Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tilapia with Horseradish and Herb-Spiked Mayo

I remember when we tried horseradish on tilapia in Dijon and Horseradish Crusted Tilapia.  The horseradish worked so great with the fish, that when I saw this recipe posted by Jaida, I knew we had to try it in our house.

Tilapia with Horseradish and Herb-Spiked Mayo
adapted from Sweet Beginnings
Cooking spray
1 lemon
4 (6-ounce) Tilapia fillets
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder
1⁄3 cup light mayonnaise
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish, or more to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup Panko Breadcrumbs

1) Preheat the broiler. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
2) Finely grate 1 teaspoon of zest from the lemon and set aside. Squeeze the juice from the lemon over both sides of the fish. Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper, to taste, and the garlic powder.
3) Place the fish on the prepared baking sheet and broil until fork-tender, about 3 minutes per side.
4) Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lemon zest, horseradish, chives, and parsley. 
5) Spoon mayonnaise mixture over fish, and top each fish with Panko breadcrumbs.  Put under broiler until the Panko browns.

When my husband asked me what was for dinner, and I explained it, I came up with the Panko breadcrumbs.  We just love the crunchiness of the Panko against the creamy sauce.  I loved the other dimension that the herbs added to this recipe too.  It was a great, quick weeknight dinner.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Chicken Shawarma

When this recipe popped up on Gourmet: Day to Day, it was a food that I had never heard of, nor did I know how to pronounce.  Usually, I skip right over these recipes and just let someone else make and enjoy them, but the photo made the food look so good that I knew I'd have to try it.

I found out several things about Chicken Shawarma when I was researching it out of curiosity.  According to Wikipedia, shawarma is a fast-food staple across the Middle East, Europe and the Caucasus.  The meat is usually made on a spit that can rotate up to a day, and common meats are lamb, goat, chicken, turkey, and beef.  Shawarma can be eaten with tabbouleh, fattoush, taboon bread, tomato, and cucumber

Chicken Shawarma
slightly adapted from Gourmet: Day to Day
1.25 pounds chicken breasts
1/2 cup Greek Yogurt
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dill

Yogurt Sauce
7 oz. cup plain greek yogurt
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 head romaine lettuce, washed and teared
1 medium cucumber, sliced thinly
2 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/8ths
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 red onion sliced thinly
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
Juice of 1 small lemon
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dill

6  pitas, or flatbreads

1) In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the marinade (yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, cinnamon, oregano, salt, nutmeg, and clove). Add chicken to the marinade, coat well, cover and refrigerate for 4-24 hours. If desired, slice the chicken into strips before marinating to maximize the flavor.
2)  Prepare the yogurt sauce for the sandwiches. Combine plain greek yogurt, garlic, dill, and salt. Refrigerate until ready to use.
3) After marinating the chicken, grill or pan-sear until cooked through.
4) Combine cucumber, tomato, red onion, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside
5)  Build the chicken shawarma sandwiches. Spread the yogurt sauce on your flat bread, top with the chicken, lettuce and cucumber, tomato, onion salad. Roll the sandwich closed. You can wrap the sandwich in foil to help it stay closed as you eat.

This dish tastes so fresh and amazing.  The spices on the chicken were present but not overwhelming, and tasted amazing with the sauce.  I am thinking about making the chicken and eating it on salads.

At first my husband said these were just "Ok", but as the meal went on, he said they grew on him, and he was disappointed there wasn't enough chicken for seconds.

This dish comes together quickly, it is just putting the marinade together and marinating the chicken that takes the longest.  I am very glad I didn't pass this dish over when I saw it.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Chicken Fettuccine with Broccoli

The theme for this recipe swap was Healthy Recipes.  This was the perfect swap to ring in the New Year since we're all looking to fulfil New Years Resolutions, well at least my husband and I are.  I received Hezzi D's Books and Cooks version of Fettuccine Alfredo with Bacon.  I have to admit that we're not really big fans of bacon, so I rarely keep it in the house.  I decided that I was going to try to make a healthy version of fettuccine with a different meat.

