Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Chicken Pot Pie

Today I made homemade chicken pot pie with oven roasted (skin on & bone in for flavor!) chicken, and flaky buttery crust (pastry dough is so easy to make, trust me!). I roughly followed the Taste of Home Recipe and of course added a few of my own touches of my own!

photo-22_thumb3

photo-24_thumb2

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Maple Bacon Cheesecake or Regular?

photo (12)

I love good old fashion comfort food, but I also love really innovative food creations.  Recently The Next Food Network Star featured a maple bacon cheesecake (click here for recipe) and it looked so interesting that I had to try it out!

Personally, I still prefer regular cheesecake, but it was fun to try out something so unique!  The crust on the other hand is something I’ll definitely be using again.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Lemon Pepper Chicken

DSCN4947

Londyn’s Lemon Pepper Chicken:

  • 1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped or grated shallot
  • 3 cloves of garlic – grated or crushed
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil (can substitute with veggie oil)
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar (or honey)
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

Mix the marinade and pour over 2.5 pounds / 4 chicken quarters. Let marinade set on chicken (refrigerate in plastic freezer bag) for at least 4 hours – then grill until crispy and juices run clear. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Inspired by pesto Broccoli Spread!

Over the weekend, I experimented with a few healthy recipes and one of my favorites was a broccoli spread.  First, I steamed a head of broccoli.  In a sauté pan, I then put the broccoli with some grated yellow onion, a clove of garlic, a drizzle of olive oil, and a handful of edamame for just a very few minutes.  Into the food processor the mixture went with a dash of salt and pepper.  Perfect to use like a pesto – on pasta, pizza, bruschetta, or a great potato topper!

DSCN3363

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bologna–love it or hate it?

I loved bologna sandwiches as a child, so no wonder that I love this fancy grown up version by Sunny Anderson.  It’s not something I’d want often, but during those random nostalgic moments, it’s a great one to keep in the recipe book.  I skipped the chipotle mayo, but I’m sure that would be great too.

DSCN1343

While the bologna was cooking, I also made some healthy sides to even out the fatty deli meat.  Leaks, roasted tomatoes, and asparagus.

DSCN1342

DSCN1345

Ingredients

Chipotle-Mayonnaise Spread:
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped or 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
Bologna:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 (2-inch thick) slice bologna, cut into 1/2-inch chunks (about 8 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup onions, chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 slices white Pullman bread, toasted

Directions

For the chipotle-mayonnaise spread: Combine the mayonnaise and chipotle pepper in a bowl, and blend until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

For the bologna: In a large pan on medium-high heat add the oil. Add the bologna chunks to the hot oil. Sauté while tossing to brown all sides, about 8 minutes. Add the onions and season lightly with a few grinds of pepper. Continue to toss while cooking until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes more. Stir in the mustard, and honey to coat, and then add the wine. Simmer while tossing until the wine bubbles and foams and is reduced to only a bit of sauce in the pan.

To assemble the sandwiches, slather chipotle mayonnaise on each slice of toasted bread and top equally with the bologna. To serve as a smaller bite, cut the toasted bread into 1/4ths and continue to top as directed.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chicken Salad Delight

DSCN1453

Sunday night and I’m doing my week in a day cooking.  In addition to making my dinners for the week, I also like to make a few items that are easy to-go items.  This week I made chicken salad and egg salad.

I made the chicken salad a little different than normal and I really loved the outcome.  Since it’s just me that will eat it – I used only 1 large chicken breast (or 4 tenders), but if making this recipe for more than one, I’d definitely suggest at least doubling up on the ingredients.

First, I poached the chicken in water with onion, garlic, bay leaves, celery, salt and pepper.  Once cooked and just slightly cooled, I chopped it to a shredded texture.

Next I mixed the following ingredients:

  • large spoonful of mayo (I’ve been using the mayo w/ olive oil and I love it!)
  • small spoonful of softened cream cheese
  • small palm full of chives, finely chopped
  • handful of grapes, halved
  • dash of dill
  • dash of salt and pepper
  • small palm full of celery and celery leaves, finely chopped

So flavorful and creamy!!  Delicious on crackers, a croissant, or just by itself.  Also, perfect for a busy work week lunch.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Tips & Tricks

Ripening and Keeping Bananas: Separate banana fingers from the “pack” when you get home from the grocery. If you leave them connected at the stem, they ripen faster.

Storing Cheese: Store your opened chunks of cheese in aluminum foil. It will stay fresh much longer and not mold!

Peppers: Peppers with 3 bumps on the bottom are sweeter and better for eating. Peppers with 4 bumps on the bottom are firmer and better for cooking.

