Thursday, December 13, 2007

Giada's Linguini with Chicken Ragu

My husband and I saw this on an episode of Everyday Italian and tried it right away. Since then, I've made it several times and it's a regular menu item!

I make the marinara sauce described in the recipe, however, I put it in a food processor after it's cooked to make it smooth.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Macaroni & Cheese Project: Recipe 002

Non-stick cooking spray
3 cups elbow macaroni
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/3 cups 1 percent milk
3/4 cup shredded Fontina cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan
1/2 cup shredded non-fat cheddar 4 ounces processed light American cheese (recommended: Velveeta Light)
1/2 cup Japanese (panko) bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Spray a 2-quart casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Salt water, add macaroni, and cook until al dente. Drain into a colander, run under cold water to stop the cooking, and then set aside.

While pasta is cooking, combine flour and milk in a large saucepan, whisking until blended. Cook over medium heat until thick, about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Add cheeses and cook until melted and thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the macaroni and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pour mixture into prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle bread crumbs over top. Bake until bubbly, about 30 to 40 minutes.


Moderate. This recipe requires making a cheese sauce, which isn't difficult at all, but does add a few extra steps and cheeses.

Creamy yet just chunky/dry enough. Not greasy at all. The Velveeta makes it just creamy enough and it doesn't come out all stringy.

The variation of cheeses really add a lot of flavor to this recipe. I really like the addition of the fontina and parmigiano-reggiano as they add the right amount of zip.

This gets dry once reheated. A small dot of butter is required to get the creaminess back.

I especially like this recipe because it cuts about 1/2 of the calories by using the Velveeta Light, non fat cheddar and lowfat milk. This recipe is one of my favorites and I've made it several times.
I give this recipe 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Beef Stew

My family has been making this beef stew recipe for years. It's different from most beef stew recipes because it has a tomato base rather than a beef broth base. I prefer it over the broth base. Even better paired with a piece of buttery, crusty bread!

1 pound of lean stew beef
1 cup of flour
4 small yukon gold potatoes
4 carrots, peeled and cut into coins
1 can of corn, drained
1 can of green beans, drained
1 quart of tomato juice
1 cup of chicken broth
1 onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, diced
1 T olive oil

In a plastic bag, toss the beef cubes with the flour, salt, and pepper. Remove the beef cubes and shake off excess flour. In a large pot, brown the meat with the olive oil and diced onion and garlic.

Add the tomato juice and chicken broth and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the carrots and simmer for an addtional 15 minutes. Add the potatoes and simmer for 15 minutes more. Add corn and green beans to warm.

The Macaroni & Cheese Project: Recipe 001

Baked Macaroni & Cheese is a huge topic on The Nest. Someone is always in search of the best recipe, so what I've decided to do is start trying recipes from around the 'net and do my own critiquing and voting! Plus this will be a great place to compile the various recipes.

I've numbered them starting at 001 to protect identities. If you want the direct link or original post, please let me know.

I found this recipe on The Nest and it was requested by many people on my local board.

Recipe 001
4 cups cooked elbow macaroni, drained
4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Once you have the macaroni cooked and drained, place in a large bowl and while still hot and add the cheddar. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and add to the macaroni mixture. Pour macaroni mixture into a buttered or pam casserole dish and bake for 30 to 45 minutes. Top with additional cheese if desired.


Easy. The hardest part of this recipe is boiling the water! No cheese sauce to make.
I liked the texture right away. I do like my mac'n cheese a bit chunky, but not too dry. It had a bit of creaminess, but a little greasy from the butter and cheese.
I should have realized that with one type of cheese, this wouldn't have much flavor variety. Even though I used sharp cheddar, I felt the taste was a little bland. It needed another more sharp or pungent cheese to 'wake' this up. I should have been turned off by the addition of the eggs. I'm not a huge fan of eggs, so when I bit into a shell filled with scrambled egg, I was not a happy camper.

Surprisingly, this had a better taste/texture once it was reheated. It seemed a little creamier the second time around.

I give this recipe 3 out of 5 stars.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars with Nutella Frosting

This recipe is so quick and easy! You don't need to add the Nutella frosting, but why wouldn't you?!
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 pinch salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
In a large bowl, beat together the butter, vanilla and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
Sift together the salt , baking soda, and flour and mix into the butter mixture. Fold in the chocolate chips. Mix until well blended. Press batter into a 9x13 inch baking pan.
Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into bars and let cool in pan on wire rack.
Nutella Frosting
I made a 1/2 batch of Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Frosting and beat in 3 tablespoons of Nutella.

