Kitchen Concoctions: July 2009

Friday, July 31, 2009

Just Being Honest

So I had so many recipes picked out from this month's cookbook of the month that is was hard to narrow down just four (there were only four Mondays this month- in case you didn't notice). So hard in fact, that I decided to try 'just one more' of the twenty I had dog eared. I was going to give y'all a bonus recipe, because you guys deserved it.

The recipe I wanted to make was Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna Roll-ups with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce. It sounded so good and seemed easy; and the best part was that I could have lasagna with out turning my oven on- perfect for a 104 degree day.

So I set out and made this last recipe and became very sad. This recipe took longer to make then I thought and DID require the use of my oven (I should read directions more thoroughly). And to make things worst it was just 'eh'. I was totally not impressed. It is not like it was terrible and uneatable- it was just nothing to write about.

Because things did not turn out as I had hoped and I did not really like the food I struggled with weather I should even post this recipe and my experience. When I started this blog I wanted to post good quality recipes. Ones that tasted great- my recommendations. But I also wanted to do cookbook reviews, restaurant reviews, product reviews; and with that comes my opinion and my experience. As much as I would love to only report positive experiences, sometimes that is not the case. I am doing a review- you as readers need to know all the details. I can not be afraid to hold back my opinion.

So I decided to go ahead and post this recipe. You might like it- but I did not. You can judge for yourself. I am just giving you my honest opinion.
Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna Roll-ups with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce
adapted from Classic 30-Minute Meals: The All Occasion Cookbook

16 crimini caps, cleaned with a damp towel and finely chopped in food processor (I subbed 1 20 oz can artichokes because I am not a mushroom fan)
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 package frozen chopped spinach (10 ounces), defrosted and squeezed dry
Salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, ground or freshly grated
2 cups part-skim ricotta
8 curly edge lasagna noodles, cooked to al dente (12-14 minutes)
1 cup fat-free chicken broth
8 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup heavy cream
1-1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

In a medium skillet over moderate heat, sauté mushrooms, chopped onions and garlic in EVOO until mushrooms give off their juices and darken and onions are tender, about 7-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; the salt will help draw water out of the vegetables as they cook.

Add dry chopped spinach to the pan and heat through for about 1 minute. Adjust seasonings with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg. Add ricotta and stir into mixture to heat cheese through, about 1 minute longer. Remove pan from heat but leave in the warm skillet.

Heat broth in a small pan over moderate heat. Melt Gorgonzola into broth and bring liquid to a bubble. Stir in cream and thicken sauce, about 2 minutes.

Place cooked lasagna noodles on a large work surface or cutting board. Spread lasagna noodles with a layer of spinach-mushroom filling. Roll up pasta and arrange the eight bundles in a shallow casserole dish. Pour warm sauce over roll-ups and top with mozzarella. Place casserole under broiler to melt cheese.

Monday, July 27, 2009

My Picky Eater

I admit when I first saw this recipe I was very skeptical. Chicken and Grapes!?! How in the world could that be good? I didn't even tell Eric that there was going to be grapes in the dinner because he flips out if there is ever anything sweet in his main course. "Fruit and sugar is for dessert not my dinner. I want something hearty and savory of dinner,'" he always says. I have tried to trick him in the past with fruit salads or sweet and sour chicken (with pineapple mixed in of course), or even Canadian bacon and pineapple on pizza but he complains and won't eat it or will pick it out (even though he likes those foods normally).

Why? You ask would I even choose this recipe then from the cookbook of the month if the end result might be a battle with my 'picky eater'? Well the answer is merely because it has Stone Ground Mustard in it. You see I bought a big ole container of it when I made Aunt Grace's Potato Salad and did not use as much for that as I thought I would so when I saw this recipe I deiced to make it merely on that fact.

And I am glad I did. This chicken turned out great; even with the grapes. Of course Eric did not put the grapes on but after he started in the chicken with the sauce he really liked it and (gasp) went back and added grapes. Everything surprisingly worked well together and came out rather tasty- the chicken tender and juicy and the sauce very flavorful. I only made two large chicken breast (not knowing how my picky eater would react) and I regret making more! Since only making the two chicken breasts I halved the ingredients for the sauce but kept the same amount of flour- if you do all 2 lbs of chicken you will need more flour, however I halved the sauce and had more then enough!

