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Monday, October 20, 2014

Oven Fried Chicken



I do love me some fried chicken.  I regularly try and get others in the family to agree to the chicken place near our house whenever takeout decisions come up.  Crispy, flavorful skinned chicken thighs, with all the sides just screams YUMMY to me, and feels like a real meal, instead of a burger, fries and a drink.

I served these little lovelies with mac & cheese, biscuits, homemade coleslaw, and threw some wedges in the oven too. Because who doesn't need more carbs in their life? Clearly I need to work on the "balance" in a meal... mmhmm.

This recipe isn't the traditional buttermilk brined chicken that we are all well versed in, and instead uses a non fat greek yogurt and spices to marinate the chicken in first, then a whole wheat flour and spices crust. Then baked, not fried.

We loved this, and will absolutely be making it again. And again.  I think next time I need a dish for a potluck, I'll just do a big batch of these, and claim my crown as "Queen of the good dish bringers" There probably isn't a crown for that, but there totally should be.

ONTO THE RECIPE!

Source: Adapted from http://www.chobani.com/

OVEN FRIED CHICKEN

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 Cup non fat plain greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2.5 tsp kosher salt (divided – 2 tsp for marinade, ½ tsp for flour mix)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper (divided – ½ tsp for marinade, ½ tsp for flour mix)
  • 8 chicken thighs
  • ½ C whole-wheat flour
  • 1 ½ tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp baking powder

DIRECTIONS:
  1. Combine yogurt, mustard, garlic, 2 t salt and ½ t black pepper in a bowl, add mixture to a Ziploc bag. Add chicken pieces and turn to coat. Zip the bag closed, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, up to 12 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 425°F
  3. Line a rimmed baking/cookie sheet with foil, add a wire rack and spray with olive oil (lightly)
  4. Blend together the flour, paprika, thyme, baking powder, remaining ½ tsp salt and remaining ½ tsp pepper in a large Ziploc bag.
  5. Take the chicken out of the marinade bag, shake off excess marinade, and add a piece to the flour bag.
  6. Shake, the remove and shake off excess coating and place on prepared rack.
  7. Repeat with remaining chicken. Throw out the remaining marinade and flour mixture.
  8. Lightly spray chicken with olive oil (using a mister) and bake until golden brown and when you get a reading of 160°F on a digital thermometer (test the thickest part of the meat).  Should take around 45-60 minutes.



Friday, October 17, 2014

Lemon "Brownies"

Another coworker's birthday, another attempt at baking. The birthday girl loves lemon, so it was of course to Jaida I turned, since she's a bit of a lemon-aholic herself.... 

I have to give full credit to her, because since I'm not a baker (but I'm trying to branch out!!), I messaged her several times during the process to make sure I hadn't screwed up somewhere along the line. I mean, there's no baking powder in these, which confused me, but my fears were unwarranted. All is well. These turned out amazing!

I used my square brownie pan for this, I just love the little individual cakes it makes, and not having to cut or dig out pieces is a bonus.

Happy birthday, Jeannie!


LEMON "BROWNIES"

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
For the glaze
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. Either line a 9x13 baking pan with foil, leaving enough over the edges that you can use to easily remove the brownies from the pan, or use an individual brownie pan, like mine.
  3. In a large bowl or stand mixer, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Slowly mix in the softened butter, using a hand mixer or stand mixer on low speed until just combined.
  4. Whisk together the eggs, lemon juice, and zest. Pour the mixture into the flour mixture and mix until well combined.
  5. Pour batter into whichever baking pan you choose and bake for 25-30 minutes (9x13 pan) or 18-25mins (brownie pan), until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Remove and let cool before removing and glazing.
  7. Prepare the glaze by mixing the ingredients together in a medium bowl. 
  8. If using the 9x13 pan, once the brownies are cooled, pour the glaze over the top and spread with a spatula to evenly coat. Allow it to set , then remove the brownies from the pan (using the overhanging foil), and cut into squares.
  9. If using a brownie pan, remove after cooling, and glaze individually (I put the glaze in a zip lock bag, snipped a corner and did a crisscross pattern)


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Freezer Friendly: Baked Ziti



A while ago, a great friend of mine brought several pans of baked ziti over to my house while I was unexpectedly away in New Zealand, leaving the husband behind. It was a particularly stressful time for me, being so far away, and worrying about things back home. Even things I shouldn't be worrying about, like "is my husband eating well?"

At the time, the husband was a terrible awful horrible cook and before I married him, he was on first name terms with all the delivery places near our house.