When going through my cabinets, I had a defrosted chicken breast from another meal and a bunch of broccoli leftover from snacks, so I thought I'd try to make it with the ingredients that I had on hand.

Grilled Chicken Fettuccine with Broccoli
1 pound fettuccine
1 chicken breast, grilled and chopped
1 bunch of broccoli, chopped into florets
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon flour
1 ¼ cup 2% milk
¾ cup Parmesan cheese
2 ounces gruyere
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon nutmeg

1) Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain, and set aside.
2) Start the grill.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and grill until done.
3)  Steam broccoli florets until tender.
4)  Heat a skillet with a little bit of oil and add garlic, cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add in the flour and stir constantly for 1 minute. Slowly stir in the milk. Cook until it starts to thicken and bubble.
5) Reduce heat to low. Add in half the Parmesan cheese and half the gruyere. Stir until cheese is melted. Add in the remaining cheese and stir until it is all incorporated into the sauce.
6) Stir in salt, pepper. Cook 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in chicken, broccoli, and nutmeg. Serve over top of cooked fettuccine.

Note: The original recipe calls for reserving the some of the liquid from the pasta and adding that to the sauce.  My sauce was the right consistancy, and tasted good, so I didn't add the water to the sauce.

I liked this meal.  It was a pretty classic combination, but with a much lighter taste.  It was a lot of the same textures, so I'd definitely serve it with a salad or crunchy garlic bread.  The chicken came off the grill super moist and flavorful, and the grill flavor worked great with the sauce and the broccoli.  Good meal, and easy on the hips, can't beat that.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Frito Chili Pie

I remember watching my brothers play sports and eating frito chili pie from the concession stand when I was a kid.  It is perfect sports food, sloppy, but extremely delicious.  So, when the last games of the playoffs were coming up, I asked Jacob if he'd be up for some Frito Chili Pie and he said yes.  I have to say, it was the perfect meal for football.

Frito Chili Pie
adpated from The Pioneer Woman
2 pounds turkey
1/2 white onion
3 cloves garlic, minced 
1 can (12 To 14 Ounce) Tomato Sauce
1 can (10 Ounce) Ro-tel (diced Tomatoes And Chilies)
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Ground Oregano
1 tablespoon Ground Cumin
1 tablespoon Cilantro
1 can (14-ounce) Kidney Beans, Drained And Rinsed
1 can (14-ounce) Pinto Beans, Drained And Rinsed
2 tablespoons Masa (corn Flour) Or Regular Corn Meal
Bag Of Fritos
Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Diced Green Onions (Optional)


1) Brown ground turkey with white onion and garlic.  Transfer to crock pot.
2) Add tomato sauce, Rotel, salt, oregano, cumin, and cilantro, cover and turn crockpot on high.  Let ingredients simmer in crockpot for about an hour.
3) Add drained and rinsed beans. Stir to combine, then cover and simmer for another hour.
4) Add the Masa to the chili. Stir to combine and simmer for a final 30 minutes. Set aside.

Serve over fritos. Pile in chili and cheese, and diced onion if using.

I haven't had chili in about ten years due to some food allergies, but I finally found some ingredients that would work.  Jacob said he usually doesn't eat chili with beans, but I thought it was great.  I don't know if there would have been enough substance to the chili without the beans.  The chili worked really well with the saltiness of the Fritos (I love Fritos).  I thought the green onions were a great burst of flavor with the chili, but the original recipe calls for red onion.  Just garnish it however you want, and you'll have an amazing football/sports meal. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pork and Potato Hash

February is Potato Lovers Month.  I didn't know that until the next theme for the Recipe Swap was announced: potatoes.  When I searched through my blog to find a potato recipe to swap,  I decided that I should make something new and then swap that.  So, I set out on a hunt to find a potato recipe. 

