Sunday
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
artichoke chicken pasta
General Tso's chicken, rice, broccoli
sriracha corn chowder, rosemary olive oil bread, salad
California chopped salad
sausage, cheese & crackers, apricot baked brie, truffle butter turkey, white wine gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, honey dinner rolls, lattice apple pie
leftovers
turkey gumbo, easy crusty bread

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Champagne Chicken

carrabbas champagne chickenI have only been to Carrabba's once. I went to the original Carrabba's on Kirby (still owned and operated by the Carrabbas and Mandolas and not part of the chain) to settle a bet about the best mussels in Houston. My pick was Cafe Rabelais and my friend's was Carrabba's. I won the bet and I haven't been back to Carrabba's since. This recipe from See Aimee Cook intriqued me nonetheless, I have not had the champagne chicken at Carrabba's, but this dish is amazing. I adore champagne, it is my most favorite beverage. The champagne flavor comes through beautifully and the meal comes together in under 30 minutes, perfect for a weeknight.
Carrabba's Champagne Chicken

¼ cup + 2 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
½ pound mushrooms, quartered
½ cup dry champagne
¾ cup half and half
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon tarragon
8 ounces angel hair pasta, cooked and drained

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Mix together the ¼ cup flour, salt, pepper, and grated Parmesan. Pound your chicken to ½ inch thickness. Dredge them thoroughly in the flour mixture, until well coated.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet on medium high heat. Brown each piece of chicken until done, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pan and place on a baking sheet, keep warm in the oven.

Add the mushrooms and 2 tablespoons flour to the pan. Sauté for about a minute. Add the champagne and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits. Reduce the sauce by half. Whisk in half and half, red pepper flakes and tarragon. Salt and pepper to taste. Heat until sauce thickens to a creamy consistency. Serve chicken and sauce over angel hair pasta.
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Monday, February 27, 2012

Secret Recipe Club: Reese's Cheesecake Brownie Bars

reeses cheesecake brownie barsThis is my first month to participate in the Secret Recipe Club. I was so excited to join, I really enjoy the recipe swap I participate in and this takes it to the next level. I received Inside BruCrew Life in the swap. She has so many amazing dessert recipes in her blog, I knew that is what I had to choose. And who can resist brownies+Reeses+cheesecake? Not me, so Ultimate Reeses Cheesecake Brownie Bars was the obvious choice.  They were delicious!  I had to send most of them in with C to his office or else I would have eaten them all the week before we left on vacation to Bali.  And eating an entire pan of Reese's Cheesecake Brownie Bars doesn't help one become bikini ready...no matter how delicious they were, I had to resist.  I had one and it was amazing.
Reese’s Cheesecake Brownie Bars

16 Reese’s peanut butter cups
1 package brownie mix
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 squares chocolate almond bark, melted
2 bags of Reese’s Pieces

Place the peanut butter cups in the freezer for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix brownies according to package. Spread in greased 9x13 pan. Beat cream cheese, butter and cornstarch until fluffy. Beat in milk, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Chop up the peanut butter cups and stir into the cream cheese mixture. Spoon the cream cheese mixture over top of the brownie batter. Bake 40-45 minutes. Cool. Drizzle with melted chocolate and sprinkle Reese’s Pieces on top. Cut into bars and keep refrigerated until ready to eat.

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Molasses and Mustard Pork Tenderloin

molasses and mustard pork tenderloinIt had been awhile since we have had pork tenderloin, so I had garlic mustard pork tenderloin on the weekly menu.   I was serving lemon rosemary garlic potatoes with the tenderloin, so I wanted to nix the garlic from the pork tenderloin.  I adapted the recipe from Bon Appetit and I was thrilled with the result.  The added bonus, Miss F and C ate every single bite.  The pork was moist and the crust was sweet with a mustard-y bite.
Molasses and Mustard Pork Tenderloin

¼ cup mild-flavored (light) molasses
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, divided
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons coarse-grained mustard
1 ¾ -pound pork tenderloin

Whisk molasses, 2 tablespoons vinegar, and both mustards in small bowl to blend. Place pork in heavy-duty re-sealable plastic bag. Pour marinade over. Seal tightly and refrigerate 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Roast the pork until the internal temperature reaches 130 degrees, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the pork from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes.

