or 14-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken breast halves to the pan and cook about 3 minutes per side, until golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

3. Reduce the heat to medium, add the shallot to the pan and sauté 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté an additional minute, until fragrant. Add the diced tomatoes with juices and the broccoli florets to the pan, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer over medium-low. Add the chicken breasts and any accumulated juices back into the pan. Cover and let cook until the broccoli florets are crisp-tender, about 10 minutes.

4. Stir in the cooked orzo, heavy cream and Parmesan cheese. Mix until well blended and the cheese has melted. If necessary, add some of the reserved pasta water to smooth out the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Chicken Stew

Source: Elly Says Opa

This is one of those great, use-it-up recipes. You can toss pretty much ANYTHING from your fridge in this stew. Also, take out the potatoes and add noodles and you have a simple chicken soup recipe!

Chicken Stew

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 pound chicken breast, cut into 1″ pieces
1/2 onion, diced
1 carrot, sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
4 oz. white or crimini mushrooms
1/2 lb. baby redskin potatoes, halved (skin-on)
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
1/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
corn starch slurry (optional)

1. In a smallish stockpot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil. Add the chicken pieces, just to brown, and then remove them. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Stir in the carrots, celery and garlic until the garlic is just fragrant, about a minute.

2. Pour the wine into the pot to deglaze, being sure to get the browned chicken bits off the bottom of the pot. Reduce the wine slightly over medium high heat.

3. Add the chicken broth, bay leaf, thyme, potatoes, chicken, mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer until potatoes are fork tender and chicken is cooked through.

If you want, add a corn starch slurry at this point and boil about a minute uncovered.

Stir in the peas and serve.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Leftover Turkey Tips

Source: Ellen's Kitchen

Almost as good as Thanksgiving itself are the LEFTOVERS! I just LOVE leftovers! Having a ton of delicious food for days afterwards makes all the work of the meal completely worth it.

When it comes to reheating turkey and gravy, you can go the easy route (the microwave), or occassionally, if I'm not completely starving, I'll heat up the turkey in the oven and the gravy in a saucepan. To reheat in an oven, spread out turkey in a single layer, sprinkle with juices or water, and heat for 30-45 minutes in a 350 degree oven, or to a minimum temperature of 165 degrees. Bring the gravy to a boil on the stovetop.

If you have leftovers in excess of 3 days, freeze the turkey and the gravy. If there's a lot, I try to separate into a few batches so I can take out a little turkey and gravy at a time. The turkey tastes best if used within 2 months.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fresh Corn with Wild Rice

Source: The Pioneer Woman

I messed up this dish a few different ways, but I'm still posting it because I think it was still good, and would still be delicious had I followed the instructions! I

1. Bought the wrong kind of rice (black rice instead of wild rice)
2. Overcooked the rice
3. Then added an extra cup of rice to the dish than what the recipe called for, so the corn to rice ratio was off. The rice I bought probably ended up cooking 5 cups of rice once it was done. I'm lucky I didn't put the WHOLE thing in there!

But it was still good! I really will make this again.

Fresh Corn with Wild Rice


2 cups Cooked Wild Rice
4 cups Chicken Broth
3 cups (to 4 Cups) Fresh Corn Kernels (scraped Off The Cob or from frozen)
1 cup Heavy Cream
6 Tablespoons Butter, sliced into 1 tablespoon pieces
2 whole Eggs, Beaten
1 teaspoon (to 2 Teaspoons) Kosher Salt (or Table Salt To Taste)
Cayenne Pepper To Taste (I used 1/4 teaspoon and it was pretty spicy!)
½ cups (to 1 Cup) Milk, For Thinning

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cook wild rice in chicken broth until almost done. Rice should still have a firm (but not crunchy) bite. Drain rice and allow to cool.

3. Scrape corn kernels into a large mixing bowl. Add in cream, butter, beaten eggs, salt and cayenne pepper. Stir together.

4. Add in 2 cups of cooled wild rice, stirring gently. Splash in milk so that mixture is stirrable, but not overly juicy.

5. Taste for seasonings, adding more salt or cayenne pepper if needed.

6. Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until just turning golden brown on top and the mixture is somewhat set.

Easy Turkey Gravy

Source: All Recipes

What's Thanksgiving dinner without gravy? I actually had not thought about gravy until I'd started the meal, but fortunately found this quick recipe. This was SO easy and super yummy! To save time, I placed the cream of chicken soup and spices in a saucepan WELL ahead of time, as well as pre-measured the milk and flour. As it turned out, the 7 pound Slow Cooker Turkey Breast I made produced EXACTLY 2 and 1/2 cups of drippings. If you're making a larger turkey, look to the original recipe for increased proportions.

Easy Turkey Gravy

2-1/2 cups turkey stock with pan drippings
1/2 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

1. Bring the turkey stock to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir in soup, and season with poultry seasoning, pepper, seasoned salt, and garlic powder. Reduce heat to low, and let simmer.

2. Warm the milk in the microwave (about 30 seconds), and whisk in the flour until there are no lumps. Return the gravy to a boil, and gradually stir in the milk mixture. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute, or until thickened. Be careful not to let the bottom scorch.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast

Source: All Recipes

As far as I'm concerned, f#$*& 2009.

It's been a tough year for a lot of people I know. I know the economy's affected too many people. Career-wise, my husband started his own company, which is very exciting, but challenging. I've seen a lot of challenges of my own this year.

We've attended both family celebrations and funerals. Unfortunately this year will always be defined as the year my brother passed away, completely unexpectedly. So I think you can understand when I saw f#$*& 2009.

With all this madness going on, the one thing my husband and I have NOT done is take time away, together, alone. Being on a vacation together with no expectations on our time is SO important, and I'm very happy we'll be going to Las Vegas over Thanksgiving! While it may be untraditional, we love that we can either live in up in Vegas, or hang out at our hotel and talk. We're not big gamblers, it's just nice to be away and have a million entertainment options at our fingertips. I'm SO looking forward to it.