Chai Shortbread Cookies

This recipe is out of the December 2007 Cooking Light issue. I thought they'd be bigger in diameter than they were, but these are bite-sized, so don't be surprised when you make these!

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 6 3/4 ounces)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom (I omitted because I didn't have it. I used chinese 5 spice instead)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash of ground cloves
Dash of freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup powdered
10 tablespoon butter, softened
1 tablespoon ice water (I used strong-brewed chai tea)

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through pepper), stirring well with a whisk. Place sugar and butter in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until combined (mixture will appear crumbly). Sprinkle dough with 1 tablespoon ice tea; toss with a fork. Divide dough in half. Shape dough into 2 (6-inch-long) logs; wrap each log in plastic wrap. Chill 1 hour or until very firm.

Preheat oven to 375°.
Unwrap dough logs. Carefully cut each log into 18 slices using a serrated knife. Place dough circles 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes. Cool on pans 5 minutes. Remove cookies from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

Orange Rooibos-infused Apricot and Walnut Biscotti

Instead of water, I brewed some orange-rooibos tea for the dough. I really liked the result and will try this with other teas and cookie recipes.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons strong-brewed rooibos orange tea
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
Melted Dark Chocolate

Preheat oven to 325°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Stir in walnuts and apricots.
Combine 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water, rind, vanilla, and eggs, stirring with a whisk. Add egg mixture to flour mixture, stirring until well blended (dough will be dry and crumbly).

Knead dough lightly in bowl 7 or 8 times or until a dough forms (dough will be sticky). Divide dough in half. Shape each portion into an 8-inch-long roll. Place rolls 6 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; flatten each roll to 1-inch thickness.
Bake at 325° for 30 minutes. Remove rolls from baking sheet (do not turn oven off); cool 10 minutes on a wire rack.

Cut each roll diagonally into 15 (1/2-inch-thick) slices using a serrated knife. Place slices, cut sides down, on baking sheet. Bake at 325° for 15 minutes. Turn cookies over, and bake an additional 10 minutes (cookies will be slightly soft in center but will harden as they cool). Remove from baking sheet; cool completely on wire racks.

Steak Fajitas

This is one of our favorite quick-fix meals. Plus it's perfect for that flank-steak that you have no idea what to do with!

I took a flank steak and used a dry rub all over it. My favorite is Saltgrass 7, which is a mixture of coarse salt, pepper, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. Then the steak is grilled to 'medium'. Allow to rest for a few minutes and then slice it as thin as you can with a very sharp knife!

I top mine with my homemade guacamole, sour cream and cheese. Sometimes I'll add salsa, too.

2 ripe avocados
juice of 1 lime
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of diced tomatoes

Remove the flesh of the avocados and mash with a fork. Add the lime juice and salt and mash into a paste. Stir in the garlic and tomatoes.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Classic: Peanut Butter Tassies

This is what happens when you're craving something sweet.......

1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
1/2 c. granulated white sugar
1/2 c. light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 c. flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 (14 oz.) bag miniature peanut butter cups

Cream butter and peanut butter; add sugars gradually, beating until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, beating well. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture, mixing well. Chill at least 1 hour.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Place in lightly greased tassie pans, shaping each ball into a shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes, dough will rise during baking. Remove from oven and immediately press a peanut butter cup evenly into each hot crust. Cool completely before removing from pan. Makes 24 tassies. Can be frozen.

Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

Melissa gave me a recipe for this soup and it sounded so good. Although, I wanted to make it a bit lighter, so I decided to make this broth-based instead of cream-based. This is a good use for leftover turkey! The soup was so yummy! Lots of hearty veggies paired nicely with the wild rice.

2 cups of leftover turkey, shredded
6 cups of chicken broth
1 cup of water
3 carrots, chopped
1 parsnip, chopped
1 1/2 cups of uncooked long grain and wild rice
1 1/2 cups of assorted mushrooms (I just grabbed the package of mixed mushrooms)
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 onion, diced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 tablespoons of sherry
bay leaf

In a soup pot, sautee the onion, carrot, parsnip, and celery in the oil for 10 minutes. Deglaze with the sherry wine. Add the chicken broth, water, bay leaf, and rice. Simmer for 15 minutes or until rice is tender. Add the mushrooms and simmer until tender, approximately 5 minutes. Add in the turkey to warm. Season with salt/pepper and serve.

