Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Garlic Rosemary Biscuits

Bread is amazing.  It can soak up the rest of an amazing soup, or be the perfect accompaniment to a piece of meat.  It can be plain, buttered, or topped with garlic.  You name it, bread probably goes with it. 

When I saw these Garlic Rosemary Biscuits, I knew that I had to try them.  I love rosemary and how fragrent of an herb it is.  I figured these biscuits would be a great additon to any meal. 

Plus, they are made using Bisquick, which is good for me since I don't have any biscuit/roll experience.

Garlic Rosemary Biscuits
slightly adapted from Skinnytaste
2 tablespoons salted butter, melted
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoon rosemary, plus additional for topping the biscuits
2 cups Heart Smart Bisquick
3 oz shredded parmesan cheese, plus additional for topping the biscuits
2/3 cup milk

1)  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2)  Melt butter in a small pan, add oil and half the garlic; sauté on low heat about 1 minute.
3)  Remove from heat and add chopped rosemary.
4)  In a large bowl, combine biscuit mix, parmesan cheese, and remaining garlic.
5)  Stir in milk and mix (do not over mix).
6)  Drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheet.

7)  Bake for 10 minutes. Brush or drizzle biscuits with melted butter. Bake for 5 more minutes, or until lightly browned on the bottom.
8)  Top with additional rosemary and parmesan cheese.

I love rosemary and garlic together, so of course these were fantastic flavorwise.  However, they were a tad on the dry side for me.  I don't know if that had to do with altitude or if it is just the biscuits themselves.   I think the next time I make them for a meal, I'll try to make adjustments for the altitude and see if that makes a difference. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Cranberry Vanilla Coffee Cake

I love cranberries but have never had fresh ones at all.  During the week of Thanksgiving, fresh ones were on sale at our grocery store. I grabbed a bag and planned on using it in something, although I had no idea what.

I was looking for a breakfast idea one morning and ran across Cranberry Coffee Cake.  I found this one on the Smitten Kitchen website and was very happy because I had all of the ingredients.  

So I dove into the recipe and have decided that I'm going to find more recipes to use fresh cranberries in.

Cranberry Vanilla Coffee Cake
slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened, divided
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk

1) Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle. Generously butter a 9- by 2-inch round cake pan. (I used a square one since all our circular ones were being used and it turned out fine).
2) Put sugar into food processor, add vanilla, and pulse to combine. Transfer to a bowl.
3) Pulse cranberries with 1/2 cup of the vanilla sugar in processor until finely chopped (do not purée).
4) Whisk together 2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt.
5) Beat together 1 stick butter and 1 cup vanilla sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down side and bottom of bowl.
6) Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture and milk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour, until just combined.
7) Spread half of batter in pan, then spoon cranberries over it, leaving a 1/2-inch border around edge. Spoon small bits of the remaining batter over the top of the cranberries and smooth them with as gentle of a hand as possible.
8) Blend remaining 1/4 cup vanilla sugar with remaining tablespoon each of butter and flour using your fingertips. Crumble over top of cake.
9) Bake until a wooden pick inserted into cake (not into cranberry filling) comes out clean and side begins to pull away from pan, 45 to 50 minutes.
10) Cool in pan 30 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely, crumb side up

Jacob suggested that next time we use brown sugar as the topping, and I think I'll try that instead.  Flavorwise the topping didn't really do much, but I think the brown sugar might change things up a little bit.  I think that I'd also add even more cranberries than I did.  I think three cups would be great (but then again I love cranberries).  This was a great breakfast, it was a perfect balance of tart and sweet.

Ground Turkey Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes remind me of being a kid again.  When you ate them and the sauce dripped all over you, but you didn't care because it was just that good. 

This recipe for sloppy joes took me right back to my childhood.  They were very saucy and delicious.

