Monday, March 31, 2008

Pat's Stromboli Bread

I decided to try a new recipe last night from Everyday with Rachael Ray - Pat's Stromboli Bread:

I didn't used to be a fan of broccoli rabe (too bitter for me), but ever since I learned the trick of boiling it to get the bitterness to leach out into the water I've been loving it. I was actually craving this recipe all day yesterday and I hadn't even tried it yet. But really, how can hot sausage and broccoli rabe stuffed into bread, topped with three kinds of cheese be bad?

My only problem with the recipe was the final step - wrapping it in foil and baking to melt the cheese. While I understand the purpose, the finaly product was soggy and fell apart. I was able to eat mine, for the most part, as a sandwich, but SP had to eat his with a knife and fork. I'm not sure what to do about this and it won't keep me from making it again, but this is definitely a problem that needs addressing.

We had a few bananas leftover so as a special treat I brought out an old favorite, the nutella and banana sandwich:

We were good and split the sandwich, but I made it extra rich by adding peanut butter on one side. Yum!
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The First Sign of Spring

Fat Rabbit has returned:

When I got home yesterday and opened the curtains to the backyard I saw him sitting there. I've seen a few rabbits hopping around in the morning when I'm leaving for work, but this is the first time I've seen one nesting in the backyard. Ahh...the signs of spring.
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Sausage Gravy and Scrambled Eggs

Life has been a little tough lately, so I decided we needed a reward for making it through the week. That reward came in the form of sausage gravy:

This time I made the gravy using Jimmy Dean sausage. The last time I made this I used Bob Evans because I had a coupon, and while it was good, it didn't have that kick that we wanted. Let me tell you, Jimmy Dean is the way to go. Whenever someone gives me a recipe involving breakfast sausage they always tell me you have to use Jimmy Dean. I thought they were crazy before, but now I'm a convert. This stuff is insanely good. Just look at the color. And the flavor - slightly spicy, with plenty of kick from all the herbs and spices. Yum! I served the gravy over homestyle biscuits with scambled eggs on the side.
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Sicilian Pizza

We weren't hungry for dinner until late Saturday night, so we decided to have a pizza delivered. I don't think we've had pizza delivered since the night we moved into this house. We got a Sicilian pizza with sausage on one half and pepperoni on the other:

The sauce was a little too sweet, but the overall pizza was quite good. And it was so big we ended up eating leftovers for dinner Sunday night and still had enough for lunches on Monday.
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Indian Food

On Saturday SP went to lunch with a friend and brought me back some Indian food:

I love vegetable korma and basmati rice and the serving was huge - plenty of food for two people, plus the huge round of naan bread. We'd eaten at this place before, but this meal wasn't very good. SP said his meal at the restaurant hadn't been good, either. Quite unfortunate, especially since we don't get the chance to eat Indian food very often.
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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Mini Meatloaf Muffins, Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Broccoli

I had used one pound of ground beef for the Swedish meatballs, so the other pound was combined with salsa, bread crumbs, a beaten egg and grated onion to make mini meatloaf muffins:

After I mixed the meat with the other ingredients I put it into muffin tins and topped it with some ketchup. They baked at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, alongside broccoli that I cut into florets and tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper and chili poweder. Mashed potatoes rounded out this very comforting meal.
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Swedish Meatballs with Egg Noodles

We had two pounds of ground beef in the freezer (the last of our frozen meat), which was a good thing since I was having a craving for Swedish meatballs.

I used the same recipe as last time but I made the meatballs smaller, per SP's request. This is a very simple meal to make but it tastes fantastic. I love the sauce especially. Yum!
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Monte Cristos and French Fries

SP has been clamoring for Monte Cristos for awhile now, so I made them for dinner on Tuesday. As you can tell from the photos, I didn't have mine with the traditional syrup:

Over the summer I was in Washington, DC on a work trip and we ate at an Irish pub that served a Monte Cristo. It seemed like a strange thing to get at an Irish pub, but they were serving it with hollandaise sauce instead of syrup so I gave it a try. It was absolutely fantastic. I'm more into savory then sweet anyway, so it was perfect for me.

I made the sandwiches the usual way - Texas Toast (bought special for this meal) layered with sliced deli ham, turkey and Swiss cheese, dipped in a mixture of beaten egg and milk and griddled like French toast until the bread was browned and the cheese melted. SP had his with syrup but I made a quick cheese sauce (think mac & cheese) that I seasoned with just a little lemon juice at the end. It had a nice tang that went perfectly with the Monte Cristo.

The restaurant in DC served their sandwich with homemade fries. I used frozen, but they did the trick.
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Spaghetti Carbonara

An old favorite made a reappearance on Monday:

Spaghetti carbonara is always a winner in our house.