That being said, although we'll likely indulge in a buffet for Thanksgiving dinner, was I content to leave Thanksgiving dinner to Vegas? Noooo, I had to make one for ourselves this weekend! It was a very simple dinner, with just a few sides, but enough to leave us both satisfied.

This recipe popped up in my email, and before this, I had NO idea you could JUST cook a turkey breast, instead of a whole turkey. AND you could cook it in a slow cooker? Well, sign me up! This was AMAZING, fall-off-the-bone delicious. 7 pounds is a LOT between 2 people, but my favorite part of Thanksgiving is the leftovers! This will become a tradition in our house.

One note: I bought this this morning, frozen. I had planned to come home and pop it in the slow cooker, forgetting that grocery stores often freeze turkey breasts. The solution was to put in in a sink of cold water for about an hour and a half, turning every 20 minutes. I ran some cold water over the still-frozen parts after I unwrapped it for a few minutes. Much quicker than letting it thaw in the fridge!

I utilized a lot of reviewer comments, so use this version if you'd like to make it!

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast

1 6-7 pound bone-in turkey breast
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 garlic clove, minced
1 packet dry onion soup mix
1 tablespoon butter, melted

1. Add celery, onion, garlic and chicken broth to the bottom of a slow cooker.

2. Mix dried herbs. Rub all over, inside, and under turkey skin. Rub onion soup mix over and under turkey skin. Rub minced garlic clove over turkey. Place in slow cooker and drizzle with melted butter.

3. Cook in slow cooker high for 3 hours and low for 4 hours. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pan-Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

Source: Cooking for Two

I recently received an AMAZING cookbook for my birthday. Like most other bloggers, about 90% of the recipes I try are from other blogs, which may also end up being from cookbooks. There's just so much out there it's hard for me to justify a new cookbook purchase. However, this was sent to me by my wonderful cousin Christine, and I couldn't be more thrilled. If you are cooking for 2 people, you have to get this book! Not only is it filled with delicious recipes, but all the little tips really make it great, too. For instance, there's an ingredient index which will list ingredients, like asparagus, and then all the recipes that use asparagus, so you don't have to throw away food. There are also small boxes called "Use it Up" throughout the book that feature quick little recipes to use up key ingredients, and lots of great tips throughout the book. For instance, I learned I can keep iceberg lettuce good for up to 2 weeks by wrapping in moist paper towels and then storing in a plastic shopping bag. If you're cooking for 2, you need this book!

Anyway, this is the very first recipe I've made and it's OUT OF THIS WORLD delicious and simple. I've always been a fan of pan-frying chicken and then placing in the oven to finish up. This was amazingly flavorful. The olive oil/lemon sauce added at the very end gave it an extra little kick, too.

Pan-Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

8 ounces small red potatoes (about 3), cut into wedges
4 ounces baby carrots (about 14)
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 (12-ounce) bone-in, skin-on split chicken breasts, trimmed and brined if desired (to brine, dissolve 1/4 cup salt in 1 quart cold water and brine for 30 minutes)
2 shallots, peeled and quartered
4 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
Pinch red pepper flakes

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Toss the potatoes and carrots with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the oil, 1/8 teaspoon of salt, and a pinch of pepper in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high, uncovered, until the vegetables soften but still hold their shape, about 5 minutes, gently stirring once during cooking.

2. Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper (pepper only if you've brined the chicken). Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch ovensafe nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Carefully lay the chicken breasts, skin-side down, in the skillet and cook until well browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Flip the chicken and continue to brown light on the second side, about 3 minutes.

3. Remove the chicken from the pan, add the shallots and microwaved vegetables, then place the chicken, skin-side up, on top of the vegetables. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the thickest part of the breast registers 160 to 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 15 to 20 minutes.

4. Using potholders, remove the skillet from the oven. Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a serving platter, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, lemon juice, garlic, thyme, and pepper flakes together in a small bowl, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle the oil-lemon mixture over the chicken and vegetables before serving.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Dinner party

If there's one word I can use it describe me in the kitchen, it would be flustered. Though I should know better, I frequently don't read recipes carefully enough and am scrambling for ingredients halfway through the recipe. Add in multiple dishes, and while everything gets done in the end, it looks like a bomb went off in the kitchen, and I'm usually so stressed out I can't enjoy the meal.

We had friends over for dinner recently, and I wanted to make something special, but at the same time, I was determined to not be a mess through the whole process. So I thought through the dishes and how I wanted to prepare for the meal, and I'm happy to say everything went off with aplomb! For anyone else considering hosting a dinner party who's also organizationally challenged, I laid out how I went about the process. I hope it helps.

The menu:

Garlic Rosemary Roast Chicken with Potatoes - this is a GREAT company dish because not only is the chicken FAAAAAAABULOUS, but it's really 2 dishes in one! Red potato wedges roast below the chicken as it's cooking. MMMMMM!
Pioneer Woman's Whiskey-Glazed Carrots - these are just so, so tasty. I eat your carrots! I EAT THEM UP!
Green Salad
Bread (baguette from the grocery store)
Apple Crisp
Not really part of dinner, but we made what I call the Lazy Man's Mojito. It's a slushy mixture of vodka, mint leaves, and limeade. Seriously delicious.

The night before:
  • Brine the chicken. Once complete, pat dry and place on a plate and put back in the fridge. The next day, make sure to turn it over so the entire surface of the chicken has a chance to dry.
The morning of:
  • Chop the carrots. Place in a bowl or large plastic bag and refrigerate.
  • Cut the potatoes. Place in a bowl and refrigerate.
Around 3:30:
  • Set out butter in butter dish to soften.
  • Place remaining ingredients that go with potatoes per the recipe in the bowl (garlic cloves, olive oil, salt and pepper). Set aside.
  • Prepare garlic-rosemary paste. Insert under chicken skin. Brush chicken with olive oil and pepper.
  • Take out roasting pan and lightly spray rack. Place prepared chicken on rack and set aside (or refrigerate if it's too early to put in the oven).
  • Pre-measure brown sugar and whiskey for whiskey-glazed carrots. Place beside stove.
  • Make green salad and refrigerate.
  • Peel and slice apples and place in dish. Cream together sugar, butter and cinnamon. Cover dish with apples and set aside creamed mixture, as well as a 1/2 cup measuring cup.
  • Slice bread and set aside.
  • Clean kitchen so it doesn't look like a disaster zone.
Now, the chicken takes about an hour to cook. Our guests were going to be in at about 5:30, and I wanted to have everything done by 6:00. So I put the chicken in at 4:50. If you've done a lot of prep by that point, you may not have much to do other than clean up a bit. I did peel and slice the apples while the chicken was cooking, although it does need attention since it has to be turned. I also used that time to set the table, get out napkins, dinnerware, glasses, etc., as well as pull out serving plates.

