Thursday, April 29, 2010

Stuffed Snow Peas & Red Onion and Purple Potato Frittata

It's two recipes for the price of one here today.  Both of these come from the April/May issue of Taste of Home.

I saw these stuffed snow peas and just thought they were the cutest things.  And they're certainly not difficult.  I think it would be cute to serve at some sort of a shower or brunch.  You know, if you're one of those type of people who has friends and does those sort of things...hehe.  

Stuffed Snow Peas
8 oz softened cream cheese
2 tsp minced chives
1 tsp dried basil
1 minced garlic clove
1/2 tsp caraway seeds (didn't use these)
1/2 tsp dill weed
1/4 tsp lemon pepper
36 fresh snow peas, trimmed

Combine first 7 ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate overnight. (I didn't do this step, and thought they tasted fine)
Let filling stand at room temp 30 minutes.  Meanwhile bring 6 cups water to boil.  Add snow peas, cover and boil 1-2 minutes.  Drain and immediately place peas in ice water.  Drain and pat dry.  Gently split peas open, pipe about 1 tsp of filling into each pod.  

my notes:  The recipe recommend not to make these too far in advance.  Need to be chilled and served within 3 hours.  I halved everything because I was only making a few, and don't really think the full recipe would fill 36 peas.

This was my first time making a frittata.  Which I suppose is just basically a baked omelet.  

I saw these purple potatoes and just had to give them a try.  My daughter didn't really believe they were potatoes.  I wonder if they have any extra nutritional value since they've got some color to them.

Red Onion and Potato Frittata
1 large red onion, chopped
1/2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
4 tbsp butter, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 pound red (or purple) potatoes thinly sliced
6 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese

In 10 inch ovenproof skillet, saute onion and rosemary in 1 tbsp butter until tender.  Add garlic and cook one minute longer. Remove from pan and set aside.
In same skillet cook potatoes in 2 tbsp butter tender.  Remove and keep warm
Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and cheese.  Add onion mixture.  Melt remaining butter in skillet.  Add egg mixture, bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.  Top with potatoes and bake another 3-5 minutes.  Let stand 5 minutes, and cut into wedges.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Apricot Chicken

This recipe also comes from the cookbook included in my fantabulously cool giveaway that is still going on through Thursday night.  Click now and enter if you haven't already!

Don't worry, you're not going blind. That's one fuzzy picture.  I was pretty hungry, and ready to dive in.  Couldn't be bothered with "proper lighting" and all that jazz.

This recipe is just about as easy as it gets, and it's done in the crockpot. But I'm sure it could be oven baked if you'd rather.

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
12 oz jar apricot preserves
8 oz catalina dressing
1 package onion soup mix ( I would recommend only using 1/2 the package, I found it a little overpowering)

Place chicken breasts in crock pot that has been sprayed with non stick cooking spray.
Mix next three ingredients together and pour over chicken.  
Cook on high heat about 4  hours until chicken is done all the way through.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Apple Crescents

Don't forget, my super fun giveaway going on through Thursday...hurry and enter now!

This recipe comes from the cookbook included in my super fun giveaway. (it's possible that your definition of "super fun" may be a little different from mine, I lead a somewhat mundane life)

I modified the recipe a bit to try to make it a bit more calorie conscious.  I've gained a few pounds back and need to try to reign it in a bit.
That reminds me...have you seen this cool thing at Spark Recipes?  It's a recipe calculator where you can input all the ingredients from your recipe and it gives you the nutrition info per serving. I think this could come in pretty handy!
(according to their calculator, these have about 125 calories each after my substitutions)

I thought it looked like this crescent had a mouth, and so I got a little silly at Picnik.

In my opinion, these were delicious, the sauce was just right, and my house smelled like I'd been making apple pie all day!  
Here is the original recipe, with my changes in parentheses.  Also this makes 8 crescents, and I halved everything to just make 4.

1 eight oz can refrigerated crescent rolls (used reduced fat)
2 granny smith apples, peeled and quartered
1 cup orange juice
1 1/4 cups sugar  (used splenda)
1/2 cup butter  (used butter buds dissolved in 1/4 cup water)
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350.
Unroll crescents and separate.  Wrap each apple quarter with crescent. (I sprinkled cinnamon on each apple quarter before wrapping it)  Place each apple in sprayed 9x13 inch baking dish.
Combine orange juice, sugar, butter, and cinnamon in saucepan and bring to boil.
Pour over crescents and bake 30 minutes until golden and bubbly.