Red Chile-Cheese Enchiladas

When I saw this in the December issue of Cooking Light, I had to make it! I added shredded chicken to mine, just because it seemed kinda boring without it. I topped it with lettuce, tomato, and sour I always do with enchiladas. I think next time I'll also add in the Fiesta Rice too! Of course, my photos aren't nearly as pretty and neat as in the magazine!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Aunt Jennie's Apple Pie

No one made apple pie like my great aunt, Jennie. Most of the time she'd skip making small pies and make trays and trays of apple squares...which was basically apple pie but made on baking sheets and cut into squares. She made pies up until she got very sick and was well into her 80's.

Luckily, her recipe was written down, although, I don't think anyone can amke pies like she could! I used her recipe and was very pleased with the result. The crust was flaky and the apples were tender and sweet with a hint of tartness.

2 1/2 Cups of flour, sifted

3/4 cup of shortening
5 tablespoons of cold water
1 teaspoon of salt

Sift the flour and salt together into a large bowl. With 2 forks, cut in half of the shortening until the shortening is incorporated into the flour and the mixture is "mealy".

Cut in the remaining shortening until the shortening is incorporated and forms small "beans".

Sprinkle the water onto the mixture, one tablespoon at a time. Incorporating the water thouroughly before adding the next tablespoon.

Form the dough into a ball, making sure not to over-handle the dough.

Roll out onto a well-floured surface.

8-10 apples (I used a mixture of rome, jonagold, golden delicicous, mcintosh, and fuji)
*The apples must be peeled, cored, and sliced very thin.*
The juice of 1 lemon
2/3 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of cinnamon

Toss all of the ingredients in a bowl.

Assembling the pie:
Line the bottom of a pie plate with the rolled-out dough.
Fill the crust-lined pie plate with the apple mixture.
Dot with 2-3 teaspoons of butter.
Top with remaining pie crust.

Bake approximately 45 minutes at 350 degrees or until golden brown and filling is bubbly.

Marbled Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake

This recipe was given to me by a Nestie on the What's Cooking Board on the Nest....Pinks101604. I really liked the combination, but my family wasn't as keen on it as I was. Apparently, no one else in my family likes dark chocolate!
4 tbsp unsalted butter
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
¼ cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup all purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
¼ cup finely chopped walnuts (optional)

4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 ½ lbs cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs, at room temp.
1 ½ tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups canned pumpkin puree (1 lb)
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves

Make the crust: Preheat oven to 325. Lightly butter 9 inch springform pan. In a medium saucepan, melt butter with the chopped chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove the melted chocolate mixture from the heat and let it cool slightly, then stir in the sugar and the lightly beaten egg until blended.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the melted chocolate mixture. Stir the chopped walnuts into the brownie batter. Spread the batter in the prepared springform pan and smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake for 10 minutes, or until risen and dry to the touch. Let it cool completely. Wrap the outside of the pan in a large sheet of foil. Leave the oven on.

Make the cheesecake: In a medium glass bowl, melt the chopped chocolate in a microwave oven on high for 1 minute, stirring halfway through. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well between additions. Beat in the cornstarch and vanilla. Add 1 cup of the cheesecake batter to the melted chocolate and stir until well blended. Beat the pumpkin puree and the cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves into the remaining cheesecake batter.
Pour three-fourths of the pumpkin cheesecake batter over the brownie crust. Pour the chocolate batter on top of the pumpkin cheesecake batter. If the chocolate batter is too thick to pour easily, heat it in the microwave on high for 10 seconds. Spoon the remaining pumpkin cheesecake batter on top of the chocolate batter. Use a table knife to make a few decorative swirls: Do not over swirl.

Set the springform pan in a medium roasting pan. Add enough hot water to the roasting pan to reach halfway up the side of the springform pan. Bake the pumpkin cheesecake in the hot water bath in the center of the oven for 1 ½ hours or until it is firm around the edges but slightly jiggly in the center. Turn the oven off, prop the door several inches open and let the cheesecake stand in the water bath in the warm oven for 1 hour or until it is completely set.
Remove the marbled pumpkin cheesecake from the water bath and refrigerate it until thoroughly chilled, at least 4 hours or over night.
Remove the foil and springform ring from the cheesecake. Carefully transfer the cheesecake to a platter, cut into wedges and serve.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Chicken Tortilla Soup

My friend Jill gave me this recipe several years ago. It's become a staple menu item in our house. Her recipe calls for carrot and zucchini, but Josh doesn't like them in the soup, so I've substituted them.

