Monday, October 31, 2011

Secret Recipe Club: Angie's Chipotle Shredded Chicken Tacos

This is my first time participating in the Secret Recipe Club, a large-scale version of the recipe swaps I do on my cooking board, only instead of being assigned a single recipe you are assigned a blog and asked to pick a recipe, make it and then blog about it on a specific day.

I was assigned Farmgirl Gourmet, written by Heather, a mom of two who loves cooking and lives on 20 acres with 8 goats and 15 chickens. Her blog is full of gorgeous food and recipes, most of which she either grows herself or sources locally. Check it out for more delicious recipes.

I chose her recipe for Angie's Chipotle Shredded Chicken Tacos, partly because I wanted to try an experiment with my crock pot and partly because it looked delicious. We love tacos but I rarely make them so this was a great excuse.

Even though I don't usually cook with chicken thighs I decided to stick to the original recipe. I'm glad I did - the thighs were deliciously tender from the slow cooking. I served the tacos with a lot of toppings:

We really enjoyed this recipe and I had a lot of fun browsing through Farmgirl Gourmet for inspiration. I'm writing this post about 3 weeks after I made the chicken tacos and there are a bunch of new recipes on the blog that sound good. Enjoy!

Angie's Chipotle Shredded Chicken Tacos
Farmgirl Gourmet

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 6)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup salsa
2 tablespoons canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, sliced
1 tablespoon chili powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
Warm tortillas
Toppings: Shredded cheddar cheese, lime quarters, sour cream, lettuce, guacamole, tomatoes, cilantro, onion, salsa

In a slow cooker, combine chicken, garlic, salsa, chipotle chilies, chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and salt to taste. Add a 1/4 cup of water if the mixture looks too dry. Cover; cook on low for 8 hours.

Transfer chicken to a serving bowl, shred with 2 forks. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired. Spoon onto warm tortillas and add toppings.

Kitchen Tip: If your slow cooker is on the larger size (6-quarts or larger) you may have issues with recipes burning. Most slow cooker recipes seem to be for 4-quart cookers. To make the space smaller, put a Pyrex or Corningware dish into the slow cooker and put the ingredients inside the dish.

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Weekly Menu - Week of October 30, 2011

Hard to believe these are the last two days of October. November is right around the corner. In my neck of the woods we actually had SNOW yesterday. We rarely get measurable snow before the New Year, but we had between 4-6 inches yesterday. Before Halloween even. Ridiculous.

This week's menu plan is sparse because I'm out of town at my big work conference Tuesday - Saturday. I'll be eating hotel food most of the time but hopefully my coworkers and I will get out for a few good dinners. I hope everyone has a great week!

Sunday - Ground beef tacos with shredded lettuce, cheese, salsa, sour cream and avocado with yellow rice

Monday - Creamy chicken with mushrooms and onions over egg noodles. I'm experimenting with my crockpot, combining some recipes from Fix It and Forget It. My basic idea is chopped onions and mushrooms, a packet of onion soup mix, a can of cream of mushroom soup and chicken breasts. Once it's done cooking I'll stir in some sour cream and serve over egg noodles.
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Friday, October 28, 2011

Roast Beef with Mushroom Gravy

Another delicious recipe from Cassie, this one for Roast Beef with Mushroom Gravy. I recently discovered why I was having so much trouble with my crock pot (mine is very large so standard recipes tend to burn, a problem I've solved by adding a Pyrex or Corningware dish to make the cooking area smaller) so I'm no longer hesitant to use it.

I prepped the onions and mushrooms the night before so I could sear the beef in the morning before heading to work. I loved coming home to a house that smelled of delicious roast beef with gravy. My only complaint was the greasiness of the gravy. My cut of beef let off a lot of fat, so next time I'll strain the gravy through my fat separator before serving. I served the roast with mashed potatoes but I think egg noodles would also be awesome and am planning to do that next time. Thanks for another winner, Cassie!

Roast Beef with Mushroom Gravy
Cassie Craves

1 3-pound beef roast
2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic
1 10.75-ounce can cream of mushroom soup
1 packet dry mushroom gravy mix
1 cup water

In a Dutch oven, heat olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat. Season beef roast liberally with salt and pepper. Add beef roast and sear on all sides until caramelized. Add to the bottom of a crock pot.

