Monday, March 30, 2009

Lemon Cream Pasta & Roasted Parmesan Asparagus

I think this is my favorite dish that I have ever made. I am not a huge fan of pasta, but rather a huge fan of pasta with sauce. This just turned out so amazing. It had the exact right consistency and flavor. It turned out to be a very creamy pasta with just a little hint of lemon.
I did things a bit differently than the original recipe and I'll include my changes here. As always these measurements serve as a guide rather than what I actually put in.

3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 lemon, quartered
2 teaspoons garlic powder, divided
1 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
4 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth (or 4 chicken cubes with boiling water)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 (16 ounce) package rotelle pasta
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1. Heat a small amount of oil in a pan. Cut chicken into cubes and sautee over medium-high heat. Squeeze lemon over chicken and season with 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder and 3/4 teaspoon pepper.
2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, season the chicken broth with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil and add lemon juice and pasta. Cook over medium heat until done. Drain, reserving a small amount of liquid.
3. Add cream, lemon zest, and parmesan cheese and cook until cheese has melted and cream has thickened.

I served this with asparagus. This was mine and Emi's first encounter with asparagus other than at a restaurant. Afterwards, Emi told me that if I had told him we were going to have asparagus that he probably wouldn't have eaten it. However, he really liked it and requested that I make more as long as I don't make it any other way. I told him that if he liked it one way that I would definitely try other ways.

1/2 - 1 lb asparagus spears
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray cooking spray on a tinfoil lined baking sheet. Trim bottoms from asparagus spears & rinse. Place asparagus on baking sheet, salt and pepper to taste and drizzle with olive oil. Top with shredded Parmesan cheese and roast for about 5 minutes until fork tender. Serve & enjoy.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Lime Chicken Soft Tacos

My camera's batteries have died again and we're in the works of buying some rechargeable ones so bear with me the next little while. I've been using my cell phone for the last couple of posts but when I went to mail the picture to the computer it decided not to work.
This was a really good meal and I did a couple of things to make it a little easier for me. I painted my office with my mom yesterday so I needed to have a simple meal. I'll include what I did for the instructions because to me, it is much easier. It wasn't your usual taco flavor so it was a nice change!

1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast meat, shredded
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
10 (6 inch) flour tortillas
1 tomato, diced
1/4 cup shredded lettuce
1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup salsa
1/4 cup sour cream

1. Put chicken in crockpot (I put them in frozen). Season with salt and pepper. Add water, chicken broth, or white wine to keep the chicken from burning. Cook for 5-6 hours on low.
2. Saute chicken in a medium saucepan over medium high heat for about 5 minutes. Add vinegar, lime juice, sugar, salt, pepper, green onion, garlic and oregano. Simmer for an extra 10 minutes.
3. Heat an iron skillet over medium heat. Place a tortilla in the pan, warm, and turn over to heat the other side. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Serve lime chicken mixture in warm tortillas topped with tomato, lettuce, cheese, salsa, and sour cream.

I served this with a recipe for Cafe Rio's Cilantro Lime rice. The two flavors combined so well!

1 c. uncooked rice (long-grain, white rice)
1 tsp. butter or margarine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 can (15 oz) chicken broth
1 cup water
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tsp. sugar
3 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

In rice cooker combine rice, butter, garlic, 1 tsp. lime, chicken broth and water. Let the rice cooker do it's thing. :-D Remove from heat. In a small bowl combine lime juice, sugar and cilantro. Pour over hot cooked rice and mix in as you fluff the rice.

Also! I received my second award the other day from Nett's Nook! Thank you SOOO much!!!

Along with the award came this little quote:

"These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated."

It also says : "Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."

I'd like to give this to:
Lauren at Mixing Bowls and Spatulas
Donna at My Tasty Treasures
Teresa at A Blog About Food
Eniko at It's all about FOOD!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Eclair Torte

My friend Brooke brought this over when we had dinner with her last week. Emi and I loved it so much that in the days following it, we were craving it. I decided to make it yesterday. It is a pretty easy recipe to make but a little frustrating that it takes so long!!!! :-D Brooke found it on Real Mom Kitchen.
As I've mentioned before, I'm not a huge fan of chocolate so I didn't put chocolate syrup on mine and I think its just as delicious (if not more so) without it! :-D Be sure to give it a try!