4 cups of chicken broth
1 cup salsa (I use homemade)
3 chicken breasts, cubed
1 green pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can of Niblets corn, drained
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons of orgegano
1 teaspoon cumin

tortilla chips
cheddar cheese
sour cream

Place the chicken broth and spices in a soup pot and bring to a simmer.
Add the chicken and cook until no longer pink.
Add the salsa and diced peppers and simmer until peppers are tender.
Add the corn and black beans to warm.
Serve over crushed tortilla chips and shredded cheddar cheese. Top with sour cream.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cheesy Potatoes Au Gratin

I wasn't happy with any of the recipes I found online, so I made up my own! I would like to try this with different cheeses like asiago, but this is what I had on hand.

6 Yukon gold potatoes, sliced thin
1/2 cup of cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup of Velveeta Light, shredded
1/2 cup of fat free sour cream
1 cup of milk
1 small onion, diced
2 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon of flour

Melt the butter in a skillet. Saute the onion until transparent. Whisk in the flour. Stir constantly until the roux is a light golden brown.

Whisk in the Dijon mustard, sour cream, and milk.

Add the cheeses and melt almost completely. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the potatoes and stir gently.

Transfer to a baking dish and bake for approximately 35-40 minutes at 325.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Zuppa Toscana, My Version this is my version of what you can get at the Olive Garden. I've lowered the calories and fat by using turkey sausage and skim milk and the end result is practically the same!

1 pound of turkey sausage
1 large can of chicken broth
4-5 yukon gold potatoes (sliced thin)
1 small onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, diced
1 cup of skim milk
1 cup of chopped kale

Crumble sausage and brown in a skillet.

Place the chicken broth, potatoes, onion, and garlic in a soup pot and simmer for approximately 25-30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Add the sausage and simmer 10 minutes more.
Add the kale and milk and simmer until kale is tender. Season with salt and pepper.

Beef Noodle Soup

This recipe has been in the family for quite some time. I remember having it as a child and it is still one of my favorite soups.

1 2-3 pound beef roast
1 head of cabbage
1 quart of tomato juice (I use homemade)
6 yukon gold potatoes (peeled and quartered)
1 pound of carrots (peeled and cut into thirds)
2 stalks of celery
1 onion (peeled and cut in half)
a small bunch of parsley

Fill a large stock pot about 2/3 of the way up with water. Place the cabbage, beef roast, tomato juice, celery, onion and parsley in the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 4-6 hours (keep the lid on the pot).

After the stock has cooked, strain it through a sieve, reserving the meat. Place the meat back into the stock. Add the carrots and potatoes. Simmer for 20-30 minutes or until carrots are tender.

Serve with extra fine egg noodles.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pumpkin Rolls - A Family Tradition

Each year, my mom and my aunt make pumpkin rolls. Some are given out as gifts and some are kept for the family for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I think everyone who tries these asks for the recipe, so here it is!

3 eggs
2/3 Cup of canned pumpkin
1 Cup of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 tesaspoon of cinnamon
3/4 Cup of flour
1/4 Cup of chopped nuts (we use walnuts)

In a bowl, mix the wet ingredients and then mix in all of the dry ingredients.

Pour the batter into a wax paper-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with chopped nuts.

Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.

Turn the cake onto a tea towel sprinkled with powdered sugar and gently peel off the wax paper. Gently roll the cake and tea towel ~ roll longways. Place roll in freezer and allow to cool.

Once the cake is cool, remove it from the towel and place onto a sheet of aluminum foil. Gently unroll and spread filling inside.
Filling Recipe:
1 8oz. Package of Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1 Cup of Powdered Sugar
2 Tablespoons of Butter
1 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract

Mix well with an electric mixer. Filling should be smooth and creamy.

Once the filling is spread onto the cake, roll the cake back up and wrap in the aluminum foil.

Can be frozen for several months.

