Saturday, December 27, 2008

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Whether you're on a gluten-free diet or not, if you're a chocolate lover, this cake is for you! This is definitely NOT cake-like, but more fudgey and dense and delicious. Make this for the chocolate lovers in your life!

1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup white sugar
18 (1 ounce) squares bittersweet chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
6 eggs

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Grease one 10 inch round cake pan (I used a 9-inch cake pan and added 5 minutes to the cooking time) and set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat combine the water, salt and sugar. Stir until completely dissolved and set aside. Either in the top half of a double boiler or in a microwave oven melt the bittersweet chocolate. Pour the chocolate into the bowl of an electric mixer.

Cut the butter into pieces and beat the butter into the chocolate, 1 piece at a time. Beat in the hot sugar-water. Slowly beat in the eggs, one at a time.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Have a pan larger than the cake pan ready, put the cake pan in the larger pan and fill the pan with boiling water halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake cake in the water bath at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes. The center will still look wet. Chill cake overnight in the pan. To unmold, dip the bottom of the cake pan in hot water for 10 seconds and invert onto a serving plate.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

We had a little get together with the girls today since a friend was visiting from out of town, so I figured I'd have some desserts ready for us after we got back from lunch. These are really easy, and gluten free! Perfect for Rachel!

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the ingredients and roll into small balls. Roll the balls in white sugar, place on cookie sheet and make the ever-so-recognizable peanut butter cookie design using the back of a fork. Bake for 8-10 minutes and let cool.

Peppered Beef Tenderloin

Jim was in charge of this one. He found a really good sale on a beef tenderloin, so we cut it in half so we could make two meals out of it. The recipe was found on All Recipes and scaled down to what we needed. It was really good!

1.5 tbsp. coarsely ground pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tbsp. grated lemon peel
1/2 tsp. salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 pound beef tenderloin

Combine the pepper, oil, lemon peel, salt and garlic; rub over tenderloin. Place on a greased rack in a foil-lined roasting pan. Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 45-65 minutes or until beef reaches desired doneness (for medium-rare, a meat thermometer should read 145 degrees F; medium, 160 degrees F; well-done, 170 degrees F). Cover and let stand for 10 minutes before slicing.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Chicken Avocado Bacon Wrap

We had some leftover chicken that we had marinated in Newman's Own Lighten Up Light Lime Vinaigrette. We decided to make a wrap with a few items we had around the house...and a few items I had to pick up at the store. It was quite delish and quick and easy!

leftover chicken shredded or cut into strips
1 avocado, sliced thin
shredded cheese
romaine lettuce
2-4 strips of bacon
tomato, sliced thin

we made 2-3 wraps out of this

Just layer everything on the wrap of your choice, roll it up and enjoy!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Taco Bake

I found this recipe on All Recipes but made some minor changes of my own. For some reason I tend to gravitate toward some type of Mexican-type food, so below is what I made.

1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (4 ounce) can green chiles
1/3 cup water
2/3 cup sour cream - I didn't have any sour cream so I used cottage cheese instead
2/3 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning mix

2 tbsp. RedHot sauce
2 cups shredded cheese of your choice
corn tortilla chips - I used Blue Corn Kettle Style Tortilla Chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium skillet over medium heat, cook the ground beef, onion and garlic. Once ground beef is cooked through, add the chiles, water, sour cream (or cottage cheese), taco seasoning mix and RedHot sauce. Let simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. In the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish, place a layer of tortilla chips. Cover with a layer of the meat mixture then a layer of cheese. Repeat this process until the last layer is cheese. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Ukrainian Chicken Kiev

I went to yoga class and came home to this yummy dinner. Jim scaled the original recipe from 8 servings to 4 servings. He only used 2 chicken breasts but they're HUGE so the recipe below worked out fine.

