Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sorry, Martha!

I bought 2 large sweet potatoes at the market this past weekend, figuring I'd put them to good use in the near future. My lightbulb turned on yesterday: make sweet potato fries to go with the Brats (boiled in beer...yum!) I was planning on having for dinner.

This is a Martha Stewart recipe with some modifications. The biggest being that I pulled an ultimate "that-is-definitely-not-what-Martha-meant" substitution: I used some good, ole Kraft grated Parmesan cheese. Sorry, Martha, but not everyone keeps a fresh wedge of parmesan cheese ready for grating on a moment's notice for a weeknight meal. While I think this recipe would be lovely with freshly grated parm, that's not what I used, and they still came out yummy and wonderfully crisp.

As you'll see by my picture, I refer to these as "wedges" and not fries as they are pretty thick. Again, being a weeknight, I did not have time or desire to carefully cut my sweet potatoes into dainty little fry-sized pieces. There's nothing dainty about beer brats anyway, so I think these wedge-sized fries were more appropriate. Enjoy!

Parmesan Coated Sweet Potato Wedges

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 large egg
2 tablespoons water
1/3 cups grated Parmesan cheese
2 large sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds), each cut into 4-6 good-sized wedges

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

In a shallow bowl, stir together the flour, salt, onion powder and pepper. In a separate shallow bowl, lightly beat egg s with water until combined. Place the Parmesan on a sheet of waxed paper or put it in another shallow bowl.

Dip the sweet potato first in the flour mixture, shaking off excess. Then dip each wedge into the egg white mixture until coated. Finally, dip the sweet potato in the Parmesan, coating well and shaking off any excess. (Don't worry if some gets on the skin). Transfer potato wedges onto the prepared baking sheet as you go. Sprinkle with a little more salt before placing in oven.

Bake potatoes until tender and crisp, about 25-30 minutes.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

"There is no joy of cooking without the joy of friends"

The title of this post is a quote that's on an adorable apron my aunt & uncle got me for Christmas. The quote couldn't be truer. In fact, I wore this apron Saturday night while I was preparing dinner for our friends - Matt, Alexis, Johnny, and Kristen who graced us with their presence. Fun was had by all....especially when it came to fondue time!

The main course for the night was a marinated pork loin alongside roasted asparagus (my first time ever cooking asparagus), and some mashed potatoes and apple raisin relish. I made some popovers too. For dessert we had chocolate fondue! Yum!

I am not sure I can recreate the measurements for my marinade for the pork so I'll just list what I used. I'm also sharing mashed potatoes recipe (which is my own take on I don't know how many mashed potato recipes I've seen) and the apple raisin relish, popover, and fondue recipes.

Marinated Pork Loin

Canola Oil
Spicy Brown Mustard
Onion Powder
Italian Seasoning
Seasoned meat tenderizer

Combine all ingredients in small bowl and then spread over two 2lb pork loins generously being sure to rub marinade into meat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours to marinade. Cook in roasting pan at 400 degrees F for approximately 75 minutes. Remove meat from pan and place on cutting board. Let meat rest at least 5 minutes before slicing.


4 eggs
2 cups milk
2 cups all-purpose flour*
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Grease 12 large muffin tin cups or 12 custard cups. Break the eggs into a bowl and beat well. Add the milk, flour, and salt, and beat until just blended. Fill the muffin tin cups or custard cups 3/4 full with the batter. Place the pan on the center rack in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes without opening the oven door.
*I made one batch as listed above and another replacing all-purpose flour with wheat flour and adding about 2 tablespoons of brown sugar - picture above shows both kinds, the wheat ones (on left) did not turn out as "fluffy" but were still quite good*

Apple Raisin Relish


2 tart green apples, such as Granny Smith ( 3/4 pound), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1/4 cup sugar
3-4 tablespoons raisins, or dried currants
1 tablespoon cider vinegar, or white-wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

In a medium saucepan, combine the apples, sugar, raisins, vinegar, ginger, and cayenne over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat; simmer, partially covered, until apples are soft, 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve alongside or on top of pork.

