Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Tried and True’ Category

tommozzsalad

We’re back from the cruise! We enjoyed a fun and relaxing week in the Caribbean. We spent every day exploring the best beaches on the islands we visited and enjoyed lunch and rum punch at beach bars. I went on a bit of a “tour de fish sandwich.” I must say the tastiest one I had was in Barbados at a little place called Carib Cafe. We’re going to attempt to recreate it at  home soon so be on the lookout!

My parents so kindly offered to keep Sullie while we were gone. Our flight got in Sunday evening and my dad had dinner waiting for us when we picked her up. He made an amazing pasta dish from Cook’s Illustrated. He sent me home with a ton of leftover fresh basil. One of Brandon’s favorites is Tomato, Fresh Mozzarella and Basil Salad so I decided to get all the ingredients for it on my weekly shopping trip. We’ve been able to enjoy it as an appetizer/salad this week. I thought I’d share this easy and flavorful dish.

Tomato, Fresh Mozzarella and Basil Salad
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)

Ingredients:

SALAD
Cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
Fresh mozzarella, diced
Sprig/bunch of fresh basil, julienned
Salt and pepper, to taste

BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil

Directions

You’ll notice I didn’t give quantities for the salad. You really can adjust the amounts to your hunger/taste. For example, I like a little more basil than Brandon and he probably likes more cheese (hey, he’s a man!).

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey and balsamic vinegar. Once incorporated, slowly whisk in the olive oil.

To assemble the salad. Layer the tomatoes, cheese and basil in a small dish/plate. Season with salt and pepper and then drizzle the balsamic vinagrette over it.

Read Full Post »

chickensalad

Grilled chicken salad is a versatile basic that’s a staple in our spring/summer dinner rotation. It’s  an easy, light entree that you can adapt to whatever your tastes are and what you have on hand. We love to top ours with avocado, toasted pecans, tomatoes and fresh fruit. You can whip up a homemade honey mustard in no time and it tastes far better than anything you’ll get out of a bottle. We enjoyed this dinner out on our deck tonight – one of the first nights that it has been warm enough to eat outside!

Grilled Chicken Salad
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)

Ingredients:

FOR THE SALAD:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil
Grill rub of your choice (we love all of The Dizzy Pig rubs and used Jamaican Firewalk on this)
Lettuce of your choice (I used a bag of field greens)
1/4 cup pecans, toasted
4 strawberries, sliced
1 small tomato, diced
1 avocado, sliced

FOR THE DRESSING:
3 tbsp dijon mustard
2-3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp low-fat mayo
1-2 tbsp plain yogurt
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp apple cider or rice wine vinegar

Directions:

Preheat grill to 400 degrees.

Trim chicken breasts of any fat. Rub both sides with olive oil and coat with grill rub. Spray grill grates with cooking spray. Grill chicken approximately 6 minutes on each side or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

In the meantime, make your dressing by whisking all the ingredients together. Adjust to meet your taste (adding more of any ingredient if desired).

Plate salad, top with sliced grilled chicken and drizzle dressing on top.

Yield: 2 servings

Read Full Post »

cajjambalaya22

I look for any excuse to cook for a special occasion – especially fun things like Fat Tuesday, St. Patricks, Cinco de Mayo, even the opening ceremonies of the Olympics (we had friends over for a Chinese feast!). While menu planning this week, I knew Fat Tuesday had to be Cajun themed.

We started the day out at IHOP for free pancake day. If you didn’t hear about it you missed out! IHOP was giving away a free short stack of pancakes to everyone to raise money for The Children’s Miracle Network. Fat Tuesday was originally known as “Shrove Tuesday” – the day before the Christian time of fasting and prayer called lent. Apparently, one of the Shrove Tuesday traditions is eating pancakes. Read more on Wikipedia

On to dinner. I’d been craving jambalaya for the last few weeks so there was no hemming and hawing over what to make (which is abnormal for me – usually I pour over recipes for hours). I’ve tried several recipes over the last few years and have recently found my favorite – it’s Emeril’s Cajun Jambalaya. I love all the veggies along with the trio of shrimp, andouille and chicken – it also has a great flavor and a good amount of heat. Surprisingly enough, this comes together relatively quickly, especially if you buy deveined shrimp. I definitely recommend this next time you are in the mood for a cajun dish!

