Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Veggie Enchiladas

Love enchiladas (any mexican food really), so I saw this recipe and thought it was a nice way to mix up a classic!  This recipe idea comes from How Sweet.  I have a few modifications however that I would use next time.  I have to say as much as I like using the wheat tortillas verses flour, I think enchiladas is just one of those recipes that you can tell the difference.  The taste and the texture are just both better w/ the flour when it comes to these.  Also we didn't think they had enough filling and also wished it would have had a little more flavor.  Next time I would double the filling amount and add a packet of taco seasoning that you would use for tacos or burritos.

Loaded Veggie Enchiladas
makes 3-4 enchiladas, serves 2 people
4 whole wheat tortillas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 green pepper, chopped
1/4 red pepper, chopped
1/4 sweet onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped baby portobello mushrooms
1/2 chopped zucchini or squash
1/4 cup frozen corn
1/3 cup black beans
1 1/2 cups red enchilada sauce
1 cup shredded cheese
Preheat oven to 350.
Heat a skillet on medium heat and add olive oil. Add peppers, and onions, sprinkle with salt and saute until soft, about 6-8 minutes. Add in chopped mushrooms and squash, sauteing for another 5 minutes. Add black beans, corn and 3/4 cup enchilada sauce, mixing until combined and heating through.
Turn off heat and stir in 1/2 cup shredded cheese.
To assemble enchiladas, add about 1/3 cup mix into the center of a tortilla and roll tightly. Add to baking dish and repeat with tortillas and mix. Top with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese.
Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

BBQ Chicken Salad

Who doesn't love a bbq chicken salad?  I've only had it with ranch dressing though.  This one however looked so fancy and sounded like a great combination with the homemade blue cheese and avacado dressings.  Original recipe found here: Two Peas and Their Pod.  I however modified to make it easier and to our tastes below.

BBQ Chicken Salad
For the Blue Cheese Vinaigrette: (I halved this dressing recipe and it was plenty)
2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 medium shallot, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, dry pan roasted and chopped
2 tablespoons peach jam (or just a pinch of sugar would work)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup blue cheese or Gorgonzola
Salt and pepper to taste

For the potatoes:
5 or 6 small red potatoes, washed and cut in smaller pieces
olive oil

salt & pepper
For the chicken:
Chicken breasts
BBQ sauce-use your favorite brand

For the salad:
Mixed greens
Tomatoes, chopped
Black beans, rinsed and drained
Green & Red Peppers, diced

Carmelized onions
Chopped fresh cilantro
Avacado, diced
1. To make the blue cheese vinaigrette-put all of the ingredients into a food processor or blender. Mix until smooth. If the dressing is too thick, add a drizzle of extra olive oil and mix again.
2. To make the potatoes-toss in olive oil and S&P and roast at 400 degres until tender.  Toss in a little more olive oil and S&P after they are done (I think mine took about 20-25 min).
3. Grill the chicken and brush each piece liberally with bbq sauce. Cut into strips and set aside.
4. Toss salad ingredients in a large bowl and drizzle with dressing.  Add a few potatoes in the side of each bowl and serve salad in those bowls.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Chrispy Shrimp Pasta with Arugula Pesto Cream Sauce

I couldn't wait to make this recipe because I have never had arugula and I keep hearing so many great things about it.  Unfortunately wal mart does not carry arugula :(  So I picked up some fresh spinach instead and decided to make a spinach pesto cream sauce instead!  I figured it would turn out about the same if I just replaced the arugula with spinach.  This was so great with the shrimp.  Perfect combo.  Only thing I might add next time would be some fresh tomatoes on top...can't wait to grow some this summer!  Recipe courtesy of How Sweet.

Crispy Shrimp Pasta
serves 2-4
1 pound raw, deveined shrimp (tails removed)  (I actually just used frozen shrimp and it tasted great!)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 pound whole wheat fettuccine (or pasta of choice - I just used a whole wheat spaghetti)
Boil water for pasta and begin to cook according to directions.
Make sure shrimp is clean and completely dry. Combine salt, pepper, and garlic powder and sprinkle it over the shrimp. Add the flour to a small bowl, and dredge the shrimp through the flour to get a very light coating on it. Heat a skillet on medium high heat and add the olive oil. Once hot, add the shrimp and brown on each side, about 2-3 minutes per side. Drain cooked pasta and add pasta to the shrimp. Top with pesto. To serve, garnish with fresh parmesan.

