Thursday, March 29, 2007

Grilled Chicken Salad

When we grilled the pork chops last night we also grilled some chicken for tonight's dinner - grilled chicken salad.

In addition to the chicken the salad had romaine, green pepper, celery, carrot, mushrooms, tomatoes, scallions, red onion and cucumber. I had planned to make a red wine vinaigrette but both of us were in the mood for something creamy. Luckily I had a bottle of Ken's Creamy Caesar in the pantry.
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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Grilled Pork Chops

Spring has officially started and we kicked off the season with grilled pork chops. Now that we have a backyard we plan to spend most of the spring and summer grilling.

SP seasoned the chops simply with salt and pepper. The smoke from the hard wood that we use gives the chops great color and flavor.

I cooked the broccoli in a pan with olive oil, rough chopped garlic and a little red pepper flake.

The spears retained their beautiful green color with just a hint of char around the edges. The flavor of the garlic and chili flakes made this broccoli addictive. SP said I should cook broccoli like this from now on.

Since SP gets home well before I do, he was able to actually bake the baked potatoes in the oven.

He rubs the outside with butter and salt then wraps them in tinfoil to bake. I topped mine with salt, pepper, a little butter and some sour cream.
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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Salisbury Steak

SP was such a fan of the Rachael Ray Salisbury steak TV dinner I made last week that he requested it again this week. I doubled the recipe so we had enough for dinner tonight and lunch tomorow.

I also made the gravy thinner and added more cream to the spinach. It was even better than last week.
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Monday, March 26, 2007

Vegetable Sauce

The vegetable sauce I used for Pizza Friday made a repeat appearance tonight, this time served over ziti with a showering of grated cheese.

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Pizza Friday

We kept Pizza Friday simple this week with plain pizza made special by the sauce, a tangy vegetable concoction I'd made and frozen a few weeks ago.

The sauce had chunks of zucchini, onion, carrot, celery and mushrooms which went well with the creamy mozzarella cheese. I added a sprinkling of grated Pecorino for an added kick.
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Cheese Crisp

I had some leftover tortillas and pepper Jack cheese from the baked chimichangas so I made an Arizona Cheese Crisp using cheddar and pepper Jack cheeses.

It was nice and crisp, with some mild onion flavor from the scallions and a kick from the taco sauce I used for dipping.
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Friday, March 23, 2007

Chicken with Chile-Cheese Rice

Last night's dinner was Chicken with Chile-Cheese Rice, a recipe I saw highlighted here and then copied from here.

I loved the texture and the flavors, mild though they were. For a dish that includes two jalapeno peppers and a can of green chiles, this wasn't very spicy. I copied this recipe back in January so by the time I got around to making it I couldn't remember where I'd gotten it from. If I had, I would have seen that the original poster had the same spiciness problem that I had and I would have increased the number of jalapenos for more kick.
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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

The latest issue of Cook's Country had a recipe for Broccoli Cheddar Soup that sounded like the perfect meal to eat at the tail end of winter, especially since it combines two of our favorite foods - broccoli and cheddar cheese.

I knew SP was skeptical about this meal, but it ended up tasting amazing. He had two bowls for dinner and would have had more if he wasn't eyeing up the last few brownies from earlier in the week. The soup had great broccoli flavor from the 1 1/2 pounds the recipe called for and it was nice and cheesey, with a slight kick from the cayenne pepper. Instead of lugging out the blender I used my immersion blender. Most of the soup ended up creamy and smooth, but there were some bits of broccoli that didn't get blended and those added a nice contrast.

I had planned to buy a baguette at the supermarket but it slipped my mind. As I was reheating the soup I was watching Rachael Ray make cheesey English muffins to go with a big pot of soup, so I defrosted two muffins, seperated and buttered them and topped them with some grated Pecorino. They were the perfect compliment to the soup.
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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Smoked Turkey Baked Chimichangas

The other day SP and I were watching 30-Minute Meals when Rachael Ray made Smoked Turkey Baked Chimichangas with a Black Bean and Corn Salad. He turned to me and asked if I'd make that meal this week, so of course I obliged.

