31 January 2010

Something Smells...Fishy

Tonight I tried my hand at seafood. Most of you already know that I can't stand the stuff (my limit is tuna from a can mixed with a little mayo and relish; that's it as far as creatures from the sea goes for me). I wanted to do something special for my hubby since he had a really bad day yesterday (wrecking my truck on the ice was the perfect way for him to start his day).

I turned to Sandra Lee and her cookbook, Semi-Homemade 20 Minute Meals, for the salmon I made for him tonight. I can't tell you if I thought it was any good because I just had some chicken, but he raved about it. Broiled Salmon with Pesto Mayo got the husband's approval so I hope you'll be just as happy with it. Enjoy!

Broiled Salmon with Pesto Mayo
Recipe by Sandra Lee

1 1/2 lbs center-cut fresh salmon fillet, 1 inch thick, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbl bottled lemon juice (or the juice from one large lemon)
2 tsp Italian Seasoning

For the Pesto Mayo
3 Tbl mayonnaise
1 Tbl prepared pesto

  1. Preheat broiler. Rinse salmon with cold water; pat dry with paper towels. line baking sheet or broiler pan with aluminum foil; set aside.
  2. For marinade, in a large zip-top bag, combine olive oil, lemon juice, and Italian seasoning. Add salmon. Sqeeze air from bag and seal. Gently massage bag to coat fish; set aside (I'd say about 20 minutes since the book didn't give any time).
  3. For pestp mayo, in a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise and pesto; set aside.
  4. Remove salmon pieces from the bag and place, flash sides down, on prepared baking sheet. Discard marinade. Broil fish 4 to 6 inches from heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Turn salmon; cook for 4 to 6 minutes more or until flash flakes away easily when tested with a fork. Serve with pesto mayo.

29 January 2010

A Sunshine Original

Tonight I decided to not follow the recipe I had picked out at all and to just wing it. I am so glad I did too! I was going to make honey pecan pork chops. I misread the original recipe and bout a pork tenderloin instead of pork tenderloin chops. That was when I decided to go with it and make a recipe of my own.

As the hubby and I sat down to dinner (at the table even!), I was apprehensive. I already had a back-up plan in mind just in case neither of us liked it. Hubby cut into the pork, raised his fork to his mouth, and chewed. I waited ont he edge of my seat. "This is really good." Success!!! I tucked in and was also pleased with what I tasted. Unfortunately (or fortunately however you look at it), we ate dinner so fast that I didn't even get a single picture to upload onto his computer to share with you. Oh well, enjoy anyway.

Honey Pork Roast with Garlic
Recipe by me

1 2-lb pork tenderloin, rinsed and patted dry
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbl warm water
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium-sized bowl, mix brown sugar, honey, water, and garlic together. Place the pork rost in the boil and cover with the marinade completely. Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Place roast in a small pan (I used my brownie pan) and pour the rest of the marinade over the top. Cover with aluminium foil and cook for at least an hour. Remove foil and continue to cook for another 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Cut and serve. We had baked sweet potatoes. Next time I'll cube the sweet potatoes and roast them with the pork.

28 January 2010

Memory Card Down the Hole

UPDATE: So it's definitely not the memory card. It's my laptop. I suppose what I can do instead of getting it fixed is just use my husband's computer to upload the photos otherwise I'll be without a laptop again for who knows how long...again. At least now my hubby's got a laptop that I can borrow so I won't have to stop posting completely. I'll let you all know.

So I have no idea why my memory card has decided to take a holiday. I can view the pictures on my camera with it, but it won't read in the computer (please, God, don't let it be the laptop that is the problem once again). Needless to say the last two posts have been fairly boring without the pictures, not that my pics have ever been that great. I'm going to try the card on my hubby's netbook when I get home tonight, and if that doesn't work, I'll be purchasing a new one once the ice storm of 2010 passes through my neighborhood. If it's the laptop and not the memory card, I'll probably throw it off the balcony and just be done with it.

A Note to Jamie Oliver

UPDATE: Got the computer fixed so now here are the pictures!

Dear Jamie,

I know this may come as a surprise, but I feel that we need to spend some time apart. The meat you had me buy for the rib of roast with rosemary, although tasty, was just too expensive for me to be able to make it as often as I would like. Sure, the garlic, rosemary, and lemon zest made for a very flavorful marinade. And yes, the meat was especially tender. I just can't take the look my hubby gave me when he saw that the meat cost $30.

Please don't make this any harder than it has to be. The rosemary roasted potatoes were amazing and the perfect accompaniement to the steak, and the recipe was super easy to follow. I'm just afraid my hubby won't let me buy any meat ever again (we didn't even go to a butcher, just the local grocery store).

Just know that it's not you, it's me.


