Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Blogging with a Purpose Award

Jaime over at Burnt Toast gave me the Blogging with a Purpose award.

I've seen her blog on my Site Meter statistics but I haven't had a chance to really check it out, so I was incredibly flattered that she thought of me for this award. Thank you Jaime!!

UPDATE: I know I need to choose people to give this award to, but as you can tell from my lack of posting, things at home have been a bit crazy lately. Between a sick cat, work headaches, an allergy-suffering husband and dinner commitments with friends I haven't been cooking much let alone updating my blog. I promise to update this post again with award recipients.
Pin It!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Pioneer Woman Chicken Spaghetti

I stumbled upon The Pioneer Woman awhile ago, but I haven't gotten around to making any of her delicious-looking recipes. I thought Pioneer Woman Chicken Spaghetti would be a good recipe to make ahead of time. I put it together last night to have for dinner today.

It isn't often that this happens, but SP wasn't a fan of this dish. I really liked it (you can't go wrong in my book with a creamy, cheesy pasta dish), but he didn't like the fact that the green pepper and onion were basically raw and crunchy. And I don't think he liked the overall flavor either. Disappointing, since I thought it was so good I had seconds.
Pin It!


On Thursday I made tacos:

... with ground beef, guacamole, sour cream, cheddar cheese, tomatoes and lettuce.
Pin It!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Cobb Salad

SP asked for a salad for dinner this week, so I thought Cobb salad would fit the bill nicely.

I baked the chicken before cutting it into chunks. The rest of the cast of characters included bacon, cheddar and blue cheese, avocado, black olives, scallions and tomatoes all served over chopped romaine lettuce. I realized while I was eating that I'd forgotten the hardboiled eggs. I had my salad with creamy Caesar dressing.
Pin It!

Pat's Stromboil Bread

Broccoli rabe is my new obsession but I didn't feel like making it with pasta, so SP suggested we revisit Pat's Stromboli Bread, with a few modifications:

This time I used less broccoli rabe (1 bunch) and it still made a ton of filling. See how it overflows in the bread? Maybe I need bigger bread. I also baked it without the foil wrapping, which kept the bread nice and crispy. SP was happy to eat the sandwich with his hands instead of a knife and fork.

Pat's Stromboil Bread
Everyday with Rachael Ray

One 16-ounce loaf
semolina bread

1 bunch broccoli rabe, cut into 3-inch pieces

2 tablespoons
extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound
bulk spicy pork or chicken sausage
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Freshly grated nutmeg (optional)

2 cups
shredded provolone cheese
1 cup
grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
8 thin slices
mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 375°. Cut off the top quarter of the bread lengthwise and scoop out the bottom piece.

In a deep skillet, bring about 2 inches of water to a boil. Salt the water and add the broccoli rabe in batches, simmering for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water.

Wipe out the skillet; add the EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, and heat over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, crumbling with a spoon, until browned, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, if using.

Fill the bread shell with the sausage mixture. Top with the provolone, parmigiano, mozzarella and bread lid. Wrap the sandwich in foil and bake until the cheese is melted, 15 minutes. Cut into thick slices to serve.

Pin It!

Burger and Fries

The weather people have been so off lately. They called for rain on Sunday, but no rain ever materialized. We took the opportunity to grill some burgers:

I mixed the meat with the leftover salad dressing from the zucchini salad I had made earlier in the week (Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, oil and grated red onion). We topped our burgers with cheddar cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato and sliced red onion. They were meaty and flavorful, but I don't think I packed the meat tightly enough because they started to fall apart on the grill. I made some oven fries but I'm quickly becoming disillusioned by fries baked in the oven. They never, ever get crispy, even when I overcook them and use my baking stone.
Pin It!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

White Pizza

We might be going out with friends on Friday so I decided to make our weekly pizza last night. I wanted to do something different and I recently saw Rachael Ray make a white pizza that look absolutely delicious:

I decided to make two smaller pizzas instead of one large one because my pizza stone just isn't big enough. No matter how hard I try, a normal large-size pizza doesn't fit on the stones I have. SP had the brilliant idea to just make two smaller ones, which worked out quite well.