My friend (Hi, Courtney!) really set my mind at ease, and dropped off food to my house in my absence. It was so appreciated by the husband, AND me (do you know how much takeout COSTS?!)  

When I returned home, there was just one pan left - and I was able to try it. You guys... if there was ever a dish that could be described as "comfort in a bowl" it's this. Cheesy, gooey, and absolutely delicious - the husband raved about it so much, that my friend actually made him 5 pans of it one year as a Christmas gift! Now, THAT'S a gift!!!

I have attempted several times to replicate it since, and it's only now that I feel like I got the ratios right.  Leftovers are jealously guarded, and gleefully eaten when the other one of us isn't around (so we don't have to share).

I made 4 pans, 3 for the freezer and one to eat that night - as this freezes amazingly well, and reheats perfectly with no loss of quality.  This is a great meal to have hanging about for when you want to help another family out with a meal (we have given pans to our neighbours when they have babies, surgery or other life events), or to have as backup in the freezer for when you need something delicious for dinner yourself. 

I hope you try this!

This recipe makes 4 x 5lb loaf pans (the really big loaf pans), adjust for your pans.

FREEZER FRIENDLY BAKED ZITI

INGREDIENTS:
For the meat sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 onions, diced fine
8 large garlic cloves, minced
2lb ground beef
4 x 24oz cans of pasta sauce (or make your own)
salt/pepper to taste
italian seasoning to taste

Pasta
2lb dry ziti pasta (I used rigatoni in this case)

For assembly
24 x slices provolone cheese
2lb mozzarella cheese, grated
2 x 16oz containers sour cream (I use reduced fat, because have you seen the other ingredients?!)
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated

DIRECTIONS:
Meat sauce
  1. In a dutch oven, heat the oil and cook the onion until translucent.
  2. Add the garlic, and cook for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the ground beef, and brown.
  4. Add the pasta sauce and seasonings - bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20-30 minutes. 
  5. Test for seasoning, and adjust as necessary.

Pasta
  1. Cook the pasta until al dente, and drain

Assembly

In each pan, layer ingredients in order (see below picture):
  1. Pasta
  2. Provolone
  3. Mozzarella
  4. Meat sauce
  5. Sour cream

    Then repeat:
  6. Pasta
  7. Provolone
  8. Mozzarella
  9. Meat sauce

    Finish with
  10. Parmesan
    To eat immediately
  11. Bake in a preheated oven (350 degrees) for about 30 minutes, or until it bubbles around the top/sides.
    Freezing
    Cool completely, and top with foil. Wrap with plastic wrap.
    Cooking from frozen: thaw, bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until bubbly around the top/sides.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Crockpot: Cheesy Chicken Tater Tot Casserole


I'm a little ashamed that I like tater tots. I'm a little more ashamed that I used them in a "recipe"

But only a little bit. And only because I think I'm supposed to not enjoy those kind of things.  But - at the end of the day, deliciousness wins. 

Chicken - yum. Bacon - yum. Cheese - yum. Potatoes - yum.
The End.

So, here's what I did!

INGREDIENTS:
  • 32oz bag frozen tater tots
  • 6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1.5lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 cups of cheddar cheese, grated
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • seasoned salt (to taste)
  • pepper
  • 3/4 half & half (you could use milk)

DIRECTIONS:
  1. Layer the crockpot with 1/3 each of tots, bacon, chicken, seasonings, onion and cheese and repeat until you use all your ingredients.
  2. Pour the half & half or milk over the top.
  3. Cover, and cook on low for 4-6 hours (depends on your crockpot - mine runs hot, and the chicken was 165 degrees at the 4 hour mark).



Friday, October 10, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

Okay people, GET EXCITED. This is the way to eat cookie dough, without actually having to bake cookies or anything crazy like that. AND if you are all knocked up, you can eat this without worrying about consuming raw eggs, as NO EGGS were HARMED during this recipe process!

Takes just a few minutes to mix, and served with graham crackers (Kiwis - use a plain Super/Vanilla/Round wine biscuit, Aussies - try Milk Arrowroot or Marie - or both of you could use tiny teddies and be done).