The first thing that came to mind was hash, so I typed in hash, and this amazing picture popped up.  The picture looked so good that I thought I could actually smell the hash through my computer, so onto the menu plan it went.

Pork and Potato Hash
adapted from MyRecipes
12 ounces pork shoulder or butt
1 carton (32 ounces) reduced sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups (1/2-inch) cubed red potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 cup chopped onion
3 tablespoons thinly diagonally sliced green onions

1) Place pork in the crockpot and pour chicken broth over the pork.  Season with rosemary, Italian seasoning, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper.  Place the crushed garlic into the broth mixture and let cook in the crockpot about six hours on low.
2) In a skillet, place a tablespoon of oil and place on medium-high heat.  Add the potato and chopped onion and cook until both potatoes and onions are tender.
3) Shred pork with kitchen utensils.
4) Plate potatoes and top with pork and green onions.  (The original recipe had an over easy egg on top, but we didn't include those).

The pork tasted amazing when it came out of the crockpot.  It was one of those foods that you want to just keep eating, but you hold yourself back because you know you're about to eat dinner.  The pork tasted great with the potatoes and the onions added some great flavor.  This is a fast, low calorie meal that was great.  This dish would not have been the same without the red potatoes, so I'm going to say that this is a great dish for Potato Lovers Month. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Salmon Pesto Pasta

I stumbled across Bridget's blog, The Way the Cookie Crumbles, when I first started blogging. I saw her post things like Fig-Glazed Burgers and Onion Jam, Tourtely apple tarts, and other recipes that blew my mind.  At this stage, I was totally cooking the same things all the time, and these recipes seemed so too complicated for my cooking ability.

Now here it is, 9 months later, and I just got around to taking a chance and looking at her blog again. I found the Salmon Pesto Pasta, and this seemed like a great breakthrough into making something from her blog.  I think next week I'm going to try making Chicken Broth from scratch using another recipe of hers.

Salmon Pesto Pasta
barely modified from The Way the Cookie Crumbles
8 ounces pasta
2 salmon filets
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
5 ounces evaporated milk
½ cup pesto
grated parmesan, for serving

1)  Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When water is boiling, add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta; stir to separate pasta. Cook pasta until al dente; drain. Pour evaporated milk into empty pot and simmer over medium-high heat until reduced to ¼ cup. Add cooked pasta to pot and stir to combine.
2) Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat broiler. Line a baking sheet or pan with aluminum foil. Season skinless side of salmon liberally with salt and pepper and Italian Seasoning, then rub with olive oil. Broil until salmon is no longer translucent and is firm when pressed, about 10 minutes.
3) Remove from broiler and sprinkle with lemon juice. Use fork to flake into bite-sized pieces. Skin will stick to foil and can be discarded.
4) Add salmon to pasta mixture and stir over medium heat until hot. Remove from heat and stir in basil. Top with parmesan.

I used two salmon filets instead of measuring it out in ounces.  I also couldn't find basil at my grocery store, so we used the store bought pesto.  Using two salmon filets gave us pretty large salmon to pasta ratio, but my husband liked it.  We both really liked this dish.  I love how you could still taste all the individual ingredients, but they came together in an amazing bite.  It was also a really fast dish, I made it and had it onto the table in under a half an hour.  I'll definitely be perusing Bridget's blog for more awesome finds similar to this one.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Broccoli Cheddar Soup- Souper Bowl Entry

I joined another Recipe Swap with a group of military women and I received this recipe to make.  I thought it was great too because another blogger I have run across, Branny Boils Over, is doing a Souper Bowl (click link for more details).  She is raising money for ASPCA, which I think is a great cause, so I'm glad this recipe served two purposes.

My husband and I have two dogs: Faith and Clifford.  Faith is a mutt that I found at the pound.  When I was purchasing her, the lady at the counter said, "We're so glad you're taking her, we were going to have to put her down tomorrow." My heart melted even more as I walked out the door with her.  I've had her two years, and she is just super energetic. We normally go on three walks a day, and sometimes she still has a ton of energy to spare.  She is so amazing though, I'm so glad I got her that day from the pound.

