Monday, December 12, 2011

Cookie Swap: Peanut Butter Surprise

I'd like to say a big THANK YOU to the three wonderful people who sent me cookies. They were all amazing. The Compost Cookie, Cardamon Cookies, and Chocolate Cookies with Candy Cane Creme. They were all amazing, and I can't wait to see the recipes as I will be hoarding them all! Haha.

I wish I could say I was better prepared. I know, I had so much time to be, right? Well, our oven went down and wasn't as amazing as it should have been anyway. I wanted to try and wait for the new oven, and I did when it was delivered on Monday December 5th. I made cookies from 7 AM until well into 2 PM. I made a batch of cookies, decided they weren't good enough, and went with a cookie I love and enjoy when I'm feeling stressed in the kitchen. I know I did a bad job, and I hope my cookie recipients weren't all that disappointed. Oh, and my husband mailed them. He told me what he did to package them. I was mortified. So, I hope they actually arrived in the condition they were meant to be in, and not scattered around the postal box.

I hope next year I'm not shunned from sending cookies, because I'm practicing my cookie making skills to make the most awesome recipe I can think of. This will probably be my last post for a while. I really love blogging. I love cooking and baking. But I don't love the kitchen I have to work in. Can you believe there are no windows in my kitchen? None. I have no natural lighting. There's a bit of space in our kitchen, but no counter space and my grandfather is always complaining I make too much of a mess when I try to do extra things outside of cooking for dinner. And I only want to make him happy. I'll still be making things! So when I come back around, I hope to be 100% better at what I want to do for the rest of my life! I want to share with everyone what I love most. =o]

Thank you!

3 1/3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, melted and cooled
1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar, light or dark
1/2 cup regular sugar
2 egg yolks, large, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
4 teaspoons vanilla
1 bag mini Reese cups

1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
2. In a big bowl, mix together the flour, soda and salt. Set aside. Beat both sugars and butter until combined well. Beat in the egg yolks, egg and vanilla just until mixed. Slowly add flour mixture and mix. Take a good pinch at a time and roll into nice balls. Smoosh a reese cup into the ball dough, and re-roll to hide the candy inside. Lay on greased, sprayed or parchment lined cookie sheets about 2-inches apart. Bake until edges look light gold but centers are puffy looking and still soft, about 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes on baking sheets and then put on rack to finish cooling.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Beef Enchiladas

I always thought making enchiladas would be hard to do, and messy, and just not something I'd want for a quick go-to meal option.

I was so wrong! I found a recipe on the inside of a specialty Velveeta, and completely fell in love. It's so easy, so quick, so yummy.

So, let's talk. I want to be able to get to the point where I post every day, or at least every other day. I want to try so many things, and experience so many things I'm missing! I work at a Wal-Mart bakery. I know. I'm surrounded by cheap, not-that-yummy treats all day long. I'll find those few things I really like and tell myself 'I can totally make this so much better at home!' Recently, I found these mini pumpkin pies with a little dab of cream cheese frosting. Oh my. I need to make these for my Thanksgiving table.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, I need to focus on what I want to make! Last year, I made a big deal out of Thanksgiving because we thought my grandmother wouldn't be here to share another one with us. But! She's made it through another year! This year, we're really getting 95% of the family together to celebrate.

One more thing, too. This makes me a little bit sad and I want to know what other people say. My husband doesn't read my blog. Honestly, I want him to. I want to him to be involved in this part of my life that I enjoy so much. Since he's not in the kitchen with me, he could at least feel like he is when he reads my blog! Is it bad that it makes me sad he doesn't attempt to look at it?

Well, on to the main meal...

The simple, not too many ingredients!

If you can't find the Spicy Jack Velveeta cheese, they also have a white cheese that should be just as good! Maybe add a can of Rotel on top to melt with the cheese?

Spread half a cup of enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish, covering the whole bottom.