2 large or 4 small-ish skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 tbsp. and 2 tsp. butter, softened
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 egg
1 tbsp. and 1-1/2 tsp. water
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried dill weed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1 cup vegetable oil

Place each chicken breast between a sheet of wax paper and pound, using a mallet or rolling pin, to about 1/8 inch thickness; be careful not to 'break' the chicken. Wrap and refrigerate until seasoned butter is frozen.

To Make Seasoned Butter: In a small bowl combine the softened butter, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and mix well. Spread mixture into a 2x4 inch rectangle on a piece of aluminum foil; freeze until firm. When butter is firm, cut into 2-4 equal size pieces and place one piece on each chicken breast. Fold in edges of chicken and roll to encase butter completely. Secure with toothpicks.

In a small bowl, beat egg with water. In a shallow dish or bowl, mix together the 1/8 teaspoon pepper, 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder, dill weed and flour. Place bread crumbs in a separate shallow dish or bowl. Dip chicken rolls in seasoned flour, then egg mixture, then crumbs. Place coated chicken in a shallow dish, cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When oil is hot, deep fry chicken rolls for about 5 minutes, then turn over and deep fry for another 5 minutes until golden and cooked through, with no pink showing inside. At this point Jim popped them into a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes to make sure the chicken was cooked all the way through.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Autumn Apple Cake

So I was browsing through my first issue of Cooking Light and came across this recipe. I was so glad I had everything I needed to make this. I realize the ingredients aren't that much to ask to have on hand, but I actually had a Pink Lady apple AND golden raisins. Awesome. The best thing was that I actually wanted to bake something today, but wasn't sure what...this fit the bill. It's yummy!

Cooking spray
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
6.75 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1 cup finely chopped peeled Pink Lady apple (about 1 medium)
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts - I didn't use them since we're not really fans of nuts in our desserts
1 teaspoon powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray, and dust with 1 tablespoon flour. Weigh or lightly spoon 6.75 ounces flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 6.75 ounces flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Place granulated sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer until well blended. Beat in vanilla and egg. Beat in flour mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Fold in apple and raisins. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan; cool completely on wire rack. Sift powdered sugar over cake. Cut into wedges.

Chicken Piccata

Pretty much the only reason I decided to make this is because I took chicken out of the freezer and we've had capers sitting in our cupboard forever! I found this over on the Food Network website. It turned out good. I just served it over some brown rice.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, about 6 ounces each
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 tbsp. drained bottled capers, rinsed and chopped
Additional kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sprinkle a small amount of water on a large plastic sheet of plastic wrap. Place 2 of the breast halves on top of the plastic and sprinkle again with water. Cover with another sheet of plastic wrap and pound with a rolling pin or meat pounder until about 1/4-inch thick. Repeat with the remaining 2 breast halves.

Mix the flour with the salt and pepper in a shallow pie plate. Heat half of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Working in 2 batches, place the chicken in the flour mixture and turn to coat on all sides. Shake off the excess flour and add to the skillet. Cook until lightly browned and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate or platter and cover loosely with foil. Repeat with the remaining oil and chicken.

Pour off the fat from the skillet and return the skillet to the heat. Add the chicken stock and lemon juice. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring to pick up and browned bits in the bottom of the pan. Simmer for 3 minutes. Return the chicken to the skillet and simmer, turning often, until warmed through and the sauce is thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the butter and the capers. Season with salt and pepper and heat just until the butter has melted.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Creamy Skillet Turkey

So I took some turkey breasts out of the freezer with really no idea what to do with them. I was apparently too preoccupied with my new Nintendo DS game I bought earlier in the day, so Jim ended up taking over cooking duties. He found a Lipton Vegetable Soup packet in the cupboard with a recipe for creamy skillet chicken, so we figured it work fine for turkey as well. It was really good!

1 tbsp. Olive Oil
4 boneless, skinless turkey breast halves (about 1-1/4 lbs.)
1 envelope Lipton Recipe Secrets Vegetable Soup Mix
1 cup milk*
1 cup water
4 ounces cream cheese, cubed

In 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat Olive Oil over medium-high heat and brown turkey, turning once. Remove turkey; keep warm. In same skillet, bring Lipton Recipe Secrets Vegetable Soup Mix blended with milk/half-and-half and water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 4 minutes. Stir in cream cheese until melted and simmer 3 minutes. Add turkey and cook 5 minutes or until turkey is thoroughly cooked. Serve with warm buttermilk biscuits, hot cooked rice or noodles.

