Friday, August 30, 2013

August Re-Make Recap

I feel like a broken record but I can't believe we're at the end of August already. It makes me so sad - I love summer and I always feel like it flies by. Fall is nice and all but then comes winter, my least favorite month, and I find myself anxious for spring. I can't help it - I'm not a fan of ice and snow but it's more about food. I hate not being able to cook the things I want. I'm going to miss fresh summer produce in the coming months.

As you can see, it was a delicious month.


Ever since I made the first batch of this baked oatmeal SP's been asking for it weekly. I always try some and still don't particularly like it, but I did give some to Baby Girl (not heated, just straight from the pan as I'm packing it up) and she's a big fan. I'll have to try giving her some heated to see what she thinks.


I brought this American macaroni salad to my friend Mary Ellen's house when she invited our family over for a cookout. It was a big hit.


I may not be a big fan of chili but this chili cornbread skillet is a family favorite. I love that the cornbread is baked right on top. I love having a bit of both chili and cornbread in each bite.


After making these Bang Bang chicken skewers for a recipe swap I fell in love. Hard. I made them again a few weeks later, making sure I had a bit more chicken, and SP and I still fought over the leftovers. I may need to completely double the recipe. It's just that good.

Every once in awhile I think back to some of the recipes we love that I haven't made in awhile. I can't believe how long it had been since I made these Cuban sandwiches. They're so easy and so delicious. Baby Girl was a big fan.

I've said it before, these refried beans are a must whenever I make Mexican food. If you like refried beans you need to try this recipe. It's incredibly easy and so tasty.


I've been making these flatbread pizzas once a week since I posted them. They're just so, so good. I've experimented with toppings, always using the same base of roasted tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. One week I added bacon for BLT flatbread pizzas. Another week I added mushrooms for SP. And another week I added crumbled Italian sausage. They were all fantastic.


When we go on vacation I like to make a few different things for breakfast before we leave so we can just heat something up in the morning. I made a batch of this sausage and spinach egg bake, as well as the baked oatmeal. I love this recipe - simple and delicious.


We pulled the rest of these chicken flautas out of the freezer and I fried them up for dinner. Even better this time since we got to enjoy all the deliciousness without any of the effort.

Caprese pasta is like summer in a bowl for me. Caprese is my absolute favorite flavor combination. I use it all summer long, usually for breakfast - egg salad made with fresh tomato, mozzarella and basil, fried eggs on top of sliced tomatoes layered with basil and fresh mozzarella or a caprese omelet. I love it all.
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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Green Chile Chicken Tacos

People usually think of tacos as an easy weeknight meal. Not me. The filling might be easy but as I'm chopping up all the various toppings, filling bowl after bowl to put in the center of the dining room table, I find myself thinking "this is most certainly not an easy weeknight meal." Am I alone in this?


These Green Chile Chicken Tacos are worth it, though. The filling is certainly easy to put together - you're just chopping chicken, mixing with seasonings and cooking in a skillet before adding the green chiles. Simple. The toppings might take a bit more time to get together but they're all worth it. Even the lime wedges. I squeezed a bit of fresh lime juice over each of my tacos and it really brightens them up.


We all loved these. I increased the chicken to 1 1/2 pounds and it made enough for five tacos at dinner (although SP did overfill both of his tacos) and there was only enough leftover for two more tacos the next day. Baby Girl was, as she likes to say, a member of the clean plate club.


I can't wait to make this again, I'll just allow myself some more time for those pesky toppings.

Green Chile Chicken Tacos
As seen on So Tasty, So Yummy

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
4 ounce can chopped green chilies

taco shells/tortillas
shredded Monterey Jack cheese
shredded lettuce
diced tomatoes
lime wedges

Whisk together the oil, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Toss the chicken in the mixture to coat. Can be done in advance and refrigerated until ready to cook.

Heat a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, sauté for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the chilies and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes more. Reduce heat to low and simmer until ready to serve.

Warm the taco shells and fill each with cheese, then top with hot chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole and a squeeze of lime juice.
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Monday, August 26, 2013

Meat Sauce Bolognese

The other night I was planning to make Weeknight Spaghetti and Meatballs for dinner. But, as always seems to be the case before vacation, work was crazy and I didn't have an opportunity to make the meatballs in advance. By the time I was done with work the thought of rolling all those meatballs was daunting.


Thankfully SP suggested meat sauce instead. I turned to my go-to Italian cookbook - Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen - and found her recipe for Meat Sauce Bolognese.