A yummy dessert, great to bring to parties or pot lucks or beloved co-worker's birthdays. You WANT to share this, and not eat it all yourself, because... butter, cream cheese...yikes YUM.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 8oz cream cheese (low fat is fine) - softened
  • 1/2 Cup (1 stick) of butter - softened
  • 3/4 Cup powdered sugar
  • 1/3 Cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 Cups mini chocolate chips
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy.
  2. Add the sugars, vanilla and salt, and beat until well combined.
  3. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Refrigerate, and serve.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

One Skillet: Vegetables, Black Beans & Rice


I've been making a concerted effort to meal plan, and to not visit the grocery store more than once every two weeks. Nearing grocery shop day, I just want to use up what I have, and start fresh again the next week.

A quick inventory of the fridge and pantry for a quick dinner, and this dish was born. It pulls together super fast if you use rice that you have leftover, or have in your freezer waiting to be used in just this way.

Even the husband liked this, and didn't comment on the lack of meat. WIN.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 3 medium zucchini, sliced, or cubed
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tsp italian seasoning (to taste)
  • 1 can  black beans, drained, rinsed 
  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups white or brown rice, cooked
  • salt/pepper
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. 
  2. Add zucchini, red pepper and onion, cook 5 minutes, or until browned/charred nicely.
  3. Sprinkle the italian seasoning over the vegetables, then add garlic, cook for 30 seconds.
  4. Add beans, tomatoes and water.  
  5. Add rice and combine together. 
  6. Simmer for a few minutes, taste, season with salt/pepper (to taste)
  7. Serve

Monday, October 6, 2014

Pasta with Pumpkin & Bacon


It's officially pumpkin season, and with all the baking with pumpkin, pumpkin spiced everything, I thought I'd throw in a recipe that might use up some of the extra canned pumpkin you're sure to have hanging about.

This is super simple and makes a quick weeknight meal that will serve two adults, and one toddler. OR two adults, with leftovers for lunch.

PASTA WITH PUMPKIN & BACON

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 8 oz pasta of your choice
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
DIRECTIONS:
Cook bacon and onion together until onion is transparent. Add garlic and cook for a further minute. Set aside.

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and return to pan. Reduce heat to low.

Add pumpkin, cream cheese, evaporated milk, salt and pepper and stir until cream cheese is melted and mixture is warmed through.

Fold in the bacon, onion and garlic mixture.

Taste for seasoning (important - this can be bland if you don't season right!) and serve.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Cream Cheese Stuffed Banana Bundt Cake


It was a coworker's birthday, and I had recently stumbled across this recipe via Pinterest, and put it in the "must make sometime". Browsing through my pins looking for something to bring to share, that I already had the ingredients for (stopping at the store with a toddler and baby isn't my idea of a good time), I came across this little gem and knew it would be perfect.

It's a few more steps than your basic banana bread, but so worth it!

I DID miss the part where it said to pile the cream cheese towards the center and just spread it over the whole surface. I think next time I should probably follow the instructions!

As an aside: Hi there, coworkers who did not know I had a cooking blog...nice to see you. 
Source: Baking Bites

CREAM CHEESE STUFFED BANANA BUNDT CAKE

INGREDIENTS:

Filling

  • 8-oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
Cake
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mashed banana (approx 2 medium)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup milk

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 10-inch bundt pan.


Filling: 
  1. In a small bowl, beat together all filling ingredients until well blended and smooth. Set aside.
Cake: 
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
  2. In the bowl of your mixer, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one by one, incorporating each before adding the next. Add the vanilla, bananas and oil.
  4. Stir half of the flour mixture into the banana mixture, followed by the milk. Stir in remaining flour mixture, mixing briefly until JUST mixed (don't over mix)
  5. Pour half of the batter into bundt pan, then spoon the cream cheese filling into a ring in the center of the batter.   
  6. Pour remaining batter on top.
  7. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed.
  8. Allow cake to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn cake out and cool completely before serving.   

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bread: Whole Wheat Rolls


Now, before anyone gets all anxious and panties-in-a-bunch about where I find time to do this stuff, here's the thing: I used a bread-maker. And I did this on a weekend. I am not a super hero, nor will I be creating pinterest worthy birthday parties for my children anytime soon. Just wanted to throw that out there.

The entire extent of my involvement in this was putting the ingredients in the bread-maker at appropriate temperatures, shaping into rolls after the cycle finished, waiting for a bit for them to rise again - and then throwing them into a hot oven.

And then eating them.  I've actually mastered that part.

I love fresh bread. They make the house smell good, they taste amazing and there is a certain sense of accomplishment when working with yeast and it actually turning out. I also like that I know what's in them.

Unlike a lot of the recipes I've made - these rolls are still good the next day, and in fact 3 days later the rolls were still fresh and soft. I have no data past 3 days though because I ate them all. They made delicious lunches for me, filled with ham and cheese, or spread with butter and snarfed.

