Friday, August 20, 2010

Day 176, Salad with Seafood

I just wanted a simple salad and had some imitation crab in the fridge, so I threw together some ingredients I like.

Salad with Seafood

1 bag spinach
1 (8 oz) package imitation crab flakes
1 can (3.8 oz) sliced black olives, drained
4 oz fresh mozzarella, cubed
raspberry vinaigrette, to taste
Place spinach in 4 bowls. Top with crab, olives, and mozzarella. Add dressing, to taste.

Serves 4

Sometime great things happen when I throw together a bunch of ingredients I have around the house, sometimes I flop horribly. Fortunately this wasn't horrible, but it wasn't spectacular either. Perhaps I need to plan my meals ahead a little better. It is getting harder to make new meals every day. Six months I had no problem, but now I'm starting to have to think about what I want to make and try to remember if I made it or not.

Flavor Rating: Ok, it was palatable, but not what I really wanted.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, the only prep work was to slice the mozzarella.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Day 175, Homemade Pizza from Scratch

I had to test some yeast from a sample I had, so I decided to make pizza from scratch instead of a box. I even went out and bought fresh flour for the pizza.

Homemade Pizza

1 3/4 - 2 1/4 cups flour
1 envelope pizza yeast
1 1/2 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup very warm water (120 degrees to 130 degrees F.)
3 tbsp oil (I used olive oil)
Prepared toppings of your choice:
cheese, sauce, pepperoni, sausage, Canadian bacon, peppers, onions, etc...

Combine 1 cup flour, undissolved yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add water and oil. Mix together until blended; about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup flour gradually until dough forms a ball. Add additional flour, if needed, to handle. Spoon dough out of bowl onto floured surface. Dough will be slightly sticky. Knead on floured surface. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic; about 4 minutes.
Place dough on a greased pizza pan and press to fill pan. Top with desired prepared toppings and bake on bottom rack for 12 to 15 minutes until cheese is bubbly and crust is browned.

Makes 1 hand-tossed pizza, serves 8-10

I had never worked with yeast before, so this was a new way of cooking for me. I ended up using slightly over the 2 cups of flour in the mixture, but it would vary depending on the humidity level of the day as to how much flour I'd have to use. I haven't seen the pizza yeast on the store shelves near me as this is a new product, but it seems like a quick yeast because you don't need to let it rise. The baking process made it rise more than I had expected. I think I would divide this crust into 2 separate crusts for a thinner crust. I don't like a thick crust, so I'd want it to be thinner than it turned out. Making it from scratch, different flours could be used; it would be easy to make whole wheat crust.

Flavor Rating: Great, fresh ingredients, fresh taste.

Ease of Preparation: Moderate, it's more kneading than cookies and pies, but not as much as you'd think for a bread.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 174, Red Beans and Rice with Spicy Pork Chop

Once again I was walking by box mixes and wanted to try one. Zatarain's has a Red Beans and Rice mix that I had never had before, so I had to try it.

Red Beans and Rice with Spicy Pork Chop

1 box Zatarain's Red Beans and Rice
3 1/4 cups water
1 tbsp butter (optional)

4 boneless pork chops, cut 1/2 inch thick
1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
1 tbsp oil

In a 2 quart saucepan combine water, butter and red beans and rice mixture. Stir thoroughly and bring to a boil. Stir, reduce heat, cover and simmer over low heat for 25 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Remove from heat, let stand for 5 minutes. Stir and serve. Red beans and rice will be saucy.
Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, heat oil over medium-high heat until hot. Sprinkle Cajun seasoning evenly over pork chops. Cook for 5 minutes a side, until no longer pink in center.

Serves 4

I really liked the Red Beans and Rice. As someone who is not a fan of beans, I'm finding that I like them. Maybe it's my taste changing as I get older or that I'm going into these challenges with an open mind. The pork chops were spicy, I like spicy, but my husband and kids don't. I used McCormick's Perfect Pinch Cajun seasoning on these chops.

Flavor Rating: Great, it was a good Cajun meal.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, not much prep work to do when you use a mix.

Day 173, Tilapia with Sizzling Corn Relish

I had some fish in my freezer still, so I had to figure out something else to do with it. This is a light main course with plenty of flavor.

4 (6 oz) tilapia fillets
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp pepper, divided
2 tbsp cilantro, divided
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 to 3 tsp minced jalapenos
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/2 tsp no-salt-added all-purpose seasoning

Heat broiler. Line baking sheet with foil, spray with cooking spray. Place tilapia on baking sheet; sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper. Broil tilapia 5 minutes or until fish just begins to flake. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp of the cilantro.
Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Cook and stir corn, bell pepper and jalapeno 2 minutes. Add green onions, cook and stir 30 seconds. Stir in all-purpose seasoning and remaining salt and pepper. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro. Spoon over tilapia.

Serves 4

When making this, it took longer to measure out all the ingredients and I wish I had started the topping before cooking the fish. The fish didn't take long to cook at all, but it took me a while to get all the rest of the ingredients chopped and ready to cook. I omitted all the salt, I feel that salt doesn't do much for my flavors. I know that many professional chefs will say that salt brings out the flavor, but when I add salt, that's all I can taste. This was another recipe from my Cooking Club of America magazine and the link is in the title. This would have been good with a side of brown rice.

Flavor Rating: Excellent, loved the combination of flavors.

Ease of Preparation: Moderate, cut up all your vegetables before cooking anything. Wet corn will cause the oil to pop, be cautious when adding anything wet to oil.

Day 172, Garlic Lime Chicken Fajitas

This is another of the pre-measured spice packages from McCormick. I always have plenty of chicken around the house, so it was easy to make another chicken recipe.

1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced onions
3/4 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp oregano leaves
1/2 tsp cilantro leaves
1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
1/4 cup each lime and orange juices
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
1 medium bell pepper, color of your choice, cut into thin strips
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
8 flour tortillas (8 inch)

Mix juices, oil, all of the spices and salt in a small bowl. Reserve 1/4 cup of the marinade. Place chicken in a large resealable plastic bag or glass dish. Add remaining marinade; turn to coat well. Refrigerate 30 minutes or longer for extra flavor.
Cook and stir chicken in a large heated skillet on medium-high heat 3 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from skillet. Add bell pepper, onion and reserved marinade; cook and stir 5 minutes or until tender. Return chicken to skillet. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until heated through.
Spoon chicken mixture into warmed tortillas. Serve with assorted toppings, if desired.

