Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Party '09

Last night was our 2nd Christmas party, co-hosted with the Putmans (Damon and Carlin). It was a fabulous time with great food and great friends.
Damon went full speed ahead and rented heaters! And what a great idea, we spent alot of time out here.
Carlin's beautiful tree
Ahhh yes, the food. So much food. Stuffed Mushrooms (in my o so tacky christmas dish!), dips, cheeses, and crackers.
Also a ham and rolls, and desserts. YUM!
The stuffed mushrooms were a hit. I must give cred to the awesome Pioneer woman! Recipe here: Stuffed Mushrooms

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Lee's Favorite Chicken Noodle Soup

I get a request for this all the time from Lee. And it's always good. Always.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients:
1 pkg No Yolks Egg Noodles (whichever size)
1 whole chicken, rinsed
1 stick of butter
2 chicken boullion cubes

GO!

Boil the chicken in a stock pot with water just enough to cover chicken. Remove chicken but for for goodness sakes don't dump all that broth down the sink! Skim the fat off the top. Bring the broth back to a boil and drop in the stick of butter and pretend you didn't.
Once the chicken is cool enough, pull all the meat you can off of it!
Drop in the boullion cubes and stir the broth around a bit. Add 4 cups of water.
Once this comes back to a boil, add the noodles.
Put the chicken back in at the end, and once it is all heated well, serve!

We put a little Lawry's or Tony's on it.you can use this same recipe and tear up 2 cans of biscuits and have Chicken and Dumplings!

Monday Night Dinner Tripled!

Donald wasn't able to come over on Monday night because of something supposedly more important. But I made meatloaf anyway, his favorite. Ha. And served it to 3 of our dear friends. Double HA!
Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, and Green Beans.
When it was all over, I turned to look at my kitchen on the way out the door the next morning and thought to myself "where's the kitchen cleaning fairy when you need one?"

The sink is full of dishes, the table covered in all our wine/water glasses. just a mess.
I was worn out from cleaning this up, made sad eyes at Lee, and we went out for dinner.
Love him!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Oreo Truffles

A few years ago, an intern brought these to work and I almost fainted. They are good. Seriously yummy.
Last night, I made a batch to take to Jennifer's holiday party. Everyone asked me for the recipe and they are just so easy!

Ingredients:
1 package Oreos (original ones. not the weird ones they put out nowadays)
1 8oz package of cream cheese
1 package Almond Bark
4 oz dark chocolate

Directions:
In a large food processor, grind the oreos until they are dust!Add the cream cheese to the dust. Word to the wise - don't just throw the brick in there - you will get pretty frustrated! cut it up and push it into the dust with a spatula. Run the processor until no white traces of cream cheese remain.
Roll walnut sized balls and put on a cookie sheet.
Place them in the freezer for about an hour. This will keep them from falling apart when you dip them.
This part is tricky to me. If someone comes across an easy way, do tell!
Almond Bark - this stuff can be a little frustrating. Cook it too fast, it scalds and turns into hard goo. I found the best way is to follow the microwave instructions on the package, not the stove top part.
Take a small spoon and put the oreo mixture on the spoon and then submerge in the melted almond bark. You want to get a nice coating on here. Place back on the cold cookie sheet.
Once all the balls are dipped, melt the dark chocolate.
Artfully drizzle over the dipped oreo balls.
And that's it.
Seriously.
Donald took this one:Then he ate 3.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs

Tuesday night I made one of my favorite meals of all time - Spaghetti and Meatballs. Nothing puts me in a good mood like that meal. I could eat it every day.
After much trepidation, I decided to share the entire recipe, not just the meatballs. I am pretty guarded about my sauce recipe!

Sauce:

2 pounds canned diced tomatoes
(about 2 large cans)
6 oz tomato paste

8 oz or so tomato sauce
(i ended up using almost 2 cups since it thickened up too much)
6 oz water

1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic (or more) minced
1 tablespoon worchestershire sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon oregeno

1 small can mushrooms

Combine first 6 ingredients and simmer 10 minutes. Add rest, simmer 1 hour.