I followed the recipe (except for the basil) and it was creamy and cheesy and oh-so-yummy. My only complaint was that the crust started to get too brown around the edges before the bottom crust got crispy. That was my fault because I rolled the dough as thin as I could. It still tasted great and SP loved the thin crust, but next time I'll need to either lower the oven temp or keep the dough thicker.
Pin It!

Florentine Mac & Cheese

I saw Rachael Ray make this recipe for Florentine Mac and Cheese recently and it looked fantastic. I decided to make it without the chicken meatballs:

While I liked the concept, I didn't like the finished product. There was way too much spinach and not enough sauce. I ended up adding a few splashes of milk after I took it off the stove because it was just too thick. And there wasn't much of a cheesy flavor. I'd try doing a spinach mac & cheese again, but I'd probably use my usual recipe (with a touch more milk or stock) and add the spinach.

I served it with a zucchini salad I swear I saw her make with this meal, but it wasn't on the website in the same version she made. I used a potato peeler to make long strips of zucchini before tossing it with the dressing, which was tangy with a nice bite from the Dijon mustard. Definitely something I'll make again.
Pin It!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Crispy Parmesan Chicken, Boiled Potatoes and Peas

I needed a quick dinner before heading to the store so I threw together an old favorite with a slight twist:

Instead of pork chops coated in egg and bread crumbs mixed with grated cheese, I used chicken breasts. They were so moist and flavorful, with a nice cheesy bite. I love boiled potatoes tossed with butter and parsley so I decided to toss in some peas instead of having them as a separate side dish. It was a great combination.

On a side note, I'm really loving these C&W frozen peas. Ever since Alosha turned me on to them I've been buying them instead of the supermarket brand. This might sound silly, but they actually taste like peas. I'll gladly spend the extra money if it means I get a good product.
Pin It!

Linguine with Sausage, Onions and Peas

Sunday night SP asked for fettuccine alfredo with sausage and I decided to add some onions and peas for color and a veggie component:

I kinda threw this together so I was surprised by how well it turned out. I started by browning the sausage in the pan, then adding sliced onion and cooking it until it was soft. I mixed 1 cup of heavy cream with 1 cup half-and-half and added it to the pan with salt and pepper. While that reduced the fettuccine cooked. Right before I added the pasta to the pan I threw in 1 cup of frozen peas and 1/2 cup grated cheese, then tossed the pasta with the sauce to coat. It was rich and creamy, but not too heavy because of the peas. And the hot sausage was perfect, with just a little kick and great sausage flavor.
Pin It!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Spring Plantings

Here they are, like pretty maids all in a row. Last summer, being our first in the new house, we weren't quite settled enough for me to think about a garden. This year I decided I couldn't miss the chance to grow fresh herbs and tomatoes, so this weekend we went out and got four different kinds of tomatoes and a small rosemary plant. I still need to get basil and I might do peppers and other herbs as well.

Unfortunately yesterday was sunny and in the 70s and today is overcast and in the 50s. I thought for sure we were past the last frost, but tonight they're calling for temps in the 30s. Hopefully a few days in the garage will keep them warm enough until the temperature rises again.

A friend of my mother's gave us a rose bush, which we also planted today:

It doesn't look like much now but I was assured it would be flowering in no time. My mom couldn't remember what color the roses would be so it'll be a nice surprise later in the summer. Don't mind the weeds and other debris around the rose bush. We still need to dig a bed and layer in some mulch and other flowers. For now we're enjoying the flowers that have popped up at random in the yard:

Such a vibrant purple. I love spring!
Pin It!

Doctor Who and a Fry Up

When I was younger, my mom and I would watch the old episodes of Doctor Who on public television. SP and I are huge British TV fans and we've been watching the new episodes (love, love, love David Tennant) on the SciFi channel and BBC America, but my mom had never seen them. We decided it would be fun to have my parents over for brunch on a Sunday to watch the show and I'd make a traditional English breakfast. My fry up:

... had almost all the usual suspects - fried eggs, baked beans, mushrooms, tomatoes and bacon. We did without the sausage and we had bagels instead of toast, but it really tasted like the breakfasts I used to enjoy in England.
Pin It!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Pizza Friday

It's been a little while since we had a Pizza Friday:

We went with our usual - pepperoni, mushrooms and black olives. It was really tasty, even better than usual. I think next week I might experiment and try something new.
Pin It!