Makes 8 servings

I served these on whole wheat tortillas, I find they taste better than the white flour tortillas, but it's probably just because I'm used to that taste in my tortillas and pastas. The pre-measured packets make cooking easier, I just have to open the spices and toss in. I liked the lime flavor in my fajitas, it added a little oomph to the fajitas.

Flavor Rating: Great, loved the lime taste.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, just remember to start early for marinading time, you can allow it to marinade while you're at work so you just have to cook it when you get home.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 171, Seasoned Steak

I wanted steak today, so I just tossed some steak seasoning on it and broiled it. Came out the right tenderness for me.

1 pound lean steak
1 tbsp Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning

Heat oven to broil. Sprinkle seasoning on steak and press to stick. Place steak on a broiler pan and broil for 4-5 minutes a side for medium rare. Add 1-2 minutes per side for well and subtract a minute for rare.

Serves 4

I got the less sodium flavoring, I don't feel the need for a lot of salt in my diet. This was a good seasoning, but I wish I had a grill to cook my steaks rather than having to broil them. Grilling adds a lot of flavor to the meat.

Flavor Rating: Great, I liked this seasoning.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, be sure to place your meat near the heating element when broiling. 2-3 inches away is ideal.

Day 170, Roasted Tomato Wraps

I found interesting wraps for sandwiches and decided to try them out. These had a pleasant taste to add to the wrap.

Roasted Tomato Wraps

1 Roasted Tomato Wrap
2 slices turkey lunchmeat
1 tbsp spreadable Swiss cheese

Spread cheese on wrap. Add turkey and roll. Cut in half and enjoy.

Serves 1

This would be good with spinach or a soft lettuce. Thinly sliced tomatoes would be good also. I didn't have any of these today, so I didn't put any vegetables on it this time. The flavored wrap added a nice flavor and can be found near the tortillas in the Mexican section of the store.

Flavor Rating: Good, it could have used some vegetables for more flavor.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, even the kids can help put these together.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 169, Spanish Chicken Skillet

McCormick has come out with a new line of spice blends that have all the spices premeasured for you. I decided to pick up a few of these because they helped make my decisions about dinner easier.

2 tsp paprika
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp thyme leaves
1/4 tsp coarse ground pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 6 serving-size pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large green or red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 large onion, cut into 1/2 inch thick wedges
1 can (14 1/2 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup chicken broth or dry sherry

Mix flour, salt and first 4 spices in a small bowl. Sprinkle chicken with 2 tbsp of the seasoned flour. Cook chicken in hot oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat 3 minutes per side, until browned. Remove from skillet, placing in a tin foil tent to keep warm. Add bell pepper and onion; cook and stir 5 minutes, until tender. Stir in tomatoes, broth and remaining seasoned flour. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Stir in red pepper to taste, if desired. Return chicken to skillet. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Serves 6

I like having all my spices premeasured and being able to keep the recipe card for future use is helpful so I can make it again if I wanted. Since it is a new product, I just had to try it. This is a good way to make something you may not have all the spices to and don't want to purchase a large amount of certain spices just for one recipe. There are several different recipe inspired spice packets to choose from and I picked up a few of them to try. We'll have to see how the family likes the rest.

Flavor Rating: Great, a nice blend of spices.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, only one large frying pan required.

Day 168, Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches

I only had the kids to feed dinner today, so I went with something simple and quick. We have peanut butter sandwiches for lunch all the time, but this put a twist on a traditional peanut butter sandwich.

Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches

2 slices bread, toasted
1/2 banana sliced
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp Nutella hazelnut spread

After toasting bread, spread peanut butter on one slice and Nutella on other slice. Layer bananas on one half of sandwich; top with other half.

Serves 1

Since I prefer my peanut butter in a layer of chocolate, using Nutella makes it taste more like a peanut butter cup. Adding the bananas helps add to the 5 a day that everyone is supposed to have. It is a pleasant flavor when added all together, even for someone who isn't a big fan of peanut butter like I am.

Flavor Rating: Great, even for someone who only eats peanut butter sandwiches for the protein, this was a good combination.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, even the kids can help.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Day 167, Italian Wedding Soup

I still had some Orzo pasta and wanted to try something else with it. It's been chilly so far this season, so a good soup is welcome to heat us up.

12 oz lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups beef broth
2 cups water
1 tsp dried oregano, crushed
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 cup orzo pasta
4 cups shredded escarole, curly endive, and/or spinach
3 oz Parmesan cheese with rind, cut into 4 wedges (optional)

In a large saucepan, cook beef, onion and garlic, uncovered, over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until meat is browned and vegetables are nearly tender, stirring occasionally. Drain fat, if necessary.
Add broth, water, oregano, bay leaves and pepper. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove bay leaves. Stir in orzo. Return to boiling; reduce heat to medium. Boil gently, uncovered, 10 minutes or until pasta is just tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in escarole.
To serve, place wedge of cheese in 4 soup bowls. Ladle hot soup into bowls.

Makes 4 main dish servings

Bay leaves add a wonderful flavor to recipes, but be sure to remove them before serving. I was able to find the wedges of Parmesan cheese in the deli section of Target, but you may also be able to find ti at your local grocery store in the deli department. It isn't cheap, but is very flavorful and has a better flavor than the already shredded Parmesan. If you can't find escarole or endive, spinach is a suitable substitute. Check your organic section for the first two; they're more likely to be found there.

Flavor Rating: Excellent, I really loved this soup.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, it may have a few steps, but it's not hard to make.

Day 166, Falafel

I walk through the international area of my grocery store often and every once in a while a mix catches my eye. This one came from a box mix, but I think I'll have to find the from scratch recipe for this one.


