Monday, June 30, 2014

June Re-Make Recap

I've been a horrible blogger lately. I've been remaking so many recipes I haven't had enough content for new blog posts. And I can't find the time to blog about the new things I have made. Sunday night I vowed to get a blog post done and when I went to schedule it for Monday I realized Monday was the end of June. Eeeek. How did that happen? For some reason June always flies by for me. I truly cannot believe it's already June 30 and tomorrow is July 1. At my previous job we had a big annual meeting mid-June and I always thought that being caught up in preparing for and running the meeting was the reason June flew by, but I haven't been at that job for a few years now and June still flies.

Unfortunately we only made it to the pool once this month and it wasn't even a good pool day - windy and overcast and not quite warm enough. Baby Girl is still taking swim lessons and gaining more confidence. She started summer camp at her daycare this month and has gone on a few field trips already. Today is their first swimming lesson in our community pool. Work has been busy for both of us as well. Today we're getting a new roof. Yay for home ownership!

As I said, I've been remaking a lot of family favorites and this month was no exception.

chicken nuggets3

I've been wanting to remake these chicken nuggets with honey mustard dipping sauce for ages and finally got the chance this month. These are so good I have to make way more chicken then I think we'll eat because we have no self control. Absolutely delicious.

And to go with the nuggets, cheesy zucchini rice. This is my favorite summertime side dish because it's a starch and vegetable in one. Plus we all love it.

Springtime pasta

Baby Girl had one request this month: pasta with asparagus and peas. It's an easy, light dinner, perfect for summer. Asparagus is no longer in season so this wasn't as good as it was a few months ago, but we still enjoyed it (without the egg this time).

No roundup is complete without the TRH salad.


I brought these salted fudge brownies to C&T's house for our BBQ cookout and they were a big hit, even if I did undercook them.

Crunchy baked tacos

I love the ease of these crunchy baked tacos. I had some leftover taco filling frozen from the previous batch so all I had to do was defrost it and chop up the toppings.

Refried beans

We can't have Mexican food without homemade refried beans.

club salad2

Whenever I'm in the mood for a big dinner salad I turn to the california club blue cheese chopped salad. We had blue cheese leftover from C&T's BBQ, but I think I might prefer this salad with feta. It's milder and doesn't overpower the other flavors.


I needed an easy dinner one night. I had some cooked pork tenderloin in the freezer and immediately thought of pork with noodles. I made a few changes - used fettuccine instead of rice noodles and added chopped bok choy and shiitake mushrooms to bulk up the dish. We all loved the changes so I think that's how I'll make it from now on.


I found two more balls of pizza dough in the freezer so of course I had to make 3 cheese pepperoni pizza. Unfortunately I was out of rosemary, but those two pizzas were still delicious. I don't want to rush through summer but I'm definitely looking forward to revisiting this pizza when the weather turns cool again.


I actually made these bang bang chicken skewers twice this month - once for dinner with our new neighbors and again for my parents for Sunday dinner. The original recipe calls for red pepper, but we're not big pepper fans. I actually like to grill zucchini, grape tomatoes, red onion and mushrooms. I always serve it with couscous to soak up the extra sauce.

fish sandwich

Another meal we can't get enough of lately is crispy fish. This month I turned them into fish sticks and we ate them with more of the cheesy zucchini rice. The tangy dipping sauce is perfect.

Taco Rice

Taco rice is one of those meals that never gets old around here.

You probably know by now that whenever I buy a bag of tilapia filets I have to make crispy fish and tilapia francese.


Now that we aren't doing pizza on Fridays I'm bringing back flatbreads. This month we had our old standby, chicken caesar flatbreads.

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Cooler Corn on the Cob

For our recent BBQ-themed dinner with C&T we had something I'd never heard of before - cooler corn on the cob. T had seen the idea on Pinterest when looking for camping meal ideas and figured it would be fun to try for our backyard BBQ. This would be awesome for parties - you can make a large amount of perfectly-cooked corn in no time flat and it keeps warm for hours.

Photo credit - T. Casey

The "recipe" is not really a recipe, just a method, but I had to share it with you guys. I'm going to offer to bring cooler corn to the next BBQ we're invited to, just to try it out for myself.

Cooler Corn on the Cob

1 cooler (small or large depending on how much corn you're making)
Corn on the cob

Wash the cooler well. Shuck the corn, removing all the outer levels and silk. Place the shucked corn in the cooler.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Pour over the corn. You want to submerge the corn. Close the lid of the cooler and let it sit for at least 30 minutes.

The corn can sit in the cooler for a couple hours. When you're ready to eat, just drain off the water and enjoy.
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Monday, June 16, 2014

Roasted Mushroom Risotto {Review}

I recently received a variety of rice from RiceSelect to sample. One of the samples was an arborio blend with mushrooms. We love risotto around here, so as soon as I saw this recipe for Roasted Mushroom Risotto I knew the arborio blend with mushrooms would be perfect.