*Jim actually used 1/2 cup half-and-half and a 1/2 cup of milk. We had some half-and-half to get rid of

Friday, November 21, 2008

Chic Greek Salad

I know some people absolutely despise Rachael Ray, but she does have some pretty tasty recipes...this being one of them. And it's so easy! I did have to stop by the store on the way home to pick up some of the ingredients, but I was dead set on making this! Especially since I pretty much ate like crap this week and this is all veggies, so it made me feel better. I did have a few Costco mini spinach pie things on the side, but they were so yummy!!

1/2 seedless cucumber, chopped
2 vine-ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 can quartered artichoke hearts in water, drained
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
Coarse salt and black pepper
1/2 lemon,
1 small shallot, minced
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, eyeball it
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball the amount
2 cans imported tuna in oil, drained
12 pepperoncini hot peppers
1 cup pitted kalamata olives

Arrange the cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and peppers, artichoke hearts and parsley on a platter. Squeeze the lemon juice over the platter, juicing the fruit cut-side-up to keep the seeds from falling into salad. Season with salt and pepper. Place shallots, vinegar and oregano in a bowl and let stand 5 minutes. Whisk in extra-virgin olive oil in a slow stream. Pour dressing over salad. Garnish salad with chunks of tuna, hot peppers and olives. We added some feta to the top too.

This makes a TON of salad, but now we have lunch for tomorrow. Enjoy!

Mediterranean Salmon

Another fab find from All Recipes. We actually planned dinner this time, so there was no "workin' with what ya got" for this meal. It was really good!

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
4 cloves garlic, pressed
4 (3 ounce) fillets salmon
1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 tsp. garlic salt

Mix together the olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. Arrange the salmon fillets in a shallow baking dish. Rub garlic onto the fillets, then pour the vinegar and oil over them, turning once to coat. Season with cilantro, basil, and garlic salt. Set aside to marinate for 10 minutes. Preheat your oven's broiler. Place the salmon about 6 inches from the heat source, and broil for 15 minutes, turning once, or until browned on both sides and easily flaked with a fork. Brush occasionally with the sauce from the pan.

We served it with some Mediterranean couscous and it was delicious!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

One Pan Chili Chicken

It was basically another night where it was, okay, what do we have on hand? Chicken? Check. Rice? Check. Potatoes? Check. So what can we make? I came across this recipe on the Food Network and decided to give it a shot. The only thing we didn't have was carrots, but I added a can of kidney beans instead. Not exactly the same, but beans just seemed like a good fit.

2 tsp. olive oil
3/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken cut into cubes
1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/2 pound small red potatoes
cut into quarters, about 8 potatoes
Coarse salt
Cracked pepper
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. sweet paprika
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 (15 ounce) can whole plum tomatoes
3/4 cups
long grain rice
1 1/2 cups low sodium, fat free chicken broth - we used beef broth

1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen peas

Heat the oil in a non-stick paella pan, wok pan or 12-inch skillet. Add the chicken, and cook until golden brown on all sides, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Add the onions and potatoes and cook, stirring often, until onions have softened and are lightly golden, about 10 to 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic, paprika, cumin, oregano, tomatoes, rice, broth, beans and the cooked chicken. If it appears too dry, add more liquid. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer. Cook, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove cover, add the peas to the top without stirring in. Cover and cook 5 minutes more or until rice is cooked through and soft.

We added some hot sauce for a little kick and sour cream on top. Enjoy!

Polish stir-fry and Pierogis

This is a Rachael Ray recipe that included many of the things I love. Sauerkraut. Kielbasa. Pierogies. Yum. Kale was an ingredient in this recipe that was new to me and I must was okay. It seemed pretty tough to me, so maybe next time I would just try using spinach or something. We skipped the herbed sour cream that she made and just had plain sour cream with our pierogies - which were kraut instead of potato. Besides that, this was delish!