Mashed Potatoes

Approximately 3lbs of baby red pototates halved
2 cans low sodium chicken broth, plus 2 cans of water
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
4 oz cream cheese
1/3 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons (half stick) of butter

Bring chicken broth and water (if you need more liquid to cover potatoes, just add more water) for potatoes to a boil, add garlic, salt, pepper, and onion powder (this helps to infuse the potatoes with flavor while cooking). Boil until fork tender. Drain and return potatoes to pot on low setting. Be sure to save any minced garlic that may be left in your collander from draining the potatoes and return to pot as well.

Add butter and cream cheese and blend into potatoes with potato masher. Add heavy cream. Continue to mash until you reach desired consistency. Flavor with additional salt and pepper if needed.

Classic Chocolate Fondue
(from the Fondue Cookbook)

12 oz of semi-sweet chocolate
3/4 cup heavy cream

Combine 2 ingredients in fondue pot on low setting. Whisk until fully combined and dippable.

Serve with assorted dippers including:
Fruit: Strawberries, Bananas, Apple wedges, Pineapple
Others: Oreos, Pirouettes (Pepperidge Farm), Shortbread cookies, Pretzels, Marshmallows, Graham crackers, etc.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Baked French Toast Casserole

Today a few friends and I all went visiting at our friend Nikki's house. We met her new little guy - one of the cutest babies around - Freddie! We all chatted, caught up, and ate ourselves silly. We all brought and item for brunch and this was my contribution. It's become a great standby. I have made it a couple of times, even for the Easter brunch we hosted last year. It's very yummy but not healthy (yup, you guessed it, it's another Paula Deen recipe!)

Baked French Toast Casserole with Praline Topping

1 loaf French bread (13 to 16 ounces)
8 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash salt
Praline Topping, recipe follows
Maple syrup

Slice French bread into 20 slices, 1-inch each. (Use any extra bread for garlic toast or bread crumbs). Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 by 13-inch flat baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a rotary beater or whisk until blended but not too bubbly. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with maple syrup.

Praline Topping:
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well. Makes enough for Baked French Toast Casserole.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Pesto change-o!

***Update*** We just got finished with dinner a short time ago and the pesto was terrific. As I mentioned I was worried it may be a little drippy, but it was perfect. Yummy!!

I got it in my head to make a pesto chicken pizza for dinner tonight. I have everything in the house but the pesto - a pre-cooked pizza shell, chicken I cooked earlier in the week, and plenty of mozzarella. I could have bought pre-made pesto, but I thought making it myself would be better, and since I've never made pesto before, I figured it would be a fun, new challenge. So I made some last night ahead of time so I'd have less sto do when I came home from work.

This recipe called for almonds since pine nuts are fairly expensive. However, when I toasted the almonds, some of them came out way overdone (and I only put them in the oven for about 5 minutes and spread them across the pan well) so I had to pick out the ones that were ok to use (i.e. not "crispified"). This unfortunately resulted in me having a drippier than normal pesto sauce since I didn't have the full 1/4 cup, but I tested it and it's still tasty. I used a dark pan and they were slivered almonds, so those were probably reasons for the "over-toasting). Either way, the sauce will be just fine on a pizza since the dough will soak up any excess "liquidy-ness" so I am looking forward to dinner tonight!

(p.s. Making up new words is fun!)

Easy Pesto

1/4 cup almonds
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
1 pinch ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Place almonds on a cookie sheet, and bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted.

In a food processor, combine toasted almonds, garlic, basil, olive oil, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Process until a coarse paste is formed.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Soup's On!

When I stumbled across the below recipe on, I was too intrigued to not try it. My husband and I both love buffalo chicken so I decided to give it a go and ended up with great results! The nice thing about this recipe is you can really make it as spicy or as mild as you want by adding more buffalo sauce. And if you don't like bleu cheese you could always skip it and just use more sour cream. The recipe typed below represents the full recipe, but last night I knocked it down to about two-thirds of it and the recipe still made a ton.