I had all the ingredients on hand, but not the 2-3 hours to cook it. Never fear - this was incredible after only an hour, so don't be dissuaded by the proposed cook time. It was easy to throw together and let simmer on the stove while I cooked the angel hair, my current favorite pasta shape, and chopped the ingredients for this salad.

Meat Sauce Bolognese
Slightly modified from Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, minced (about 1 cup)
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely shredded (about 1/2 cup)
2 ribs celery, minced (about 1/2 cup)
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup dry red wine (or broth)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
28oz can crushed tomatoes
3 bay leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes
4 cups hot water, or as needed

Heat the olive oil in a wide, 3 to 4-quart pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery, season with salt and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Crumble in the ground beef and pork and continue cooking, stirring to break up the meat, until the meat is lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat or remove the pan from the heat and use a crumpled paper towel to drain off any extra fat.

Add the wine (or broth) and cook, scraping the bottom of the pan, until the wine is evaporated, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook a few minutes. Pour in the tomatoes, toss in the bay leaves and season lightly with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.

Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the sauce is at a lively simmer. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is dense but juicy and a rich, dark red color. (Most likely, a noticeable layer of oil will float to the top toward the end of cooking.) This will take about 2 to 3 hours - the longer you cook it, the better it will become - but an hour is also fine.

While the sauce is cooking, add hot water as necessary to keep the meats and vegetables covered. The oil can be removed with a spoon or reincorporated in the sauce.

Serve over pasta.
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Friday, August 23, 2013

Recipe Swap: Heirloom Tomatoes with Basil and Chevre

The theme for this recipe swap was Summer Salads and I lucked out with this delicious Heirloom Tomatoes with Basil and Chevre from Coleen at The Redhead Baker. I'd been drooling after this recipe since she posted it, so I wasted no time making it for dinner.


We all loved this salad. A few months ago Baby Girl finally decided she loves tomatoes, so this was right up her alley, especially with the goat cheese. She'd eat a whole log of that stuff, if I let her. I loved the dressing, especially, with the bright tang of the vinegar mixing with the sweet goodness of the tomatoes.


But, in all honesty, I don't think heirloom tomatoes are necessary for this recipe. I did buy them - as luck would have it a rep from the farm that supplies a lot of produce to my supermarket was in the store handing out free samples of their heirloom tomatoes that day - but they were twice the price of regular tomatoes. And we honestly couldn't tell the difference. Yes, they look gorgeous, but since tomatoes tend to be pretty awesome this time of year I'd just substitute a good ol' beefsteak tomato and save yourself a few bucks.

Check out the other summer salads from this swap by clicking on the thumbnail pics below.

Heirloom Tomato Salad
As seen on The Redhead Baker, barely adapted from Cooking Light

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 lbs heirloom tomatoes, cut into chunks
2 oz goat cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil and vinegar. Grate the garlic into the mixture using a microplane, and add the kosher salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.
Add the basil and tomatoes; toss to coat. Cover and let stand for 1 hour, tossing occasionally.

Divide into bowls, top each bowl with some of the goat cheese and serve.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Weekend in Philly

We spent the night in Philadelphia this past weekend and had such amazing food I wanted to do a post just to show off the deliciousness. I'm going to start at the end of our trip since I'm still drooling over our meal at Shake Shack. I've been making a knock-off version of these burgers for awhile now but trying the real thing was a revelation. So, so, so amazingly good. I can't wait to go back. We'll definitely be trying a milkshake next time.


We each got a double ShackBurger - cheeseburger topped with lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce. Double was the way to go. It was the perfect bread to meat ratio. The toppings were fresh and delicious but my favorite part was the crispy crust. Words really cannot describe how good this was.


We'd been told to get the cheese fries - crispy fries coated in a sauce made with American and cheddar cheeses.


One thing to note - for as long as anyone can remember (my mom will vouch for this) I've been disappointed by the real deal vs. the food-styled versions of food. Apparently I'd pitch a fit in fast food restaurants when I was a kid because the food I was served looked nothing like the pictures I'd seen on TV or even the menu in the store. But Shake Shack doesn't suffer from this problem. Our burgers, our whole order actually, looked exactly like every single photo I've ever seen of Shake Shack food. This is a very big deal to me and I was thrilled that I was given exactly what I was expecting.

I apologize for these photos not being better - the lighting in the restaurant was low and romantic, which wasn't good for taking pictures. Saturday night we went to the Oyster House for dinner. It had come highly recommended and we weren't disappointed. SP started with a gin and tonic made with royal dock gin and fever tree tonic, while I had the French fox - champagne, gin, campari, and lemon. I really enjoyed this but my favorite of my two cocktails (which I didn't get a picture of) was a concoction the bartender had just come up with - cantaloupe puree, alcohol and cucumber were involved. It was light and refreshing and dangerously addictive.


