20 October 2010

It'sa Lemon Butter Chicken, Mes Amichis

UPDATE: Got the pictures to work! Hallelujah!

Sorry, this was supposed to have posted overnight, but Blogger didn't want to cooperate. And apparently the pictures have disappeared. I'm in the process of trying to reload them, so bare with me please.

When the hubby and I first got engaged, we had planned this great trip to Italy for our honeymoon. Then the military called and we had to change our plans. We ended up marrying a year early and taking a much smaller honeymoon to Washington D.C. (its was absolutely gorgeous in October; if you ever have the chance to visit in the fall, definitely do it). As great as it was in D.C., it was still a bit of a letdown to not be able to feast on all of the great dishes that come from the beautiful country.

I wish I had known about this Lemon Butter Chicken Pasta four years ago. We would have been eating it at least once a week for dinner and a couple of times the following days as leftovers. It's oh so bad for you with the bacon and lemon-cream-butter sauce, but as long as you don't actually eat it once a week, you'll be fine.

This one got quite a few changes to it to suit my picky tastes. Obviously, you can still follow the original, and I'm sure you'll have just as good of results as we did. One thing though, if you do follow the original, still add the tomatoes like we did. It truly enhances the tartness of the lemon juice in the sauce and turns it a pretty shade of pink (very appropriate for Breast Cancer Awareness Month).

Lemon Butter Chicken with Pasta
Recipe from All Recipes, adapted by me

Lemon Butter Sauce:
1/4 cup white wine (I used chicken broth, but that's only because the smell of wine makes me sick right now)
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (feel free to use the stuff int he little yellow bottle; I've tried it both ways and didn't notice the difference either time)
5 tablespoons heavy cream
1 cup butter, chilled
salt and pepper to taste

Chicken and Pasta:
1/2 pound dry farfalle (bow tie) pasta
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - pounded to 1/4 inch thickness
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
salt and pepper to taste
4 ounces bacon
6 ounces mushrooms, sliced (I left this and the artichoke hearts out)
6 ounces artichoke hearts, drained and halved (substituted in a can of diced tomatoes, but you can also use a fresh one)
2 teaspoons capers, drained (forgot about these completely this time around, and I'm glad I did; they make it a bit too salty)
chopped fresh parsley for garnish
  1. To make the sauce, pour the wine and lemon juice into a saucepan over medium heat. Cook at a low boil until the liquid is reduced by 1/3. Stir in cream, and simmer until it thickens. Gradually add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time to the sauce, stirring until completely incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. Turn down the heat, and keep warm (I do this step closer to the end simply because I had it curdle on me the first time I made it when I did it first; still tasted good, just not as pretty).
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, and set aside.
  3. While boiling the pasta, make the chicken by heating oil in a large skillet over medium heat. In a bowl, stir together flour, salt, and pepper. Lightly coat chicken with flour mixture. Without crowding, carefully place chicken in hot oil. (If necessary, cook in batches.) Fry until cooked through and golden brown on both sides. Remove the chicken to paper towels. Stir the bacon, mushrooms, artichokes, and capers into the oil; cook until the mushrooms are soft.
  4. Cut the chicken breasts into bite-size strips, and return them to the skillet. Stir half of the lemon butter sauce into the chicken mixture.
  5. To serve, place pasta in a large bowl. Stir the chicken mixture into the pasta. Taste, and adjust seasonings. Stir in additional lemon butter sauce as desired. Toss well, and garnish with parsley.

15 October 2010

Meat and Potatoes Kind of Girl

I swear, I meant to post another recipe between my Irish posts, but I haven't been cooking as of late. I'm in a little slump at the moment where standing in the kitchen makes my back and feet hurt so I just haven't been doing it as often. Anyway, I couldn't go back on yet another promise so I dragged my butt into the kitchen and put dinner on the table.

Stew. Who doesn't love a nice hearty, beefy stew? Especially when the weather has finally turned to the chillier side. I live for a good beef stew in the Fall, even more so when I can cook it in the slow cooker all day long. Of course, I didn't use my brain or my slow cooker this time around, but it was still fantastic. Served over a bed of Irish Champ, this stew was everything I had been craving (and apparently, the last time I made Champ, I served it with a different beef stew; go figure).

I'm going to tell you a secret. This stew called for Guinness. I made the mistake of not making this until Sunday when no liquor stores were open. So I substituted with an American dark lager (Amber Bock to be precise). It still tasted really good so don't feel the need to make the extra stop to get the import when the domestic beer was just as good (please, don't send the leprechauns after me for saying that). Slainte!