To same pot, add remaining tablespoon of butter, mushrooms and onions. Cook until mushrooms are brown and onions are soft, then season with salt and pepper. Stir in garlic and cook and stir for 30 seconds. Stir in beef broth and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to release browned bits. Add mushroom mixture to meat in crock pot.

Mix together cream of mushroom soup and mushroom gravy mix. Pour over meat and mushroom mixture.

Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, until meat begins to fall apart. If it looks greasy, strain mushrooms and onions from the gravy then put gravy into a fat separator. Add the mushrooms and onions back in and serve with mashed potatoes or egg noodles.
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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Chickpea Dip (Hummus)

A few weekends ago I went to my friend Mary Ellen's house for a lunch play date. Our girls are 9 months apart in age and seeing them play together was a lot of fun. Baby Girl loves to take care of younger kids so she was bringing Mary Ellen's daughter toys, her sippy cup and helping her eat. Too cute.

One of the things Mary Ellen prepared for lunch was Chickpea Dip (Hummus). Hummus purists might balk at the lack of tahini in the recipe, which is why I renamed it Chickpea Dip, but it was still delicious. She served it with cucumber sticks and pita chips and I totally gorged myself. And Baby Girl kept asking for more hummus, which made me very happy.

I had a can of chickpeas in my pantry so I decided to whip up my own batch for snacking during the week. I love recipes that use ingredients I always keep on hand and involve dumping everything into a food processor and pulsing together. I had a nice little snack on a Sunday afternoon while I cooked dinner. Thanks for an awesome recipe, Mary Ellen!

Chickpea Dip (Hummus)
Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations

1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1 clove garlic
Salt to taste
Juice from 1/2 of a lemon
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cucumber, peeled, seeds removed and cut into sticks
Pita chips

Rinse the beans then put them in a bowl of cold water. After 10 minutes or so, run your hands through them to remove the clear-shells from the beans. This step isn't necessary but it helps with the creamy consistency. Drain.

Combine all ingredients in a food processor; blend until creamy
Chill before serving with cucumber and pita chips.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Chicken Broccoli Supreme

I saw this recipe for Chicken Broccoli Supreme on Cassie's weekly menu plan and was immediately intrigued. I love the combo of chicken and broccoli and who doesn't love a good cheese sauce every once in awhile. It seemed like a good one-dish meal.

We both enjoyed this dish but I feel like it needs a lot of tweaking before I'll make it again. My biggest complaint was the Ritz crackers. Two tubes is way too much. I should have gone with my gut and stuck with one tube. I also cut the amount of butter way down. I don't usually balk at butter but almost 2 sticks in one recipe (and a savory recipe at that) is overkill. To cut down on the butter I made a roux with butter and flour instead of the cornstarch/butter/water mixture.

SP said the addition of some noodles would have gone a long way to making this great and I have to agree, especially because my casserole was a little light on the meat. I had some bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs in the freezer so I decided to poach those, but I got barely a cup and a half of meat from the 4 thighs. I'm happy to report that SP got a different brand of cheddar cheese for me this time and it's amazing what a difference it made. I could actually taste the cheddar!

I've made a bunch of changes in the recipe below and will report back when I make this again.

Chicken Broccoli Supreme
Modified From Get Off Your Butt and Bake!

3 cups cooked chicken breasts, cubed
2 cups egg noodles
1–lb. broccoli crowns, cut into florets
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup chicken broth
Salt and pepper
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese

4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 tube Ritz crackers

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and egg noodles. Cook for 4 minutes, then add the broccoli florets and cook another 2 minutes. Drain and return to the pot. Add the cooked chicken and toss together.

Grease a 13×9 pan. Add pasta mixture and set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook one minute, then whisk in the chicken broth, salt and pepper and milk. Whisk until the sauce starts to thicken. Turn heat down to low, and add 1- 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese. Stir until melted.

Pour the sauce over the pasta, chicken and broccoli. Top with 1- 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese.