I started with a half-dozen oysters. I like them nice and briny and our waitress (she was incredibly attentive and helpful with oyster and cocktail recommendations) thought I'd enjoy the Naked Cowboy and East Beach Blondes. She also gave me a free oyster to try - a Wellfleet. They were all fantastic; I couldn't decide which were my favorite.


As soon as I saw whole belly Ipswich clams on the menu I knew we had to order them. They were perfectly fried and delicious.


I ordered the lobster roll, served with fresh hand-cut fries. Per our waitress's recommendation I opted for the chilled New England version - a little mayo and celery - to let the lobster meat shine. This was, hands down, the best lobster roll I've ever had. I've been searching for years for a good version that's mostly lobster meat and I finally found it. Simple perfection. Just look at those huge chunks of meat.


SP got the scallops, which were served with bulgar, sliced peaches, pistachios, tomatoes and an herb-yogurt sauce. I was a bit wary of how everything would come together but this was positively divine. The herb-yogurt sauce really made it for me. SP was gracious enough to give me a whole scallop and I made sure each bite had a little bit of everything on it.


We walked around a bit after dinner, went back to our hotel to watch an episode of Sherlock (have you seen this show? If not, find the time to watch it) and then we ventured back out for gelato at Capogiro. I love that you can sample any flavor you want before ordering. I ended up with the Thai coconut milk and peanut butter, SP got the mocha and Thai coconut milk. We were in heaven.

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Friday, August 16, 2013

Chicken Salad with Avocado, Tomato, and Corn

Last month I went on a road trip with some college friends to attend another college friend's wedding lunch. At some point on the 6-hour trip home one of my friends mentioned a sandwich she loves ordering for lunch - chicken salad made with avocado, tomato and corn with a lime mayo. It sounded so good I immediately wrote down the ingredients so I could make it at home.


I've mentioned before that SP isn't a fan of "stuff" in his chicken salad. No matter - it's easy to make two versions of chicken salad. Lucky for me, Baby Girl shares my love of loading up chicken salad with various yummy add-ins. She and I really enjoyed these sandwiches.

Chicken Salad with Avocado, Tomato, and Corn

2 chicken breasts, roasted*
2 ears of corn, kernels cut off
1 avocado, diced
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, cut into quarters
Fresh lime juice
1/2 cup mayo
Salt and pepper

To serve:
Toasted kaiser rolls or mixed greens
Romaine lettuce leaves

Dice the chicken and add to a large bowl. Add the corn, avocado and grape tomatoes. In another small bowl mix together the lime juice and mayo, then season with salt and pepper. Stir together, taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Serve on toasted kaiser rolls or on top of mixed greens.

*Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with tin foil then arrange chicken breasts in a single layer in the center. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fold the aluminum foil over the chicken breasts, and enclose them to form a packet. Bake the chicken (on the baking sheet) 35-45 minutes, or until it is cooked through.
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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Hashbrown Waffle with a Fried Egg

I know it's been awhile since my last post. Every time I've tried to write a post my brain freezes up and I end up closing the browser because I just can't think of anything to say. I still don't have much but I figured I needed to post something.


We were on a waffle kick for awhile, Waffle Sundays we called it, but I'm really a savory breakfast person and sweet waffles once a week just didn't work for me. Enter this Hash Brown Waffle with a Fried Egg. A savory waffle is right up my alley. I couldn't wait to try this.


We both loved this recipe and can't wait to make it again. I admit to being a little worried about the potato sticking to the waffle maker and making a big mess or not cooking all the way through during the cook cycle, but this was flawless. Nice and crispy, with plenty of good potato flavor. Next time I'll make some bacon or sausage to go alongside and fry up an extra egg per person - one was not enough.

Hashbrown Waffle with a Fried Egg
As seen on Life and Kitchen

1 tablespoon oil
2 cups shredded baking potato (you can also use refrigerated or frozen shredded potatoes that have thawed)
1/4 cup grated onion
1/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
5 eggs
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat a waffle iron to medium-high.

Put the shredded potatoes in a clean dish towel and squeeze out the excess liquid. Put into a large bowl and mix with the onion, cheese, and one of the eggs until evenly coated. Add in the garlic powder, salt, and pepper and stir. Spray the heated waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray and spread the potato mixture in an even layer. Close the iron and cook until crispy and brown on the outside.