Twenty minutes before the chicken was done, I started the carrots. Although I long for a kitchen with 2 ovens, I only have one, so I thought it best to have one dish in the oven, and another on the stove. The whiskey-glazed carrot recipe is VERY easy and having pre-measured the whiskey and sugar makes it that much simpler. It should be done about the same time the chicken is done. Make sure to cover while you're letting the chicken rest before carving it - the carrots were a little cool when we finally all sat down.

As for dessert, after we had been eating for around 45 minutes, I poured the butter/sugar mixture on top of the apples, as well as the water, and popped in the oven for 50 minutes. They were absolutely delicious a la mode!

By planning everything out in advance, I was actually quite calm and able to enjoy dinner with my guests!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Apple Crisp

Source: All Recipes

We recently hosted some friends for dinner and I went ALL out: roasted chicken, whiskey-glazed carrots, and roasted potatoes were on the menu! I wanted to make dessert but being with all the work I had already put in the kitchen, it had to be a no-brainer. This recipe was. I sliced all the apples ahead of time, as well as creamed the sugar/butter/cinnamon mixture. After we had been eating dinner for about 45 minutes, I poured the water on top of the apples, added the creamed mixture, and popped it into the oven. It came out crispy on top and the apples were so tender and sweet! My husband looked at me accusingly as we were eating it and said, "WHY haven't you ever made this before?" I guess that means it's good!

One note - the dish was a little watery at the bottom. I served with a slotted spoon, so it didn't impact the dish. But I might suggest halving the water added to the apples.

Apple Crisp

4 cups sliced apples
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8x8 inch baking dish.

2.Place apples in prepared. Pour water over all. In a bowl, cream together sugar and butter. Blend in flour and cinnamon. Sprinkle mixture evenly over apples.

3.Bake in preheated oven 45 to 50 minutes, until apples are tender and crust is golden.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup

Adapted from: All Recipes

This was one recipe where the reviewers suggested a LOT of changes, and I'm glad I took them into account. The result was an incredibly rich chicken and rice soup that was SO filling. I just love making dishes like this not only because it's fall, but because I get to take the leftovers to work! This is comfort food at its finest! The next time I make this, I think I'll switch to wild rice just because I love the taste of it.

Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup

Serves 8


3 chicken breasts
Olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup uncooked brown rice
3 1/4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup sherry
1 cup butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups milk, divided
salt and pepper to taste


1. Salt and pepper the chicken breasts. Melt approximately 1 tablespoon of olive oil and butter each in a skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken breasts until done, turning once, about 5 minutes each side. Set aside and let cool.

2. Add additional butter and olive oil to the pan. Add celery, onions, carrots, and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent, scraping the bottom of the pan for browned bits.

3. In a stockpot over high heat, add vegetable mixture, chicken, and rice and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid. Remove from heat and set aside.

4. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Slowly add the flour, stirring often, to make a roux. Add 4 cups of milk, 1/2 cup at a time, while constantly stirring. Add this and the chicken to the rice mixture and return the rice mixture to the stovetop over low heat.
(If the soup seems too thick, add some or all of the remaining 2 cups of milk.) Season with salt and pepper to taste and allow to simmer for at least an hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tasty Talapia

Source: Delish

This is an extremely simple way to prepare fish, and it's probably a good spice mixture for chicken, too! I used halibut filets, which are a little thicker, so I needed additional cooking time on the stovetop. This is a great recipe for a weeknight dinner!

Tasty Tilapia

1 1/2 lbs tilapia fillets
2 tsp low-sodium cajun seasoning
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
1 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp butter or olive oil*

Combine cajun seasoning, lemon pepper, dried parsley, crushed red pepper, garlic and onion powder. Evenly season fish on both sides. Melt butter (or heat olive oil) in large skillet over medium heat. Add fish. Brown each side approximately 3-4 minutes per side (tilapia cooks quickly). Adjust cooking temperature if needed. Serve hot.

Roasted Garlic and New Potatoes

Source: The Pioneer Woman

After eating these, my husband said, "All other potatoes are dead to me." Enough said! These are delicious and easy to prepare. I didn't use quite as many garlic heads as the recipe called for. Roasted garlic is very mild, but the garlic heads are piping hot when they come out of the oven, so you have to wait awhile to squeeze out the garlic cloves if you want to mix them in with the potatoes. You could also serve dinner with a baguette and spread the roasted garlic on the bread. Yum!

Roasted Garlic & New Potatoes

20 small to medium new potatoes
5 to 7 whole heads of garlic
1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 to 1/2 cup dry white wine
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Quarter new potatoes and set on a large rimmed baking sheet. Lop off the very top of each garlic head and arrange throughout the potatoes. Drizzle olive oil over the tops of the garlic and all over potatoes; do the same with the wine. Generously salt and pepper potatoes and garlic. Toss potatoes to coat. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake at 375 for 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for 20 to 30 minutes until nice and golden.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Rolled Flank Steak

Source: All Recipes

For some reason, I can't just enjoy a steak. I need a sauce or other ingredients to make me like it. I was browsing All Recipes and this looked really good, and totally different from the way I've made steak before.