I wanted to see if I could make this meal in 30 minutes, but I didn't read the directions for both dishes ahead of time so I made one fatal mistake - I made the chimichangas before I started the salad. The salad needed to sit for at least 15 minutes before serving, which would have been the perfect amount of time to make and bake the chimis. I clocked in at a full hour, with 15 minutes of that spent waiting for the corn to defrost.

We both really like the chimichangas with their smokey flavor (both from the smoked turkey and the chipotle), but we agreed there should have been less meat and more cheese. I could barely taste the Monterey Jack. Next time I'll use more cheese and less meat.

I really enjoyed the black bean salad, with the crunchy corn and red peppers. It was well seasoned with cumin, hot sauce and lime juice. Like Rachael said on the show, this would be an excellent filling for the chimis along with some cheese. Maybe I'll make another one today since I have more cheese and plenty of leftover salad.

UPDATE: For lunch today I made another chimichanga using some of the leftover black bean salad and a nice hunk of Jack cheese.

Personally, I liked this better with the salad and cheese. SP came home and was excited to see that I hadn't eaten the fourth smoked turkey chimi. He's a meat-lover at heart, but he did agree that less meat and more cheese was in order. I think the next time I make these I'll make his with the smoked turkey and mine with the salad so we're both happy.
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Falafel Pockets

I've been reading a lot of blogs lately with drool-worthy photos of Middle Eastern food, mainly gyros, falafel, kebabs, etc. Since I live so far from anywhere that would serve this kind of food, I thought I'd make my own at home. I found a recipe for falafel pockets:

... and while the chickpea cakes tasted great with all the seasoning, this is not something I'd attempt to make again. The cakes refused to stay together as they cooked, so I ended up with more of a chickpea mash. The pita was your standard store-bought stuff, which was fine, but the yogurt sauce (which you can't actually see in the photo) was lacking in real flavor despite being seasoned with cucumber, red onion and lemon juice.
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Sunday, March 18, 2007

TV Dinner

Salisbury Steak with Wild Mushroom Gravy, Smashed Potatoes with Garlic and Herb Cheese and Chives, Creamed Spinach is one of those Rachael Ray meals I've been meaning to make for ages but just never got around to. Then last week I saw her make it on her show and decided to finally give it a try.

This was definitely a keeper. We both cleaned our plates and SP even said he would like to have this again next week. The only problem was I used the recipe from her 30 Minute Get Togethers cookbook and didn't notice it was a TV Dinner for Two. If you look at the recipe on the Food Network Web site everything is doubled so it serves four. Since we always take leftovers for lunch I'll have to do that next time.

Instead of making the Salisbury Steaks with ground beef I used ground turkey:

The patties were moist and flavorful from the onion and Worcestershire sauce. The mushroom sauce got a little too thick despite the fact that I used almost twice as much beef broth as the recipe stated. I sometimes have that problem with Rachael Ray recipes - the printed amount is either too much or too little of something - but I know this happens so I just added more broth.

I was a bit skeptical about the creamed spinach:

... but it ended up tasting great. Once again, I had to add way more heavy cream then the recipe called for. There is no way 1/4 cup of cream is enough for 10 ounces of spinach. The spinach absorbed all the cream almost immediately. Once I got the right consistency I was even more upset that we had so little of it.

Since I refuse to spend $5 for 4 ounces of Boursin cheese, I made my mashed potatoes:

... with garlic in the cooking water, sour cream, scallions and a little light cream. They were rich and creamy with a mild onion flavor.

It was easy not to overeat at dinner because we had brownies for dessert:

Brownie mix was on sale at the supermarket so I made a batch and then decorated them with chocolate frosting and some sprinkles leftover from Christmas. They were gooey and fudgey.
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Spaghetti Carbonara

I like nothing more then a big bowl of spaghetti carbonara with lots of extra grated cheese on top:

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Pizza Friday (and our cat makes a friend)

For Pizza Friday I made broccoli pizza with garlic and ricotta cheese. I'm not sure why, but there was something off-tasting about it. SP thought maybe the broccoli was old (we bought it from a different supermarket then we usually shop at) but I thought maybe it was because I layered the toppings wrong. Whatever the case, we weren't thrilled with it.