Arugula Pesto Cream Sauce
1 6-ounce bag of arugula (or spinach if you can't find it like me)
1/3 cup asiago cheese (I subbed parmesan)
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup olive oil + more if needed
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup heavy cream
In a food processor, combine garlic, arugula and cheese. Pulse until combined. Stream in olive oil one tablespoon at a time until the pesto becomes smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired. Add pesto to a large bowl and stir in cream, using a large spoon. Add to shrimp and pasta when ready.

remember me telling you how small my food processor was...

camera settings were a little off here!


Calzones, yum.  The perfect alternative to your normal pizza night.  This was a fabulous way to spend our Friday night: march madness, goose island 312, and calzones!  These are so easy to make and you can choose your fillings for whatever you like.  I got the idea from Kevin and Amanda here.

You start with 1 can refrigerated pizza dough (sold next to the biscuits).  Unroll and lay out the pizza dough flat.  Cut in half (this recipe serves two).  Spread your pizza sauce over one side leaving about one inch of room on the sides to close.  Fill with whatever toppings you would like, but remember you it has to be able to close!  We used pepperoni, diced onion, tomato, green and red pepper, and mushrooms.  Then top with cheese.  Fold empty half over and pinch edges to close.  Melt one tablespoon of butter and brush tops with butter then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and other pizza or italian seasonings you would like.

Cook in a 375 preheated oven for 13-15 minutes until golden brown.  They will smell amazing!  Serve with additional Parmesan and pizza sauce for dipping!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Grilled Chicken Salad w/ Feta, Apple, & Walnuts

I usually don't post recipes very often that we whip together by ourselves because I am generally not very good at writing down the directions, but I am trying to get better at this.  Its definitely an evolving process, this writing thing!

This salad is so easy and delicious and you can really make it your own!  We used a simple balsamic vinaigrette to dress it.

Grilled Chicken sliced and diced up
Feta Cheese
Diced Apple - we used a fuji, they are so sweet!
Chopped Walnuts
Lettuce of Choice - we used a romaine
Balsamic Vinaigrette - recipe follows

Directions:  Grill or cook your chicken as perferred.  Unfortunately its decided to get chilly here again and we haven't been able to break out the grill yet.  I cooked up my chicken breast by dredging it in a dried herb & sugar mixture to caramelize the crust and make the chicken very sweet and flavorful.  I mix equal parts of sugar and (total) herbs together (I used rosemary, basil, garlic, s&p, oregano, thyme - whatever will work!).  You may also want to pound your chicken a few times with a tenderizer or rolling pin if its thicker.  After dredging in herb mixture you want to cook it up over the stove.  No need to add olive oil or butter to the pan prior.  Cook chicken for a couple minutes on each side until done through. 

Dice all ingredients and mix together.  Toss with dressing and top with additional feta if desired.
Here is a balsamic vinaigrette recipe for you.  I've also added a bit of lemon juice and dried herbs to the mix as well.

From Closet Cooking (note this will make a large amount)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1 large clove garlic (grated)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1. Mix everything.


Marshmallow Cream Cheese Fruit Dip

My mom used to make this fruit dip all the time when we were younger (at least that's the way I remember it!).  I remember her making it to bring to the pool for a snack and making it for get togethers with family and friends.  It is so ridiculously easy to make and insanely delicious!  It goes great with any fruit...strawberries, bananas, grapes, cantelope, apples, the list goes on...

Here is the breakdown:  you'll need 2 ingredients, thats right two!

1 8 oz block of cream cheese (buy the neufchatel - lower in fat and tastes the exact same!)
1 jar marshmallow cream (its sold in the baking isle w/ the rest of the marshmallows)

Heat the cream cheese in the microwave by 15 second intervals for about 1 minute total, just to soften it.  Mix in 1/2 of the marshmallow cream straight from the jar.  Continue to add marshmallow and taste until you like the ratio.  I think I bought the bigger jar and used 1/2 to 3/4.  Cut up fresh fruit and serve!  Yummy.  This is my next fruit dip I'm dying to make: toffee crunch apple dip, yes please!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Soup is another recipe you can really use whatever you have or whatever your tastes are.  You could even use ground turkey verses chicken, or just do a vegetarian version with beans only.  This is how I typically make it:

1 or 2 chicken breasts, cooked then shredded
1 zucchini
1 cup of frozen corn
1 onion
1 green pepper (or other color)
a few carrots
2 stalks celery
1 can black/pinto/garbanzo beans (which ever you prefer or more than one if you want!)
1 can refried beans
1 or 2 cans diced green chilis
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 large carton of chicken broth
1/2 to 1 cup salsa
olive oil
S&P, taco seasoning, crushed red pepper, garlic, oregano, any other seasoning you may like
shredded cheese
sour cream
fresh cilantro
crunched up tortilla chips or fritos

Cook your chicken and shred it.  Heat up the olive oil and cook diced veggies until tender.  Add in remaining ingredients (besides your toppings of cheese, sour cream, cilantro, and chips) and warm through.  Season to your own tastes.  Serve with toppings.

Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I admit, this isn't really a new recipe.  The cashew chicken we made a few weeks ago was so good that Corey kept asking for it again.  I decided to make it again, but put a little spin on it...lettuce wraps!  Plus, you can really use any types of veggies in this recipe and make it your own.  This time I only had carrots, red onion, and frozen tri-colored peppers to throw in it.  I found a head of boston lettuce at the grocery and the leaves worked really good for lettuce wraps.  Of course they will never compare to PF Changs in my opinion!!!  You can find the original recipe for the cashew chicken here...but remember, make it your own!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Tuna in bruschetta sauce w/ carmelized onions

I found this recipe on Iowa Girl Eats and knew it was a perfect summer meal that I needed to make as soon as we got the grill out again!  Then I decided it looked too good that I couldn't wait until then.  Then I realized I didn't have any chicken and decided to make it with tuna steaks instead!  Yummy!  This was a great combination and will be even better when we can grill up some chicken in the near future! 

I didn't have the pre-made bruschetta sauce that she had in her recipe so I just threw together some roma tomatoes, red onion, basil, olive oil, S&P, and garlic.  Her sauce looked so good and I would definitely consider purchasing it next time or recreating it with a recipe.  My quick throw-together didn't have enough saucy-ness to it to coat the pasta like I wished it did.  The balsalmic drizzle was a really sweet and savory addition to the meal that I don't think you can skip!  The whole meal was so fresh though and really got us in the summer mood!

Cook up your tuna or grill up your chicken, however you prefer.  She marinated hers in balsalmic vinegar before hand, but I was not as prepared and it turned out great as well.

In the meantime, start boiling your pasta in salted water.  I used whole wheat penne.

While these two are cooking up boil some balsalmic vinegar over medium heat until its reduced and thickened up.  Don't under-estimate how much you will need.  I think mine reduced by at least half.  It will be very sweet at the end of the process.

Cut up one full onion and cook over medium low heat in equal parts of butter and sugar (probably about 1 tbsp each will do).  Cook until your onion is browned and carmelized.  It will also be very sweet.

Once pasta is cooked, combine with bruschetta sauce and onions.  Layer pasta on place, place tuna steak or chicken on top, and drizzle with balsalmic.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Streusel Carrot Muffins

I love baking and wanted to make something healthy for breakfast tomorrow.  These muffins were the perfect thing!  They were a great balance between sweet and spice with the cinnamon.  They weren't overly sweet and made with carrots, whole wheat flour, and flax seed meal are a healthy breakfast on the go!

Streusel Carrot Muffins

adapted from here

For the streusel topping
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup chopped walnuts  
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces

For the muffins
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup flax sead meal 
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated carrots, about 2 medium
2 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup buttermilk (regular or lowfat or nonfat is fine)
1 large egg

Make the streusel topping
1. Measure the flour, flax sead, sugars, and salt into a bowl. Add the butter to the dry mixture. Rub the butter between your fingers, breaking it into smaller bits. Continue rubbing until the mixture feels coarse, like cornmeal. The more quickly you do this, the more the butter will stay solid, which is important for the success of the recipe.  Stir in chopped nuts.
Make the carrot muffins
2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Rub the muffin tins with the butter (or use muffin cups).
3. Sift the flours, bran, sugars, allspice, baking powder and soda, salt, and cinnamon into a large bowl. Stir the carrots into the dry ingredients.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, buttermilk, and egg and whisk until thoroughly combined. Using a spatula, mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
5. Scoop the batter into 8 muffin cups, using a spoon or an ice cream scoop. The batter should be slightly mounded above the edge. Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over the mounds of batter and press it into the batter slightly.
6. Bake the muffins for 32 to 35 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. The muffins are ready to come out when they smell nutty and their bottoms are a dark golden-brown (twist a single muffin out of the pan to check). Remove the tins from the oven, twist each muffin out, and place it on its side in the cup to cool. This ensures that the muffin stays crusty instead of getting soggy. These are best eaten warm from the oven or later that same day. They can also be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 days, or frozen and reheated.

