Sunday
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
artichoke dip, brown sugar balsamic ham, scalloped potatoes, green beans, honey rolls, raspberry cheesecake
rosemary sriracha chicken, skillet corn
spring salmon, salad
penne alla vecchia bettola
crab imperial, broccoli
French bread pizzas
pork Florentine, mom's rosemary roasted potatoes

Monday, March 29, 2010

Molten Chocolate Cakes

I first made these for a girls dinner party I hosted years ago (three houses ago!) and they were a huge hit. They are so easy to make, especially for a dinner party since you can prep them before hand and bake just before serving. They have always been spot on for me as far as cook times go. The delcious, warm, chocolatey center is so lovely with a rich vanilla ice cream. I cannot get enough of these cakes! If you are feeling especially lazy and hungry for molten chocolate cakes, semisweet chocolate chips can be subbed and the dishes can be sprayed with cooking spray. With those shortcuts, you can make these whenever you crave them!
Molten Chocolate Cakes
printable recipe

5 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 450°F. Butter six 3/4-cup soufflé dishes or custard cups. Stir chocolate and butter in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until melted. Cool slightly. Whisk eggs and egg yolks in large bowl to blend. Whisk in sugar, then chocolate mixture and flour. Pour batter into dishes, dividing equally. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.)

Bake cakes until sides are set but center remains soft and runny, about 11 minutes or up to 14 minutes for batter that was refrigerated. Run small knife around cakes to loosen. Immediately turn cakes out onto plates. Serve with ice cream.
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Friday, March 26, 2010

Ranch Chicken Salad

There are three things that I wouldn't eat when I moved to Texas: Guacamole, Queso and Ranch Dressing. I would probably be about 10 pounds lighter if I had never tried them, but hindsight is 20/20. The first time that I ever tried Ranch dressing was at my friend Jen's house. We were having a movie night and she served Bagel Bites with Ranch dressing that she had made with a seasoning package, mayonnaise and milk. How had I not tried it before? And I still enjoy dipping pizza in Ranch dressing, only made from the packet, the bottle stuff just doesn't work for me. I sure wish I could keep it a little classy and not, but it tastes too good. Trust me. C cleared his entire plate, he said it was because he was starving and not because it was delicious. A cleared plate is compliment enough for me.
Ranch Chicken Salad
printable recipe

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced
½ cup Ranch dressing
½ red bell pepper, sliced
1 small tomato, cut into wedges
1 package mixed salad romaine blend
1 firm, ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
3 slices bacon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x9 glass baking dish. Toss chicken breasts with ¼ cup Ranch dressing, season with salt and pepper in the dish. Bake chicken breasts for 25 to 30 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink inside.

Cut bacon into bite size pieces and fry over medium heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels.

In a large bowl, toss greens with ¼ cup ranch dressing, red bell pepper, tomato, avocado slices, bacon and top with the chicken slices.
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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tortilla Soup

I love tortilla soup, what is not to love? Chicken, cheese, avocado, crunchy tortilla strips? Heaven in a bowl. I had this soup for lunch leftover from the night before and it was even better when the flavors had time to come together even more. You can increase or decrease the spice level depending on how much jalapeno you choose to use. I might try something spicier next time a make it, like a serrano, to give it more heat since the jalapeno flavor is covered by the Rotel. This works great as a weeknight meal since it comes together so quickly. You can also add a dollop of sour cream or some chopped cilantro.
Tortilla Soup
printable recipe

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 teaspoons cumin, divided
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
6 (6-inch) corn tortillas, preferably a little old and dried out
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium jalapeno chile, four slices, finely chop the remaining
4 cups chicken broth
1 can Rotel diced tomatoes with chiles, undrained
½ teaspoon coarse salt
1 ripe medium avocado
½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 lime, cut into wedges

In a saucepan, cover chicken with water and add 2 teaspoons of cumin, garlic powder and onion powder. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove chicken from water and shred. Reserve.

Cut tortillas in half; cut halves into 1/4-inch strips. In a dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Fry strips in oil, 1/2 at a time, until light brown and crisp. Remove from pan; drain on paper towels. Reserve.

Spoon out all of the oil from the dutch oven, reserving one tablespoon. Heat oil remaining over medium-high heat. Cook onion in oil 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and the chopped chile; cook 30 seconds, stirring frequently, until vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir in broth, tomatoes, cumin and salt. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 15 minutes. Add chicken; heat until hot.

