Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cheeseburgers with Caramelized Onion and Bacon Jam

I love a good burger so when I saw this recipe for Cheeseburgers with Caramelized Onion and Bacon Jam over at Cassie Craves I had to put it on the menu.

Unfortunately (sorry Cassie!) this one just didn't work for us. As much as I love caramelized onions and bacon, the flavors were too mellow when piled on top of the burger. I'm thinking it would be better to keep the bacon whole so it didn't get lost amongst the onions. I also felt like something was missing (and not just the cheese, which I forgot to put on the burgers we ate for dinner but remembered to add to the leftovers I ate the next day for lunch). I can't put my finger on what it was, though. It's a beautiful burger with great ingredients so I'll keep trying to make it perfect.

Cheeseburgers with Caramelized Onion and Bacon Jam
Slightly Modified from Cassie Craves

1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper
6 slices bacon
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large white onion, chopped (2 cups)
1 1/3 pounds ground beef chuck
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
4 slices American cheese
4 rolls, split and toasted
Dill pickle coins

In a small bowl, combine the ketchup, mayonnaise, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce; season with salt and pepper.

Add bacon to a large skillet and cook to desired crispness. Drain on paper towels. Drain all but about 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings from skillet. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden-brown, 15 to 20 minutes; season with salt and pepper.

While the onions are cooking, in a large bowl, combine the ground beef and mustard; season with salt and pepper. Shape into 4 patties. Cook to desired doneness in a skillet or on the grill. During the last 2 minutes of cooking, top each patty with a cheese slice.

Place each patty on a roll bottom, then top with some of the onion and bacon jam, the ketchup-mayo sauce, pickles and a roll top.
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Monday, August 29, 2011

Recipe Swap Roundup - Italian

The theme for this recipe swap was Italian. When you think of Italian food what comes to mind? Mountains of pasta? Rich, flavorful sauces? Mouthwatering meats? Crispy pizza? No matter what images you conjure up the chances are good that you'll find something that fits that vision in the recipes below. There are so many delicious pictures and recipes below I was practically drooling putting this roundup together. Enjoy!

Brianna took a trip back in time with her recipe for Thin-Crust Pizza:

Mary Ellen loves risotto so she was thrilled with her recipe for Chicken Cacciatore Risotto:

Moviegirl03 and her husband worked together on her recipe for Caprese Pizza:

Jaida made Chicken Caprese, which is one of my favorite recipes from Mary Ellen:

Caitlin enjoyed her slow-cooked Marinara Magnifica:

Katie had my recipe for Caprese Pasta, one of my favorite light summer pasta dishes:

Heather had never put tuna in a pasta salad but found she really enjoyed her recipe for Tuna Pasta Salad:

Krystal just got back from a trip to Italy and loved her recipe for Saffron Risotto with Pancetta, Tomato and Sausage:

I made a simple but delicious What I Had in the House Pasta:

Melissa made a quick summery Hot Caprese Dip:

Christine satisfied her husband's craving for something meaty with Mushroom Bolognese:

Jey loved her Chicken Parmesan Burgers:

Dawn was a little nervous about making Homemade Manicotti, but it turned out to be easier than she thought:

Tyler loves Italian food and her recipe for Baked Rigatoni with Spinach and Meatballs:

Italian food is one of Ellie's favorites and she enjoyed her recipe for Vegetable Lasagna with Red Sauce:

The Cookaholic Wife plans to make the Chicken and Orzo Frittata with a Mexican flair next time:

Melissa enjoyed her creamy, comforting Risotto:

Maryanna was excited to try something new - Braciole:

Melissa made a hearty Baked Ziti with Fire Roasted Tomatoes:

Lindsay had to adapt her recipe but still enjoyed the Pasta a la Vodka:

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Recipe Swap - What I Had in the House Pasta

Want to see what other Italian recipes were made during the swap? Here is the link to the Italian Recipe Swap Roundup

The theme for this recipe swap was Italian. I knew SP would be thrilled when I ended up with a recipe for What I Had in the House Pasta from Ellie. He's told me many times in the 10 years we've been together that he'd happily eat pasta and sauce for dinner once a week, minimum.