Meatballs:

1 pound ground turkey

3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

3/4 cup parmesan cheese

fresh basil, chopped

1 egg, beaten

¼ cup milk

salt and pepper

combine all in a bowl and mash together. If meatballs don’t want to stay in a ball, add a little more breadcrumbs to help hold together.

Add meatballs to sauce and simmer 30 minutes.

Feel free to add / omit as you see the need. You can use ground beed instead of turkey if you want. I just have gotten used to the turkey meatball and feel a little healthier!

I like to only use high end tomatoes when making spaghetti - since it is the heart of this dish. My favorite brand is Cento. And i used "Chef Chopped Tomatoes" for this round and loved the end result!


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cooking simple

When I don't have much time, or sometimes much money, I end up falling back on easy recipes that are always well liked. So if I am not posting much right now, it is because I am just throwing together some normal meals!

Sunday - Roasted Chicken and veggies
Monday - Turkey Tacos
Tuesday - Grilled chicken breasts with veggie orzo
Wednesday - Spaghetti and turkey meatballs
Thursday - no idea.... Lee is out so maybe just a bowl of soup or something.
Friday - we usually go out but I have all the fixins to make a pizza for the grill

This week, I will make sure I post a photo of the spaghetti with a recipe - that way I am putting a new recipe out there!

I am making Oreo truffles for a party on Saturday and that will be another good one to try and photograph and post.
The Holiday Party season is upon us! we have 3 in the next few weeks!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving part duex

We had 2 Thanksgivings this year, check out part one here.

Friday morning I wasn't too rushed. I knew I had plenty of time since were weren't eating until 6pm or so.
That doesn't mean I didn't have about 4 panic attacks, mainly about the turkey...
First - I had placed it in the brining solution Thursday after we got home from Palestine...
My first thought after placing it in the bag was... AM I SURE ABOUT THIS?
So the turkey sat in the bag for about 12 hours or so, and I turned it shortly after I got out of bed.
I had never eaten a brined turkey and I had never brined one, so this was all news to me. I opened the oven... took a deep breath and shoved the turkey inside. Then left it alone and didn't even look at it for about 3.5 hours.
Then he looked like this:I basted it every 20 mins with butter until the meat thermometer told me it was cooked through - then basted it again. Shhhhhhh!
In the end - it was GORGEOUS, juicy, and proved to me that brining a turkey is well worth it.
I almost forgot to take a photo at all! So this is the non-hacked up side.
Then we ate. All 8 of us shoved in my kitchen. I need a bigger house..
Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean cassarole, rolls and croissants, and gravy. Something I learned this year - holy hell the gravy from a brined turkey is salty. I will have to use a gravy base next year.
Don went a little crazy and made 4 pies!
Cherry!

Pecan (with Kahlua!)
Pumpkin!
Apple!After all that, we somehow had the energy to play games for like 4 hours...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Long weekends are nice

I have started cooking a nice breakfast on Saturdays since I am off on Friday and have that whole day to rest (kind of...) and grocery shop and all that. This weekend I made eggs benedict with hashbrowns! It was super delicious! Lee really really liked it alot.That is hashbrowns on the bottom, canadian bacon in the middle, and then the poached egg with green onions on top.
The down side to this dish is - the dishes.Then later in the day I treated Lee and made his favorite holiday treat - chex mix!Um...A LOT of chex mix! I don't put in the pretzels - but i put in plain goldfish this time and it's great! Those little suckers soak up all the spices and .... butter.

So anyway, then Sunday I made a spin on Beef Bourguinon. This is a crock pot version with beef short ribs instead of beef tips. It was SO TENDER and yummy...
I also steamed some new potatoes on the side and made fresh french bread in the breadmaker. Wonderful meal with Don and Donald to witness it. Lee can't always be the only one witnessing my culinary masterpieces!
I am posting a link to one of my favorite Beef Bourguignon recipes from Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) and it is what introduced me to this dish. I have a quickie version from Real Simple that is great in a pinch when you want this meal but just don't have like 2+ hours to mess with it. I will post that as well.