1 (6 oz) box Falafel mix (I used the Near East brand)
1 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup olive oil
cucumber yogurt sauce*
pita bread
sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and red onions

Combine contents of falafel mix with water. Let stand 10 minutes. (If mixture stands too long, patties will be difficult to form and may break apart.) Quickly form falafel mixture into 12 patties, each 2 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick. In a large 10-inch skillet, heat oil over medium heat 3 to 5 minutes. Cook patties about 4 minutes on each side, until evenly golden brown and crisp. Serve with cucumber yogurt sauce in pita halves with tomatoes, cucumbers and onions.

Serves 4

Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

8 ounces plain yogurt
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, finely chopped or shredded and drained
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp chopped dill or fresh mint (I used mint this time)
dash white pepper
dash salt (optional)

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Serve with falafel.

Makes 1 1/2 cups

I've never had falafel before so that's why I wanted to make the box mix first. I will have to find a good recipe so I can keep out any ingredients that could be possible allergens now that one of my family members has shown signs of allergies. This is a great source of vegetarian protein. It was really tasty with the spices that were in the mix. I found an 8 oz container of plain yogurt in the Greek varieties. There are several brands to choose from and even though it's a little more spendy ounce wise to buy the small container, if you're only going to use it for one recipe like I do, the small container is best to purchase so you don't toss a lot of yogurt.

Flavor Rating: Great, I loved this mix.

Ease of Preparation: Moderate, if you don't catch the mix in time, it does fall apart.

Day 165, Dry Rub Slow Cooked Ribs

Country style boneless ribs were on sale again, so I picked some up. I also picked up a new seasoning and had to try it.

Dry Rub Slow Cooked Ribs

2 pounds country style boneless pork ribs
2 tbsp Weber Sweet and Tangy BBQ seasoning

Season ribs generously with seasoning and rub into pork so it sticks. Place in a large slow cooker and cook on low 6-8 hours, until meat falls apart.

Serves 4-6

I like slow cooking, especially on days where I won't be home to be able to cook right before dinner time. This rub was really tasty and I think it would do well on a grill or smoker. I also made my potatoes in the slow cooker today.

Flavor Rating: Great, I loved this spice mix. It was a nice sweet with a mild kick.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, slow cooking is the easy way to go.

Slow Cooked Potatoes

1 pound fingerling potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Add washed potatoes to slow cooker. Pour oil over potatoes and toss to coat. Season as desired. Cook on low for 4-6 hours, until potatoes are tender.

Serves 4

The potatoes don't take as long to cook as the meat in the slow cooker. You can also use regular sized potatoes int he slow cooker if you cut them up into similar sized pieces. My husband loves them this way and I'll have to make them like that more often.

Flavor Rating: Great, the potatoes closest to the heat caramelized nicely.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, toss in and forget until dinner time.

Day 164, Chicken Spaghetti

We wanted spaghetti, the quickest meal to make, but had to add something to it to make it different from the other spaghettis we've had this year so a simple addition of chicken gave it a little protein and still is something the kids love.

Chicken Spaghetti

1/2 box tri-color rotini noodles
1 pound chicken, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup spaghetti sauce
freshly shredded Parmesan, to taste

Cook noodles according to packaging. Drain. Cook chicken in a large frying pan sprayed with non-stick spray 5-7 minutes until no longer pink in center. Add sauce to chicken and heat an additional minute, until sauce is hot. Serve sauce mixture over noodles; top with Parmesan cheese as desired. Serve with garlic toast.

Serves 4

I use traditional sauce when using sauce out of a jar. Marinara sauce is another good meatless sauce. I prefer my mom's homemade sauce, but haven't made it myself yet. I think that will happen this year because of all the tomato plants I have on my patio. Fresh ingredients are best, but canned tomatoes work in a pinch. I've even made noodles with just tomatoes and garlic instead of a sauce. It seems to taste more flavorful when using diced tomatoes instead of the sauce.

Flavor Rating: Good, jarred sauce doesn't stand up to home made, but it works.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, be sure to wash your hands when preparing chicken. Proper hand washing cuts down on salmonella transfer.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Day 163, Beef and Cheddar

I was thinking Arby's, but couldn't go there today, so I decided to try my hand at one of my favorites at home.

Beef and Cheddar Sandwich

1 pound thinly sliced roast beef
1 box (32 oz) beef broth
4 tbsp honey bbq sauce
1/2 cup Velveeta cheese
4 onion rolls

Place broth and roast beef into a sauce pan. Heat until it comes to a boil; boil for about a minute. Remove from heat. Heat Velveeta in a microwave or small pan, until melted; about 1 minute in microwave at 30 second increments adding 15 seconds if needed. Place 1 tbsp bbq sauce on bottom half of each bun. Top with 1/4 of meat per bun. Top each with melted cheese. Place top of bun.

Serves 4

I'm not sure how to make a saucier sauce with the cheese. I'll have to figure out the cheese to water ratio for an actual sauce for this; the cheese became firm quickly. I thought it would be smoother because it's a processed cheese substance, but I guess that new cheese (aged less than 10 months) would melt just as well. Perhaps next time I'll go with cheese slices. The honey barbecue sauce is similar to the Arby's sauce I like. I found a package of onion rolls, one that wasn't too firm like I have found some onion rolls to be. I just wish I had some french fries to go with this. I looked for curly fries, but didn't find any in the price range I prefer to pay.

Flavor Rating: Good, not as great as Arby's, but close enough.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, it took a couple of steps, but turned out well in the end.

Day 162, Fruit Topped Salad

Fruit is starting to go on sale for a decent price, so I decided it was a good time for a salad.

Fruit Topped Salad

2 cups lettuce
3-4 strawberries, sliced
2 tbsp blueberries
5-6 slices English cucumber
1 tbsp poppy seed dressing

Place lettuce in a bowl, top with cucumber. Add berries. Drizzle with dressing.

Serves 1

To eat a salad and get plenty of dressing flavor without going overboard on dressing either have your dressing on the side and dip your fork in the dressing before taking a forkful of salad or place your salad in a sealable container and top with dressing and shake until fully coated. It only takes a couple of tablespoons of dressing to coat a salad fully. Dressing is where the majority of your calories are in a salad. Add your favorite fruits and vegetables to this salad. Any berry will go well in this salad. Carrots would be a good addition to this salad also, shredding them or slicing them thinly would be the best ways to add carrots to a salad.

