Monday, September 26, 2011

Zucchini Salad

I told Scott I was making zucchini as part of dinner and he gave me this look. Then told me he doesn't like zucchini unless its cooked. Then I brought this out with the fish. And he was thoroughly impressed! It was such a refreshing salad! I totally would double or triple the recipe to take to a pot luck. It was different but delicious! I'd give it 4/5 overall!

Shredded Zucchini
Final Product!

Zucchini Salad adapted from Rachael Ray Magazine
Serves 4
Total Time: 10 Minutes
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 cups baby arugula
Shred the zucchini in the large holes of a grater. Roll up in a kitchen towel, squeeze out an excess liquid, and return to a bowl. Stir in tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, garlic, cayenne pepper and salt and pepper to taste. Just before serving, mix with arugula.

Parsley and Lemon Cod

I like fish. Scott thinks fish can get bland. I like the texture and how you can do so many different flavors with it. This, unfotrunatly was one of those recipes that was a little bit bland. It's mostly lemon flavoring, which definitely isn't for everyone. If for some reason I have fish on hand (I usually don't buy that in advance) and I don't ahve anything planned for dinner, I'd come to this recipe again. But it would definitely need some work. Overall 2/5. It was edible, but definitely not worth noting.
Sizzlin' Fish

Final Product!
Parsley & Lemon Cod adapted from Rachael Ray Magazine
Serves 4
Total Time: 30 Minutes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cod fillets
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season cod fillets with salt and pepper. Place into heated pan. Cook until browned, turning once, about 8 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine parsley, garlic, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over fish.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Philly Beef Sandwiches

When I saw this recipe, I just knew I had to make it. Scott (and I for that matter) absolutely LOVE Philly sandwiches--with the exception of green peppers. Beef is good. Cheese is good. Onions and mushrooms are good. Put all of them together and you get yummy deliciousness!

To make this, you take the leftovers from the herbed beef roast, or you could just use some really good beef. I simmered the beef in a little bit of butter and wine to keep it moist. I also added wine tot he mushroom and onion mixture as I just love cooking with wine! It always seems to add just a little more flavor to it! It is obviously not necessary to the recipe if you don't have it on hand.

We served this with french fries and a salad and it made the perfect weeknight meal! 4/5 with ease...maybe just a tiny bit of tweaking to make it a 5!

Philly Beef Sandwiches

Philly Beef Sandwiches-adapted from Betty Crocker's Slow Cooker Recipes Booklet
Serves 6
Total Time: 20 Minutes

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup of wine (optional)
  • 6 kaiser rolls, split
  • 3 cups leftover Herbed Beef Roast or any form of beef
  • 6 slices provolone cheese
Preheat oven to broil. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and 1/4 cup of wine in a large skillet; bring to a boil. Add the beef and simmer until ready to make the sandwiches.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a 10 inch skillet along with 1/4 cup of wine over medium high heat. Cook onion and mushrooms in butter mixture about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender.

Place bottom halves of rolls on ungreased cookie sheet. Top with vegetable mixture, beef and cheese. Broil 4 to 6 inches from heat 2 to 4 minutes or just until cheese is melted. Top with tops of rolls.

Chicken Salad

I've never made chicken salad before. I honestly don't know if I've ever even had it. It always looks pretty good though. So I came across a recipe in the Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook (which is one of the best beginner cookbooks out there-fyi!) and decided to try it! I'm a sucker for not reading recipes the whole way through before I go to cook them so I couldn't chill this like I was supposed to for the first time we ate it. I'll definitely do that next time but it still turned out great! I just poached some chicken to use, but you could use the rotisserie chicken or leftovers or whatever you choose! Overall, we'd give this a 4/5!

Chicken Salad over Arugula Greens
Chicken Salad-Adapted from Better Home's and Garden's New Cookbook
Serves 4
Total Time 1 1/2 hours
  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery (1 stalk)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion (2)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
  • 1 teaspoon fresh basil or 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Bread or mixed salad greens (optional)
In a medium bowl combine chicken, celery and green onion. For dressing, in a small bowl stir together mayonnaise  basil, salt and pepper. Pour dressing over chicken mixture; toss to coat. Cover and chill for 1 to 4 hours. Serve as a sandwich filling on bread slices or over salad greens.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Meatballs with Couscous and Feta

Scott and I have learned to love Greek inspired food. It's relatively healthy and with great flavors! These meatballs had an interesting flavor to them, and I honestly think I would try it again. The overall dish, was not quite as stellar. The lemon vinaigrette was almost overwhelming to the point of not being enjoyable anymore. Overall we'd give it a 2.5/5 for effort!