In loading all the photos for the next few posts I realized I was in serious comfort food mode this week. It wasn't intentional, but now that the weather is changing (YAY for spring!) I guess subconsciously I was trying to make all my winter favorites before it's time for grilling, tons of fresh veggies and lighter meals.
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Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Dinner

Yesterday we went to my parent's house for Easter dinner. My mom came up with the menu ideas and I helped her cook. Our meal included ham, kielbasa and rack of lamb (more on the lamb later):

... tomatoes and asparagus tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper:

... and then roasted until the tomatoes burst:

... and the asparagus became tender:

I made deviled eggs for the first time and I was really pleased with how good they turned out:

My mom made her famous (and totally addictive) potato salad:

And we got sliced rye bread from the bakery:

Now, more about the lamb. We used this recipe from Emeril and it was excellent. Here I am adding the bread crumb and cheese mixture to the racks:

The smell of the garlic and mustard crust was sensational and really permeated the house. Yum! Here's the table all laid out:

My plate with a little of everything:

For dessert my mom made her exceptionally good lemon cheesecake:

... beautifully decorated with fresh raspberries. We also made a sauce using frozen raspberries and raspberry jam to decorate the plate:

Another outstanding holiday meal. Thanks, Mom, for letting me take over your kitchen. :)
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Pizza Friday

Another Friday, another pizza:

... this time with sausage and slow-cooked onions.

I think we need to start buying only hot sausage because the sweet sausage barely has any flavor.

It was a good pizza, but not one of my best efforts.
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Once again life got in the way and it's been awhile since I posted. Here is half a calzone I made for dinner last Wednesday:

I made us two huge calzones filled with pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, ham, cubes of mozzarella and ricotta cheese held together by a beaten egg and seasoned with salt, pepper and grated cheese. Served with a side of marinara.
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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Pepperoni and Cheese Stuffed Chicken, Asparagus

I saw this recipe for Pepperoni and Cheese Stuffed Chicken on Melissa's blog awhile back and knew I had to make it soon. As I was making the menu for this week I was trying to come up with a meal involving chicken when I remembered the recipe. It was perfect because we had a stick of pepperoni and plenty of cheddar cheese in the fridge. Asparagus was on sale so I roasted two bunches to go alongside the chicken:

While the meal was delicious, I was unhappy with the presentation. I've never had much luck stuffing chicken breasts. The filling always comes out because I can't seem to make a nice, neat package. Oh well - it still tasted fantastic, was easy to make and I didn't have to buy anything except the asparagus.
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Monday, March 17, 2008

Broccoli Rabe and Salami Pasta

I saw Rachael Ray make Broccoli Rabe and Salami Pasta on her show the other day. It looked so yummy (and easy) that I put it on the menu for this week.

It was a cinch to make (especially because I prepped the broccoli rabe on Sunday). It had a slightly bitter flavor from the broccoli rabe and was perfectly creamy from the ricotta. My only complaint was that I couldn't really taste the salami. I think next time I'd get a hotter variety or ask the deli man to slice it thicker.

SP wanted me to take credit for the forethought of the meal being made on St. Patrick's Day and its vibrant green color, but that was a total coincidence. A happy one, though, because I was feeling guilty about not making something more festive for the holiday.
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Pork Chops and Warm Spinach and Bacon Salad

Sunday night sometimes has the potential to be a culinary wasteland in our house if we don't plan ahead. Luckily we had some pork chops in the freezer and a bag of baby spinach leftover from last week, so dinner was easy to throw together.

I used the same recipe I always use for the warm spinach and bacon salad:

I'm really loving the natural light these days. As I was cooking I looked over at the salad bowl and was so enthralled by the vibrant colors that I had to take a picture. The natural light at dinnertime is great for photographing meals. The pork chops were the usual breaded and shallow-fried variety:

... but the salad was the star of the show, at least as far as I was concerned.
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Biscuits with Sausage Gravy and Scrambled Eggs

After our fantastic breakfast at C&T's house last Sunday I promised SP I would make biscuits with sausage gravy for breakfast this weekend. On Sunday morning, while my darling husband was at the grocery store, I made the gravy, baked the biscuits and scrambled some eggs:

I used bake-off biscuits instead of making my own, but I have a feeling those biscuits SP was making earlier this year would be fantastic with this meal. The gravy is very simple - cook one of those tubes of breakfast sausage, breaking it into small pieces, until browned. Season with a little salt, pepper, dried (or fresh, if you have it) sage and thyme. Add 2 tablespoons of flour to the sausage and stir for about a minute. Add two cups of milk and cook until thickened. Since SP wasn't home yet I turned off the heat and let it sit so the flavors could combine. Once he got home I added a little more milk and turned the heat on low so it could reheat and thin out a bit. Such a fantastic, easy breakfast meal. Of course we won't be eating this again for awhile, but man was it good!
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Grilled Cheese with Bacon

I didn't have a chance to eat breakfast on Saturday and we were going out with friends for an early dinner, so lunch needed to be light. The cafeteria at my last job made a fantastic grilled cheese with bacon and tomato and I thought that sounded like a great quick lunch. Unfortunately I didn't have any tomatoes but I did have bacon:

Cheesy, bacony, perfectly toasted bread. Yum!
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Pastitsio, Greek Salad and Brownies

These pictures are actually from last Sunday's dinner (3/9). We went over to my parent's house but I forgot my camera and had to use my mom's. She just sent me the pictures and I have to say how impressed I am with how they turned out. I love taking photos in natural light and I'm thrilled that it stays light later these days.