Ultimate Rib of Roast with Rosemary
Recipe by Cook with Jamie

3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Small bunch of rosemary, tied together at the base
Olive oil
1 2-lb 11-oz rib of beef, French trimmed
Peppery olive oil

  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Put the garlic, lemon zest, and the tip of the rosemary bunch in a pestle and mortar, add a glug of olive oil, and bash together. Use your rosemary brush to rub half the marinade over your rib steak, and leave the steak to marinade for at least an hour.
  2. Heat an ovenproof griddle pan on the stovetop to white-hot, and season your steak generously. Put it in the pan and fry for a couple of minutes before turning it over and putting the pan in the oven for 20 minutes for medium. Every five minutes, turn the steak over and baste it with some of the remaining marinade, using the rosemary brush. Cook to your liking.
  3. When done, remove from the oven, squeeze over a little lemon juice, drizzle over a splash of peppery olive oil, and let the steak reast for five minutes.

24 January 2010

Bella Notte

UPDATE: Got the computer fixed so now here are the pictures!

UPDATE: I tried to upload pictures for this recipe, but my memory card isn't working. I'm going to see if I can get it to load from a different computer tomorrow, but I can't promise anything. Many apologies...

Yesterday I spent the day baking cookies. What do I have to show for it? Several bags of cookies and not one single picture. For whatever reason, my camera didn't want to work. I was really worried that it was going to continue to malfunction when I was making dinner tonight. It worked just fine, and so now I can share my dinner with you.

Lasagna roll-ups are one of those meals that can be customized to your tastes. The original recipe calls for tofu, which is fine, but I'm a meat and potatoes kind of girl (as you may already know) so we use ground hamburger instead. Another nice thing about this meal is that it can feed about nine people if you serve it with a salad (that's with two rolls for each serving). Filling and yummy, that's my kind of meal!

Now, when I make Italian food, I find myself wishing I was Italian. I mean, it's great being Irish (and Swedish), but we don't have an old family recipe for tomato sauce. There are no secret ingredients that I won't be able to divulge to you. There are no recipe cards written decades ago by some long-gone relative that has been handed down to the first born daughter of each generation. There's just a can or jar of sauce purchased from the grocery store. Do you feel my pain? Or are you one of the lucky ones with a fabulous recipe from the old country? Would you mind passing it along to me? I promise to treat it right and give it a good home in my hand-painted recipe box (thanks, Honey Mim).

Lasagna Roll-Ups
Recipe by All Recipes, adapted by me

1 (16 ounce) package uncooked lasagna noodles
1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese (I use the big container so it goes further)
1 pound ground beef, cooked (we use the leanest meat we can find and cook it with minced onion)
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach - thawed, drained and squeezed dry (I did not use this because I forgot to buy some)
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 (28 ounce) jar pasta sauce
Italian seasoning to taste

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles for 5 to 8 minutes, or until just slightly underdone; drain and rinse (make sure that the noodles are just past al dente or they won't be easy to roll).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together grated cheese, ricotta cheese, beef, frozen spinach, and 1 cup Parmesan cheese.
  3. Lay out a noodle. Spread a layer of the cheese mixture on the noodle, then add a thin layer of sauce. Roll the noodle up, and place seam side down in a 13x9 pan. Repeat for other noodles. Top with remaining sauce and Parmesan cheese (this time around, I did not use any of the sauce inside the rolls which made them easier to handle; this should make 15-18 rolls depending on how much filling you use for each).
  4. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F (175 degree C) oven for 30 min, or until hot and bubbly.

20 January 2010

Happy Birthday, Eric!

Tomorrow is one of my coworkers birthdays. Eric's one of those really funny guys. He can quote Monty Python, debate politics with you, and complain about customer service all while doing an audit (and does all of those really well). I asked him yesterday what kind of cake he likes and he replied with, "I can tell you what I don't like." Big help there, buddy! The guy likes just about everything and is pretty adventurous. What do you do when you've got carte blanche? I make tiramisu cheesecake!

I cam up with doing the tiramisu cheesecake during our conversation. I had remembered another conversation Eric and I had had about desserts and how he needed a good recipe for the Italian dessert (of which I have and have yet to pass along to him or you).The man loves his tiramisu, and he also loves his cheesecake. What better cake could I make? This recipe comes from Better Homes and Gardens via Tastebook (I added an ingredient to make it more similar to the tiramisu I make). Enjoy!

This picture is really bad; I promise a better one tomorrow after we cut into at work.