Add your onion and hamburger meat in a pot, and get it all nice and brown. You should probably chop your onions 100% better than I did. I need more chopping practice.

You'll add 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce to the mixture after your meat is done cooking.

The original recipe said to use corn tortillas. I've made this meal twice and used flour tortillas. I'll have to try corn one day just to see the difference.

I just pile my tortillas on a plate and put them in the microwave until warm. You can probably skip this step (unless you use corn tortillas, because they do need to be soft or else they tear).

Spread a heaping 1/4 cup of the meat mixture on a tortilla.

Roll up the tortilla nice and tight and place seam side down into your prepared baking dish.

This is what you'll get after rolling each enchilada. Now comes the good stuff...

Pour on the leftover enchilada sauce and slice up your Velveeta cheese to melt to perfection. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and place into your oven for 20 minutes.

While your enchiladas are in the oven, prepare your side fixings. I didn't have any refried beans on hand, but they would be good with these, too!

I know you're probably thinking I have the weirdest counter accessories. We have maybe a foot and a half of counter space. And even that foot and a half is covered with my grandparent's medicine and random things my grandfather would go crazy if I moved anywhere else. Yes, it annoys me that those things are there and in my pictures, but that's the way things are and I'd never move something in a house that isn't mine.

Oh my. Oh my. Oh my. Don't these just look so amazing? I think so. Make this for dinner tonight! I highly suggest it.

Yes, this is my plate. Yes, I do love my side fixings. It makes it that much more better. And you thought it couldn't get any better, right?!

Beef Enchiladas
Recipe by: Kraft's Velveeta Box

1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cups enchilada sauce
4 oz. Velveeta, sliced
8 8" flour tortillas, or 12 corn tortillas


Total Price of Meal: $7.98

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. In a pot, place your ground beef and onions in a pot. Cook the beef until completely brown, and onions are tender. Once cooked, add 1/2 cup enchilada sauce and turn off stove top.

3. In a 9x13 baking dish, evenly spread 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce on bottom. Heat your tortillas if you like to get them warm (if using corn, they do need to be soft so they don't tear).

4. Working one at a time, place heaping 1/4 cup of meat mixture into tortilla and tightly roll up. Place in prepared baking dish seam side down, and repeat with each remaining tortilla.

5. Once every tortilla is done, pour the remaining 1 cup enchilada sauce on top to cover each enchilada. Place the sliced Velveeta all around to evenly melt over the enchiladas. Cover dish with aluminum foil and place in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, or until nice and hot and cheese is melted.

6. Serve with your favorite sides, and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Strawberry Vanilla Chip Cookie-ish Muffin Top Things

I've been thinking about making some cookies. It's something I haven't made in a very, very long time. And given the fact that I've signed up for the 2011 Cookie Swap, I need to up my cookie skills! I have plenty of cookie ingredients just waiting to be used!

I think for Christmas I might ask for some good quality cookie baking sheets and a Silpat or two. I see everyone using them, and I want one!

So, my intentions were to honestly make cookies. I wanted a chewy, amazing, summery cookie. What did I do wrong? I probably shouldn't have used frozen strawberries. Instead of dicing them myself, I stuck them in my blender on 'chop'. It just turned to yummy strawberry mush. It made my cookie batter really thin and runny.

My mom recently gave me two muffin top pans. She said she bought them, never used them, and never really planned to. New pans? Something I've never used before? I'll take it. I'm one of those people who go to stores during their 50% holiday sales and buy one of each cake pan.

I decided to take a recipe for white chocolate macadamia cookies (which is what I want to make someday soon..) I found on Tasty Kitchen and just change it a little bit.

The ingredients you need! I remembered everything this time around.

Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together. Enjoy the shadows? Yeah. I need to learn how to take photos.

Sugars and butter combined and mixed well.

Adding the rest of the wet ingredients, making it sloppy.

I kind of like this photo. I don't know. I just like it.