I used a light version of pretty much every ingredient - one can of 98% fat free cream of chicken and one regular, light sour cream, and light bleu cheese dressing (I used Marie's brand), and 1% milk. I imagine using the full fat version of everything would make for an even thicker, richer soup if you don't mind the calories! Either way, along with some quickly put together garlic bread, this was a suprisingly nice filling meal for a cold winter's night.

Buffalo Chicken Soup

6 cups milk
3 (10 3/4 ounce) cans cream of chicken soup
3 cups cooked chicken
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup ranch dressing or blue cheese dressing
1/2 cup hot sauce, adjust to your taste
About 3 diced scallions (optional)
½ teaspoon minced garlic (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and cook on stove until hot and flavors have blended. Stir often to dissolve everything and to keep from scorching on the bottom. At least 30 minutes.

Garnish with an additional dollop of sour cream, or with shredded cheese and diced scallions (as I did in the picture above).

Monday, January 21, 2008

Whole Wheat Snickerdoodles

Yes, I really did say Whole Wheat Snickerdoodles.

After purchasing a 5lb bag of whole wheat flour for the "Healthified" Chocolate Chip Cookies I made last week, I decided I needed to find other ways to use it. Surely in today's health conscious world there must be plenty of recipes using whole wheat here's one, a very tasty one! I love having long holiday weekends that give me time to do some fun baking! And a big thanks to one of my bestest friends ever, De, for telling me where to find cream of tartar in the supermarket. Sad, but true, I had never used it in a recipe before!

Whole Wheat Snickerdoodles

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar till fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. Beat well. Add dry ingredients (except for white sugar and cinnamon).

Combine white sugar and cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar cinnamon mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten slightly with a drinking glass.

Bake at 375 degrees F for about 8 minutes.

Montly Muffin Challenge: January

In the spirit of it being the first month of my new endeavor - the monthly muffin challenge, I made 2 different types this month - both from my Nigella Express cookbook - Banana Butterscotch Muffins and Pear & Ginger Muffins. I liked both which both went over well at the slumber party, but I perosnally was a bigger fan of the former which had a bolder taste in my opinion.

On a side note, I felt as those the kitchen gods had it out for me this weekend. While putting my muffin tin full of my first batch in the oven with just my right hand (mind you, my left one was still in some pain from the night before), I lost my grip on the pan and it then tilted off of the rack and went splat....upside down on my oven door. Batter, EVERYWHERE, oozing down in between the crack of my oven door and where it meets the oven...into the the drawer under the oven. Almost all of the pans I had under there had to make a trip to the dishwasher because of it. All was lost...and a mess.

Honestly if I had found it as humorous at the time that I do now (ok, I'll admit, I still don't find it particularly amusing), I probably would have snapped a picture of the debacle, however, needless to say I was one UNhappy camper. Luckily my husband did "damage control" since I was far too annoyed with myself to do much cleaning up. Also lucky for me, I had enough bananas to make another batch. Never a dull moment I tell ya.

Banana Butterscotch Muffins

1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 2/3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3)
1 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 400F and line a 12-cup mufin pan with paper liners.

Measure the oil into a large glass measuring cup and beat in eggs.

Combine all dry ingredients except for butterscotch chips in a large bowl. Then add in liquid ingredients followed by mashed bananas. Once combined, fold in butterscotch chips.

Divide equal quantities of batter into muffin pan. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.

Pear and Ginger Muffins

1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup plus 6 teaspoons packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 eggs
1/2 cup peeled and chopped pears, about 1/4 inch dice

Preheat oven to 400F and line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper muffin cups.

Measure into a bowl the flour, granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, baking powder, and ground ginger.

In a large mesuring cup, whisk together wet ingredients. Then blend these ingredients into the dry ingredients. Lastly, mix in diced pairs and divide batter evenly among muffin cups.

Sprinkle each muffin with 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar before placing in oven. Bake for 18 minutes and remove to cooling rack once done. Best eaten warm.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

I burnt something, but it wasn't dinner!!!