This was a great variation to the sauce SP usually makes, subbing shallots for the onions he uses. I subbed a large can of crushed tomatoes for the jarred marinara in the original recipe and served the ricotta on top for us to mix in as we ate, but left the recipe otherwise unchanged. It was a delicious, easy meal, especially since I made the sauce in the morning before work so all I had to do was cook the pasta when I got home.

What I Had in the House Pasta
Slightly Modified from The Wanna Be Cook

1 lb pasta
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 button mushrooms, quartered
1 cup shallots, minced
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
Grated Parmesan

Prepare pasta according to directions and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and saute under tender, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add crushed tomatoes. Mix well and simmer for 4 minutes.

Put pasta in bowls and top with sauce, a dollop of ricotta and grated Parmesan.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sausage Biscuit Sandwiches

I used to make a hearty breakfast at least once on the weekend. Then Baby Girl was born and that went out the window. These days I'm lucky if I make breakfast once a month. But as soon as I saw these Sausage Biscuit Sandwiches over at Cassie Craves I knew I had to make them ASAP.

I have to admit, I was a little wary of the cream cheese and raspberry sauce on the sausage and egg sandwiches, but after the first bite I was hooked. I only wish I'd thought to cut the sausage patty in half so it was flatter and took up more of the biscuit surface area. I made breakfast potatoes to go alongside, but kept the portions small since we had a baby shower later that day. I could easily have eaten two sandwiches.

I knew SP wouldn't go for the jam and cream cheese so I made his with sausage, egg and cheese. Since the package of biscuits makes 8, I served us two sandwiches and froze the rest (all sausage, egg and cheese) with plans to defrost them for SP's breakfast during the week. I will absolutely be making these again and may even try to convince SP to try them with the jam and cream cheese.

Sausage Biscuit Sandwiches
Cassie Craves

1 package refrigerated buttery biscuits
1 package fresh breakfast sausage patties
8 eggs
Spreadable cream cheese
Raspberry jam or jelly

Bake biscuits as directed on package.

Meanwhile, fry sausage in a large skillet until cooked through. Remove to a paper towel to get rid of the excess grease. If your biscuits are large, slice the sausage patties in half lengthwise.

Wipe out the skillet you used to cook the sausage with a wad of paper towels. Add butter and cook eggs to desired doneness. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble sandwiches, spread 1 tablespoon of cream cheese on top and bottom slice of each biscuit. Spread top slice of each biscuit with about a tablespoon of raspberry jam or jelly. Add egg and sausage patty to the bottom slice of each biscuit, then cover with the top slice of each biscuit.
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Monday, August 22, 2011

Menu - Week of August 21, 2011

Sunday - Breakfast: Sausage Biscuit Sandwiches; Dinner: Shrimp Tacos with Jalapeno-Ranch Sauce

Monday - Date night

Tuesday - Caprese Pasta

Wednesday - Crispy chicken and Israeli Couscous with Apples, Cranberries and Herbs

Thursday - Cheeseburgers with Caramelized Onion and Bacon Jam, chips

Friday - Takeout while we pack for VACATION!
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Friday, August 19, 2011

Birds Eye Creamed Spinach - Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program

I've been a member of Foodbuzz for years but I only recently started applying for their Tastemaker program. I was finally selected to receive samples of Birds Eye frozen veggies and sides, including this one for creamed spinach:

As my mom will attest to, I am a creamed spinach lover from way back. I was one of those weird kids who loved spinach. And I still do, so I was excited to try this. I cooked it on the stovetop instead of in the microwave, but apparently you can cook this right in the bag. Score one for busy families.

Overall this was really good, but I thought it needed a little sprinkling of salt to make it great. I really enjoy Birds Eye veggies in general, although I have to admit the price compared to my store brand usually dissuades me from buying them unless they're on sale. Even so, I would definitely recommend this spinach and can't wait to try the other frozen sides I received. Thanks Foodbuzz and Birds Eye for the opportunity to try these products.
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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Recipe Swap Roundup - Summer Vegetables

Can you believe it's August already? Where did summer go? When trying to pick a theme for this week's recipe swap I decided I needed to highlight one of my favorite parts of summer - vegetables. There is nothing better than going to a farmers market in the summer and seeing the bounty of produce for sale.