This was an outstanding risotto. The roasted mushrooms had great flavor but I think my favorite part was the dried chanterelles. I was a little hesitant to buy them since half an ounce was $4.99, but it was well worth it. They added a great depth of flavor that really brought the whole dish together.


We love RiceSelect products (I'm a big fan of their pearl couscous, even though I haven't been able to find it for ages) so I knew their arborio would be a hit. And it was. Baby Girl, who up until this point has been hit or miss with mushrooms, positively loved this. She told me she was a big fan and cleaned her plate.

Roasted Mushroom Risotto
As seen on Rachel Cooks

1/2 ounce dried chanterelle mushrooms
24 ounces white mushrooms cut in halves or quarters
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
6 cups vegetable broth/stock
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
1 1/4 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine (e.g. Chardonnay)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese more for garnish, if desired

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Place the dried chanterelle mushrooms and pour boiling water over them. Let them soak for twenty minutes. Drain and rinse, then set aside.

Place the white mushrooms on a large rimmed sheet tray and toss with 3 tablespoons olive oil, thyme and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Spread into a single layer and place in preheated oven. Roast for 15 minutes, stir, and roast for another 10-15 minute or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, bring stock to a simmer in a saucepan.

In a deep, heavy skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add the rehydrated chanterelles, garlic and onion and saute for about 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add the rice and cook for another 2-3 minutes to toast the rice, stirring frequently.

Add the white wine and bring to a boil. Add 1 cup of the simmering stock, and keep stirring nearly constantly, making sure to push down any rice stuck to the edges of the pans. Once the liquid is nearly absorbed, add another 1 cup of stock. Continue to do this until the rice is cooked but still slightly chewy, about 25 minutes. Taste the rice frequently to check the consistency.

Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons butter, Parmesan cheese and roasted mushrooms. Taste and add more salt and pepper, as needed. Serve immediately.

Disclaimer: I received free samples of RiceSelect rice. I was not paid to write this review and all opinions are my own.
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Friday, June 13, 2014

Pork Ribs

If I had known ribs were this easy to make at home I would have been making them once a week.

We recently had a BBQ-themed dinner with our friends C&T. Among other things, T made four racks of ribs. I probably had half a rack myself and when she asked if we wanted to take some home I jumped at the chance. I knew I had to blog about these because (1) they're so delicious and (2) they're so easy to make.

Photo credit - T. Casey

T gave me basic instructions for the ribs and told me she used Pioneer Woman's recipe for BBQ sauce. I can't wait to make these myself this summer. I've also talked her into making another rack or two for our next themed dinner in August.

Pork Ribs

pork rib racks (4 racks will feed an army)
pork rub (T used McCormick Grill Mates pork rub)
BBQ sauce

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees.

Rub the ribs on both sides with some of the pork rub. Lay each rack in a double layer of foil. Add 1/4 cup of water and then seal the foil around the ribs.

Bake for 2 hours.

While the ribs are baking, make the BBQ sauce (recipe below or use your own). Once the ribs are done, remove them from the foil. Spread some of the BBQ sauce on each rack.

Preheat a grill to high. Lay each rack on the grill. You want to leave them alone so they get a nice crust.

Remove the ribs from the grill. Place one rack at a time on a cutting board. Slather with more sauce on both sides. Using a very sharp, long knife, cut the ribs between the bones. Pile on a serving platter and have lots of napkins on hand.

Homemade BBQ Sauce
As seen on Pioneer Woman

1 tablespoon canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
1 cup ketchup
1/3 cup molasses
1/3 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (or a few shakes of red pepper flakes)
4 tablespoons distilled vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Dash salt

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and onions and cook for 5 minutes, stirring, being careful not to burn them. Reduce the heat to low. Add the ketchup, molasses, brown sugar, chipotle peppers or red pepper flakes, vinegar (or less to taste), Worcestershire sauce and salt and stir.

Allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Taste after simmering and add whatever ingredient it needs (more spice, more sugar, etc.).

Yield: 2 cups
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Friday, June 06, 2014

Pizza Fridays: Pizza with Ground Pork, Leeks and Rosemary

I had 8oz of ground pork in the freezer and absolutely no idea what to do with it. Then Coleen posted this Pizza with Ground Lamb, Leeks and Rosemary and I figured I could sub pork for the lamb.

pizza with pork and leeks

I forgot to season the pork with salt and pepper while it was cooking, but otherwise this was a pretty good pizza. I really enjoyed experimenting with different toppings this winter and I'd definitely make this one again. Now that it's warm I'll be switching to flatbread pizzas or burgers on Fridays since cranking the oven to 550 degrees when it's 90+ outside isn't appealing.