1 cup water
½ cup butter (no substitutes)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup all purpose flour
4 eggs
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2 packages (3.4 ounces each) instant vanilla pudding mix
3 cups cold milk (I didn't use all 3 cups. I used more like 2 cups)
1 carton (12 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
Chocolate syrup

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring water, butter, and salt to a boil. Add four all at once; stir until a smooth ball forms. Remove from heat; let stand for 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well with a wooden spoon after each addition. Beat until smooth. Spread into a greased 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan. Bake at 400 for 30 to 35 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack. If desired, remove puff from pan and place on a serving platter.

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, pudding mix, and milk until smooth. (Now if you're not careful doing this you can end up with chunks of cream cheese in the pudding mixture. I beat the cream cheese first. Then add the first cup of milk to it a little at a time. Then add the rest and pudding mix) Spread over puff; refrigerate for 20 minutes. Spread with whipped topping; refrigerate. Drizzle with chocolate syrup just before serving. Refrigerate leftovers. 12 servings.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Lasagna with Creamed Spinach

I got this recipe a couple of weeks ago from my Aunt. My Aunt is a great cook and I remember her cooking all the time growing up. She has a blog that she updates every once in a while that talks about the history behind holidays, usually has some funny stories, and she shares a recipe relating to that holiday. You can check it out here. This turned out great and I will definitely be making it again. For the most part, Emi likes vegetables and doesn't mind when I include them in our dinner, but every once in a while he throws a fuss. He did ask me "what is that green stuff?" when I served him this dish, but he ended up asking when I would make it again by the time he got a mouthful. We had Emi's sister and her husband over for dinner and they really enjoyed it as well. Yum!

2 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach , thawed, drained and squeezed dry
1 cup cottage cheese
1 8-oz package cream cheese
1/2 cup butter, cubed 3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups cubed process American cheese
1/4 cup all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon salt

Lightly grease your crockpot. In a large bowl, mix together the spinach, cottage cheese, cream cheese and butter, American cheese, eggs, flour and salt until everything is evenly distributed. Transfer to the greased slow cooker. Cook on high for one hour, then reduce heat to low and continue cooking for 4 - 5 hours. Use for filling in lasagna, or manicotti shells. Can even be eaten by itself.

You'll find my recipe for lasagna here. Just substitute the cottage cheese, cheddar, and eggs for the creamed spinach.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Stuffed London Broil

I got this idea from My Tasty Treasures. Unfortunately when I went to the store there wasn't any flank steak to be found, so I picked up a London Broil and hoped for the best. :-D We had one of my very best friends over for dinner last night, and she actually follows the food blog world as much as I do. She was planning to make this dish soon so it was fun to have her over to see how it turned out. I must say I had quite a bit of trouble cutting the steak in half, but it turned out great and everyone really liked it. The roasted red peppers really made the dish in my opinion, giving it a very interesting flavor. My only recommendation would be to use more cheese. Oh, and make it with flank steak instead!! :-D

1 Flank Steak 1 1/2 to 2 poinds
1 pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 seven ounce jar roasted red peppers, chopped
2 T. seasoned dry bread crumbs
1 egg yolk
3/4 t. garlic salt
3/4 t. ground black pepper
1 T. olive oil

1. Heat oven to 425.
2. Lay steak on work surface. Holding sharp knife parallel to work surface and starting at long side, slice flank steak in half to opposite side, without cutting all the way through. Open up the steak like a book and flatten slightly to an even thickness.
3. Squeeze liquid from spinach and discard liquid. In a medium sized bowl, combine spinach,cheese, peppers bread crumbs, egg yolk, ¼ teaspoon garlic salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
4. Season steak with an additional ¼ teaspoon pepper and garlic salt. Press filling onto steak, leaving a 1 inch border on all sides. Roll up steak to enclose filling, beginning on a short side. The grain of the meat will be running from left to right. Tuck any loose filling back into ends.
5. Tie steak with cotton twine at 2 inch intervals to secure. Rub outside with oil and sprinkle with remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper and garlic salt.
6. Roast at 425 for 35 minutes, then increase heat to broil for 5 minutes, turning once. Let meat rest for 15 minutes. remove twine, slice and serve.