Bowls of pumpkin cake batter

Bowls of Cream Cheese Filling

Spreading the cake batter in the pan

Spreading the filling on the cake roll

Rolling up the pumpkin roll

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Make Your Own: Sweetened Condensed Milk

I wanted to make the Hello Dolly bars in my blog and realized I had no sweetened condensed milk. So, I figured I'd make my own!

2 Cups Skim Milk
1 1/4 Cups of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of Vanilla
Place the milk in a saucepot and reduce by 2/3. The milk will be slightly thicker and have a light tan appearance. Add the sugar and simmer until the mixture is thick and coats the back of a spoon. About 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

This was way better than any canned sweetened condensed milk! It was almost like dulce de leche...just not as caramelized and thick.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Homemade Spaghetti & Meatballs

I learned how to make spaghetti sauce from my mommy when I was very young. At the time, I was so naive that I thought the onion she put in the sauce was an egg! Like any good spaghetti sauce recipe, this one also evolved over time.

1 can crushed tomatoes (I like San Marzano)
1 can diced tomatoes (San Marzano)
1 can tomato paste
1 quart of tomato juice
1 small onion (peeled but left whole)
2 bay leaves
5-6 fresh basil leaves (chopped)
oregano (fresh is good, but if you have dried that’s fine – I put it in to taste, so no measurement here)
¼ cup sugar
olive oil ( about a tablespoon or 2)

Place all the ingredients into a crock pot and allow to simmer on low for 6-8 hours. I like to put mine on the lowest setting and let it cook while I’m at work. If you don’t have a crock pot, you can do this on the stovetop, but just simmer for about an hour, stirring frequently.

My meatballs are also a basic, family recipe.

1 pound of lean ground beef
1 egg
1/2 cup of Italian Seasoned bread crumbs
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
Mix all ingredients by hand in a large bowl. Form into 1.5" balls. I usually just drop these in the sauce and let them cook - flavoring the sauce and being flavored by the sauce!

Greek Lamb Kabobs

I saw this marinade recipe in the May 2007 issue of Cooking Light. We thought it looked so good, but was a bit apprehensive because they served it on lamb. We've never had lamb before, other than in a gyro, so it was definitely an experiment.

I used lamb chops and cubed the meat, removing all fat and bone. Then I marinated the cubes in this recipe:

1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
4 garlic cloves, minced

I let the lamb sit in the marinade for at least an hour. Then skewer the meat and grill. This turned out so yummy and was almost like eating filet mignon!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Tha Ill-Dookie (Josh's Hot Wings)

My husband claims he can't cook, but yet he's made a few amazing things. For my 30th, he made filet mingon, garlic mashed potatoes, and even baked me a cake. He's also the grill-master of the house and can grill a steak to perfection.

These wings were no exception. This was a bit of an experimental recipe. He had tried these wings in Baltimore and had to figure out how to make these at home. I'm usually not a fan of hot wings...I don't care for the taste of hot sauce...but I found myself eating way more of these than expected! I told Josh...these are blog-worthy and he had to come up with a name. He said they were the "ill-dookie" and laughed. He didn't give me any other choice at that point, so these are Josh's Ill-Dookie Hot Wings.

Here's the rundown of ingredients - no real measurements were made and it was done according to taste:
Frank's Hot Sauce (the base of the sauce) - approximately 1 cup
Butter - approximately 3-4 tablespoons
Garlic Salt - a few shakes
Old Bay Seasoning (the secret ingredient that changes everything you know about wings!) - approximately 1 tablespoon (give or take)
Parmesan Cheese - approximately 2 tablespoons in the sauce and extra for sprinkling.

In a saucepot, heat up the Frank's Hot Sauce.
Add the butter and let it melt.
Add the spices and cheese.

*The Lions Head bottle that you see in the background is a pilsner beer from a microbrewery in Wilkes Barre, PA. This stuff is really good and only about $11 a case! You have to have beer and wings!

Veggie Pizza

I love this stuff! It's really the only way you'd get me to eat raw cauliflower and raw broccoli! I made it as a side dish to our dinner last night. Josh made hot wings so this was like the veggies and ranch dip you get as a side.
2 (8 ounce) packages refrigerated crescent rolls
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup Light Miracle Whip
1 (1 ounce) package dry Ranch-style dressing mix
1 cup fresh broccoli, chopped
1 cup chopped cauliflower
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Roll out the crescent roll dough onto a 9x13 inch baking sheet, and pinch together edges to form the pizza crust.