Adding in the flour mixture. At this stage, you can tell the dough is...still runny. Maybe I really did do something wrong, but I wouldn't imagine it holding up incredibly well. I'll never know until I make it again (properly).

After adding in the chips and strawberries, it became..this runny stuff! I thought it would still hold well and bake some yummy cookies. I did bake one batch like this, and the cookies came out very cakey but still so good. That's when I decided to make muffin top things!

This is a BAD picture of the final product. You can see my edges are too brown. It's my oven. I broke it a while back. It caught on fire, and it'll never be the same again. It's so time for a new one, right? Maybe for Christmas...

These are so good. You might be weird-ed out but they're good.

Strawberry Vanilla Chip Cookie-ish Muffin Top Thingies
Recipe adapted by: Tasty Kitchen

1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups vanilla chips
1 cup strawberries puree

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If an item says it's a staple item that means that I used so little of the full product that it wasn't worth the math to figure out each teaspoon, etc. Haha.

Total Price of Meal: $4.30

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Cut out parchment rounds to fit each cavity in the muffin top pans.

2. Sift together the baking soda, salt and flour. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter and the sugars until well blended. Add in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk and mix well until light and creamy.

4. Mix in the flour mixture until just blended. Stir in the vanilla chips and the strawberries by hand using a wooden spoon.

5. Drop cookie dough using an ice cream scooper onto the prepared muffin top pans.

6. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until the edges are lightly brown. Cool on a cooling rack a few minutes after they have been taken out of the oven.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Creamy Chicken Casserole

I didn't feel like making a big fuss for dinner today, so I found some ingredients I bought for an emergency day like today, and made one of my grandfather's favorite dinners. It's super simple, super fast, and super yummy!

The ingredients you'll need. I didn't show the chicken, though, which is the main part of the meal..

I was going to show more pictures, but I was in a hurry because I had to go pick up my husband from work and had to hurry and get it in the oven! You won't be disappointed with this meal.

Creamy Chicken Casserole
Recipe by: Kraft's Stove Top Dressing Box

1 1/2 pounds chicken, cooked, shredded
1 box stove top dressing for chicken
ingredients on stop top dressing box (usually water and butter)
2 15 oz cans mixed vegetables
1 cup sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup


Total Price of Meal: $6.66

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Prepare your stove top dressing according to the box.

3. Combine all the ingredients except for the stove top dressing in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Mix until all chicken is coated and sour cream is blended in. Top the mixture with the stove top dressing, smooth to cover entire top. Place aluminum foil over the baking dish, and cook for 30 minutes.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

My Opinion of Hooters Restaurant

Well, I haven't been able to post in a few days. It's been hectic around here, and too many things are going on! To be honest, I haven't even cooked anything for the past four nights! Tomorrow I need to get back on track. Today was totally my lazy day and I spent what little extra money I had to get pizza. I know, it's pretty sad.

So, to keep you up to date on everything, I thought I'd give you my opinion of Hooters restaurant. My husband's birthday was recently and it's where he wanted to go. Do you know why he wanted to go? Because it's somewhere I wouldn't want him to go. Yes, I am one of those women who does not want their husband to have an excuse to look at other women. The only thing that made it worse was our waitress was standing at our table whenever she was 'bored' and starting at my brother and my husband. Excuse me? Do I need to tell you to leave?

I'm not mean. I promise. She was kind of nice, I guess. And she did have hooters. Isn't that why people go there? Maybe I've always had a bad idea of Hooters because of how they portray the people that work there. It is a sports bar, I suppose. But I also thought it was meant for families, too? I have no idea. There were a lot of kids everywhere.

So? How was the food? The seating? The noise? The noise was expected due to the TVs blaring sports and the place was pretty crowded, and noise doesn't ever really bother me since we're one of THOSE families who are laughing so hard everyone can hear it and making jokes and trying to enjoy ourselves. The only time my family can get together and have a decent time is around the dinner table. When my brother and I were growing up, we didn't ever even sit at our own dinner table so going out to eat wasn't something we did too often.