My lovely creations before going in the oven! 
The final product!

Meatballs with Couscous and Feta-adapted from
Serves 4
Total Time: 25 Minutes
  • 1 pound ground lamb or ground beef
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 small red onion, half finely chopped, and half thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 plum tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/2 english cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
  • 4 ounce Feta cheese, crumbled
Heat broiler. In a medium bowl, combine beef, apricots, coriander, chopped red onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. 

Form the meat into 1 1/2 inch balls and place on broil proof baking sheet. Broil until cooked through, 6-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the couscous in a bowl. Add one cup hot water, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

In a small bowl, mix together oil, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Serve the meatballs with couscous, tomatoes, cucumber, onions, and feta. Sprinkle with dressing.

Little Smokies

I love love love football season! Friends, beer and food (three of my favorite things) all seem to come together! For this last Sunday, we went to our neighbors for a little football party. For some reason, Scott was all hooked on making little smokies. I knew I wanted to do something a little more than just barbeque sauce, so I searched and found this recipe! We'd give it a 4/5. We doubled the recipe to fit in our 5 quart slow cooker. One hint of advice-mix all the ingredients in a large bowl before transferring to the slow cooker. That just makes it so much easier!

The wienies before going into the crock pot!
Little Smokies-adapted from
Serves 16
Total Time: 2 hours
  • 1 (18 ounce) bottle barbecue sauce
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 2 (16 ounce) packages little wieners
Mix all ingredients together and put into a slow cooker. Cook on low for 2 hours. Serve with toothpicks.

Herbed Beef Roast

I love pot roast. I was spoiled as a kid and once or twice a month we would have a roast at my Gramma's house. She would make it in an oven bag and it was always delicious. And she made homemade gravy. Yum! I haven't learned how to make her roast, but I have started making them in the slow cooker. This was the second time I made pot roast, and I have to say I was equally impressed with the ease. I keep falling further and further in love with my slow cookers. Pretty soon, I'll end up using it every week (which wouldn't be a bad thing).

I found this recipe in a 2001 recipe booklet by Betty Crocker. It is on of those books with recipe cards you find at the checkout counter of the grocery store. This was one of the first hand-me-downs my mom gave me and it has given me a lot of awesome ideas! I couldn't find the recipe online, so I can't tag it appropriately, but know that I tried! Overall I'd give this a 3/5. It was a little bit dry, and Scott didn't enjoy the vinegar taste (if you aren't a vinegar fan, this probably isn't for you. It was almost too much for me). But once again, it was easy and very little prep work.

Herbed Beef Roast-adapted from Betty Crocker Slow Cooker Recipes Booklet
Serves 6
Total Time: 8 hours

  • 3 pound beef boneless tip roast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon mixed dried herbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
Spray a large skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Cook beef in skillet about 5 minutes until brown on all sides. Sprinkle with salt, herbs, and pepper.

Place garlic in 4-5 quart slow cooker. Place beef on garlic. Pour vinegar over beef.

Cover and cook on low heat setting 6 to 8 hours or until beef is tender.

Prune Cake

I know the name may sound scary, but it really is not as bad as it sounds. Trust me. It's more like spice cake than anything. I was a little hesitant to try it, but thought that the Pioneer Woman had never done me wrong, so why start doubting her now!

Scott didn't like the dessert, but everyone else that tried it really seemed to like it! Overall I'd probably give it a 3/5, because its definitely not for everyone, but something everyone should try!

Prune Cake-adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes of an Accidental Country Girl by Ree Drummond
Makes one 9x13 inch cake
Total Time: 50 minutes

  • 1 cup prunes
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk (if you don't have any, add 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar to just under 1 cup low-fat milk and stir together)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (see above)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and butter a 9x13 inch baking pan. Place the prunes in a small saucepan and cover them with water. Bring to a low boil and cook until soft and mashable, about 8 minutes. Drain the water and mash the prunes on a plate.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice. 

In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and splash in the buttermilk. Stir until just combined, the mixture will be slightly lumpy.

Add the mashed prunes to the mixture. Pour the mixture into the buttered baking pan and bake at 300 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.

When the cake has about 10 minutes left to bake, make the icing. Combine the sugar, buttermilk, butter, baking soda, corn syrup and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Stir to combine. Bring to a slow boil over medium-high heat; no need to stir. Continue boiling until the icing turns a light caramel color, 5-7 minutes. Important: The icing should be the color of caramel, but not yet firm and sticky. It needs to be pourable.