Tiramisu Cheesecake
Recipe by Better Homes and Gardens, adapted by me

3/4 cup finely crushed chocolate wafers (I used chocolate grahams, 2 crackers shy of one pack)
2 Tbl butter, melted
6 ladyfingers, split lengthwise (I used a slightly bigger pan than the one in the recipe so I used one whole package plus one ladyfinger and did not cut in half)
1 tsp instant espresso coffee powder or instant coffee crystals
2 Tbl rum, brandy, or milk (I used coffee liquor by Starbucks)
2 8-oz packages of cream cheese, coftened
1 8-oz package mascarpone cheese, softened (you can use one package of cream cheese in place of this, but you can't beat the real thing)
1 cup sugar
1 Tbl cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
1-1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1 8-oz carton sour cram
1/2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Shaved semisweet chocolate (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Place pan with boiling water on bottom rack of oven.
  2. For crust, combine wafers and better. Press onto the bottom of an ungreased 9-inch springform pan. Cut the split ladyfingers in half crosswise; line side of pan with ladyfinger pieces, rounded side out and cut side down. Set aside.
  3. For filling, dissolve coffee crystals in rum, brandy, or milk; set aside. Beat cream cheese and mascarpone until combined. Gradually add sugar, beating on medium to high speed until smooth. Beat in cornstarch and vanilla. Add eggs all at once. Beat on low speed just until combined. Stir coffee mixture and chocolate chips into cheese mixture.
  4. Pour filling into crust-lined pan. Place on top rack in oven, centered over the pan with boiling water. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until center appears nearly set when gently shaken.
  5. Remove from oven. Immediately stir sour cream; gently spoon sour cream on top of hot cheesecake; carefully spread to within about 1 inch of edge.
  6. Cool in springform pan on wire rack for 15 minutes. Use a narrow metal spatula to carefully loosen ladyfingers from side of pan. Cool for 30 more minutes. Remove sides of pan; cool 1 hour. Cover and chill at least 4 hours before serving.
  7. To serve, sift cocoa powder over the top and, if desired, sprinkle with shaved chocolate (I bought a couple of Flake bars and topped mine with that instead; specialty stores will carry these stateside since they are a British candy made by Cadbury; YUM!).

19 January 2010

Simple and Delicious

I'll keep this short and sweet for tonight (the hubby and I have been ill most of the weekend and are just now starting to feel better). Tonight I made steak with whiskey and cream. I got it from a cookbook given to me for Christmas from my college roommate's mom. Best-Ever 30-Minute Cookbook is filled to the brim with fantastic recipes that are perfect for the beginner chef. I'm pretty sure it is a British cookbook just based on some of the names used for certain ingredients, but in every instance that I noticed that the American equivalent was present (weights and volumes are used as well for measuring which is nice).

We eat ours with some boiled potatoes (tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and chives) and carrots. The hubby gets onions sautéed with mushrooms to top the sauce. It's his favorite steak now! Enjoy!

Pan-Fried Steak with Whiskey and Cream
Recipe by Best-Ever 30-Minute Cookbook

4 8-12 oz sirloin steaks
1 tsp oil
1 Tbl butter
1/4 cup whiskey (I used what was on hand, Jameson's Irish)
1-1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Dry the steaks with paper towels and season with pepper. Heat a cast-iron frying pan, or other heavy pan, over high heat. When it is very hot, add the oil and butter. Add the steaks to the foaming butter, one at a time, to seal the meat quickly.
  2. Lower the heat to moderate and continue to cook the steaks, allowing 3-4 minutes for rare, 4-5 for medium, or 5-6 for well-done steaks.
  3. To test if the timing is right, press down gently in the middle of the steak: soft meat will be rare; when there is some resistance but the meat underneath the outside crust feels soft, it is medium; if it is firm, it is well-done.
  4. When the steaks are cooked to your liking, transfer them to warmed plates and keep warm. Pour off the fat from the pan and discard. Add the whiskey and stir around to scrape off all the sediment from the base of the pan.
  5. Allow the liquid to reduce a little, then add the cream and simmer over low heat for a few minutes, until the cream thickens. Season to taste, pour the sauce around or over the steaks, as you prefer, and serve immediately.

16 January 2010

Shop is Open for Business!

Just a heads up, I've finally got items listed in my shop! You can check it out here or pop on over to the other blog for updates and giveaways! I can't wait to hear what you all think!

14 January 2010

Sticky Toffee Goodness!

A couple of months ago, my hubby and I went on our second honeymoon. We spent a couple days in Paris and then spent almost a week in Scotland. I'll be honest, Paris is absolutely gorgeous, and I'll definitely go back in the future, but Scotland is where I want to live. I was almost in tears having to come home. One of my favorite things that I ate while in the land of thistle and heather was Stocky Toffee Pudding.

It's another one of those "don't let the name fool you" kind of recipes. Puddings in the UK are actually more like a cake. This one is topped with an amazing caramel sauce. I also wanted to try and get it as close to the one I had by serving it with custard (I almost had a major FAIL on my hands when I accidentally boiled it while trying to get it into an ice bath; I rescued it with my food processor though). I got the recipe for the pudding off of All Recipes and the recipe for the custard from Better Homes and Gardens via Tastebook. Anne and Honey Mim, this one is for you!