The seating? Does Hooters not want people to stay very long? Bar stools. For every table. Really? Can I get a normal chair? At least have selections of booths against the walls with bar stool tables in the middle or something. Every one of us said we would have had a better time if our butts weren't starting to feel cramped due to the seats. Is that every Hooters?

The food...I've heard mixed reviews. I've heard people say the food is great, some will say the food is not so great. The five of us shared 50 wings, and 3 appetizers. I wanted to try fried pickles for the first time. They have to use bread and butter pickles because those things...were NOT good. We got boneless wings, half naked and half with hot sauce. We wanted to each get different sauces and dip them. None of the sauces were that great in my opinion. The wings looked totally weird.


All in all, I'd give them a 3.5 out of 10. It was a place all of us said we wouldn't want to go back to. Not even to stare at the Hooters.

Oh, and I made my husband a cake. He wanted an Australian recipe that I couldn't find with American measurements. I don't think I weighed it right. It came out super crumbly and not too great. =o[ Anyone have a good American version of Marble Mud Cake?

My cake decorating skills needs improving. Much.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dutch Apple Pie

I've been wanting to make this pie for a few days now. My friend Lisa had given me a whole box full of golden delicious apples and I need to use them all up before they go bad!

I know the recipe calls or only 3 apples, but I ended up using 5 (and not increasing any other ingredient). It made for a very tall apple pie!

The ingredients I used to make this awesome pie.

Combine the flour, brown sugar, melted butter and oats in a bowl for the topping. Reserve 1 cup for the top of the pie!

Spread the remaining topping in a 9 inch pie plate to form the 'crust'.

Stir the cornstarch, water and sugar until smooth and bring to a boil.

Stir constantly and cook until thickened. I know you can't really tell it's thick, but it is.

My super mountain of apples! I know, I shouldn't have added so many. I thought it might end up being a big melted disaster when I saw how big it was. I need to invest in a deep dish pie plate.

Sprinkle the topping evenly (as much as possible) on top of the apples, and set it in the oven to bake for 45 minutes!

Can I wait an hour for this to cool down? We'll see. I just wish I had some vanilla ice cream!

Dutch Apple Pie
Recipe by: The Cutting Edge of Ordinary

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup oats
3/4 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
1 1/4 cups cold water
3 cups diced, peeled apples (about 3 medium)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

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If an item says it's a staple item that means that I used so little of the full product that it wasn't worth the math to figure out each teaspoon, etc. Haha.

Total Price of Meal: $4.06

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. In a large bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, oats and butter. Set aside 1 cup for the topping. Press the remaining mixture into an ungreased 9 inch pie plate. Make sure to push the mixture up the sides too.

3. Combine the sugar, cornstarch and water in a saucepan until smooth. Bring to a boil. Cook and constantly stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla, cinnamon and apples.

4. Pour into pie crust, sprinkle top with reserved topping mixture. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Best Mashed Potatoes

My husband loves...LOVES...loves mashed potatoes. He wants mashed potatoes for every meal. No matter what I cook. Pizza? Husband says 'Can we have mashed potatoes with it?' Chinese takeout? Husband says 'Can we have mashed potatoes with it?' So needless to say, I needed some killer mashed potatoes! This is how I make mashed potatoes when the time comes, every single time, and it hasn't failed me yet.

Most of the people I know in 'real life' do not make mashed potatoes from a real potato. It always comes from a box. If I made mashed potatoes from a box? I think the world would end. If you feel intimidated by making mashed potatoes from a real potato, have no fear! It's not as bad as you think. 45 is all you really need, plus you can always make them ahead of time and pop them in the oven when you really need them.

This, my friends, is one of the most valuable tools you need in the kitchen. It's so smooth. It peels so well. It's inexpensive. You need one.

