Thursday, August 30, 2007

Cooking Light Beef Stroganoff

The other night hubby and I went out to eat while we were running errands. I love going out to eat and all, but that usually means we spend twice as much money, because then we have to eat out for lunch the next day. Well I decided eating out bad for basically 2 meals in a row was not going to happen to us!

So we had some ribeye leftover from grilling out on the weekend and I accidentally cooked a bunch of egg noodles, thinking they were fusilli (hahaha). I was trying to come up with something to make with these two things & beef stroganoff it was!

I found this recipe on

1 pound boneless sirloin steak, trimmed
Cooking spray
3 cups sliced cremini mushrooms (about 8 ounces)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
4 cups hot cooked egg noodles (8 ounces uncooked)
3 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Fresh parsley sprigs (optional)

Cut beef diagonally across the grain into 1/4-inch-wide strips; cut the strips into 2-inch pieces.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add beef to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove beef from pan; place in a medium bowl, and keep warm. Add cremini mushrooms and onion to pan; sauté 4 minutes. Add cremini mushroom mixture to beef.

Melt butter in pan over medium heat. Add flour. Cook 1 minute, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add broth, stirring constantly. Cook 1 minute or until thickened and bubbly, stirring constantly.

Pre Sour Cream Pic:

Add beef mixture, sherry, salt, and pepper to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 4 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand 30 seconds. Stir in sour cream.

Post Sour Cream:

Combine noodles and minced parsley. Serve beef mixture over noodles. Garnish with parsley sprigs, if desired.

Sorry no picture here- since this was intended for lunch. I don't normally bring my camera into the office with me.

6 servings (serving size: about 2/3 cup beef mixture and 2/3 cup noodles)

**My Notes** I followed this recipe to a T basically , changed the sirloin to ribeye and used button mushrooms, but the flavor was great. I think the addition of the beef broth really brought out the flavor. I will definitely be making this again.

Monday, August 27, 2007

More tomatoes, More sauce

With summer coming to an end, I have been harvesting tomatoes like mad, as well as all other vegetables we have in the garden.
I recently picked up a copy of Giada's Everyday Italian & wanted to try her bolognese sauce. Unfortunately, her recipes don't call for fresh tomatoes, so I had to guess a bit on how many to blanch & use. Hubby & I are tomato lovers, so for us, we error on the side of more.

Giada's Bolognese Sauce
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 pound ground chuck beef**
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes**
1/4 cup flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano

In a large skillet heat the olive oil. When almost smoking, add the onion and garlic and saute over medium heat until the onions become very soft, about 8 minutes. Add the celery and carrot and saute for 5 minutes. Raise heat to high and add the ground beef. Saute, stirring frequently and breaking up any large lumps and cook until meat is no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, parsley and basil and cook over medium low heat until the sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper. This will take approximately 1/2 hour. Finish bolognese with Pecorino Romano.

**My Notes** I blanched about 8 tomatoes, a mixture of roma & beefsteak. Then I peeled & seeded them. 2-3 tomatoes were placed in food processor with the basil. I pulsed for about 1 minute, until very smooth. I let all the veggies simmer for about 3 hours. Then I browned the meat, which I used ground pork, in a separate pan, drained the grease & added to the sauce. From there I let is simmer for another 3 hours. After I had added the meat, the sauce was SO thick, so I added some more chopped tomatoes.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Guac & Lasagna

You may be thinking-what? that sounds disgusting! And I would agree, those two together are probably not tasty, but these are the two things my husband makes so well that I don't even try. Earlier this week we had some friends over for dinner & taco night sounded the easiest. We had actually gone to a farmer's market earlier in the day & came across some homemade taco seasoning, so we really just wanted to try it out.

We had ground turkey & shredded chicken for our meats, your standard lettuce, tomatoes, cheese & salsa. My favorite Spanish rice is made by Rice-A-Roni, called "Spanish Rice" it has great flavor & you add a can of tomatoes to it.
And below, for your viewing pleasure, my husband's homemade guacamole!
I don't know the measurements, and I doubt he does too, but it goes something like this:
lime juice
fresh cracked salt
We have come to love the Tostito's Gold Tortilla chips with this, but any chip will do. Sometimes the lime ones are quite delicious as well.
Also, this was a bit of an escapade for my hubby. he went to one store & the avocados were so hard, but he went ahead & bought them, came home & couldn't even scoop out the flesh, so he went to another store to find some more. Needless to say, look for more avocado recipes in the upcoming week, as I need to use them up when they ripen.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I Made Indian Food!