I served this with Crash Hot Potatoes courtesy of For The Love of Cooking.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Gnocchi Marinara

My brother works at a really upscale restaurant in Salt Lake City as their accountant. He used to be one of the pickiest eaters, but since starting his job there he seems to like to try almost anything. I've been to the restaurant twice since my brother is so generous (and I mean REALLY generous) and one of the things I tried was Gnocchi. I absolutely loved it. So when I saw a recipe for it on A Catholic Cooks, I knew that I had to give it a try. This didn't turn out quite like a wanted it to but after I got used to the texture, it was at least edible. My brother came down for this momentous occaision and I was really glad because if he hadn't been here, it probably would have turned out worse. He has seen the chefs at the restaurant make this before and has also tried once to make it on his own. So while this wasn't a huge success, I am comforted by the fact that it was better than my brother's attempt so maybe I know a LITTLE more about cooking than he does. :-P
I don't know whether or not I'll try to make this particular recipe again, but I do have a few suggestions for those of you who want to give it a try. First of all, make the gnocchi pretty small. I think part of the reason mine had a gluey texture is because they were so big. Secondly, use a strong sauce. Me, being a little naive, just picked up some Ragu sauce from the store and Gnocchi are pretty bland themselves so you might want to roll out "Your Great Great Great Grandmother's Secret Sauce" for these. ;-) (I'm still in need of some fantastic recipe for marinara sauce, although I admit I've never really tried to make one of the ones I've found.)

Leftover Mashed Potatoes
Sauce of your choice (marinara, alfredo, etc.)

1. To about 4-6 cups of mashed potatoes, add 1 egg, nutmeg as preferred, and 1/2 cup of flour at a time, mix until it has a semi-firm consistency that hold its shape. (About like play dough)
2. Roll out into snakes about 1 inch wide and cut into pieces about 1 inch long.
3. Turn each cut piece onto its side, pressing finger in center to make a well.
4. In a pot of boiling water, with salt and oil added, drop 8-10 gnocchis in. When they float, they are done, drain and serve with your favorite sauce.

I served this with chicken thighs coated in bread crumbs cooked at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
If you're not going to use leftover mashed potatoes, once you have boiled the potatoes let them sit for a little while in a strainer over the sink to get most of the moisture out. Once you make the mashed potatoes (with milk and butter) let it sit again for a while to dry out. One of the problems my brother had when he made Gnocchi is there was too much moisture so he had to add a lot of flour in order to make it the right consistency. If any of you more seasoned cooks out there have some tips to add they would be greatly appreciated because I was pretty bummed that this was the first thing is months that I failed to WOW on.

My next daring attempt will be at Ricotta Gnocchi.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Honey Mustard Chicken

Here is another great recipe from My Kitchen Cafe. It does take a little while to cook, but its all done in the oven while you could be off saving the world, or painting your living room like I was doing. The flavor was fantastic even though it was a pretty simple dish. The only recommendation that I would make is to turn your chicken over half way through baking. The bottom part of the chicken that had sat in the sauce was much more flavorful and tender than the top. Next week I will be trying this same recipe with some Tilapia that I bought and I'll be sure to let you know how it turned out. I served this with a baked potato and some green beans. The baked potato was an awesome easy choice since I just coated it in olive oil, salt, and pepper before wrapping it and throwing it in the oven for an hour. They were both done at the same time. Talk about EASY.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thawed and tenderized slightly (if they are overly thick, slice them in half)
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
2 Tablespoons mustard (I used the basic yellow mustard since my husband is not a fan of Dijon mustard, but I bet it would be tasty with either)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Pre-heat oven to 350. Place chicken in shallow baking pan. In a small bowl, combine butter, honey, mustard and salt and whisk well. Pour over chicken. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, basting every 15 minutes.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Garlic & Ginger Pork Chops