3 tbsp. softened butter
1 package fresh/frozen
pierogies, potato filled dumplings -- any brand or variety
1 1/2 pounds kielbasa, cut in large slices on an angle - we used Johnsonville Brats
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
, 1 turn of the pan
1 tbsp. butter
1 large red onion, quartered and sliced
1 1/2 pounds kale, trimmed and coarsely chopped
1 pound sauerkraut, drained
1 tsp. ground mustard or 2 tbsp. prepared spicy brown mustard
1 tsp. sweet paprika, 1/3 palm full
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cover the bottom of a skillet with softened butter. Arrange pierogies in the pan in a single layer. Add 1 cup water to the pan. Cover pan and place over medium high heat. Cook covered 8 minutes, remove lid and cook out any liquid in the pot.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Brown kielbasa and remove from pan. Cover kielbasa with foil to keep warm. Drain fat and add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon butter. Raise heat to high. Add onion to the pan and saute for a few minutes to soften. Add chopped kale in batches as it wilts into the pan. When kale is wilted, add sauerkraut. Season stir-fry with mustard, paprika, salt and pepper. Return kielbasa to pan. Toss to combine and transfer to a serving platter.

Let the pierogies "stick" and brown in the butter as the liquid evaporates. Remove crisp pierogies from heat to a plate.

Cool Southwestern Salad with Corn and Avocado

I found this recipe in my Real Simple magazine. I made a few slight variations, but for the most part, left it the same. All I had were northern beans which probably weren't the best choice to use since they tend to mush up more easily than pinto beans, but oh's all I had on hand. My picture doesn't look as tasty as the picture from the magazine, but I'm sure the taste was the same :o)

2 small heads romaine lettuce, cut into bite-size pieces (about 12 cups)
1 15-ounce can northern beans, drained and rinsed
2 ears corn, kernels cut off the cob (about 1 cup)
2 avocados, chopped
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
Kosher salt and pepper
1/2 9-ounce bag tortilla chips

In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, beans, corn, avocados, onion, and parsley. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lime juice, cumin, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Drizzle over the salad and toss. Serve with the tortilla chips.

Here's what mine looked like...

...and the picture from the magazine

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ginger Pumpkin Meringue Pie

I found this in my BH&G magazine and just HAD to make it. I still had a pre-made crust in my freezer so I used that instead of making the gingersnap-graham crust. It was still really good though!

1 pre-made crust or 1 gingersnap-graham crust, below
1 15-oz. can pumpkin
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 Recipe Brown Sugar Meringue, below

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare Gingersnap-Graham Crust; bake 4 minutes. Cool on wire rack. For filling, in bowl combine pumpkin, sugar, ginger, salt and cinnamon. Add eggs.; lightly beat with fork to combine. Gradually stir in milk and maple syrup. Pour filling into pastry shell. To prevent overbrowning, cover edge of pie with foil. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Uncover edges. Reduce oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Carefully spread Brown Sugar Meringue over hot filling; seal to edge. Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Loosely cover and refrigerate within 2 hours.

Gingersnap-Graham Crust:In large bowl combine 3/4 cup finely crushed gingersnaps (12 cookies), 1/2 cup finely crushed graham crackers (7 squares), and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Stir in 1/4 cup melted butter. Spread evenly on bottom and up the sides of 9-inch pie plate.

Brown Sugar Meringue:In large mixing bowl let 3 egg whites stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Beat on medium until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/3 cup packed brown sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high speed until mixture forms stiff peaks (tips stand straight).

This isn't the greatest picture, but you get the idea. And it was seems like the brown sugar sort of beaded up on top of the meringue once it cooled.

Easy Shepherd's Pie

This is a really easy shepherd's pie recipe that I like to make when I'm pretty much out of dinner ideas. Plus it's just a nice comfort food.