We also got Clifford from the pound.  He is a six year old St. Bernard/English Mastiff mix.  Jacob loves him so much because he's just so big and lazy.  He is great with kids, and loves everyone in the neighborhood, so everyone always wants to pet him.  He is a great dog, and him and Faith are the best of friends.

Playing tug of war, this usually results in a ripped toy.

Taking a nap after hiking.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup
slightly adapted from Simply Scratch
1 or 2 bunches (12 ounces) fresh broccoli, cut into florets
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons melted Butter, divided
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 medium carrot, julienned or grated
1/4 cup flour
2 cups Half-and-Half
2 cups Vegetable broth, plus more if needed
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, or more to taste
12 ounces Good Sharp Cheddar Cheese, freshly grated
salt and pepper to taste

1) Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Drop the broccoli florets into the boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove the broccoli and place it into a large bowl of ice water. Once cooled, drain the broccoli and set aside. 
2) Sauté the onions and carrots in two tablespoons of butter until soft but still firm. Remove and set aside. 
3) Add the 1/4 cup of melted butter to the pan. Add in the flour, stir constantly for 2-3 minutes.  
4) Slowly pour half-and-half and then the vegetable broth while still whisking. Add in nutmeg and stir. Cover and simmer over medium-low for 20 minutes. 
5) Next, reduce heat to low and add in the onions, carrots and broccoli. Add more vegetable stock if you feel the soup is too thick. Stir and cover to simmer for another 20-25 minutes. 
6) Lastly, use a potato masher to break up the broccoli florets to desired size. Add in half of the cheddar cheese. Season generously {to taste} with kosher salt and black pepper. 

Serve immediately with additional cheddar cheese.

Recipe Notes: I shredded my carrots on a cheese grater because I am horrible at cutting things into julienned strips.  The original recipe calls for one bunch of broccoli (or 12 ounces), and two bunches were almost 12 ounces for me. My store didn't have vegetable stock, so I just used vegetable broth.

I loved this soup a lot.  I even gave my dogs a little bit of the cheese, so it feels like they were a tiny part of this recipe as well.  Mine was pretty chunky, the broccoli was chunky and the soup was a little thick, but it went great with the ham and cheese sandwiches that we had to accompany it.  It made quite a bit extra too, so I'm sure I'll enjoy it for lunch all week. 

For more soup recipes, visit The Local Cook.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mexican Pizzas

I love Taco Bell.  Most times that we end up eating out, it is usually Taco Bell.  I don't even know what it is that sucks us into eating there, they almost always mess up our food or our order.  But yet we continue to go back...gluttons for punishment, I guess.  I found this Mexican Pizza recipe on Allrecipes, and since that is normally what I order there, I decided I should take a chance and make them at home.  Plus they only have 370 calories, which is almost 200 calories less than the Taco Bell version and 12 grams less fat.

Mexican Pizza
slightly adapted from Allrecipes
1/2 pound ground turkey or beef
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (16 ounce) can refried beans
4 (10 inch) corn tortilla, recommend tostada shells
1/2 cup salsa
1 cup shredded Mexican Cheese
2 green onions, chopped
2 roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup sour cream, for topping (optional)
1 tablespoon Taco Bell Sauce (optional)

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat 2 pie plates with non-stick cooking spray. 
2) Place beef, onion and garlic in a skillet over medium heat. Cook until beef is evenly browned. Drain off grease. Season the meat with cumin, cilantro, salt and pepper. 
3) Lay one tortilla in each pie plate, and cover with a layer of refried beans. Spread half of the seasoned ground beef over each one, and then cover with a second tortilla. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven. 
4) Remove the plates from the oven, and let cool slightly. Spread half of the salsa over each top tortilla. Cover each pizza with half of the cheese. Place half of the tomatoes,  and half of the green onions on top of each pizza. 
5) Return the pizzas to the oven, and bake for 5 to 10 more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Remove from the oven, and let cool slightly before slicing each one into 4 pieces.

