Monday, June 30, 2008

Soup in the Summer???

Yes. I am crazy. I made a soup/stew in the middle of the summer. But near me out. I ran out of gas in the propane grill. I was feeling lazy & needed to use up some veggies in the house.

I had one of those Zataran's Gumbo mixes and thought it would be too bland if I just added smoked sausage & shrimp. I noticed at the bottom of the box, they had a recipe for New Orleans Stew. It called for chicken, potatoes, carrots, celery & onions on top of the gumbo mix.

I adjusted instead added smoked sausage, shrimp, carrots, potatoes & some green onions. This was super simple & very quick. About 30 mins cook time, like 10 mins prep time. And it was enough for dinner for 2 & lunch for 3.

Breakfast Again

I am one of those firm believers that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
I am also a firm believer of eggs. I love eggs!!! Yes I know they are high in cholesterol, but EggBeaters are the next best thing. (Plus you don't have the mess of trying to separate eggs from egg whites)

I saw this recipe on
Ham and Cheese Strata
For this rich, tasty main course, soak the bread in the egg mixture while you cut up the other ingredients.
8 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 cups Italian bread cubes (1 inch)
6 ounces Virginia ham, cut into 1/2-inch dice (1 1/2 cups)
6 ounces Gouda cheese, cut into 3/4-inch dice (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon snipped chives
1 cup coarsely grated Cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
Preheat the oven to 450°. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk, salt and pepper. Stir in the bread until evenly moistened, then stir in the ham, Gouda cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and 1/4 cup of the chives.
Butter a 9-by-12-inch baking dish and pour in the strata mixture. Sprinkle the Cheddar cheese on top. Bake for about 20 minutes, until puffed and golden. Let cool slightly, sprinkle with the remaining chives and serve.

I had to make some changes, as I didn't have everything on hand. I used 1 pint of egg beaters in place of the 8 eggs. I did not have Gouda cheese, so I used cheddar & mozz. I also didn't have any sun-dried tomatoes, but that would have been delicious!

I typically make a strata by letting it sit overnight in the fridge. Sometimes I find that there are spots in it, after cooking, that are gooey. This strata was very crisp. I will continue to use this recipe as a base & change up the meat, veggies & cheese.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Zucchini & Squash

Oh garden, you bring me such joy. Now just make the tomatoes red already!!

So we have a lot of zucchini & squash. Not just small ones, but giant ones. I had to put something next to it so you could have a scale of how large my zucchini are.

Anyway, I made 2 types of zucchini bread to bring into the office. (And only used one large zucchini)
Type 1: Betty Crocker Zucchini Bread

Type 2: Cooking Light Zucchini Bread

I also made Chicken w/Goat cheese sauce (it had toasted walnuts, basil) & served it with sauted zucchini, sqaush & carrots. But when I looked at the pictures, it looked like vomit & I didn't want to subject any of you to that. I swear it was tasty, just not pretty.

Patty Melts

I had some ground turkey out, but didn't want to make plain old burgers. I receive the daily emails & patty melts were the meal of the day (those of you who get these will realize that I made these last week sometime).

Patty Melts

8 (1/8-inch-thick) slices Vidalia or other sweet onion
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Cooking spray
1 pound extralean ground beef
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons creamy mustard blend (such as Dijonnaise)
8 (1-ounce) slices rye bread
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Jarlsberg cheese

1. Arrange onion slices on a plate. Drizzle vinegar over onion slices. Heat a large grill pan over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion to pan; cover and cook 3 minutes on each side. Remove from pan; cover and keep warm.
2. Heat pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Divide beef into 4 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Sprinkle patties evenly with salt and pepper. Add patties to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done.

3. Spread about 1 teaspoon mustard blend over 4 bread slices; layer each slice with 2 tablespoons cheese, 1 patty, 2 onion slices, and 2 tablespoons cheese. Spread about 1 teaspoon mustard blend over remaining bread slices; place, mustard side down, on top of sandwiches.

4. Heat pan over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add sandwiches to pan. Place a cast-iron or other heavy skillet on top of sandwiches; press gently to flatten. Cook 3 minutes on each side or until bread is toasted (leave cast-iron skillet on sandwiches while they cook).

A few differences. I obviously used ground turkey. Instead of sauteing the onions in balsamic vinegar, I caramelized them. I have been on a caramelized onion kick as of late. So sweet & delicious! I used the grill to cook the turkey, after assembling the sandwiches, I put them back on the grill & used a grill press for about 3 minutes on each side. I didn't have any rye bread, so I used whole wheat bread & I only had provolone cheese. So yes, I tweaked this recipe a bit :)

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Garden

I am always referring to our garden in my posts so I thought I should take some pictures of it.

Our first produce from the garden was the radishes. They long since been harvested & a new set of seeds planted.