Flavor Rating: Great, the berries are best later in the summer when they are in season locally.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, little prep is needed even when your lettuce comes directly from your garden.

Day 161, Pork Chops in Onion Sauce

This is a recipe reminiscent of eating at my mothers house. The one thing I changed is using onion soup instead of cream of mushroom.

Pork Chops in Onion Sauce

4 medium cut (1/2 inch) pork chops
1 tbsp cooking oil (vegetable or olive)
1 can (10 oz) cream of onion soup
1/2 can water

Heat cooking oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add pork chops and cook for 4-5 minutes a side, until chop is no longer pink in center. Add soup and water to pan and mix. Heat for a minute, until sauce is bubbly. Serve over noodles.

Serves 4

I like making this with elbow noodles, they hold the soup best. Elbow noodles can be found in the Barilla Plus brand to add some whole grains to your diet. If desired, add a little freshly ground pepper to the pork chops, but the onion soup is flavorful enough that you probably don't need it. I like to cook the thinner cut pork chops so they are cooked through in less time than if I were getting the thicker cut chops. I have an easier time cooking them through without burning them. Measuring the water in the can allows you to get out the rest of the soup mixture and allows for accurate to the soup mix measuring. I don't add salt to my chops because there is plenty of salt in the soup.

Flavor Rating: Great, I love the cream of onion soup. Ever since finding it on the shelf, I've been substituting it for other cream of soups.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, prep to table, less than a half hour for a full meal.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Day 160, Gnocchi

I wanted spaghetti, but knew I already had done it this year, so I decided to try gnocchi instead. It's an Italian style dish that I've seen on Lydia's Italy on PBS so I decided to try it. I didn't make it from scratch like she does though, there are prepackaged gnocchi in the pasta isle.

Gnocchi in Tomato Sauce

1 (1 pound) package Gnocchi
1 cup prepared traditional style spaghetti sauce
shredded Parmesan cheese, to taste

In a large pot, bring 6 cups water to a boil. Add gnocchi and boil for 3-4 minutes, until gnocchi is floating on top. Drain, top with warm sauce and add Parmesan cheese on top.

Serves 6-8

I tried the Whole Wheat version of this dish. It's made with sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes. I'm not sure if it's because I started them in warm, but not boiling water that they turned out gummy textured, but it was an odd texture for me. I haven't had them before and may be brave enough to try the white gnocchi one of these days.

Flavor Rating: Good, it was kind of bland and had an odd taste to me. It was probably because I haven't had them before.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, just heat and eat, a quick meal.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Day 159, Basil and Proscuitto Chicken

I was looking in my cookbooks again and came across this recipe on the same page as the Sesame Ginger Chicken recipe. It looked yummy, so I made it too.

Basil and Prosciutto Chicken

1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 pounds)
4 tsp Dijon mustard
4 thin slices prosciutto or fully cooked ham
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
4 fresh basil leaves

Heat oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken in oil 6 minutes. Turn chicken; brush with mustard and top with prosciutto. Cook 6 to 8 minutes longer, until chicken is no longer pink in center of thickest pieces.
Sprinkle cheese over chicken. Cook about 2 minutes or until cheese is melted. Garnish with basil.

Serves 4

Having had prosciutto in a previous recipe, I liked the taste. If you can't find prosciutto, use a good ham. I found my prosciutto near the deli section in pre-packaged servings. This recipe was found in my Betty Crocker annual recipe cookbook. The basil is best eaten on top of this chicken for the full effect of the flavor combination. I served it with a mixed greens salad with Italian dressing and thin spaghetti noodles. The oil I used was olive oil.

Flavor Rating: Great, I like the combination of fresh basil with the prosciutto.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, if you can cook chicken, you can cook this.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Day 158, Vegetable Soup

I wanted some soup and happened to have some vegetable stock on hand, so I threw this together.

Vegetable Soup

1 box (32 oz) vegetable stock
1 can (15 oz) petite cut tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup noodles (I used alphabet noodles)

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add carrots and celery and cook for 5 minutes, until tender. Add vegetable stock, tomatoes and garlic. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add noodles and cook as directed on packaging.

Serves 8-10

I wanted to use up some more of the alphabet noodles I bought for a previous recipe. I didn't have time to go out for any additional ingredients today, so I used up some stuff I had on my shelves. Fortunately it came out pretty good, but the only difference from previous soups is that it is completely vegetable rather than using chicken stock.

Flavor Rating: Great, it was yummy.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, cooking the vegetables first makes them more tender than cooking them in the stock.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Day 157, Sesame Ginger Chicken

I pulled out one of my many cookbooks and found this recipe. It looked yummy, but turned out a little blander than I expected. I served it with potstickers I found in the frozen section and teriyaki noodles I found in the produce section.

Sesame Ginger Chicken

2 tbsp teriyaki sauce
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted*
1 tsp ground ginger
1 1/4 pounds chicken, cut into pieces

Mix teriyaki sauce, sesame seeds and ginger in a small bowl. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan. Add chicken and cook for 5-6 minutes, until browned. Add sauce and cook an additional minute, until chicken is cooked through.

*To toast sesame seeds, heat in an ungreased skillet over medium heat about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.

This recipe actually called for grilling and because I don't own a grill I had to modify it for a frying pan. If you wish, grill 4 chicken breast halves over direct heat and brush with the sauce mixture. Perhaps grilling it would have made it more flavorful. I found the sauce to be rather bland.

Flavor Rating: Good, it wasn't too bad for what it was and I toasted the seeds in this recipe, but didn't taste the difference.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, even the toasting of the seeds was fairly easy.

Day 156, Shrimp Scampi

I discovered more shrimp at the bottom of my freezer that had to be used. I buy the cooked shrimp, it doesn't have to be heated as long as the uncooked, but you also have to watch it closely so it doens't dry up when reheating it.

Shrimp Scampi

1 stick butter
1 bag medium shrimp, cooked
2 cloves garlic, minced

Melt butter in a pan over medium heat, add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add shrimp and heat 30 seconds. Serve in small bowls.