Even though my recipe says 4 or 5 large baking potatoes, I just used all the little ones we had left over. So pretend you see 4 or 5 large potatoes and not a bunch of little ones, okay?

You put your cut up potatoes in a pot. Cover them completely with water. Then you boil! Yummies are on the way.

Mash up your potatoes real good with your masher. Then add all your ingredients one at a time, then mash and you'll get...

Deliciousness on a plate. Oh my. Don't you wish you came over for dinner tonight?

The Best Mashed Potatoes
Recipe by: Me

4 or 5 large baking potatoes, peeled, cut in half
1 stick of butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 heavy cream (or half and half or milk)
salt and pepper
1/2 stick of butter, softened, for topping

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If an item says it's a staple item that means that I used so little of the full product that it wasn't worth the math to figure out each teaspoon, etc. Haha.

Total Price of Meal: $4.11

1. Peel your potatoes and cut out all the bad spots. Cut each potato in halves or quarters for faster and even cooking.

2. Prepare a big soup pot with water, and set on the stove. Dump (gently, unless you feel like getting wet) the potatoes into the water. Make sure all of the potatoes are completely covered! I always set my burner to high, but you can probably do medium-high with the same results, and boil your potatoes for about 30 minutes or more, depending on if the potatoes are done or not.

3. While your potatoes are boiling, set out 1 stick of butter and 4 ounces of cream cheese to soften. After 30 minutes, test your potatoes to see if they are ready. Stick a fork in one potato, and if it slides in easily, you're good to go! Your potato should be soft enough it'll want to fall apart. I don't like lumpy mashed potatoes, and I'm sure you don't either.

4. Turn your burner to low, and drain your potatoes. Return your potatoes to the same (dry) pot, and get your masher ready! Mash your potatoes for about two minutes, then add in your softened butter. Mash it up real good, then add in your 4 ounces of cream cheese. After mashing in the cream cheese, add in the heavy cream and mash until no more liquid remains. You may or may not need to add more heavy cream. Turn your burner off (I like nice and hot mashed potatoes. Mmm.).

5. Now it's time for seasoning! Add in the Season All and pepper, or whichever makes you the most happy. Taste test the potatoes, and if all is to your liking, let's serve it up for dinner!

Tip: My home is like a restaurant and I make everyone's plate for them. I add about 1 tablespoon butter to each mound of goodness. If you're just setting the potatoes in a serving dish, make sure to add half a stick or more of butter on top so it can slowly melt all over! Butter makes the world go round. Didn't you know that?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Zucchini and Bow Ties with Eggplant Parmesan

This meal was a winner to me! I've never ever had eggplant before, and I just so happened to get lucky my best friend gave me some to try. This is probably the first meatless meal I've made, and my husband was totally sad! He said he needed MEAT on his birthday. Which is today. Happy Birthday, Honey!

Your stars of the show, the ingredients!

Eggplant slices all lined up after being dipped in flour, egg, salt, pepper, breadcrumbs and herbs. They look so yummy. I used Panko instead of regular bread crumbs for a good crunch.

Fry the slices a few at a time in 1/2 inch of oil in a frying pan.

Gently cook the zucchini before adding in the cooked pasta and some of its starchy water.

The finished meal. Oh so yummy!

Zucchini and Bow Ties with Eggplant Parmesan
Zucchini and Bow Ties Recipe by: Rachael Ray's 365: No Repeats Cookbook
Eggplant Parmesan by: Bobby Flay @ Food Network

coarse salt
1 pound bow-tie pasta
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium zucchini, cut into matchsticks
coarse black pepper
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano cheese
20 fresh basil leaves, torn or shredded

1 medium sized eggplant, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 to 3 cups breadcrumbs
1 1/2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
salt and pepper
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon water
all-purpose flour for dredging
vegetable oil for frying
about 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

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If an item says it's a staple item that means that I used so little of the full product that it wasn't worth the math to figure out each teaspoon, etc. Haha.