Chicken Tikka Masala

It's been awhile since I last made this recipe, but it was just as good as we remembered:

I was really proud of my basmati rice. I'm still perfecting fluffy, dry rice and this was almost spot-on. An incredibly easy, very tasty meal. I did have a moment of weakness and ate some cake for dessert:

With a glass of frosty cold milk, it was a sweet ending to the day and I only had a little so I wasn't too bad.
Pin It!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Asian Grilled Salmon and Asian-Style Green Beans

As I've said before, we're trying to be better about eating fish, especially salmon because of the really healthy omega-3 fatty acids. SP asked that I find an Asian-style recipe for the rest of the frozen salmon, which we had last night:

I'm still trying to figure out where I got this recipe from. I hate when I print something out and forget to include the source. I'll update when I figure it out. In case I don't, I'll type up the recipe when I get home. I served the fish with white rice and Asian-Style Green Beans. The green beans were amazing. I loved the flavor, but I should have left out the cornstarch because it made the sauce too thick. Definitely a meal we'll be repeating soon.

Grilled Salmon

4 (4 ounce) fillets salmon
1/4 cup peanut oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon ginger, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon salt

Whisk together peanut oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, green onions, garlic, brown sugar, ginger, red chile flakes, sesame oil, and salt. Place fish in a glass dish, and pour marinade over all. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.

Preheat barbecue or gas grill. Oil the grill rack, and adjust height to 5 inches from coals. Remove salmon from marinade, and place on grill. Grill for 10 minutes per inch of thickness, measured at thickest part, or until fish just flakes when tested with a fork. Turn halfway through cooking.
Pin It!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

South of the Border Casserole

I got this recipe from my buddy C Laz back in June 2007. It's hard to believe it's been almost a year since then. I kept meaning to make this since it sounded so good and I finally dug it out this week while looking for a ground beef recipe. I figured I'd better make it now before the weather changes.

I modified the recipe slightly by using bowties instead of ziti or penne since I already had half a box that needed to be used up. I also seasoned the mixture with salt and pepper a few times, which the recipe doesn't say to do, and I chopped some cilantro to sprinkle over the top. Overall I really liked this. It had a good kick from the chili powder and jalapeno, and I loved the creaminess from the sour cream. I'm glad I finally got around to making this - thanks C Laz!

South of the Border Casserole

1 pound of lean ground beef
1 jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed from half, minced
1 large bell pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
28 ounce can of whole tomatoes (fire roasted tomatoes, if you can find them)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons of cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups sour cream
8 oz penne, ziti or any small pasta
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup cilantro, minced

In a large deep skillet, brown meat until no longer pink. Drain fat, if necessary. Add the olive oil, peppers, onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook on medium-high heat. Saute until softened, about 8-10 minutes. Add chili powder and cumin. Add the can of tomatoes, breaking up the whole tomatoes with a spoon, but still leaving big chunks. Add sour cream, stir until mixed. Add pasta. Cover and cook until pasta is al dente, about 25 minutes. Make sure to stir frequently so the pasta doesn't get stuck to the bottom. Serve with the cheddar cheese and cilantro sprinkled on top.
Pin It!

Fat Rabbit Returns

I got home this evening, opened the back curtain and there he was - Fat Rabbit:

Am I crazy or is this a seriously fat rabbit? He just seems very large to me. He was in the middle of the yard so I was able to get a better shot of him. When SP got home he was none too pleased. I had to stop him from opening the back door and yelling, "Stop eating my yard!" He does have a point, of course, especially since we're hoping to grow vegetables and herbs this summer. He wants to put chicken wire under the fence. If he does it properly, it will mean no more Fat Rabbit sightings, which does make me sad but then again, I'd rather have my vegetables and herbs then be Club Med to a bunch of rabbits. Even if they're really cute.
Pin It!