Super Fun Giveaway Time

I was lucky enough to just inherit an absolute treasure chest of cook books and cooking magazines.  Well, I wouldn't really say inherit because nobody died, thank goodness.  So from time to time I'm going to have a little giveaway and pass some of my fortune on to you.

This time around we have the "1001 Community Recipe" cookbook.  I didn't take the time to count them, but I'm assuming there really is 1001.  I already have a few recipes picked out to try, possibly one this afternoon if I can find the energy to get off my posterior region and do it.  This book has yummy sounding recipes like Lemonade Chicken, Cranberry Pork Chops, and a recipe for waffles that uses club soda!  But no pictures, so you have to use your imagination.

Then there are the two little Taste of Home magazines, that have pictures for each recipe.  In the picture below I purposely have the page opened to the Coffee Crusted Prime Rib because that's the recipe you'll need to make and invite me over for if you win.

Time for Rules:
1.  To enter just leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite dish to take to a potluck.
2.  Make sure I have some way of contacting you if you are the winner.  If there's no way, the entry get's tossed.
3.  Continental US only, please.
4.  Giveaway will end Thursday April 29th at midnight MST, and I will announce the winner sometime on Friday the 30th.
5.  Thanks for playing!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie...Hungry Girl Style

You guys like your dessert, don't ya?  Back to reality now, again with the help of Hungry Girl, and her chicken pot pie recipe.  

I recently had chicken pot pie at Marie Callender's, but that really wouldn't be a fair comparison.  This version is pretty good though; chock full o' veggies, with a crust made from crescent roll dough.  

8 oz. raw boneless skinless chicken breast; cut into bite-sized pieces
3 cups C&W Ultimate Petite Mixed Vegetables (or any other frozen mixed vegetables)
1 can (10.75 oz.) Campbell's Condensed Soup, 98% Fat Free Cream of Celery
3 servings Pillsbury Reduced Fat Crescent Rolls (unprepared)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Saute chicken pieces for several minutes in a pan spritzed with nonstick cooking spray, until chicken is light brown/cooked but still tender; set aside. Heat frozen veggies in microwave according to package. Mix chicken, vegetables and soup together and put in a 9" round baking dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Place dish in oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly (stir about halfway through). While dish is cooking, unroll 3 crescent rolls. Combine pieces together with hands to make one large ball of dough. With a rolling pin, roll dough out into a circle to cover top of dish. Add dough to the top of the dish and cook for an additional 15 - 20 minutes or until top is golden brown. Serves 4.

*I used some seasoned salt when cooking that chicken and added a little bit of finely chopped onion.
*I think next time I would go with the low fat cream of chicken soup instead
*for my veggies I used half mixed veggies, and half green beans, cause I like 'em.
*rolling out that dough is not as easy as I thought it would really gotta work it!

Another new family member to introduce.  I finally made the plunge and got myself a dutch oven.  No, not that brand, didn't feel like selling a kidney today.                                                    
This one comes from Ikea, and I just love it.  I've been coveting one (yes, I admit it) quite some time, and I can't wait to use it!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Just the name of this dessert makes me think "yes, please, I think I will."
I think I first heard of it reading one of Nigella's cookbooks.  But this isn't her recipe.  Trying to figure out her conversions messes with my brain a little too much.  
I found this recipe randomly from some place called The Schlafly Tap Room somewhere in Missouri.  Supposedly originates from a hotel in Scotland.  Good enough for me!

FYI...when one places a pound of dates in a food processor, it comes out looking a whole lot like the picture below on the left.

No worries though, it all gets smoothed out to a nice consistency like the pic on the right after being combined with boiling water.

I thought the cake looked kinda pretty just as it was straight out of the oven.  Not that I would ever dream of having it without that sauce.  I believe that toffee sauce is the devil's attempt at getting me to stay "off the wagon" for good.  I've been imagining it on everything from waffles to strawberries.  

So without further ado, here is the recipe from somewhere in Missouri, by way of Scotland.