Friday night I came home from a long day at work. I wanted to try a recipe from my Nigella Express cookbook for a Spanish Omelet. Cooking helps me unwind. All I can think of while I'm putting it together is how I can't wait to have it because 1) I had something very similar when I went to Spain in high school and 2) I've been craving breakfast for dinner for awhile now.

Everything was going fine. After putting the pan under the broiler for 5 minutes, I grabbed my oven mits and took it out of the oven. I then took the mits off so I could grab a plate to turn the omelet over onto. I placed the plate on top of the pan, put the oven mit on my right hand (my dominant one) and planned on using my left hand to steady the plate. All is going well, right?

What happened next defies all reason and logic. For some reason, I decided to grab the handle of the pan with my LEFT hand. Immediately, a flood of expletives left my mouth and I ran to the sink to run cold water over my hand. After hearing me yell several of those lovely words my husband ran in from the living room to survey the damage and said my middle finger was the worst (it blistered instantly) and the rest of my hand just looked red.

My wonderful husband then took over the rest of my duties, turning the omelet onto the plate. Taking pictures of it for the blog, and serving me. I spent the rest of the night on the couch watching the Celtics game with an ice pack on my hand.

The omelet was delicious, but next time I need to unwind after a long day at work I think I'll stick with a glass of wine.....

Spanish Omelet
(as adapted from "Nigella Express")

About 5 baby new potatoes quartered
5 eggs
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
3 scallions, finely sliced
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 teaspoon butter
drop of olive oil

Cook new potatoes in boiling water for about 10 minutes or until cooked through, then drain.

Preheat your broiler while you start the omelet.

Whisk eggs in bowl, then add cheese, scallions, and season with salt and pepper. Add potato chunks to mixture.

Heat the butter and oil in a small over-proof skillet, and once hot pour egg mixture and cook gently on medium heat for about 5 minutes.

Once the bottom of the omelet has set, do not turn it. Place skillet in over under the broiler for about 5 minutes or until top is set. Turn omelet upside down onto plate to let cool. Cut into 4 large or 8 smaller wedges for serving.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

My Monthly Muffin Challenge

Last night I read my friend Danielle's blog entry about her personal challenge of 50 cupcakes - 1 type of cupcake for every week for the rest of the year. I cannot wait to see what she comes up with. Danielle is just about the most creative person I know!

Her cupcake entry got my wheels turning - that I too should challenge myself - what do I have to lose? The number 50 intimidated me though, so I figured a monthly challenge might be more my speed since, unfortunately, I am not the talent that Danielle is! that's a number I can handle.

The idea of a monthly muffin was a little bit of a cheat on my part. See, I already planned on trying out a new muffin recipe for this weekend anyway. I'm going over my friend Sam's house for a grown-up girls only slumber party (woohoo!) and I thought some muffins for the next morning would be a nice contribution to the affair. But in my defense when thinking about what type of food I could challenge myself too, muffins first came to mind not only because of the obvious fact that I planned baking a batch in just a few days, but also because I don't have many muffins in my repetoire. So, if all goes well I should have 12 new recipes (or more if I get really ambitious) in my pocket by the end of this year.

That is, of course, only if this challenge is enough motivation for me to fire up my oven in the summer months!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Paula does it again!

Amid a flurry of butter, heavy cream, and mayonnaise, Paula Deen and her recipes continue to consistently impress me. Last night I made "The Lady's Cheesy Mac" for dinner. This will definitely replace my usual Mac 'n Cheese recipe. I didn't make any changes except for using small shells instead of elbow macaroni (since that is what I had in the house). All I can say is this is among her "Best Dishes" ;-)

The Lady's Cheesy Mac

4 cups cooked elbow macaroni, drained
2 cups grated Cheddar
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Once you have the macaroni cooked and drained, place in a large bowl and while still hot and add the cheddar.

In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and add to the macaroni mixture. Pour macaroni mixture into a casserole dish and bake for 30 to 45 minutes. Top with additional cheese if desired.