Melt the butter, and add the poppy seeds; stir well. Crush Ritz crackers in large zip-lock bag with a rolling pin. Add crumbs to the melted butter. Sprinkle crumbs over the top of the grated cheese.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
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Monday, October 24, 2011

Spicy Citrus Shrimp Tacos

I love shrimp and I love tacos, but I rarely make them. That needs to change. Shrimp on a regular basis used to be out of my price range, but lately the price for frozen shrimp at the wholesale club seems to be dropping. I've seen this recipe for Spicy Citrus Shrimp Tacos floating around my cooking board recently, so I thought I'd give it a try.

We thought these were good (and probably would have been better with a squirt or two of lime once the tacos were assembled, which we forgot in our haste to eat), but we both prefer the Shrimp Tacos with Jalapeno-Ranch Sauce I've made a few times before. Citrus will cook the shrimp if left to sit too long, but that means I didn't taste any of the flavors after only 30 minutes. I'm planning to try the marinade with chicken since that can sit longer and really soak up the flavors of the orange, lemon and lime.

Spicy Citrus Shrimp Tacos
Slightly Modified from Pink Parsley

Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lime
2 chipotle chiles en adobo
1 teaspoon adobo liquid
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
Shredded Monteray Jack cheese
8 small (6-inch) flour tortillas
1/2 lime, cut into wedges or slices

Southwest Cream Sauce
1 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

In the bowl of a food processor, combine all the ingredients for the marinade, through the salt and pepper, and process until smooth and well combined. Pour over shrimp in a medium bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes, but no longer than 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together all the ingredients for the southwest cream sauce.

Thread the shrimp onto skewers, and grill on a well-oiled grate 1-3 minutes per side, until opaque and cooked through. Use the grill to heat the tortillas as well. You can also cook the shrimp in a skillet over high heat for about 2 minutes per side.

Assemble tacos with shrimp, shredded lettuce, shredded cheese and cream sauce. Spritz with lime wedges.

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Weekly Menu - Week of October 23, 2011

I can't believe it's almost the end of October. Where did the month go? I'm starting to think about Thanksgiving since we are hosting for the first time and getting very excited about all the comfort food recipes I've been waiting for cool weather to make. I'm excited for this week's menu. I'm revisiting some old favorites and trying a few new ones.

Sunday - Roast chicken, mashed potatoes, steamed green beans and Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Browned Butter (my recipe swap)

Monday - Broccoli Cheddar Soup and crusty bread for dipping

Tuesday - BBQ Chicken Ranch Salad

Wednesday - Spaghetti with Shrimp, Tomatoes and Spinach, garlic bread

Thursday - something from the freezer, probably Bacon Lover's Mac and Cheese

Friday - ground beef tacos topped with shredded lettuce, cheese, salsa, sour cream and guacamole and yellow rice
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Friday, October 21, 2011

Recipe Swap: Chicken Gnocchi Soup

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

Note to self: ask for a light box for Christmas. My photos are downright awful now that I'm stuck taking pictures inside without natural light.

On to the recipe. Now that the weather is turning cold (and rainy for many areas of the country) I thought it was time for a soup swap. As I said in my last post about soup, I'm not really a fan of soup as a general rule, but I know a lot of people love it and are always looking for new recipes. If you couldn't tell from reading my blog, I have a weakness for cream-based anything so I was excited when I got my recipe for Olive Garden Chicken Gnocchi Soup from The Cooking Nurse.

I have to admit, I was shocked by how good this recipe was since I'm a little biased against Olive Garden. Once I looked over the ingredients I knew I'd like it, but I didn't anticipate loving it. And SP was also a huge fan. The flavors were outstanding. I'm so glad the recipe made more then we could eat for dinner and lunch the next day so I was able to freeze some for when I'm too busy to cook.

The gnocchi was a little heavy for my tastes, so I think I'll swap it for small pasta next time. The base of the chicken, veggies, seasoning and cream was what really had me hooked.