Tomato Meat Sauce over Cheese Tortellini

This looked so yummy when I saw it on my friend Lauren's blog.  I don't make a meat sauce very often and didn't realize how much I would like it!  And I loved the idea of putting it over the cheese tortellini!  I used the remainder I had from making my cheese tortellini and veggie soup so I didn't have enought, but I just added in whole wheat spagetti with the tortellini.  I also took Lauren's advise to make it with ground turkey and couldn't even taste the difference.  It was so good!

3 cloves garlic, minced
2 pinches crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cans (28  ounces each) crushed tomatoes
15-20 leaves fresh basil, roughly cut or torn  (I actually didn't have fresh herbs so I just used dried)
2 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves stripped from stem and chopped
A handful of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
tablespoon sugar

Italian seasoning to taste (basil, oregano, garlic, rosemary)
Ground beef or ground turkey (I prefer ground turkey because it's healthier, cheaper, and tastes pretty much the same when mixed in a sauce or other dish.)

One onion

Combine olive oil, minced garlic and red pepper flakes in a saucepan. When the garlic sizzles add the tomatoes, basil, oregano and seasoning as desired. Bring the ingredients to a boil, then reduce heat and allow the sauce to simmer while you work on the meat.
Place ground beef or turkey on a skilled over medium to high heat with diced onion. Use a spatula or turner to turn meat and break it apart as it cooks. If you use the lean ground turkey, the juices will run clear and then be reabsorbed as the meat browns and finishes cooking. With ground beef you may need to drain the meat of its fat and juices after it's finished cooking. Paper towel or a strainer will work just fine.
Add the cooked meat to the sauce, stirring it together well. Allow the meat sauce to simmer for at least ten minutes to absorb all the flavors. The longer you let them simmer together the richer the sauce will take and more it will thicken.
When you're about read for dinner place the tortellini - or any pasta you'd like - in a pot of salted boiling water. The tortellini cooks fast! Less than five minutes.
Place tortellini in a shallow bowl and top with sauce. Sprinkle a little parmesan cheese on top and enjoy!

Grandma's Homemade Mac & Cheese

I have the best memories of this mac & cheese from going to my Grandma's as a little kid.  We get together for a family lunch every few months and she always made mac & cheese amoung other things.  But, as you can imagine the mac & cheese was one of everyone's favorites.  The cheese sauce was always so light and creamy and she broiled the top to get a thin browned layer of cheese.  The day she gave me her secret recipe (out of her Betty Crocker cookbook) was a very special day to me and a very happy one for Corey since he reaps the benefits!  Now that its not as easy for her to cook a huge meal for everyone we all pitch in, and her famous mac & cheese has become my responsibility.  The best way to make this is to make the cheese sauce the day before hand or at least a few hours so it has time to thicken up in the fridge.  I apologize for not having a picture with this one but I will update as soon as I make it again!

2 tbl butter
2 tbl flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground mustard (dry mustard)
1/4 tsp pepper
a couple pinches of sugar
2 - 3 cups milk (I lean torward 2 1/2 to 3)
1 cup cubed velveeta cheese
2 1/2 - 3 cups elbow macaroni

Melt butter in saucepan.  Mix in flour & seasonings with a wisk.  Continue to heat over medium heat for a few minutes.  Mix in milk with wisk (this may take a few minutes for flour/butter mixture to disolve).  Bring milk to a boil while continuously stirring so it doesn't stick to the bottom of your saucepan.  Once boiling turn heat down and stir in cheese until melted and combined.  If you have time, store cheese sauce in fridge for a couple hours to thicken up.
Boil macaroni until tender, then drain.  Pour macaroni into 13 x 9 in casserole dish.  Reheat cheese sauce, then pour over macaroni to coat it.  Slice extra velveeta thinly w/ a cheese slicer and layer over the top of mac & cheese.  Broil in oven watching very closely until browned as desired.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Cauliflower w/ Bacon & Pine Nuts

Who says you can't have a little bacon with your vegtables!  Have I mentioned before how much of love the Simply recipes blog.  Her pictures are truly beautiful and I love her passion for cooking!  Corey is not a huge fan of cauliflower but I felt like making different veggie and I knew this would turn out good.  It is super easy and doesn't require much time.