Sticky Toffee Pudding
Recipe from All Recipes, adapted by me

1 3/4 cups dates, pitted and chopped (I used raisins since I forgot to pick up dates)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup boiling water to cover
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/8 cups self-rising flour
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 stick and 1 Tbs butter, cut into chunks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  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. Allow to cool.
  3. Cream the butter with the white sugar until light. Beat in the eggs and mix well to combine. Add the flour and date mixture (including water) to the egg mixture and fold to combine.
  4. Pour the batter into one 8 inch round baking pan (I used a square instead). Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool, slice and serve with warm caramel sauce.
  5. To Make Caramel Sauce: In a small saucepan combine the brown sugar and heavy cream. Heat on medium heat until the sugar is dissolved; do not allow to boil. Remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla. Stir until the butter is thoroughly melted. Use immediately (I out about 1/2 cup of the caramel sauce on the cake straight from the oven after poking holes all over the top for extra sticky goodness).

Stirred Custard
Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens

5 egg yolks, beaten

1-1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  1. In a  heavy medium-sized pot use a wooden spoon and stir together egg yolks, milk, and sugar.
  2. Cook and stir continuously with the wooden spoon over medium heat until mixture just coats the back of a clean metal spoon (temp should be 160F on a candy thermometer; do not allow to boil; also, don't rush this step or it will curdle). Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  3. Quickly cool custard by placing the saucepan in a large bowl of ice water for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on top of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Chill for at least two hours before serving.

13 January 2010

What Do You Call This Thing?

Lately I've been feeling extremely tired. I don't know if I'm getting too much sleep or if it's because I've been eating too much rice. Tonight's meal certainly didn't help. I actually got this recipe from my sister who used to make this all the time for me when she lived with me. Nobody really knows what to call it. I just tell people that it's basically an enchilada bowl. White rice, black beans, chicken, enchilada sauce, and shredded cheese come together to make an easy and tasty dinner.

I bought the wrong enchilada sauce tonight which made it a more bland than I would have liked (silly mild masquerading as the hot). I also put way more cheese on it than normal, but that's because I had way too much shredded cheese lurking in my fridge that was gonna go bad (and that I kept digging into...WHAT??? Don't judge me). I'm off to slip into a food-induced coma. Please enjoy!

Chicken Enchilada Bowl
Recipe by Honey Mim

1-1/2 cups rice, uncooked
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into chunks
1 small can red enchilada sauce (we use Old El Paso's hot)
1 can black beans (sorry I forgot to check the size for this and the sauce; just use a small can)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or use one the fiesta/Mexican blends available at the grocery store)

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Meanwhile get the rice cooking in a medium-sized pot (remember: 1 part rice to 2 parts water so 3 cups in this case). Bring to a boil while covered, lower heat and allow to simmer about 10-15 minutes until tender and no liquid remains.
  2. Cook chicken chunks with the enchilada sauce in a medium-sized pan until chunks are completely white and fully cooked, about 10 minutes.
  3. In an oven-safe baking dish, layer the rice on the bottom. Add the can of beans on top of the rice and spread out then add the chicken and enchilada sauce. Spread the chicken mixture evenly and top with the cheese.
  4. Place int he oven and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is hot and bubbly.

12 January 2010

New Blog and an Etsy Shop

For those interested, I've opened my own Etsy shop and have started a second blog dedicated to it. You can check out the blog here and the shop here. I haven't listed any items in the shop just yet, but I plan to have it fully operational by the end of the week. I'm so happy to finally be able to share this with all of you!

11 January 2010

Simple Meal Monday

After yesterday's disaster, I was a bit hesitant to go back into the kitchen., but they don't say to "get back on the horse" for nothing. I decided to go with something simple that required very little effort. I made chicken two ways. "What's that?" you say. Well, I made chicken two different ways: chicken stuffed with jalapenos and chicken cordon bleu. Neither of these were elaborate nor were they difficult to make. I kind of made it up as I went along, and next time I'll use some herbs to kick it up a little. For now, enjoy the simplicity that is chicken two-ways.

Chicken Two-Ways
Recipe by me (and every other cook who's ever not really felt like being in the kitchen)

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4-inch thickness
6 jalapenos, seeded
3 oz cream cheese
6 thin slices of ham
3 oz shredded gruyere cheese (or swiss or provolone)
1/4 cup bread crumbs
6 Tbl butter melted

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Stuff the jalapenos with 1 oz of cream cheese. Place one jalapeno in the center of three of the chicken breasts. Roll up and secure with toothpicks. Place two slices of ham in each of the remaining breasts and top with the shredded cheese. Roll up and secure with toothpicks.
  2. Place the rolls in two different baking dishes. Sprinkle bread crumbs over the top of the rolls and pour the melted butter over the top.
  3. Cook for 30-40 minutes or until juices run clear. Serve with rice or pasta.

10 January 2010

Polish Double FAIL

When I started cooking dinner tonight, I was really excited. I have been wanting to try my hand at pierogies for over a year now. I had so many problems with them which were entirely my fault and had nothing to do with the recipe. It started with not rolling out the dough thin enough. Then, I forgot to check the directions one last time and ended up forgetting to boil the first few dumplings. They ended up in the garbage (I'm not a fan of doughy things, and these were extra doughy).

