Wednesday, March 31, 2010

This week's easy dinners..

Sunday, I took a pork loin from the freezer and threw it in a baggie in some marinade, and let it thaw in the fridge over night.
By the time I was ready to cook it on Monday night, it was good to go.
This is super easy and very hands off, so you can do other chores things while
it's in the oven.
I cut about 8 baby red potatoes in half, cubed a large onion, and cut up some carrot
s into medium chunks. I spread this in the pan with a little oil, salt, pepper, and Cacherey's, laid the pork on top, and roasted for about 45 min in a 400 degree oven.
Tuesday night I got home and started homemade pizza dough. This is the easiest thing ever, and you will never look back.

1 cup very hot water
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 packet Rapid Rise yeast
a few pinches of salt
2 tablespoons oil
more all purpose flour (about 1/2 cup total)

Combine the 2 cups of flour, yeast, salt, and water in a large bowl. Start mixing together, and add oil. Start kneading in the bowl. Add about 1/4 cup of flour, to make the dough get a little softer and smoother.
Lay on a flour surface and knead about 5 minutes. Cover with a clean kitchen towl and let rest for 10 minutes. Turn the oven on to 375 degrees.
While it's resting you can start preparing your other pizza ingredients.
I like to sautee about 1/2 onion with 2 cloves of garlic, then add in 3/4 of a 12oz can of crushed tomatoes. Once that gets bubbly I turn the heat off and add about 4 spoonfulls of pesto (I like the Buitoni brand).
Around now your dough is ready. Roll it out to fit your pizza stone (if cooking on the grill) or pizza pan. spread sauce on your dough (as much as you like. I tend to add alot of sauce!)
Next add your toppings. I decided to use some left over smocked chicken from Sunday night, then the left over mini-mozz balls from last week's dinner (i cut them in half) and about 1/4 bag of 2% shredded mozzarella cheese.
Sprinkle a little salt, pepper, and italian seasoning on top and pop in the oven about 15 min or so...
I also served this with a salad, which we have been having before every meal this week. It helps fill you up. Oh, and a bottle of Skinney Girl margarita. YUM.

Tonight, Lee is out at a work function so I am on my own. Trying to use up more of that chicken, I chopped up part of the chicken breast, and tossed it with lettuce and caesar dressing.

Now I am watching my guilty pleasure shows while drinking a little white wine with sleeping puppies on the sofa.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Eating what's on hand

It's sort of amazing what you can do when you just look through your pantry and your fridge and freezer. Saturday night, we didn't really want to go anywhere to eat, so I had to get creative. I had all the things to make a pizza, but Lee wasn't feeling that. I kept digging around and happened to have all the ingredients to make a stirfry and some sesame noodles on the side.
This is one of Lee's favorite stir frys, and he loved the sesame noodles on the side as a change to rice.


5 chicken thighs, cut into chunks/strips (i had from the freezer)
1 red bell pepperbok choy
2 tablespoons minced ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
For the sauce:
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
And for the noodles:
(Pioneer Woman's Sinfully Good Sesame Noodles!)

Start by getting everything cut up and ready to go, that way you aren't rushed..Mix your sauce as well.
Start your water for the noodles, and mix your sauce.
Next, put the oil in the skillet and let it get a little hot, then throw in the chicken. Add a little salt and pepper. Let the chicken get nice and browned, then remove to a bowl.
Next add in the onion and bell pepper. Once that gets a little softened, throw in the garlic, ginger, and bok choy. Your house will start to smell gooooood!
(check on your noodle water!)Once that is all softened and wilted (about 5 min), and just about ready to serve, throw the chicken back in. Let that get heated back up and toss in the sauce. It should start to thicken nicely.
By now the noodles should be done, so toss them with your sauce in a large bowl.
Serve a little of the noodles in a bowl with the stir fry on top.
(Sorry, didn't get a photo of it in the bowls. I was hungry)Note: this was all stuff I had around the house. Throw in green beans, carrot, whatever you have into your stir fry. Mine is never the same way twice!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Week continued...