I did something crazy last night! I made Indian food. Thanks to Cara at, I finally got enough courage to try it out.
Fair warning on this, you need to let the chicken marinate overnight, so I had every intention of making this a few times last week, hitting myself in the head saying, duh! It has to be prepared the day before!

Tandoori Style Chicken with Banana Raita
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger**
1 tbsp curry powder
salt and pepper
handful of fresh chopped cilantro
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
6 oz boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks**

Combine all ingredients besides chicken and mix well. Place in a ziploc bag or baking dish with chicken and marinate overnight.

Banana Raita
1/2 of a banana, chopped
1/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt
small handful fresh chopped cilantro
dash of curry powder
Combine above ingredients and chill until ready to serve.

When ready to cook chicken, remove from marinade and thread onto skewers. Grill over low-to-medium heat until cooked through, turning as necessary. Serve with banana raita.

**My Notes** I was out of fresh ginger, so I had to use ground ginger. I also didn't fully read the recipe, so I missed the part about cutting the chicken into pieces. Well I didn't have any skewers at home, so I just left them as a whole chicken breast. I also only used 2 chicken breast, b/c I was sure if we would like this.

I also did a sweet potato with this dish. I cut up about 3 sweet potatoes (average size) drizzled with EVOO, seasoned with red pepper flakes & cayenne pepper. They were a bit spicy, so I added some brown sugar to tone it down after they were done cooking. To cook, just put in a foil packet & place on the grill until soft.

Review: I wasn't as much of a fan as my hubby was. He LOVES cilantro, I am not a big fan, so that was what I didn't like, the cilantro in the raita part, but I pushed all that aside & the chicken itself was really tasty. I am glad I tried my hand at ethnic cuisine. Hubby said he would eat it again, not every night, but certainly again.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Stalking Cara....

I have become a chef stalker. My recent stalkee is Cara, from Cara's Cravings.

Cara, I have been told the best form of flattery is imitation. So, I hope my next few blog updates are flattering.

I came across this delicious vegetable dish & knew immediately that I had to make it. It had all my diet foods in it & would use fresh tomatoes & zucchini.

Grilled Zucchini & Rice Casserole
1.25 lb zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 onion, cut into chunks
1.5 cups cooked brown basmati rice
1 cup cottage cheese
2 oz feta cheese, crumbled
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg white
handful of fresh herbs (oregano and thyme), chopped
3 tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese

Spray zucchini and onion with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill in a grill basket until slightly charred. Combine rice, cottage cheese, garlic, herbs, and egg white in a large bowl; stir to combine, Mix in grilled zucchini and onions. Spray an 8"x8" baking dish with nonstick spray and layer half of tomato slices evenly along bottom. Top with zucchini mixture, then remaining tomato slices and Parmesan cheese. Bake at 400F until hot and bubbly and slightly browned.

**My Notes** I used brown rice as opposed to basmati rice. I also used oregano, sage & basil.

I had a slight catastrophe though. I was taking this out of the oven & the pan tipped over on the oven door. I was able to salvage some of it, but I lost the best part, the browned cheese.

I paired this with a pork tenderloin roast, as it was the only thing defrosted in the fridge. I don't have a recipe for this but basically here's how it goes. I seasoned the pork with Cavender's Greek Seasoning. In a dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add pork tenderloin, about 4-5 minutes each side, just enough to brown/sear the meat so it holds the juice in.
Transfer dutch oven to a pre-heated, 375F oven. Bake until about 130-140 degrees. (I have an electronic meat thermometer that tells me when my specific cut of meat is done). Now, 130-140 is NOT fully cooked pork! DON'T TAKE IT OUT!
I decided to baste the pork in Maple Horseradish BBQ Sauce.