The double comes from the second part of the meal. I was trying to make up for not posting last night by giving you two recipes today (my mom and I went to see Legally Blonde the musical, which was amazing, so I wasn't home to cook). I thought for sure the cabbage kielbasa dish would make up for the yucky pierogies. I was horribly wrong. It was far too sweet and a bit soggy (that may have been my fault too so I don't know). I took two bites and ended up going out to pick up dinner instead. Tomorrow I'll hopefully be back on my game.

08 January 2010

I Accept Your Challenge, Honey Mim!

My lovely little sister didn't know what she was getting into when she issued me a challenge in my comments for Tuesday's post. "Maybe you should find some beachy recipe... That doesn't involve seafood. That is my challenge to you young padawan." Your wish is my command (how lucky for me that I came across this recipe while looking for onion soup the other day and had already planned on making it tonight anyway).

In this corner, weighing in at 1/3 of a pound, we have The Bon Appetit Cookbook's recipe for Jamaican Jerk Burgers. Sweet and a little spicy, this burger is just what you need to feel like you're on the beaches of Jamaica, sipping a Mai Tai with an umbrella in it. All of the ingredients should be readily available at your local grocery store (even my local grocer carried everything this one called for).

I was a bit hesitant at first. I've never tried this one before and wasn't sure how it would turn out. I was fully prepared to not have anything to post except a fail and a picture of the pizza we would have been ordering in place of it. I never should have doubted it. My only real problem was that I had to cook the burgers on my stovetop instead of on a grill (aside from the fact that I lack a grill, it is beyond freezing outside which means I'm staying right here where it's cozy). Also, just as a heads up, I wasn't able to find fresh thyme so I just used the dry stuff. It'll definitely be better with the fresh stuff, but the dried didn't detract from it too terribly.

Jamaican Jerk Burgers with Orange-Chipotle Mayonnaise
Recipe by The Bon Appetit Cookbook

For Orange-Chipotle Mayo
1 cup mayo (I use Hellman's; Miracle Whip may be acceptable, but I can't promise anything)
3 Tbl orange juice
1 Tbl minced canned chipotle chiles (I used the kind in adobo sauce; you should be able to find this at most grocery stores or a latin grocery store)

For Jerk Sauce
1 bunch green onion, coarsely chopped (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 Tbl chopped fresh thyme
1 small habanero chile or 2 medium jalapeno chiles, seeded and chopped (I used the jalapenos)
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup soy sauce (I ran out and only used about 1/4 cup; still tasted good)
1 tsp ground allspice (I completely forgot about this one)

2 lbs ground beef, 15% fat

  1. For the mayo: Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. This can be made up to a day in advance. Cover and refrigerate.
  2. For the jerk sauce: Finely chop the first four ingredients in a food processor. Add the sugar and next three ingredients, process until almost smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Prepare BBQ grill to medium-high heat. Set aside 3/4 cup of the jerk sauce.
  4. Shape the ground beef into six 1/2-3/4 inch-thick patties; place in 9x13 glass baking dish. Pour the 1/2 cup of jerk sauce over patties and turn to coat; let stand 20 minutes (next time I'll do this; I was just running short on time).
  5. Sprinkle patties with salt and pepper. Grill to desired doneness, brushing occasionally with remaining jerk sauce from baking dish, about 4 minutes each side for medium.
  6. Spread mayo over inner surfaces of buns. Top with your choice of toppings (tomatoes, lettuce, onion, cheese). Add burger and bun tops. Serve, passing reserved 3/4 cup jerk sauce separately (I just used all of the sauce while I cooked the patties, coating each time I flipped them).

07 January 2010

An Autumn Meal

Deepest apologies for not posting last night. I was so worn out that I fell asleep on the couch for a little while and then was out at about 9:00. Needless to say, I didn't cook, and the hubby went to get us Wendy's (I can't live without the spicy chicken sandwich). Anyway, I made my hubby's favorite pork chops tonight which of course comes from All Recipes (the spinner app for iPhone has been my saving grace more often than it should have been).

Caramel Apple Pork Chops are amazing! The name is extremely misleading in that it is nowhere near as sweet as a caramel apple you would find at a state fair. This is another one of those meals that is easy to prepare and is pretty quick to get on the table (or the couch or the tv tray). Um...I've kind of run out of things to say about the chops, and I think it's fitting with how simple the recipe really is. With that being said, enjoy!