Pull the cake out of the oven and while the cake is still warm, pour the icing evenly over the top. Spread to coat evenly. Serve immediately, or let it cool. It will taste good either way.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pie Dough

I made this pie dough to go with the rhubarb pie! It turned out great!

Pie Crust-adapted from Glorious American Food by Christopher Idone's

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter chilled and cut into bits
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons ice water
Combine the flour, salt and butter in a mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer at low speed or your fingers, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine cornmeal. One tablespoon at a time, gradually mix in the ice water until the pastry can be shaped into a ball. If using a mixer, the dough will pull away from the sides of the bowl and adhere to the batter. Wrap the dough in waxed paper or plastic and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes before using.

To Preheat Crust
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough 1/4 inch thick. Place the dough in a pie pan, fitting it evenly over the bottom of the pan and pressing gently against the inside edges. Crimp the edges or trim away excess pie dough with a sharp paring knife. Place into oven and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to a rack to cool.

Rhubarb Pie

I have always heard wonderful things about rhubarb pie. I can't remember ever trying it. I know I had never baked with it because it took me for-freaking-ever to find it in the grocery store. But in the end, I loved it! It was kind of a pain to chop it all up, but it still was awesome! The meringue didn't set quite as well as I wanted it to, but it definitely tasted good! I made my own pie crust, because I still just don't think it is that difficult. I get if you want to buy it pre-made, but just promise me you will try the crust just once! Overall this was a 5/5!

Baked Pie Crust & the Rhubarb Mixture! 
The final product!

Rhubarb Pie-adapted from Glorious American Food by Christopher Idone's
Serves 6
Total Time: 45 Minutes
  • Pie Crust (pre-made or make your own!)
  • 1 1/2 pounds young, pink rhubarb stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons quick cooking tapioca
  • 2 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash the rhubarb pieces and drain. In a nonaluminium saucepan, combine the rhubarb with the sugar and tapioca. Cover and simmer over moderately low heat until the rhubarb is tender, about 12 minutes. Turn the mixture into a bowl to cool to room temperature.

When cooled, spread the rhubarb filling evenly in the pie shell.

Prepare the meringue: With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add the sugar, and beat until the whites are stiff and glossy. Place the meringue into a pastry bag and pipe the meringue in lattice fashion over the rhubarb mixture.

Bake the pie for 10 minutes or until the meringue is golden. Serve at room temperature.

Macaroni and Cheese

I love love love Mac & cheese! Ever since I got Real Simple's Meals Made Easy Cookbook, I wanted to try this recipe and I finally got around to it! It was absolutely phenomenal! The only thing we would change, is to add more of the stuffing mix to the top to make it a little more crunchy! Otherwise this is a 4/5! The other nice thing is that this is a freezer recipe, so there are directions on how to freeze it if you prefer to have ready to go meals or make some for friends!

Macaroni and Cheese-adapted from Meals Made Easy by Real Simple

  • 1 pound dry elbow macaroni
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 3 1/2 cups (14 ounces) grated sharp cheddar
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups dry stuffing mix
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cook the macaroni according tot he package directions. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Slowly add the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add the milk in a steady stream. Cook for 7 minutes. Add the cheddar and 2 teaspoons of the salt. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the drained macaroni and toss. Transfer to a buttered casserole or individual ovenproof bowls. Combine the stuffing mix, parsley, oil, pepper, and the remaining salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the casserole. Bake until golden and bubbling around the edges, about 25 minutes.

To Freeze....
Make the stuffing mixture and place it in a resealable freezer bag. Assemble-but do not bake-the casserole. Tightly cover with two layers of foil. Store both for up to 3 months.

To Reheat....
Thaw the casserole overnight in the refrigerator or thaw partially in the microwave. Sprinkle the stuffing mixture over it. Cover and heat in 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. Uncover and heat until bubbling, about 20 minutes more.

Mango Loaf Cake

I was glad I came across this recipe while mangoes were so in season. However, in the end, the recipe didn't quite turn out. I didn't like the consistency or the taste too much. The pudding made the cake soggy. I actually threw most of it out. Don't think I'll ever really try it again. But if anyone else has better luck & wants to try it, let me know!

Mango Loaf Cake
Mango Loaf Cake-adapted from Taste of Home
  • 1 1/4 cups cold half and half
  • 1 package (1 ounce) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 medium mango, peeled and diced
  • 1 loaf angel food cake
  • 1 medium kiwi, peeled and sliced
In a large bowl, whisk half and half and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set. Fold in mango.