Monday, January 14, 2008

"Healthified" Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last week while on the food section of Martha Stewart's site I clicked on a banner add for Eat Better America ( and came upon a recipe for "Healthified" Chocolate Chip Cookies. I decided to try them out today.

Several reviewers of the recipe noted that the sugar and brown sugar could be substituted for Splenda and the Splenda Brown Sugar blend so I decided to go that route since I have both in house - go big or go home, right? The cookies turned out a tad puffy and did not really spread out on the pan much, but I actually expected this since the same has happened to me when using Splenda as a substitute in the past.

On my taste test I found the cookies to be a tad dry and my husband agreed. Overall though, the cookies are by no means bad, just not as indulgent as your normal chocolate chip cookie. But all things considered, I really can't complain considering it's "healthified!" And as I type this it's obvious that Greg isn't complaining either since he just went to get his 4th cookie in a 10 minute time span! Save room for dinner, geez!

"Healthified" Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 cup granulated sugar*
3/4 cup packed brown sugar*
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, beat sugars, butter, oil, vanilla and egg with electric mixer on low speed until blended. Beat in flour, baking soda and salt until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips.

On ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough by rounded measuring tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart.

Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until very light golden brown (centers will be soft). Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack.

*In place of granulated sugar and brown sugar, I used ¾ Splenda and ¼ plus 2 tablespoons Splenda Brown Sugar Blend respectively*

Shredded BBQ Crockpot Chicken & Beer Bread!

Yesterday my husband and I were going to be out a decent chunk of the day, so I figured I'd be lazy and put something into the crockpot so I wouldn't have to cook when I got home. I stumbled two recipes on recently that I thought would make a good combination for a hearty meal and I was quite happy with the results! Using a bbq chicken recipe on as inspiration, I made significant changes to it compared so I even gave it a different name. Based on the reviews for the Beer Bread, I made some minor changes to the recipe and incorporated those below. Both were a hit with us, the beer bread (which by the way I made in the morning ahead of time and just reheated it to serve later) in particular with my husband who consumed 3 rather large slices in one sitting!

Shredded BBQ Crockpot Chicken

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 cup barbeque sauce
1/4 cup Italian salad dressing
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ketchup
2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Place chicken in a slow cooker. In a bowl, mix all other ingredients. Pour over the chicken. Cover, and cook 6 hours on low. Before serving, shred chicken with two forks within crockpot and mix back into sauces before serving. (I put my chicken in frozen, if they're not frozen I'd suggest cutting down the cooking time).

Beer Bread I

1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle beer
3 cups all purpose flour
1 ½ tablepoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons white sugar

1 tabelspoon brown sugar
1 ½ tablespoons butter, melted

In a large bowl, mix together the sugars, baking powder, salt, and flour. Add beer and continue to mix, first using a wooden spoon, then your hands. Batter will be sticky. Pour into a 9 x 5 inch greased loaf pan. Let batter sit in pan for 20 minutes to rise. Pour melted butter over top of bread before putting in oven.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 50 to 55 minutes. The top will be crunchy, and the insides will be soft. Serve warm.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Brownies from scratch

I realized that I have a bunch of brownie recipes that I've dog-eared in cookbooks or saved on websites that I have never actually made, in fact, I've never even made a brownie from scratch before.

So I set out to try baking up my first batch of homemade brownies and decided to start with a basic recipe. The only change I made to the recipe to add only 3/4 cup of pecans and then about 3/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips to the batter.

While the brownies are good, I found the batter to be quite light in color when I was mixing it and they were still light colred when they came out of the oven. Luckily I had already decided to frost them and had a bowl of homemade chocolate frosting waiting for when they cooled. I would have liked a richer chocolate taste for these brownies. This is not to say I will never make the recipe again, I will probably just tweak it in the future, either with more chocolate squares or substituting a small amount of flour for cocoa powder. The frosting definitely upped the chocolate factor on the current recipe. Since the combination of the brownie and frosting was quite good, I was reasonably happy with the overall product. I may never open a tub of premade frosting again (sorry, Betty Crocker) since the frosting recipe below was so easy and so delicious.