Caramel Apple Pork Chops
Recipe by All Recipes

4 (3/4 inch) thick pork chops
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
4 tablespoons brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I double the ingredients for the apples because I don't feel like it makes enough for the last step)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tart apples - peeled, cored and sliced
3 tablespoons pecans (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees F (80 degrees C). Place a medium dish in the oven to warm.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brush chops lightly with oil and place in hot pan. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, turning occasionally, or until done. Transfer to the warm dish, and keep warm in the preheated oven.
  3. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, salt and pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add butter to skillet, and stir in brown sugar mixture and apples. Cover and cook until apples are just tender. Remove apples with a slotted spoon and arrange on top of chops. Keep warm in the preheated oven.
  4. Continue cooking sauce uncovered in skillet, until thickened slightly. Spoon sauce over apples and chops. Sprinkle with pecans.

05 January 2010

My Other Love

Everyone knows of my love affair with all things Jamie Oliver. I don't know what it is about that man, but I'll try anything he says tastes good. I think even my hubby is in love with that man's recipes. His recipes, for whatever reason, always make me think of home. They are simple, made with the freshest ingredients, and always seem to come from the heart. With it being so cold still, I thought it only fitting to make something comforting. I returned to my favorite cookbook of his, Jamie at Home, for tonight's meal: Sweet Cherry Tomato and Sausage Bake.

I've actually made this before with modifications that I wasn't happy with. This time, I stuck with the recipe and was so much happier with the results. We made a special trip to the liquor store to get my trusty 9x13 pan back (I took my buddies leftover cupcakes from last week) and ended up picking up a fabulous wine. Did you know Newman's Own has a Cabernet Sauvignon? I didn't until we picked it up. It actually paired really well with our dinner too. Fruity and a little sweet, it offset the spicy sausage I used nicely. Try it if you haven't already (profits go to charity which is always a plus in my book). Enjoy!

Sweet Cherry Tomato and Sausage Bake
Recipe by Jamie Oliver

4-1/4 pounds cherry tomatoes, mixed colors if you can find them (only tomatoes I could find were red grape; still tasted good though)
2 sprigs each fresh thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves (I used 1 TBS dried of each since I forgot to pick some fresh ones up)
1 Tbl dried oregano
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped (used 4, minced with a Kitchenaid hand-chopper)
12 good-quality coarse Italian pork sausages (I used two packages of Johnsonville spicy; there should be 5 in the pack, but they are good sized)
Extra virgin olive oil (probably about 2 Tbl)
Balsamic vinegar (about 1 TBl)
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Using a good-sized roasting pan (9x13 works for me), place the tomatoes to fit into one layer. Add the herbs, garlic, and sausages. Drizzle well with the olive oil and vinegar; season with the salt and pepper.
  2. Toss together, make sure the sausages are on top and pop the pan into the oven for half an hour. After this time, give the pan a good shake and turn the sausages over. Put the pan back in the oven and cook for 15-30 minutes, depending on how golden and sticky you like your sausages.
  3. Once it's cooked, remove from the oven. If the sauce is runnier than your liking, place the pan on the stove after removing the sausages and cook the juices and tomatoes down to the consistency you prefer. Check the seasoning and serve with bread or over a bed of mashed potatoes or rice (we eat ours over pasta, mastaccioli or penne preferably; I also topped it with a little bit a grated gruyere just for fun).

04 January 2010

Cajunman Would be...Confused???

It's been bitterly cold here in the plains. I don't think it got above 20F, but I could be wrong since I was stuck in the office all day. There's still snow on the ground from our Christmas Eve blizzard, and the ice in the parking lot of my apartment is treacherous. With that said, I wanted something hearty, flavorful, and a bit spicy for dinner. Enter Jambalaya.

Appropriately named Man pleasin' Jambalaya on All Recipes, this has it all: chicken, smoked sausage, rice, spice. It's certainly hearty and could easily feed an army. It lives up to its namesake too (at least the first part). I made this a few weeks ago, and the hubby said, "I wouldn't mind if we had this again. I think it's my new favorite." Now to be fair, every meal is his new favorite, but it's still nice to hear that he likes my cooking. I do realize that this is not a traditional jambalaya. It should probably have some shellfish in it and possibly some other things. It is a really good base to start with and personalize (which I did). Give it a try. You won't be disappointed (unless you don't like it, then I can't help you there).

Man Pleasin' Jambalaya
Recipe from All Recipes, adapted by me

8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, diced (I use the Tyson boneless, skinless tenderloins)
6 cups chicken broth
3 cups long grain white rice
1 pound smoked sausage, sliced (I use the all beef by Hickory Farm)
1 can diced tomatoes (I used a small can the first time and handful of fresh chopped cherry tomatoes this time)
1/4 cup olive oil 
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1-1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently until soft. Add the chicken and continue cooking and stirring so that it does not stick. When the chicken is browned, add the sausage and tomatoes.
  2. Pour in the broth, and bring to a boil. Add the rice, and season with cayenne, cajun seasoning, salt and pepper. Cover and cook over low heat for 20 minutes, until rice is tender and broth has been absorbed.