To serve, peel and pit the avocado. Cut into 1-inch slices. Divide half of tortilla strips among 4 individual serving bowls; ladle in soup. Top with avocado and cheese; garnish with remaining tortilla strips. Serve with lime wedges and jalapeno slices.
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Monday, March 22, 2010

Weekday Cassoulet

This is another Melissa d'Arabian, the Next Food Network Star, recipe. I saw it on her show, Ten Dollar Dinners, a couple weeks ago and was interested in trying it for sure. Cassoulet seems so daunting to make and this is a nice, simple spin on the classic. I will make this again, it was very flavorful. Since C doesn't eat tomatoes and I found them unnecessary, I will probably omit them in the future. I made a couple of changes from the original, but nothing major.
Weekday Cassoulet
printable recipe

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, cut in 1/2 through the bone
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound slab bacon, sliced into large lardons
1 large onion, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups cooked Northern white beans
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tomato, sliced very thinly
1/3 cup Bread Crumbs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Rinse and dry the chicken well and season with salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.

In a large Dutch oven, over medium-low heat, add the bacon and slowly render the fat. Remove the bacon to a plate when crispy, leaving the fat in the pan. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the chicken, skin side down. Brown the chicken on both sides and then remove to a plate. Add the onion, carrots and garlic and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan with white wine and reduce by half. Stir in the beans, bay leaf and thyme. Nestle the chicken thighs and bacon into the pot. Add the chicken stock, cover and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove the lid and top the cassoulet with sliced tomatoes and the Garlic Bread Crumbs. Return to the oven and bake, uncovered, 15 minutes longer. Serve the cassoulet with baguette slices.
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Friday, March 19, 2010

Banana Bread

Lately, we have not had bananas in the house long enough to make banana bread. Miss F loves bananas, so much so that she would have them every meal. That girl can eat an entire banana under a minute. She also loves banana bread. I wonder when she will have enough logic skills to realize that she needs to leave two bananas on our countertop long enough to get nice and over ripe.

This recipe is my mom's. I am going to try it in the future recplacing the oil with applesauce, since we always have it on hand and it would make the bread a bit healthier for Miss F.
Banana Bread
printable recipe

1 ¾ cup flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup sugar
1 ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
2 eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
2 over ripe bananas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, sift the first five ingredients together. In a medium bowl, beat the remaining three ingredients at medium speed until well combined. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until well combined. Grease your loaf pan and fill with the batter. Bake for 45 minutes, let cool before slicing.
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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Chicken Gyros and Tzatiki Sauce

I first saw this recipe at Elly Says Opa a long time ago and had been wanting to try it. I normally make my own tzatiki sauce and buy the pita bread at Niko Nikos, but now that I have a winning homemade pita bread recipe, I knew it was time to give these a go. They were really good. C asked if I would be able to make them with the traditional lamb...um...probably not. We can just go to Niko Nikos for that.
Chicken Gyros
printable recipe

1 pound chicken breast
4 cloves garlic, smashed
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 heaping Tbsp. plain yogurt
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
salt and pepper
batch of tzatziki
sliced tomatoes
4 pitas

Whisk together the garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, oil, yogurt, and oregano in a bowl. Add the chicken and rub the marinade in. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour.

Preheat the broiler. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides, and then broil until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side, depending what size/type chicken you are using. Allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes before slicing into strips.

Meanwhile, heat your pitas. I have a gas stove, so I just spray them with a little bit of oil and stick them right on the burner for a few seconds per side. Top the pita with the chicken, tzatziki, and tomatoes. Roll up and eat!

From Elly Says Opa!

Tzatiki Sauce
printable recipe

32 ounce container plain yogurt (do not use low-fat or nonfat)
1 English hothouse cucumber, peeled, chopped into chunks
2 large garlic cloves
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Place strainer over large bowl. Line strainer with 3 layers of cheesecloth or papertowel. Spoon yogurt into cheesecloth-lined strainer; let strain for minimum of three hours. Transfer yogurt to medium bowl; discard liquid.

Meanwhile, add the cucumber to the bowl of a food processor and pulse 5 to 8 times until it reaches a coarse grated consistency. Drain liquid from the cucumber. Mince garlic with salt.

Mix cucumber and garlic into yogurt. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pita Bread

I have been wanting to try homemade pita bread forever, but when I finally got a pizza stone and a bread machine, I knew it was time to go! I combined a couple of recipes I had, one from a friend and another from a bread machine pita bread internet search. The results were fantastic. No more buying pitas at Niko Nikos for 85 cents each. Now, these are not as good as the Niko Nikos ones, but they are the closest thing I have ever found and they definitely work for me. Success!
Bread Machine Pita Bread
printable recipe

1 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast

Put the ingredients in the bread machine pan in the order listed and use the dough cycle.