cajjambalaya

Cajun Jambalaya
(Recipe source Emeril Lagasse)

Ingredients:

12 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped
4 oz chicken, diced (can sub chopped cooked chicken if you have some on hand)
1 tbsp creole seasoning (Emeril’s Essence or any other cajun seasoning)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes (I use drained diced if I don’t have fresh on hand)
3 bay leaves
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp hot sauce (or more if you like heat)
1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional – not included in the original recipe but good if you like heat)
3/4 cup white rice
3 cups chicken stock
5 oz andouille sausage, sliced
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In a bowl, combine shrimp, chicken and Creole seasoning. If you’re using pre-cooked chicken do not add the chicken in with the shrimp. Work in seasoning well.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in onion, celery and bell pepper and cook about three minutes. Add garlic, tomatotes, bay leaves, worcestershire, hot sauce and cayenne. Stir in rice and slowly add broth. Reduce heat to medium and cook until rice absorbs liquid and becomes tender, stirring occasionaly, about 15 minutes. Then add shrimp, chicken and sausage. Cook until meat is done, about 10 more minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper and creole seasoning.

Yield: 4 servings

Read Full Post »

briechicken

I came across this recipe last year when I had leftover brie and chicken breasts in the fridge. It was a good find! The flavor is great – what’s not to love about warm melty brie, apricot preserves and crunchy almonds? It’s also a fairly simple recipe that comes together quickly. Brandon requested this to be on the menu last week and I was happy to oblige.

Brie and Apricot Chicken with Almonds
(Recipe source cooksrecipes.com – originally from National Chicken Council)

Ingredients:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Extra virgin olive oil
6-8 slices of brie
4 tbsp apricot preserves (we prefer Bon Mamon)
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken between two sheets of wax paper or in a gallon bag and gently pound to 1/4-inch thickness.

Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium to medium-high heat. Add chicken and saute for about 3 minutes per side, until golden colored.

Remove chicken from pan and place in a greased baking dish. Spread 2 tbsp of preserves on chicken  (I usually don’t measure – just smear it on) and cover with slices of brie. Sprinkle almonds on top.

Cook for about 6-7 minutes until cheese is melted. At this point, I usually turn on the broiler for a minute to get the cheese to get a little more melted and bubbly.

Yield: 2 servings

* Tip – if you don’t have almonds on hand or don’t want to buy a whole bag of sliced almonds buy frozen green beans and almonds (I like Green Giant). Serve the green beans with your dinner and use the almonds for the chicken (they come in a separate packet in the box).

Read Full Post »

chickenchili

My mother in law shared this recipe with me a few years ago and I always make it several times during the winter. It’s delicious, healthy and hearty. This recipe makes a generous amount – the leftovers reheat well and the chili freezes well.

White Chicken Chili
(Recipe source my mother in law)

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2-4 cloves garlic, minced (to taste)
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 (4 oz) cans diced green chilies
2 lbs diced chicken breasts (about 4)
2 (15 oz) cans great northern beans, divided
2 (15 oz) cans white shoepeg corn
2 (14 oz) cans chicken broth
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp parsley flakes
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp jalapeno, diced
1 bay leaf

Directions:

Saute onion, bell pepper and chilies in olive oil over medium to medium-high heat in a large stock pot for about 5 minutes. Add in diced chicken and garlic and saute about 5 more minutes, until chicken is no longer pink.

Drain corn and beans. Puree one can of beans in a food processor or blender. Add all of the remaining ingredients to the bot and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Discard bay leaf before serving. Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese and hot sauce (if desired). I usually make cornbread too.

Yield: 3 quarts, plus 1 1/2 cups

* Note, you can use already cooked chicken (rotisserie, leftover roasted, etc) and skip the chicken cooking stage – just let the onions cook a little longer before adding rest of ingredients.

* Another note, I think this could be done in the crockpot (I’ve never tried it though) by placing chicken breasts in crockpot whole and covering it with the rest of the ingredients. Cook on low for about 8 hours. Shred chicken with two forks before serving.