We thought the flavor was great on these little pizzas, but they were a little challenging to eat.  While the tortillas did get a little bit crunchy, they were still hard to cut through.  My husband suggested using tostada shells instead, since they are already crunchy, and I thought that was a fantastic idea.  These definitely aren't an exact replica of the Taco Bell version, but they are pretty great.  Make sure you pick up some of the Taco Bell Sauce when you're in the refried bean section, that will make them even more close to the original.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Parmesan Honey Pork

I love meals that you can't wait to eat.  You smell them cooking, and it takes everything in your body not to go and taste it all the time while it is cooking.  This is one of those recipes.   Someone wrote as a commentary to the Six Sisters' Stuff recipe that their kids said this recipe smelled like feet while it was cooking, and I couldn't disagree more.  I thought the smell of this recipe was intoxicating. 

Parmesan Honey Pork Shoulder
slightly modified from Six Sisters' Stuff
1 (2-3 pound) boneless pork shoulder/roast
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons dried basil
3 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

1) Spray slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Place roast in slow cooker.
2) In a small bowl, combine the cheese, honey, soy sauce, basil, garlic, oil and salt; pour over pork.  
3) Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 160°.

On the Six Sisters' Stuff Blog, they continue the recipe on and take the juices out of the crock pot and combine it with cornstarch and water.  I didn't do this, because our sauce was already thick enough in the crock pot.

I loved this recipe, especially with the broccoli cheddar rice we had in it.  The pork was very moist and flavorful.  You can't really taste the cheese, so for all the cheese lovers out there, it doesn't really matter if you increase the amount of cheese, it hides behind the other strong flavors in the dish.  The leftovers were snatched up and eaten the next day, and I think the leftovers tasted even better.  Such an easy meal for such great flavors!

Friday, January 13, 2012


For this Recipe Swap, we mimicked the Secret Recipe Club, in which someone trades an entire blog, not just a recipe, and you get freedom to go through and pick a recipe that you want to make.  I love the concept of the Secret Recipe Club, and someday I'll meet the requirements to make it into the swap to trade my blog with other bloggers. 

I received Eva Bakes for the swap.  Eva says on her blog, "My goal isn't to become a professional chef/baker or photographer.  My only hope is that you enjoy some of my cherished recipes and find some inspiration in your kitchen."  I chose three of her cherished recipes that I wanted to try: the Snickerdoodles from this post, the Cookie Dough Brownies that I posted the other day, and the fudge.  I couldn't choose, so I decided to make all of them, which is a great feat for someone who hasn't baked very much. 

I used to love cinnamon sugar toast when I was a kid, and so naturally I loved Snickerdoodles.  There is just something very comforting about the cinnamon and sugar combination.  When I arrived at Eva's blog, it was the most recent post that she had made, and they started calling to me.  Even after finding the other two recipes, I knew this is what I would post for the swap day.

from Eva Bakes originally from Martha Stewart's Cookies
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 cups (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs

2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

1) Preheat oven to 350F. 
2) Sift together flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. 
3) Put butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. 
4) Mix in eggs. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture.
5) Stir together cinnamon and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in a small bowl. Shape dough into 1 3/4-inch balls; roll in cinnamon sugar. Space 3 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

6) Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.

We loved these cookies.  Mine turned out the size of doughnut holes, but that is because I was trying to spread the dough further.  They were perfect though, the right amount of cinnamon sugar to cookie.  They brought back memories of my childhood and eating snickerdoodles.  My husband kept sneaking the cookies from the ziploc bag after I packaged them up for him to take to work.  I'll definitely be making these again soon, and hanging around Eva's blog to find more things to make in the future.  

