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.