Bake crust for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Once finished cooking, remove crust from oven and let cool 15 minutes without removing it from the baking sheet.

In a small mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, and dry Ranch dressing. Spread the mixture over the cooled crust. Arrange broccoli, tomato, green bell pepper, cauliflower, shredded carrots, and Cheddar cheese over the cream cheese layer. Chill for one hour, slice and serve.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Chicken Enchiladas with Poblano Cream Sauce

Back in graduate school, a girl I used to know made this for us for dinner a couple of times. The sauce was her mom's recipe and she was never able to give me a copy. It was one of my favorite mexican dishes and I've been craving it for about 8 years now! I found this and thought it was very close to what I had in grad school. Maybe after a few practice rounds, I can get it just right!

* 3-4 poblano chiles, seeded and chopped
*1 clove of garlic
* 1/2 cup milk
* 4 tablespoons butter
* 1 tablespoon flour
* 1 cup Mexican crema or heavy cream
* salt to taste
* 2 whole chicken breasts, cut in half
* 1 cup grated manchego, jack or gouda cheese

Puree the chiles and garlic in a blender with the milk until smooth.

In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter, add the flour and brown lightly.

Add the chile puree, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or a wire whisk until smooth. Lower the heat, add the cream, and stir constantly until the sauce begins to bubble. Remove from heat and add salt to taste. This sauce may be made one day ahead and refrigerated.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet and saute chicken breast halves for 4 minutes on each side. Place them in a buttered baking dish, pour the poblano cream sauce over all bake, uncovered, in a preheated oven at 350º for 20 minutes.
Shred the chicken with two forks.

I served this rolled up inside a lightly fried tortilla with the cheese and topped with homemade guacamole and sour cream.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Chili....that's quick but tastes like it simmered all day!

Over the years, I have tinkered around with how I make chili. I think I've finally gotten it to a point that I'm happy with. The addition of the lager really gives it depth. Plus adding extras in like corn and topping with sharp cheddar gives it many layers of flavor and texture. I just got really tired of beans and meat only!

1 pound of lean ground beef
1 small onion, diced
1 can of dark red kidney beans (sometimes I substitue 1 can of black beans here)
1 can of light red kidney beans
1 small can of Niblets corn
1/2 bottle of lager (I used Lion's Head)
1 quart of tomato juice
1 can of Progresso hearty tomato soup
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons oregano
1 clove of garlic, diced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
cheddar cheese (optional)

In a dutch oven, sautee the onions and garlic in the olive oil until the onions are transparent. Add the ground beef, season with salt and pepper, and let brown.

Add the tomato juice, tomato soup, oregano, and cumin and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the beer and simmer 15-20 minutes more. Chili should be somewhat thick.

Add the beans and corn and let warm. I've also added black beans to this at times.

Top with shredded cheddar cheese.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Home of the Buffalo wing

Josh and I went to Buffalo, NY yesterday for the day. I had to go up for work for a quick site visit. We figured, since we've never been, we should check out the city and it's namesake...Buffalo Wings. On the recommendation of one of Josh's friends, we went to a place called Duffs...which supposedly had the best wings in the city. We ended up getting the mild since we were told even the mild were pretty hot. Josh reluctantly poses for the camera......

Well, they weren't hot at all, more like, buttery. The wings were okay, but I still have yet to find wings better than Fat Head's in good old Pittsburgh!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The best steak you'll put in your mouth!

I have my favorite Texan gal, Andi, to thank for this. She sent me a care package from TX which included Saltgrass Steakhouse's 7 Steak Spice. The recipe is simple...rub the Saltgrass spice all over the filet. Grill to medium perfection. About a minute before taking the steak off the grill, let a pat of butter melt over the top of the steak. Let rest a few minutes before cutting. Warning, your mouth will water excessively!
I serve these with my roasted garlic and white cheddar mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus. Yum!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Yankee Pot Roast

I saw this recipe in the most recent issue of Cooking Light. This isn't my usual preparation for pot roast, but it seemed quick and easy. I still prefer my beef roast with mashed potatoes and gravy!

Josh and I both thought it a little bland. Maybe some ne or even a lager beer would have gave it the extra shot of flavor it needed.

Giada's Vodka Sauce

Yes, I love Giada. She is a culinary genius. The other night was my first attempt at vodka sauce and no better recipe to use than Giada's!

