Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Very Merry Christmas Breakfast

While watching 30 Minutes Meals on The Food Network last week, Rachael Ray was making gingerbread waffles...they sounded like they would be amazing. I knew what was coming next....a request from Jamie for me to make them. I informed my very disappointed husband that we didn't own a waffle maker.

So....a few days later, just before Christmas, he presented me with an early present - a waffle maker! So after browsing waffle recipes, and having success with previous breakfast recipes with bananas, Pancakes & French Toast, I decided on these recipes. They were amazing and the perfect Christmas morning breakfast, alongside maple sausages, coffee and mimosas served in our wedding toast flutes.


Prep Time: 5 Minutes Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Ready In: 20 Minutes Yields: 6 servings


2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


1.Preheat waffle iron. Beat eggs in large bowl with hand beater until fluffy. Beat in flour, milk, vegetable oil, sugar, baking powder, salt and vanilla, just until smooth.

2.Spray preheated waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray. Pour mix onto hot waffle iron. Cook until golden brown. Serve hot.

Waffles with Maple-Glazed Bananas
Williams Sonoma


6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup dark rum (optional) But of course I used it!!!
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or extract
4 bananas, peeled and cut diagonally into slices 1/2 inch thick
4 large waffles
Sweetened whipped cream for serving


In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter with the maple syrup. Stir in the cinnamon, rum and vanilla and simmer for 1 minute. Add the bananas to the pan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bananas to a serving plate. Pour the maple syrup mixture into a sauce boat. Serve immediately with waffles and whipped cream.

Serves 4.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Skip That Condensed Tomato Soup

I haven't made tomato soup in a while, with the exception of good ol' Campbell's. However, while watching Everyday Italian on The Food Network, I saw exactly what I was looking for. With the beans, noodles and the extra kick with the spice, it was very hearty, yet still healthy.

The recipe called for San Marzano marinara sauce, but I was unable to find it at my grocery store. So I decided to make my own sauce, and the difference between crushed and whole San Marzano tomatoes was about $4! So I just pulsed whole tomatoes in the food processor a few times, creating crushed tomatoes, but leaving some pieces. I loved the taste of this marinara so much, I will definitely be making it again to serve with pasta, and of course, plenty of Parmesan cheese!

Quick & Spicy Tomato Soup
Food Network/Giada De Laurentiis

Prep Time: 10 min Cook Time: 12 min
Level: Easy Serves: 4 to 6 servings

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (26-ounce) jar marinara sauce (recommended: San Marzano brand) I made my own, recipe below
2 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup pastina pasta (or any small pasta) I used ditalini
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
I added a 1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley to the soup in the last 10 minutes of cooking, and extra for garnish

Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, onion, and garlic and saute until soft, about 2 minutes. (I sauteed them longer till carrots were completely softened) Add the jar of marinara sauce, chicken broth, cannellini beans, red pepper flakes, pasta, salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and serve.

San Marzano Marinara Sauce

28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 carrot stick, shredded
2 bay leaves
1/4-1/2 tsp each of dried basil & oregano (I would have fresh if I had some on hand)
salt and pepper to taste
1 small onion, finely diced

Heat extra virgin olive oil on medium heat in a saucepan. Saute onion, celery for 3-4 minutes, and add in garlic and carrot and saute for a few more minutes till everything is softened.

Meanwhile, add tomatoes and remaining ingredients, and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

Maybe Blondes Are More Fun...

One of my favorite easy desserts is brownies topped with vanilla ice cream. I had planned on just picking up some pre-made brownies, but while at the store I changed my mind, and decided to make some instead, since I had just had some baking success with the blondies.

However, offhand, I had no clue what type of chocolate to use, so I just started reading the recipes on the back of the products until I finally found a brownie recipe. I had never used Nestle Pre-Melted Choco Bake before....and I don't think I will again. Although the brownies turned out great taste wise, the chocolate was hard to work with. Well, actually it was a real pain in the butt! There was no way the batter would have filled out a 13 x9 pan, so I used a square 8 x 8 pan square baking pan, and baked it a little longer for approximately 25 minutes.