Heather enjoyed a light recipe for Corn Chowder with Summer Vegetables:

Mary Ellen enjoyed her Summer Squash and White Bean Saute:

Ellie made her first bread recipe with Zucchini-Cranberry Bread:

The Cookaholic Wife was thrilled to get her recipe for Tomato Sauce since she had a bounty of tomatoes from her coworkers to use up:

Krystal isn't a big veggie lover but even she fell in love with her recipe for Sesame Green Beans:

Jaida made my recipe for Cheesy Stuffed Tomatoes:

Melissa really enjoyed her Chilled Cucumber Soup:

Christine was able to use ingredients from her CSA share for her Baked Squash recipe:

I made Big Grandma's Stuffed Artichokes:

Melissa made Grilled Zucchini with Couscous, Spinach, and Cheese:

Jey made Grilled Garlic Vegetable Salad:

Moviegirl03 made a hearty Grilled Veggie Sandwich:

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Potato Gratin

Potato gratin in August? I know most of the country wouldn't dream of turning on their oven for an hour in the heat of summer, but we happened to have a cool Sunday recently and a 3-lb beef roast in the freezer that needed cooking. What better accompaniment than potato gratin?

This recipe has been my go-to for years but it never had its own post. Now it does. Even Baby Girl loved these and kept asking for more, completely ignoring everything else on her plate. This is a super simple recipe, but the flavors are outstanding. Cream? Check. Butter? Check. Potatoes? Check. The hint of garlic adds just the right flavor to the potatoes, but I'm sure a sprig or two of thyme and/or rosemary would also be outstanding. I used those two herbs to flavor the meat so I left them out of the gratin. I used to cut the potatoes on my mandoline, but this time I found it easier to just slice them with a knife. And it's safer for the hands.

Potato Gratin
William-Sonoma Potato Cookbook

2 large cloves garlic, 1 halved and 1 minced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 pinches of freshly grated nutmeg
5 russet potatoes (about 2 1/2 lbs)
Grated Pecorino cheese, optional

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Rub an 8-inch square baking dish with the cut sides of the garlic halves and discard the halves. Coat the inside of the dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter.

In a large pot, combine the milk, cream, minced garlic, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, nutmeg and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Peel 1 of the potatoes and cut it into thin slices. Add the potato slices to the milk mixture. Repeat with remaining potatoes. Bring the milk mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cover and cook for 3 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes to the prepared dish, arranging the top layer of potatoes in an overlapping pattern, if desired. Pour all of the milk mixture over the potatoes. Cover the dish with buttered aluminum foil, buttered side down.

Bake the gratin for 40 minutes, then uncover, grate cheese over the top and bake until the potatoes are tender, the liquid bubbles thickly and the top is brown and crusty, about 20 minutes longer. Remove from the oven, let stand for 10 minutes, then serve.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Penne with Shrimp and Herbed Cream Sauce

I love shrimp but I feel like I make the same recipes over and over again. I went searching through my recipe file for something new and came across this recipe for Penne with Shrimp and Herbed Cream Sauce. I also Googled it to see what other food bloggers thought and it received nothing but rave reviews.

I think a full pound of pasta is a little too much for this recipe and would cut it in half next time. The sauce was creamy and flavorful from the herbs. Even Baby Girl loved this, although she wasn't interested in the shrimp. Silly girl.

Penne with Shrimp and Herbed Cream Sauce
Recipe from Giada De Laurentiis

1/2 pound penne pasta
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled, and deveined
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
1 (15-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained, roughly chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup white wine
1/3 cup clam juice
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Cook, stirring frequently until the shrimp turn pink and is cooked through, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the shrimp and set aside.

