Monday, August 13, 2012

Kind of Fancy Grilled Cheese

It took a new pan and some amazing homemade bread to finally motivate me to post again.  I was looking around my favorite discount store, Gabriel Brothers, and happened upon a very reasonably priced coated cast iron griddle.  I am a fan of cast iron pans, even more so of ones that are coated because they cook like traditional cast iron, but don't need to be seasoned.  I have a pot that is like this and love it, so I figured it was worth the $20 I was about to shell out.  Well, it definitely turned out to be an excellent purchase.  I have been making grilled cheese like a mad woman!

The griddle is a great tool because of the lack of sides like a traditional frying pan, making it much easier to flip things, like pancakes or grilled cheese.  In addition to the pan, I also have come across some of the most fabulous bread.  At the local farmers market there is a woman who makes home made flavored breads that are quite amazing.  They remind me somewhat of the no-knead bread that has become popular.

This week I picked up a round loaf of sun dried tomato basil bread and have two new combos of grilled cheese that have been great.  First I put a layer of mayo on the outside of the slices, this is much easier than using butter.  This bread crisps nicely on the outside and the inside gets soft, but not too mushy.  Then I add the cheese.  Tonight it was white american, with ham and some fresh basil from the garden.  Last night, I had colby jack cheese with tomato and pesto.

Let me know if you have any favorite grilled cheese combos!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Slutty Brownies

A few weeks ago I stumbled up on the recipe for Slutty Brownies and with a name like that, I had to give them a try.  I am an Oreo lover, so the addition of whole Oreo's to brownie batter and cookie dough sounded like heaven!

I came across the recipe on the blog Whats Gaby Cooking and used that recipe exactly so will not be re-printing it here.  However I will include some helpful hints for when you decide to give it a try.

First, I just used the Tollhouse cookie dough recipe and just halved it so that I did not end up with a huge amount of extra dough.  I would also be sure that you use the correct size pan.  The recipe calls for a 9x9 pan and I did not have one so I went with my 8x8...not a good idea since I ended up having to bake it longer because the dough was thicker and would not cook in the middle.  It also got hard around the edges because of baking so long. 

I did like the combo of flavors, but these were a bit rich for me.  I definetly needed a large glass of milk to go with each brownie I ate!  In the end, a good treat to try, but probably not somthing that I would make again, unless it was requested by friends :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pasta Bake

One of the nice things about my pantry is that I almost always have pasta on hand.  So for me an easy and quick weeknight dinner is to cook up some pasta and then throw in whatever I happen to have on hand.  So here is a quick run down of some of the combinations that I use to add to a box of pasta.  The directions are pretty simple:

Cook pasta al dente
Add additions (be sure to cook veggies before adding to the pasta or they may not cook completely while baking)
Place in greased baking dish
Put shredded cheese over top
Bake 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees

Favorite Addition Combinations:

1. Jar of red sauce, half a bag of frozen spinach, mini turkey pepperoni, chopped eggplant (already cooked)
2. Can of diced tomatoes w/ juice and can tomato paste, Italian seasoning, cooked mushrooms, half a bag of frozen spinach and ricotta cheese layered in the middle of two layers of pasta with tomatoes
3. Jar of red sauce and block of cream cheese mixed together, fresh spinach, chopped chicken breast
4. Jar of alfredo sauce, parmesean cheese, asparagus (cooked), drained diced tomatoes
5. Parmesean cheese, butter, italian seasoning, asparagus (cooked)

My only warning is this...the more you add, the bigger it gets, so be careful or you may end up with more than you anticipated!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Mini Chocolate Cream Pies

So I had some leftover chocolate icing, mini tart shells and cool whip and not being one to waste leftovers a fabulous idea came to me...couldn't I just make tarts out of these and wouldn't they taste just like a chocolate cream pie??? Low and worked!  These tasted amazing... so good and easy in fact that I ate every last one!  Here is another easy semi-homemade actually more like mostly-store-bought-just-put-it-together recipe.

Mini Chocolate Cream Pies

1 pie crust
1 can chocolate frosting
1 tub whipped topping or whipped cream

Unroll pie crust and using a small biscuit cookie cutter, cut out rounds of dough.  You want to basically cover the bottom and barely the sides for the cups of a small muffin tin.  Press dough into the bottom of the muffin cups and prick with a fork a few times so they do not puff up.
Bake about 10-15 minutes and let cool.
Melt frosting in the microwave so that it is easy to stir.
Drop frosting by the 1/2 teaspoon full to fill the cooled tart shells.
Place a large dollop of whipped topping on the chocolate after it cools.

This recipe will probably make about 24 cups with extra frosting and cream.

These things are delicious and super easy to make... people will think you went to a lot of trouble to make those little pies...muahahaha!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Weeknight Chicken Dinner

Someone who reads my blog made a comment to me that I only make fancy stuff that she will probably never try and requested some regular dishes that she could make at home.