To make it look like it come out of a resturant, the butter should be clarified. Here is a good explination on how to clarify butter. I did not clarify the butter and think it would have looked and tasted better had I done that. I also made some Cheddar Garlic biscuits that taste similar the the Cheddar Bay Biscuits you could find at Red Lobster.

Flavor Rating: Good, I was in a hurry and clarifying the butter would have made them tastier.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, if you use raw shrimp, cook for 1-2 minutes a side to cook through.

Cheddar Garlic Biscuits

1 1/2 cups Bisquick
3/4 cup milk
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt

Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Mix the Bisquick, milk, garlic powder and salt together in a medium bowl. Add cheese and mix thouroughly. Spray a cooking sheet with non stick spray. Drop by the spoonful onto a cooking sheet or into a cupcake pan. Bake for 7-9 minutes until golden brown.

Optionally you can brush with butter which would make it taste more like the Red Lobster ones, but I find that I don't need the extra fat on my biscuits. I don't normally add salt to my biscuits either, but the Red Lobster ones are saltier than the ones I make, you may omit the salt if you wish. I add a little more milk than called for on the back of the Bisquick box for the biscuits recipe for better flowing batter. It makes it a little easier to handle when mixing. It would be too sticky to knead though, just use the drop method to make these biscuits.

Flavor Rating: Great, if you want it to taste exactly like the Red Lobster version, you need to use the salt and butter.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, just mix, drop and bake.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Day 155, A1 Cheeseburgers Topped With Fried Onions

I was in the mood for hamburgers again. Fortunately there are many ways to make a hamburger. Today I topped mine with fried onions.

A1 Cheeseburgers with Fried Onions

1 pound ground beef
2 tbsp A1 steak sauce
1 medium onion
2 tbsp water
4 slices baby Swiss cheese
additional A1 sauce to taste

Mix ground beef with 2 tbsp A1 sauce in a medium bowl. Form into 4 patties. Cook on medium heat for 5-6 minutes a side, until burgers are cooked through. Add cheese slices during last minute and cover to melt. Meanwhile slice onions lengthwise. Cook covered over medium heat with water for 5-7 minutes until translucent. Place burgers on buns, top with onions and additional A1 sauce to taste.

Serves 4

I liked this combination, but the additional sauce on top may have been too much for me. The burger itself is very tasty with the sauce mixed in. I discovered steaming my onions back in the days I worked at McDonald's. It helps to cook them through a little quicker if you're just looking for a translucent onion. If you want a caramelized onion, you need to cook them in oil and/or butter.

Flavor Rating: Great, I like the steak sauce in the burgers.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, be sure to form your patties thin and indent the center for even cooking.

Day 154, Crunchy Onion Chicken

I found this in the coupons, but it's also listed on the back of the French's French Fried Onions can. It was quick and easy and helps to get the aggression out from having to crush the onions.

Crunchy Onion Chicken

2 cups French Fried Onions
2 tbsp flour
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (1 1/4 pounds)
1 egg, beaten

Crush French fried onions with the flour in a large plastic bag. Dip chicken in egg; coat with onion crumbs. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees F. until cooked through.

Serves 4

I like crispy chicken every once in a while and this was a different coating than I am used to having. Usually it's a cereal coating or a flour and spices coating. This gave it a taste that I really liked. The recipe also states that you can substitute 1/4 cup mustard for the egg for a different twist. If someone tries this with the mustard, please comment on how it turns out.

Flavor Rating: Great, I loved this coating, but I also love onions.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, for quicker cleanup, line your baking pan with foil.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Day 153, Walleye Tacos

Canadian caught walleye was on sale this week so I picked up a few packages. I used soft corn tortilla shells, but you could use hard ones if you prefer them.

1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 fresh lime, juiced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced and seeded
1 tsp capers, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cayenne

1 pound Walleye fillets, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup fish batter (Shore Lunch or equivalent)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup vegetable oil

1 (12 oz) package corn tortillas
1/2 medium head cabbage, finely shredded
1/2 cup Mexican cheese blend, shredded

Prepare sauce 2 hours or more ahead of time. In a medium bowl, mix together sour cream and mayonnaise. Gradually stir in fresh lime juice until mixture is slightly runny or as desired. Mix in jalapeno, capers, oregano, cumin and cayenne pepper. If desired, add additional lime juice or caper juice to thin out the sauce more. The longer the sauce sets, the stronger the flavors.
Heat oil in a large frying pan. Dip fish pieces into beaten egg; coat with fish batter. Fry over medium heat until crisp and golden brown, about 1-2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.
Heat the corn tortillas as directed on packaging. Top with fish, shredded cabbage, cheese and sauce.

Serves 8

I found the sauce to be a bit too spicy and would make it with 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper next time. When frying the fish, do not overcrowd, cook in batches if needed. It doesn't take much time to cook fish, only a couple of minutes from raw to crisp, keep an eye on them. The cabbage was pleasant on top of these tacos. It made them taste a little different than a beef taco, but remember these are fish tacos. I used a soft corn tortilla instead of the hard ones that are found everywhere. I found the soft ones in the Mexican food isle.

Flavor Rating: Great, a little spicy, but overall a pleasant flavor.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, just remember to make the sauce ahead of time, as early as the night before, if desired.

Day 152, Roast Chicken with Lemon

I had been in the mood to roast a chicken all week, so I went out and got one even though it wasn't as cheap as $.99 a pound like I have seen at times.

1 (3 pound) whole chicken
2 lemons
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp dried sage
2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Rub the skin with the olive oil. Cut open one lemon and juice it. Pour the juice over the chicken. Cut the other lemon in half and place one half inside the chicken. Season the chicken with the remaining seasonings. Place the bird on a broiling pan and cook for 1 1/2 hours, until chicken has an internal temperature of 180 degrees F. as tested by a meat thermometer.

Serves 6

It was chilly the day I made this, so having the oven on was helpful. I actually loosened the skin and placed the juice and seasonings under the skin for more flavor right in the meat. I only had one lemon, so I couldn't taste the lemon flavor as much as I wanted. I always peel the skin off when I eat poultry, so I figured that placing the seasonings under the skin would make what I was actually eating more flavorful. I think I might have used more seasonings than the recipe called for, probably 1/2 tsp of each instead of 1/4 tsp because it just didn't cover the bird as well as I had liked.