Next we had some lettuce:

Now this batch did not have the heads of lettuce yet, but we needed to thin out the lettuce plants to give the other ones room to grow.
This is the garden as you look at it from our patio:

And a few more up close ones:

Our snap peas:

I harvested some dill & cilantro yesterday & tomorrow we will be harvesting the snap peas.

One of our fave meals

I love Chicken Saltimbocca. I have been making this for about 4 or 5 years now. I snagged a recipe for & haven't changed a thing. Must be a pretty good recipe if I have used the same one for so long!

This is a great company meal. Its very quick b/c the chicken breasts are so thin. They can sit in the oven, on low for at least 20 minutes so you can prepare them in advance. The additional sauce at the end makes them nice a juicy & not dried out.

This time I made them with a spaghetti recipe from Giada. It was ok, not great just ok. A little too oily, but I also about burnt down everything in our kitchen as I added the water to the hot oil. Sure she says "add very slowly & carefully", which I did, but I had to let it pop away for like 5 minutes before I could even get to the stove to pull it off!

I was so happy to be able to go out to my backyard & get all the herbs!!! I'll post about the garden next!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Strawberry Shortcake

Before I started dinner, i started on dessert. I had these strawberries that had to be used. I had some Light Cool Whip as well, b/c I love that stuff! I mean I buy it in hordes. It was on sale from something like 99 cents. I bought 3 of them & put them in the deep freeze about a month ago, I am down to 1/2 of a container. Back to the point, I knew I had seen an easy shortcake recipe somewhere. I just couldn't remember where. On the back of a box of something...

This was so simple. I should have made simple syrup first, let it cool & pour over the strawberries, but I didn't so they were a little liquidy. It worked in my favor though since the shortcakes sopped up the juice.
Delicious, refreshing & so easy for a week night treat.

2 1/3 cups Original Bisquick® mix
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
Sweetened sliced strawberries
Whipped topping or whipped cream

1. Heat oven to 425°F.
2. Stir Bisquick mix, milk, sugar and butter until soft dough forms. Drop by 6 spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.
3. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Split warm shortcakes; fill and top with strawberries and whipped topping. (Sweeten strawberries before making shortcakes so sugar has time to dissolve; for each quart of sliced strawberries, stir in 1/2 cup sugar.)

Awesome dinner!

I had an extremely stressful day at work. One would think with that, I would say "screw dinner! We are going out!" But not me. I knew if I could just spend an hour or two in the kitchen, I would feel a ton better.
I had a bunch of strawberries, so I started making dessert. Something I rarely ever do at our house. I'll post that in a bit.
I had these chicken cakes tagged for awhile & since I had everything on hand at home, I decided to make them & Pioneer Woman's Crashed Hot Potatoes. Why I picked a recipe I had never made before is beyond me, but my husband was happy dinner turned out b/c I get a little emotional(angry) when it doesn't.
From CookingLight of course.

Chicken Cakes w/ Horseradish Aioli
2 (1 1/2-ounce) slices whole wheat bread
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
3 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites
2 teaspoons canola oil

2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon salt

To prepare cakes, place bread in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure 1 cup (discard remaining breadcrumbs). Set breadcrumbs aside.
Place chicken in food processor; pulse until ground. Combine chicken, chives, 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon salt, egg whites, and breadcrumbs in a medium bowl; mix well (mixture will be wet). Divide mixture into 8 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add patties; cook 7 minutes on each side or until done.

To prepare aioli, combine 2 tablespoons mayonnaise and remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Serve with cakes.

I made some adjustments b/c we had just had Mexican Lasagna, so I didn't want something spicy. Instead I used Paul Purdhomme's Poultry Magic seasoning. The hubs & I do not particularly care for horsey sauce. I still had some sun-dried tomato aioli from Viansa in the fridge so I used that.

For the crash potatoes, I let the hubs go out to the garden & pick his herbs of choice. We had some dill ones, some rosemary & some sage ones. Yummy!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Staple

I almost didnt believe my eyes. I have not posted Mexican Lasagna! This is one of my husband's favorite meals! I ask him what he wants for dinner & his answer is either "Biscuits & Gravy" or " Mexican Lasagna". I believe I made this one of the first nights I made dinner for him. Its a RR recipe and so easily adaptable. I have seen people make mexican lasagna, but they use lasagna noodles. That is why I love this recipe!

Here is the original recipe
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds ground chicken breast, available in the packaged meats case
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
1 cup medium heat taco sauce or 1 (14-oz) can stewed or fire roasted tomatoes
1 cup frozen corn kernels
8 (8 inch) spinach flour tortillas, available on dairy aisle of market
2 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar or shredded pepper jack
2 scallions, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil - twice around the pan. Add chicken and season with chili powder, cumin, and red onion. Brown the meat, 5 minutes. Add taco sauce or stewed or fire roasted tomatoes. Add black beans and corn. Heat the mixture through, 2 to 3 minutes then season with salt, to your taste.