Ground Turkey Sloppy Joes
slightly adapted from Allrecipes
1 pound ground turkey breast
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup no-salt-added ketchup
4 tablespoons barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 whole wheat hamburger buns, split

1) In a nonstick skillet, cook the turkey and onion for 5 minutes or until turkey is no longer pink.
2) Add the next seven ingredients; simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3) Serve on toasted buns.               

In this recipe, the flavors developed really quickly.  I didn't think that simmering the wet ingredients together for ten minutes would produce such a finger-licking sauce.  This recipe was amazing and I was really surprised that it is listed as being under 300 calories.  

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Corn Chowder

Lately it has been chilly in Wyoming.  If it isn't low temperatures, it is the wind is blowing so hard that my ears hurt when I walk the dogs.  I decided that it was time to make soup for lunches at work.  That way I'd have something filling and warm without too much effort.

I don't remember ever having corn chowder, but for some reason making corn chowder sounded really good, so I found this recipe on one of my frequently visited blogs: A Taste of Home Cooking

Corn Chowder
slightly adapted from A Taste of Home Cooking
3 tablespoons butter
1 lb. bacon, diced
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 large package frozen corn, thawed
4-1/2 cups milk
1 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoon parsley, chopped
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup sour cream

1) Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crispy and brown. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. 
2) To the remaining bacon fat, add butter, onion and garlic; sauté onion until it is clear. 
3) Whisk in flour, salt and pepper. Stir until smooth. 
4) While stirring, gradually add milk and chicken broth. 
5) Add in potatoes, bacon and corn. Continue to heat over medium to low heat, stirring frequently until chowder has thickened and potatoes are cooked through about 40 minutes. 
5) Remove from heat. Whisk in grated cheese, sour cream, parsley and scallions. Stir until cheese has melted.  

This makes a TON of soup.  I think I'll have about six or seven meals left after I eat it this week for lunches.  I'll have to freeze some of it.  I do love the amount of corn that I get in each bite, and the potatoes make for a filling bowl of soup.  It is perfect for those chilly days.  I do think that next time I'll probably add more onions.  They kind of get lost behind the main players in the soup, and I think that having more might add a little more flavor.  This is an easy soup that is very tasty!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Garlic Lime Marinated Pork Chops

We eat a lot of Mexican food.  It is easy and really satisfying, but sometimes I feel like we eat the same things over and over again: enchiladas, tacos, taco salad.  It was nice to find the lime and garlic flavor on something else for a change.

I found these Garlic Lime Marinated Pork Chops on Skinnytaste.  I have started using this site a lot because it has healthier recipes that are husband approved.  He told me the other day that he's lost weight and hasn't felt cheated on food...which is always a good thing!  Plus he loves pork, so this was a fantastic recipe for us.

Garlic Lime Marinated Pork Chops
slightly adapted from Skinnytaste
4 (6oz each) lean boneless pork chops
4 cloves garlic, crushed
3 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon cilantro
1/2 lime, juice of
lime zest
salt and fresh pepper
1) In a large bowl season pork with garlic, cumin, cilantro, salt and pepper. Squeeze lime juice and some zest from the lime and let it marinade at least an hour.
2) Bake about 15 minutes a side on 350 degrees.  Put some of the marinade on the top when baking.

I let our pork marinade for an afternoon while we were busy doing other stuff.  The marinade saturated the pork and made for a delicious piece of meat.  I think that adding the lime zest gave the meat a little extra kick.  This meal is a great way to get the lime and garlic flavor without having to make Mexican food.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

BLT Pizzas

Weekdays are chaotic, and I just have dogs, not kids.  I have the best of intentions to get something fabulous on the table, but some nights it is all I can do to get sandwiches on the table.

I found this recipe and thought it would be super easy to throw together (almost as easy as sandwiches).  I made my own ranch dressing and got the dough for the crusts ready before running to the gym, so everything was super easy to get back together when I got back into the house.