Skillet Chicken and Rice with Peas and Scallion

This recipe for Skillet Chicken and Rice with Peas and Scallion was something I saw on America's Test Kitchen awhile back. I kept meaning to make it but it was alway preempted by another dish. It finally made its way into the rotation this week and man am I glad it did. This is a fantastic one-pot meal (which is always nice).

I love creamy rice dishes and this had just the right sauce-to-rice ratio. Unfortunately I only had 1 cup of rice and the recipe called for 1 1/2 cups, but I just decreased the liquid by a cup and it worked out fine. SP said there was too much chicken (I was shocked that my carnivore said that), but I think that's because there was less rice then there should have been. I loved the peas (another huge thanks to Alosha for turning me on to C&W frozen vegetables) and the freshness of the scallions. Definitely something we'll be making again.

Skillet Chicken and Rice with Peas and Scallion
Recipe from America's Test Kitchen

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, minced
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
1/2 cup dry white wine (vermouth)
4 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup frozen peas
5 scallions, sliced thin
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in flour to coat and shake off any excess. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown the chicken well on one side, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.

2. Off the heat, add the butter to the skillet, and swirl to melt. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and return to medium-high heat until softened, 2 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the rice thoroughly and let toast for about 30 seconds.

3. Stir in the wine and let the rice absorb it completely, about 1 minute. Stir in the broth, scraping up any browned bits. Nestle the chicken into the rice, browned side facing up, including any accumulated juices. Cover and cook over medium heat until the thickest part of the chicken registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 10 minutes.

4. Transfer the chicken to a clean plate. Gently brush off and discard any rice clinging to the chicken, then tent the chicken with foil and set aside. Return the skillet of rice to medium-low heat, cover, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, 8 to 12 minutes longer.

5. Off the heat, sprinkle the peas over the rice, cover, and let warm through, about 2 minutes. Add the scallions and lemon juice to the rice. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with the chicken and lemon wedges.
Pin It!

Couch Cat

It's been awhile since I posted a picture of the cat. He spent most of the weekend on the couch hiding behind some folded dish towels and newspapers:

Pin It!

French Toast and Bacon

We had some Texas Toast leftover from when I made Monte Cristos so I decided to make French toast for Sunday breakfast:

We had some ripe bananas so I sliced one to go on top of the bready goodness. SP asked for some bacon to go alongside as well. I'm starting to get the whole salty/sweet thing after some of the syrup got onto the bacon.
Pin It!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Salmon Florentine and Lemon Broccoli

I was watching the Food Network last weekend and Ellie Krieger's show came on. She was making a few things that looked tasty, like Salmon Florentine and Lemon Broccoli:

The salmon was really good, if a little dry. We're trying to be healthy and eat more fish, so this was a great meal. The episode this meal came from was about super foods, salmon and spinach being two of them. The spinach mixture was really good, with a little creaminess from the ricotta cheese. I left out the sundried tomatoes because SP isn't a fan, but I'm sure they'd be fantastic in here.

I was going to use broccolini like the recipe calls for, but the small bundles I found in my supermarket were $3 each - way too steep for my budget. There were maybe 5 pieces per bundle. I would have needed 4 bundles just to make a meal. I subbed broccoli and it worked just fine. Some rice (white, not brown...I just can't get into brown rice) finished off the meal.

I think something is wrong with my camera because all the good shots came out blurry. I'll have to check the settings.
Pin It!

Chicken and Biscuits

Recently I've discovered that Everyday Food recipes can be hit or miss. I've had luck with some recipes, but this one for Chicken and Biscuits didn't go over so well.

I thought it was fine - certainly not craveable or something I'd be in a hurry to make again - but SP, a man who will eat just about anything and ask for seconds, did not like this meal. In fact, he didn't even take leftovers for lunch. Shocking.

I'm so glad this marks the end of the bake-off biscuits. We got three on sale and the processed flavor was starting to get to me. Next time we need biscuits I'll ask SP to make them. They were so, so much better then the ones from a can.
Pin It!