Chicken Gnocchi Soup
Slightly Modified from The Cooking Nurse

1 pound of potato gnocchi (or 1 cup short cut pasta)
4 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 ribs celery, finely diced
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups half and half
2 cups milk
2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced (you can use a rotisserie chicken)
1 (14oz) can of chicken broth
1 cup fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Cook gnocchi (or pasta) according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Heat butter over medium heat in a Dutch oven. Saute the onion, celery, carrot and garlic until the onion is translucent. Add the flour and cook for about a minute. Add the half and half and milk. Bring to a simmer, then add the chicken.

Once the mixture becomes thick add the chicken broth. Once the mixture thickens again, add the cooked gnocchi or pasta, spinach, and seasonings, then simmer until soup is heated through.

Serve with crusty bread for dipping.

UPDATE: November 8, 2011 I made this again for dinner last night and subbed 1 cup dry nugget pasta, cooked according to package directions, drained and stirred into the soup at the very end of the cooking time. It was a fantastic sub and made the dish lighter. I HIGHLY recommend the substitution. This is an awesome soup!
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Spicy Sausage Mac and Cheese

As soon as I saw Spicy Sausage Mac and Cheese on Cassie's weekly menu plan I knew I had to make it. We love spicy sausage but I wouldn't have thought to put it in mac and cheese. Brilliant, Cassie!

I didn't have luck with adding cream cheese to my mac and cheese sauce the last time I made it so I decided to turn this into a baked dish. I made it in the morning and baked it that night for dinner. Even though I tried to let the pasta and sauce cool before I mixed them together, the dish was a little dry. Next time I think I'll stick with a stove top version for that extra creaminess. I can't wait to make this again.

Spicy Sausage Macaroni and Cheese
Slightly Modified from Cassie Craves

1 pound macaroni or other short pasta
1 pound spicy sausage
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 cups milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon ground mustard
Pinch of nutmeg
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

Cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions; drain.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook sausage until no longer pink. Set aside on paper towels to drain.

Heat butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan until melted, then add flour and cook one minute. Whisk in milk until smooth and slightly thickened. Season with ground mustard, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Stir in cheddar cheese until melted.

Combine pasta, sausage, cherry tomatoes, and cheese sauce. Serve immediately.

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Weekly Menu - Week of October 16, 2011

The temps are back in the high 60s/low 70s and that makes me very happy. I love being able to use my oven without cranking up the AC. I think this week's menu is a great combination of different flavors while keeping with the comfort food theme. I can't decide which recipe I'm most excited about since they all sound great.

Sunday - Going to my friend Mary Ellen's house with Baby Girl for a lunch playdate. I'm bringing Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing. For dinner I'm making Chicken Marsala, mashed potatoes and green beans

Monday - Spicy Citrus Shrimp Tacos, rice

Tuesday - Chicken Broccoli Supreme (I saw this on Cassie's weekly menu recently and it sounded delicious).

Wednesday - Bow Ties with Sausage, Tomatoes and Cream

Thursday - Roast Beef and Mushroom Gravy, mashed potatoes, Whiskey Glazed Carrots (I can't believe I've made these carrots from PW before but never blogged about them. And I'm anxious to use my slowcooker with the roast beef recipe from Cassie.)

Friday - Homemade pizza
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Friday, October 14, 2011

Greek Taco Salad with Crispy Pita Wedges

A woman on my cooking board recently posted a recipe for Greek Tacos that sounded delicious. We are trying to eat healthier these days so I decided to make the recipe into a taco salad instead of using the crispy shells.

I really enjoyed the salad and used the crispy pita wedges as dippers for the tzatziki but SP wasn't a fan. I think he would have preferred these in the crispy taco shells. I actually put some of the leftover meat mixture, tzatziki, feta, and romaine into a pita for lunch the next day and it was fantastic, so that's another alternative to the traditional taco shells.

Greek Taco Salad with Crispy Pita Wedges
Inspired by A Seasoned Greeting

1 pound lean ground beef
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 teaspoons Greek seasoning (see note below)
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 bag baby spinach, roughly chopped
1 can (2-1/4 ounces) sliced ripe olives, drained
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cucumber, diced
2 hearts of romaine, torn into bite-size pieces

Crispy Pita Wedges
2 pitas, cut into 4 wedges
Olive oil for brushing
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

12 ozs. plain Greek yogurt
1 cucumbers, seeded
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
Salt and a little pepper
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

In a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minutes, then stir in the tomatoes, Greek seasoning, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 8-10 minutes. Add spinach and olives; cook and stir for 2-3 minutes or until spinach is wilted.