BLT pizzas
adapted from JenniO
12 Turkey Bacon slices
1/3 cup ranch dressing
2 roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 cup lettuce, shredded
1 cup cheese
individual pizza crusts


1) Preheat oven to 450°F.  Bake the crusts alone (if using homemade crusts for about 7 minutes).
2) Cook bacon according to package directions.
3) Spread ranch on each pizza shell. Top with cheese, tomatoes, and cooked bacon slices. Place on baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until hot. Sprinkle with lettuce.

I have to say that the dough, toppings ratio in this pizza were kind of off.  While we were eating, I ripped the crust off the pizza and just ate the topping part.  I thought it was a classic marriage of flavors on a pizza crust.  Definitely an easy meal for a chaotic weeknight.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Jalapeno Popper Chicken Rollatini

I saw this recipe initially on Prevention RD.  I thought it sounded interesting, but making pockets in chicken breasts and stuffing them has never been a strong suit of mine, everything always ends in disaster.

I found Chicken Rollatini with Prosciutto and Cheese on the Skinnytaste blog and thought that making a rollatini out of the chicken would be easier than trying to make pockets in the chicken breasts.

I have never used Panko either, so I thought this would be a fun recipe to try, especially since Prevention RD mentioned that Panko gives things the feeling of being fried without actually having to fry the food. 

Jalapeno Popper Chicken
adapted from Prevention RD and A Taste of Homecooking
2 chicken breasts
4 oz reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup part-skim shredded Cheddar or Colby cheese
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 jalapenos, chopped (ribs and seeds removed)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
3/4 cup Panko
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried cilantro
1 egg
1) Pound chicken breasts until about a 1/4 inch thick.  Then cut each chicken breast in half lengthwise, so you have four chicken strips.
2) Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly grease a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
3) Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add jalapenos and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
4) Mix together cream cheese, shredded cheese, and jalapeno peppers.
5) Mix together bread crumbs, Panko and seasonings on a plate. Whisk egg in a separate bowl.
6) Dip chicken into egg and then into bread crumbs. Repeat with all chicken breasts and place on a baking sheet.
7) Spoon jalapeno mixture onto chicken strips and then roll each piece of chicken into a rollatini.
Bake for 30 minutes. Serve.

I wanted to try out a raspberry sauce, because I love the jalapeno poppers from Arby's.  The more I researched sauces though, the more I thought they sounded too complicated, so I tried something simple. 

For raspberry sauce, put two tablespoons of raspberry jam into a sauce pan on medium heat, and keep it on the heat until the sauce is the desired consistency (about 5 minutes).  If you leave the sauce alone too long, it solidifies into jam again.

My husband didn't want to try the raspberry jam, so he put ranch on his. 

This recipe turned out incredible.  The rollatinis are crunchy from the Panko and have a great outside texture.  The jalapenos are soft from letting them saute in the pan for a few minutes, but they work great inside the cream cheese to add a slight crunch and a bit of heat.  It is seriously everything you love about the bite sized appetizers rolled up in a chicken strip.  I loved the raspberry jam too.  I think it gave it a slight sweetness and the raspberry flavor went great with the filling inside the chicken.  The ranch version was good too, but as you can see from the picture above, my husband kind of drowned his rollatini in ranch, so with the ranch version, you lost a lot of the good base "popper" flavor.  Definitely a keeper!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

I love homemade mashed potatoes.  The chunkier they are, the better because then you know they came from real potatoes.  I watched a Pioneer Woman episode where she made mashed potatoes though, and I almost had a heart attack at how many horrible things she put in hers: tons of butter, cream cheese, and half and half.

I started thinking about sweet potatoes and was wondering if they could have the same comforting quality without two sticks of butter and a package of cream cheese.  I found a great base recipe on Allrecipes and decided to play with them from there.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes
adapted from Allrecipes
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon brown sugar

1) Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender, 20 to 30 minutes.               
2) With a potato masher, mash potatoes, slowly adding milk. Add butter, maple syrup, cinnamon, and brown sugar to taste.  Mash until smooth. Serve warm.               