Total Price of Meal: $19.44

Zucchini and Bow Ties

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Cook the bow ties al dente. Save a couple ladles of starchy pasta water before you drain the pasta.

2. Heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the extra virgin olive oil and the garlic. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the zucchini. Cook gently for 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add a couple of ladles of cooking water. Drain the pasta and add to the zucchini. Toss with the cheese and turn off the heat. Toss for 2 minutes, until the liquids are absorbed. Serve in shallow bowls with lots of basil on top.

3. Serve with Eggplant Parmesan.

Eggplant Parmesan

1. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 15 x 10 x 2 baking sheet.

2. Place the bread crumbs into a large shallow bowl. Add the herbs, salt and pepper as you like. In another medium shallow bowl, whisk the eggs and 1 tablespoon of water.

3. Season each eggplant slice on both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge each eggplant slice in the flour, tapping off excess, then dip it in the egg, and finally dredge it in the bread crumb mixture. Shake off any excess breading and transfer the egg plant to a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining eggplant.

4. Heat 1/2 inch of oil in large saute pan over medium heat until the oil gets hot. Working in small batches, fry a few of the eggplant slices, turning once, until golden brown, about 3 minutes per batch. Using tongs, transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining eggplant.

5. After transferring the eggplant slices to the paper towels, put a little handful of mozzarella cheese on top to melt while the rest of the eggplant slices finish frying.

6. Serve with crusty garlic bread.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Burly-Man-Size Chicken-Cheddar Barbecued Burgers with Spicy Coleslaw

It's Halloween, and I didn't make a single Halloween anything this year. It kind of made my husband a little sad since he's never celebrated Halloween before and this would have been his first one! Next year it will be made up.

These burgers are pretty decent. The coleslaw isn't as spicy, but I'm sure you could adjust the heat as much as you want! I didn't want to add too much spice since the last two meals were...hothothot.

These need a little bit more BBQ sauce and cheese. I think instead of adding the cheese into the burgers, I'd just top them off with some after cooking. Plus I would add some of McCormick BBQ seasoning to the burgers and top with more BBQ sauce after cooking. I like my BBQ sauce, okay?

All the ingredients you'll need! Some of which are hidden behind everything else...

After adding all the coleslaw ingredients, make sure the cabbage is completely coated and set aside to top the burgers with.

Poorly-shaped chicken burgers. I had to defrost my chicken in the microwave because I only set it in the fridge the morning of. It was still a little frozen by dinner time. After the microwave, my chicken was totally soggy and wouldn't hold. Oops. But still worked out okay!

Oh yeah. I recently bought myself a grill skillet thing. I've been wanting one for a while, and finally just decided I needed it. I love it! It's awesome for burgers. I can't wait to try other things on it. Like grilled chicken breasts...

The finished plate! Make sure to serve with yummy french fries for a tasty meal.

Burly-Man-Size Chicken-Cheddar Barbecued Burgers with Spicy Coleslaw
Recipe by: Rachael Ray's 365: No Repeats Cookbook

1 cup mayo
1 tablespoon hot sauce
juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
salt and pepper
1/2 small red cabbage, halved, cored, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, thinly sliced
6 scallions, thinly sliced
2 pounds ground chicken
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1/3 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, cut into 1/4 inch dice
extra virgin olive oil
4 kaiser rolls, split

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If an item says it's a staple item that means that I used so little of the full product that it wasn't worth the math to figure out each teaspoon, etc. Haha.

Total Price of Meal: $15.03

1. For the spicy coleslaw, in a bowl combine the mayo, hot sauce, lime juice, parsley, cilantro, salt and pepper. Add the sliced cabbage, red bell peppers, and half of the scallions, stir to coat the cabbage, and reserve the spicy slaw for topping the burgers.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine the ground chicken, BBQ sauce, cheddar dice, reserved scallions, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Score the meat with your hand to mark 4 equal portions. Form each portion into a 1-inch thick patty. Preheat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the patties and place them in the hot skillet. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes per side, or until the patties are form to the touch and cooked through.