We started the meal with little balls of mozzarella and marinated sundried tomatoes:

... and pitted green and black olives:

It was hard for me not to fill up on the olives, mozzarella and tomatoes. I am an olive fanatic and you can never go wrong with mozzarella and tomatoes. But my mom had made pastitsio and a huge Greek salad so I needed to save room. The pastitsio:

... was gorgeous with its crispy crust, silky bechamel sauce and meaty filling. Between the four of us we ate almost this entire casserole dish. There was just enough for one serving for lunch the next day (and guess who was lucky enough to get it?) The Greek salad:

... had chopped romaine, chunks of creamy feta cheese, more of those fantastic olives, grape tomatoes, slices of red onion, chopped parsley and cucumbers. The dressing was tart with lemon juice. Here's my plate with a generous serving of the pastitsio and salad:

A close-up of the pastitio:

... and the salad:

For dessert my mom baked brownies using my stepfather's recipe:

I've never been 100% sure what's in the brownies, but they have a distinct almond flavor. We love moist brownies so these were slighly underdone in the center - just how we like them. Since we were being indulgent we had vanilla ice cream alongside our brownies:

Kudos to my mom for making such an amazing meal. We had a great time, as always. And thank you for letting me use your camera and for sending me the photos. You're the best!

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Ginger, Garlic and Scallion Shrimp

We had some frozen shrimp in the freezer from Valentine's Day so I decided to make a family favorite - Ginger, Garlic and Scallion Shrimp:

This had a nice spicy kick to it from the red pepper flakes. We love the bold flavors of the ginger and garlic. The shrimp were seared on the outside and bursty on the inside. Yum!
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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

You Make My Day!

Erin over at Erin Eats picked me for the You Make My Day Award.

This was quite unexpected but very, very much appreciated. Work has been kicking my butt lately and between the time change and the stress of the last few weeks I'm just plain worn down these days. Getting this award made my day. Thank you again, Erin!

Now it's my turn to pass on the love to Alosha, Priscilla, Katie, Tracie, Chrissy, Jessy and my mom. :)
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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hungarian Paprikas

This is another recipe I got from Rachael Ray's Comfort Foods cookbook - Hungarian Paprikas:

I'll post the recipe if anyone is interested. It's basically cubed chicken (or pork) tossed in flour seasoned with paprika and marjoram (I used oregano) and browned. The sauce is made with roasted red peppers and a large can of tomatoes. I used plain but the recipe suggests stewed tomatoes. Stir that around to thicken slightly, season with salt and pepper and stir in 1/2 cup of sour cream right before serving. I served mine over buttered egg noodles tossed with chopped parsley. The sauce was fantastic with the roasted peppers and oregano. Next time I might add some veggies, but overall this was a winner.
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Pork Chops with Apples and Onions

Monday is grocery night and since I never remember to plan ahead for dinner that night, we usually end up scrounging through the fridge and pantry trying to find something easy for dinner. This week I at least had the wherewithal to take some pork chops out of the freezer, but I didn't feel like making our usual breaded and fried variety. I remembered that years ago we made pork chops with apples and onions, so I thought I'd give that a go.

I sliced a large onion and an apple and cooked that in a pan with some butter and oil. The smells were reminding me of the chicken and apples dish I like to make, so I added in some celery as well. Once the veggies were soft I added a few glugs of white wine and deglazed the pan. All that got pushed to the side and the chops were seared on both sides. Once they were brown I covered them with the apple, onion and celery mixture and stuck the pan in the oven at 350 for about 10 minutes so the chops could finish cooking through. They were moist and succulent.

We'd run out of milk so I couldn't do mashed potatoes. I just cubed and boiled the potatoes, drained them and tossed them with a little butter, parsley, salt and pepper. They were delicious. I also nuked some frozen corn and dinner was served.
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Monday, March 10, 2008

Breakfast with C&T

The weather was awful on Saturday so since we were planning a late night at C&T's we decided to stay over. C&T were incredibly gracious hosts and despite the time change kicking all our butts, T was up early making a sensational breakfast. Just look at this plate of food:

T mentioned to me earlier in the week that she made a mean sausage gravy. In all my years of loving breakfast I have never tried sausage gravy. She serves hers over biscuits:

It might not look that appetizing, but this was absolutely amazing. So amazing that I asked for the recipe and I'm planning to make it for Sunday breakfast this week:

T also scrambled some eggs with cut-up pieces of beef from dinner the night before:

I had my eggs plain, but SP was in heaven. Steak and eggs is a winning combination in his book. T also used some of the potatoes from the night before to make potatoes with onions and peppers:

Thank you again for such a fantastic weekend. We had a blast! Next time we'll do Eggs Benedict at our house.

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