3-4 cups prepared mashed potatoes either homemade or instant
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup chopped carrots
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 cloves chopped garlic
1 pound ground sirloin
1 can corn, drained
1 can peas, drained
1 can cream of mushroom soup
salt and pepper to taste
shredded cheese of your choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the carrots and cook until just tender. Add the onions, garlic and ground beef and cook until beef is browned.

Turn the heat on low and add in the corn, peas and cream of mushroom soup. Stir until heated through, just a couple minutes. Add the salt and pepper to taste.

And beef mixture to a 9x13 dish, cover with the mashed potatoes,

and top with shredded cheese.

Place in preheated oven and cook for 30 minutes.

Let it rest for a few minutes and serve.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Italian Sausage, Peppers and Onions

I've made a pretty similar recipe before, so this was only slightly different. It was quite delicious though! I used a recipe I found on All Recipes.

1 package Jennie-O hot turkey sausages
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
1 medium red onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 - 1/2 cup beer

2 tbsp. tomato paste

Place the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat, and brown on all sides. Remove from skillet, and slice. Leave a little of the oil from sausages in the pan and add the olive oil and heat on medium. Stir in the yellow onion, red onion, and garlic, and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in red bell pepper and green bell pepper. Season with basil, and oregano. Stir in beer and tomato paste. Continue to cook and stir until peppers and onions are tender. Return sausage slices to skillet with the vegetables. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes, or until sausage is heated through. We served it over brown rice.

Tiliapia foil packet

Sunday afternoon we still didn't really know what we were going to have for dinner. We decided on fish since it would defrost pretty quickly. We also decided to just throw whatever veggies we had into a foil packet and toss it in the oven. I found this recipe and sort of used as a jumping off point. It turned out pretty good, but I think maybe adding a veggie with some juice, like tomatoes or something, would have added another layer of flavor to the dish and would have given it some more juice to soak up. Next time we'll try that.

1 medium onion, sliced thin
1 pound asparagus, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 red pepper cut into bite size pieces
1/4 - 1/2 head broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
3/4 cup snap peas
1 lemon
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt , divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper , divided
2-4 pieces tilapia

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine onion, asparagus, red pepper, broccoli the juice of the one lemon, oregano, olive oil, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. of the pepper in a large bowl. Place snap peas in a microwavable bowl with 1 tablespoon water. Cover and microwave on high until the peas are just beginning to cook, about 30 seconds. Drain and add to the other vegetables. To make a packet, lay two 30-inch sheets of foil on top of each other (the double layers will help protect the contents from burning); generously coat the top piece with cooking spray. Place one portion of tilapia in the center of the foil. Sprinkle with some of the remaining salt and pepper, then top with some of the vegetable mixture. Bring the short ends of the foil together, leaving enough room in the packet for steam to gather and cook the food. Fold the foil over and pinch to seal. Pinch seams together along the sides. Make sure all the seams are tightly sealed to keep steam from escaping. Repeat with more foil, cooking spray and the remaining fish, salt, pepper and vegetables. Bake the packets directly on an oven rack until the tilapia is cooked through and the vegetables are just tender, about 20 minutes. To serve, carefully open both ends of the packets and allow the steam to escape. Use a spatula to slide the contents onto plates. We served it with some brown rice.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Lentil Noodle Soup/Stew

Once again we had forgotten to take any sort of meat out of the freezer, so I had to think of what else we had on hand for dinner. I realize vegetarians eat meat-free meals all the time, but for some reason it's so hard for me to come up with filling meat-free meals. I really would like to try to eat some more vegetarian based meals, so maybe in the future you'll see more of those.