Cauliflower w/ Bacon & Pine Nuts
1 cauliflower head, cut into florets
1/4 cup pine nuts
3 or 4 slices bacon
4-5 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1-2 teaspoons dried oregano
1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
Salt and black pepper to taste
Lemon juice to taste
Parmesan cheese
1 Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the cauliflower for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2 While the water is heating, toast the pine nuts in a dry sauté pan until lightly browned. Keep an eye on them, as pine nuts go from toasted to burnt quickly. Set the pine nuts aside when they are toasted.
3 Add the bacon to the pan and fry gently over medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon and set aside with the pine nuts. Sauté the garlic for 1 minute on medium-high heat, then add the cauliflower, pine nuts, bacon, oregano and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine and sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Do not let the garlic burn.
4 Turn off the heat and add salt and lemon juice to taste.  Top with parmesan cheese.
Serves 4-6 as a side dish

Chicken w/ Carmelized Mushrooms & Onions & Grilled Herb Bread

We loved this dish for a great Friday night dinner, especially when you pair it with the opened bottle of wine needed for the recipe :).  I decided to add an onion to this dish because if you read this post, you know that Cor's favorite thing in the world is not mushrooms, however caramelized onions may very well be (by the way, if you haven't made that soup yet, you really need to soon!).

Chicken with Caramelized Mushrooms & Onions in a White Wine Sauce and Grilled Herb Butter Bread
serves 2
2 to 4 thinly sliced boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 onion, cut in half and then sliced
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/3 cup white wine
bread of your choice (I used a rosemary italian loaf)
salt and pepper

for bread: 1/4-1/2 cup butter, softened + herbs of your choice (I used a dry herbs de provence mix that had rosemary, basil and thyme – whatever you like will work)

Season the chicken breasts (make sure they are very thin or slice them thin!) liberally with salt and pepper. Add the flour in a bowl and dredge the chicken in the flour – you want a very thin and light coating on the chicken. Heat a large skillet on medium high heat and add the olive oil. Add the chicken to the skillet and brown on each side, about 3-4 minutes per side. While the chicken is browning, cut up your onion and mushrooms. Slice your bread thinly. Combine 1/4 cup of butter and herbs of your choice. Spread on one side of bread. Grill bread on a grill pan or griddle buttered-side down.

Once chicken is done cooking (after about 7-8 minutes total), set it aside on a plate. Turn heat down to medium and add 1 tablespoon butter and onion. Saute for 1 minute. Add the remaining butter (2 tablespoons) and mushrooms and also a tbs sugar to caramelize. Stir and saute for 6-8 minutes, until mushrooms are soft. Add in wine to deglaze the pan and stir well to remove brown bits from bottom of the pan. Add chicken back in with the mushrooms.  Serve hot with warm toasty bread.

it all starts with a good bottle of wine doesn't it!

Stuffed Peppers w/ Tomato Cream Sauce

Are you starting to see a trend here???  We may like us some stuffed peppers in this household!  Corey says these are his new favorite though.  I really loved them to.  I never thought to go this "tomato sauce" route for stuffed peppers...but I love peppers and onions in my marinara, so as soon as I saw the recipe, I knew it would be good.  Another recipe delightfully borrowed from How Sweet.

Stuffed Peppers with Tomato Basil Cream Sauce
4 red, green, orange or yellow peppers
1 pound ground turkey breast
1 small onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 29-ounce can of tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the tops off of the peppers and remove the ribs and seeds. Set aside.
In a skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and chopped onion, sauteing until soft – about 5 minutes. Stir in 2 minced garlic cloves and cook for 1 minute. Season ground chicken breast with salt and pepper and add it to the skillet to brown, it should take about 10-12 minutes to brown. Stir occasionally.
While chicken is cooking, mix the tomato sauce & diced tomatoes with the heavy cream and remaining garlic clove and heat it over low heat. Stir in almost all of the fresh basil, reserving some for garnish.
Stir brown rice and 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese into chicken mixture, then add enough tomato cream sauce to coat. Turn off heat. Divine the mixture evenly between the four peppers, stuffing them to the top. Place in a dish that allows the peppers to stand. Spoon a bit of tomato cream sauce over the tops, and pour the rest of the sauce into the bottom of the pan. Set the tops gently back on the peppers. Bake for 20 minutes, then cover with foil and bake for 30 more. Serve with more parmesan cheese and basil to garnish.

I took Jessica's advice and served these with mashed potatoes on the side.  I think I honestly could have done without though.  I didn't like how the sauce mixed w/ the potatoes and thickened it up.  They were seriously so amazing on their own.  I realized when I made this the next evening, that the herb bread would have been perfect w/ these.  You must try these soon!  Sorry my pictures didn't turn out so beautiful, but follow the link and check out Jessica's.  They will make you hungry for sure!