Fudgy Chocolate Brownies

Estimated Times:Preparation - 15 min
Cooking - 18 min
Cooling Time - 20 min cooling
Yields - 24 brownies (2 dozen)

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
4 packets (1 oz. each) Nestle Tollhouse Choco Bake Pre-Melted Unsweetened Chocolate Flavor

2 large eggs
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional) I used walnuts

PREHEAT oven to 350º F. Grease 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Stir in sugar, butter, Choco Bake, eggs, water and vanilla extract vigorously in large bowl. Stir in flour mixture . Stir in nuts. Spread into prepared baking pan.

BAKE for 18 to 22 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out slightly sticky. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

You'll Love These Blondes

I've had this recipe for pumpkin blondies in my Google Reader for almost a month, so I have been excited to try it. Despite some technical difficulties from my mixer (it stopped working just as I started creaming the butter, then magically started working again), I managed to bake it with no further problems. This was a great recipe, I've never used white chocolate chips before, and I think the flavors went amazingly well together. I loved this recipe, it's a keeper.

Pumpkin-White Chocolate Blondies
found on Fresh From Cate's Kitchen, adapted from Martha Stewart

2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 package (12 ounces) white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on all sides.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin puree (mixture may appear curdled). Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Lift cake from pan (using foil as an aid). Peel off foil, and use a serrated knife to cut into squares.

Fake Out Take Out Sweet and Sour Chicken

I love Chinese food, however, I feel less than great after getting takeout, even if I ask for no MSG. So the only chance I have to enjoy comes from my own kitchen. I was searching for a stir fry recipe, but came across this one for Sweet and Sour Chicken. I've made that dish/different recipe several times, but something was always "off" with the sauce, so I decided to give Sweet and Sour Chicken one more chance, if it didn't work out, it's back to using the store bought bottle kind from now on.

Wow - this was great, I've found my favorite Sweet & Sour recipe. Now, granted it's not a "healthy" recipe, but neither is the kind from take out. I paired it with thinly sliced onions, red pepper, carrots and broccoli florets that were stir fried with some soy sauce, sesame oil and minced garlic, all served over rice.

Sweet and Sour Chicken
found on Cooking This and That, from My Kitchen Cafe

Makes 4 servings


3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil

Cut boneless chicken breasts into chunks. Season with salt and pepper. Dip chicken in cornstarch and then in egg. Fry in a little oil until brown but not cooked through. Place in a single layer in a baking dish. Mix sauce ingredients (below) together and pour over chicken.


¾ cup sugar
4 tablespoons ketchup
½ cup vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Bake for one hour at 325 degrees. Turn chicken every 15 minutes. If you like extra sauce, make another batch of sauce and bring it to a boil on the stove top. Stir constantly and let cook over medium heat until thickened and reduced - about 6-8 minutes.

* After about 55 minutes, I removed the lid, turned the broiler on, and cooked the chicken for 5 minutes, turning once. The sauce thickened, became a glaze and the chicken got slight crispy. It was perfect, I didn't need to cook any additional sauce.

Sealed With A Kiss

Bolstered by my recent and first-time success at cookie making, I decided to go for it again. I've seen these on a few different blogs for a while, but most recently on another, and they are considered a holiday treat, so I thought they would be perfect - and they were! If you love peanut butter & chocolate, you'll love these. They were pretty simple to make, I wish I had made a double batch...too bad I sent all of them to work with my husband, I only saved two for myself!

Peanut Butter Blossoms
seen on Food alla Puttanesca, from Hershey's Kitchens


48 Hershey's Kisses I used half milk chocolate, half dark chocolate kisses
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
granulated sugar


1. Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.

2. Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.

3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.

4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Mine needed about 11 minutes

About 4 dozen cookies. I only ended up with about 37-38 cookies

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

There's Nothing Like Homemade

One of the things you will always find in my freezer is pierogis - they are inexpensive, easy, quick and just plain good. I don't think I have ever had the authentic homemade kind before, and a few weeks ago, I saw an episode of Diners, Drive-In's and Dives on the Food Network which featured homemade pierogis. They looked amazing!