Cooking Ground Beef: Add a teaspoon of water when frying ground beef. It will help pull the grease away from the meat while cooking.

Creamy Scrambled Eggs: To make scrambled eggs or omelets rich and creamy, add a couple of spoonfulls of  sour cream, cream cheese, or heavy cream in and beat.

Mint Brownies: For a cool brownie treat, make brownies as directed. Melt Andes mints in double broiler and pour over warm brownies.  Let set for a wonderful minty frosting.

Garlic Flavor: Add garlic immediately to a recipe if you want a light taste of garlic  and at the end of the recipe if you want a stronger taste of garlic.

Candy Bar Treat: Leftover snickers bars from Halloween make a delicious dessert.  Simply chop them up with the food chopper. Peel, core and slice a few apples. Place them in a baking dish and sprinkle the chopped candy bars over the apples. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes!!!  Serve alone or with vanilla ice cream. Yum!

Reheat Pizza: Heat up leftover pizza in a nonstick skillet  on top of the stove, set heat to med-low and heat till warm. This keeps the crust crispy. No soggy micro pizza.

Easy Deviled Eggs: Put cooked egg yolks in a zip lock bag. Seal, mash till they are all broken up.  Add remainder of ingredients, reseal, keep mashing it up mixing thoroughly, cut the tip of the baggy, squeeze mixture  into egg. Just throw bag away when done easy clean up.

Expanding Frosting: When you buy a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with your  mixer for a few minutes. You can double it in size. You get to frost more cake/cupcakes with the same amount. You also eat less sugar and calories per  serving.

Reheating Refrigerated Bread: To warm biscuits, pancakes, or muffins that were refrigerated, place them in a microwave with a cup of water. The increased moisture will keep the food moist and help it reheat faster. 

Measuring Cups: Before you pour sticky substances  into a measuring cup, fill with hot water. Dump out the hot water, but don't dry cup.  Next, add your ingredient, such as peanut butter, and watch how easily it comes right out.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Mexican Lasagna

I’ve seen a multitude of lasagna recipes and decided to make one of my own!  While it came out a little more casserole feeling than lasagna to me, it tasted great and I would highly recommend.  Hope you enjoy!

Prep: preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 13x9 pan.

Recipe / Ingredients:

  • 4-5 cups shredded chicken 
  • 1 small/med chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic (grated, pressed, or finely chopped)

TIP - You can either cook your chicken first (I poached my chicken, then shredded) and cook the onion separately OR you can cube chicken breast and cook with the onion.

If your chicken is already cooked… next cook onions and garlic until softened in a couple tablespoons of olive oil.

Once onions and garlic are cooked, add cooked chicken and the following ingredients to pot or large skillet.

  • 15 oz can enchilada sauce
  • 15-20 oz can of plum or diced tomatoes
  • sliced black olives (small can or enough for personal liking)
  • salt (1 teaspoon) and pepper (1/4 teaspoon)

Let simmer about 20 minutes until sauce thickens and flavors marry.

Separately, mix following ingredients in small bowl and set aside:

  • 2 cups of cottage cheese
  • 2 eggs

Now it’s time to start the layers!!

Final ingredients –

  • corn tortillas (not the crunchy hard shells!)
  • shredded Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese (my grocery has a blended bag, but if yours doesn’t just pick your favorite!).

Spread 1/3 of the meat sauce on bottom of the pan, top with 1/3 of the cottage cheese mixture, shredded cheese and finally the corn tortillas (I cut them in half and used 4 rounds per layer). Repeat 2 more times but leave off the tortillas on the final layer and just end with the cheese. 

Cover with tin foil and cook for 20 minutes.  Uncover and cook 10 minutes more.  Serve hot!

TIP: I like mine with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cilantro.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kale Chips

I’ve always liked greens, and made them the “usual” way, slow cooked with broth, red pepper flake, garlic, and bacon / ham.

However, once I got started on green smoothies, it was clear to see greens could be used in a lot more ways than the way I’ve been making them. 

Another way is by simply baking them into chips!  Kale seems to work the best for this.  Simply clean the greens, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake until crisp.  Eat and enjoy while consuming minimal calories!  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like eating buttery movie popcorn, but the salty almost nutty flavor and crisp bite of the kale can definitely take the edge off salty cravings!

DSCN0888

DSCN0890

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Potato Leftovers

I always seem to have leftover potatoes, and I have to admit that I’m not the best when it comes to using leftovers.  However, potatoes are a pretty easy one – even for me!

Some of my go-to options are making hash, using the potatoes to top a casserole like shepherd’s pie, or making potato pancakes.