Pizza with Ground Pork, Leeks and Rosemary
Slightly modified from The Reheaded Baker

8 ounces ground pork
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 leek (white and light green parts only), rinsed, halved and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 lb pizza dough
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
Pinch of red pepper flakes
shredded mozzarella
2 stalks fresh rosemary

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground pork and cook, breaking up clumps with a wooden spoon or spatula, until fully browned. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the skillet to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain the fat. Wipe out the skillet.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the same skillet over medium heat; add the leeks and a pinch each of salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until the leeks are soft, about 8 minutes.

Place a pizza stone in your oven and preheat the oven to 475 degrees.

Season the diced tomatoes with pepper and red pepper flakes. Strip the rosemary leaves off of the stems; discard the stems. Roughly chop the leaves.

Lay a sheet of parchment paper the size of your pizza stone on a work surface. Lightly dust with flour. Roll or stretch the dough into a 12- to 14-inch circle on the parchment paper. Spread the tomatoes in a thin layer over the dough, leaving a half-inch margin around the outer edges. Sprinkle half the mozzarella over the tomatoes, then sprinkle on the chopped rosemary.

Transfer the pizza to the hot pizza stone. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and the crust starts to appear dry. Partially remove the pizza from the oven, very carefully sprinkle the ground pork and leeks over the pizza, then sprinkle on the remaining half of the mozzarella cheese. Return the pizza to the oven to bake another 2 to 4 minutes, until the top layer of cheese has melted and the crust is golden brown.

Remove the pizza from the oven, let it cool for about 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
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Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Grilled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with Brown Sugar Grilled Onions

From the moment Cassie posted these Grilled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with Brown Sugar Grilled Onions on Instagram I fell in love. I hounded her to write up a blog post so I could make them and, happily, she obliged.

BBQ chicken sandwiches

I was finally able to put them on the menu recently and all I can say is wow. These are incredible. Absolutely delicious. The citrus from the orange juice really comes through and I love the tang of the BBQ sauce with the pickles and the sweet onions. Heaven.

The only change I made was to sub the Italian dressing in Cassie's recipe for olive oil and the seasonings that go into the dressing. We don't keep bottled Italian dressing on hand and since I had almost all the spices I needed I figured I'd just make my own marinade.

You have got to try these sandwiches. You won't be sorry. I'm already plotting when I can make them again.

Grilled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with Brown Sugar Grilled Onions
As seen on Cassie Craves, spice mixture adapted from allrecipes

4 chicken breasts
olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon white sugar
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
dash of seasoned salt
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Juice of 1 orange
2 teaspoons chili powder
BBQ sauce

1-2 large sweet Vidalia onions, sliced into thick rings
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

4 sandwich buns, cut in half
Sliced pickles

In a large food storage bag, combine the oil, seasonings, Worcestershire, orange juice, and chili powder. Add the chicken, close the bag, and toss to combine. Marinate overnight.

Heat grill pan over medium-high heat. Toss together the onion rings, olive oil, brown sugar, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Add the onions and cook until they are tender and charred. Remove to a bowl and cover to keep warm.

Add the chicken to the grill. Cook chicken 5 minutes on one side, brush with BBQ sauce, then flip and cook 4 minutes. Brush the other side with BBQ sauce. With one minute left to cook, top each chicken breast with some of the cheese. Cover the grill pan with foil and let the cheese melt. Remove from the pan.

While the chicken is cooking, butter the cut side of the buns and toast them.

Serve each chicken breast topped with a pile of onions, some more BBQ sauce, pickles and mayonnaise.
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Monday, June 02, 2014

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I've mentioned before that SP has been trying to get back into the kitchen. Recently he decided he wanted to use some of our overripe bananas to make this Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Banana cake with cream cheese frosting

He and Baby Girl made this together, which was so cute to watch. Due to her nut allergy we had to leave out the walnuts, but we didn't miss them. Being a chocolate lover, I had hoped SP would be open to adding chocolate chips instead but he wanted the banana to really shine.

Banana cake with cream cheese frosting

This was excellent. The cake was moist and flavorful and cream cheese icing is pretty darn fantastic. The recipe made a nice, thick layer of it, too. This takes a bit of planning since you need very ripe bananas and the ingredients have to come to room temperature, but otherwise it's very simple.

Banana cake with cream cheese frosting

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Ina Garten, from Barefoot Contessa How Easy is That?

3 very ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 orange
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)
Walnut halves, for decorating (optional)

Cream Cheese Frosting:
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (1/2 pound)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 by 2-inch round cake pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the bananas, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on low speed until combined. With the mixer still on low, add the oil, eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and orange zest. Mix until smooth.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Stir in the chopped walnuts, if using. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, turn out onto a cooling rack, and cool completely.

Spread the frosting thickly on the top of the cake and decorate with walnut halves, if using.
Cream Cheese Frosting:

Mix the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low speed until just combined. Don't whip! Add the sugar and mix until smooth. Yield: frosting for one 9-inch cake.
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