I had bought some lentils awhile ago and really wanted to try using them in a meal so I went on a search on the Internet. I came across this recipe but quickly realized I didn't have any beef broth at home, nor did I have 4 cups of chicken stock. I did have 2 cups of chicken stock and just decided to add some water and more spices to the mix to add more flavor. (I would really recommend trying to use the 4 cups of some sort of broth/stock like the recipe called for). The results were delicious! And it really thickened up so it was really filling. We also had some leftover cooked penne noodles so I added that to the mix as well. Below is what I ended up throwing together.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3/4 cup chopped carrots
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 cup dry lentils, rinsed
1-8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups fresh spinach
2-3 cups cooked pasta of your choice - I used penne

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the oil, onion, carrots and garlic and saute for 5 minutes, or until onions are tender. Add the broth/water and bring mixture to a boil. Add the lentils, tomato sauce, ketchup, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Add in the 2 cups of fresh spinach and allow to wilt into the stew. Add the cooked pasta and heat through.

I served this with some really easy cheesy, garlic-butter Bisquick biscuits.

2 cups Original Bisquick mix
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (2 ounces)
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/8 tsp. garlic powder

Heat oven to 450ºF. Stir Bisquick mix, milk and cheese until soft dough forms. Drop dough by 9 spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Stir together butter and garlic powder; brush over warm biscuits.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chicken, Cheese and Bean Quesadillas

Since I had some leftover cooked chicken, I decided to whip up this quick and tasty meal. They were so good! And leftovers for lunch were just as delicious.

1-2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped/shredded
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp. chili powder
1/2 tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp. Red Hot sauce
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
4, 10-inch flour tortillas
shredded cheese of your choice

Heat oil over medium heat in large skillet. Add the sliced onion and cook for a few minutes until just soft. Add the chicken, water, chili powder, cumin, Red Hot sauce, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Add in the beans and cook for 2-3 more minutes to heat through.

Take a tortilla, sprinkle some cheese on it, layer on the chicken-cheese-bean mixture, sprinkle on another layer of cheese and place the other tortilla on top.

Place in 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. You might want to cover it with foil to make sure they don't burn, or just keep a good eye on it. This made two quesadillas and we served it with sour cream, homemade guacamole and fresh salsa. Mmmm, mmmm good!

Skillet Potatoes

I wanted to make roasted potatoes, but the oven was already in use so I had to make stove top potatoes instead. These turned out so good!

2 tbsp. olive oil
4 medium potatoes, cubed
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 large red bell pepper, diced
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the potatoes, onion, bell pepper, salt and pepper and basically just cook the potatoes until cooked through and slightly brown. Enjoy!

Roast Lemon Chicken

I think was like the second time in my life that I cooked a whole chicken. The first time I did it, the chicken was as dry as can be. I found this relatively simple recipe and decided to give it a shot. Well it wasn't dry, but it wasn't very flavorful either. I made the garlic paste and rubbed half inside the chicken and half on the outside. Well duh...the garlic on the outside burnt to a crisp (I picked it off so the picture wouldn't look so I think next time I'll put the garlic paste underneath the skin. So I'll try this again, just using a different technique.

3-4 pound whole chicken
1-2 lemons
6 cloves garlic
1 tsp. salt
2 cups chicken broth

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the giblets and any fat from the chicken cavity. Roll the lemons on the counter with your hand to soften them, and cut into slices. In a small bowl, mash the garlic with the salt until a paste forms. Rub half this paste inside the chicken and then stuff the lemons into the cavity. Rub the remaining paste on the outside of the chicken. Place in a shallow roasting pan, on a rack (you can use sliced onions for a rack for even more flavor), pour the chicken broth around the chicken. Roast for 60-65 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 180 degrees F, juices run clear when pricked with a fork, and the drumstick moves easily in its socket. Cover the chicken and let rest for 10 minutes before carving. Serve with the pan juices (don't eat the lemons!). Serves 4

We served the chicken with a side of skillet potatoes and roasted homegrown beets.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sour Cream Apple Pie

While on the Decorating and Renovating board over on The Nest, nestie DianeTaylor posted this recipe. It calls for 4-5 large Granny Smith apples but I only used 1 large Granny Smith apple and 2 Empire apples and it was plenty. I saw it and just had to try it! It was so easy and really good! It made the house smell fabulous too. Enjoy!