This recipe comes from and instead of using penne, I used mini cheese and mini meat ravioli. I also made Giada's simple tomato sauce, which is the base of this recipe and had a bit leftover for a future use. The simple tomato sauce is pretty darn tasty and it'd work well on it's own.

Sometimes my plates look fancy, other times, they look "real"...because they are real! I usually snap a quick shot right before dinner. I'm not here for 'chef of the year'...just to keep my recipes in an easily-accessible place.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Well, Hello Dolly!

I saw these "Hello Dolly Bars" on the Homesick Texan's blog. So she gets all the credit for this recipe. I used walnuts instead of pecans and they were fabulous! I will make these again...very soon!

Don't you love that cute plate?

Chicken Marsala

My recipe for chicken marsala is almost famous! I've given this to a few friends and it's on the top of their weekly menus quite often!

1 pound of skinless, boneless chicken breasts (Cut into thirds)
1 carton of baby bella mushrooms
1 cup of Marsala wine
1 1/2 cups of chicken broth
1 clove of garlic, diced
1 small shallot, diced
1 tablespoon of butter
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 eggs
1 cup of flour plus 2 tablespoons for sauce
1 teaspoon paprika
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
Mix 1 cup of flour with the paprika, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a fork.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet.
Dredge the chicken pieces in the eggwash and then coat with the flour mixture.
Brown in the skillet on both sides (3 minutes per side)
Place the chicken pieces in a glass baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
While the chicken is cooking, use the same skillet as you fried the chicken and melt the butter. Sautee the shallot and garlic until transparent.
Add the mushrooms and sautee until tender.
Add the Marsala Wine and let simmer 5 minutes.
Add 1 cup of chicken broth and let simmer 5 minutes.
Add the fresh thyme.
Mix 2 tablespoons of flour with the remaining 1/2 cup of chicken broth and whisk until smooth.
Add the flour/broth mixture to the skillet and simmer lightly until thickened, stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve the marsala sauce over the chicken breasts and egg noodles.

Happy Birthday, lil' sis!

My sister described this cake as a brownie with frosting. Even the choco-phobes in my family had a big chunk! Sure, my cake decorating skills are a bit lackluster but this cake was darn good!
I used the Wilton Buttercream Frosting recipe for the orange frositng.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


I've never been to New Orleans, so I can't really say that I've had authentic Creole food. I did, however, have some really delicious Cajun food at a Cajun restaurant in Lexintgon, Kentucky. Since it's even more difficult to find Cajun food in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, I had to figure out how to make this on my own.

I finally found a recipe that sounded really close to what I had in KY.

I followed this recipe, pretty much exactly, except I added frozen okra near the end and I omitted a cup of chicken broth because I like this served on top of rice instead of with the rice mixed in. I used chicken, shrimp, and andouille as the meats.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Banana-Apple-Honey Nut Muffins

I created this one on my own. Adding healthy ingredients and a combination of yummy flavors. These muffins are moist and have great texture!

1 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup Soy Garden (butter replacement)
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of honey
1/2 cup of chunky applesauce
2 tablespoons of wheat bran
1 1/2 cups of self-rising flour
1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Beat 1 cup sugar and Soy Garden at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.
Add mashed bananas, honey, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla, beating well.
Combine flour and baking soda; add to banana mixture, beating until just combined. Stir in chopped walnuts.
Pour into lined muffin tins. I sprinkled mine with a little extra wheat bran.
Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pan, and cool completely on wire rack.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Chicken Cordon Ewe

Actually, I'm not sure what to call this! It's definitely Italian and not French, but my brain is not cooporating tonight and I can't come up with anything creative. Any suggestions?

So here's the recipe....

4 chicken breasts, pounded flat
4 slices of Prosciutto di Parma
1 oz. block of goat cheese (sliced)
3 eggs
1 cup of Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup of frozen spinanch, thawed and drained

Lay out the chicken breast. Place a piece of prosciutto on top of the chicken. Then layer on the cheese and spinach. Roll up. Dredge in egg wash and then lightly dredge in the breadcrumbs.

Brown in a skillet, approximately 5 minutes per side. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

I served with Parsley Potatoes - which is basically 5 yukon gold potatoes cubed and boiled until fork tender and then tossed with butter and fresh, chopped parsley.

My husband put the peas on my plate...I think he over did it!