When hubby & I went to Napa/Sonoma last October, we joined a few wine clubs. This one from Viansa, we opted for the wine & cucina option. So each month we get gourmet sauces, rubs, pestos, & of course, wine. I was a little worried about this sauce. Hubby doesn't like horseradish, I am not a big fan either, but hey, you have to try it right?
So at 130-140 degrees, baste pork in sauce. Cook until internal temperature is 160.
Some side notes, dinner was ready, but hubby was still filling in soil around the patio from the invasion of voles, so I had to keep it warm for about 30 minutes. I added more sauce to the pork & covered it up. Placed it in the oven at 325 until he was ready. Also, you need to let the pork sit for at least 10 mins after you take it out of the oven. If you cut it right away, you will lose all the juices on the cutting board instead of in the meat. It was really, really good!

Check back tomorrow as I am attempting Cara's Tandoori Chicken with Banana Raita!

Happy Birthday to Me!

Last Thursday was my 29th birthday. I guess my friends & I have reverted back to the days of elementary school where you got cupcakes on your birthday. Maybe to make us feel young or maybe to indulge, at any rate, I am not going to complain!
Thanks to my friend Kari for getting me some "Babycakes".

Babycakes is a cute little bakery located in River Market, downtown Kansas City. The specialize in gourmet cupcakes & I finally got my own! (Flashback to late June, when we got her babycakes)
I believe I received the following:

carrot cake, lemon
red velvet, chocolate with peanut butter frosting
strawberry, yellow cake with chocolate frosting
white on white, white with chocolate
and I honestly dont know what else, but they all look delicious!

Brownie Delight!

This past weekend Mike & I attended an annual pool party & BBQ. Since this gave me a reason to break free from the diet, I made potato salad & brownies.
With the 3 lbs of individually wrapped caramel leftover from our wedding, I knew I could use it for something! So, I perused my normal recipe websites & found this gem on

Caramel-Pecan Brownies

4 squares BAKER'S Unsweetened Baking Chocolate
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup flour
1 bag (14 oz.) KRAFT Caramels (about 50)
1/3 cup whipping cream
2 cups PLANTERS Pecan Halves, divided

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Line 13x9-inch baking pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan. Generously grease foil.
MICROWAVE chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar until well blended. Add eggs; mix well. Stir in flour until well blended. Spread half of the batter into prepared pan.
BAKE 25 min. or until top is firm to the touch. Meanwhile, microwave caramels and whipping cream in medium microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until caramels begin to melt. Stir until caramels are completely melted. Stir in 1 cup of the pecan halves.
SPREAD caramel mixture evenly over brownie; top with remaining brownie batter. (Some caramel mixture may peek through.) Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup pecan halves. Bake an additional 30 min. or until top is firm to the touch. Cool in pan on wire rack. Remove brownies from pan, using foil handles. Cut into 32 squares. Store in tightly covered container at room temperature.

**Special Thanks to my hubby for assembling the brownies.***

Thursday, August 16, 2007

And I Am Back!

M & I went to Disneyworld last week so I have not been cooking at all. Let me tell you, Florida in August during a major heat wave is so not a good idea. BUT, I did get to ride the teacups & see Endeavor Launch.

The week before we left was an attempt to use all food items in the house, so nothing really worth posting, as we ate out quite a bit too. But now we are back in action. Of course, that bad 4 letter word is back... The Diet. We didnt follow it on vacation, but I am pretty sure the 10+ hours in 110 heat & walking all day counteracted the chicken fingers we ate. But it was nice to be away from it, it gave me a fresh start to this week of cooking & all new ideas.

Last night was a nice evening at home. We had Tuscan Soup with Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Fresh Herbs & Ginger & some leftover wild rice.

Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Fresh Herbs & Ginger Courtesy of Food Network
Tuscan Soup Courtesy of Food Network
Wild Rice- Thanks Uncle Ben!

Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Fresh Herbs & Ginger
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, like soy or peanut
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
about 6 ounces each Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1/2 lime (about 1 tablespoon)
3 tablespoons chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves, torn
2 tablespoons packed fresh mint leaves, torn

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, and place them skin side down in the pan. Cook, turning once, until firm to the touch, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken breasts to a plate.
Add the lime juice to the skillet, and scrape up any browned bits that cling to the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the chicken broth and ginger, and bring to a boil. Off the heat, add the basil and mint to the pan and swirl the pan to combine.