Brown Stew with Guinness
Recipe from The Little Book of Irish Family Cooking

1 lb round steak, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces (I just bought stew meat)
1 1/4 Tbs flour to coat meat
Salt and pepper
Olive or vegetable oil for frying
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced (a bag of baby carrots came in handy here)
1 tomato, skinned and chopped (cut a small X int he bottom of the tomato, place in boiling water for 60 seconds, remove tomato to ice water until cool enough to handle, peel the skin off)
Thyme, marjoram, and parsley
2/3 cup Guinness (just use the whole bottle)
  1. Put the flour, a pinch of salt, and some pepper in a plastic bag. Add the meat and shake until all sides of the beef are coated.
  2. In a large pot, fry the meat gently until golden-brown, then transfer to a plate. Fry the onion and carrots lightly in the meat juices. Then add the tomato and Guinness. Add the herbs, reserving a bit of parsley (this is to your taste). Add the meat to the mix. You may need to add a little water to cover everything (I opened a second beer and used that to top it off).
  3. Simmer gently for about 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is tender. Taste the juice halfway through the cooking. Add more salt, if necessary.
  4. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley and serve with steamed potatoes or pasta shells (or champ!).
Just a heads up, this weekend, my kitchen is turning into a tour of the world. The next three recipes will be from Lebanon and Greece and then the fourth will be from Italy (you're getting double the recipes on my next post cause I love you that much).

06 October 2010

Ireland, I am Coming Home

My parents and some family friends are planning a trip to Ireland and Scotland in the spring. I've been giving them all sorts of tips for Scotland and some fun places they should try to visit while gone. Then, while searching other food blogs today, I stumbled across a post on David Lebovizt's blog about a butter museum in Cork, Ireland. How could I not mention it to my mum? I even told her that she doesn't love me if she doesn't at least try to get a picture of the place.

Anyway, it got me to thinking about Ireland in general and Irish food in particular. You all know by now how much I identify with my Irish heritage and how very proud I am to be able to say that my family came from the Emeral Isle, but I felt very disappointed in myself. I've only got six recipes on this blog tagged as Irish. Where have I gone wrong? I'm not doing a very good job of learning about my heritage if I'm not trying new recipes that my ancestors would have eaten.

So here's what I've got planned. From now on, once a week I'm going to make a full Irish meal. Each one will include at least one element that I've never tried to make myself before. And I'm going to share it with you. Heaven knows, I've got plenty of Irish cookbooks. There will be no excuses as to why I can't keep this promise. If nothing else, it will help me pass along my family's history to my own children and keep it alive for at least another generation. For this first recipe, I'm starting small and bringing you Irish Brown Soda Bread with homemade butter and jam (ok, and some Irish cheddar). Slainte!

Brown Soda Bread
Recipe from Irish Food and Cooking

4 cups wholewheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk (you can use cream of tartar with the dry ingredients to provide acid in place of buttermilk or mix 1 Tbl white vinegar with 1 cup milk as a substitution; obviously, in this case, 2 cups milk and 2 Tbl vinegar)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F and grease a baking sheet. Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir in just enough buttermilk to make a fairly soft dough. Turn on to a work surface dusted with wholewheat flour and knead lightly until smooth.
  2. Form the dough into a circle, about 1 1/2 inch thick. Lay on the baking sheet and mark a deep cross in the top with a floured knife.
  3. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the bread is browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Cool on a wire rack. If a soft crust is desired, wrap the loaf in a clean dishtowel while cooling.

01 October 2010

Sticky Toffee Pudding

I promised you cake. I also promised that you'd have it last weekend. I'm obviously not very at keeping promises (but I'm working on it). I'm making it up to you now by giving you my most favorite cake in the whole wide world, even though it's not the cake I promised originally (I'm hoping that by sharing my favorite recipe, you'll forgive me for not giving you the other cake).

You see, I was going to make my hubby a cake. It was going to be filled with coconut and pecans and caramel and be in the shape of one of his most favorite things. Sadly, that did not happen. You see, I forgot about inviting his 13-year-old sister to stay Friday night and promising his 9-year-old sister that i would go see her on Saturday and making plans with my mum on Sunday. It was a busy and exhausting weekend, so I did not make cake. I will make it though for our anniversary later this month as a special treat just for him (and of course I'll share it with all of you).