3. While the burgers are cooking, toast the kaiser rolls. Transfer the burgers to the bottoms of the toasted roll, pile some spicy coleslaw on top, and then replace the roll tops.

4. Serve with fries or chips.

Mexican Pasta with Tomatillo Sauce and Meatballs

Second recipe from Rachael Ray's 365: No Repeats. This one is not going to be a keeper for us. It was okay to make the first time, and it used ingredients I've never purchased before.

I never usually put jalapenos in our dishes, because I'm not so much of a spicy eater and my husband can only tolerate so many. My grandfather? You should have seen him put extra hot sauce on his plate!

This dish is incredibly hot. I was thinking about seeding the jalapenos before slicing them, and ended up not. I should have. I need to take a lesson in how to properly chop onions, too. Some pieces are too big while others are too small. I'm trying to take baby steps here!

I think I also overcooked my chicken meatballs, and they were a little on the dry side. These pack a bunch of flavor, though, which was okay but I didn't enjoy with the sauce. I guess I'm a red or white sauce kind of pasta person.

I also used the whole block of Manchego cheese. We love our cheese around here, and I piled it on high after finishing the pasta, which made it a little more bearable to eat.

So, if you like spicy, try this dish!

I missed a few photos because it was getting late and dinner should have been on the table an hour before it was ready. It took a lot of time to prep. I need to learn to prep first then prepare. Not prep while preparing.

All the ingredients you'll need. I did have a Mexican beer, but my grandfather took it from it's hiding spot and drank it. He said he didn't like it at all. So I ended up using this 55 calorie beer. I should have gone with the chicken stock.

The onions, jalapenos, garlic and tomatillos cooking in a pot with the beer.

The chicken meatballs after they were done cooking. Look at all the flavor!

My plate piled high with cheese! Just like I promised.

Mexican Pasta with Tomatillo Sauce and Meatballs
Recipe by: Rachael Ray's 365: No Repeats Cookbook

coarse salt
1 pound fettuccine
extra virgin olive oil
1 pound ground pork or chicken
1 egg
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
3 scallions, finely chopped
1 teaspoon allspice
a few dashes hot sauce
coarse black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 jalapenos, fully seeded and very thinly sliced
1 cup Mexican beer or chicken stock
20 tomatillos, peeled and coarsely chopped
salt and pepper
1 cup grated Manchego cheese

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Staple Item
Staple Item

If an item says it's a staple item that means that I used so little of the full product that it wasn't worth the math to figure out each teaspoon, etc. Haha.

Total Price of Meal: $17.61

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water and cook the pasta al dente.

2. While the pasta works, add a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to a mixing bowl. Place the meat in the bowl. Add the egg, bread crumbs, cilantro, the thyme, scallions, allspice, hot sauce, salt and pepper, and mix to combine. Form 2-inch meatballs and arrange on a rimmed nonstick cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.

3. While the meatballs bake, make the sauce. Heat a deep-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add the 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, the garlic, onions, and jalapenos. Cook for 5 minutes, add the beer or stock, and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatillos and the cilantro, season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender and saucy, about 10 minutes.

4. To serve, toss the drained pasta with the sauce and meatballs and the Manchego cheese. Serve with crusty bread.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Charred Tomato Soup with Pesto and Prosciutto Stromboli

Since this is my first recipe, I'll tell you something about the people who eat what I cook everyday. If I didn't live with my grandparents, my grandfather would feed himself and my grandmother frozen TV dinners. Every day. It sickens me. My husband, who is from Australia, ate fast food for every meal, every day (how is it that he's only 150 pounds?). It sickens me. I love to cook, and think everyone deserves a home-cooked meal every day for dinner. I usually get stuck into making the same meals every week with not too much change up. My husband and grandfather just want meat and potatoes everyday. So, this is my resolution. To introduce new foods we've never tried, or switch up favorites into something different.