The I remebered I saw a recipe for Homemade Pittsburgh Pierogis on a blog that I love, Brown Eyed Baker. As the name suggests, she's a great baker, so I was a little intimidated by the I'm pretty new to making dough. But I followed the recipe almost exactly (I only made slight changes to the filling), and they were so good. This is definately one of the more time-consuming and advanced things I have made, but so worth it.

I served them alongside grilled turkey Reuben sandwiches, with sauteed onions and sour cream. I froze the remaining pierogi on a baking sheet (to keep from sticking to each other), and stored them in freezer bags. I look forward to making them again and experimenting with different fillings.

Homemade Pittsburgh Pierogies
Brown Eyed Baker, adapted from Columbus Foodie

Yield: About 2 dozen large pierogi


2 cups flour, plus extra for kneading and rolling dough
½ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup butter, softened and cut into small pieces
Butter and onions for sauteing

Ingredients for filling of your choice (Potato & Cheese filling recipe below)

Pierogi Dough

To prepare the pierogi dough, mix together the flour and salt. Beat the egg, then add all at once to the flour mixture. Add the ½ cup sour cream and the softened butter pieces and work until the dough loses most of its stickiness (about 5-7 minutes).

You can use a food processor with a dough hook for this, but be careful not to overbeat. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes or overnight; the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Prepare the Pierogies:

Roll the pierogi dough on a floured board or counter top until 1/16″ thick. Cut circles of dough (2″ for small pierogies and 3-3½″ for large pierogies) with a cookie cutter or drinking glass. Place a small ball of filling (about a tablespoon) on each dough round and fold the dough over, forming a semi-circle. Press the edges together with the tines of a fork.

Boil the pierogies a few at a time in a large pot of water. They are done when they float to the top (about 8-10 minutes). Rinse in cool water and let dry.

Saute sliced onions in butter in a large pan until onions are soft. Then add pierogies and pan fry until lightly crispy.

Potato, Cheese & Onion Filling

1 lb red potatoes I used Russet potatoes
¼ of a large onion, finely chopped
2 oz. cheddar cheese, finely grated I used about 4 oz sharp cheddar cheese
Salt & pepper
I sauteed 2 cloves minced garlic with the onions and butter
I added 1.5 tsp dried parsley
I added 2 tsp of half & half

Peel and boil potatoes until soft. While the potatoes are boiling, saute onion in butter until soft and translucent. Mash the potatoes with the sauteed onions and grated cheddar cheese, adding salt and pepper to taste. You can also add some fresh parsley, bacon bits, or other enhancements if you desire. Let the potato mixture cool and then form into 1″ balls.

Homemade Pierogi Tips:

If you are having a hard time getting the edges to stick together, you may have too much flour in the dough. Add a little water to help get a good seal.

If you don’t want to cook all of the pierogies right away, you can refrigerate them (uncooked) for several days or freeze them for up to several months.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I've Conquered Cookies!

I haven't been cooking all that long, and I've been baking even less. The other couple of times I have tried to make cookies, they never worked out. In the past year, I have finally managed to make cheesecake, bread & dough and some other goodies; but it was frustrating to be able to make more difficult things, and not the simple ones. I thought I'd give cookie making another shot, after all, tis the season. What's more Christmas-y than gingerbread men?

These cookies were easy to make, although the first batch was a little dark, since I forgot to account that my oven sometimes cooks faster, mine only needed about 10 1/2 minutes to bake. And much to my surprise, they are husband-friendly - Jamie rolled out the dough, made the cutouts, and even helped decorate.

Gingerbread Men
Vintage Victuals

3/4 c butter, softened
3/4 c light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 c molasses
3 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp each salt, allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon

Cream together butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs and molasses and beat until incorporated. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients. With mixer on low, gradually add dry ingredients to molasses mixture until dough forms. Shape into 2 thick disks and chill overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough out on lightly floured board to 1/4" thickness and cut into desired shapes. Decorate with raisins and red hots for buttons, eyes, noses, etc. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 12-15 minutes. Cool on racks, decorate with icing if desired, and enjoy!