Punch dough down and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Using a sharp knife, cut dough into 8 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball into a 6- or 7-inch circle.

As you roll the rounds, set them aside on a lightly floured countertop or table, and cover loosely with a towel. Let rise for about 25-35 minutes, until slightly puffy. (The rounds will still be thin though!)

Preheat oven with a baking stone to 450 degrees. Place 2 rounds, side-by-side, onto the stone. Bake for 4-5 minutes, until puffy and just slightly browned. (If bread is too browned, it will be dry and not pliable.)

Remove rounds from oven and immediately wrap/layer pita breads in a damp towel, to soften. Continue baking the remaining breads, layering them between damp towels as soon as they're baked. Allow breads to completely cool.

Store pitas in a plastic zipper bag in the fridge for a few days, or place in the freezer for longer storage. To re-warm pitas, wrap them in a damp towel and then wrap in foil. Place in a warm (200-250 degree) oven for about 20 minutes.
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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Oven Baked Pork Chops

I am always looking for new ways to cook the thick pork chops I get at Costco. I am pretty sure everyone would be fine if I made pork things every night, but a little variety is good now and again. This recipe is amazingly simple and tasty. You may need to vary the cook times based on how thick your chops are.
Oven Baked Pork Chops
printable recipe

2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon pureed tomatoes
dash of hot sauce
salt and pepper, to taste

2 pork chops

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all ingredients except the pork chops in a small bowl. Place both pork chops in a baking dish, spread half the sauce on top. Bake the pork chops for 20 minutes, turn the pork chops and spread the remaining sauce on the top of the chops. Bake for another 20 minutes. Serve.
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Monday, March 8, 2010

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

The lovely Chasity gifted me a Sur la Table gift card (the perfect gift) and I couldn't wait to use it to get a pizza stone. A few years back I got a cheapo pizza stone and it cracked in the oven, but before it did, I loved cooking on it. I decided the pizza on it would be a simple whole wheat crust with tomato sauce and cheese, with pepperoni for C and Miss F. I adapted this recipe from the latest issue of Saveur.
Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
printable recipe

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons yeast
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup white flour
2 cups whole wheat flour

In a bowl combine oil, sugar, yeast, salt and 1 cup of 115 degree water; let sit until foamy, 10-12 minutes. Stir in flour to make a dough. Transfer dough to a floured surface; knead until smooth, 8-10 minutes. Roll the dough into a ball (or divide into two balls if you are making two pizza crusts). Put balls on a floured baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap; let sit in a warm place until soft and tripled in size, 2-3 hours.

Place pizza stone on a rack in lower third of oven. Heat oven to 500 degrees for 1 hour. Transfer the dough ball onto a floured piece of parchment paper the size of the pizza stone. Working from the center, gently flatten dough with fingertips, leaving edges thicker than the middle. Stretch dough to fit your pizza stone. Cover dough with a tea towl and let rest for 15 minutes. Brush edges with olive oil and season with salt. Spread dough with pizza sauce, leaving a 1” border. Add desired cheese and toppings.

Transfer pizza on paper to stone and bake until golden brown, 10-14 minutes. Remove pizza with a spatula and enjoy.

Adapted from Saveur
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Friday, March 5, 2010

Bacon Wrapped Potatoes

My parents came into town for a couple of weeks to take care of Miss F while we were on vacation. They had bought a big bag of red potatoes and had left half a package of bacon...what can I make with this?

I instantly thought I would make Cheesy Bacon Chicken and use some of the excess shredded cheese I have from the 49 cent cheese sale, but I was craving pork chops. So, in order to use the bacon and potatoes, I decided to wrap the potatoes with the bacon. It worked great, they turned out really cute. Of course, C didn't like them, "bacon is only for breakfast!" But he would like the potatoes again, next time plain.
Bacon Wrapped Potatoes

6 red potatoes
6 slices of bacon

Preheat the oven to 375. Spray a 9x9 glass baking dish with cooking spray. Wrap each potato with a slice of bacon, tucking the loose end back under the original wrap, securing with a tooth pick if necessary. Bake for one hour, until potatoes are tender. Serve.
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Monday, March 1, 2010

Artichoke Parmesan Dip

I made this for my dinner party and it was a definite hit! I think anything with artichokes makes for a tasty meal, but surprisingly, I don't like spinach and artichoke dip. It must be a mayonnaise thing...
Artichoke Parmesan Dip
printable recipe

1 cup sour cream
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons parsley

Stir all ingredients together to combine. Refrigerate for one hour before serving. Serve with vegetables, crackers or baguette slices.
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