Barefoot Contessa Beef Bourguignon

Real Simple's Quick Beef Bourguignon

Ingredients:

Olive oil

1.5 pounds sirloin steak cut into 1 inch cubes, seasoned with salt and pepper

1 10 ounce package sliced mushrooms

1 16 ounce package frozen pearl onions

2 cups red wine (Chianti is a good one, but anything will really work) If not using, beef stock is ok. but just use the wine! it is so good with it!

1 can Campbell’s golden mushroom soup ( do NOT substitute with regular mushroom soup!)

Thin baby carrots

Flat leaf parsley

In a large deep skillet over medium-high heat, cook steak until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer steak to a bowl, set aside.

Add the mushrooms and onions and carrots to the pan and cook until any liquid has evaporated. Add wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the soup and ¼ cup water and bring to a boil. Add the steak and simmer, 2 minutes.


Divide into bowls and sprinkle with parsley, if using.






Friday, November 20, 2009

Lick the bowl...


You know you want to!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Single Life

This week, I was "Single." Lee was in NYC from Tuesday - Friday (11pm tonight..) so I didn't really cook much.
Monday, when Donald came over (Lee had a client dinner) - I made him my favorite salad (spinach, bacon, boiled egg, shallots, and mushrooms).

Tuesday - French Onion Soup and it was GREAT!I made the soup on Sunday so that I would have it to eat later in the week.

Wednesday - Long story but I had a huge lunch and then worked until 7. So around 8 I was a little hungry. I made a bowl of sesame noodles, had about 6 bites, and then threw the rest out. I just wasn't hungry and I wasn't really hungry for THAT.I had cut up an apple for the dogs and added a few slices to my water. That was refreshing!

Thursday - I had dinner with Donald and Don and he made a yummy dinner of stuff chicken (cheese, peppers, etc) over a bed of rice. It had an asian kick to it!

Tonight - I had to get creative because i really wanted Mexican. I know Lee will too tomorrow night so I dug around and found short pasta, a jar of sauce (for emergencies such as this) and I had a bag of frozen chicken breasts. Whala!Not anything like homemade sauce, but I am full and now going to rest and nap while waiting on Lee's plane to come in so I can go get him. I am tired of the single life!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Healthy Dinners - week one...

Verdicts -

Chicken and veggies and rolls - a total hit, but that one is one i make all the time
Brussell sprouts meal - was SALTY because of the proscuitto, and there wasn't any kind of sauce to help coat the pasta so it was dry. Oh well.
Salmon - this was really good. The green beans got a little too done because Lee was later than anticipated getting home - but the meal was still yummy!

When I go out to lunch at Grand Lux Cafe, I always get their Simply Grilled Salmon. It is served over horseradish mashed potatoes, roasted tomatoes and green beans, with a creamy, buttery, lemony sauce kind of drizzled over. It's just enough that you taste it but you don't really see anything on the plate.
I tried to copy that meal and it came out pretty well. I cheated and used packaged mashed potatoes and I could have kicked myself. Would it have been so hard to boil 3 potatoes and mash them with some butter?
I also baked the salmon (not broiled) because Lee wasn't home to grill and it still came out really yummy, not fishy.
So it looks like I can add salmon to some meals!
I didn't end up cooking the rest of the week, it was a hectic one!

Lee is traveling this week so I am making my favorite bacon, egg, shallot, mushroom salad tomorrow night for Donald, and then I made a big batch of french onion soup to eat for dinner this week. My pants are a little snug so I am taking Lee out of town as an opportunity to really eat small this week. I am also planning on smoothie king for lunch at least 3 days this week.

While making the french onion soup today, I was crying!
Here's why!This is 5 large sweet onions.
My house smelled good!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Back on healthy

So after a not so healthy week of:
Chicken N Dumplings (mainly because of the amount of butter I use in the base...)
Stir Fry with Sesame Noodles (not too unhealthy right?)
and Enchiladas (no comment)
I got a comment from Lee - "Can we start eating healthy again?"
Ouch.

So now we are on a healthy bandwagon. Mind you, I am not going over the top with this, but at least trying.