Chili: The Recipe

Special thanks to my dad who emailed me the recipe. Apparently I'm not losing my mind; there really isn't a set recipe that he follows either. This is for you, Tulsa Gentleman:

"I use Carroll Shelby's Texas Chili for the start. It comes in a box. Used to be in a sack. I use about 4-5 cans of tomato sauce. Less cans use more water, more cans use less water. Don't know the size of the crock pot. Anyway, brown ground beef - about a pound. Can use more or less depending on how meaty you want it. Then add all the ingredients from Shelby box except the masa flour (add that later) to the crock pot, add browned ground beef and tomato sauce. Also add a can of kidney beans after you rinse them. Then add a few glasses of water and stir to mix everything up. Then add some crushed red pepper, and cayenne pepper (this adds to what came in the Shelby box) if you want it spicier. Add sliced jalapenos about halfway thru the day and the masa flour to thicken. Stir occasionally thru-out the day. Enjoy with lots
of cheese and onions."

I also like to top mine with Fritos and sour cream, but that's because I'm a weenie compared to my family and need to kill some of the heat in order to eat it. I think when I finally get brave enough to make it myself, I'll add some onions to the ground beef while I'm browning it cause I only really like them cooked, not raw.

03 January 2010

Chili for a Chilly Night

Allow me to tell you a story. My dad grew up in New Mexico, a state some people still think you need passport to visit (yes, I have actually been asked that before... goes along with the misconception that we live in teepees and hunt buffalo still here in Oklahoma, but that's another story). Anyway, being from the land of enchantment, my dad has eaten almost as much Mexican food as those living south of the border and has become immune to spicy food.

For as long as I can remember, my dad has made the world's hottest chili. This is the stuff legends are made of. Pregnant ladies eat it to induce labor. Sick people eat it to clear their sinuses (works better than nasal spray and vapor rub). Normal people eat it to lose their taste buds. I think you get my point here. Dad's chili is spicy, and it only gets spicier the longer it sits in the fridge (it becomes nuclear if you heat it in the microwave the next day).

Being the total flake that I've apparently become since starting this blog last year, I forgot all about posting my dad's chili today. I forgot my camera and didn't remember it until we had already gotten to my parents' house. Add on top of that, I forgot to get the recipe when we left. Insult to injury right there. Le sigh...

I can tell you every single ingredient that's in Daddy's chili. The problem is I can never remember the exact measurements. What I can do is list the ingredients without the measurements and update it later after I get him to email me the recipe, or I can leave you thankful your taste buds are still intact while I go drink a gallon of milk. The choice is yours, dear reader (kind of like those choose your own adventure books only scarier).

02 January 2010

Le Soupe a l'Oignon avec un petit Croque Monsieur

I've been waiting since early April to tackle the soup lovingly known as French Onion Soup. I went garage sale-ing with a very dear friend, and I picked up some little white pots that I knew would be perfect for the soup. I knew that they were just going to be sitting in one of my cabinets though. You see, when the hubby was gone and my sister was living with me, I knew I would be eating it alone if I cooked it. Sweet Honey Mim is not going to like this post almost as much as she would not have liked to come home to this soup for dinner. 

I've been trying to plan our meals for every night for each week so that I don't come across the problem we had when I was in high school ("Hey mom, what's for dinner?" "I don't know. What would you like?" "I don't know. Just make something.") And on and on it would go until my mom finally made the rule of whoever asks that question will be the one responsible for making dinner. Anyway, I'd been planning on making this soup for the past week and was ecstatic to finally be putting my crocks to good use. I went searching for the perfect recipe. I was shocked to see just how many variations there are to something that is essentially pub food. I finally found three similar recipes that each had only minor variations and decided to put them together to make my own recipe.

I first turned to the Bible of French food, Julia Child's The Art of French Cooking (Hey Anne, I finally got to use the cookbook). That woman was a genius! I then pulled out my other love, Jamie Oliver and his Jamie at Home. Lastly, I turned to The Bon Appetit Cookbook by Barbara Fairchild. Following Ms. Child's recipe almost completely, I added a little bit of Jamie and a touch of Barbara to come up with something my hubby and I both enjoyed. I hope you like it too...

Soupe a l'Oignon Gratinee avec un petit Croque Monsieur (it just sounds cooler in French)
Recipe by Julia, Jamie, Barbara, and me

5 medium sized onions, thinly sliced (I used 3 white and 2 yellow)
3 Tbl butter (homemade...yumyum)
2-3 glugs olive oil
Handful of fresh sage leaves (I think I used about 8-10, but I didn't really count it out)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
3 Tbl flour
2 qts boiling beef stock (I used 2 - 32 oz. boxes of beef broth)
1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth (Red Bicyclette chardonnay for me)
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbl cognac (or brandy cause that's what I had on hand)
Fresh baguette, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
1 cup coarsely chopped ham
1-2 cups freshly grated Gruyere cheese