But the big news of the weekend was that our cat made a friend. I came downstairs this morning and heard him making a muffled meowing sound. I thought maybe he'd gotten locked in a closet or something, but it turned out that an outdoor cat had found his way into our fenced-in backyard. Our cat has no interaction with other animals (save for the two days he spent in the shelter before we adopted him), so I don't think he knew what to make of this other cat.

The face-off begins:

Can you see the size of our cat's tail? He was not amused by this trespasser. Here's the other cat trying to play:

... and our cat making his feeble attempt at defending his house. Look at that face! He was definitely not a stray - he had tags and a collar - and when he'd finally had enough showing off for our cat, he clawed his way up our fence into the next yard.

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Friday, March 16, 2007


I had made plans to have lunch with a friend today but Mother Nature got in the way. I can't believe it was 79 degrees on Wednesday and today it is snowing/sleeting/raining. Spring, where are you?

I consoled myself with nachos:

... made with cheddar cheese, minced pickled jalapenos, salsa, scallions and sour cream layered with tortilla chips. If I'd had sliced black olives I would have added those too. They were tasty, but I still wish the weather was nicer. Hurry up spring!!
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Catching Up

Yay! The photo problem has been resolved. Here's a quick recap of what we've been eating this week:

On Tuesday we enjoyed Beefed Up Biscuits:

... made with ground turkey, as always. The last time I made this dish SP asked for more cheese, so I added extra cheddar to the tops of the biscuits and also mixed some cheese into the turkey mixture as I was reheating it.

On Wednesday we had gorgeous weather so we decided to grill:

I marinated chicken breasts in garlic, oil, pepper and a special salt mix we bought at a food show. We then grilled the chicken and topped it with bacon and provolone cheese. For the finishing touch I slathered a homemade garlic and lemon mayo on both sides of the bun. SP liked the mayo but said the sandwich called for Dijon mustard so he added some to his sandwich.

Yesterday we were supposed to have spaghetti with the vegetable tomato sauce I made on Sunday, but we were so full from lunch that we ended up eating leftovers instead. I had met SP for lunch and I ordered the Cuban sandwich:

... with thick slices of slow-cooked pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and garlic mayo on toasted Cuban bread. With the huge mound of fries that came with both our meals, we only ate half of our sandwiches (which worked out well as a snack later in the evening). I forgot to get a photo of SP's since we didn't eat at the same time.
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Thursday, March 15, 2007

I'm Still Here

No, I haven't fallen off the earth or stopped cooking - I just can't upload photos. Apparently Blogger has been having issues with photo uploads for the past few days and even though they say it's been resolved, it hasn't been resolved on my end. I'm hoping this will be fixed soon because I can't see the point in posting about the food I've made if no one can see it.
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Monday, March 12, 2007

Sunday Dinner

Another Sunday, another roast chicken dinner. This was the best of the three I've made recently. And we finally had green beans, although these were from the freezer section.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Dinner With The Neighbors

Since we moved to the new house a few months ago we've become friendly with our next door neighbors, D, K and Baby A. From the moment we met they've known about my love of cooking, so it only seemed appropriate to have them over for dinner.

I chose a comfort food menu partly because I've made these dishes so many times I could do them in my sleep, but also because they are so familiar and, well, comforting.

Ever since the first time I made Tyler's Ultimate Meatloaf it has been a huge hit in our house. It takes awhile to prepare the red pepper relish, but it's worth the extra effort.

And really, how can you go wrong when something is topped with bacon?

I rounded out the meal with simple mashed potatoes and Rachael Ray's garlic chili roasted broccoli:

K made a delicious chocolate chocolate-chip bundt cake for dessert:

... that was moist, creamy and very chocolately.
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Pizza Friday

Pizza Friday almost didn't happen this week.