This recipe is a keeper! You can OF COURSE do this the hard way and knead by hand. But, if you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, or a bread machine -that is just way easier.

Source: www.thereciperebel.com

WHOLE WHEAT ROLLS

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup warm milk (I put mine in the microwave for about 30-45 seconds)
  • ½ cup butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/4-1/2 cup additional milk or water

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add all ingredients in (in order given), in your bread machine. Start the Dough setting. Check after a few minutes to see if it needs more liquid or flour. 
  2. When cycle has finished, remove from the pan, and turn out onto a lightly floured counter.
  3. Shape pieces of dough into balls and place on a baking sheet, or a greased pan.
  4. Let rolls rise until doubled (about half an hour)
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for around 20 minutes or until they are a light golden brown.  

Monday, September 29, 2014

Thai Style Sweet Potato Soup


Now that cooler weather is on its way for MOST people (I live in AZ, this won't happen for awhile), I wanted soup. But not just ANY soup, one that I've made for years, and has a spicy and interesting kick to it.

Growing up in New Zealand, in particular Auckland, I was exposed to many cultures and cuisines. It's kind of a melting pot, and I love the diversity of food available there. Thai food is a particular favourite of mine. The flavours are vibrant and amazing.

Red curry paste can be found in the international aisle of most grocery stores in the US - and it really is essential to this dish.

We eat this with some fresh bread and call it dinner. 

THAI SWEET POTATO SOUP

INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 3 tablespoons ginger, finely grated
  • 2 quarts (8 Cups) chicken stock
  • 1/2 regular sized can coconut milk
  • 2 cups fresh greens, chopped e.g. cilantro, green onions or a mix
  • Juice of 2 limes
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Place sweet potato and onion on a large baking tray.
  3. Scatter the brown sugar and half the peanut oil over the top and shake the tray to coat the vegetables.
  4. Bake the vegetables for 45 minutes, turning a few times during cooking.
  5. Once cooked, the potatoes and onions should be honey brown and caramelized, not black.
  6. Into a large, deep pot add the remaining oil, curry paste and ginger.
  7. Cook over a medium heat for about 3 minutes to release the flavours.
  8. Add cooked vegetables and combine.
  9. Pour in the stock and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  10. Blend the mixture until smooth.
  11. Add the coconut milk, stir through and simmer for 3-5 minutes.
  12. Add the fresh greens, stir in well and add the lime juice to taste.
  13. Stir well and serve.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Blueberry Pancake Muffins



No recipe, just an idea. If you have leftover pancake batter after making a batch for breakfast, grease a muffin pan, add some fruit, chocolate or whatever strikes you as good, and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

Makes a great portable breakfast for the kids (and everyone else too!)

As seen on Pinterest, source: Once a Month Meals

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bell Pepper Chicken with Feta Orzo


We loved this dish, but have to be honest - it was allll about the yummy feta-y orzo. 
I often make other dishes, and use this simple orzo as a side - however, when paired with the oregano and lemon in the vegetables, it really is the perfect accompaniment.

Source: Adapted from Cooking Light - Weeknight

BELL PEPPER CHICKEN WITH FETA ORZO

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4oz/115 grams of uncooked orzo (rice shaped pasta – about ½ a cup or 4 oz)  
  • 4 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 4 x 170g (6oz) chicken breasts
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1/8th tsp ground red pepper
  • 1 cup red bell pepper strips
  • 1 cup green bell pepper strips 
  • 1 cup yellow bell pepper strips
  • 1 cup broccoli (optional)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 ½ Tbs fresh lemon juice
  • • ¾ Cup (3 oz, 85grams) crumbled feta cheese
INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. Cook orzo according to package directions, omitting any salt and fat
  2. While orzo cooks, heat 2 tsp olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper and red pepper, and add chicken to pan
  4. Cook for 4 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan, and keep warm.
  5. Add remaining 2 tsp olive oil and bell peppers to pan, sauté for 2 minutes.
  6. Add oregano and garlic and sauté for another minute. Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice.
  7. Combine orzo and feta, serve with chicken and bell pepper mixture.
Nutritional Info - on My Fitness Pal

Monday, September 22, 2014

Coffee & Molasses Marinated Pork Chops


Although we eat a lot of chicken (as evidenced by my chicken heavy blog posts), I do love a good pork chop. When cooked well, they are moist, juicy and can be flavoured in so many different was. They are great when brined, marinated or even coated in parmesan, egg and breadcrumbs.