Cut pork crosswise on slight diagonal into ½ inch-thick slices and serve.
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pancit Bihon

pancit bihonOne of the main things I miss from my former days as a civil engineer is our office breakfast club. We had many nationalities represented and my most favorite breakfast dishes came for my friend who is from the Phillipines. They were always savory, usually involved noodles of some sort and on the best days, they included shrimp. I am not huge on American breakfast foods, I can take it or leave it. And don't get me started about the people who have breakfast for dinner, the idea is horrifying to me. I re-pinned this recipe from Rasa Malaysia (I love Malay breakfast foods as well) and was intrigued because it sounded similar to my favorite morning foods.  We leave for Singapore and Bali tomorrow morning and I am already excited about breakfast.  The shredded carrots melted into the sauce and made the most amazing sweet and salty flavor.  And don't worry, I made this for lunch for F and I.  Then I baked a chocolate cake afterwards so that C wouldn't complain about the fish sauce smell.
Pancit Bihon

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 small green cabbage, shredded in ½ inch pieces
2-3 medium carrots, either shredded or chopped thinly crosswise
4 cups chicken broth
8 ounces “Excellent” brand rice sticks
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat a large wok to medium-high heat. Add canola oil. Stir fry the garlic and onions until the onions turn clear. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add the shrimp. Once the shrimp turns pink, add cabbage and carrots. Lightly stir fry 2-3 minutes. Pour the mixture onto a bowl and set aside.

Pour the chicken stock into the heated wok. Once it starts boiling, turn the heat down to medium. Add rice sticks, soy sauce, and fish sauce. Boil for another 5 minutes or so until there is approximately ¼ cup stock left. Add the shrimp mixture back into the wok. Lightly stir fry until all the liquid has evaporated. Add freshly ground pepper to taste.
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Monday, February 20, 2012

Sub Rolls

sub rollsOne of my most favorite quick weeknight meals is chicken cheesesteaks. I always keep a bag of bell peppers and onions in the freezer, so I can make the sandwiches in a snap. I decided I would really like to try making my own sub rolls for these easy sandwiches.  I adapted the recipe for my bread machine from Sugar Crafter.
Sub Rolls for the Bread Machine

1 cup lukewarm water
1 ½ teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
2 ¾ cups bread flour
2 ¼ teaspoon bread machine yeast
1 egg white, lightly beaten
Sesame seeds, for topping

Add the water, sugar, oil and salt to your bread machine. Top with the bread flour, then sprinkle the yeast overtop. Run the bread machine on the dough setting. When complete, remove the dough from the machine and divide into four equal pieces. Shape into long sub rolls, cover and let rise on a Silpat covered baking sheet for 30 minutes. Score each roll three times with a sharp knife. Brush the rolls with the egg white. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake the rolls for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Slice in half and fill with your favorite sandwich ingredients.
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Friday, February 17, 2012

Chicken and Biscuits

chicken and biscuitsAh C, it is so much fun to cook for my fussy husband. I thought for sure this would be a winner, but he thought it was too soupy and not enough like his favorite chicken pot pie. Thank goodness I have Miss F around, she loved this dish. Well, she loved everything except the carrots...her favorite was the chicken, shocker!  Thanks go to Stick a Fork in It, I loved this recipe.  I may or may not have had a couple spoonfulls more after I cleared my plate.  Mine did not turn out nearly as pretty as hers, one of my biscuits capsized into the stew...biscuit down...biscuit down.
Chicken and Biscuits

3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
6 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
6 tablespoons flour
½ cup half and half
¼ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables
2 cooked chicken breasts, cubed
½ cup minced fresh parsley

For the biscuits:
1 cup flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ cup butter, diced
6 tablespoons half and half
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and sauté the onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring, until thick. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, basil, oregano and the heavy cream. Add the cubed chicken, mixed vegetables and parsley. Mix well. Place the stew in an oval or rectangular baking dish. Place the baking dish on a sheet pan. Bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the biscuits. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Add the half and half and combine on low speed. Mix in the parsley. Dump the dough out on a well-floured board and, with a rolling pin, roll out to 3/8-inch thick. Cut out six circles with a 2 1/2-inch round cutter.