Divide the chicken between the 2 plates and spoon the herb sauce over the chicken. Serve.

***Notes*** I used a grill pan b/c I like the lines it makes on the chicken :-), but by doing this, I didnt have much "sauce" to cook the herbs & ginger in, so I added some more chicken broth. My chicken wasn't completely cooked through, so I put the chicken back in the grill pan, added some more lime juice & covered it up for about 7 mins on low heat to allow the juice to cook in & finish cooking the chicken.

Tuscan Soup
1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium canellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 carrots, diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 stalks celery, diced, (about 1/2 cup)
1 small zucchini, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
32 ounces low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 (14.5-ounce) can no salt added diced tomatoes
2 cups chopped baby spinach leaves
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan, optional

In a small bowl mash half of the beans with a masher or the back of a spoon, and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, zucchini, garlic, thyme, sage, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, and cook stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and tomatoes with the juice and bring to a boil. Add the mashed and whole beans and the spinach leaves and cook until the spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes more.
Serve topped with Parmesan, if desired

**Notes** I added mushrooms b/c I had a package opened. Thats the only change I made. I have no idea why I thought making soup when it was 112 outside was a good idea. But it sure was tasty!!!

These was all very tasty, I like the sweetness of the cooked ginger with the tangy-ness of th elime juice.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast Roast & The Cable Saga

Yesterday was a big day for our household. Yes, we caved & got AT&T U-Verse installed. Now to some of you this may be no big deal, but for us, well it was. You see, when Mike & I got engaged we were trying to cut back on expenses to pay for the wedding. So we decided, maybe we should get rid of cable. We hadn't even turned the TV in weeks when we made this decision. We ditched DVR a few months prior to that because it stressed me out. As in, our DVR would be 85% full & I would freak out & have to watch hours of TV just to get it down to 50% so I could record more useless shows, & of course, accomplish nothing but watching some show I would never have watched if I didn't have DVR.

(I am realizing right now what a journey getting cable has been)
Moving on to the week of the wedding... I took the week off from work to prepare & was leaving the house when I noticed these shovels & orange construction fence in the front yard. So I call Mike & asked, did we have someone coming out to the house? He said no, I couldn't find any trucks to ask them what they were doing, so Mike leaves work for fear a utility company was going to tear up his precious yard. We find out that AT&T has dug a GIANT hole in the utility easement (which happens to be on our property) It was a disaster. I am pretty sure they had a bobcat out there digging this hole. (which is funny, b/c I never heard them) We finally find the people who are doing this & call AT&T. They promise the yard will be fine, they will put it back the way they found it. (Which they didn't, they just threw down some seeds)

Anyway, over the course of the year whiteout cable, only basic TV channels(NBC,CBS,ABC,Fox...) & of course high speed internet, we realize we don't watch TV all that much. So post-wedding, we just left the cable situation the way it was. Until one day we received a little flyer in the mail. Santa Claus came in July this year!!! AT&T U-Verse was offering a great deal for only $10 more than what we were already paying. Sa-weet! They came out yesterday to install it for us. Since I had to stay home while they installed it, I knew I would be at work late & thought, well I guess I will just throw this turkey in the crock pot so it will be ready when I get home. AND I knew I would want to watch the cable channels when I got home & not cook.

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast Roast
1 turkey breast roast
chicken broth-low sodium

Throw into a crockpot, put on low for 8 hours.
**I didn't add enough chicken broth & the turkey was dry. In the future, I shall error on the side of too much when crock pot cooking**

I sauteed up some fresh zucchini & squash, which was sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
We also had our favorite summer dish- marinated tomatoes!

Mike calls these Tony's Tomatoes
red onions
Red Wine Vinegar
fresh basil
seasonings-we use Aromat

Slice tomatoes and layer in a dish. Top with seasonings & onions. Add red wine vinegar & olive oil. toss around, add basil.

Let these sit for at least 4 hours. The flavors really blend better then. Also, you can serve them with cottage cheese, we just didn't have any in the house.