1 lb pitted dates, chopped in a food processor
2 cups hot water
2 tsp baking soda
5 oz. unsalted butter
1 lb sugar (I used half white, and half brown)
5 large eggs
1 pound all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 tsp vanilla extract

for the sauce
1 lb dark brown sugar
1 lb butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease 9x13 pan with butter and coat with flour, shaking out excess.
Combine dates with hot water in sauce pan.  Bring to boil and remove from heat. Add baking soda (I forgot this step).  Set aside to cool.
In mixing bowl cream together butter and sugar for 3 minutes.
With mixer on low speed add eggs one at a time until fully mixed.  Add flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla.
When fully mixed add the dates and their liquid.
Pour into pan and bake 30-45 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Sauce:  Stir first 3 ingredients together on low heat, until blended and brown sugar is melted.  Whisk in heavy cream.
Spoon warm toffee sauce over individual servings of cake.  Serve with whipped cream.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday Gravy

About a week ago, I asked y'all what dish I should make to celebrate my weight loss, and most of the replies indicated I should go with Julia Child's beef bourguignon.  But like a true muttonhead, I went with the Sunday Gravy. 
I'll save the bouguignon for when I own a decent dutch oven.  (hint  hint, birthday bunny)

I believe the first time I heard of Sunday gravy was from everyone's favorite perky little food temptress, Rachael Ray.  Hey, say whatcha want, she makes some yummy stuff.  I thought it was an odd name for a tomato sauce, but it grew on me.  

Then a few weeks ago, I saw Velva's wonderful Sunday sauce at her blog Tomatoes on the Vine, and knew it was something I wanted to try.  Any dish that incorporates 5 different kinds of meat earns my respect right away.  I did weenie out a bit and left out one of the meats.  I thought my family might send me to one of those rehab places for people with meat addictions if I included them all.  

So this sauce is not something you want to make on a day when you're rushed for time, as there are quite a few steps.  Forming and broiling the meatballs, browning the meats, breaking up the tomatoes, and a good two and half hours for simmering.  But if you've got a few hours to put together a memorable meal and few folks to share it with, I think this is something you might enjoy.

Here's the recipe...don't forget to look at the end for some of the things I did differently.


For the Sauce:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 links mild Italian sausage
1 rack of spare ribs (about 3-1/2 lbs), cut between the bones into individual ribs
1 pound pork butt, cut into 4 pieces
1 large onion, diced
4 whole peeled shallots
4 whole peeled garlic cloves
3-28 ounces cans whole peeled tomatoes
20 fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound of rigatoni pasta

For the meatballs:
3-4 slices firm textured white bread
8 ounces ground beef
8 ounces ground pork
1/2 medium onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
2 eggs
2 ounces (about 2/3 cup) grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1.  Place 3 slices of bread in a bowl and pour enough warm water over them to moisten completely.  Let stand until softened.  Crumble beef and pork into a large mixing bowl, add onion and garlic.  Beat eggs, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper in a small bowl and add to the meats.  Break up bread and add to the meats.  Working with your hands, knead the mixture lightly until evenly blended.  The mixture should be creamy and soft.  If not, soak and add remaining slice of bread.  Chill mixture until firm, about 1/2 hour.

2.  While meatballs are chilling, start tomato sauce: In a heavy, large (about 8-quarts) pot; heat olive oil over medium heat.  Working in batches without overcrowding the pot, brown spare ribs, sausages and pork butt well on all sides, removing as they brown. (Add small amounts of oil if necessary during browning.)  When all the meat is browned, add the onion, shallots and garlic to the pot.  Cook, stirring, until the shallots and onion are lightly browned, about 4 minutes.  Place tomatoes in a bowl and break up into small pieces with a whisk or your hands.  Add tomatoes, half the fresh basil, salt, dried basil, dried oregano, red pepper and black pepper to taste. Return meat to pot.  Bring to boil, lower the heat and simmer until sauce is thickened and ribs are tender, about 2 hours.

3.  While the sauce is simmering, preheat the broiler.  Using about 1/3 cup of the meat mixture for each, roll 8 meatballs with your hands, placing them on a broiler pan as you go.  Broil until well browned on top, about 4 minutes.  Turn them and brown the second side.  Add the meatballs to the sauce gently so you  don't break up the meatballs.