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Crockpot Chicken Caesar Sliders

I love sliders.  When I eat a hamburger and all the sides, I end up so full, I usually crash on the couch for the rest of the day.  Sliders are the perfect alternative.  All the same toppings, just on a smaller bun, so what's not to love, right?

I somehow have got myself working out 6-7 days a week now.  Which is awesome, but makes dinners challenging sometimes.  Luckily I have a patient husband who is willing to wait for food, or even better sometimes help complete stuff so we can eat when I get home.  These sounded like the perfect meal for after working out, easy to put together, and into our hungry stomachs in not much time.  Plus, my husband helped out which made everything come together even faster.

Crockpot Chicken Caesar Sliders
slightly adapted from Becoming Betty
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 carton of reduced sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup Caesar dressing
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper 

romaine lettuce, optional
slider buns or rolls

1) Place chicken in crock pot on low with the carton of chicken broth and garlic.  Cook 5-6 hours until done.  
2) Take out chicken and drain broth from crock pot.  
3) Shred chicken on cutting board and then put back in crock pot.  
4) Add dressing (as much as you like), Parmesan, parsley and pepper.  Mix well and cook for another 30-60 minutes.  
5) Toast the bread under the broiler for a few minutes until toasty.  Serve with lettuce and extra parmesan, if desired

These little sandwiches were awesome.  I will use a little less dressing next time, probably the amount the recipe calls for.  But they have such a great flavor.  The parsley really contributes a lot to the flavor profile too, which surprised me.  Perfect for a weekday dinner or even a weekend lunch.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cheeseburger Meatloaf

Meatloaf is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods.  The great thing about meatloaf is that you can throw whatever you want in there, and usually it turns out pretty good.  Leftovers can be made into sandwiches, or if you're like me, you just continue to eat the regular meatloaf.

My husband and I have debated over what is supposed to be used in meatloaf.  He swears that crackers are a better binder, but I always use breadcrumbs.  I guess it is one of those things we'll probably debate forever.  But, what we didn't debate was that this meatloaf was great, and an awesome spin-off of the original.

Cheeseburger Meatloaf
slightly adapted from Rachel Ray
1/2 red onion, finely chopped 
2 tablespoons olive oil
2/3 cup ketchup 
1 tablespoon mustard
2/3 cup bread crumbs 
2 large eggs 
1/2 cup bread-and-butter pickle chips, chopped 
1-1/2 pounds ground beef (or ground turkey) 
8 ounces cheddar cheese, cut into 1/3-inch cubes, plus extra for the top

1) Preheat the oven to 400°. Lightly oil bread pan.
2) In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring until slightly softened, about 3 minutes.
3) In a large bowl, combine the ketchup, mustard, bread crumbs, eggs and pickles; mix in the onion.
4) Crumble in the beef, add the cheese and mix together. Transfer to bread pan. Put some shredded cheese on top of the meatloaf.  Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 160°, about 35 minutes.

I loved this meatloaf.  I'm not a huge fan of bread and butter pickles, so I may swap those out for regular pickles next time, but I love how the onion and pickle are spread out throughout the meatloaf so you get a lot of flavors.  It was nice and cheesy throughout, plus the addition of a little extra cheese on the top just made it perfect.  Cover with a little more ketchup and this makes a great meal.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Biscuits and Gravy

When I was growing up, I remember my mom's biscuits and gravy were amazing.  I remember only liking her biscuits and gravy.  They were so great that I know that I haven't made biscuits and gravy for fear that mine won't turn out as good as hers.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were talking about making things from scratch, and gravy was one of those things that I hadn't ever thought of making from scratch before.  I even asked him, "What ingredients make up gravy?", and he didn't know either.  When I was perusing Nicole's 2011 recap post, I saw her Biscuits and Peppered Sausage Gravy.  It seemed so easy I had to try it. 