Tips: Don't roll dough less than 1/4" thick; take out of oven just when they begin to brown; decorate when cookies are completely cooled.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Manly, But Pretty Meal

I was looking for something a little different for dinner, I had some peppers to use up, and I've had this starred in my Google Reader for a while now. We loved this dish - it was easy, full of flavor, and tasted great the next day. But anything with mashed potatoes, beer & sausage is good in Jamie's book!

I made a couple of changes, mainly that I added more beer (yeah!!!) to make more sauce...I'll definitely be making this again, I'll probably try substituting with chicken or turkey sausage.

Ale-Braised Sausage and Peppers
Good Things Catered, adapted from Williams Sonoma


2 Tbsp olive oil
2 lb. cooked sausages, such as kielbasa, sliced
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and sliced I used 1-2 yellow & green peppers
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour, divided1
1/2 c. ale I used 1 bottle of Budweiser's American Ale
1 1/2 c. low sodium chicken stock
3 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped I used 2-3 tsp of dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped I used 1 tsp of dried parsley which I added when adding the thyme
Mashed potatoes for serving


In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the sausages and cook, stirring and turning often, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add the onion and bell pepper to the pot, reduce the heat to medium, and sauté until tender and golden, about 5 minutes. Add 2 Tbsp flour and cook, stirring, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the ale until the mixture is smooth and bubbly. Add the thyme and broth, whisking to blend, and bring to a simmer.

Return the sausages to the pot. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the flavors are blended, about 15 minutes. Uncover and simmer until the sauce is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove the sausage, peppers, and onions and place on a serving platter. With the Dutch oven over medium high heat, whisk in 1 heaping Tbsp of flour, whisking constantly until thickened, about 1-2 minutes.

Pour thickened sauce over sausages and serve immediately with mashed potatoes.

Serves 4 to 6.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

One Of My Favorite Appetizers - At Home

I couldn't even begin to count how many times I have ordered mozzarella sticks at a restaurant, only recently have I begun to wonder if I could do it at home. Well, the answer is - sort of.

I don't deep fry very often, nor do I have a proper thermometer, so that may have been the cause of some of the problems I experienced with this recipe. A few of my mozzarella sticks either burned/cooked too quickly because the oil was too hot, or cooked too slowly and the cheese melted out because the oil wasn't hot enough. I finally got it right and most of them were delicious, but were a lot of work....maybe I'll just keep ordering them at restaurants ;)

Mozzarella Sticks
Giada De Laurentiis/Food Network

Prep Time: 30 min Inactive Prep Time: 2 hr 0 min
Cook Time: 10 min Level: Intermediate
Serves: 6 to 8 servings (makes about 56 pieces) I cut the recipe in half

1 1/2 cups Italian-style dried breadcrumbs
1 1/3 cups freshly grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon salt
2 (16-ounce) blocks pasteurized mozzarella cut into 4 by 1/2-inch sticks
4 large eggs, beaten to blend
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 cups Marinara Sauce, recipe follows You can find this recipe in the link above, I used my own pizza sauce recipe below

Stir the bread crumbs, 1 cup of Parmesan and 1 teaspoon of salt in a medium bowl to blend. Dip the cheese in the eggs to coat completely and allow the excess egg to drip back into the bowl.

Coat the cheese in the bread crumb mixture, patting to adhere and coat completely. Place the cheese sticks on a baking sheet. Repeat dipping the cheese sticks in the egg and bread crumb mixture to coat a second time. Cover and freeze until frozen, about 2 hours and up to 2 days.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Working in batches, fry the cheese until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Transfer the fried cheese to plates. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and serve with the Marinara Sauce.

Pizza Sauce

8 oz tomato sauce
3 oz tomato paste
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp oregano
pinch of sugar
pinch of salt & pepper

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, and let flavors blend before using. I heated the sauce up right before using.

I Love Ragu (Not From the Jar)

I was on my own for a few days, and found myself with a pasta craving (yeah...again) and some time to devote to the sauce, so I found this recipe for Bolognese on Cooking Light. It was wonderful, the meat takes center stage in this style of pasta, where normally the tomatoes/sauce is more prominent. I loved this sauce, and after eating it for dinner two nights in a row, and lunch one day, I reserved the rest and stored it in the freezer for another day when the pasta cravings return.