4.  To serve: cook rigatoni in a large pot of boiling salted water according to the package directions.  Meanwhile, stir remaining basil into the sauce.  Drain pasta and return it to the pot.  Add enough of the sauce to lightly coat the pasta and transfer it to a large platter.  To serve family style, arrange the meats around the edge of the platter and top the pasta with more sauce.  Serve remaning sauce and grated cheese separately.

*The recipe didn't specify beef or pork spare ribs.  I went with beef, I think either would be fine
*After the meats had simmered for a while, I took the ribs out and let them cool for a few minutes, cut the meat off into bite size pieces then put the meat back into the sauce, and gave the bones to my small black dog.
*I left out the sausages, although I think they'd be super in there
*The recipe says "whole" shallots and garlic.  I think giving them a rough chop is a good idea.

Now about that "pasta", and I use that term loosely, that my sauce is sitting on.
I ran across a Michael Chiarello recipe for a pappardelle that didn't require a pasta making machine, you just roll it out.  Seemed simple enough.
It seemed to me the amount of eggs you add to the dough was completely overwhelming and impossible to work with.  I had to add about a cup of flour to make it workable, and then I really didn't get it rolled out thin enough, and it resembled dumplings a lot more than pasta.  It didn't really make enough to feed more than 2 or 3 people.  Having said that, I'm glad I gave it a try, and thought it was pretty good with the sauce.  Since it had a thicker consistency, it held up nicely to the hearty sauce. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Split Pea Soup for Dad

This soup is a case of "don't judge a book by it's cover".  Unfortunately, I'm a cover-judger. I just can't get past the color and texture.  Which is why the recipe is labeled "for dad".  My children's dad loves it and asks for it every now and then, which must mean he really loves it because he rarely makes any menu requests.

Here's the recipe which I printed out quite some time ago, so I have no idea where I stole it from.

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 carrots, diced
1-2 stalks of celery, diced
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1 lb ham steak, diced
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 lb bag dried split peas, rinsed
1 bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a dutch oven pot over med heat.  Cook the onion until slightly tender.  Add garlic and ham, cook for 60 seconds.  Add the stock, split peas, and bay leaf to pot and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook over med low heat for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, covered.  Add the carrots, celery, and potatoes, then cook for an additional 35 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Remove bay leaf.  If you want it to be a bit thicker, mix with an immersion blender for a few seconds.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Crispy Mexican Chicken

Saw this recipe at Amanda's Cookin' and thought it was such a great idea.  It's like getting hash browns right on top of your chicken with very little fuss.  
This was super easy to put together and we all seemed to like it.  

Here's  her recipe:

1 8-oz baking potato, peeled and shredded
1/4 cup nonfat buttermilk  (I used regular milk since I didn't have buttermilk)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
4 6-oz skinned chicken breast halves
cooking spray
1 tsp vegetable oil

Place shredded potato in ice water, let stand 5 minutes.

Combine buttermilk and next four ingredients. Brush mixture over both sides of the chicken. Line a baking sheet with foil, coat foil with cooking spray. Place chicken pieces on pan.

Drain potato, pat dry with paper towel. Place in small bowl, add oil, toss gently. Spoon 1/3 cup potato mixture over each chicken breast half, spread evenly.

Bake at 425 F for 35-40 minutes (mine baked longer, about 50 minutes, use an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast, done at 165 F).

Earlier in the week I got a fun freebie from Post Cereals.  Along with Raisin Bran, I got all these little containers of different kinds of fiber to compare.  I had no idea that polydextrose and maltodextrin were fibers.  They're both pretty powdery compared to the others.

Monday, April 12, 2010

What to do, what to do?

So, I've done it.  I've budged the scales. (keeping one foot on the floor helps a lot when weighing, fyi)  Even though I had a little soul food yesterday at Lolo's Chicken and Waffles, I still lost.  

I've reached the magic number which I told myself I could have a reward when it was reached.
And guess what I'm going to treat myself with...FOOD!

I know that's all kinds of wrong, maybe I should reward myself with therapy. 

Who gives a crap, let's talk about what I should make. 
At first I was thinking of Julia Child's beef bourguignon even though I can't say it.  It sounds pretty complicated, but looks like it would be worth it.  
Then I'm also seeing recipes around for a wonderful Sunday gravy, filled with all kinds of meats and simmered for hours.  I can just picture a big bowl of pasta with this sauce on top, and bunch of grated parmesan.  Yum!