Add the tomatoes, 1/4 cup basil, 1/4 cup parsley, and the red pepper flakes. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the wine, clam juice, and heavy cream. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 7 to 8 minutes until the sauce thickens. Add 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, the cooked shrimp, the cooked pasta, and the remaining herbs. Toss together until all ingredients are coated. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and serve immediately.
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Monday, August 15, 2011

Menu - Week of August 14, 2011

Another week has come and gone. I can't believe August is officially halfway over. All the stores have back to school sales and it was actually cool enough this past weekend to turn on the oven for an extended period of time. Fall will be here before we know it.

Sunday - Roast beef, potato gratin and creamed spinach

Monday - Date night (Chinese is the plan)

Tuesday - Ground beef burritos, rice and refried beans

Wednesday - Chicken Burgers with Garlic-Rosemary Mayo

Thursday - What I had in the house pasta (recipe swap)

Friday - Burgers or pizza
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Friday, August 12, 2011

Recipe Swap: Big Grandma's Stuffed Artichokes

Want to see what other Summer Vegetable recipes were made during the swap? Here is the link to the Summer Vegetable Recipe Swap Roundup

This week's recipe swap theme was Summer Vegetables. I lucked out and got Big Grandma's Stuffed Artichokes from my friend Melissa. I love artichokes and was excited to try this recipe.

I only made one artichoke because, as you know, SP isn't a fan. I also left out the raisins because I don't like them. I really wanted to love this recipe but it was a little dry. I'm used to dipping artichoke leaves in butter, so maybe that's why. I've looked at other stuffed artichoke recipes online that call for ricotta cheese or egg in the filling and I think that would help a lot.

Big Grandma's Stuffed Artichokes
I Was Born to Cook

4 large artichokes
2 cups bread crumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan or pecorino romano cheese
1 cup raisins (red or white)
1/2 cup pine nuts
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Using a sharp knife, cut the top of the choke to level it. Cut stem off. Peel stem and reserve to put in pot when cooking artichoke. With kitchen scissors, cut the sharp edges off the leaves.

Mix Parmesan cheese, raisins, pine nuts and bread crumbs with some pepper. Spread the leaves on the chokes and stuff with mix. One way to do this: stand the choke in a separate soup bowl and hollow out the center where the thorny leaves are. Put a very generous amount of the mixture on the center cavity, spread the leaves and push the mixture into the leaf area.

Using a pot tall enough to cover the chokes, place the chokes in, fill with water and some olive oil to cover the bottom of the leaves (about a third of the way up the artichoke). Drizzle some additional oil on top of each choke.

Bring water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot and steam the chokes for approximately one hour. Pull a leaf and taste for tenderness. If you like it more tender, steam longer. Serve immediately.
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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas

SP loves any recipe that involves buffalo chicken so when I saw this recipe in the August/September 2011 issue of Cook's Country I immediately put it on the menu.

Not only is it easy to put together, it's got tons of flavor. As expected, SP loved it. I can only handle so much blue cheese and Frank's before the flavors become monotonous. But if you love buffalo chicken you will love this recipe. I added some shredded Mexican cheese because I didn't want the blue cheese to overwhelm everything else.

Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas
Modified from Cook's Country August/September 2011

4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (1 cup)
1 celery rib, sliced thin
1/4 cup sour cream
2 scallions, sliced thin
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1-inch strips
1/3 cup Frank's hot sauce
4 (10-inch) flour tortillas
Shredded Mexican blend cheese
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Combine blue cheese, celery, sour cream, and scallions in a bowl. Melt butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and hot sauce and simmer until chicken is cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer chicken mixture to a bowl. Using 2 forks, shred chicken into bite-size pieces. Wipe out skillet.

Working one at a time, spread one-quarter of the blue cheese mixture over half a tortilla, leaving 1/2-inch border around the edges. Top with one-quarter of chicken mixture and a handful of shredded cheese. Fold tortilla over filling, pressing firmly.

Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in now empty skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add two tortillas to the skillet, cooking until brown and crisp on both sides, about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to cutting board and repeat with remaining quesadillas. Cut into wedges and serve.

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Monday, August 08, 2011

Menu - Week of August 8, 2011

Oops! I didn't realize until I went to write this post that I never did a weekly menu for last week. Sorry about that.