I loved these potatoes.  You could still taste the sweet potatoes, but they were enhanced mostly by the maple syrup.  I think these would be a great substitution for mashed potatoes at Thankgiving.  They still have the hearty flavor, but taste like their ingredients, not like butter and cream cheese.  We served this with turkey filet mignions wrapped in turkey bacon to make an every night dinner and it was a fantastic meal.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

BBQ Chicken Burgers

Last week, I was one meal shy of having a complete meal plan when I was reading other people's meal plans online.  Someone said they were going to have chicken burgers, and I thought they sounded good, but there was no link to a specific burger, so I just googled chicken burger.

The first one that popped up was for a BBQ Chicken Burger, so I went and read through a few of the recipes before finally settling on this one.  It was a fast meal that combined an ingredient that I had never used before (Gorgonzola cheese) with two ingredients that I had never had together (grape jelly and BBQ sauce).

BBQ Chicken Burgers
slightly adapted from Shine
1/3 cup bottled barbecue sauce
1/3 cup grape jelly or seedless raspberry jam
 2 tablespoons fine dry bread crumbs
 1 tablespoon bottled barbecue sauce
1 teaspoon minced white onion
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon parsley
8 ounces uncooked ground chicken (makes eight burgers)
1/4 cup Gorgonzola cheese
dinner rolls or cocktail-sized hamburger buns, split
Sliced tomato, red onion, lettuce

1) Preheat oven to 425 degree F. Combine the 1/3 cup barbecue sauce and the jelly or jam. Mix with a wire whisk until smooth. Set aside.

2) Meanwhile, in a bowl combine bread crumbs, the 1 tablespoon barbecue sauce, white onion, garlic powder, parsley, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper.
3) Add ground chicken; mix well.
4) Shape into 8 balls; place 2 inches apart on greased shallow baking pan. Moisten the bottom of a glass and press each ball to about 1/4 inch thickness.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
5)  Construct burger using desired ingredients.

I loved the flavors of this burger.  We ground our own chicken meat to make the ground chicken, and everything was just moist and flavorful.  We used a half cup of gorgonzola, and I would have to say that I would probably use half that amount the next time.  While I love the flavor of gorgonzola, it overwhelmed some of the other flavors in the meat mixture.  The BBQ sauce and grape jelly worked really well in the flavor combinations too.  You could slightly taste the grape flavor in the BBQ sauce and both ingredients went well with such a pungent cheese. 

We made our patties huge, bigger is better, right?  In all honesty, they were hard to maneuver.  I'd say one chicken breast would make two chicken patties, especially for the buns we had.  Our ratios were just a little off.

This is something that I cannot wait to try this summer when the weather is good, and we can grill again.

Stuffed Peppers

Growing up, I hated stuffed peppers.  There actually wasn't a vegetable that I hated more.  I read in college that taste buds change every five to seven years, so I decided to give the things I disliked when I was young another chance. 

I now love green peppers.  I use them in a lot of my cooking now just because I love the moist crunch of them in dishes.  I have been keeping my eye out for a good stuffed pepper recipe, but they all use tomato sauce in them, which I'm allergic to, so I haven't had a chance to try any of them.  For this recipe swap, I received a stuffed pepper recipe from Cooking with Christen.  I was super excited to find that it didn't call for tomato sauce at all, so quickly put it on my meal plan.

Stuffed Peppers
slightly adapted from Cooking with Christen
1 tablespoon olive oil                            
1 onion, chopped
1`rib of celery, chopped                     
1/2 small bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped                   
1.5 lbs ground turkey
1 can French Onion soup                  
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
½ soup can of water           
1 ½ cups raw rice
2 tablespoons basil
salt, red, and black pepper to taste
4 large bell peppers

1) In a large dutch oven, sauté in a small amount of cooking oil, the onion, celery, chopped bell pepper, and garlic until slightly cooked through. 
2) Add the raw ground beef and brown well.
3) Add soups, water, rice (raw), salt, black and red pepper.  Mix well.  Cook until just heated through (the rice will not be fully cooked at this point, just warmed).
4) Cut the stem ends off of the whole bell peppers.  Scoop out seeds and clean well.
5) Spray a (9×13) baking dish with Pam.
6) Stuff each bell pepper about ¾ full of the rice mixture.  Quickly invert each bell pepper, rice side down, into the baking dish.
7) Put the remaining rice mixture around the bell peppers.  Cover the dish tightly and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes.  Do not open the cover until the cooking is complete.