Ragu Alla Bolognese with Fettuccine
Cooking Light

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
5 ounces ground veal For the meat, I used 1lb ground turkey, 1/4 lb ground sirloin
5 ounces ground pork
5 ounces ground round
1 cup dry white wine I didn't have any, so I used 1 1/4 cup red wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 bay leaf
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can tomato puree I used about 20 oz
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley I used 1 tbsp dried parsley and 2 tsp dried basil
2 (9-ounce) packages fresh fettuccine, cooked and drained I used dried linguine
2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
Parsley sprigs (optional)


Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and carrot; cover and cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove onion mixture from pan.

Add veal, pork, and beef to pan; cook over medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Add wine, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes. Add the onion mixture, broth, and tomato puree; bring to a simmer. Cook 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Stir in milk and minced parsley; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 40 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Add pasta, and toss to coat. Sprinkle evenly with cheese. Garnish with parsley sprigs, if desired.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Move Over Breadcrumbs - Bring On the Tortilla Chips

One of Jamie's favorite meals is a Buffalo Chicken Sandwich...but it's not exactly one of my favorites, and I'll usually end up making two different types of sandwiches to satisfy both of us. But when I saw this recipe in my latest issue of Cooking Light magazine, I thought it would be perfect. We both loved it - it had enough flavor and spice from the Frank's sauce, but it wasn't completely covered in a sauce, which I sometimes find overpowering. I loved the texture of the tortilla chip crust, it definately added more crunch and flavor than breadcrumbs. And the cilantro-lime mayo added an extra zing and coolness that you get from blue cheese dressing on traditional Buffalo-style sandwiches. I served this with cumin-lime seasoned baked potato wedges & corn drizzled with lime juice.

Spicy Chicken Sandwiches with Cilantro-Lime Mayo
Cooking Light

Yield 4 servings (serving size: 1 sandwich)

1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro I used 1/2-1 tbsp dried
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup egg substitute
3 tablespoons hot sauce (such as Tabasco) I added 4 tbsp of Frank's Red Hot
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
4 1/2 ounces baked tortilla chips (about 6 cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil
I added 1/4 tsp each of cayenne and black pepper

Remaining ingredients:
4 (2-ounce) Kaiser rolls, split I just had regular hamburger buns
12 (1/8-inch-thick) red onion slices
4 lettuce leaves

1. To prepare mayo, combine the first 4 ingredients.

2. To prepare chicken, combine egg substitute, hot sauce, oregano, and salt in a large zip-top plastic bag. Cut chicken breast halves in half horizontally to form 4 cutlets. Add chicken to bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator 2 hours or up to 8 hours, turning bag occasionally. I marinated it for 4 hours.

3. Place tortilla chips in a food processor; process 1 minute or until ground. Place ground chips in a shallow dish.

4. Working with one cutlet at a time, remove chicken from marinade, allowing excess to drip off. Coat chicken completely in chips. Set aside. Repeat procedure with remaining chicken and chips.

5. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil to pan, swirling to coat. Add chicken to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned and done. Spread mayo evenly over cut sides of rolls. Layer bottom half of each roll with 3 onion slices, 1 lettuce leaf, and 1 chicken cutlet; top with top halves of rolls. my chicken was a little thick, so I needed more time to cook through.

Oven Fried Cumin-Lime Potato Wedges

4 large russet potatoes, washed, unpeeled, cut into thick wedges
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp lime juice
1/4 tsp Mexican chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin
lime zest

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss all the ingredients except for the lime zest in a large bowl.