Read Full Post »

altonbrownchewy

It’s official – we have a new favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. I was looking to try a recipe other than my old Tollhouse standby. I ended up going with Alton Brown’s “The Chewy” because of the great reviews. Brandon and I loved these cookies and he requested that this become our new go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe.

I love how fast chocolate chip cookies come together – you can whip up a batch in no time. The only time consuming part is preparing and baking the batches. I see no reason to buy cookies when you can make something this delicious at home!

The recipe calls for bread flour and melting the butter – both different from your average chocolate chip cookie recipe. I followed the directions with no modifications and suggest you do too. Whatever you do, be SURE to chill the dough for at least 30 minutes before baking. Also, watch the baking time. I like my cookies soft and usually undercook them by a few minutes (they will not look done when you take them out).

Try these now! And let me know what you think. Better than Tollhouse???

The Chewy
(Recipe source Alton Brown)

Ingredients:

2 sticks unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.

Pour the melted butter in the mixer’s work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. (My oven is hot and I had to turn it down to 350 after the first batch)

Scoop onto baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet (pretty decent sized scoops). Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. They may be done in 10-12 minutes – watch them!!! Cool completely on racks before storing in an airtight container.

Read Full Post »

pennebetsy

After hearing rave reviews, I’ve been wanting to try Penne a la Betsy from The Pioneer Woman Cooks. If you’re not familiar with the Pioneer Woman, you should definitely check out her site – especially her food blog. You’re in for some serious entertainment and great recipes. Now, I will say that most of her recipes are a bit of a splurge – think Paula Deen-esque. But I’m a firm believer that everyone has to splurge sometimes and we had some leftover heavy cream from a Tres Leches cake I made last week.

This dinner was a hit. Brandon told me several times how delicious it was and requested the leftovers for lunch tomorrow. I’m going to do some brainstorming about how to lighten this up a bit so we can add it to the dinner rotation.

Penne a la Betsy
(Recipe source The Pioneer Woman)

Ingredients:

1 lb uncooked shrimp
3/4 lb penne pasta (about 3/4 a box – I used Barilla Plus and Brandon was none the wiser)
Olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine (can sub chicken broth)
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream (I only used about 1/2 a cup and it was plenty)
Fresh parsley, chopped (As always, Publix was sold out on Sunday so I used dried)
Fresh basil, chopped (definitely splurge for the fresh basil – it makes so much difference in the flavor)

Directions:

Follow cooking directions on package for pasta.

In the meantime, peel, devein and rinse (under cool water) shrimp. Heat about 1 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet and add the shrimp. Cook for 3-4 minutes until they turn pink. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp, they cook quickly! Transfer to a cutting board and let cool.

In the same skillet, add a little more olive oil – another tbsp or two. Add the onion and sautee for a few mintues until it starts to become translucent. Add the garlic and cook another minute or two, careful not to let the garlic burn. Add the wine or chicken broth and let simmer for a few minutes, stirring occasionaly. The wine will evaporate.

Add the tomato sauce and stir well. Then stir in the heavy cream and continue stirring. Turn heat down to low and let simmer while you chop herbs and shrimp. You want to chop about 1-2 tbsp each of basil and parsley (to taste) and chop the shrimp into bite-sized pieces.

Add shrimp and herbs into tomato cream sauce and stir. Salt and pepper to taste. Finally, add cooked pasta and stir until combined. Top with grated parmesan if desired.

Read Full Post »

individualcinnroll

I got the urge to make cinnamon rolls last Saturday and I couldn’t stop thinking about them all day. After my 13 mile training run, I certainly felt like I could splurge on cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Sunday.

I think my favorite part about deciding to make something is the search for the perfect recipe. I probably spent an hour browsing cinnamon roll recipes online. I finally decided on a recipe from The Way the Cookie Crumbles. This is one of the blogs I follow regularly and I love her scientific approach. I knew if Bridget had been trying to perfect her cinnamon roll recipe for years, it must be good.

The dough came together really quickly and was so easy to work with. I put it all together and left it to rise while we went out for sushi. After dinner, Brandon and I had fun rolling them out and putting them together. We couldn’t wait for breakfast the next morning!