Back to Sticky Toffee Pudding. I don't remember the first time I heard of this cake. I don't remember what initially drew me in. I'm not a pudding fan, and not being English, I just assumed it was like Jello pudding. How wrong was I! It's not that kind of pudding at all (you can look here for a breakdown of what the British call puddings). It's stocky and sweet and best served very warm with either some custard or lightly whipped cream or even vanilla ice cream. Obviously, I'm not picky and will eat it straight from the pan with nothing on top or any of the three I just mentioned. It's like Green Eggs & Ham. I will eat it here or there. I will eat it anywhere! Definitely one of those desserts I could eat after supper every night.

Sticky Toffee Pudding
Recipe from All Recipes, adapted by multiple users from the site

1 3/4 cups dates, pitted and chopped (I used plain old raisins)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/8 cups self-rising flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups boiling water to cover
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a small bowl combine the dates and baking soda. Pour enough boiling water over the dates to just cover them.
  3. Cream 1/3 cup of butter with the white sugar until light. Beat in the eggs and mix well to combine.
  4. Add the flour and date mixture (including water) to the egg mixture and fold to combine. Pour the batter into one 8 inch round baking pan.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool, slice and serve with warm caramel sauce.
  6. To Make Caramel Sauce: In a small saucepan combine the brown sugar, evaporated milk, vanilla and 1/3 cup butter. Cook over medium heat and bring to boil. Turn heat down and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Use immediately (you can do like I did and use the extra caramel sauce to top the slices of pudding).

29 September 2010

Pizza Pizza!

Is there anything in this world better than pizza? You can go thin crust a la New York style or deep dish like those living in Chicago. You can also go with a hand tossed variety or thick crust or even a stuffed crust (I've got a point, I swear). Then you top it with a nice tomato sauce, some cheese, and maybe some garden fresh veggies or some meat. It's a total meal that you eat with your hands!

The pizza I made actually was inspired by a picture I saw on This is Why You're Fat (a truly disgusting website on the best of days). Typically, there's nothing but food submissions from people trying to gross other people out. But this pizza, oh, this pizza, looked like a gift from the heavens. Potatoes, alfredo, bacon, cheese. I don't think I know a single person who wouldn't love a slice of that.

Don't look at me like that! I know it sounds weird to have potatoes on a pizza. I know you're probably thinking that it's just my crazy pregnancy hormones making this pizza sound so amazing to me. Trust me, you'll love it too. My hubby couldn't get enough, my best friend was jealous and looking for leftovers, and Aloysius was content. I'd say for a recipe made up after seeing just a picture, it was a pretty successful evening.

Potato Alfredo Pizza
Recipe by me

1 medium pototo, sliced and boiled (choose a small baking potato or a couple small reds; boil until just soft)
Pizza dough (feel free to make your own or cheat like I did and buy some; I used Pillsbury thin crust)
1/2 alfredo sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese (or however much you want)
Handful bacon bits
  1. Preheat oven according to pizza crust directions or according to the recipe you've used for the dough.
  2. Spread the alfredo sauce within a half-inch of the edge. Top with the cheeses, slices of potato, and bacon bits. Top with more cheese if desired.
  3. Bake according to pizza crust directions (I actually go a little longer because I hate a doughy crust and like a little crunch). Serve with salad.

22 September 2010

And the Winner is...

Commenter number 5! Megs! Congrats to my fellow blogger! Shoot me an email so I can forward your email address along to my CSN rep. For everyone else, please check back here this weekend when I reveal the cake I've got planned for my hubby. If you like coconut, pecans, and chocolate, you'll love this cake!

16 September 2010

Soup Soup Soup and CSN Giveaway

I seriously need a new drop leaf table. Mine has seen better days. Between the cats scratching the top every time they got caught up there and the legs starting to get wobbly, I just can't take it anymore. I know where I'd like to get a new one. CSN!

Can I just go on for a few minutes about how much I love soup? I mean, seriously. Even if you don't want to make some Chicken Noodle from scratch, there are hundreds of cans available at the grocery store to choose from (I know, it's not really in line with the Food Revolution, but I can't help that the baby wants Campbell's Potato Broccoli Cheese Soup with Chicken). And it's that time of year when people won't look at you funny for eating soup or bringing leftovers to work for lunch.