Blogger is acting strange so I have to continue this post..

Wednesday we had folks over so I made another crowd pleaser. This one is easy to make, although keeps you running around alot, and looks like you worked really hard.
Another Rachael Ray 30 Minute Meal..

Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Sausage Meatballs
  • 2 pounds baby Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 tub bocconcini, bite size fresh mozzarella in water
  • 2 pounds Italian hot or sweet fresh chicken, turkey or pork sausage, bulk if available
  • 1 1/2 pounds broccolini
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 (28-ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or milk
  • 1 tub grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1 tub good quality fresh pesto from the refrigerated cases of the market

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Quarter baby potatoes and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil then salt water and cook until tender, about 12 minutes.

While potatoes come up to a boil, place a nonstick baking sheet alongside a mixing bowl. Remove 12 pieces of bite sized mozzarella from the water and set on work surface. Remove sausages from casings, if bulk not available, and place in a bowl. Combine the meat into a single mound then score it into 4 sections. Each section will yield 3 large sausage meatballs. To form each ball, take a handful of meat and wrap it around a piece of mozzarella. Roll 12 balls. Wash up. Coat balls with a drizzle of olive oil. Bake 18 to 20 minutes until cooked through and evenly browned.

While the balls are cooking, trim ends of clean broccolini and scatter evenly over a baking sheet. Grate or chop 2 to 3 cloves of garlic and drizzle the broccolini and garlic with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper and roast 12 to 15 minutes to crisp the broccolini tops.

While the broccolini is roasting, add tomatoes to a small pot or skillet, mash with a potato masher and season with salt and pepper. Heat over medium heat then simmer to reduce about 8 to 10 minutes.

When the potatoes are tender, drain and return to the hot pot to dry them out a little. Mash the potatoes with 1/2 cup stock or milk, 1/2 to 2/3 cup grated Romano cheese, a few generous handfuls, lots of black pepper and a little salt.

Turn the heat off the tomatoes and stir in 1/2 cup prepared pesto.

Serve three cheese-stuffed sausage balls with tomato-basil sauce on top or underneath, cacio e pepe smashed potatoes and broccolini alongside.

**I have found it really hard to find just plain chicken sausage. So I have substituted this with ground turkey (just made a regular meatball recipe) or beef. I will say, I don't think the beef is the best way to go at all. And if you find the sausage, it's the best way to go.
This photo is from the website, but I made it exactly as it is stated above, but forgot to take a picture because we were hungry!

For dessert I made Strawberry Parfaits:These are easy. All you do is take heavy whipping cream and add a few teaspoons of sugar and whip until thick (but don't make butter!). Then you make a smaller batch with a little extra sugar and 2 teaspoons (or so) of cocoa. I just added until it tasted the way I wanted. Then you just layer with strawberries. It is nice and light(tasting) and doesn't make you feel full like chocolate cake.
Though I LOVE chocolate cake...
Anywhoo, my friend Jimmy made these for us once, using Splenda. However, I was out of splenda.
Still was yummy!

Week o' Cooking

I cooked a lot this week.
I really did.

And I was so busy I couldn't post about it!

Sunday: I made Pioneer Woman's Pot Roast. Holy crap it's good. I have made it a good 5 times now. Perfect Sunday meal.Monday I made: Beef with Spicy Cocoa Gravy. I found this in a cooking light magazine many moons ago and it's always a hit.
Here is the recipe:


1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa

1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder

1 ½ teaspoons cumin

1 ½ teaspoons chili powder

1 ½ teaspoons paprika

1 ½ teaspoons oregeno

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1 ½ pounds cubed steak

½ cup flour

½ cup onion chopped

½ cup green bell pepper

½ cup red wine

1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, fire roasted if you can find them

2 cups beef broth

salt and pepper

Egg noodles to serve underneath….