What better time to make Jambalaya than for Mardi Gras!  Me and Cor went out to dinner for Vday last month and he ordered this awesome Jambalaya for dinner.  It was a little creamy unlike any other jambalaya I'd had before.  I knew I wanted to add jambalaya to my ever growing list of things I want to cook in the near future and I knew I wanted to add a touch of heavy cream to try and re-create this awesome dish we had.  I purchased a box of Zatarain's jambalaya as a starting point and did a quick google search and actually found a bunch of recipes on their website for different versions.  I knew I wanted to add some chucky veggies and make a pretty standard one, and of course throw in some cream.  I used chicken, sausage, & shirmp, but you can use what you prefer.  Let me just say we were both wishing I had made a double batch!

serves 4, adapted from here

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup water
1 package Zatarain's Jambalaya Mix
2 small chicken breasts, diced
2 andouille sausages, diced (spicy cajin sausage - you can also use smoked sausage)
about 10 raw shrimp, diced (you can also used cooked)
1/4 - 1/3 cup cream, if desired

1. Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and bell peppers; cook and stir 7 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften.
2. Stir in tomatoes, water and Jambalaya Mix. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 15 minutes.
3. In another pan while jambalaya is cooking, brown chicken and sausage.  Add shrimp (if raw) during the last few minutes to cook through.
4. Stir jambalaya, turn heat to low, cover and cook 10 minutes longer until rice and vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
5. Add in chicken, sausage, and shrimp.  Stir in cream.  Remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes.  The cream will tone down the spiciness, but watch out, it will heat back up if you let it sit overnight!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Pasta w/ Chicken, Feta, & Spinach

This pasta is a great combination of flavors.  I found the inspiration from a recipe in a cookbook my mom gave me last Christmas.  A local news station in town published the cookbook w/ recipes of their own and of local "celebrities."  (Reggie Wayne's favorite salmon dish is in there for example).  This pasta has chicken, spinach & feta and has a little lemon juice and olive oil.  I don't really have specifics for you because that's generally the way I cook and you can really adapt this to taste the way you would like it.

Whole Wheat Pasta
Fresh Spinach
Lemon Juice
Olive Oil
S&P and other seasonings you might light

Cook Pasta to box directions - I used a linguine I had left over from Fettuccine Alfredo.  Cook Chicken how you would like.  I cook ours by giving it a caramelized herb crust and cooking it in a pan on the stove.  I mixed up some sugar (probably equal amount to total other seasonings you add), salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, basil, and oregano.  Then dredged the chicken breasts on both sides in the seasoning so it was fully coated.  Heat skillet with a small amount of olive oil and place chicken breast in.  Without moving cook the chicken breast on one side for a few minutes then flip and continue to cook.  This will allow the crust to form and caramelize and it will be so tasty!  Cut up your chicken and toss with pasta, feta, spinach, lemon juice, and a little olive oil.  You might need more salt and pepper or other seasoning.

Strawberry Crostata

I saw this recipe on my friend Lauren's blog and I knew I needed to make it soon!  Then I was at the grocery store yesterday morning and I saw these beautiful strawberries and bought a couple containers of them knowing I could use them to make the Crostata she posted about.  Lauren's used frozen berries so I did a quick internet search and found this recipe on A Cozy Kitchen and knew I could make something similar.  They were both Giada recipes so I knew they would be good and were pretty much the same base.  I didn't use the lemon they both used however because I didn't have one.  I think it turned out awesome.  It truly reminded me of a strawberry shortcake when I took cozy kitchen's advise and served it up with whip cream.  This definitely helped me cure some of my winter blues as I was looking out my window at the rain continuing to pour down!  Who is ready for summer?!

Strawberry Crostata
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
10 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons ice water
1 ½ cups chopped strawberries
1/8 cup strawberry jam

For the dough: Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Next add the cubed butter, a few pieces at a time. Pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal, then pulse in the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, until moist clumps form. Gather the dough into a ball; flatten into a disk. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Once the dough has chilled, remove from the refrigerator and roll out until it reaches roughly 1 foot across. Important note – the dough does not need to look perfect! If it isn’t a full circle or is cracking in places, don’t sweat it. Using a rolling pan, transfer the dough to a baking sheet.
In the center of the crostata dough spread the jam then arrange the strawberries on top, leaving a 2 inch border. Gently fold the dough over the berries, pleating loosely and pinching to seal any cracks in the dough. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes. Serve with fresh whipped cream.