Vicki's Chicken and Grapes
adapted from Classic 30-Minute Meals: The All Occasion Cookbook

Coarse salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 pounds chicken tenders
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grainy, stone-ground mustard
1 1/2 cups, about 1/2 pound, seedless red grapes, halved

Heat a large skillet over medium to medium high heat; add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, and 2 tablespoons butter to the pan. Place flour in a shallow dish. Season chicken with salt and pepper then dredge the tenders in flour and add it to the pan. Cook chicken 7 to 8 minutes until browned. Add wine and scrape up browned bits as wine cooks down and bubbles, 30 seconds. Add 1/2 cup stock to skillet. Combine cream and mustard and add to stock. Add grapes to the pan and turn chicken and grapes to coat and combine with the sauce. Simmer 5 minutes over low heat.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Easy- Not Lazy

My lack of time and my 'to-do' list seems never ending these days. I say 'these days' but I feel like my entire life has always been a busy hustle and bustle- with a never ending 'to-do' list. Working, cleaning, family commitments, blogging, exercising, hanging out with Eric/friends, cooking, book clubs....... I feel like a lot of time I take on way more then I should but I always feel like I can handle it. Like when my sister asked me back in October to do her wedding album (since I love to scrapbook and have all the nifty gadgets- but I never have time to use them). I said sure I will do your wedding album. I started right then and there- making pages, collecting wedding paper, stickers, ect. Her wedding has then come and gone (January 10, 2009- to be exact) and I have not touched it since. I feel so bad. I made her a promise and here I am not following through. I need to get on it. Maybe I can finish it and give to her as a "Happy 1st Anniversary" gift (that will give me 5 months).

Any who, with all the hustle and bustle, I am always looking for easy (not lazy) solutions for things. An easier way to clean- or tools to make it easier, a short cut or faster way home (I hate sitting in traffic- what a waste of time), recipes for my favorite foods but that are quick and easy to make (I love spending time in the kitchen but not after a long day at work).

So a long time ago, Eric's Aunt Grace had a BBQ at her house. She made this really yummy potato salad. A few months ago when I was making BBQ chicken sandwiches I was craving this potato salad to go with it. I called up Aunt Grace and asked her for the recipe. She told me the ingredients but said she doesn't use measurements- I was on my own with that. I ended up not making the potato salad. Well then a few days ago I was going through my purse (AKA the file cabinet for all things important- if it is in my purse I won't lose it- right?) and found the potato salad recipe. I decided now was the time to make it. And I am glad I did. It is SOOOO easy and yummy (perfect for a quick and easy side for a week night dinner OR as a quick side to make for a last minute BBQ invite and you are scrabbling to make something to take). The ingredients below are from Aunt Grace but the measurements are my own doing (I love team work).

Aunt Grace's Potato Salad

6 cups red potatoes, quartered
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 Tablespoons Stone Gound Mustard
1/4 cup green onions, diced
3 Tablespoons bacon bits
salt and pepper, to taste

Cut potatoes and boil for 12-15 minutes, or until tender. Mix mayonnaise and mustard in a bowl. Drain potatoes and add to bowl of mustard/mayonnaise mixture. Add bacon bits, green onions, salt and pepper. Toss everything together. You could eat it at room temperature or chill and then serve (tastes good either way).

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mis-named

I was super excited to make tonight's recipe from the cookbook of the month. Originally when I saw this recipe in this month's cookbook I thought it sounded really good. I then made Crunchy Oven-Baked Chicken Toes which had a 'honey mustard BBQ' dipping sauce that was delish. After making that I really wanted to make this chicken recipe. However I was very disappointed on how this one turned out. Now don't get me wrong and mis-understand this chicken tasted great- I just don't think it should be called 'honey mustard BBQ chicken' because there was not a strong BBQ flavor nor did it look like BBQ sauce. Now I will never claim to be 'the world's greatest chef' (OK maybe around friends and family) but I feel like I follow directions well (and did so when creating this masterpiece- OK I didn't follow the directions exactly as written but the only thing I changed was baking and not grilling it ). So I don't know why my 'honey mustard BBQ chicken' came out not so barbecueie. Maybe Rachael Ray just mis-named this recipe and meant to just call it 'honey mustard chicken!' Again the 'sauce' tasted great and the chicken was super moist and juicy (I think it was so juicy and moist because I baked it- not bragging or anything)!


Honey Mustard BBQ Chicken- AKA "Honey Mustard Chicken"
adapted from Classic 30-Minute Meals: The All Occasion Cookbook

Sauce:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 red onion, chopped (I used yellow)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup prepared honey mustard (I used HM salad dressing, but I think she meant actual honey mustard- maybe this is why my sauce turned out a little different than the picture in the book)
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon curry powder

Chicken:
4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breast (she used more chicken, 4 thighs, but this is all I had- but this recipe makes a lot of sauce so you could definitely use more chicken)
vegetable oil. for drizzling
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.*****

To make sauce:
Place small saucepan over medium heat and add vegetable oil. Add onions and saute 3-5 minutes. Add vinegar and cook to reduce by half, 1-2 minutes. Add brown sugar and cook 1 minute. Whisk in broth, honey mustard, allspice, and curry powder Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce to lowest setting.

Put chicken into 9x13 inch glass baking pan. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Pour prepared sauce over chicken and put into oven. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until done.