3 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. flour

1-1/3 cup sour cream
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs
3 tbsp. all purpose flour
4 or 5 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
Pie crust (you can make your own, or use a pre-made one from the refrigerator section of the grocery store — I used this) fitted into a deep-dish 9" or 10" pie plate and chilled

To make the topping, in a bowl blend the butter, sugar, cinnamon, and flour until the mixture is combined well. Cover and chill the topping.

To make the filling, whisk together the sour cream, sugar, salt, vanilla, eggs, and flour until the mixture is smooth. Add the peeled, cored, and thinly sliced apples and stir the filling and apples together.

Spoon the filling into the chilled shell and crumble the topping evenly over it.

Bake the pie on a baking sheet in the middle of a pre-heated 350-degree oven, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. (You might need to put a bit of tinfoil on top of the pie during the last 15 minutes to prevent the top from burning.) Transfer it to a rack and let it cool completely.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Spicy Turkey Burgers

We had some ground turkey waiting to be used so I decided to make turkey burgers. I had never made turkey burgers before so I wanted something with a lot of flavor in it. These delivered! Jim really liked them too which is a plus! I found this recipe on the Food Network website. The recipe called for 12 ounces of turkey but I had 20 ounces, so I modified the recipe as necessary.

20 ounces ground turkey (one package Jennie-O ground turkey)
3/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp. cumin powder
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 egg
2 tbsp salsa
1/4 - 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
salt to taste

In a large bowl mix together the oregano, pepper, cumin powder, garlic powder, egg, salsa and salt. Add the turkey and mix thoroughly. Add breadcrumbs until you get a consistency you can shape into burgers. Shape into 4-5 burgers. Cook on stove top in cast iron grill pan or on outdoor grill over medium heat. Cook burgers 6-8 minutes per side until center is no longer pink (about 165 degrees Fahrenheit if you have a temperature probe). Serve on a bun with whatever toppings you like. I made guacamole to go with ours! Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Garlic Cheddar Chicken

I was lurking on the What's Cooking board over on The Nest and came across this recipe on the Good Eats 'n Sweet Treats blog.

The recipe can also be found over on All Recipes. This was so simple to make and so good! Jim was surprised at how good it was since it was so easy to make. We'll definitely be making this again. Click here for the actual recipe which serves 8. I changed the All Recipes recipe to feed two, but we had some GIANT chicken breasts, so belows rendition can be used for bigger chicken breasts.

2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
6 tablespoons Italian bread crumbs
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - pounded thin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Melt the butter and olive oil in a saucepan over low heat, and cook the garlic until tender, about 5 minutes. In a shallow bowl, mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, Cheddar cheese and pepper. Dip each chicken breast in the garlic butter to coat, then press into the bread crumb mixture. Arrange the coated chicken breasts in a 9x13 inch baking dish (or on a rack on a baking sheet). Drizzle with any remaining butter and top with any remaining bread crumb mixture. Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. Enjoy!

Slow cooker BBQ Chicken

We had this package of chicken thighs in our freezer for who knows how long! I seriously didn't know if they were even good anymore. I figured the only way to make sure they didn't taste like freezer once cooked, was to slow-cook the heck out of them, and that's what I I got this recipe from the FIX-IT and FORGET-IT Cookbook. It turned out pretty good. The chicken was nice and tender and didn't taste like old Next time I'd like to try using a whole chicken, cut in pieces.

2 lbs chicken pieces
1/4 cup flour
1 cup ketchup
2 cups water
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 drops Tabasco sauce (I used way more than 2 drops)
1/4 tsp. garlic salt (I used garlic powder instead)
1/4 tsp. onion salt (I used celery salt instead)

Dust chicken lightly with the flour and transfer to the slow cooker. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over chicken. Cover, cook on low for 5 hours. Enjoy!

Grilled Steak

I know it's nothing really exciting but steak, mashed potatoes and corn was always one of my favorite meals! Jim made a parsely-garlic butter sauce to pour over the steak, mmmm mmmm mmmmm. I just had to share.