Last night, I went over to my best friend's apartment for her amazing Broccoli Cheese soup. I'm not kidding when I say that it's better than Panera's. There are so many tiny little carrot sticks and so much broccoli that each bite is packed with good-for-you veg. One thing that could be improved upon is the cheese. She used Velveeta which melts much better than using real cheese, but it certainly isn't great for you. You could always substitute a can of cream of cheese soup (again, not great for you) or make a cheese sauce beforehand to add into the soup at the end. I can't guarantee how it will work, but melting cheese in boiled milk usually makes for a pretty smooth sauce.

I must say, Aloysius was very happy with the soup. I ate a big bowl along with two slices of sourdough bread with butter and was pleasantly full. Speaking of little Alo, would you like to know the cupcakes gender? It's a boy!!! I'll admit to hoping for a girl, but I'm quite happy with a little boy. Especially since he lets me eat soup! Enjoy the soup. I'm gonna make me a sandwich.

Broccoli Cheese Soup
Recipe by Anne (definitely check out her makeup blog)

3/4 cup chopped carrots (she used the precut, matchstick carrots)
3/4 cup broccoli (she used frozen florets, but fresh would work fine as would a blend of stalks with florets)
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
1/4 cup all purpose flour
Paprika (dash or a little more, depending on taste preference)
Dash of salt
1 cup cheese
  1. In a large pot, combine veggies, broth, and water. Heat to boiling then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until veg are tender.
  2. Combine milk, flour, paprika, and salt. Stir into broth and veg and. Cook, stirring until thick and bubbly. Add cheese. Stir until melted.
If you've stuck with me to this point, congratulations! I'm hosting another giveaway. CSN is offering one reader a $35 gift certificate to be used on any of their websites. Unfortunately, this giveaway is open only to US residents since CSN does not ship internationally (hence why I did the last giveaway the way that I did). To enter please do the following:
  1. Pop on over to Anne's blog and welcome her to the blogging world.
  2. Come back here and leave a comment letting me know what a friendly person you are.
That's it! You have until Wednesday 22 September, cause that's my hubby's birthday. I'll use again to pick the winner. I know if it were me, I'd choose something this time from their great bistro sets!

12 September 2010

Grandma's Fudge

So a few days late and a dollar short. Sorry, still catching up on my sleep apparently (yeah, I know New Mexico is only an hour behind, but it's also a 12 hour drive, and that takes a lot out of a pregnant girl). Also, I didn't realize just how much I'd miss my baby sister. It's not like she's never been away from home before, but this is also the first grandbaby I'm carrying so it's a bit hard to not have her here. Speaking of babies, want to know what kind of a cupcake I have in the oven? Well, Im' not going to tell you...yet. Soon though, I'll share with you what the hubby and I are expecting.

Where was I? Oh yeah, Grandma's fudge. I remember being 8 years old and growing up down the road from Grandma (an old, gravel, dirt road). About once a month, my sister and I would walk down to her house to "help" her make fudge. It was always the best fudge we'd ever had. Smooth, but crumbly. Rich, but not too sweet. Loaded with pecans and chocolate flavor. Always the best thing we could get at Grandma's.

I called up my Grandma last summer to ask her for the recipe. Imagine my surprise and slight disappointment when she told me to go on the Hershey's website. Apparently, all those years that I thought Grandma was a genius in the kithcne, I had been fooled. Her mother had gotten the recipe off the back of Hershey's cocoa box and had even tricked my grandma into thinking the same thing I did. What a let down! You know what made it better? Making fudge with Grandma in her kitchen.

"Grandma's" Fudge
Recipe by Hershey's, adapted by Grandma

3 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, chopped
  1. Line 8-or 9-inch square pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan. Butter foil.
  2. Mix sugar, cocoa and salt in heavy 4-quart saucepan; stir in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to full rolling boil. Boil, without stirring, until mixture reaches 234°F on candy thermometer or until small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water, forms a soft ball which flattens when removed from water. (Bulb of candy thermometer should not rest on bottom of saucepan.)
  3. Remove from heat. Add butter, vanilla, and pecans. Beat with wooden spoon until fudge thickens and just begins to lose some of its gloss. Quickly spread into prepared pan; cool completely. Cut into squares. Store in tightly covered container at room temperature.
  4. If the fudge doesn't set right the first time, boil the mixture again or eat it with a spoon (I kid you not, that's exactly what Grandma's recipe says).

07 September 2010

Alamogordo, New Mexico

Here are some pictures from my vacation. I had a blast and can only wish it lasted longer. Check back in tomorrow for my grandma's fudge recipe.