So those are the 2 primary contenders.  So much to think about this week, how will I decide?  Any thoughts?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Peppered Filet Mignon with Shallot Wine Sauce

I couldn't decide if this picture looked appetizing or not, but remembering this meal's tastiness level, I decided it was okay.

I recently had the chance to get a smokin' deal on some meat; so awesome I'm not even at liberty to talk about it.  There could be consequences.  Guido promised he would take it easy on my knee caps, though.  
forgive my gibberish please, I'm tired

I've never prepared filet mignon, so of course I had to turn to my good friend google.  Who in turn led me to this recipe on RecipeZaar.  The original recipe had some mushrooms in it, but I just didn't really want them in there, so just went a little heavier on the shallots.

This sauce, in my opinion, was just wonderful.  Kind of tangy and rich at the same time.  I don't know if you can tell in the pic, but the meat is laying on a bed of mashed potatoes, and I have to say the combination of the filet, potatoes, and sauce was just perfect. 

Here's the original recipe with the 'shrooms.  Do with them as you will.




Prepare Mushroom wine Sauce first and set aside: Combine Mushrooms and flour in a bowl and toss to coat and set aside.

  • In a medium skillet, combine wine, shallots, and balsamic vinegar.

  • Bring to a boil and cook until thickened.
    Reduce heat.

    Add broth, Worcestershire, tomato paste, and rosemary, stir to combine and cook 1 minute.

    Add mushrooms and cook 3 minutes, until mushrooms are tender.
    Stir in mustard.

    Serve sauce over Filet Mignon.

    Fillet Mignon: Sprinkle steak with crushed black pepper and salt.
    Heat a non stick skillet over medium high heat or grill over a medium heat.

    Cook steaks for 3-5 minutes on each side until fillet is cooked the way you like it.

    Serve with sauce.

    In retrospect, I was thinking it would have been more flavorful to reverse the process, and prepare the steaks first, then do the sauce in the same pan while you keep the steaks warm in the oven.  

    Monday, April 5, 2010

    Vanilla Cafe Freeze

    We tried out another Hungry Girl frozen concoction tonight.

    I found it to be super yummy, reminded me a bit of when I used to try to make ice cream out of snow when I was little.  I kinda preferred eating it with a spoon over using the straw, to get all the crunchiness from the crushed ice.

    5 ounces light vanilla soymilk
    1 ounce sugar free, calorie free vanilla syrup
    1 tablespoon Coffee mate Fat free french vanilla powdered creamer
    1 teaspoon instant coffee (left this out, not a coffee person)
    3 no calorie sweetener packets
    1 cup crushed ice
    2 tablespoons fat free reddi-wip

    Place all ingredients (except reddi-wip) in a blender.  Blend on high speed 30-45 seconds.  Pour into tall glass and top with whipped topping.

    I was thinking this would be really good with some added spices to give it a kind of chai flavor.  I'll have to try that.

    Here's the nutrition info:  103 calories, 1 gm fat, 0 fiber

    Friday, April 2, 2010

    Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

    Tonight's dinner was lacking in photographic-ness, but made up for it in ease and yumminess.

    I first saw this idea at Home Sweet Home, and thought "why didn't I think of that?"  Just throw however many boneless chicken breasts you want into the crock pot, (I used 6), add half a bottle of hot wing sauce.  I only had Frank's Red Hot, so I toned it down by adding a little ketchup and a bit of butter.
    Leave in the crock pot on low about 7-8 hours, and dinner is ready. I suppose you could serve them whole or shredded.  Whatever makes you happy.  The chicken comes out completely moist and tender, and was really yummy with pickles, red onion, and ranch dressing.

    Speaking of Disney, we got to go see Disney on Ice last night!  (well, the voices in my head were speaking of Disney, as usual)
    The cool part was it was totally free courtesy of a giveaway I won at The Good Deal Gal.  Which is a really cool website...Rachael scours the universe to find all sorts of deals, discounts, and coupons, and shares all her info with us!

    I think the family had a really nice time, even held the boy child's attention.  We had really great seats too, I was expecting the nosebleed section, but we were on the 7th row.  

    Cool collage thing made at Photovisi.