I really liked this, but...I think I may have rolled it the wrong way. I started rolling it at the shorter end, which meant the roll was pretty thick. This meant the meat on the outside was done, but in the middle, it was rare! Were I to make it again, I would try rolling it the other way, and I would also check the doneness halfway through, possibly slicing the roll in sections. Because of the way it's rolled, it's really difficult to use a meat thermometer.

I really loved the well-done pieces I ate, though! The combination of provolone, spinach, mushrooms and peppers was divine!

Rolled Flank Stak


1 (2 pound) beef flank steak
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons steak seasoning
8 ounces thinly sliced provolone cheese
4 slices thick cut bacon
1/2 cup fresh spinach leaves
1/2 cup sliced crimini mushrooms
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips


1. Place the flank steak on a cutting board with the short end closest to you. Starting from one of the long sides, cut through the meat horizontally to within 1/2 inch of the opposite edge. (You can also ask your butcher to butterfly the flank steak for you instead of cutting it yourself.)

2. Mix the soy sauce, olive oil, and steak seasoning together in a gallon-sized resealable plastic bag. Marinate flank steak in the refrigerator 2 - 4 hours.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a glass baking dish.

4. Lay out the flank steak flat in front of you with the grain of the meat running from left to right. Layer the provolone across the steak, leaving a 1-inch border. Arrange the bacon, spinach, red pepper, and mushrooms across the cheese covered steak in stripes running in the same direction as the grain of the meat. Roll the flank steak up and away from you, so that when the roll is cut into the pinwheel shape, each of the filling ingredients can be seen. Roll firmly, but be careful not to squeeze the fillings out the ends. Once rolled, tie every 2 inches with kitchen twine. (I didn't use any twine, just placed the roll in the dish seam-side down.)

5. Place in prepared baking dish, and bake in preheated oven for one hour, or until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F (65 degrees C). Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting into 1 inch slices. Be sure to remove the twine before serving!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Louisana Chicken Pasta

Source: Annie's Eats

MY OH MY WAS THIS AMAZING. I mean, you can't go wrong with excessive amounts of cream, but this dish really surprised me. The cream combined with the sweetness of the peppers and the spiciness of the Creole seasoning really made it special. This dish is one of my favorites this year!

I didn't have Cajun seasoning on hand, only Creole, and this does make a difference. I sprinkled a little extra on top of the finished dish, and then thought, "Why is it so salty?" Well, because Creole seasoning has salt in it! If you're using Creole seasoning, make sure to cut back on the added salt. If you don't have Cajun seasoning on hand, All Recipes has the combination for Simple Cajun Seasoning. The only other change I think I'd make is to add in a clove of minced garlic with the onions and peppers instead of the garlic powder.

In any case, this is absolutely INCREDIBLE! My husband and I both gobbled it up! Thanks, Annie!

Louisana Chicken Pasta


For the chicken:
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
Salt and pepper
Cajun seasoning

For the pasta:
8 oz. bowtie pasta
Kosher salt

For the sauce:
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup yellow onion, chopped
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. Cajun seasoning
1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. water
3 scallions, chopped


To cook the chicken, heat a small amount of butter or olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, and a generous sprinkle of Cajun seasoning. Add to the skillet and cook until lightly browned and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain the cooked pasta and set aside.

Meanwhile, return the skillet to medium heat and heat the butter and olive oil until the butter has melted. Add the bell peppers and onion to the pan. Mix in the salt, pepper, Cajun seasoning and cayenne pepper. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 6-8 minutes. Add the half-and-half and heavy cream to the pan and bring to a simmer. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water, and add to the skillet once the cream mixture has started to bubble. Allow to cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.

When the sauce has thickened, add the cooked pasta and chicken pieces to the pan. Stir well to combine and cook at medium-low heat just until the chicken is warmed through. Adjust the amount of Cajun seasoning if necessary to suit your tastes. Stir in the scallions. Serve immediately and top with additional Cajun seasoning, if desired.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Annie's Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Chips

Adapted from: All Recipes

This is a very tasty appetizer, and one of my favorite dishes to bring to a party! I love the variation from chips and salsa. I always use a food processor, which makes the process that much quicker. I also skip making my own cinnamon chips and just buy a few bags from Trader Joe's. I've made the chips before, and it is SO worth it to just buy them! Another step that makes this recipe simple and delicious!

Annie's Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Chips


2 kiwis, peeled and diced
2 Golden Delicious apples - peeled, cored
and diced
8 ounces raspberries
1 pound strawberries
3 tablespoons apricot fruit preserves

10 (10 inch) flour tortillas
butter flavored cooking spray
2 cups cinnamon sugar

1. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix kiwis, Golden Delicious apples, raspberries, strawberries and fruit preserves. Cover and chill in the refrigerator at least 15 minutes.

2.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

3.Coat one side of each flour tortilla with butter flavored cooking spray. Cut into wedges and arrange in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle wedges with desired amount of cinnamon sugar. Spray again with cooking spray.

4.Bake in the preheated oven 8 to 10 minutes. Repeat with any remaining tortilla wedges. Allow to cool approximately 15 minutes. Serve with chilled fruit mixture.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Taco Salad

Source: All Recipes

This recipe is so embarrassingly easy it's almost...well, embarrassing to post it. But we all need super-easy recipes for those nights we're feeling lazy! This is also one of my husband's favorites, as it may be. Of course, something that takes me 15 minutes is his favorite! Sheesh.

The original recipe calls for French dressing in the meat/bean mixture, which I skipped. Reviewers on All Recipes also suggested Catalina dressing and using Doritos instead of plain tortilla chips. The recipe also calls for mixing EVERYTHING. I prefer to layer it, trying to save the salad will mean you have soggy chips the next day. Layering it allows me to save extra salad, meat, etc., separately. This recipe is very versatile, so change it up as you like!