Cut cake horizontally into three layers; spread pudding mixture between layers and over top of cake. Top with kiwi. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

Baked Potato Soup

I was super excited to try this recipe. You can imagine my disappointment when this didn't turn out right. The flavors were awesome, but the consistency was not. The cream cheese just did not melt right, and we kept it on a LOT longer that stated in the recipe. I still might try it again, but we'll see. For now, we rated it a 2.5/5.

Baked Potato Soup-adapted from More Make it Fast Cook it Slow by Stephanie O'Dea
  • 5 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced in 1-2 inch chunks
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese
  • crumbled bacon, green onion or chives as garnish (optional)
Use a 6-quart slow cooker. Put the potatoes into your stoneware, and add the onion and garlic. Sprinkle in the seasonings and pour in the chicken broth. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for 4. The potatoes should be fork tender. You can use a potato masher or a handheld stick blender to mash the potatoes into the soup. You want to get rid of all large chunks of potato to make a smooth soup.

After smashing the potatoes, squeeze in both packages of cream cheese and replace the lid of the cooker. Cook on high for about 30 minutes or until the cream cheese is completely dissolved. Stir a few times during this 30 minutes. Garnished with crumbled bacon, green onion or chives.

Ranch "Fried" Chicken

Earlier this week, Scott and I couldn't decide what to do for dinner. I've been super busy with stuff for work, so we really haven't been keeping up on our cooking like we like to. It's been more of a make pasta or go out to eat kind of last couple of weeks. Our birthdays were both in there too. And the start of football season! We just haven't seemed to be able to make the time at the beginning of September!

So, in came this recipe. Thanks to the wonderful world of the Tasty Kitchen, I came across this recipe while trying to find something to eat with very few ingredients in our apartment. It was so incredibly easy, and I love that it is baked instead of fried! The ranch gives it such flavor that you don't get in other recipes that use just milk or eggs. I was out of cornmeal, but searched online and found a great substitute-crushed tortilla chips! It turned out great! We gave this a 5/5 and will definitely add it to our list of regular meals!

Ranch "Fried" Chicken adapted from But Mama, I'm Hungry!
Serves 6
Total Time: 40 Minutes

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup ranch dressing
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal (or crushed tortilla chips)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

On a large plate, mix together breadcrumbs, cornmeal, parmesan cheese, cajun seasoning, and garlic salt. Pour ranch into a bowl then dip each chicken piece into ranch and then covered liberally with breadcrumb mixture. Transfer each piece of chicken onto foil covered baking sheet. Repeat until each piece is breaded.

Place baking sheet into oven and cook for 30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Asparagus, Asiago & Fontina Cheese, Mushroom & Whatever Else You Want Pizza

Pizza is absolutely one of my favorite foods. I've definitely branched out from the extra cheese, light on the sauce I used to order as a kid! Two of my favorite ingredients are probably mushrooms and black olives. I could probably add them to any dish an be just about happy!

I once again found this recipe on to use up some extra asparagus I had on hand. This in turn took me to the wonderful blog of Kris and Munchin with Munchkin. I added ingredients to the recipe, but used the cheeses called for in the recipe. I used refrigerated pizza dough because it was Sunday and I was being lazy.

I had never used Fontina cheese before. I looked at the packaging before I shredded it, and it definitely has the nutty flavor it speaks of. It gave a different taste to the pizza, but I definitely liked it! Again, you can put whatever ingredients you want on the pizza. We added mushrooms to ours. Normally I would also add black olives, but I didn't have any on hand this time.

Overall, we gave this a 4/5. Everyone else I was with was a little weirded out in the beginning that it didn't have sauce. In the end, everyone loved it! The flavors were a little different for pizza but definitely enjoyable!

Some of my lovely ingredients!
Asparagus, Asiago and Fontina Cheese & Mushroom Pizza-adapted from Munchin with Munchkin
Total Time: 30 Minutes
Serves 4-6 people

  • Premade pizza dough
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded fontina cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded asiago cheese
  • 1 cup fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • Any other ingredients you wish to have on your pizza
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Spread out pizza dough on a pizza stone (or a baking sheet will work just fine). In a small bowl, combine the olive oil and garlic. Brush oil mixture onto pizza dough. Sprinkle pizza with red pepper flakes and black pepper. Spread asparagus and mushrooms across the dough. Top with cheeses.

Put pizza into the over for about 7 minutes, or until the crust is cooked and the cheese is bubbly.


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