Flavor Rating: Good, despite not covering it or basting, it still came out fairly moist.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, be sure to wash your hands well when preparing poultry.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Day 151, Sweet Roast

My mother made this for us the other day and I wanted to emulate it. I didn't succeed as well as she did, but it was still a good roast.

Sweet Roast

2 pound rump roast
1 cup beef broth
2 tbsp jelly, I used grape but I think mom used rhubarb

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small sauce pan, combine broth and jelly; heat over medium heat until jelly is melted. Place roast in a small roasting pan, top with broth mixture. Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until roast is cooked to desired doneness. Slice thinly to serve.

Serves 8-10

My mother likes to make her roasts in an electric frying pan which is where she did both the sauce and the roast. Seeing that I can't find mine, it was easier to just throw it in the oven. My sauce ended up tasting like beef broth when I was done instead of the sweet sauce my mother ended up making. I guess I'll have to keep trying until I get it right.

Flavor Rating: Good, not as good as Mom's , but still tender and moist when I was done.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, check your roast with a meat thermometer to test for doneness.

Day 150, Hamburger Mac N Cheese

Having only the kids to feed, I wanted to do something quick. I had some ground beef thawed, so I just browned it up and added the quick mac n cheese I discovered earlier.

Hamburger Mac N Cheese

1 pound ground beef
1 1/4 cup uncooked whole-grain shell noodles
1 cup lowfat milk
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sharp cheddar cheese

Brown ground beef; drain and rinse. Cook noodles according to packaging; drain.
Combine cold milk and flour in a small saucepan stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil over medium heat cooking for about 2 minutes, until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add cheese, stirring until cheese is melted and combined thoroughly. Add pasta and stir to coat. Add ground beef and stir until evenly distributed.

Serves 8-10

This was a big hit with the kids. I used the sharp cheddar this time for a cheesier taste to the mac n cheese. I also used a very lean ground beef that was grass fed. The way the cow is fed makes a difference in the way it tastes. It is a quick recipe for those nights you don't have a lot of time to make a meal.

Flavor Rating: Good, a nice mac n cheese and great hamburger.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, still the easiest way to make mac n cheese without having a premixed packet.

Day 149, Fontina Melon Salad

As it is getting warmer, I'm looking for recipes that don't cause as much heat in my kitchen. A little pasta boiling is about as hot as I'm willing to be on the warmer days.

1 1/2 cups dry large bow-tie pasta
2 cups cantaloupe and/or honeydew melon chunks
1 cup cubed Fontina or Swiss cheese (4 oz)
1/3 cup bottled poppy seed salad dressing
1 to 2 tbsp snipped fresh mint
2 cups watercress, stems removed

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain in colander; rinse with cold water. Drain.
Toss together pasta, cantaloupe and cheese in a large bowl. Combine salad dressing and mint; pour over pasta mixture, tossing gently to coat. Cover and chill for 2 to 24 hours.
Just before serving, stir watercress into pasta mixture. Add a bit more salad dressing, if needed, to moisten the salad. If desired, garnish with cantaloupe slices.

Serves 8

I had a very hard time finding watercress. Apparently the produce man only orders it during the Christian winter holidays and Thanksgiving. Having found that out, I exchanged mustard greens having read that watercress is a cousin to mustard greens. I can't say how good it would have been with the watercress, but the mustard greens had a slight bite to it. Now that I've made the recipe, I have seen watercress in a decent sized container at Cub Foods, where I had found a container of the organic section. Now I know for next time I have a recipe that calls for the watercress that I have access to it. I was actually able to find the Fontina cheese at my local SuperTarget. It was more expensive than cheese you'd find in the dairy section, but was well worth the extra expense. It was like a Swiss cheese, but with a bite in between a strong Swiss and a baby Swiss.

Flavor Rating: Good, I loved the cheese, but wasn't sure about the greens I had to exchange.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, a little cutting a little boiling.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Day 148, Lemon Pepper Mahi Mahi

I had some more of the Mahi Mahi from the Let's Dish meals and I wanted to make a second flavor with them, so I added simple ingredients I always have in the kitchen.

Lemon Pepper Mahi Mahi

4 Mahi Mahi fillets
1 large lemon
1 tbsp garlic, minced
pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet or line with foil; place fillets on baking sheet. Squeeze lemon over fillets, coating evenly (approx 2 tbsp juice). Spread garlic over fillets; sprinkle pepper over fish. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Serves 4

This is a very good fish. It's thick and tasty. I use freshly ground pepper when I use pepper. It is more flavorful than already ground pepper. I like to use fresh lemons rather than the juice you can find in a bottle in the juice isle. The juice is just tastier to me, maybe because it is freshly squeezed.

Flavor Rating: Great, I really like this fish, maybe that's why it's such an expensive fish.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, despite my fear of cooking fish, it's actually easy to make.

Day 147, Smoky Chicken Breasts

This recipe called for bone-in chicken breasts, but since I only have boneless around the house, that's what I used.

Smoky Chicken Breasts

1 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt, plus additional for garnish
1/4 tsp pepper
4 boneless chicken breast halves
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a small rimmed baking sheet with foil; spray with cooking spray.
Combine paprika, cumin, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper in a small bowl. Brush both sides of chicken with oil; sprinkle and rub spice mixture over both sides of chicken. Place on baking sheet.
Bake 25-30 minutes or until chicken is golden brown and no longer pink in center.Serve with additional sea salt, if desired.

Serves 4

If you wish to prepare this with bone-in chicken, click the link above to go to the original recipe. I didn't use any salt in the spice mixture I mixed up and thought it could have used a little. I wouldn't personally garnish with salt as there is too much salt in my diet as it is. The combination of the spices I did use were a decent mix, but wasn't over the top in flavor. The paprika gives the chicken a nice red color.

Flavor Rating: Good, my husband liked it and wants me to make it again sometime.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, baking chicken is my favorite way to make it.

Day 146, Tortellini with Roasted Red Bell Peppers

I had to use up some of the leftover ingredients from a previous recipe, so I tossed it with some pasta to make a new dish.