Crispy Pita Wedges: Place pita pieces on a baking sheet lined with foil. Brush the tops with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, oregano and thyme. Bake at 300° for 3-5 minutes or until heated through and crispy.

Tzatziki: Peel and seed the cucumber. Shred on the large holes of a box grater and then squeeze in a towel to get rid of as much excess moisture as possible. Mix together the yogurt, shredded cucumbers, garlic, vinegar and lemon juice. Salt to taste. Refrigerate overnight, if possible, or at least 30 minutes for the flavors to meld.

To serve, fill shallow bowls with romaine. Top with beef mixture, feta, red onion and cucumber. Dollop tzatziki on top and arrange crispy pita wedges around the perimeter.

Note: For a substitute for 1 tablespoon Greek seasoning use 1/2 teaspoon each dried oregano, dried marjoram, garlic powder, lemon-pepper seasoning, ground mustard and salt.
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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Recipe Swap Roundup - Apple/Pumpkin

Fall is in the air and you know what that means - apple and pumpkin picking, which necessitates the need for apple and pumpkin recipes. As I suspected, this was another popular theme for the recipe swap. Most of the recipes are desserts but there are a few savory dishes thrown in as well. Happy Fall!

Melissa, a newcomer to the swap, made Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars:

Lishie's Mini Apple Pies are an adorable way to make this tasty treat:

Christen's recipe for Warm Apple Buttermilk Custard Pie would be a great addition to any Thanksgiving dessert table:

Joelen's recipe for Pumpkin Chili sneaks this sweet ingredient into a rich, savory chili that's perfect for fall:

The Cooking Nurse had been meaning to make this recipe for Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins for awhile, so she was excited when she got it as her swap recipe:

Nicole's recipe for Pumpkin Cookies with Browned Butter Frosting is a far cry from healthy, but she enjoyed a few and sent the rest to work with her husband:

Heather was very excited for the apple/pumpkin swap and enjoyed the Pumpkin Cupcakes with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting:

Jey's Ginger Pumpkin (or Apple Cinnamon) Truffles were a little bite of fall:

Christine's Pumpkin Pecan Loaf was a special work treat:

My recipe for Goat Cheese, Sweet Onion, Apple and Brandy Chicken was good, if not the most photogenic:

Ashley modified her recipe for Pumpkin Butterscotch and Chocolate Chip Cookies to be gluten-free and was very happy with the result:

Swap newcomer Nicole was happy to expand her horizons with Pumpkin Bread Pudding:

Coleen was pleasantly surprised by how delicious her Pumpkin Pie Dip was:

Melissa's White Chocolate Pumpkin Blondies were a nice change from all the apple recipes she's been making recently:

Swap newcomer Ammie was excited to expand her horizons and make her own pastry shells for Pumpkin Profiteroles:

Katie's Starbucks Pumpkin Bread was a hit at her girls' weekend:

Jaida really enjoyed her Apple Butter Pound Cake, as did her coworkers:

Kate had been enjoying a similar recipe for Apple Walnut Chicken Salad all summer:

Lindsay really enjoyed her Cran-Apple, White Chocolate Chip Cookies, which she deemed the perfect autumn cookie:

Cathy's family loved her recipe for Caramel Apple Tart, especially the caramel:

Krystal enjoyed her Apple-Bacon Stuffed Pork Chops:

Rachel, another swap newcomer, modified her recipe into an Apple, Bacon, Cheddar Quiche:

Tyler had a few mishaps with her Mrs. Field's Apple Oatmeal Cookies but the result was worth the effort:

Maryanna really enjoyed her individual Apple Cinnamon Monkey Bread Muffins:

The Cookaholic Wife used her recipe for Pumpkin Pie Pecan Candy to usher in fall:

Nicole had my recipe, which she modified into Caramel Apple Pie Cupcakes:

Melissa shared her Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes with friends and family for Fall Fest and they were a hit:

Ellie was concerned that she wouldn't be able to pull of her Apple Croissant Bread Pudding but it ended up being super simple and delicious:

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How to Microwave an Egg

In an effort to eat a healthier breakfast during the work week I've rediscovered English muffins. There are so many healthy varieties these days, most with high dietary fiber and protein as well as whole grains. I've been alternating between toasting them and adding peanut butter and sliced banana, and wanting something more savory like a breakfast sandwich. I love a good egg sandwich but I didn't know how to make one at work since we don't have a stove. Enter the microwaved egg.