*****Rachael's instructions were to grill the chicken and use the sauce to baste it while it grilled. Grilling would have been good to do since it is so hot outside (any recipe that does not require turning the oven on in mad July heat is a plus for me) However, since I live in an apartment the only 'grill' I have is my George Foreman and I really did not fell like pulling that thing out and sitting there and basting the chicken.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Stuffed

The second recipe I chose to make out of this month's cookbook was Super-Stuffed French Bread Pizza Rustica. I chose this recipe because I recently made Cheese and Chicken Stuffed French Bread that turned out great and this recipe was similar but with an Italian twist. I liked this recipe (as well as the Cheese and Chicken version) because it is fast and easy to make. The part that took the longest (and it really didn't take that long) was chopping the veggies; however I could have easily done that yesterday (and I normally do). As compared to the chicken version this was even more 'stuffed' and more filling (if that could be possible). This recipe made a ton of food- enough to feed a crowd or to have as leftovers(one small slice completely filled me up). And lucky for you all, I have friends coming over to have game night and they are chomping (no pun intended) at the bits to play Scene It, so I have to make this post short and sweet (a first for me)!

Super-Stuffed French Bread Pizza Rustica
adapted from Classic 30-Minute Meals: The All Occasion Cookbook

1 loaf French bread
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped (I used green because that is what I had)
1 small onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 package frozen chopped spinach defrosted and squeezed dry
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups part skim ricotta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 pound sweet sopressata, from the deli, sliced thick, chopped (I left this out)
1/2 stick pepperoni, chopped
1 sack (10 ounces) shredded mozzarella (I used 1/2 cup shredded)
1 sack (10 ounces) shredded provolone (I used 4 slices- cut from the deli)
1 teaspoon dried oregano (I forgot this)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (I left this out because I used spicy sausage)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Split bread lengthwise.

Over medium high heat, brown and crumble sausage. Add red (green) bell pepper, onion and garlic. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, add spinach. Remove mixture from heat and season with a pinch of salt and black pepper, to your taste.

Transfer to a bowl. Combine sausage and veggies with ricotta, Parmesan, sopressata and pepperoni. Top bread with mixture and top with mozzarella and provolone cheeses. Place in hot oven on cookie sheet and bake until cheese melts and bubbles and bread is super crisp, about 10 to 12 minutes. Top pizzas with oregano and hot pepper flakes. Serve immediately, or snack all night!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Cupcakes From The Land Down Under


Friday Bakerella blogged about a cupcake bakery in Las Vegas. She wrote that she had only been to two cupcake bakeries and asked for suggestions for others to try. This reminded me of a recent adventure that Eric and I had in an attempt to try a local Austin gourmet cupcake shop.

Our adventure started out by getting lost trying to get through downtown Austin to try and find this cupcake shop. When we finally did get there we got our cupcakes to go so that I could bring them home and take pictures of them for the blog (I feel like my entire life revolves around the blog- when I am going to eat, what, where, do I have my camera to document). However, on the ride home our cupcakes got a little smashed and so I didn't feel like they would be worthy enough to take pictures of (luckily you can go to the bakery’s website and see a few pics). And the last part of our adventure was the tasting (details to come a little bit later).

I decided I wanted to try this particular cupcake shop (Austin has a few) when I saw an article in the newspaper talking about Sugar Mama's Bake Shop, owned by Olivia and Steve O'Neal, off South First Street in Austin, Texas. The article stated that for a few days an Australian baker named Jess Pryles, owner of Sugadeaux Cupcakes, was going to be a guest baker at Sugar Mama's. The newspaper article stated that Pryles was going to be making some signature Australian treats including Malteser and Mojiteaux cupcakes and cookies made with wattleseed, Australia’s national flower.

I thought this sounded interesting so we decided to take the trip ‘down under’. When we arrived we found this cute little shop and staff very friendly. Pryles was nice and talked to us for a while about living in Australia and visiting the states.

Her 'signature' cupcake for the day we went was a Mojiteaux cupcake. So of course we had to get that one and we also got the Black and Tan which was one of Sugar Mama's 'signature' cupcakes for the day.

The Black and Tan is a “rich, chocolaty Guinness Stout cupcake topped with scrumptious Irish cream cheese frosting”. The Mojiteaux was just that- a mint flavored cupcake inspired by the popular Cuban cocktail (this kind of puzzled me since we were supposed to be eating Australian themed treats). We thought the Black and Tan tasted great, although very rich. You could defiantly taste the Guinness but the chocolate and cream cheese evened it out. The Mojiteaux cupcake, however, was not that impressive. It had too strong of a mint flavor and not enough sweetness to balance it out. But that is probably because here in the states we are used to sweets being just that- sweet. Where as (in my personal experience) “sweets” from other countries tend to have a less sweet flavor.