I still have a package of boneless pork ribs in the freezer, so I will probably be making this again very soon and I'll be sure to post a picture then. Our friend Cody who is an avid BBQ lover puts BBQ sauce on almost any meat. I've come to realize that regardless of how I cook or season the meat, he'll put BBQ sauce on it. However, with this meal he didn't use ANY BBQ sauce and he told me that this is his favorite dish that I have ever made. Such high compliments! Emi loved this as well. I got the idea from For the love of cooking but I made a couple of changes. Since we were having our friends Cody and Missy for dinner, I substituted the soy sauce for teriyaki since Cody doesn't like the taste of soy sauce. I also made much more food because these boys like to EAT. :-D

3 t cornstarch
6 T teriyaki sauce
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup of honey
2 tsp grated fresh gingerroot
1/4 c water
Green onion, diced (for garnish)

In a saucepan, combine cornstarch and soy sauce and mix until it's smooth. Add honey, garlic, ginger, and water then bring to a boil while stirring. Reduce heat and let thicken. The measurements are kind of guessed since I felt like there wasn't enough sauce and added more ingredients as I went. My sauce ended up being pretty sweet (but not too sweet) with little bursts of ginger and garlic flavor.

10 boneless pork ribs
Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
1 tsp olive oil
Cooking spray

Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium high heat add olive oil and cooking spray. Season the pork chops to taste. When the pan is hot, add pork ribs and brown the outsides. Remove to an oven-safe baking dish and cook 25-30 minutes or until pork reaches and internal temperature of 170 degrees F. Drizzle sauce over pork then garnish with green onion and serve.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Lime Meltaways

I found this recipe on Two Peas and Their Pod a couple of days ago and have been desperately trying to find a reason to make them. I love lime and I also love lemon flavored desserts so I was more than a little eager to try this out. Emi and I went over to his sister's house for a delicious dinner and I volunteered to bring these babies. They were a success and I promised my sister-in-law that I would post the recipe. This was pretty easy, but I was a little confused about the two logs that I was supposed to roll the dough into. I just guessed and since they tasted really good and everyone liked them, I'm guessing I did it right. :-D

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
Grated zest of 2 limes (I used 2 ½)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups, plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, cream butter and 1/3 cup powdered sugar until fluffy. Add lime zest, juice, and vanilla; beat until fluffy.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt. Add to butter mixture, and beat on low speed until combined.
3. Between two 8 by 12 inch pieces of parchment paper, roll dough into two 1 1/4-inch diameter logs. Chill at least one hour.
4. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place remaining 2/3 cup powdered sugar in a resealable plastic bag. Remove parchment from logs; slice dough into 1/8-inch thick rounds. Place rounds on baking sheets, spaced 1 inch apart.
5. Bake cookies until barely golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool slightly 8 to 10 minutes. While still warm, place cookies in the sugar-filled bag; toss to coat. Bake or freeze remaining dough. Store baked cookies in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Creamy Ranch Chicken Pasta

From În Restaurantul Gianinei
I pulled this out of my archives to add a picture to it. But I thought I'd leave my brother's orginal comment on here to convince you all that you should try it. :-D

"Mad props to your ill cookin' skills." -Eric (My Brother)

This was a relatively quick recipe. It had a lot of flavor and had a taste that I can't quite explain. This time around I did things a little differently since I didn't have very much sauce last time. I grabbed two packets of the dry salad mix and used about a pack and a half. I also used 1/2 cup half and half because I wanted the sauce a bit creamier. The result was fantastic and I was rewarded with another. "Woman, this is the best food you've ever made." :-D

6 slices bacon
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite size pieces
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons ranch dry salad dressing mix
1 cup milk
1/2 cup half and half
3 cups egg noodles or fettucini
3 tablespoon finely shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Start your water for your pasta. Cook noodles according to package directions.
2. Cut bacon into narrow strips, then again into tiny pieces. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels.
3. In the same skillet, cook chicken until no longer pink, turning to brown evenly. 4. Mix flour, salad dressing mix, and milk in a small bowl. Move chicken into saucepan. Pour flour mixture over chicken. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1 minute more. Stir in bacon. Serve over noodles.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Korean-Style Pork Tenderloin and MY FIRST AWARD!