Cook the other four eggs (two per person) to your desired preference (I did mine over easy).

Put half of the waffle on a plate, top with one of the eggs, and serve immediately with a side of your favorite breakfast meat.
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Monday, August 05, 2013

(Copycat) Chipotle’s Chicken Burritos

Amy recently posted these (Copycat) Chipotle’s Steak Burritos and I was immediately smitten. While I've only been to Chipotle once, I love a good burrito.


I decided to make these with chicken rather than steak because we always have chicken in the freezer and steak can be expensive. These were fantastic. Absolutely delicious. We all inhaled our burritos. It took a bit of time to make the rice and chop up the pico de gallo (plus I made guacamole) but once everything was made these were really easy to assemble.


SP said I can make these any time I want. He's had Chipotle a few times for work lunches and said he appreciated that these were less greasy and tasted fresher and tastier. A winner all around. Thank you SO much, Amy!

(Copycat) Chipotle’s Chicken Burritos
As seen on Very Culinary
Makes 4-6 burritos, depending how full you stuff them

1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
scant 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
pinch of salt and pepper
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 pound chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise

4 roma tomatoes, cored and diced small
1 cup finely diced red onion
1 jalapeño chile, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

2 cups cooked basmati rice, warm
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt

1 can (15 ounce) low sodium black beans, rinsed, drained, and warmed
1/2 cup sour cream
4 (10-inch) flour tortillas

Combine oregano, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, salt and pepper and vegetable oil. Rub spice mixture over both sides of the chicken. Refrigerate while preparing your other ingredients.

Combine the tomatoes, red onion, jalapeño, and chopped cilantro.

Drizzle the lime juice and oil over the top of warm rice, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro and salt; fluff with a fork.

Heat a grill to medium-high. Cook chicken for 5 minutes, flip and cook another 4 minutes. Slice thinly.

Warm tortillas over a gas burner or in the microwave for about 15-30 seconds. Place on a flat surface, evenly distribute the rice and chicken, top with beans, the pico de gallo and sour cream. Fold the flap nearest you over the filling, then fold in the sides. Roll burrito away from you, keeping it tight to form a log. Rest, seam side down.

Serve with tortilla chips and guacamole.
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Friday, August 02, 2013

Smothered Italian Chicken

Sometimes I have a recipe on my radar but it takes seeing it raved about on another blog to push me to make it. I've had Stephanie's Smothered Italian Chicken saved for awhile but it wasn't until Christina made it that I remembered wanting to try it myself.


This was insanely delicious. A true winner all around and something I'd absolutely serve to company (who wants to come over so I have an excuse to make it again?) I made only a few modifications, mainly in how I coated the chicken - panko is my breading of choice these days - and how I cooked the tomatoes - using this method from my roasted tomato sandwiches/flatbreads.


Seriously, just look at that crispy panko. I'm salivating remembering how good it tasted, especially smothered in that amazing sauce. The freshness of the tomatoes and spinach balanced out the creaminess from the cooking creme. Such a fantastic combination of flavors. I only made half a pound of angel hair pasta and it was more than enough for three dinners and two lunches the next day. I love how much further pasta stretches these days.


Baby Girl ate her entire bowl (pictured above), even the spinach. All told she probably had 3/4 of a piece of chicken - she kept asking for more chicken after she finished what I had cut. For her to pick chicken over more pasta was pretty incredible. I guess there's just something about that crispy panko coating. So delicious. I cannot wait to make this one again.

Smothered Italian Chicken
Slightly modified from Stephanie Cooks

5 or 6 Roma tomatoes, cut into quarters
Olive oil
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon each Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder
4 chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise
Vegetable oil
3 cups baby spinach
1 tub Philadelphia Italian Cooking Creme
1/2 lb spaghetti or angel hair, cooked according to package directions

Preheat the oven to 400. Place tomatoes in a 9x13 baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, add the Italian seasoning and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat evenly. Bake for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, crack eggs into a shallow dish and lightly scramble. Place panko in another shallow dish and season with the Italian seasoning, garlic and onion powders and some salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in egg, coating both sides, then add to the panko, pressing to adhere.

Heat the vegetable oil (about 1/2 inch deep in a large non-stick skillet) over medium-high heat until shimmering. Fry the chicken in batches until crisp and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Remove from the heat, drain on paper towels and keep warm.

Remove the tomatoes from oven. Remove the skin, if desired, then add the spinach and cooking creme. Stir to combine then bake for another 15 minutes.

Smother the chicken with the sauce or toss the sauce with the pasta. Serve immediately over spaghetti or angel hair pasta.
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