This is first stop on the way up into the mountains. In the very far background, just before the next set of mountains, you can see White Sands National Monument

This is the tunnel leading into Cloudcroft, NM, which is a cute little western style town that I love to visit

A very old train track bridge; people can now hike down to the actual tracks which of course, I still haven't done

Dad, his twin, Uncle Ants, Grandma, and my little cousin, Joshua

Six Guns and Shady Ladies; these actors were a blast to watch and touted gun safety; we happened to arrive in Cloudcroft just in time for their performance; they were great

White Sands National Monument; the sand is made of mica and gypsum; still one of my favorite places to go, you can sled down the dunes!

The mighty Yucca plant; these things are almost as prolific as the cacti, just not as painful to fall into

My dad photobombed me!

Grandma with her dog, Dakota; I told you I'd force her to write down that dang recipe!

Aunt Shawna, my dad's sister, my mom and dad, and Joshua along with Harley, the doberman

02 September 2010

Vacation Time!

I just wanted to give everyone a quick update. I know I've been really lax around here, but life has been very crazy and stressful. I'll be leaving this evening to drive 12 hours with my parents to see my dad's mom in New Mexico for the holiday weekend.

A few months ago, she had had some really terrible news from her dr that got us all thinking. I ended up missing out on a family trip to Yellowstone this summer (one of Grandma's requests of my dad and his siblings) and didn't get to see her. So now, I'm taking advantage of the Labor Day weekend and going for a road trip. Of course, we'll be driving all night long to get there early Friday morning so no pictures or stops along the way (except for gas), but after, I'll have some awesome pictures to share with you of where my dad and I both grew up.

I'm also going to chain my grandma to the stove and force her to make me some fudge. I have to give you all at least one recipe. I'm only looking out for you. I remember calling and asking her for the recipe and for whatever reason she thought it came from the back of a Hershey's bag. I think Grandma might be crazy cause I never saw her read that recipe off of the back of anything. It always was written down on a yellow legal pad in her awesome handwriting (I'm gonna get her to write it down too so I always have a little piece of her).

One more thing, my next dr. visit is schedule for next Tuesday. I didn't tell you all about my last one because I was kind of sad. You see, the doc told me he'd be able to tell us the gender, but of course my baby took after me and didn't want to cooperate. This time around, I'm trying to just stay calm and serene and will hopefully have good news for you. Aloysius will hopefully finally reveal what's hidden between two tiny legs.

Have a great weekend! I look forward to sharing another recipe that I grew up with as well as pictures of the mountains and the dessert (White Sands, here I come!).

01 September 2010

CSN Winner!

I just couldn't wait any longer to tell you all who the winner for my little giveaway was. So here it is, via

Lucky Number 5! Susan

I will send you an email right away to get your information. Thank you everyone for entering. I so wish I had enough that each of you could have won, but now that I know there are more people reading, perhaps I'll host another giveaway. Who knows? You'll just have to stick around and see!

23 August 2010

CSN Review, Recipe, and a GIVEAWAY!

A few weeks ago, I got an email from a CSN representative asking if I'd like to do a review or host a giveaway on this here blog. When I found out how much the gift certificate would be for, I jumped at the chance to do both. Seriously, who doesn't love free stuff (plus this way, I could have the giveaway open to non-US residents as well)? So I went shopping. I ended up choosing a really awesome 9-inch square baking dish made by Le Creuset that was on sale and came with a matching 5-inch bonus dish.

Making the purchase was easy. It was the waiting for it to arrive that was hard, but that was just because I was so excited for it to get here. It only took about a week and was packaged to ensure there would be no breakage. The color, Caribbean blue, was really spot on for what the picture online showed and it's the perfect size for several recipes I like to to play with in the kitchen.

I got my chance to use the dish this weekend for a going-away BBQ at my parents' house. My baby sister got a job that will take her all the way to Egypt (how cool is that!) so we had everyone over to wish her a Bon Voyage. I was asked to bring dessert. I asked Mim what she wanted, and she asked for this cookie-cream cheese-coffee-cake thing that is literally to-die-for and then suggested I make brownies for my dad and any other communists that don't like cream cheese (yeah, she called him that).

Since the cookie cake thing requires no baking and uses cling wrap, I was able to make it, stick it in the fridge, and move it to a different pan after it got firm. Then I went in search of a good homemade brownie recipe, since I've never tried making brownies without a mix before. I'll admit, I should have stuck with a box mix just to get a true feel for how the Le Creuset works, but everyone was happy with what I made. They were fudgey and chocolatey and really quite good. What I really liked though was how evenly they baked. Usually, I burn brownies. Or the outsides get really tough while the inside is perfect. Or it looks done but ends up being a gooey mess that no one wants to eat. But with this pan, they came out perfect! Ok, they stuck a bit because I didn't grease it very well, but they were still cooked perfectly.