Bake wedges on a non-stick baking sheet for 30 minutes, turn wedges, bake for an additional 15 minutes. If they are not crispy enough, turn the heat up higher for a few minutes. Sprinkle with some lime zest as soon as they come out of the oven.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Menu - Week of November 30th

Sunday - Thanksgiving Leftovers - Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Hot Turkey Sandwiches

Monday - Homemade Pepperoni & Onion Pizza & Salad

Tuesday - Spicy Chicken Sandwiches with Cilantro Lime Mayo, Oven Fries & Steamed Green Beans with Lime Zest

Wednesday - Homemade Mushroom & Turkey Meatball Sauce with Penne & Salad

Thursday - Turkey Bacon BLT Sandwiches & Tomato Soup

Friday - Chicken Enchiladas

Saturday - Leftovers

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving Feast

I've been bad for slacking on updating my blog's been kind of busy, but I have been cooking! So it's fitting that my first entry in a while is our Thanksgiving dinner.

So here's the menu:

Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake
Apple -Cider Brined Turkey with Herb Gravy
Whiskey Glazed Carrots
Corn Bread Dressing
Cranberry Sauce with Apple Cider
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Thyme Roasted Sweet Potatoes

I wish I had taken more/better pictures, but after an afternoon of cooking, I was tired and hungry and just wanted to dig into all the food. I chose an apple theme for some of the dishes, and the cider added so much great flavor.

I was supposed to make green beans with caramelized shallots, but I forgot...oh well! Regardless, all of the dishes worked well with one another, and the house smelled delicious!!!

** This is the first cheesecake that I've ever made that turned out perfectly baked, and although I didn't achieve the marbled effect very well, it was wonderful.

Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake

Prep Time: 30 Minutes Cook Time: 1 Hour 10 Minutes
Ready In: 7 Hours 40 Minutes Yields: 12 servings

1 1/2 cups crushed gingersnap
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 (8 ounce) packages cream
cheese, softened
3/4 cup white sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a medium bowl, mix together the crushed gingersnap cookies, pecans, and butter. Press into the bottom, and about 1 inch up the sides of a 9 inch springform pan. Bake crust 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Set aside to cool.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, and vanilla just until smooth. Mix in eggs one at a time, blending well after each. Set aside 1 cup of the mixture. Blend 1/4 cup sugar, pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg into the remaining mixture.

3. Spread the pumpkin flavored batter into the crust, and drop the plain batter by spoonfuls onto the top. Swirl with a knife to create a marbled effect.

4. Bake 55 minutes in the preheated oven, or until filling is set. Run a knife around the edge of the pan. Allow to cool before removing pan rim. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving.

**This is the first time I have brined a turkey - and it won't be the last, it made the meat so moist! I roasted the turkey at 500 for 15 minutes, and then reduced the heat, but I should have put a foil tent on the bird or started roasting at a lower temperature from the beginning to prevent from getting too brown too quickly, but the breast meat was cooked perfectly.

Apple-Cider Brined Turkey with Savory Herb Gravy
Cooking Light

8 cups apple cider
2/3 cup kosher salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
1 tablespoon whole allspice, coarsely crushed
8 (1/8-inch-thick) slices peeled fresh ginger
6 whole cloves I omitted
2 bay leaves
1 (12-pound) fresh or frozen turkey, thawed
2 oranges, quartered
6 cups ice

Remaining ingredients:
4 garlic cloves
4 sage leaves
4 thyme sprigs
4 parsley sprigs
1 onion, quartered
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

Savory Herb Gravy - I did not use the recipe on the site, I strained the pan drippings, added some chicken broth and fresh sprigs of sage, freshly chopped parsley, 1/2 tsp black pepper and brought to a boil. In a bowl, I dissolved some cornstarch in water and whisked into the broth and cooked till thickened. Strain the gravy and remove the sage before serving.

To prepare brine, combine first 8 ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes or until sugar and salt dissolve. Cool completely.

Remove giblets and neck from turkey; reserve for Savory Herb Gravy. Rinse turkey with cold water; pat dry. Trim excess fat. Stuff body cavity with orange quarters. Place a turkey-sized oven bag inside a second bag to form a double thickness. Place bags in a large stockpot. Place turkey inside inner bag. Add cider mixture and ice. Secure bags with several twist ties. Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours, turning occasionally.

Preheat oven to 500º.