Taco Salad

1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
1 (16 ounce) can chili beans
1 (16 ounce) bottle French dressing or Catalina dressing (optional)
1 head iceberg lettuce
1 (14.5 ounce) package tortilla chips
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup chopped tomatoes
4 tablespoons sour cream (optional)
1/2 cup prepared salsa (optional)

1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef and drain excess fat. Stir in the taco seasoning, chili beans and French-style dressing. Fill the dressing bottle 2/3 full of water and add to the skillet. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

2. Crush the bag of chips. Layer crushed chips on individual plates, then top with lettuce mixture. Top with meat mixture, and add sour cream or salsa if desired. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bacon-wrapped Jalapenos

Source: The Pioneer Woman

Hmmm. The jury is kind of out on these. Now, I like a little bit of spiciness in my food, but too much, and I feel it kills the taste of the rest of the dish (or appetizer, if you will). I felt that was the case with these, and you're thinking, Hey. The word "jalapeno" is in the title of the recipe. How stupid are you? Well, pretty stupid, I suppose. In reading PW's instruction, she said to clean out the jalapenos pretty good so they weren't too spicy. I cleaned those suckers out, and STILL they were pretty hot. However, I've seen nothing but raves for this recipe, so if you like it hot, go for it!

The recipe is fairly simple, all you need is package of bacon, a bunch of jalapenos, and a block of cream cheese. And toothpicks. And latex gloves. Make SURE to get the latex gloves! The process of cutting and scooping out 45 odd jalapenos, I have heard, will leave your hands tingling in pain. My hands were tingle-free!

Bacon-wrapped Jalapenos

1 package of bacon, cut into thirds (15 pieces of bacon = 45 pieces)
1 block of cream cheese
About 20-30 jalapenos

1. Cut jalapenos in half. Using a spoon, scoop out the innards.

2. Smear cream cheese on the inside of each jalapeno.

3. Wrap bacon piece around jalapeno, and secure with toothpick. Place on a pan with a rack and bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Source: Cook's Illustrated

Mmmmm, this was very tasty! This was also a snap to prepare. When I first tasted it right out of the food processor, I was a little disappointed, but surprisingly, the instructions to let it stand to allow the flavors to blend were right on. This makes about 2 cups, and can be refrigerated for up to 5 days after making.



3 tablespoons juice from 1 to 2 lemons
1/4 cup water
6 tablespoons tahini , stirred well
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil , plus extra for drizzling
1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas , drained and rinsed
1 small garlic clove , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1/2 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch cayenne
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro or parsley leaves


1. Combine lemon juice and water in small bowl or measuring cup. Whisk together tahini and 2 tablespoons oil in second small bowl or measuring cup. Set aside 2 tablespoons chickpeas for garnish.

2. Process remaining chickpeas, garlic, salt, cumin, and cayenne in food processor until almost fully ground, about 15 seconds. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula. With machine running, add lemon juice-water mixture in steady stream through feed tube. Scrape down bowl and continue to process for 1 minute. With machine running, add oil-tahini mixture in steady stream through feed tube; continue to process until hummus is smooth and creamy, about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.

3. Transfer hummus to serving bowl, sprinkle reserved chickpeas and cilantro over surface, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand until flavors meld, at least 30 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

Pita Chips

Source: All Recipes

I needed some pita chips, but couldn't find any in my grocery store. Then I remembered...pita chips come from PITA BREAD! Sometimes I surprise myself with how smart I am.

I cut the pita bread in half so it was still like a pita pocket, and then cut those halves into 4 pieces, so my chips ended up being double-layered. Next time, I will cut the entire pita in half lengthwise and then cut into 8 pieces so the chips are thinner. I had to cook them for double the amount of time to get them crispy.

I LOVED this particular blend of spices, but next time I think I'll get an oil sprayer. Brushing the olive oil mixture on the pitas meant more oil got on the pitas, which made them a little less crispy and makes them go soft within a couple of days if you have leftovers. Lastly, a reviewer on All Recipes had also said she sprinkled Parmesan on top of these, which I think would be divine! I served these with hummus, but these are also delicious all on their own.

Pita Chips


12 pita bread pockets
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

2. In a small bowl, combine the oil, pepper, salt, and basil.

3. Cut pita in half lengthwise, and brush with oil mixture, or spray with oil and sprinkle with herbs. Using a pizza cutter, cut each pita into 8 pieces.

4. Bake in the preheated oven for about 7 minutes, or until lightly browned and crispy. Watch carefully, as they tend to burn easily!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Lazy Man's Mojito

Source: Bon Appetite

I originally saw this on Scrambled and my oh my was this delicious! I love mojitos, but I don't have a muddler, so I never make them at home. This was like the slushy version of a mojito. I made this for a party and 2 pitchers were gone within an hour! If your blender doesn't handle ice well, add in a couple of batches. I will probably be making this for the rest of the summer...

The Lazy Man's Mojito

1 12-ounce can limeade (found in grocer's freezer)
9 ounces vodka ( a little more than a cup)
1/2 cup mint leaves, loosely packed
4 1/2 cups ice cubes.

Blend and enjoy!

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Source: The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Meatloaf is comfort food at its best. It's actually been a long time since I've had meatloaf, and I've never made it with ground turkey, either! I found the result very tasty, but also DRY. I halved this recipe, and left it in the oven for the full amount of time. When I checked, it was about 15 - 20 degrees over the 160 mark, which probably accounts for its dryness. I loved the actual taste of it, so just make a note to check the temperature within the last half hour of cooking.

Half of this recipe was plenty to feed 4 people, we have leftovers spilling out of our fridge!

Turkey Meatloaf

3 cups chopped yellow onions (2 large onions)
2 tablespoons good olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
5 pounds ground turkey breast
1 1/2 cups plain dry bread crumbs
3 extra-large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup ketchup

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

1. In a medium saute pan, over medium-low heat, cook the onions, olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme until translucent, but not browned, approximately 15 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, and tomato paste and mix well. Allow to cool to room temperature.