I admit I was a bit skeptical, but the ladies on my cooking board assured me this was totally doable. And now that I've done it I realize this is how most delis make eggs for their breakfast sandwiches. Not only is it easy, the lack of butter in the cooking makes it a healthier option.

Now that I know how easy this is to do I'm thinking of adding cooked veggies to the egg before microwaving to make a mini omelet. The possibilities are endless - veggies, meat or cheese would all work well.

How to Microwave an Egg

1 egg
Cooking spray
Salt and pepper
Optional - cooked veggies, shredded cheese, cooked breakfast meat

Spray a ramekin with cooking spray. You want to chose a ramekin that's roughly the same size as the bread/English muffin/bagel you will be using to make the sandwich.

Crack the egg into the ramekin. Gently scramble with a fork. Add salt and pepper to taste and any of the optional add-ins.

Cover the ramekin with a paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute, depending on the power of your microwave. My work microwave takes 30 seconds, while the one at home takes 1 minute. Remove from the microwave and flip the egg over. It will NOT be fully cooked at this point. Cover with the paper towel and return to the microwave for 20 seconds to 35 seconds more, again depending on the power of your microwave.

Remove the ramekin from the microwave (careful, it will be hot) and run a knife around the edge of the egg to loosen. Add to your breakfast sandwich and enjoy.
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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Menu - Week of October 9, 2011

I'm a few days late posting my weekly meal plan but I have a good excuse. A certain little girl turned two on Monday and the weekend before was full to bursting between her party, a trip to a local theme park, visiting with relatives and all the weekend errands that still needed to be done.

Some weeks I really struggle to make a meal plan and this was one of them. Nothing sounded good and everything looked either too complicated or inappropriate for the warm weather we're having. Hopefully everything I'm planning to make works out as well as I'm hoping it will.

Sunday - Secret Recipe Club dish (I can't tell you what it is because it's supposed to be a secret. The post will be published Oct. 31)

Monday - Greek Taco Salad with Crispy Pita Wedges (I'm modifying this recipe and serving it over shredded Romaine hearts and using the tzatziki recipe from the chicken gyros)

Tuesday - Out for sushi to celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary

Wednesday - Chicken Gnocchi Soup with ciabatta for dipping (for the recipe swap)

Thursday - Spicy Sausage Mac and Cheese, broccoli

Friday - Homemade pizza
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Monday, October 10, 2011

Pork Chops with Orange-Soy Sauce

I was all set to make this recipe for Pan Seared Pork with Citrus Rum Sauce for dinner this week. Then SP told me we didn't have any rum. Oops. We have quite a few bottles of liquor, mainly for cooking not drinking, but apparently rum wasn't one of them.

So off to Google I went. Since I had a bag of oranges for the original recipe I was hoping to find a sauce that would allow me to use them up. This recipe for Pork Chops with Orange-Soy Sauce sounded good, with the bonus of being healthy and not needing to marinate ahead of time. Excellent.

SP and I were both really, really happy with this recipe. It took very little time to make and the results were delicious. I ended up reducing the sauce more than I wanted to and we were fighting over it when making up our lunches for the next day. The orange provided a nice fresh burst and soy sauce is one of my favorite ingredients because of the great depth of flavor. Definitely a winner in our book.

Pork Chops with Orange-Soy Sauce
Slightly Modified from Eating Well

2 tablespoons oil
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (took me 6 medium oranges to get 1 cup of juice)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried or fresh thyme
4 pork chops
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a skillet until shimmering. Combine orange juice, soy sauce, garlic and thyme in a small bowl. Set aside.

Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Add the pork chops to the hot skillet and sear until browned, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Lower the heat and continue cooking, turning as needed to prevent burning, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer the chops to a plate and cover tightly with foil.

Add the reserved orange juice mixture to the pan and cook over medium-high heat until the sauce is reduced by half, 3 to 5 minutes. Return the chops to the skillet; heat through, turning to coat. Serve with the pan sauce.
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Friday, October 07, 2011

Recipe Swap - Goat Cheese, Sweet Onion, Apple, and Brandy Chicken

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

Choosing themes for the recipe swap isn't always easy. I try to pick something broad enough that most people will have something to submit. Now that fall is in the air and everyone seems to be on the hunt for apple and pumpkin recipes to usher in the season, apple and pumpkin seemed like the perfect swap theme.

My recipe was one of the few savory dishes submitted - Goat Cheese, Sweet Onion, Apple, and Brandy Stuffed Chicken.

I never have any luck with stuffed chicken (the filling never stays inside the chicken) so I knew I needed to modify the recipe. I decided to turn the onion, apple and goat cheese mixture into a sauce. What I didn't foresee was how unappetizing the finished product would look. I'm sorry about that, but please don't let the pictures dissuade you from making this. It's actually a really good recipe.

Goat Cheese, Sweet Onion, Apple, and Brandy Chicken
Modified from Cheesecurd in Paradise

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, butterflied or pounded thin
2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 sweet onion, diced
1/3 cup brandy
1 cup chicken broth
3 oz goat cheese

Heat 1 tablespoon each butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to pan. Cook, turning once, until golden brown and cooked through, approximately 4 minutes per side. Remove from the skillet and lower the heat to medium.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon each butter and oil to the skillet, then add the apples and onion and cook until onion starts to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Add brandy and deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits. Add chicken broth to thin the sauce, then add the goat cheese, stirring to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.

Add the chicken back to the pan and simmer 2 minutes. Serve, spooning the sauce over the chicken.

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Thursday, October 06, 2011

Ranch Pork Chops

I can't remember the last time I had pork chops. It's been a long time, I know that, but I get tired of the chicken, beef, pasta rotation and need to throw something different in once in awhile. Enter the other white meat. My friend, the same one who posted this amazing Bowties with Sausage, Tomatoes and Cream recipe, recently posted a link to Ranch House Pork Chops that went straight onto the menu.

My crockpot and I don't get along and I didn't want to ruin the chops by experimenting, so I modified this recipe for the stove top. I used the other half of the cream of chicken soup I made earlier in the week, adding some chicken broth to thin it out. The ranch seasoning added great flavor. As the original recipe suggested, I served the chops with garlic mashed potatoes, but to keep it simple I just throw some peeled and crushed cloves into the pot with the potatoes and mash as usual. It saves so much time and effort but still produces great garlic flavor.

Ranch Pork Chops
Inspired by Real Mom Kitchen

4 pork chops, 1/2 inch thick
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons oil
1 packet dry Ranch Dressing Seasoning (or make your own)
1 1/2 cups cream of chicken soup (homemade recipe below)
1 cup chicken broth

Pat pork chops dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper on both side. Heat oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. Add pork chops and sear on both sides, about 5 minutes per side or until golden brown. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Add Ranch seasoning, soup, and chicken broth to the now-empty skillet. Whisk to combine and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add the pork chops to the pan along with any accumulated juices, cover and let cook about 10-15 minutes or until the chops are no longer pink. Serve topped with sauce alongside mashed potatoes to sop up the extra sauce.

Note - you can cook the chops until just done or you can cook them for a few hours, but nothing in between. The chops will be dry if you overcook them, but a slow simmer (think a crockpot, as the original recipe indicates) will make them tender.

From Scratch Cream of Chicken Soup
Slightly Modified From

1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
Dash of paprika
2 cups milk
3/4 cup flour

In medium-sized saucepan, boil chicken broth, 1 1/2 cup of the milk, and the seasonings for a minute or two.

In a bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup of milk and flour. Add to boiling mixture and continue whisking briskly until mixture boils and thickens.

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