Remove turkey from bags, and discard brine, orange quarters, and bags. Rinse turkey with cold water; pat dry. Lift wing tips up and over back; tuck under turkey. Tie legs together with kitchen string. Place garlic, sage, thyme, parsley, onion, and broth in the bottom of a roasting pan. Place roasting rack in pan. Arrange turkey, breast side down, on roasting rack. Brush turkey back with 1 tablespoon butter; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake at 500º for 30 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350º.

Remove turkey from oven. Carefully turn turkey over (breast side up) using tongs. Brush turkey breast with 1 tablespoon butter; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake at 350º for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into meaty part of thigh registers 170º (make sure not to touch bone). (Shield the turkey with foil if it browns too quickly.)

Remove turkey from oven; let stand 20 minutes. Reserve pan drippings for Savory Herb Gravy. Discard skin before serving; serve with gravy.

**This is the first holiday dinner in Tennessee, so I thought this dish would be perfect was to add a little local flavor.

Whiskey-Glazed Carrots
The Pioneer Woman

2 - 3 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into thick circles
1 stick (1/2 cup…1/4 lb) butter
1/2 cup Jack Daniels or other whiskey
3/4 to 1 cup brown sugar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper

Melt 1 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over high heat. Add carrots in two batches, cooking for 60 to 90 seconds each batch. Remove from skillet.

Pour in whiskey and allow to evaporate 30 seconds. Reduce heat to medium, and add remaining butter. When butter melts, sprinkle brown sugar over the top. Stir together, then add carrots to skillet.

Cover, and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Remove lid and add salt and pepper. Continue cooking until carrots are done and glaze is thick, about 5 more minutes. Pour onto a platter and serve immediately. Sprinkle with chopped chives if desired.

Corn Bread Dressing
from a friend

**I cut the recipe in half

6 cups 1-inch cubes white bread, crusts removed (from 1 loaf Italian or country-style bread)
6 cups crumbled day-old corn bread (from 8-inch pan)
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, plus additional for garnish
4 celery stalks, chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced (about 4 cups)
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground mace (optional) I omitted
3 eggs, beaten

Heat oven to 350° F. Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes; let cool.

In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes, corn bread, and enough broth (at least 2 cups) to make a fairly mushy mixture. Season with the salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the parsley, celery, onion, and garlic. Cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the onion mixture to the bread mixture, along with the apples, nutmeg, and mace (if using); let cool.
Add the eggs and gently combine. Spread the dressing in an unbuttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Bake until golden brown and warmed through, about 1 hour. If you want a crispy topping, leave uncovered; otherwise cover with foil halfway through cooking. Sprinkle with additional parsley before serving, if desired.

I forgot to take a picture of the cranberry sauce or mashed potatoes separately, so here they are on the dinner plate.

Cranberry Sauce with Apple Cider
Cooking Light

1 cup sugar
1 cup apple cider or apple juice
1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes or until cranberries pop, stirring occasionally. Chill.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

1 head of garlic
2.5-3 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch piece
1/4 freshly chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup half & half
2 tbsp butter

Heat oven to 350, slice the top of the garlic head, drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper. Wrap in foil and bake for 45 minutes. When cooled, squeeze garlic out of the skins and mash with a fork, set aside.

Boil potatoes and cook till tender for about 15 minutes. Drain and add to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, heat butter and half and half in a small saucepan over low heat, but don't let it boil. Add mixture to potatoes, along with salt, pepper, roasted garlic paste and parsley and beat with a mixer till smooth and creamy.

Thyme Roasted Sweet Potatoes

**I made the sweet potatoes again to eat with leftovers - the first time for the dinner I baked them at 35 for an hour in the middle rack, resulting in softer potatoes as in the picture in with all the food. The next time I made them, I used the recipe below. Both were wonderful!

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking dish with extra virgin olive oil cooking spray. Add potatoes.

In a small bowl, mix together garlic powder, thyme, salt and pepper and pour onto potatoes and toss to coat.

Bake on the middle rack for about 50 minutes, carefully turning a couple of times to cook thoroughly.

Remove potatoes from oven, increase heat to 450-500 degrees, put the rack in the top part of the oven and return potatoes to bake for another 5-10 minutes until the crisp.