This weekend, I had breakfast for dinner with a potato pancake, poached egg, and small side of pureed squash.  Add a piece of toast to soak up any yolky goodness, and I’m a happy camper!

DSCN0974

Monday, January 2, 2012

In need of green- shepherd’s pie

DSCN1159

DSCN1157

There’s nothing better on a cold snowy day than good old shepherd’s pie.  My heritage is both Italian and Irish, but this Irish dish is not one that I had much at all growing up. 

I love to make my beef stew part in a heavy cast iron pot, sautéed onions and garlic alongside carrots in the medley of beef, broth, and herbs.  The one veggie I was missing is peas.  What’s a shepherd’s pie without a little green?  Since I was out of peas, but in need of green, I folded in some spinach to my mashed potatoes and baked to perfection.  Sorry – no photos of the baked pie.  It looked and smelled so good that I dug right in and forgot to take the final picture!  You know that means it was tasty!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chopped!

I’m sort of obsessed with the show “Chopped”.  The show is a cooking challenge where chefs have to make meals including really random ingredients.

Well today I had my own “Chopped” experience when I looked in my fridge and couldn’t think of a thing to make out of the components (which included swiss chard, cranberries, pasta, wine and mushrooms). 

Here’s what I made!  Red and green greens (cranberry sauce with swiss chard greens) topped with mushroom ravioli in a wine sauce.

The greens…

DSCN1107

The final plate…

DSCN1109

Monday, December 12, 2011

My new favorite: pumpkin cheesecake

While getting in the holiday mood, I recently splurged on a piece of Cheesecake Factory pumpkin cheesecake.  It was so good!  I had never tried it before, but I’m sure glad I did.  I loved it so much that I decided to order a whole pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving.  That is… until they told me the price – $50!  You’ve go to be kidding. 

I quickly decided to make one myself and this Philadelphia Cream Cheese recipe is the one to use.  Honestly, so much better than even the Cheesecake Factory cheesecake!  You’ve got to try it.

DSCN0944

DSCN0945

Here’s what you need:

  • 38 Ginger Snaps, finely crushed
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped Pecans
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 4 (8 ounce) packages Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 eggs

Here’s what you do:

  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees F
  2. Mix crumbs, nuts and butter; press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of 9-inch springform pan (if you have one).
  3. Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with mixer until well blended. Add pumpkin, spice and vanilla; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour into crust.
  4. Bake 1 hour 20 min. to 1 hour 30 min. or until center is almost set. Loosen cake from rim of pan; cool before removing rim. Refrigerate 4 hours.

One thing I didn’t realize until the batter was already made… this recipe makes 2 cheesecakes!!  It’s a great option to freeze of give one away, but it you won’t be doing that, make sure you cut this recipe in half.

I hope you enjoy this creamy, spicy, sweet dessert as much as I do!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My Little Turkey Meatloaves

You wouldn’t know it from my lack of food posting, but I’ve actually still been home-cooking quite a bit!

Prior to Thanksgiving, I was in the turkey mood, but didn’t want to spoil the upcoming turkey dinner.  To make due, I changed up the original turkey dinner into little turkey meatloaves!

DSCN0850

DSCN0858

Here’s what I changed:

  • I used ground turkey instead of ground hamburger. 
  • I used stuffing mix instead of regular breadcrumbs.
  • I added poultry seasoning to the normal meatloaf spice mix.
  • I topped the meatloaves with gravy instead of tomato / ketchup sauce.

The rest I kept the same: chopped veggies (onion, garlic, carrots), egg, milk, oil, worcestershire, ketchup, salt and pepper.

Cook @ 375 degree oven until golden brown (about 40 mins).

Happy non-Thanksgiving turkey day!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Twice Baked Potatoes

Now that it’s football season, I’ve been playing with game-time food.  One of the “fan favorites” is my twice baked potatoes.  Potato skins is another favorite, but a bit less filling than the full-on twice baked potatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium baking potatoes
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon chicken bullion
  • milk
  • table salt
  • cooked chopped bacon (topping)
  • shredded cheddar cheese (topping)
  • sea salt (topping)

Scrub potatoes clean and pat dry.  Prick potatoes with a fork and bake at 425 degree oven for about 50 minutes or until tender.

Slice the potatoes in half (lengthwise).  Scoop the pulp out of each potato and add to separate bowl.

Mash the pulp with a potato masher or mixer. Add sour cream, garlic salt, pepper, bullion, and beat until smooth.  Add milk if necessary until desired consistency.  Season to taste with (table) salt. 

Spoon mashed potato mixture back into the potato half shells, and top to liking with bacon, cheese, and (sea) salt. 

Bake, uncovered, in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Then eat and enjoy a great twist on a great classic!