before the oven

fresh out of the oven

Chicken Fried Steak w/ Homemade Gravy & Mashed Potatoes

Chicken Fried Steak is one of Corey’s favorite meals (I feel like I’m beginning to say that a lot!).  But it is the meal Corey loves to order out at a lot of restaurants like Chili’s and Texas Road House.  I never got it.  I just thought it was some piece of meat that they didn’t know what to do with but fry it.  Well I have been changed!  I was very wrong.  It’s made with a cut of meat called “cubed steak” which is a tenderized steak.  And let me tell you, you can cut it with a fork.  It’s so tender and yummy.  I thought this meal was pretty easy to make.  Its basically the concept of breading and frying chicken (hence the name), making a simple homemade gravy (which I’m excited to now be able to do for biscuits and gravy another time), and whipping up some mashed potatoes.  Pioneer Woman’s recipe below was obviously for more than 2 people so I made a third of her recipe and it was definitely enough for 3 or 4 people.

Cubed Steak

Breading station ready to go

Frying up our chicken fried steak!

the homemade gravy was awesome

3 pounds Cube Steak (tenderized Round Steak That's Been Extra Tenderized)
1-½ cup Whole Milk, Plus Up To 2 Cups For Gravy (I used regular 2%)
2 whole Large Eggs
3 cups All-purpose Flour
Seasoned Salt
¼ teaspoons Cayenne (just really a pinch – it goes a long way)
Lots of Black Pepper.
Canola Oil, For Frying
Salt and Pepper, For Both Meat And Gravy

Preparation Instructions
Begin with an assembly line of dishes for the meat: one with the milk mixed with egg and one with flour mixed with spices.
Work one piece of meat at a time. Season both sides with salt and pepper, then dip in the milk/egg mixture. Next, place the meat on the plate of seasoned flour. Turn to coat thoroughly. Place the meat back into the milk/egg mixture, turning to coat. Place back in the flour and turn to coat.  (wet mixture/dry mixture/wet mixture/dry mixture.) Place breaded meat on the clean plate, then repeat with remaining meat.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Drop in a few sprinkles of water to make sure it’s sufficiently hot, it should sizzle. Cook meat, a couple pieces at a time, until edges start to look golden brown, then flip (around 2 to 2 1/2 minutes each side).
Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and keep warm. Repeat until all meat is cooked.

After all meat is fried, pour off the grease into a heatproof bowl. Without cleaning the pan, return it to the stove over medium-low heat. Add 1/4 cup grease back to the pan. Allow grease to heat up.
Sprinkle 1/3 cup flour evenly over the grease. Using a whisk, mix flour with grease, creating a golden-brown paste. Keep cooking until it reaches a deep golden brown color. If paste seems more oily than pasty, sprinkle in another tablespoon of flour and whisk.
Whisking constantly, pour in milk. Cook to thicken the gravy. It will take a while to dissolve the flour/grease mixture.  Be prepared to add more milk if it becomes overly thick. Add salt and pepper and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until gravy is smooth and thick. Be sure to taste to make sure gravy is sufficiently seasoned.  Serve meat next to a big side of mashed potatoes. Pour gravy over the whole thing.  Serve with a side such as corn or broccoli.

Mashed Potatoes are very easy to make homemade.  Pioneer woman gives a recipe w/ the chicken fried steak if you click the link.  I usually just wash my red skinned potatoes and chop them smaller (and cut out any spots) then boil until tender.  Then I mash them with a potato masher and add butter, milk, S&P.  Very simple and tasty!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Pistachio Cookies w/ White Chocolate Glaze

This is another treat I made for my mom's birthday.  The cookies turned out really light and fluffy.  Corey was in love with him - they are his type of cookie.  I would definitely add more pistachio pudding mix next time because they didn't have enough pistachio flavor for me.  And if I could find actual pistachios on sale some time I might chop some up inside or on top!  Recipe courtesy of Indigo's Sugar Spectrum.

¾ cup flour
¼ tsp baking soda
1/3 cup butter, softened
¼ brown sugar
1 tbs white sugar
2 tbs of Pistachio Pudding Mix (I might go 3 or 4 next time)
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten
2 drops of green food coloring (can be omitted)
Pre-Heat your oven to 375
In a medium sized bowl mix together your flour, baking soda, and pudding mix.
In another bowl beat together your butter, egg, sugars, food coloring, and extract. Combine the two mixes, cover in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 2 hours.
Roll into medium sized balls.  Place each cookie ball on to a baking sheet and bake at 375 for about 10 minutes (just keep an eye on them). The bottoms might be slightly browned, but will not taste burnt.  Transfer cookies to cooling rack and make up your glaze.