We will ignore the food he requested for lunch today to watch football (*coughs* wings *coughs*)

This week's menu:
Sunday - Roasted Chicken and Veggies with rosemary rolls
Monday - Proscuitto and Brussell sprouts with whole wheat pasta and parmesean
Tuesday - Grilled Salmon with a lemon butter drizzle (not sauce) with green beans, tomatoes, and mashed potatoes (small portion)
Wednesday - Chicken and steamed veggies, possible side of rice
Thursday - Grilled whole wheat pizza

See? not super duper but better than enchiladas... i guess.

Last Thursday, the weather was awful and I couldn't make it to the store so it was time to raid the pantry.
I had frozen chicken, frozen green beans, and some rice. I moved forward with that.

I thawed the chicken in luke warm water for about an hour, then pounded then a little thicker with my meat tenderizer mallet. That was kind of nice for stress actually...
Then I put them in my cast iron skillet with non-stick spray, salt and pepper, a little Tony's and cooked them through.
In the meantime, I made some rice and boiled the greenbeans for a few minutes.

I tossed the greenbeans with salt and pepper and a little parmesean cheese before serving.
We really enjoyed this on-the-fly healthy meal.
And for anyone reading this that doesn't know what I meant by Tony's - I'm sorry. Maybe this will help:
This is a staple among many many households in Texas, right next to the salt and pepper. Best stuff ever!

Our pitiful fall garden finally produced something - enough green beans for one!
I am starting to think I should go back to only one blog, but I don't want to give up either one.
Decisions, decisions.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cooking? Yes!

I have been cooking, and there is a photo on my camera of the Pork Chops with mustard-leek sauce.
Then the camera decided it wanted new batteries.
I did not purchase a camera that needs actual batteries - it was kind of a surprise gift when we bought a printer at an auction.
And my real camera broke so that is all I have...

So when I went to take a photo of the freaking delicious Chicken Parmesean Friday - no go.

Tonight is chicken and dumplings. I have to get new batteries ASAP because today is puppy halloween and I made costumes!

So - more pictures soon.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Nice Link!

While reading Real Simple magazine, there was a page with cool links on it. One struck my fancy and I visited it. It's called Straightupheadlines.com. You can click on gossip, fashion, politics, etc. But there is also a Foodie link!

Click HERE!

Best. Meal. EVER

I think I concocted the best meal ever last night.

New York Strip with sauteed green beans and roasted new potatoes with carmelized onions and a camambert cheese sauce.

Are you ready?

First thing - preheat oven to 400 degrees for the potatoes. I will say this meal was easy because I have 2 ovens..
Coat potatoes in oil and a little salt and pepper - roast about 45 minutes.

Once the potatoes are in, you can start prepping the cheese. This cheese comes in a wheel. Open the cheese and then place it back in the little wood container (without the plastic around it..) Cut a chunk out of the top of the wheel and discard that chunk (or eat it...)
Thinly slice 2 cloves of garlic and put them on the cheese. Pull some rosemary leaves off the stalk and drop those on there as well. Coat with a good drizzle of olive oil. Toss a little salt and pepper on there as well.
Bake on a cookie sheet for 25 minutes or so, until warm and gooey. 350 is better, but i don't think 400 would be a big deal. if so... you could just add cooking time to your potatoes at 350 and all is well.
Oh heck yeah.

Once your hubby places the steaks on the grill, get the onions going. Throw about 3 tablespoons or so (or so!!) into a skillet. Once melted, add 1 large onion, sliced thin. Let it sit and don't stir too much so that you get nice brown-ish onions. Once finished, remove to a plate and save the buttery skillet. (at this point i had the potatoes out resting so i just threw the onions on the potatoes... just a side note)

Toss some green beans (i confess i used frozen but they were great) in the hot skillet and sautee around until crispy. Salt and pepper as you wish.

About the times the steaks come off, the cheese and potatoes can come out of the oven to sit so you don't burn your dang mouth when you eat!.

Smash the potatoes a little bit.

On the plate - put a good scoop of the smashed potatoes, a generous helping of onions, and the scoop some of that evil cheese out on top.

Like so:
We ate this with a bottle of Brazin Red Zin. Lee made noises I have never heard as he ate the potatoes. Devine.