Remove the stew from the oven and arrange the biscuits on top of the filling. Brush them with egg wash, and return the dish to the oven. Bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the biscuits are brown and the stew is bubbly.
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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork Tacos

dr pepper pulled pork tacosI saw The Pioneer Woman make Dr. Pepper pulled pork on her television show. I love my recipe for Dr. Pepper pulled pork, but her recipe had chipotles in it, which I adore.  Once again, the crockpot came through when it came to making shredded meats.  I used two boneless botk chops and two bone-in because that is what I had in our freezer.  These smelled wonderful bubbling away all day...does anyone else notice how often Ree Drummond says "bubbly" on her show?  It is a lot.  So much so that it should be a drinking game.
Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork Tacos

1 onion, chopped
2 to 3 pounds of pork (shoulder, roast or chops)
¼ cup chipotle peppers in adobo
1 can Dr. Pepper
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Layer the onion at the bottom of your crockpot. Place the pork on top and spoon in the chipotle peppers. Pour an entire can of Dr. Pepper over the pork, add the salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Shred the pork and return to the crockpot. Let cook for 15 minutes more. Serve on warm flour tortillas with cheese and guacamole.
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Monday, February 13, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

chocolate peanut butter cup cookiesMy mom made this recipe from Annie's Eats around Christmas time and she really liked it.  I hadn't had a chance to make them, but I did have a supply of Reeses peanut butter cups on hand for when I finally got to it.  The time came on the morning of the Super Bowl.  I was getting ready to head to the gym for Bodypump class and C said "should we bring something to the Super Bowl party? Can you whip up some cookies?  Not chocolate chip, because those are too boring."  Ding ding ding...it was time for the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup cookies. They did not disappoint and weren't boring at all.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
makes 4 dozen

16 Reeses peanut butter cups
1½ cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon coarse salt
¾ stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk

Place the peanut butter cups in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes, unwrap and chop them into bite size pieces.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare baking sheets lined with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, peanut butter, and sugars. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 1-2 minutes. Add in the egg, vanilla extract, and milkl blending until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Gently fold in the chopped peanut butter cups.
Use a small dough scoop (about 1 heaping tablespoon) to drop rounds of dough onto the baking sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  Let cool on the baking sheets about 10 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
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Friday, February 10, 2012

Recipe Swap: Lemon Rosemary Garlic Smashed New Potatoes

lemon rosemary smashed potatoesI was so excited for this week's recipe swap: POTATOES! One of my most favorite things. I thought for sure that C would love this dish since he loves mashed potatoes with skin. Turns out, I was wrong. He didn't like the olive oil flavor. I told him that he loves to dip bread in olive oil. He asked if I like ketchup, I responded that I did. He said "do you like ketchup on cheesecake?" Um no, but olive oil on potatoes isn't exactly the same as cheesecake with ketchup. Anyhow, I really enjoyed these potatoes even though C did not. I will make them again with just butter and see what he says...but he also said he missed the milk in the potatoes. Sigh. Thanks to DeLish for the recipe and thanks to A Taste of Home Cooking for coordinating the swap.
Lemon Rosemary Garlic Smashed Potatoes

1 pound new potatoes, washed & cleaned
4 garlic cloves, whole, peeled & smashed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon lemon zest
¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 ½ teaspoon dried rosemary (or 1 teaspoon fresh, chopped small)
1 tablespoon butter

Place the potatoes, skins on, in a small pot along with the garlic cloves. Add water until the potatoes are immersed. Turn the stove on high & bring to a boil.

Meanwhile whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice & zest, salt, pepper & rosemary.

After the little spuds have been boiling for about 25 minutes (stick a butter knife in- if the potato falls off with little or no resistance, the potatoes are done! Better to have a little resistance because the spuds will continue cooking in the hot water.) Drain the water & place the potatoes & garlic cloves together in a mixing bowl. Using the back of a large spoon, "smash" each potato & garlic clove, leaving nice, large lumps. Drizzle the lemon oil dressing over all of the potatoes, add the butter, smash & toss with a spoon.
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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Pork and Peppers Fajitas

pork and peppers fajitasOne of my most favorite TexMex restaurants is El Tiempo. There used to be one in the first floor of my building, back when I was single and living downtown. We made fast friends with one of the managers over their notoriously strong margaritas. He would always bring out all sorts of TexMex treats to try. One of the best dishes there is the mixed grill which includes lobster, quail, shrimp, fajitas, ribs and pork.  Since it is a huge platter, I only ever get it when we have a large group.  But I always order the tender pork fajitas when I am dining on my own.  They are delicious.  I tried as best I could to replicate the fajitas at home.
Pork and Peppers Fajitas

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 jalapeno, minced
juice from 1/2 a lime
2 boneless pork chops
1 large bell pepper, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced

Combine one tablespoon oil, garlic, cumin, jalapeno and lime juice in a small bowl. Rub the oil mixture over the pork chops and let marinade for 30 minutes at room temperature. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add the pork chops and cook through, turning once. Remove the pork chops from the pan and let rest. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan. Saute the peppers and onions until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. Slice the pork and return to the pan. Serve with warm tortillas, guacamole and cheese.
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Monday, February 6, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Chowder

buffalo chicken chowderI have decided the crockpot excels at two tasks: cooking meats that will be shredded (chicken soft tacos, Dr. Pepper pulled pork, etc...) and making soup (chicken enchilada soup.) This soup was no exception. I altered my meal plan to include it as soon as I saw it on Prevention RD's fabulous blog.  I made a few changes, I omitted the bleu cheese and added carrots...just like I like my Buffalo wings.  C and Miss F both enjoyed this soup very much, but both of them refused to eat any celery.  Their loss.  Little did they know that there was celery inside the soup.  Tricky, tricky.
Buffalo Chicken Chowder

4 to 6 red potatoes, cut into bite size pieces
2 breasts boneless, skinless chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
½ onion, roughly chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper, divided
¼ teaspoon ground thyme
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups half-and-half
2/3 cups chicken broth
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Franks hot sauce or wing sauce of your choosing
5 celery stalks, cut in half, for serving

Add the potatoes, chicken, onion, carrots and celery to your crockpot. Sprinkle in salt, pepper, thyme, and cayenne pepper.

Combine the half and half and chicken broth in a four cup measure. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Add the hot sauce and whisk again. Pour the hot sauce mixture over the chicken and vegetables in the crockpot. Cover and cook on high for 5 hours or low for 10. Before serving, stir well.

Top with drizzle of buffalo sauce, if desired. Serve with celery stalks.
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Friday, February 3, 2012

Sour Cream Waffles

sour cream wafflesMy most favorite pancakes involve a lot of sour cream. The thing is, I don't really enjoy sour cream. Not in dips, not on a baked potato, it just isn't my thing. But when you stir it into baked breakfast goods...it transforms them into something so fluffy and delicious. My usual waffle recipe involves separating eggs, beating the egg whites and folding them in. The kitchen looks like a disaster after I make them and I have dirtied upwards of seven bowls. This recipe is adapted from Alton Brown and it is SO much easier. And the waffles are SO much better. I cannot wait to try them with different additions.
Sour Cream Waffles

1 cup whole milk
1 cup sour cream
2 eggs
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch kosher salt

Heat waffle iron. Combine wet ingredients and whisk well to combine. Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl and form a well in the center. Add the wet mixture to the well and fold in with the dry. Don't worry if there are a few lumps. When iron is hot, spray lightly with non-stick spray. Spoon ½ to ¾ cup of batter onto the center of the iron and cook until a golden brown crust forms, about 3 to 5 minutes.
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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Baked Penne with Chicken, Spinach and Peppers

baked penne with chicken spinach and peppersAs room mom for Miss F's class, the main responsibility is to provide lunch for all the teachers in the school. I re-adapted Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes by taking some of C's suggestions and changing up the vegetables. Since we were serving lasagna with this, I decided to omit the sun-dried tomatoes. I also made a dish for us for dinner. I may have not thought things through so well when I nearly tripled the recipe, I just don't have bowls big enough to accommodate all that pasta, sauce, chicken and vegetables. My kitchen looked like a pasta mess after I was done, normally I try to be a pretty neat cook, but when you have three bowls going, you do what you can. C really enjoyed this much more than its original incarnation. Miss F's favorite part was the chicken, big surprise there.
Baked Penne with Chicken, Spinach and Peppers

Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound penne pasta
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, halved horizontally
10 ounces white mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
½ onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
6 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking dishes
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups whole milk
1 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 package frozen spinach, drained and thawed
½ cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter two shallow 2-quart baking dishes. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 minutes short of al dente; drain pasta, and return to pot. In a Dutch oven, heat one teaspoon oil over medium-high. Season chicken with salt and pepper; cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Halve each piece lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise. Add two teaspoons oil to the pan, sauté the mushrooms, onion and peppers for 3 minutes, until tender. Remove the mushrooms and peppers from the pan, add the butter and melt over medium heat. Add flour and garlic; cook, whisking, 1 minute. While whisking, gradually add milk; bring to a simmer, whisking frequently. Off heat, gradually stir in the Parmesan. Add chicken, mushrooms, bell pepper, spinach and pasta to pot; season with salt and pepper. Divide pasta mixture between baking dishes; sprinkle each with ¼ cup mozzarella. Bake, uncovered, until top is golden and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
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