A little while ago, I found a new food blog that I have just fallen in love with and you will see quite a few of her recipes popping up on here from now on. It's For the love of cooking. This lady seems like a really talented cook and her recipes are pretty healthy, yet they don't necessarily come off that way. What I mean by that is I can shove one of her recipes in my husband's face and he won't recoil because he thinks its healthy. (Yeah, he is one of THOSE guys - the mention of low-fat, low-sodium, low anything is like a death sentence for him. Don't even get him started on fat-free.) Not only are her recipes healthy, but she provides excellent descriptions of what you need to do, as well as pictures.

The only thing I did differently with this recipe was that I don't own an oven-safe skillet so I switched it into a baking pan after browning it in a skillet. This made the outside so yummy with the flavor just seared right in! It also took longer to cook than what the instructions say. It was probably in the oven for about 30 minutes until my thermometer read at a temperature of 160. I took it out once it hit 170 because that's just how my husband likes it.

I served this over fried rice using the extra sauce for flavor. Yum!

1/3 cup of low sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp dark sesame oil
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 lb pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat
Olive oil cooking spray

1. Combine the first 7 ingredients in a large zip lock bag, and add the pork. Seal and marinated in a refrigerator for 8 hours our overnight, turning bag occasionally.
2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat a large ovenproof skillet coated with cooking spray over medium high heat. Remove pork from bag, reserving marinade. Add pork to pan, cook 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Place pan in oven, and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until meat thermometer registers 160 degrees (medium) or until desired degree of doneness. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.
3. Bring reserved marinade to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Cut pork into 1/4 inch thick slices and drizzle with sauce.

I also received my first award today!!! Teresa from A Blog About Food gave it to me and I am just so excited! Teresa has a lot of yummy recipes on her blog so be sure to head over there!
I will pass this on to:
Melanie at My Kitchen Cafe - I don't think she knows this, but she is the biggest reason I even started my food blog in the first place because of all of her yummy food!
My Aunt at Tale to Teller - She posts about Holidays and usually includes a yummy recipe to try that follows the current holiday. Check it out!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Pasta With Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce

Sorry it has been so long since I posted last. I really haven't been doing a ton of cooking lately (besides good ol' Mac & Cheese), but I'll make up for it this week. We had this meal tonight and it was delicious. I kept the chicken separate rather than mixing it in with the pasta because I was too lazy to de-bone it before I stuck it in the oven. I seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper and drizzled it with Olive oil and some balsamic vinegar. Yum! I didn't really make too many changes because it was really good the way it was. I do, however, think that next time I will add some green onions to the sauce for that little extra punch of flavor. (Can you tell I LOVE green onions?) I had a little bit of trouble with the sauce being a bit too thick but I think that's because I was trying to do too many things at once and let it boil a bit too long. I just added a bit more milk and we were good to go. I also roasted my garlic different than the original recipe. I'll include the instructions, but I got them here.

Here is my altered recipe:

1 head garlic, roasted
Olive oil
1 cup cream or half & half
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks green onion, chopped
salt and pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more at the table
Red pepper flakes, optional
2 broccoli crowns cut into bite-sized pieces (I used frozen broccoli)
2 chicken thighs
1 lb pasta

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice the top of the head off so every clove of garlic is exposed. Place on a small square of tinfoil (easy clean up). Drizzle with olive oil and salt to taste. Fold edges of tinfoil together and twist to make a sealed bundle (See a picture here). Place in oven and bake for 30-40 minutes depending on the size of the garlic. Remove from oven, let sit about 5 minutes, and then open the tin foil to let the garlic cool. Squeeze to remove the roasted cloves.

In a medium pot over medium-high heat, add butter and once melted, add flour and cook 1 minute. Add cream and milk, whisking to break up any lumps. Add minced garlic, salt and pepper. Bring to just boiling, then reduce heat to low. Add cheese and whisk until smooth.

Once the roasted garlic is cool, squeeze the garlic out of the papery skin. Mash with a fork and add to the cream sauce and whisk together. Add chopped green onions. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes.

While the sauce is cooking, cook the pasta according to package directions. About 4 minutes before the pasta is done, add the broccoli. Once cooked, drain and set aside.

Remove skin from chicken thighs. Put in a 9X13 baking dish and drizzle some olive oil and some balsamic vinegar over the top. Season with salt and pepper. Cook at 350 degrees for 45 min -1 hour.

Toss the pasta and broccoli with the sauce. Add more cheese just before serving.
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