Biscuits and Gravy
slightly adapted from PreventionRD
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon Splenda
1 tablespoon baking powder
pinch of salt
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

10 oz reduced fat pork sausage
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 cups milk (I used 1%.)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon rosemary, chopped

For Biscuits:
1) Preheat oven to 450 F. Grease a large baking sheet and set aside.
2) Place all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and wisk to combine. Stir in the milk and softened butter until a crumbly dough forms. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic.
3) Roll the dough out to 1/2 inch thickness and, using a circle cookie cutter, cut into 12 rounds.
4)  Place rounds on the prepared baking sheet, brush with melted butter, and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

For Gravy:
1) Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the sausage, break it up with a wooden spoon, and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
2) Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a bowl, leaving the rendered fat in the skillet.
3) Whisk the flour into the fat and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute.
4) While whisking, pour the milk and butter into the skillet and bring the gravy to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 2-3 minutes, or until desired thickness is reached.
5) Stir in the sausage and season with pepper, salt, and rosemary. Split the biscuits in half and divide them among plates. Top each biscuit with some gravy and serve immediately.

Our gravy took about 15 minutes to thicken, and we added more seasoning (which is reflected in the recipe above) to the gravy because the gravy didn't really develop that many flavors before it thickened.  But we loved this meal.  Our biscuits were perfect.  I will put a little more butter on the top of the biscuits.  This recipe isn't as perfect as my mom's recipe, but it was perfect enough for me.  I may just keep this in the arsenal to  someday feed my kids, and hopefully they will love it as much as I loved my moms.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cookie Dough Brownies

Before stumbling across What's Cooking on The Nest, I didn't really bake anything unless it came out of a box.  Cheesecakes were not thought of, and brownies from scratch were definitely not on the list.

During the three day weekend, I recently came across Eva Bakes, and saw that she has some great baking stuff on her blog.  I'm going to attempt her fudge and the Snickerdoodles later this week too.  But, I love brownies, and these seemed like the perfect dessert for a New Years get together we were going to (and hopefully they didn't ruin anyone's New Years' resolutions).

Cookie Dough Brownies
from Eva Bakes
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups chocolate chips

Cookie Dough:
3 sticks butter, softened
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup sugar
9 tbsp milk
3 cups flour
3 cups chocolate chips 

Prepare Brownies:
1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan
2) In a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat briefly, just until it's hot, but not bubbling; it'll become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating this mixture a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.
3) Transfer the sugar mixture to a medium-sized mixing bowl, if you've heated it in a saucepan. Stir in the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla.
4) Whisk in the eggs, stirring until smooth.
5) Add the flour and chips, again stirring until smooth.
6) Spoon the batter into a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan.
7) Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes (mine took 45 minutes at high altitude), until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and the center should look very moist, but not uncooked. Remove them from the oven and cool completely on a rack.

Cookie dough:
1) Cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
2) Beat in milk.
3) With mixer on low, add flour and mix until well combined.
4) Stir in mini chocolate chips.

To assemble:
Spread the cookie dough onto the cooled brownies.

Chill the brownies until the cookie dough is firm. Cut into bars and serve.

I got a lot of "Oh yeah, these are awesome" while people were eating these.  I think they are very rich, so I always made sure I had a glass of milk within reach of my brownie.  People loved the fact that they were so chocolatey (with five cups of chocolate chips, they kind of have to be chocolatey).  They are the chocolate lovers best friend, and a great treat for any party.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Foil Baked Fish with Black Beans and Corn

I love foil packets, everything steams together to create moist and flavorful meals.  Plus everything takes about five minutes to throw together, so you aren't laboring over food for too long in the kitchen.

I found this recipe and thought it sounded like yet another great fish recipe to try.  I am slowly learning that fish can stand up to a lot of flavors and that there is a lot that can be done with it.