Here's where the giveaway comes in. I bought a second pan in Dijon yellow for you to win. All you have to do is:
  1. Leave a comment on this post by 11:59 P.M. Tuesday 31 August. Be sure I have some way of contacting you inc ase you win.
  2. Get an extra entry by being a follower (just leave a second comment saying that you follow me).
That's it! I'll pick a winner on 1 September using and will hopefully have it sent toy our home before the Labor Day holiday. Now on to the recipe!

Deep Dish Brownies
Recipe from All Recipes, adapted by me

3/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder (only use this if you like a cakey brownie)
1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square pan.
  2. In a large bowl, blend melted butter, sugar and vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Gradually blend into the egg mixture. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let brownies cool, then cut into squares. Enjoy!

17 August 2010

Dorm Food

A few years ago, while attending a small Catholic university in the middle of Nowhere, Oklahoma, I began to experiment with cooking. It's actually when I really started to enjoy cooking. Senior year, my roommate decided to not have a meal plan. She never ate int he cafeteria, so why pay for it? As a way to avoid eating in the cafeteria as often as possible, I offered to do the cooking for her. She paid for the food, I chipped in when I could, and I cooked. We had some really awesome meals cooked in our microwave and various contraband cooking instruments (rice cooker, toaster, Express Cooker).

We ate cakes and muffins, fajitas and filet mignons, soups and chili. Thankfully we were smart and didn't advertise to everyone in our dorms what all the smells coming from our tiny room were otherwise we might have gotten in some serious trouble (see above with the contraband items). I still sometimes get a craving for red velvet cake made in the Express Cooker or Hamburger Helper made in the microwave. But by far, our favorite meal we ever made was White Chili.

Originally, the recipe came from the back of a can of beans. The brand no longer features that recipe on their cans so I had to improvise when I made this. I've since found the recipe on their site, but I think I like my version just a little better. It's considerably better for you then the version we used to eat in college (canned chicken, anyone?). We always topped ours with cheese, sour cream, and Frito chips, but feel free to use whatever toppings you like. I'm guessing freshly sliced avocados would actually be really good with this one. Enjoy!

White Chili
Recipe inspired by Bush's Beans

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 can (4-ounces) chopped green chilies
1 can chopped jalapenos (this is optional and depends on your preferred heat level; I used the whole can cause I love spicy food, but definitely cut it back to half if you use any at all if you're not so big on spicy)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 cans (16 ounces) BUSH'S BEST Great Northern Beans (the original recipe called for Navy beans, and that's what I use)
1 can (14.5 ounces) chicken broth
1 ½ cups finely chopped cooked chicken breast (about 4-5 breasts should do it)
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese (optional)
Sour cream (optional)
Salsa (optional)
  1. In large skillet, cook onion in oil for 4 minutes or until transparent. Add chilies, flour and cumin; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add beans and chicken broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 10 minutes or until thickened. Add chicken; cook until hot.
  2. Garnish with cheese, sour cream and salsa, if desired.

12 August 2010

Oh Alfredo....

I'm baaaacccckkk! Sorry for the delay in posting. I went off the phenergan because I've not been having morning sickness. Yay! The bad thing about it is that I'm actually sleepier when I don't take it (meds that knock you out but don't make you groggy, I can deal with that). Yuck. Anyway, something else that's been fun about being preganant at the start of a new trimester is that I'm finally having cravings. Not for any one food in particular, oh no. That would be too easy. Instead, I crave breakfast food. I loath breakfast but force myself to eat something every morning because it's the most important meal of the day. Blah blah blah. I've been having cereal as an after dinner snack, craving pancakes with butter and waffles with cream cheese (don't knock it til you try it), and even considered eating an egg for a second or two (my mortal enemy).

Anyway, this post is not about breakfast. I just wanted to share something that was fun about being pregnant for me since I feel like all I did for the first three months was complain. Probably this weekend though, I'll give you the recipe for the pancakes we eat. So light and fluffy. Made froms cratch. What was I here to talk to you about again? Oh yeah, alfredo. I found a fun new recipe for an alfredo sauce on All Recipes that I desperately wanted to try the other night. Of course, me being me, I had to play with it.