I have to admit that I didn't make these as directed.  I thought I knew what I was doing and so I didn't read the directions very well.  I cut open the side and stuffed them, which made everything so much more difficult.  The mixture came out the top when I was stuffing them, which resulted in some burned fingers.

I thought this recipe was great though.  This is my third recipe swap in a row using French Onions of some sort, so this time I used canned soup from the store.  I do have to say that I'd prefer using homemade soup both for the cream of mushroom and the french onion soup, but that would take a lot of extra work. 

The peppers were soft, but still had a little crunch, and the stuffing for them was amazing.  It made plenty of extra stuffing so for a meal I ate the stuffing as a side.  The rice came out perfect and took on the flavors of the soups.  I would definitely make this again, I'd just read the instructions better so that I don't hurt myself as bad. 

For a list of all the recipes made during this swap, visit A Taste of Homecooking: Recipe Swap Roundup.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cream of Mushroom Soup

I don't like using a lot of canned soups in cooking.  It isn't that I don't like the creamy taste, it is just the fact that it plops out of the can in such a weird manner that I am kind of grossed out by it and can't stand to use it very often.   Homemade cream of mushroom soup doesn't 'plop' like the canned soup, it doesn't taste like the canned soup, and it doesn't have as many weird/unhealthy sounding ingredients like the canned soup does.

The ingredients listed on a can of Healthy Cream of Mushroom soup are:

Cream of Mushroom Soup
slightly adapted from Simply Recipes  (and made for 2, not 4)
8 ounces pound regular white mushrooms, cleaned, quartered or sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 teaspoon dried Italian Herb Blend (oregano, thyme, rosemary)
1/2 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 cups fat free half and half
3 tablespoons white cooking wine
3/4 cups chicken stock
3 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 3 tablespoons water
Minced parsley for garnish

1) In a food processor, coarsely chop mushrooms and lemon juice.
2) Melt butter in (4-5 quart) sauce pan and lightly sauté red onion on medium heat. Add mushrooms, Italian Herb blend, and bay leaf, sauté over moderate heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the liquid that is released from the mushrooms disappears.
3) Add salt, pepper, half and half, white wine, and chicken stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
4) Add cornstarch and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Correct seasoning and add more lemon juice to taste.

Serve sprinkled with a little parsley.

This soup came together quickly and was much easier than I was expecting it to be.  Even though it took more cornstarch than the original recipe called for, it still thickened up very nicely.  I was expecting it to taste heavy and thick, but it didn't taste either.  The mushroom flavor was great, and I could taste the addition of the white wine.  I thought it tasted like cream of mushroom soup should taste, minus all the preservatives that go into a can.  I think that this will definitely get made at our house again, especially when I run across a recipe that calls for canned cream of mushroom soup. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Beer Braised Sausages with Warm Potato Salad