3. Combine the ground turkey, bread crumbs, eggs, and onion mixture in a large bowl. Mix well and shape into a rectangular loaf on an ungreased sheet pan. Spread the ketchup evenly on top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours until the internal temperature is 160 degrees F. and the meatloaf is cooked through. (A pan of hot water in the oven under the meatloaf will keep the top from cracking.) Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold in a sandwich.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Molten Chocolate Cake

Source: Kraft Foods

My husband and I once ordered something like this at Applebee's. At the time I thought it was SO good, but never thought it was something I could make at home! I love this because not only is it full of chocolately deliciousness, but you essentially make single servings! I halved it for just the two of us, no leftovers! It's so easy, make this today!

Also, it's more fun if you're making this for someone who's never had it - don't tell them they're molten cakes!

Molten Chocolate Cake

4 squares BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate (1 ounce each baking chocolate)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
6 Tbsp. flour
1/2 cup thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping


1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray 4 custard cups with cooking spray. Place on baking sheet.

2. Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1 min. or until butter is melted. Stir with wire whisk until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar until well blended. Blend in eggs and egg yolks with wire whisk. Stir in flour. Divide batter among prepared custard cups.

3. Bake 13 to 14 min. or until sides are firm but centers are soft. Let stand 1 min. Carefully run small knife around cakes to loosen. Invert cakes onto dessert dishes. Serve immediately, topped with whipped topping or ice cream on the side.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Steak Au Poivre with Brandied Cream Sauce

Source: Cook's Illustrated

As I've said before, I'm not an overwhelming fan of red meat. However, the past few times I've made filets or the like, I've realized I'm just not good at cooking red meat. It seems like it would be pretty easy, but the combination of searing plus oven-cooking usually stumps me. And I know it's a crime to like a filet medium, but it skeeves me out when blood seeps out on my plate as I cut into my steak.

Well, now that you're hungry!

This recipe was right next to my seared filet recipe in my trusty New Best Recipe, and where there's a sauce that includes cream, butter, and alcohol, count me in. I ended up using thin-cut New York strip steaks, which I found easier to gauge the doneness. The peppercorn crust combined with the sauce is...heavenly, to say the least. Of all the steak recipes I've made, this one is my favorite! Additionally, you usually find a recipe with a title this long is a little complicated. Au contraire, I found this very easy to make!

Put the peppercorns in a bag and pound them with a rolling pin or meat mallet while the sauce is reducing.

Steak au Poivre with Brandied Cream Sauce



4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium shallot , minced
1 cup low-sodium beef broth
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup brandy
1 tablespoon brandy
1 teaspoon lemon juice or 1 teaspoon champagne vinegar
Table salt


4 strip steaks (8 to 10 ounces each), 3/4 to 1 inch thick and no larger than 3 inches at widest points, trimmed of exterior gristle
Table salt
1 tablespoon black peppercorns , crushed


1. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat; when foaming subsides, add shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add beef and chicken broths, increase heat to high, and boil until reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 8 minutes. Set reduced broth mixture aside. Rinse and wipe out skillet.

2. Meanwhile, sprinkle both sides of steaks with salt; rub one side of each steak with 1 teaspoon crushed peppercorns, and, using fingers, press peppercorns into steaks to make them adhere.

3. Place now-empty skillet over medium heat until hot, about 4 minutes. Lay steaks unpeppered-side down in hot skillet, increase heat to medium-high, firmly press down on steaks with bottom of cake pan (see illustration below), and cook steaks without moving them until well-browned, about 6 minutes. Using tongs, flip steaks, firmly press down on steaks with bottom of cake pan, and cook on peppered side, about 3 minutes longer for rare, about 4 minutes longer for medium-rare, or about 5 minutes longer for medium. Transfer steaks to large plate and tent loosely with foil to keep warm.

4. Pour reduced broth, cream, and 1/4 cup brandy into now-empty skillet; increase heat to high and bring to boil, scraping pan bottom with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Simmer until deep golden brown and thick enough to heavily coat back of metal tablespoon or soup spoon, about 5 minutes. Off heat, whisk in remaining 3 tablespoons butter, remaining 1 tablespoon brandy, lemon juice or vinegar, and any accumulated meat juices. Adjust seasonings with salt.

5. Set steaks on individual dinner plates, spoon portion of sauce over steaks, and serve immediately.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Veggie & Cheese Bagel Sandwich

I was browsing through Pioneer Woman's Favorites and something about this sandwich looked so tasty! Bagel? Check. Veggies? Check. 3 different types of cheese? CHECK. It's also been very hot here lately, and this seemed like the perfect summer sandwich!

This was sooooooo good! The best thing I've had in ages. In fact, as soon as I started eating it, I regretting putting everything away. I was ready for another! It's a little tough to eat, if you toast the bagel it can be stiff compared to sandwich filling, but I personally think the crunch of the bagel adds a lot to the taste.

Mix it up with whatever veggies you prefer. I left off the avocado, red onion, and alfalfa sprouts for my personal taste. And my husband and I split this - one sandwich half is plenty!

Veggie & Cream Cheese Bagel Sandwich

Bagel of your choice, toasted and set aside to cool
1/2 block cream cheese
2-3 green onions
Red Onion
Alfalfa Sprouts
Muenster Cheese
Cheddar Cheese

1. Place 1/2 block of cream cheese on a plate and mash it with a fork. Chop up 2-3 green onions finely and mix with the cream cheese until throughly combined.

2. Slice all veggies thinly.

3. Spread cream cheese generously on both bagel halves. Layer the vegetables. Layer the avocado slices right on the cream cheese, followed by the alfalfa sprouts and one slice of each kind of cheese.

4. On the other bagel, add the cucumber slices on the cream cheese. Sprinkle with salt if desired. Lay the onion slices on top, then the tomotoes followed by lettuce.

5. Put the whole thing together and enjoy!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Chicken Provencal

Source: Cook's Illustrated

I saw the video for making this recipe, and have wanted to make it ever since. 1. Anything with chicken thighs is amazing; and 2. I love Cook's Illustrated. Truly, it never fails.

That said, I felt the dish lacked a LITTLE sweetness. However, I did not have real zest or nicose olives. I'm sure those made all the difference!