Tortellini with Roasted Red Bell Peppers

1 package whole wheat tortellini
2 tbsp prepared pesto
1/2 jar roasted red bell peppers, chopped

Cook pasta according to directions on package. Add pesto and red peppers; mix until evenly coated. Serve warm.

Serves 4

I found a new whole wheat tortellini in the refrigerated section at Target. I love these cheese filled pastas, and having it be whole wheat was a bonus. Usually I can only find white or spinach cheese filled pastas. I liked the pesto and roasted red peppers in the open faced sandwich I had, so tossing these ingredients with a little pasta just seemed appropriate.

Flavor Rating: Excellent, this flavor combination works well.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, it takes little time to cook the pasta and the only preparation is chopping the peppers.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Day 145, Steak with Horseradish Butter

I had some good steak still and I wanted to make it with gusto. I found some different flavored butters in the Target meat area. I chose the Horseradish butter.

Steak with Flavored Butter

4 steaks, about 1 inch thick
1 container flavored butter for steaks

Preheat oven to broil. Place steaks on a broiling pan so they're not touching each other. Broil each side for 5 minutes for medium, flipping once. Place steaks on plate and add butter to desired amount.

Serves 4

I had one big good steak and cut it into 4 serving sizes. A serving size of steak is actually only about 5 ounces and what I bought was a little above a pound worth of steak, so it got cut into portions we could actually eat. Since I have little children, their steaks were cut smaller. I love having flavors for my steak and this butter was a pretty good flavor. I had to put a couple of tablespoons on to make it cover the entire top of my steak, but it was worth it.

Flavor Rating: Great, a good cut of steak and a little flavor made it great.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, broiling your steak is an easy way to make a steak when you don't have a grill.

Day 144, Bacon Egg Skillet

I was being lazy today, so I just threw together a Jimmy Dean Skillet. This one had bacon, peppers, and potatoes in them. I usually get the one with the sausage, but felt like bacon today.

1 Jimmy Dean Skillet package
6 eggs
1 tbsp cooking oil

Heat oil in a 12-inch pan. Add contents of package. Meanwhile, beat eggs in a large bowl until mixed. Cook contents of package for 7 minutes, push to side and add eggs. Cook until eggs are done, making sure to continue to stir everything so nothing burns to the bottom of the pan, approximately 3-4 minutes more. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6

I find that with these, I end up having to add additional oil before adding the eggs. I think I cook the potatoes and vegetables a little too long before adding the eggs and that causes me to burn some of it to the bottom of my pan. Perhaps if I were to cook the package contents first, then to remove them from the pan before cooking the eggs, I wouldn't burn them. I guess I'm just not skilled enough to cook stuff out of a bag.

Flavor Rating: Good, not bad for dinner (breakfast) out of a bag.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, as long as you keep an eye on it, it shouldn't burn.

Day 143, Santa Fe Chicken

I was on a chicken kick, so I decided to do another chicken dish. I found plenty of these dishes at

1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp chili powder
4 skinless boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
2 tbsp vegetable oil (or olive oil)
1 can tomato soup
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Stir the flour and chili powder on a plate. Coat the chicken with the flour mixture. Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 10 minutes or until well browned on both sides. Add the soup to the skillet and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Top each chicken with the cheese.

Serves 4

I cut my chicken up for ease of serving the children. I also used 4 tbsp of each the flour and chili powder so I could coat every side of my cut up chicken. I used a blend of 3 cheddar cheeses I found as a new blend in my local grocery store. I ended up using a little more cheese than the recipe called for, about a half cup total, because I added the cheese after I plated each serving. It was just spicy enough for me.

Flavor Rating: Great, a nice blend of spices.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, not too much prep work to do.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Day 142, Balsamic Chicken

I wanted to use some of the Orzo pasta I picked up and this recipe looked like it went well with that shape of pasta. In the preparation of making this recipe, I used a new brand of chicken and found out that some brands need to use oil to prevent it from sticking.

Cooking Spray
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 1 pound)
2 cups Traditional Spaghetti Sauce
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar

Spray a 10-inch skillet with the cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add the chicken and cook for 10 minutes or until it's well browned on both sides. Remove the chicken from the skillet.
Stir the sauce and vinegar in the skillet and heat to a boil. Return the chicken to the skillet. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Serves 4

My normal chicken I use is individually frozen chicken breasts and these were individually packaged chicken breasts. The first are frozen with water frozen to them which probably causes them to be able to be cooked without any oil because of the excess water. The individually packaged chicken had no additional water added causing me to almost burn them to the pan. If you get the chicken that is loose in the package, they are probably like the first chicken breasts I'm describing and you won't need any oil, if you get the breasts individually packaged in plastic, you may need to have some oil int the bottom of your pan to prevent sticking.
The balsamic vinegar gives the sauce a kick but in the amounts in this recipe, it's not too bad. I decided to have my salad with balsamic vinaigrette too, so I had a lot of vinegar going on. I usually like balsamic vinaigrette, but it was a bit too much when it's in both parts of my meal. The orzo had a nice texture and I found it in the Target brand for a decent price. My husband thought it was rice because it has the same shape, but the flavor is definitely pasta.

Flavor Rating: Great, the vinegar gave it an extra kick.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, as long as you use the cooking spray to prevent sticking.

Day 141, Porcupine Meatballs

I wanted to do something different with my meatballs and found this recipe. Unfortunately I didn't read it through before making it and ended up mixing everything together instead of putting some of the ingredients on top. I'll post the way I made it and you can find the link in the title below to the original recipe.

1 lb lean ground beef
1 egg
1/4 cup applesauce
1/3 cup dry rice, prepared as directed on package
chopped celery
chopped onion
1 (12 oz) can tomato sauce

Combine first 6 ingredients in a mixing bowl, mix well. Form into walnut sized balls. Place meatballs into a large foil lined shallow baking pan. Pour tomato sauce over meatballs. Bake in oven at 350 degrees F. for 45 minutes, until well done.