I try to limit myself on how much I spend on groceries every week. Of course, trying out these new recipes I'll most likely have to buy quite a bit. With each recipe, I'll post how much I spent on ingredients, then a total price of the entire meal. A meal that will be costly, in my opinion, isn't worth it for every day making. We'll see how the recipes I choose meet my spending limit!

My first recipe of seven! This recipe comes from Rachael Ray 365: No Repeats.

My husband usually doesn't ever eat soup. This soup is a on the thin side, but good with the stromboli! It's a lot spicier than I thought it would be as well! Oh my. My lips were burnin'!

All the ingredients you need! Except I did forget to add garlic in the picture...

Tomatoes and onions getting ready to get into the broiler. Sprinkled with olive oil, salt and pepper. Yummy.

Naked unrolled strombolis. I decided 12 slices of prosciutto was too expensive and just went with six slices.

Strombolis all rolled up and sprinkled with sesame seeds, dried red pepper flakes and Italian seasoning.

Tomatoes and onions after they came out of the oven and into the blender. You know, I thought I almost caught the oven on fire with these tomatoes. I took the pan out of the oven, and when I did, a huge flame shot up at me! I think it's time for a new oven...

Tomato Puree with added cream. Almost done!

Finished tomato soup with stromboli.

Charred Tomato Soup with Pesto Prosciutto Stromboli
Recipe by: Rachael Ray's 365: No Repeats Cookbook

6 ripe plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1 small red onion, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
salt and pepper
1 tube refrigerated pizza dough
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour or cornmeal
1/2 cup store-bought pesto
12 slices prosciutto di Parma
4 slices Provolone
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 quart chicken stock or broth
1 cup heavy cream
20 fresh basil leaves, shredded or torn

Staple Item
Staple Item
Staple Item
Staple Item

If an item says it's a staple item that means that I used so little of the full product that it wasn't worth the math to figure out each teaspoon, etc. Haha.

Total Price of Meal: $23.42

You can easily get 6 servings of soup from this meal (even though Rachael Ray says 4), although you'd probably need to make more strombolis!

1. Preheat the broiler to high.

2. Arrange the plum tomato halves, skin side down, with the onions on a rimmed cookie sheet. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil on the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Broil for about 4 minutes, flip, and continue to broil for 3 minutes, or until the tomatoes and onions are slightly charred. Lower the oven setting to 400 F.

3. Dust your hands and the dough lightly with flour or cornmeal and unroll the dough out onto a work surface. Stretch out the dough, gently spreading its rectangle shape. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces (you'll end up with four square pieces of dough). Cover each piece of dough with 2 tablespoons of the pesto.

4. Fold 3 slices of the prosciutto and 1 slice of the Provolone to fit each pesto-covered piece of dough, then roll each piece on an angle from corner to corner, making a long roll. Brush the rolls with extra virgin olive oil, then mix the sesame seeds, Italian seasoning, and 1/2 teaspoon of the red pepper flakes in a small cup. Sprinkle and pat the mixture onto the strombolis, place in the oven, and bake until evenly golden, 12 to 14 minutes.

5. Place the tomatoes and onions in a blender or food processor, and puree until somewhat smooth.

6. Preheat a soup pot over medium-high heat, add the 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and add the garlic and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Saute the garlic for a minute, then add the pureed vegetables and the chicken stock. When the soup comes to a bubble, stir in the heavy cream, then season with salt and pepper. Simmer the soup for 8 to 10 minutes.

7. When ready to serve, turn off the soup and stir in the basil. Adjust the salt and pepper to your liking. Serve the soup alongside the pesto and prosciutto stromboli, dipping them in the soup as you eat them.