8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 3 pounds), trimmed of excess skin and fat
table salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion , chopped fine (about 2/3 cup)
6 medium cloves garlic , pressed through garlic press or minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 anchovy fillet , minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes (14 1/2 ounces), drained
2 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaf
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest from 1 lemon
1/2 cup niçoise olives , pitted
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 300 degrees. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with salt. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add 4 chicken thighs, skin-side down, and cook without moving them until skin is crisp and well browned, about 5 minutes. Using tongs, turn chicken pieces and brown on second side, about 5 minutes longer; transfer to large plate. Add remaining 4 chicken thighs to pot and repeat, then transfer to plate and set aside. Discard all but 1 tablespoon fat from pot.

2. Add onion to fat in Dutch oven and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until browned, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, anchovy, and cayenne; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add wine and scrape up browned bits from pan bottom with wooden spoon. Stir in chicken broth, tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, oregano, bay, and herbes de Provence (if using). Remove and discard skin from chicken thighs, then submerge chicken in liquid and add accumulated chicken juices to pot. Increase heat to high, bring to simmer, cover, then set pot in oven; cook until chicken offers no resistance when poked with tip of paring knife but still clings to bones, about 1 1/4 hours.

3. Using slotted spoon, transfer chicken to serving platter and tent with foil. Discard bay leaf. Set Dutch oven over high heat, stir in 1 teaspoon lemon zest, bring to boil, and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and reduced to 2 cups, about 5 minutes. Stir in olives and cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Meanwhile, mix remaining 1/2 teaspoon zest with parsley. Spoon sauce over chicken, drizzle chicken with remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, sprinkle with parsley mixture, and serve.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Chicken Tikki Masala

Source: Cook's Illustrated

Having lived in the midwest the vast majority of my life, and growing up on standard American fare, I have to admit I really don't have an adventurous palate. Since moving out west, that's changed! I now love sushi, and have tried Thai as well. I've never felt a desire to try Indian food, but I was flipping through my ever-consistent New Best Recipe and thought, "Why not?" This wasn't any more difficult than any other dish I've made. I had to pick up garam masala and a few other spices, but it was overall really easy.

Did I LOVE it? I liked it, A LOT, but a little quirk to my taste buds is I don't like sweet meat dishes. I rarely like barbeque sauce. Suffice to say, the resulting chicken had a slightly sweet flavor, but I overall really enjoyed the different flavors. I'd like to try this again because sometimes it takes new tastes awhile to grow on me. For instance, the first time I had sushi, I was like, "Okay, but probably not again." Ha ha! Now you can't keep me away from a crunchy roll!

I also like the "technique" of cooking the chicken under the broiler. It's like a grill without the mess! I may start using that particular method again in other recipes.

I made this with basmati rice - check the label carefully. I didn't read it quite thoroughly enough, and my package instructions had me soaking the rice for 15 minutes, then boiling down for another 35 minutes, which is longer than the recipe takes to make. I also added 1 tablespoon of tumeric for a little more flavor and color! I do so love the colors of this dish :)

Chicken Tikka

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon table salt
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts , trimmed of fat
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

Masala Sauce

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion , diced fine (about 1 1/4 cups)
2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 fresh serrano chile , ribs and seeds removed, flesh minced (if you like more heat, keep in some of the ribs)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves


1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger; set aside.

2. FOR THE SAUCE: Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.

3. While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Using tongs, dip chicken into yogurt mixture (chicken should be coated with thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.

4. Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks and stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce). Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sauteed Mushrooms

Adapted from: Recipe Zaar

One of my VERY FAVORITE dishes is the sauteed mushrooms from Outback Steakhouse. First of all, I don't like raw mushrooms. Ugh. They taste like nothing. I DO, however, like it when mushrooms act like little flavor sponges, soaking up the flavor of the dish they're in. Yum! This is a delicious example of that, and an absolutely PERFECT side dish with steak. It's pretty close to the restaurant version, and is RIDICULOUSLY easy! I did notice looking at the recipe it only contained beef broth and wine, and the Outback version has a little more richness to it. I added a couple tablespoons of butter with a clove of minced garlic and that seemed to do the trick. I'm sure the restaurant version has at least double the butter, but hey, this is a little healthier, right?

Sauteed Mushrooms

2 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can beef broth
1/2 cup onion, diced
8 ounces fresh sliced baby bella mushrooms
1/3 cup red wine

1. Add butter and garlic to saucepan over medium heat. Cook for a few minutes. Add beef broth and onion to pan and simmer for 15 minutes.

2. Add mushrooms and wine, and simmer for 15 minutes.

3. Enjoy!

Steak with Garlic Butter

Adapted from: All Recipes

I had a hankering for steak this weekend, and I love all things that combine garlic and butter, so this seemed a pretty easy pick. We don't have a grill, so I adapted this for the stovetop. I am still mastering cooking a steak well over the stovetop. A lot of time the outside is seared and the inside can get pretty rare. I still have some messing around to do with my temperatures, but one tip I picked up from The New Best Recipe when cooking filets is to place in a 450 degree oven until done. If you're not getting your desired doneness via stovetop, it's probably a good tip.

Another mistake I made is I made the steaks in one pan, then set them aside and figured I'd make the sauce in the same pan, what with brown bits being all the rage. What I did NOT count on was the pan being too hot. The sauce was fine, but the butter started foaming as I added it to the pan. Oh well, live and learn! If you don't like the taste of garlic powder, just add more fresh garlic!

Steak with Garlic Butter

1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons garlic powder
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 pounds beef top sirloin steak, 1 to 1 1/4 inches thick

1. Preheat a heavy-bottomed 12-inch skillet over high heat until very hot. Meanwhile, season both sides of the steak with salt and pepper to taste.

2. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat with garlic powder and minced garlic. Set aside.