I always buy my dough from the same Italian bakery. Usually I buy enough to last me the entire month so I'm not driving out there every week. This week was the week I ran out, but when I went to the bakery they didn't have any dough in their refrigerator or freezer. When I asked the woman if they had any pizza dough she told me someone had come in and bought 15 balls of dough, which cleaned them out. Luckily there is a pizza parlor next door so I went in there and bought some dough for my bacon and garlic pizza:

The crust was noticably different with this dough. It tasted more like pizza you'd get out in a restaurant, chewier and more substantial. It was quite good.
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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Chicken Paprikash

Chicken Paprikash is one of my go-to meals that is easy to make and always tastes great. I usually serve it over rice, but egg noodles were on sale this week so I thought I'd change things up a bit.

I added more chicken stock (a 14.5-oz can instead of 1 cup) so there'd be plenty of sauce. I thought the sauce was perfectly seasoned, with the smokiness of the paprika really coming through. SP said he wished the sauce had been a little thicker so next time I'll increase the amount of flour as well.
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Monday, March 05, 2007

Ropa Vieja Joses (Cuban Sloppy Joes)

On Friday I saw Rachael Ray make her version of ropa vieja in the form of Ropa Vieja Joses, or Cuban Sloppy Joes. Usually I don't condone her practice of morphing long, slow-cooked dishes into something completely different, despite her claim that the dishes have the same flavors. In my opinion, you cannot turn osso bucco into a soup, no matter how hard you try. This sandwich, however, looked pretty tasty so I thought I'd give it a whirl.

I subbed ground turkey for the beef and I didn't make the other dishes included in the recipe. The sandwich was tasty and certainly easy enough to make, but the flavors didn't wow me. I was hoping for something with more oomph.
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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Sunday Dinner

We enjoyed last week's roast chicken dinner so much we decided to have another one this Sunday.

I was going to serve green beans instead of broccoli, but the beans in the store didn't look good. I did leave off the cheese, however. For some reason the gravy was a tad sweet, which I wasn't happy about, but it was still a good dinner.
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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Pizza Friday (Calzones)

In case you haven't noticed, I've been on a real calzone kick lately. This week I made the filling using mushrooms cooked with garlic, sliced pepperoni and black olives, in addition to the usual egg, ricotta, cubed mozzarella and grated Pecorino.

I think this one browned exceptionally well, although I did go a little crazy with the kosher salt:

As always, I served the calzones with plenty of spicy marinara sauce:

An innards shot, with the gooey cheese and assorted fillings:

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Turkey Nachos

What do you do when you have 24 leftover corn tortillas? You make nachos!

In our continuing quest to see what dishes we can use ground turkey instead of beef, we made turkey nachos last night.

SP cooked the turkey with cumin, cayenne, chili powder, salt, pepper, some minced onion and garlic and a little tomato paste. Then I added shredded pepper Jack and cheddar cheeses so they would melt with the beef. Since we didn't want the chips to get soggy, we made what amounted to a layered dip, with the beef and cheese mixture topped with diced tomato, scallions, minced red onion, sliced black olives, pickled jalapenos and a dollop of sour cream.

I love making my own chips because they taste so much fresher than the bagged variety:

I fried the chips in batches in vegetable oil and sprinkled them with salt when they came out of the oil. We had quite a few left over so I'll be interested to see if they're any good the next day.
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Breakfast For Dinner

Best laid plans and all that....

On Wednesday I was all set to make garlic cheddar chicken. Then SP calls me on his way home to say he forgot the chicken in the fridge at work. This is yet another example of why I hate rushing my food shopping. I always make a menu for the week and then write out the list based on the menu. Due to the impending snow storm last Sunday, we had to rush through that whole process and I ended up forgetting a bunch of things. I hate making little trips to the store during the week.

So instead of garlic cheddar chicken, I made breakfast for dinner:

... Rachael Ray's Canadian Benny's, which are quite popular at our house. I didn't have heavy cream so I used half-and-half and I subbed regular bacon for the Canadian variety, but it still tasted great.
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