I'd never thought of coffee as something I'd ever use to marinate meat in, but for a different spin on a marinade, this one was worth a shot...of coffee.. Har har har.

I threw these in the marinade the night before, and let them do their thing while I was at work.

Something to note: watch them closely as the molasses content makes them excellent candidates for burning.

These are great on the grill, but can be done just as well inside in a pan.

Source: Originally Alton Brown, but as seen on Cheese Curd in Paradise

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 cup cool strong coffee
  • 6 ounces molasses, by weight
  • 2 Tbl apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbl Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 6 to 8 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 boneless pork chops, 1-inch thick 

DIRECTIONS: 
  1. Whisk together all ingredients (besides the pork chops) in a bowl, then add to a large zip lock bag.
  2. Add the pork chops and marinate overnight, or for at least 8 hours.
  3. Preheat grill to medium, then grill pork chops 3 to 4 minutes per side.  (You want the center to be 140).
  4. Allow the pork chops to rest 2-3 minutes before serving

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Chicken Piccata

There are many variations on this dish, and how it is best prepared, that even the celebrity chefs can't agree which is the best! While I'd love a Smackdown between Ina Garten and Giada deLaurentiis... solely so I could be a judge and eat all the things... let's just make this mashed up version, and call it good, hey?

The above picture is of MY plate, sans capers. Not because I don't like capers, I do. But I forgot them this time. The husband added his after the fact, and wouldn't let me take a picture of his plate. He's so picky like that. Wants to like, eat his dinner or something and not wait for me to be done happy-snapping. Whatevs.

On this particular day, I served this with Spinach & Parmesan Orzo

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts - sliced in half lengthways, and pounded as thin as you like
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tablespoon water
  • 3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
  • Olive oil
For the sauce
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice 
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup brined capers (rinsed)
  • Sliced lemon, for serving

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F 
  2. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
  3. Mix the flour, salt and pepper in a plate.
  4. In a second plate (or bowl), beat the egg and 1/2 tablespoon of water together. 
  5. On a third plate, add the breadcrumbs. 
  6. Dip each chicken breast first in the flour, then dip in the egg then the bread crumbs.
  7. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium to medium-low heat.
  8. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Put them in the preheated oven, and bake for 5 to 10 minutes while you make the sauce.
  9. Dry the skillet with a dry paper towel. 
  10. Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and then add the lemon juice, wine, stock the reserved lemon halves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. 
  11. Boil over high heat until reduced in half, about 2-3 minutes. 
  12. Off the heat, add the rest of the butter and stir gently. Add the capers.
  13. Discard the lemon halves and serve a piece of chicken on each plate, with the sauce on the side, or poured sparingly over the chicken.

Bring the extra sauce to the table, because it's good!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Spinach & Parmesan Orzo

This is a really easy, quick and yummy side. Mild enough in flavor that it would go with all kinds of main dishes, this was really well received in my house. And in my lunchbag the next day.

It breaks up the "usual" rotation of starchy sides (I love potatoes and rice but need a change!) and looks good too.

It's easy, basically cook your pasta, and while that's going, make a white sauce using olive oil instead of butter, and adding garlic.  Garlic, to me, is like bacon. There are very few dishes that cannot be improved by adding it!

Add in the spinach and cheese, and you might even convince your kids to eat it too.

SPINACH & PARMESAN ORZO

INGREDIENTS:
  • 8oz orzo pasta
  • 1 Tb olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tb flour
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1½ cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Add orzo to a pot of salted, boiling water. 
  2. While orzo cooks, heat olive oil in a saucepan and then cook garlic til fragrant (but don't burn!).
  3. Sprinkle the flour into the pot and combine. 
  4. Whisk in the milk, and continue to cook over low heat until thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Once the orzo is cooked, drain and add to the sauce.
  6. Add the spinach and parmesan, and fold in gently.
  7. Test for seasoning, and serve.





Friday, September 12, 2014

Mini Tortilla Crusted Pizzas

A super simple lunch, that was so fast to assemble and cook! These were a hit with everyone at my house and used things I had on hand.