3. Lay the steaks in the pan, leaving 1/4 inch of space between them. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook, not moving the steaks until they are well-browned, about 4 mihutes. Using tongs, flip the steaks; cook 4 minutes for rare (120 degrees), 5 minutes for medium rare (125-130 degrees), and 6 minutes for medium (135-140 degrees). Transfer the steaks to a large plate, top with garlic butter sauce, and let rest 3-5 minutes before serving.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Lemon Pepper Linguine with Chicken

Adapted from: All Recipes

This was another meal I picked solely on how easy it looked, and I was surprised by how tasty it was! My sauces tend to be in the tomato family, so it was nice to have something a little different. Because of the light lemony flavor of the sauce, this dish really reminds me of summer. The only thing missing was some fresh grated Parmesan!

I also did something in the last few recipes which has improved the flavor and tenderness of the chicken each time. I browned the chicken in the skillet, and then removed to a 200 degree oven while I prepared the rest of the ingredients. Doing this, or in the very least letting the chicken rest for 3-4 minutes before slicing or serving, allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, making for a tasty, juicer chicken.

Lemon Pepper Linguine with Chicken

8 ounces linguine pasta
2 thin-cut chicken breasts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
6 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
Salt to taste
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil

1. Heat oven to 200 degress.

2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil. Add linguine, and cook until al dente. Drain.

3. While the linguine is cooking, sprinkle both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken until browned, about 5 minutes each side. Remove to a plate and place in preheated oven while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

4. Add garlic to skillet and cook for 1 minutes. Mix in chicken broth, wine, lemon juice, zest, pepper, and salt. Scrape bottom of pan with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits, and reduce heat and simmer for about 3 minutes.

5. Add butter and herbs into saucepan. Mix and cook 2-3 minutes. Remove chicken from oven and slice into bite-sized pieces. Add to sauce and mix well. Divide linguine on plates and top with chicken mixture and serve.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Simple Chicken Dinner

Sometimes I'm not in the mood to cook and want a no-brainer meal to make. This chicken is the perfect canvass for a quick meal. You can use the seasonings of your choice to mix it up or make it your own!

Simple Chicken Dinner

4 thin-cut chicken breasts
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup of flour
Seasonings of your choice (salt, pepper, select herbs, or seasoning blends. Just be careful with blends as they can be a little salty.)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth.

1. Heat butter and olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet. Sprinkle chicken breasts with seasonings of your choice, then dredge in flour.

2. Add garlic to skillet and cook until just beginning to brown, a few minutes. Add chicken to skillet and cook until browned, about 5 minutes each side. Set aside and tent with foil, or place in 200 degree oven to keep warm.

3. Add chicken stock or broth to skillet and cook, scraping browned bits. Add 2 tablespoons of flour to sifter and slowly add into the liquid until it becomes thick.

4. Top chicken with gravy and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Simple Pot Roast

Source: The New Best Recipe

Honestly, I'm just not that into beef. I mean, I LOVE meat! Bring on the pork, chicken, and turkey. But beef...meh. I may cook with it once a month or less.

I was scanning recipes for last weekend and I was just BORED of always making the same things. I had tagged the pot roast from Bridget's blog and it was something I've never made. As well, I'm pretty much always a sucker for Cook's Illustrated recipes.

I was pleasantly surprised by this roast! The roast I've had in the past have consisted of rather dry meat with carrots and potatoes. Nothing to write home about. But my husband and I both loved this! The meat was incredibly tender and flavorful. If you really love beef, I can highly recommend this recipe!

Pot Roast

1 boneless chuck-eye roast (about 3 1/2 pounds), patted dry with paper towels
Salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped medium
1 small carrot, chopped medium
1 small celery rib, chopped medium
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup low-sodium beef broth
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1 spring fresh thyme
1 - 1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup dry red wine

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Sprinkle the roast generously with salt and pepper to taste.

2. Heat the oil in a large oven-proof Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Brown the roast thoroughly on all sides, reducing the heat if the fat begins to smoke, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the roast to a large plate; set aside.

3. Reduce the heat to medium; add the onion, carrot, and celery to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and sugar; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the broths and thyme, scraping the pan bottom with a wooden spoon to loosed any browned bits. Return the roast and any accumulated juices on the plate to the pot; add enough water to come halfway up the sides of the roast. Cover with a lid, bring the liquid to a simmer over medium heat, and transfer the pot to the oven. Cook, turning the roast every 30 minutes, until fully tender and a meat fork or sharp knife slips easily in and out of the meat, 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

4. Transfer the roast to a carving board; tent with foil to keep warm. Allow the liquid in the pan to settle about 5 minutes, then use a wide spoon to skim the fat off the surface; discard the thyme sprig. Add the wine and reduce to 1 1/2 cups, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Using a chef's or carving knife, cut the meat into 1/2 inch slices, or pull apart into large pieces; transfer the meat to a warmed serving plate and pour about 1/2 cup sauce over the meat. Serve, passing the remaining sauce separately.

Monday, May 25, 2009

4-3-2-1 Cupcakes

I have actually made these before, back when I apparently had a total lapse in judgement and WAY overfilled the muffin tins. They were not salvageable. These were much better and the flavor remains one of my favorite cupcake recipes! I think the almond extract really makes the difference.

4-3-2-1 Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcaktes

1 cup of butter
2 cups of sugar
3 cups of cake flour (I used regular, couldn't find this "cake flour")
3 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of salt
4 eggs 
1 cup of milk
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1/2 tsp of almond extract

1. Preheat oven to 350. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and gradually add sugar, creaming until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. In another bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture alternatively with milk and almond and vanilla extract, beating after each addition until smooth. Pour batter into cupcake tins. Bake 25-30 minutes. Cool in pans for 10 minutes and remove from pan to finish cooling. Top with your frosting of choice. I used 
cream cheese frosting. Yum!

Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from: All Recipes

All Recipes reviews, you have foiled me again! I always look at the reviews and frequently adjust my recipes if I see enough of the same comments. Here, I saw one comment in particular: the frosting is too "cream cheesy." Many reviewers suggested adding more sugar and less cream cheese. My result was actually a little too sweet; I suggest my version below. The best thing to do is add the sugar, and with the last cup, add gradually to your taste.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup of butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use.