I was feeling a little more inspired this week when I was planning the menu. I can't believe it's August already. I want to make sure I savor all the summer vegetables before fall and winter arrive.

Sunday - Asparagus Carbonara

Monday - Date night. We've been dying for good Chinese food, so that's the plan.

Tuesday - Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas (Cook's Country so I can't link to the recipe) and Mexican Sour Cream Rice.

Wednesday - French dip sandwiches and chips

Thursday - Penne with Shrimp and Herbed Cream Sauce

Friday - Burgers with Toasted Quinoa Salad, made with Israeli couscous instead because SP threw out our quinoa.
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Spice-Rubbed Chicken over Spaghetti with Salsa Verde Cream Sauce

As I was going through my recipes trying to decide what to make for the week I remembered that I had some salsa verde leftover after making these Baked Chicken Chimichangas. Cassie's recipe for Spice-Rubbed Chicken over Spaghetti with Salsa Verde Cream Sauce had sounded delicious when I first saw her post about it and I couldn't wait to make it.

As expected, it didn't disappoint. Like Cassie I really enjoyed the Mexican flavors of the salsa verde, sour cream and cilantro, but the spice rub for the chicken needed to be more pronounced. I've upped the amounts in the recipe below. I'm a sucker for anything in a cream sauce so this was right up my alley, although I just realized I never added the heavy cream (or in my case it would have been half-and-half). Since I didn't miss it I'm leaving it out of the recipe below as a way to save calories. Another winner, thanks to Cassie.

Spice-Rubbed Chicken over Spaghetti with Salsa Verde Cream Sauce
Slightly adapted from Cassie Craves

1 pound spaghetti or angel hair pasta
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse grind black pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 finely chopped white onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup salsa verde
1 14.5-ounce can petite diced tomatoes
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain. Set aside.

Place chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper into a small bowl, stirring to combine. Sprinkle over both sides of chicken, then rub. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large, oven-safe pot over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until browned on both sides, about 6 minutes each side. Continue cooking another few minutes to make sure the chicken is completely cooked. Remove from pan and cover with foil until ready to serve.

In the now-empty skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, cooking and stirring until tender, about 5 minutes. Add salsa, tomatoes, sour cream and cilantro, stirring to combine. Just before serving add cooled pasta to the sauce and stir to combine.

Cut chicken into slices. Spoon pasta into serving bowls and top with slices of chicken breast. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro, if desired.

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Friday, August 05, 2011

Recipe Swap Roundup - Chicken Part II

I was feeling uninspired when it came time to choose the next theme for the recipe swap so I fell back to an old standby - chicken. Everyone loves chicken and everyone who cooks with it regularly is in need of new recipes. As always, there are a lot of great recipes below so make sure you click through and check them out.

Melissa made the recipe for Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos that has been making its way around the blogosphere for quite awhile:

Faith loved her recipe for Honey Lime Grilled Chicken:

Ellie, a newcomer to the swaps, really enjoyed her recipe for Baked Chicken Wings:

Caitlin modified her recipe for Chicken with Peanut-Lime Sauce to be grill-friendly:

Krystal added a new sandwich to her rotation with the Chicken Artichoke Panini:

I made my friend Jaida's recipe for Grilled Chicken and Potatoes with Roasted Garlic-Oregano Vinaigrette:

Melissa made a healthier version of Pretzel-Crusted Mustard Chicken:

Jaida enjoyed the spicy kick from her Barbecue Pulled Chicken Sandwiches:

Maryanna and her husband loved these BBQ Chicken Calzones and already have plans to make them again:

Jey lucked out with a Mexican recipe for Chicken and Summer Vegetable Tostados:

The Cookaholic Wife really enjoyed my recipe for one of my current favorites, Chicken Burgers with Garlic-Rosemary Mayo:

Christine braved the oven for Bob's Mexican Stuffed Chicken:

The Cooking Nurse made Lemon Chicken:

Moviegirl03 was pleased with her adaptation of Honey Mustard Chicken Skewers:

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