Serves 6-8

The original recipe calls for 2 pounds of meat and tomato soup. I used tomato sauce instead so I didn't have the salt that comes with a soup. I also mixed the vegetables into the meatballs instead of pouring them over the meat like the original recipe calls for. They ended up cooking well that way and didn't need as much time in the oven as the original recipe was needing. A meatloaf will need an entire hour, but you may be able to get away with only a half hour to cook these meatballs.

Flavor Rating: Good, I'm not sure about celery in a meatball, but it wasn't too bad.

Ease of Preparation: Moderate, a lot of chopping and the applesauce made the meatballs hard to handle. It was more like making drop cookies.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Day 140, Herbed Chicken in Pastry

I wanted to do something different with my chicken today. Wrapping it in Puff Pastry did the trick.

1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
1 egg
1 tbsp water
ground black pepper, optional
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
2 tbsp butter
1 container (4 oz) garlic and herb spreadable cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Beat the egg in a small bowl with a fork.
Season the chicken with the black pepper, if desired. Heat the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 10 minutes or until it's well browned on both sides. Remove the chicken to a plate.
Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry into a 14-inch square. Cut into 4 (7-inch) squares.
Spread about 2 tbsp cheese spread in the center of each pastry square. Top each with 1 tbsp parsley and 1 chicken breast. Brush the edges with the egg mixture. Fold the corners of the pastry squares to the center over the chicken and press to seal. Place the pastries seam-side down onto a baking sheet. Brush the pastries with the egg mixture.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown. Let the pastries cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes.

Serves 4

I didn't have a lot of space to roll out the pastries, so I gently pulled the pastries from the center to the edges until they were the appropriate size. I baked them on parchment paper to prevent sticking to the baking sheet. If you don't have parchment paper, spray your baking sheet with non-stick spray. The original recipe called for cooling the chicken for 15 minutes to overnight, but I was in a hurry and didn't want to let them cool. Having hot chicken in the pastries will make the pastry rise even before you place them in the oven. Let them cool to room temperature before assembling them so the pastry doesn't rise before placing them in the oven. I used a smaller cut of chicken breast than I usually use and they ended up being the right size for this recipe. Make sure you use a garlic herb spreadable cheese you'd normally use for spreading on crackers. You will know you like the cheese if you normally eat it like that.

Flavor Rating: Great, I'd serve this at a fancy dinner.

Ease of Preparation: Moderate, takes a little time and preparation to make this.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Day 139, Roasted Tomato and Barley Soup

This was a yummy soup. You can make it completely vegetable by substituting vegetable broth instead of the chicken broth it calls for. I ended up eating 3 bowls worth.

1 can (28 oz) petite diced tomatoes, undrained
2 large onions, diced (about 2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cups chicken broth
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup uncooked pearl barley
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Drain the tomatoes, reserving the juice in. Place the tomatoes, onions and garlic in a 17 x 11 inch roasting pan. Pour the olive oil over the vegetables and toss to coat. Bake for 25 minutes.
Place the roasted vegetables into a 3-quart saucepan. Stir in the reserved tomato juice, broth, celery and barley and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 35 minutes or until the barley is tender. Stir in the parsley.

Serves 8

This was a tasty low calorie dish. Serve with some crackers if desired. I liked all the different vegetable flavors that were going on and roasting the tomatoes and onions gave it a richer flavor. I definitely recommend this for someone who is looking for a lot of flavor in a few calories. I used the quick cook barley which takes less time to cook than the regular barley.

Flavor Rating: Excellent, a lot of flavor.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, but time consuming.

Day 138, Basic Omelet

I don't make my omelets like I was taught in Home Ec. all those years ago. I prefer a drier egg than Martha Stewart and would never be able to eat an omelet cooked the way she makes them.

Basic Omelet

2 large eggs
1 tbsp water
2 slices American cheese

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs and water together until consistently yellow. Spray a small frying pan with non-stick cooking spray and preheat to medium. Add eggs and allow to cook for approximately 1-2 minutes until cooked through enough to flip. Remove from heat and flip cooked egg over. Add cheese and any other ingredients you wish. Fold egg in half and allow cheese to melt. Serve immediately.

Serves 1

I prefer a drier egg and this method allows me to have it cooked all the way through. The method that I was taught and you may be able to find on professional cooking shows is to gently move egg to the middle and allow the liquid to spill to the edges. I like to just cook my eggs like I'm frying them then folding it like an omelet. You can fry up some peppers, onions, mushrooms or whatever you like in the middle of your omelet. Shredded cheese works well for melting inside an omelet also.

Flavor Rating: Good, the more ingredients you put inside it, the yummier the omelet gets.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, this is the easiest way I found to make my omelets.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Day 137, Fusion Pork Tenderloin

This was the final meal I got from Let's Dish. I got enough in this meal to serve as many as 8-10 rather than the 4-6 it claims. Both the beans and the pork were spicy but not too hot. Check out the link for the ingredients. I don't remember the exact amounts.

2 pork tenderloins
1/2 cup liquid egg
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/4 cup plum sauce
1 tbsp crushed ginger
1 tbsp curry powder
1 bag frozen beans (about 3 cups)
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 to 1 tsp crushed red pepper

Mix breadcrumbs and coconut in a resealable bag. Brush pork with egg or place pork in a resealable bag with egg. Place pork in bag with breadcrumbs and pat lightly to coat. Remove from bag and place in a baking pan, repeat with second tenderloin. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake pork for 40-50 minutes until crust is browned and pork is cooked. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
In a small bowl, mix plum sauce, ginger and curry. Serve over sliced pork.
Spread green beans evenly on a baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 400 degrees F., until beans are hot. Meanwhile, mix vinegar, garlic powder and pepper. Toss sauce with beans. Serve immediately.

Serves 8-10

I enjoyed this dish. It was spicy, but not burn your mouth hot. I don't remember the exact amounts that went in each sauce, so I hope the recipe above is fairly accurate. I got the pork and the beans with this meal. Although they claim that most of their meals serve 4-6, this had enough to feed at least 8 people. This is a meal I would make again. It is recommended to serve over noodles, but I found that we had enough with just the pork and the beans.

Flavor Rating: Great, just the right infusion of flavors.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, a little messy as with all things I have to stick to breadcrumbs.