I added broccoli and chicken (finally can deal with chicken again) and really wish I had thought about garlic before it was eaten, cause that would have been good. I was a bit worried when I added my cheese to the hot cream though. Since the recipe calls for mozzarella and provolone, cheese not really meant for cheese sauces, it kind of seized and looked like melted string cheese. Thankfully, I didn't just toss it in the garbage and start over, because as I continued to stir it wondering how to fix it, it came together. And boy did it come together! My taste buds may be off and making things taste a little different, but even I could tell through the mixed signals that it was good. Please try it. You won't be disappointed.

Four Cheese Alfredo Sauce
Recipe from All Recipes, adapted by me

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup butter (I used 2 Tbl here; I honestly would not use that much unless you've had success with a prior alfredo recipe calling for that much butter)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded provolone cheese
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese (I cheated and used Sargento's 6 Italian Cheese Blend)
1 tsp ground nutmeg
  1. In a medium saucepan combine whipping cream, butter, and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently until butter melts. Gradually stir in grated Parmesan cheese, grated mozzarella cheese, grated provolone cheese, and grated Romano cheese. Reduce heat to low, and continue to stir just until all cheese is melted.
  2. Serve immediately, sauce will thicken upon standing.

05 August 2010

Waiting for Autumn

No recipe today, but something just as exciting. I've got a review coming up for a product that I'll be receiving in the mail shortly that will hopefully make us all go on strike against this wretched heat. The great thing about the equipment I'll be receiving is that when I finally live in a bigger home, it will look just as pretty displayed on a hutch in my dining room as it will with something freshly baked cooling on a rack in my kitchen.

(Photo courtesy of CSN)

I am beyond excited and extremely humbled to have been contacted by a representative from CSN that I immediately jumped at the opportunity given to me. I've even found a way to make it worthwhile for you! But you'll just have to check back here in about a week to see what all the hullabaloo is about.

(Photo courtesy of CSN)

I've already got my eye on many more items that I will eventually fill my home with. And what makes all of this even better is that CSN has over 200 online stores to choose from, all with great sales going right now (hey, I love me a good sale). I so can't wait to share with you what's coming up, so stayed tuned!

04 August 2010

Aye Carumba...

I'm sorry. I know that I said that I'd post this several days ago, but I keep passing out. You see, my dr. gave me this great medicine for morning sickness that also puts you to sleep. My new best friend is phenergan, and it is amazing. I don't feel sick, and I get to sleep all night. Anyway, I'm sorry again. And just to make it up to you, here is a picture of my latest sonogram. The baby is growing!!! 2 inches, people! Or 5cm for those of you across the pond.

I made this meal last Monday night after a really rough day at work. It had popped up on All Recipes main page as the recipe of the day and looked too tasty to pass up. Of course, because the original featured chicken, which I can't stomach at the moment, I substituted fajita steak. It was delicious! I really can't wait to start liking chicken again because I'm sure it'll be even better.

There were a couple of other changes made. We diced the onion and pepper instead of left them as strips. I used monterey jack instead of cheddar. I also used a full loaf of bread, sliced it down the middle, and put all the toppings across the two halves instead of cutting the bread into individual pieces. It actually worked out pretty well that way but was kind of messy when we went to cut it into individual slices. If none of that sold you on trying it out, then keep in mind that my hubby ate four pieces. He loved it.

Steak Fajita Melts
Recipe from All Recipes, adapted by me

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 (6 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, thinly sliced/1 lb fajita steak (obviously I used steak, but I wanted you to be able to have the option of chicken if you so chose)
1/2 cup sliced onions
1/2 cup sliced red bell pepper
1/2 cup tomato juice
2 tablespoons taco seasoning mix (that's one packet, roughly)
1 cup salsa (we didn't use this because I didn't know that I didn't have any on hand so I hadn't bought any)
8 (1/2 inch thick) slices French bread
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (use any cheese you like here)
  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken/steak, and cook and stir until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the sliced onions and red peppers, and cook and stir for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the tomato juice and taco seasoning, and mix well. Cook mixture until the juice has thickened and the chicken/steak is well coated with sauce, about an additional 7 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven's broiler and set the oven rack about 6 inches from the heat source.
  4. Spread 2 tablespoons of salsa over each slice of French bread. Evenly spoon the chicken mixture on top of the salsa topped bread. Sprinkle each sandwich with 1/4 cup Cheddar cheese.
  5. Place sandwiches under the preheated broiler and cook for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown.