Basic Brownies
1 cup butter or margarine
4 (1-ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cups chopped pecans (optional)

3/4 cups semi sweet chocolate morsels (optional)

Microwave butter and chocolate squares in a 1-quart microwave-safe bowl at high 2 minutes or until both are melted, stirring once.

Beat eggs at medium speed with an electric mixer; gradually add sugar, beating well.

Add flour, salt, and vanilla, beating well. Stir in chocolate mixture, and, if desired, chopped walnuts. Pour batter into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch pan.

Bake at 325° for 40 to 45 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into squares.

Chocolate Frosting

1 (16-ounce) package powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

Beat all ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Deli-Stuffed Eggwich

So I got myself some new cookbooks recently - "Nigella Express" (wow, it looks fabulous, can't wait to try some recipes out of that!) and Rachael Ray's "Just in Time." (Yes, Rachael Ray, Dani, I know you are cringing right now hahaha!).

Well one of the recipes in RR's book caught my attention immediately - "Deli Stuffed Eggwiches" - I thought it was a perfect quick meal idea (which it should be, after all, that is her "thing"). I decided to give it a go the other day for quick and easy lunch. This got rave reviews from the hubby who gave his "eggwich" two thumbs up. I'll definitely making them again, trying it with different meats and condiments. For this one I used some honey mustard on the sandwich. I also want to try different breads (I used a Kaiser roll for this one - RR called for regular bread). Really the options on this sandwich are endless. I tell you, this recipe makes me want a panini press even more than I already did!

So here's my version.....

Deli Stuffed Eggwich
(adapted from Rachael Ray's Deli-Stuffed Eggwiches from "Just in Time")

1 egg
Splash of milk
Salt & pepper
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 Kaiser roll
4 slices of deli ham
2 slices of sharp cheddar
Honey Mustard (amount of which is up to you)
1/2 tablespoon butter

In a shallow bowl beat egg, milk, honey, and salt & pepper to taste. Set aside.*

Spread honey mustard on one side of each bun slice generously. With spread sides facing in, make sandwiches of ham and cheese.

Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Dip sandwich in egg mixture - at least 30 seconds on each side allowing egg mixture to soak into bread a bit - and place on skillet. Cook for 3 minutes on each side or until deeply golden brown and warmed through (cheese should be melty). Halve the sandwich and serve hot.

(*Note: I only made one sandwich at the time and had plenty of egg mixture leftover to make at least 1 to 2 more).

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Dad finally gets his Chicken & Dumplings

For as long as I can remember, my father has been asking my mother to make chicken and dumplings for him. According to him, she's never made them in their almost 30 years of being married. Last winter I had discovered this chicken and dumplings recipe and made it myself a couple of times and even shared the recipe with my mother (who claims I never did). Still, no chicken and dumplings for Dad.

Well, we had my parents over for lunch yesterday and guess what? Dad got his chicken and dumplings.

The recipe as it is written here, calls for onions, which I left out yesterday (but normally would use). I also used 98% fat free cream of chicken yesterday. To make up for lost taste, I added a few spices to this recipe, and I also added baby carrots to make it a balanced meal (meat, veggies, and carbs!). Celery would probably be great in this too.

Slow Cooker Chicken & Dumplings
(as adapted from

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
2 tablespoons butter
2 cans 98% fat free cream of chicken soup
1 finely diced onion (I used 1/2 tsp onion powder yesterday instead)
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
3/4 teaspooon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt plus a dash
2 packages of large buttery biscuit dough, torn into pieces

Place all ingredients in 6 quart slow cooker and stir to mix. Fill with enough water to cover ingredients.

Cover and cook 4 to 5 hours on low (if you leave the chicken breasts whole, which the original recipe calls for, cook 5 to 6 hours on high).

About 30 minutes before serving, tear biscuit dough into 1 to 2 inch pieces and place on top of ingredients in slow cooker being sure to cover entirely with biscuit pieces (tear your biscuit dough as you go, since most likely you will not need the entire 2 cans). Sprinkle a dash of salt on top of biscuit layer. Place cover back on slow cooker for 30 minutes or until dough is no longer raw in the center.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Crisp

Say this three times fast:

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Crisp
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Crisp
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Crisp

Ok, I couldn't even type that three times in a row accurately, nevermind say it!