Once assembled, we left them to rise overnight in the refrigerator. It was so nice to get up Sunday morning and have breakfast already taken care of. All I had to do was make the glaze.

Next time, I will probably add a little more salt to the dough. For whatever reason, I like well-salted baked goods – especially anything bread-like. I would also add more butter in the cinnamon filling. And last, I think I’d do more of a cream cheese glaze. I added more than the recipe called for but I still would have liked more. It’s all up to your taste!

All in all, the texture of the roll was amazing. This is a really easy dough to work with and a great treat for a weekend morning.

img_2107

Cinnamon Rolls
(Recipe from The Way the Cookie Crumbles)

Ingredients:

DOUGH
½ cup whole milk
7 tbsp unsalted butter (I used salted and left out the 1 1/2 tsp salt, next time I will still add the salt)
½ cup warm water (about 110-115 degrees)
1 envelope (2¼ teaspoons yeast)
¼ cup (1¾ ounce) sugar
1 large egg, plus 2 large egg yolks
1 ½ tsp salt
4-4 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface

FILLING
¾ cup packed (5¼ ounces) light brown sugar
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1 tbsp melted butter (next time I will add a little more butter – maybe 2 or 3 tbsp, to taste)

GLAZE
1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted to remove lumps
2-4 ounces cream cheese, softened (to taste)
½ tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tbsp milk, until you reach your desired consistency

Directions:

Heat the milk and butter in the microwave until the butter melts. Remove from microwave and set aside until the mixture is lukewarm (about 100 degrees).

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, mix together the water, yeast, sugar, egg, and yolks at low speed until well mixed. Add the salt, warm milk mixture, and 2 cups of the flour and mix at medium speed until thoroughly blended, about 1 minute. Switch to the dough hook, add another 2 cups of the flour, and knead at medium speed (adding up to ¼ cup more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, if necessary) until the dough is smooth and freely clears the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes. Shape the dough into a round, place it in a very lightly oiled large bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, 1½ to 2 hours. (Especially in the winter, I like to let my dough rise in the oven. I find that the kitchen is a little too cool. I turn the oven to warm for a few seconds, switch it off and then put the bowl of dough in.)

After the dough has doubled in bulk, press it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, shape the dough into a 16 by 12-inch rectangle, with a long side facing you. Mix together the filling ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough, leaving a ½-inch border at the far edges. Roll the dough, beginning with the long edge closest to you and using both hands to pinch the dough with your fingertips as you roll. Moisten the top border with water and seal the roll. Lightly dust the roll with flour and press on it ends if necessary to make a uniform 16-inch cylinder. Using a sharp, serrated knife, cut the roll in 12 equal pieces and place the rolls cut-side up into a greased 13 x 9 baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, 1½ to 2 hours. (This is where you have the option of letting them rise overnight in the refrigerator.)

When the rolls are almost fully risen, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. (If you left them in the fridge overnight, let them come to room temprature before baking.) Bake the rolls until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of one reads 185 to 188 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, stir the glaze ingredients together until smooth. Glaze the rolls and serve.

cinnamonrollsiced

Read Full Post »

Chili

What better way to get started than with a tried and true recipe of my Dad’s? Chili! Brandon usually starts asking for chili as soon as football season starts but I’m one of those people who just can’t do chili until it gets cold out – and in the South, who knows when that will be? Lucky for Brandon, it got chilly pretty early this year so I made a big pot of chili while he enjoyed Sunday NFL football.

And check out the special ingredient you add in the last 10 minutes of cooking…who’d of thought?

Chili
(Source: My Dad)

Ingredients:
3 cloves garlic
1 large onion
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 15 oz can, 3/4 full of water
3-4 tbsp chili powder (to taste)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
16 oz kidney beans (I like dark red)
1-2 tbsp cocoa powder

Directions:
In a dutch oven or heavy pan, brown meat and onions. Drain well and wipe out pan. Add all ingredients except for cocoa powder and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Uncover and simmer for another 15-30 minutes. Add cocoa powder 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with your choice of chili condiments – we like hot sauce, sour cream, cheddar cheese and crushed saltine crackers.

Cornbread is great on the side – either plain or mix in some chopped jalapenos and cheddar cheese.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 428 other followers