17 July 2010

MMM Beef

Oh dear! I'm posting again already! What has happened to me? Oh right, the new layout. I just love it! Anyway, I was dreadfully divided about what to cook for dinner. You see, I was craving spaghetti with beefy tomato sauce, something that has no recipe whatsoever because the sauce comes from a jar. But I also have a super fantastic recipe for a hearty, beefy ragu that I've been wanting to try for a few weeks now. What's a pregant girl to do?

No, I didn't make both! Are you crazy?!? I haven't been able to eat leftovers lately so the last thing I need is an overabundance of spaghetti meals in my fridge. Gross. I went with the recipe, obviously, so that I could have something to share with you. Oh man, am I glad I did! It was exactly what I've been wanting today. Beef and tomatoes and pasta. Pretty sure the only thing that could make it better would have been some alfredo sauce (mmm, pink sauce). I also added some spicy Italian suasage because I wanted to.

And can I just say that I'm addicted to bread at the mo? I seriously need to get my lust checked out or learn how to make it myself before I go broke buying it from the store. It is seriously that good right now with some butter. I might actually need to go break off another piece before I finish this post up. Gotta keep my energy up to give you the recipe now don't I?

Penne with Hearty Beef Ragu
Recipe by Confections of a Foodie Bride, adapted by me

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
12 oz ground beef, extra lean
2/3 cup red wine (I used beef stock cause the mell of wine does things to my insides that is not fun)
3 Tbsp tomato paste
2 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 2-3 inch section of Parmesan rind (optional; I did not use this because I didn't remember to buy fresh Parm)
1 lb whole wheat penne (I actually debated on just using spaghetti but then I thought about and decided to do the whole wheat penne; I was good)
  1. Add the olive oil to a dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrot, celery and rosemary and cook until the vegetables are softened, 8-10 minutes. Add 1 to 2 Tbsp water, if needed, to keep the pan from drying out and the vegetables from browning.
  2. Add the ground beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, and cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and tomato paste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the alcohol has evaporated, about 4 minutes.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and add the tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cover partially and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick and aromatic, about 40 minutes. Add the Parmesan rind and cook an additional 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Before the sauce is finished, cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta. Remove the rind and add the pasta to the sauce, stirring to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

14 July 2010

Let Them Eat Cake!

That's funny. Marie Antoinette was not talking about cake-cake (and there is speculation that she was even the person to coin the phrase; it has been attributed to Marie-Therese, wife of Louis XIV, as well). She was talking about something much different. According to The Straight Dope, Marie's "cake" can be defined as follows: The operative term was brioche, a flour-and-water paste that was "caked" onto the interiors of the ovens and baking pans of the professional boulangers of the era. (The modern equivalent is the oil-and-flour mixture applied to non-Teflon cake pans.) At the end of the day, the baker would scrape the leavings from his pans and ovens and set them outside the door for the benefit of beggars and scavengers. Thus, the lady in question was simply giving practical, if somewhat flippant, advice to her poor subjects: If one cannot afford the bourgeois bread, he can avail himself of the poor man's "cake."  Certainly leaves a bad taste in my mouth to think of eating something like that.

I didn't make a cake (or "cake"_ for Bastille Day. I did make Pain au Chocolat. I cheated though. This literally calls for two ingredients and the patience to wait for them to bake. Sure, they're not as good as what you'd get from a street food vendor on the streets of Paris, but it's kind of like the cake/"cake" thing. This is the poor-man's chocolate bread! Honestly, I had no intention of making these at all. I had got it into my head that I wanted crescent rolls and picked some up at the grocery store on my way home. Then while looking at the cans chilling in my fridge I thought about the pain au chocolat I make with them and knew that I would be doing so again this evening.

On another note, how do you like my makeover? I have the lovely Blog Fairy, Emily to thank for it. I am beyond happy with it and even feel a little back to my old cooking self. If you're in the market for a makeover, definitely check out her portfolio. She's very reasonably priced and is a wonderful person to work with. Now on to the recipe!

Pain au Chocolat (the poor-man's way)
Recipe from some magazine I read years ago

1 package crescent rolls (I use Pillsbury extra flaky, but any brand or style will do)
Dark chocolate chips (10 chips per crescent)
  1. Preheat oven according to directions on package. Open package and roll out crescents. On the fat end, place your chocolate chips (if you use the bigger crescents instead of the smaller ones, you'll want more chips). Roll up and repeat with each crescent.
  2. Place crescent rolls on a large baking sheet and bake according to the directions on the package. When the crescents are golden, remove from the oven and allow to cool. Remove from tray and eat warm.