Here is the thing... I like the challenge of a complicated recipe and tasty combinations, but I don't make the fancy recipes all the time.  Do I make them? Yes. Do I eat them? Yes. Do I make them multiple times a month, most likely not, except maybe for the Cookies and Cream Popcorn!  Most of the recipes that I post here are good ones that I like and I use when baking, usually for special occasions or when I get bored, but they are not my basic nightly go-to things.

Most nights I make regular food, usually of the semi-homemade variety.  I enjoy cooking, baking especially, but most of the time I am tired from work, busy with coaching or just don't feel like taking a ton of time to make something fancy.  While I may not make an elaborate meal each night for dinner, like the cheese and crackers with some olives I found in the back of the fridge...those were okay to eat, right?  I do try and take the time to sit down minus the television/phone/or book I may be attached to, plate my food and sit at the dinner table to eat.  It is the ten or twenty minutes I take to wind down and just relax, often with a glass of wine in hand and a good meal on the table.

So here is my dinner from tonight.  Nothing fancy, in fact more of a semi-homemade dinner with a few extra touches.

Lemon Pepper Chicken with Garlic Green beans, Cornbread Stuffing and a Mustard Wine Sauce
(while the title is fancy, the prep is not...promise!)

Lemon Pepper Chicken with Mustard Wine Sauce

1 pre-marinated lemon pepper chicken breast
1/4 c. white wine (and a bit more for your glass)
1 tbs milk
1 tsp dejion mustard

The chicken was a pre-marinated, individually packaged chicken breast that I had previously taken from the freezer and thawed.
Slice the chicken breast in half so that you end up with two thin chicken breast pieces, this helps with the cooking time and helps avoid dry chicken.
Place chicken in a pan over medium heat with about a teaspoon of olive oil in the bottom.
Cook on one side until edges are no longer pink. About 10 minutes.
Turn chicken and then place lid on the pan and cook until center is no longer pink. About 10 minutes.
(I am not great at cooking chicken on the stove top and it ends up looking like it was attacked by an ax murderer because of all the times I cut to check the inside to see if it is done!)

Remove chicken from pan and allow to sit.  At this point you should have a great layer of brown chicken bits in the bottom of the pan, add the wine and deglaze the pan (scrape the brown stuff off the bottom after the wine is added so that the flavors join.
Next add the milk and mustard and stir to incorporate.  Turn the heat to low and let the sauce cook down until it is thickened.  Just be sure that you do not let it cook down so much that it sticks to the bottom of the pan.
Pour over chicken.

Corn Bread Stuffing

Start water boiling for a box of cornbread stuffing mix.  Yep, in a moment of hunger I picked up a box on sale at the grocery store!
Follow the directions on the box to prepare.

Garlic Green Beans

1 bag frozen french cut green beans
1 clove garlic
1-2 tbs butter
salt to taste

Boil or steam a bag of frozen french cut green beans until tender.
Remove from heat and drain beans before adding additional ingredients.
Add 1 clove of garlic finely minced or grated.
Add butter and salt.
Stir to incorporate butter and garlic.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Holiday Cookie Montage

It took some time for me to get this together, but here is a collage of the cookies that I made this year for the holidays.  Better late than never I guess!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chile con Queso Superbowl Dip

Get ready for your Superbowl party with this great homemade Queso dip.  This recipe was a part of a Christmas gift from my sister and she received the recipe from a friend.  It is a great replacement for the canned cheese that you tend to see at football parties.  Subtly spicy and with great cheese flavor, this warm dip is a great compliment to veggies or chips.

Chile con Queso
Adapted from a recipe from my sister
Makes approximately 3-4 cups of dip

2 cloves garlic diced or finely shredded
1 tbsp. chopped onion or dried chopped onion
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
1 cup milk
1 tbsp. dried cilantro or chopped fresh
1 can tomatoes with green chilies
4 cups shredded Mexican cheese mix or Colby jack mix (I used a bag of Mexican blend with the taco seasoning and a bag of the Colby jack.)
½ cup sour cream
*For extra heat add 3 diced jalapeno peppers while sautéing the onions and garlic.

·         Melt butter on medium heat in 2 quart sauce pan on stove
·         Add garlic and onion and sauté about 1-2 minutes, do not brown
·         Whisk in flour and mix for 30 seconds
·         Add the milk ½ a cup at a time whisking between additions
·         Cook on medium heat until just beings to boil, stirring constantly.
·         Add cilantro and canned tomatoes, stir
·         Turn heat to low
·         Slowly add cheese 1 cup at a time, mixing after each addition until melted.
·         Add sour cream, stir to incorporate and then remove from heat.
·         Place cheese dip in a small crock pot on low or in a fondue pot.  Serve warm with veggies, tortilla chips or bread for dipping. 
·         Also great on tacos or in enchiladas.