Creative boredom and overly ripe bananas got the best of me on New Year's night. See, I really can't stand overly ripe bananas or normally ripe bananas for that matter, I like them, well, slightly greenish to be honest. So, I pondered what I could do with those bananas, with what I had in the house before they went bad. It just pains me to throw food away if it can be avoided.

I thought of two yummy combinations with banana - peanut butter and chocolate (hey, even Elvis liked that combo). So I dreamt this little diddy up and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Crisp was born. My husband really loved which is good since I really made it for him. (No desserts for me for awhile since I'm trying to shed a few pounds). I call this a 2-3 person portion - it didn't make a ton - so expect to increase the amount of ingredients if you want to make it for several people.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Crisp

2 to 3 ripe bananas cut into 1/2 inch slices

1/3 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup quick cooking oats

2 heaping tablespoons brown sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons flour

2 -3 tablespoons butter cut into small pieces

"Handful" semi-sweet chocolate chips (very precise cooking measurement, huh?)

Preheat oven to 350 (or in my case your toaster oven). Spray small baking dish with cooking spray. Mix banana slices and peanut butter in small mixing bowl and place in cooking dish. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top of banana mixture.

Combine oats, brown sugar, and flour. Cut in butter pieces until crumbly. Sprinkle oat mixture on top of bananas and cook for about 20-25 minutes or until bananas are soft and topping is "crisp-like" (yeah, that's another very precise and technical cooking term). Serve with whipped cream (or ice cream would be good too!).

My BFF Honey Mustard

I really love honey mustard - I'll put it on anything. Honey Mustard is my a friend you shouldn't be spending so much time with because deep down you know that in large doses, this friend is a bad influence on you - or at least your waistline.

My husband is not battling his waistline right now, so therefore he and honey mustard dressing can "hang out" together all they want. I decided to make him some chicken salad sandwiches for lunches this week from a extra chicken breast I had cooked. Instead of making just plain old chicken salad, I made honey mustard chicken salad (i.e. replace mayonnaise portion with honey mustard dressing - the base of it is mayo anyway) using a recipe I got from my "Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2" book I mentioned in an earlier post. And it's yummy (ok, I snuck a taste....or two....).

Outback Steakhouse Honey Mustard Dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons Grey Poupon mustard

Combine all ingredients in medium bowl. Cover and chill to store. Makes 3/4 cup.

Chocolate Covered Oreo Cookie Cake

I found this recipe in my last edition of the seasonal Kraft Foods magazine I get and bookmarked it for another time. Well that time was New Year's Eve/Day. I brought it to my husband's grandparents' house on New Year's Eve and the next day it was completely gone (family members gather there on both days). I probably should have made 2 while I was at it, it was so easy! I've made some slight modifications to this recipe (tried to make it a bit healthier, not that this is by any means healthy ha!) so that is how it is posted here. However, I'm borrowing the picture from the Kraft Foods website since I neglected to take one of my own and I feel as though this is the kind of recipe that a visual is really helpful.

Chocolate Covered Oreo Cookie Cake
(recipe and picture from

1 pkg. (2-layer size) devil's food chocolate cake mix
4 squares BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, cut up
1 pkg. (8 oz.) 1/3 less fat Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 8oz tub thawed light Whipped Topping
12 OREO Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, coarsely crushed

Prepare and bake cake mix as directed on package in two 9-inch round baking pans. Cool 5 min.; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire racks. Trim cakes if needed so that they will lie flat when placed on a serving platter.

Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Gently stir in whipped topping and crushed cookies. Place one cake layer, top-side down, on serving plate. Spread top of layer evenly with cream cheese mixture. Cover with remaining cake layer, top-side up.

Microwave chocolate and butter in small microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Cool 5 min. Spoon chocolate glaze over top of cake. Let stand until set. Store in refrigerator.