Foil-Baked Fish with Black Beans and Corn
slightly adapted from Pink Parsley
4 skinless white fish fillets (6 to 8 oz each), 1-inch thick
salt and pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
grated orange zest from one orange
freshly squeezed orange juice from one orange
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (16-oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups corn kernels
1/2 red onion, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
pico de gallo for garnish

1) Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat to 450 degrees.
2) Pat the fish dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
3) Using a fork, mix together the butter, orange zest, half the garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper in a medium bowl until well-combined.  Spread butter mixture over the fish.
4) Combine the beans, corn, onion, scallions, 2 tablespoons of cilantro, orange juice, remaining chipotle, remaining garlic, scallions, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl.
5) Lay four 14-inch lengths of foil on the counter and divide the bean mixture evenly over the lower half of each piece of foil.  Top with fish, and fold the foil over the fish, folding the edges to seal.
6) Arrange the packets in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the fish is just cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes (mine took about 35 minutes at elevation).  Carefully open the packets and sprinkle with remaining cilantro.  Serve.

I thought this recipe was good.  The tilapia was perfectly cooked and flaked really easily when you touched it.  I loved the orange flavor that the fish had, but I wish there was more orange flavor.  I would almost double the amount of orange used in the recipe. I liked the addition of the pico de gallo.  The jalapeno pieces added a little spice and I liked the tomatoes too.  This will definitely be a meal that we'll make again.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chicken Fajita Melts

For the past eight weeks, I have been doing workout classes almost every night.  They are right smack dab in the center of dinner, so I try to find something fast to make, so we aren't eating at eight at night.
I recently found this recipe on Pinterest and it seemed like the perfect meal for a night that I had a workout class.  I prepped the veggies that morning and chopped the chicken, so that everything was ready to go into a pan when I got home. 
Chicken Fajita Melts
slightly adapted from Six Sisters' Stuff
1 loaf French bread, sliced in half
2 chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried cilantro
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 green pepper,diced
1 onion, diced
1/3 cup salsa (more or less depending on how much you like)
1/3 cup shredded Mexican cheese 
2 tablespoons pico de gallo (optional)
1) Slice the bread open lengthwise so you have two long pieces.  Broil the bread so it gets nice and crunchy.
2) Season the chicken breasts with part of the spices and saute until cooked through (about ten minutes).
3) Saute the peppers and onions with the remaining spices for about 3-5 minutes, or until the water has cooked off.
4) To assemble, spread the salsa on the bottom of the bread. Add the grilled chicken slices, then the sauteed peppers and onion, then the cheese slice.
5) Put under the broiler to melt the cheese.
6) Cut bread into slices and serve. 
We both liked this meal a lot.  All the flavors combine to give you that classic fajita flavor, just on bread instead of a tortilla.  I appreciated this meal because I'm not a huge tortilla fan.  The chicken was moist and flavorful, and the veggies played into the meal nicely.  I loved the addition of the pico de gallo just because it gave some more freshness to the meal, but the sandwiches would taste just fine without it as well.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole

We went to lunch at a friend's house not too long ago and they had these potatoes sitting on the counter.  All of my other friends ranted an raved about these potatoes, and the smell was intoxicating, so I couldn't wait to get into them.

As the lunch went on, people went up for seconds and thirds on potatoes.  They seriously were some of the best potatoes I had ever eaten.  I decided that I would cook these up for Christmas just because they were so good, and really easy to whip up.

Cheesy Potato Casserole
from NancyCreative
2 lbs. frozen hash browns, thawed
3/4 cup  (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted and divided
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 pint (2 cups) sour cream (regular or light)
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups crushed corn flakes

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) In a large bowl, combine thawed hash browns with 1/2 cup melted butter and all the remaining ingredients except the corn flakes.
3) Spread into a 9×13″ baking dish.
4) Mix 1/4 cup melted butter and the crushed corn flakes together and sprinkle over top of casserole.  
5) Bake at 350 degrees, uncovered, for 1 hour. Serve hot.

This dish is just so creamy and cheesy that it is amazing.  I made it for Christmas and had enough leftovers that it became a side that went with almost anything.  I think next time, I'd half the recipe, so we don't have so much, but it is a great special occasion side dish.