The white chocolate glaze is a handful of white chocolate chips, 2 tablespoons of milk, and enough powdered sugar to thicken it to your liking. Simply microwave the chocolate and milk slowly until melted then add in the powdered sugar.  I don’t have a fancy piping thing yet for this, so I drizzled my cookies just fine with a fork!  J

Roasted Broccoli

This is truly the best way to eat broccoli in my opinion.  It brings out all the flavor and makes the broccoli really nutty.  A great healthy side dish in my opinion.

What you'll need:
1 or 2 heads of broccoli
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

broccoli washed and cut up, waiting in a roasting pan

Rinse and chop up broccoli to your liking.  Place in a roasting or baking pan (a cookie sheet would even work!) and toss with olive oil.  Sprinkle with Salt & Pepper.  Roast at 400 for about 20 minutes.  I usually check and will sometimes add more olive oil and S&P and toss again before continuing to cook.  I don't have time specifics for you, it depends on the size of your broccoli, but it should start turning golden a little on the edges and getting tender.  It should like like the picture below.

perfect little side dish

S'mores Pie

Oh My Gosh.  If you love s'mores, or pie, or chocolate at all, you need to make this pie.  It is ridiculously easy and oh so delicious.  I made this and a few other treats (I'll share those as separate links) for my mom's birthday this week.  We had a little get-together Wednesday night with family and friends and it was really nice to spend time together.  This is a perfect desert for you to make for any event and its sure to impress everyone!  Recipe courtesy of Mrs. How Sweet.  She never leads me astray!  I believe her recipe came from Tyler Florence.  I didn't get a chance to take any pictures before we gobbled this up so all pictures are courtesy of How Sweet.

S'mores Pie
for crust
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 1/4 sticks butter, melted
Preheat oven to 325.  Add melted butter and graham cracker crumbs together until a crust forms. Press in to a 9 inch pie plate.

for chocolate filling
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
10 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 bag of large marshmallows
Combine milk and heavy cream in a saucepan and heat over low heat. Watch carefully and once it begins to simmer, remove from heat and add in chocolate. Stir until chocolate is melted, then whisk in sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the 2 eggs. Slowly add eggs to chocolate mixture while whisking.
Pour chocolate filling in to graham crust. My pie only needed to be baked for 20 minutes, but I would start at 15 minutes and check every 5-10 minutes after that. One the chocolate is no longer liquid & jiggly, remove the tart and top with as many large marshmallows as you can fit. I stuck the pie back in for 2 minutes so the top could get golden, but really watch because the marshmallows will brown quickly.
Let cool then refrigerate for 1-2 hours before cutting (or overnight).  Mine actually cut into slices really well with a knife and a server.  And it was Divine!

Cashew Chicken

This was the best stir fry I've made to date in me and Cor's opinion.  I found this recipe on How Sweet as well and I took one of her reader's comments to add some sriracha hot chili sauce (luckily I had already purchased this).  It added the perfect heat to compliment the sweetness of the honey.  I also loved how this recipe called for adding the cornstarch.  I never thought to do that before but it helped the soy sauce and honey thicken up and stick to the veggies and chicken.  The beauty of making a stir fry is that you can basically add any veggies that you have in your fridge.  I didn't have any red pepper, but I added in some broccoli & carrots in its place.  I thought the edamame was such a fun addition.  I actually found it in the freezer section for a really reasonable price (maybe 2 or 3 dollars a bag - and it makes a great healthy snack for another time!).

you have got to get your self some of this stuff!
Cashew Chicken
serves 2-3 - from How Sweet
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup mushrooms
1/2 red pepper, sliced thin
3 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup shelled edamame
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup unsalted cashews
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
optional sriracha asian hot chili sauce - I would start with a 1/2 teaspoon and add slowly depending on how spicy you like it - I think I probably ended with about 1 teaspoon.
Heat a skillet on medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add mushrooms and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Remove from skillet. Season chicken with salt and pepper (I chopped first so it would cook quicker), then sprinkle cornstarch on chicken pieces and make sure each piece is somewhat coated. (You can add a little more or less if needed.).  Add the remaining olive oil to the skillet and add chicken. Brown on both sides until cooked, about 5 minutes per side. Add garlic, red pepper, edamame, and cashews and stir for 30 seconds (I added my roasted broccoli & steamed carrots here too). Turn heat to medium low.  Mix in soy sauce, honey, sriarcha, and some red pepper flakes if you like.  Serve with jasmine rice per Jessica's suggestions but I could not find any at the grocery so I just used white rice I already had at home.