I just recently received a Dutch Oven that has allowed me to conquer more one-pot meals.  Before getting the Dutch Oven, I just didn't have any equipment that was big enough to handle all of the ingredients the one-pot recipes called for.  I'm finding that the Dutch Oven is just about as handy as a crock pot.  The ingredients all meld in the pot to create amazing flavors.
I recently stumbled across Martha Stewart's recipe site and she also has a lot of one-pot meals that I'm interested in making.  Most of them are fantastic comfort foods that are great for cold nights.  This recipe turned out great, so I'll definitely be heading back to find some other recipes to make.
Beer Braised Sausages with Warm Potato Salad
slightly adapted from Martha Stewart
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausages
1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
24 ounces beer (we used Easy Street, a nice wheat beer)
1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes, halved (I ended up quartering mine by the end so they'd cook faster)
2 cups of water
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon chives
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1) In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add garlic and sausages, cook until brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Add onion and cook until softened, about 7 minutes. Add beer, potatoes, and water; season with salt, pepper, oregano and chives and press to submerge potatoes in cooking liquid. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes (took about 40 at high altitude).
2) Transfer sausages to a serving platter and keep warm. In a large bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon oil, vinegar, and parsley, and a dash of chives. With a slotted spoon, transfer potato mixture to dressing (reserve cooking liquid) and toss to combine.
3) Return pot to high heat; boil cooking liquid until reduced to 1 cup, about 15 minutes. Return sausages to pot and cook until heated through, 2 minutes. Place sausages and dressed potatoes on serving platter; drizzle half the sauce over top. Serve sausages and potatoes with remaining sauce alongside.
I really wanted to use turkey sausages in this recipe, but it turned out that my grocery store had run out.  Jacob kept commenting on how great the house smelled with the combination of the beer, sausages, and garlic.  I doubled the amount of beer in the recipe to get more of the flavor, but also to fully cover the potatoes in the Dutch Oven.  Without two bottles of beer and two cups of water, the potatoes would not have been covered.
I thought that the red wine vinegar taste of the potatoes went great with the beer flavored onions and sausages.  The herbs were subtle, but still contributed to the flavor profile of the dish.  Everything worked well to provide this great comforting dish.

Friday, November 4, 2011

French Onion Stuffed Baked Potatoes

The theme of this round's recipe swap was Thanksgiving side dishes.  The only side for Thanksgiving that I have ever made was a green bean casserole in college for a get together for students who couldn't go home.  This year will be my first Thanksgiving cooking, so I was excited to participate in this swap to get new ideas.

I received French Onion Stuffed Baked Potatoes from the Redhead Baker, who writes the Does Not Cook Well With Others blog.  I had to chuckle because the last recipe that I received was for French Onion Soup, so I seemed destined to make many French Onion recipes this month.

French Onion Stuffed Baked Potatoes
adapted from FoodNetwork
4 russet potatoes
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 button mushrooms thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon red cooking wine
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup shredded gruyere, plus more for topping

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stab the potatoes with a fork a few times and then wrap in foil and put in the oven for an hour.
2) About half-way through the potatoes' cooking time, heat the olive oil, salt, and garlic in a skillet, and cook the onions and mushrooms until caramelized, about 20 minutes.
3) Add the wine,the beef broth, bay leaf and reduce the liquid into the onions and mushrooms, should take about ten minutes.
4) When the potatoes are done, split them open and scoop out the flesh.
5) Mash the potato flesh, caramelized mushroom and onions, and 1/2 cup of shredded gruyere.
6) Stuff into the potato skins, top with more gruyere, and put back into the oven just until cheese melts.

Mine turned out more like potato skins because when I cut them in half to stuff them, they came all the way apart.   If you love French Onion soup, these baked potatoes are great.  They have the same flavors as the soup, just in a different vessel.  I added mushrooms because I had extra mushrooms from another dish this week, and I think it added to the taste and texture, but could also be left out.  We ate ours with steak, but I think that they'd be the perfect addition to the Thanksgiving table.  The only thing that I did notice was that they didn't retain their heat for a long time, so they can't sit out for awhile before you serve them to guests.  They basically need to go from the oven to the table.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Crock Pot Asian Pork with Mushrooms

Crock pots make meals very easy.  You spend a minimal amount of time in the morning gathering the ingredients, and then you combine them all in the dish.  When you get home from work 8 hours later, it is like magic has happened in your house.  The aromas are to die for, and your food slowly cooked while you were at work resulting amazingly juicy meats.