Combine cocoa and all spices. Toss with beef in a bowl. Remove beef from bowl, leaving left over seasonings. Add flour to bowl, add beef and toss again.

Heat a little olive oil in a dutch oven or large pot. Add beef and sauté over medium-high heat 5 minutes. Remove beef from pan. Add onion and green bell pepper and sauté 5 minutes. Add red wine and tomatoes, cook 3 minutes. Stir in beef broth, some salt and pepper, and return meat to pan. Simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Wonderful on a cold night!

Then on Tuesday night I whipped up another recipe that is a favorite around here. It's a Rachael Ray actually. I have found that her "30 minute meals" from Food Network are better than her show (please stop with the burgers already!) and her books.

Italian Barbequed Chicken


  • 4 bone-in chicken thigh and leg or chicken breasts
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons grill seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 thick cut slices pancetta or bacon, chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup quick cooking polenta
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmiginao-Reggiano
  • Torn fresh basil leaves


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Season the chicken liberally with salt and pepper, poultry seasoning, and grill seasoning. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet and brown the chicken a few minutes on each side to put some of it's flavor and drippings into the pan then transfer to oven and roast 15 minutes more or until juices run clear. Meanwhile, add 1 more tablespoon olive oil to the pan and cook pancetta or bacon, if using, until crisp. Add onions, garlic and rosemary, cook 5 minutes then add the vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire, tomato sauce and 1/2 cup chicken stock, reduce heat to low and let sauce simmer 5 minutes more.

Bring remaining 1 1/2 cups stock and milk to a boil, whisk in polenta and season with salt and pepper. Whisk polenta 2 to 3 minutes until it thickens, stir in butter and cheese, remove from heat.

Remove chicken from oven and turn in barbecue sauce. Fill shallow bowls with polenta Top with chicken, spoon extra sauce over chicken and garnish with some torn basil leaves.

I served this with Orzo, rather than polenta. But it's good either way.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Oh man, I didn't realize it had been so long since I updated with a recipe!

This week I made my speedy version of Tortilla Soup. Lee LOVED it.

Weeknight Chicken Tortilla Soup


1 store bought rotisserie chicken, shredded.

1 cup frozen corn

1 red bell pepper, sliced and seeded

1 teaspoon poultry season

1 teaspoon cumin

1 zucchini diced small

1 onion, chopped

3 gloves garlic, chopped

2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeded and diced

28 oz can tomato puree

5 cups chicken stock

Tortilla chips

Shredded cheese

Avacado sliced

Sour cream


In the bottom of a large pot or dutch oven, drizzle a little olive oil and sautee onions and garlic, until onion gets soft. Add in vegetables and seasoning and peppers. Cook until veggies are softened. Add in tomato puree and chicken stock and bring to a bubble, simmer 20 min. Salt and pepper to taste. Add chicken and simmer 10 more minutes, to let chicken heat through.

Serve in a deep bowl with tortilla chips in the bottom, sprinkle cheese on top!

Avacado and sour cream optional.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Give me Mexican Breakfast NOW!

Look - I am from East Texas. I love all things Tex Mex. I don't eat celery and peanut butter in an effort to be skinny. I yam what I yam you know?
So this morning, I woke up to the beautiful sound of the barking dogs next door. Again. So after rolling around in bed for an hour, saying bad words and generally complaining, I was hungry.
For mexican food.
Like, now.

So after digging around for places to go, I remembered where the best breakfast place is when you are in this mood.

Mama's Cafe!

They are known for the extremely large breakfast tacos they serve. I, however, can't stop eating the eggs benedict.
Before you ask why - let me show you.

{please excuse the blurry photo. I was excited ok?}
What we have here is a failure to communicate!

Oops. This is not Cool Hand Luke.

What we have here is eggs benedict covered in QUESO, hashbrowns, and refried beans. And SALSA!
I almost got up and asked the chef what the heck was in those beans but then I figured it out.


Good to know.