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.