We liked the ones using the bigger muffin pan, versus the smaller mini muffin pan. I cut them using a biscuit cutter, but you could use a (clean) empty can if need be.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4-5 soft taco sized tortillas (any size will do, but the quantity needed will vary depending on size)
  • 1/2 Cup pasta or pizza sauce, pesto, or alfredo sauce
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • toppings - could include mini pepperoni, ham, pineapple, diced peppers, onions, olives, leftover chicken (great with pesto base), mushrooms, caramelized onions, blue cheese, anchovies, bacon
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Cut out rounds of tortillas, and place them in a lightly greased muffin pan. You don't want them to line the entire pan (they become pie-like), just go up the sides slightly.
  3. Add your sauce, be it pesto or tomato based or alfredo
  4. Add cheese
  5. Add toppings
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes (or until the edges get brown and the cheese bubbles)
  7. Cool slightly and serve to your hungry family


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Asian Crunch Salad


Not even CLOSE to being the best photo of this, and I almost didn't post this because of it. But I've said before, and I'll say it again. I am neither a photographer, or a baker. And since this salad is just so good, you'll forget all about the picture and just thank me for posting. Mmmkay?

I did make the dressing and crunch ahead of time (on the weekend) so that all I had to do to pull this together during the week was cut the avocado, mango, onions and cilantro. Easy enough to do while you wait for your protein to cook (we served this with pork chops)

Let me know if you try and like this!

Source: adapted from Gimme Some Oven

INGREDIENTS:
Salad:

  • 1lb coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)
  • 1 cup shelled and cooked edamame
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1 mango, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1/2 cup thinly-sliced green onions 
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro

Crunch:

  • 2  packages of ramen noodles, crumbled (toss the seasoning packet away)
  • 1/2 cup sliced or roughly chopped almonds

Asian Honey Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (or any cooking oil)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • pinch of salt and black pepper
DIRECTIONS:
Salad:
Combine all ingredients in a bowl

Crunch:
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spread the crumbled ramen noodles and sliced almonds out on a baking sheet, and stir to combine. Bake for about 5 minutes, or until the almonds and noodles are slightly toasted and golden, mixing around during cooking if need be.  Keep a very close eye on it so that it doesn't burn. Remove and set aside

Dressing:
Whisk all ingredients together until combined.

SERVING:
Add ingredients (including the dressing) together in a large bowl, and toss until combined.

NOTE:
If you know you'll have leftovers keep the avocado, half the dressing, and half the crunch OUT and add them as you serve again. The salad will wilt and won't be good the next day otherwise!





Monday, September 8, 2014

"Hamburger" Steaks with Onion Gravy


Apparently, ground beef (mince to the Aussies and Kiwis) is also called "hamburger" in some parts of the US.

Kind of like where in some parts of the US, they call all carbonated beverages "coke" regardless of flavour. Weird. 

Although we all speak the same language, I am often tickled by regional differences and sayings. A lovely friend of mine says "y'all" a lot, and I smile every time. I love her (Hi Leigha!) Leigha has a delicious baby girl called Emma, and an adorable etsy store that y'all should check out (see what I did there?), because who DOESN'T need a crown for their baby girl? 

A recent conversation about "what to make with ground beef" sparked a suggestion of "hamburger steak with gravy". Apparently it's a Southern thing which means my husband is guaranteed to love it. 

Sounds interesting, right? (all: RIGHT!) You want to see a recipe for this, right? (all: RIGHT!)

Well okay. Since you asked and all...I decided to make it, based on the description of "ground beef, made into patties, and served with a gravy" and some basic instructions. so, really, I just took it and ran with it. It's actually pretty similar to something my dad makes, so I'm pleased to be making it here!

I served this with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables

So, Southerners... how'd I do?

STEAK WITH ONIONS AND GRAVY

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1lb ground beef (aka mince/hamburger)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 Cup breadcrumbs
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Seasoned salt/pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbs flour (approximately)
  • Vegetable oil 
Gravy
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 TB flour
  • 2 cup beef stock (or broth)
  • salt/pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:
  1. Mix together the beef, egg, breadcrumbs, seasonings and worcestershire sauce. Add extra breadcrumbs if it needs it to bind well. 
  2. Form patties (you should get 6) and flatten as thin as you'd like (thinner cooks quicker), and dip very lightly in flour.
  3. Heat the oil in a skillet, and cook the patties until browned (not necessarily cooked all the way through). Remove to a plate.
  4. Add the sliced onions to the skillet, and cook until translucent.
  5. Add the flour to the onions, and mix, then blend in the beef broth, scraping the pan to get all the brown bits off the bottom. Cook (stirring) over low-ish heat until thickened.
  6. Test for seasoning, and add salt/pepper if necessary.
  7. Add the patties back to the pan with the gravy, and simmer until cooked through (maybe about 5 -10 minutes, depending on thickness of the patties)

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