A new addition to the kitchen is my old-timey veggie basket. This was a great way to get the bowl of veggies off my butcher block.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fall Cooking

This weekend was awesome. Friday afternoon we got a cool front that has kept it about 65 all weekend. The windows were open in the house all weekend to let the cool air in.
Last night I made chili. "Lee's Chili" to be exact. It was wonderful.
But tonight I pulled out all the stops.
Chicken Pot Pie with Buttermilk Biscuit topping and Apple Crisp for dessert.
The recipe for the pot pie is in my American Classics cook book (i talked about it here) Page 175.I used a rotisserie chicken and added a little leeks in with the onion. I made the bacon and corn version. Get the book! You'll love it!
As for the apple crisp, I don't remember where i got the recipe but I am sure any Paula Dean or Bsrefoot Contessa version would do...I won't be cooking this week because... I will be in MEXICO!
Toodaloo!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tuesday, Sunday, and Monday

Last week is a blur. It took me a moment to figure out when I made chicken and veggies. Really?
Ok so let's assume that was Tuesday night. I basically took my big dutch oven, put veggies in the bottom and a whole chicken on top. Then put it in the oven and baked it for about an hour and 1/2.
It was tasty but since i didn't do it in the roasting pan like I normally do - it wasn't as crispy. So - lesson learned.
I am not so good at photographing food....
Next up, Sunday night - super easy meal. I was worn out from my exam on Friday and Saturday, then we went to the Texans Game on Sunday - so dinner was not about to be fancy.
We picked up some marinated chicken from HEB, pesto, and pasta.
While Lee grilled the chicken I mixed some pesto with some milk in a sauce pan. While that came to a simmer I mixed a little butter, flour, and milk in a measuring cup to make a roux to thicken the sauce.
This was really yummy and earthy.
Then last night, I had dinner going in the crock pot. A long time ago, the crock pot was my favorite appliance. Nowadays... not so much. This thing will cook the bejesus out of everything. I even came home at lunch so that the food wouldn't be going from 7am to 7pm. Still, even 7 hours of cooking was enough to make the chicken dry. :(
Otherwise, it's a great meal. Maybe try chicken thighs over breasts since they have a little more fat to hold in moisture.
Italian Chicken over Pasta:

12oz skinless, boneless chicken breasts/thighs
1 9oz package Italian green beans (I can't ever find these, I like to use frozen French green beans because they are thin and mix well with the pasta later)
1 cup fresh mushrooms (i use frozen, quartered - but you can use fresh too..)
1 small onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 14oz can Italian Stewed Tomatoes
1 6oz can Italian tomato paste
1 teaspoon (or more!) Italian seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 oz fettuccine, cooked and drained
Shredded parmesan cheese

Directions:
1. Cut chicken in to 1 inch pieces, set aside.
2. place green beans, mushrooms, and onion in slow cooker. top with chicken.
3. in a bowl, mix tomatoes, paste, and seasonings. pour over chicken

Cook: High - 2.5 hours, Low 5 hours.

Cook and drain fettuccine. Serve chicken mixture on top of noodles, sprinkle with cheese.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Weekend foodie

Saturday Lee drank alot of beer... so Sunday I made him a hangover cure - breakfast tacos!Basically I cooked some bacon and the sauteed the onions and red pepper in some of the grease. Then I scrambled some eggs. Put it in a warm tortilla with cheese and salsa!
These were soooo yummy and we had some homemade salsa from Jennifer to put on them too.

Then for dinner - classic beef stew. this was GOOOOODHe had 2 bowls. I did too. While we watched Dexter on Showtime.

Then tonight was Lasagna Bowls for Monday-Night-Dinner - which is back on since my test is this Friday and the study class is OVER. 9 weeks in a row of a study class... wow.
This recipe is from Rachael Ray's 30 minute meals on Food Network. I added some stuff to it and it was very very good!You can see her recipe here. I was bothered by the lack of tomato sauce so I dumped in some leftover Prego from what Ben had brought a few weeks ago, it thickened it up and it was great!

Ok, back to studying!