A lot of crock pot recipes that I've found are for the same types of things over and over again: pot roast, pulled pork sandwiches, and soups.  I found this recipe for Crock Pot Asian Pork with Mushrooms and figured that if it turned out good, I'd have a new recipe to add to the few crock pot recipes that I had. Not only did it turn out good, both Jacob and I talked about how great it was the entire time we ate it.

Crock Pot Asian Pork with Mushrooms
slightly adapted from Skinnytaste
2 lb lean boneless pork roast 
kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup low-sodium fat-free chicken broth
1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons Splenda
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice  (I couldn't find Chinese Five Spice, so I used Jamaican Five Spice)
3 cloves crushed garlic
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger root
3/4 cup of water
8 oz baby bella mushrooms

1/4 cup cilantro
1/4 cup green onions

1)  Season pork with salt and pepper.
2)  Turn a skillet onto medium-high and place olive oil in the bottom of the skillet.  Brown pork on both sides approximately 7-8 minutes.
3)  Combine chicken broth, soy sauce, vinegar, splenda, sesame oil, five spice, crushed garlic and ginger root, and water in the crock pot.  When the pork is browned, place into the crock pot.  Cook on low for 8 hours.
4)  About an hour before you're about to serve, remove the pork and shred it.  Put the shredded pork back into the crock pot with the mushrooms until the mushrooms are soft and have absorbed some of the liquid.

5)  Set crock pot mixture atop rice and top with cilantro and green onions.

This is an excellent dish for anyone who has a busy day and needs an easy crock pot meal.  The meat browns while you're throwing all of the liquid elements into the crock pot, so browning the meat doesn't take any extra time out of your getting ready routine.

The pork shredded with one fork, it was so juicy and soft.  The soy sauce, sesame oil, and balsamic vinegar created this great sauce that the rice absorbed and made the meal even more amazing.  We removed the mushroom stems, but put them into the crock pot whole.  The result was these amazingly juicy mushrooms that burst with liquid in your mouth.  The green onions provided a little bit of crunch and the cilantro that extra bit of freshness and flavor.  It was so hard to keep myself from going up for seconds. .

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ground Turkey with Potatoes and Peas

I have to admit that we've been a little dependent on the Skinnytaste blog recently.  It seems like everything I make from the blog is a huge hit and we're working hard on reducing our portion sizes.  The food on the Skinnytaste blog seems to be super filling because my husband never goes into the kitchen for seconds.  We've had a lot of leftovers, which helps for lunches the next day.
I liked this meal because it seemed heartier, which is always good for a late autumn night.  It was also super easy to put together, and most of the time is spent chopping things, so the meal seems to go from the skillet to the table quickly.  Plus it is one of those one-pot meals so cleanup was super easy, which was great since we had a lot of Trick-or-Treaters.
Ground Turkey with Potatoes and Peas
slightly adapted from Skinnytaste
1 medium tomato
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1/4 cup red onion
1.25 lb 93% lean ground turkey
4 medium scallions, chopped
1/2 cup canned peas  or 1 cup fresh peas
1 potato, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch strips
8 oz can canned tomatoes
3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp cumin, or to taste
salt, to taste
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup cheese

1) In a food processor or by hand finely chop tomato, garlic, red onion, and cilantro.
2) In a large skillet, brown turkey.  Season with salt and cumin.
3) When meat is browned and cooked through add scallions, chopped tomato mixture, peas, potato, tomato sauce, water, cumin, salt and bay leaf.
4) Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until potatoes are cooked through, about 25 minutes stirring occasionally. Add more water if needed. Remove bay leaf and serve over rice.  Add cheese if you'd like to finish off the meal.

I used a whole cup of peas like the original recipe called for and the dish seemed a little overrun with peas.  This could be due to the fact that I used canned peas instead of fresh peas.  The tomato taste was prominant, but I couldn't really taste any of the other spices.  When I make this again, I'll probably up the amounts of the spices quite a bit, so that they don't get lost in the tomato elements of the dish.  I thought that the potatoes and the rice would make this dish too starchy, but everything seemed very proportionate in this recipe.