  1. Preheat broiler. Place the butter, oil, and sage leaves in a large stock pot on medium heat. Heat until butter is melted and add onions. Cover and cook the onions slowly for about 15 minutes.
  2. Uncover, raise heat to moderate, and stir in salt and sugar. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes stirring frequently, until onions have turned an even, deep, golden brown (trust me on this, don't rush this step, and don't leave the lid on; my onions never colored since I forgot the lid).
  3. Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 3 minutes. Add the beef stock/broth and the wine. Season to taste. Simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 minutes more, skimming occasionally. Correct seasoning as needed.
  4. Just before serving, stir in the cognac/brandy. Ladle into soup bowls. Place slices of baguette to cover the top of the soup. Top with a bit of the ham and gruyere, place bowls on a baking sheet, and set on the top rack under the broiler. Allow to broil for approximately 5 minutes, or until cheese is hot and bubbly. Serve with extra pieces of baguette and butter.
To toast baguette slices and make them more like croutons (yumyum), place the slices on a baking sheet inside the oven as it preheats for approximately 5 minutes. Turn the slices over and heat for another 3 minutes. You want to leave them in long enough to get crisp, not long enough to start to color. I preheated my oven to 375 first and then bumped it up to broil after I was done with the baguette only because my oven is fickle and would have just torched them.

01 January 2010

Starting the Year Off Right

I wanted so badly to make something that would be a hit with anyone that set eyes on it. Who was I kidding?!? We all know that I'm not the best at decorating cakes. Did that stop me from making a 14-layer cake? Not at all.


Before you get all bug-eyed and think, "She's completely lost her mind. Fourteen layers?!?" It's not what you think at all. I came across the recipe on Bakerella and just knew it was what I was looking for. Fourteen super thin layers of yellow cake sandwiched with a chocolate ganache then frosted with a chocolate buttercream, it was love at first sight.


I set out to make the cake early this afternoon. I took my eggs and butter out of the fridge to come to room temperature while I made some fun necklaces and played a computer game all while watching Dr. Who (it really was a nerd's dream in my apartment today). When I finally got bored with being a nerd, I realixed it was almost 6:00 P.M. Where in the world did my day go? Needless to say, I haven't gotten the cake frosted with the buttercream but I did get the rest of the cake and ganche finished and assembled. It actually works in my favor that I was lazy since now I won't be able to eat the cake tonight and can save it for dinner at my parents' on Sunday (I'll be bringing you my dad's outrageously hot chili so be ready with some milk and corn bread).

Here it is in all of it's unfrosted glory! It can be eaten this way; I just think it looks prettier and more deceptive with the buttercream. Imagine the surprise when the cake is finally cut and there are 14-layers of yellow cake peeking out of the chocolate! I think I need to go have some chocolate now... Enjoy!


Fourteen Layer Cake w/ Chocolate Ganache
Recipe via Bakerella via Oprah via The Smith Family (I didn't feel the need to change a thing for once)

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour , sifted

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter , at room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar
6 large eggs , at room temperature
3 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder , preferably Dutch process
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter , cut up
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  1. Position racks in the center and bottom third of the oven and preheat to 350°. Lightly butter the bottoms and sides of 14 8-inch pans and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. Your best bet is to purchase the disposable pie pans so that you don't have to wait for your pans to cool and then clean them before doing another batch.
  2. To make the layers, sift together the sifted flour, baking powder and salt. Sift the mixture one more time, and set aside.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle blade on high speed until light in color and texture, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl and be sure the mixture is well-blended. On low speed, add the flour in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of the milk, beginning and ending with the flour, and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl often with a rubber spatula. Beat in the vanilla. Using a 2/3 of a cup for each layer, spread the batter evenly in the pans. It will make a thin layer.
  4. Staggering the pans on the racks so they are at least 2 inches from each other and the sides of the oven and not directly over each other, bake the layers until they feel firm when pressed in the centers and are beginning to pull away from the sides of the pans, about 12 minutes (I did 4 at a time for the first three batches, then the last two; I cooked all for 12 minutes and had no problems). Cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Invert the layers onto cake racks, remove the parchment paper, and cool completely. Repeat the procedure until all 14 layers have been baked and cooled.
  5. To make the icing, bring the sugar, cocoa, butter and evaporated milk to a full boil in a large saucepan (the biggest one you've got or there will be a giant chocolate puddle; trust me on this one). Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the icing has thickened slightly (it will resemble chocolate syrup but will thicken as it cools), about 3 minutes. Stir in the vanilla. Let the icing cool until thick enough to spread, but still pourable.
  6. Place a layer of cake on a wire rack set over a jelly-roll pan. Spread with a few tablespoons of the icing, letting the excess run down the sides. Stack the remaining cakes, icing each layer. Pour the remaining icing over the top of the cake. If you wish, smooth the icing on the edges to cover the sides. Place pecan halves around the top perimeter of the cake. Let stand until the glaze sets. (The cake is best served the day it is made. To store, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 day.)