Coat a shallow baking dish with remaining extra-virgin olive oil, about 1 tablespoon oil. Cut the tortillas in half or quarters to make them easy to layer with. Build lasagna in layers of meat and beans, then tortillas, then cheese. Repeat: meat, tortilla, cheese again. Bake lasagna 12 to 15 minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly. Top with the scallions and serve.

Now my edits consist of the following:
I will use ground turkey or ground beef
I use about a 1/2 cup of taco sauce & then a can of drained ro-tel.
I use white corn or regular corn tortillas.
And, I always use more cheese than it calls for.
You could mix in some olives as well.

Back In Action!

Just as I vow to visit the gym 3 times a week I vow to update my blog at least twice a week, I don't want to be too ambitious this summer ;)
This salad is based off a recipe I received from my friend Sarah. The hubs & i do not eat enough fruit. I thought maybe if I snuck them into a salad he would be more obliged to eat them. He does love my summer spinach & strawberry salad.
Its an apple-cheddar tossed salad.

4 cups torn mixed salad greens--> I only had spinach
1/3 cup and 1 tablespoon chopped red apple
1/3 cup and 1 tablespoon cubed Cheddar cheese
1/3 cup and 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts, toasted --> I decided to candy these.
1/4 cup and 1 teaspoon honey
2-1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated onion
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
In a large salad bowl, combine the greens, apple, cheese and walnuts. In a blender or food
processor, combine the first eight dressing ingredients. While processing, gradually add oil in a
steady stream. Serve with salad.

*I was not in the mood to make the salad dressing so I just used my blush vinaigrette. This was delicious! Look at how colorful it is!

I'll be making it again for sure.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Radish Slaw

From my previous post about our radish, I needed to come up with something to make with them. We had already done a few salads with radishes, eaten them by themselves. I needed something creative.
I found a radish slaw w/ dill dressing from cookinglight. Well as luck would have it, I have an abundance of dill in my garden!

4 cups shredded radishes (about 40 radishes)
2 cups finely chopped yellow bell pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded carrot
1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl. Combine mayonnaise and remaining ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle dressing over slaw; toss well to combine. Serve immediately.

This tasted like any slaw I have had in the past. I will tell you this much, it does not keep well, so only make enough for you to eat that one night.

Garden Creations!

I am going to start a new category called "Garden" it will include all the recipes I make from the produce & herbs from our garden.
To kick it off, I'll post my pestos. I recently learned you can freeze pesto- that is great news for me! I never use it all before it goes bad & I often can not think of anything else to do with my herbs.
We had tons of Italian Parsley & Cilantro. You can basically take an herb & make it into a pesto.
Off to & search for "Parsley Pesto"
I went with the Parsley & Walnut Pesto since I had a nice big bag of walnuts.

3 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves (about 2 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, chopped

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth.
** I ended up adding some olive oil to it to make it a bit more oily **

Next up was Cilantro Pesto

3 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 cups fresh cilantro, lightly packed
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Place the garlic and cilantro in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. With the processor running, slowly add the oils, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Process until smooth.
Place the pesto in an airtight container and freeze for up to 4 months. To thaw, microwave on low for 2 to 3 minutes.

So now I can make Cilantro pesto pizza, or Mixed Grill w/Cilantro Pesto, and I just came across a recipe for Roasted chicken w/ mint-cilantro pesto. I sure do have some mint in the garden...

Just call me slacker

Yep that's me! Slacking away here. I recently started telecommuting 2 days a week. You would think this means more time at home to cook & bake right? Not so much. I work more at home than do when I am at work!

I also have been in a rut of cooking/recipes/etc... I just can not find things that excite me anymore. Probably b/c I hate going to the grocery store & spending money. I wish my darn garden would be producing all its goodies but no, its just not ready yet.

I have done some cooking. Mostly not new things but I haven't posted them on here, so they are new to you :)
First up, chicken phillies. Yum! This is so easy, but caramelizing the onions takes awhile.

chicken breasts, sliced thinly
sweet onion, sliced thinly
unsalted butter, about 3 Tbsp
green peppers, about 1 to 1 1/2 sliced thinly
sliced mushrooms
provolone cheese slices
French or Hoagie rolls

In a saute pan, melt the butter. Add onions & cover. Cook for about 30-40 mins on low heat until onions begin to caramelize.
Remove onions from pan, set aside.
Add chicken to pan & saute until cooked through. Remove & set aside
Add a bit more butter to the pan, just enough to coat. Add mushrooms, saute, remove & set aside. Do the same with the peppers.
**I don't cook these all together b/c they take different lengths of time to cook. **
Turn over on to about 450F. Coat a cookie sheet with foil.
Assemble sandwiches, chicken, onions, mushrooms & peppers. Top with provolone cheese. Place sandwich, open-faced in oven for about 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.