Sugar Mama’s does pride it’s self on using “nothing but the highest quality ingredients in all of their made from-scratch recipes. Including ingredients like Nielsen-Massey extracts, Valrhona chocolate, and locally sourced cage-free eggs.” They also strive to be green by having a shop that is wind powered and packaging that is made from renewable, compostable materials. I thought the prices were a little steep at $2.50 a cupcake (and not jumbo cupcakes just plan normal size); but I guess being ‘gourmet’ and using ‘green’ products has to be factored in the price.

Sugar Mama’s is also vegan friendly (if you are into that sort of thing); and has a rather large selection of vegan cupcakes.

I love supporting local Austin business and overall I thought it was an interesting experience.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Flavor For Every Season?

A few days ago Eric's mom invited us over for dinner (I honestly don't know if she actually invited us or if Eric invited us). Eric called me at work and told me we were going over there for dinner because his mom had made a huge pot of homemade chicken noodle soup. I was excited because his mom makes delicious homemade soup (I will have to have her teach me so that I can make it and post it here). Anyways Eric ranted and raved about this soup. Then when I got off work he said he didn't want to go over there anymore. I asked why and he said because he didn't 'feel' like soup. I said 'why? That is all you have talked about all day?' He just said that it wasn't 'soup weather'. That it was way too hot outside and that he was way too hot to eat soup. I said 'who says you can't eat soup in the summer?'

We then argued about eating soup in the summer. My argument was that you eat steaks, and burgers, and so on and so on in the summer. All of which are hot/cooked foods. He then said that when you eat soup it is supposed to warm you up from the inside out (reiterating that he was already too hot). I told him that that was just a mental thing. He said that he will remember that when I want soup for dinner next winter "to warm me up" (he used finger quotes as he said this).

We ended up going over to his mom's house for dinner and he had a HUGE bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup and just raved and raved abut it.

Then last night he asked me to make spaghetti. Isn't spaghetti or pasta considered more of a hearty winter/fall entree? To me it doesn't matter. I don't discriminate against food. I will eat ice cream in the dead of winter and spaghetti (or soup) in the steamy summer.

Boys are so silly! Especially Eric and his picky food cravings!

I do have a confession to make- sometimes when I am lazy I will just use pre-made spaghetti sauce (I give you permission to gasp and sigh) and just doctor it a bit (even though making it from scratch is not that difficult). But last night (I think just because it is summer and Eric and I argued about eating certain foods at certain times of the year) I wanted to make a good hearty homemade bolognese sauce. It turned out super yummy (and comforting). It made quite a bit for two people but it freezes well so I can use the leftovers for something else.

I apologize for the poor quality of the picture but sometimes my stomach over powers my desire to take 'professional' blog pictures!

Hearty Bolognese Sauce

2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons butter
3/4 cup grated carrot
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground turkey
1 pound ground Italian sausage
1 (6oz) can tomato paste
1 cup red wine***
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 (28 oz) can regular diced tomatoes
1 (14 oz) can Italian diced tomatoes
2 Tablespoons milk

In a large sauce pan heat butter and oil. Add carrots, onion, and garlic. Saute until tender and onion is translucent. Remove from pan. In the same pan that veggies were cooked add meat and cook until brown. Drain grease and remove meat from pan. 'Degrease' pan buy adding red wine and tomato paste. Let simmer for 4-5 minutes over medium heat. Add cooked veggies, meat, tomatoes, seasoning, and Worcestershire. Let come to a simmer. Stir in milk. Let simmer for 15 minutes and serve over you favorite pasta.

****If you do not like to cook with wine (even though the alcohol evaporates; leaving just the rich flavor) check out this website; which gives you non-alcoholic substitutes for common alcohol cooking ingredients such as brandy, beer, wine, etc. This is also useful information in case you have a recipe that calls for a teaspoon or so of something and you don't want to buy a big bottle of brandy, cognac, etc.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The First "Official" Recipe

The first recipe I am highlighting from this month's cookbook is: Crunchy Oven-Baked Chicken Toes. As I mentioned before this month's book Classic 30 Minute Meals: The All Occasion Cookbook, by Rachael Ray, has a section just for "Kid Chefs". I though this was neat because here was a cookbook that adults could buy for themselves but also share with their kids. Also a lot of the 'kid' cookbooks that I have seen are in (my opinion) kind of lame and don't really have what I call 'real' recipes. The majority of the recipes in 'kid' cookbooks are just making dressed up peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or pigs in a blanket. Now, nothing against these foods, but I want 'kid' cookbooks to actually teach kids about food and cooking.

In the 'kid' section of Classic 30 Minute Meals: The All Occasion Cookbook the recipes are written for kids and are easy to understand but are also well balanced and will please the palates of both kids and adults. There are actually 3 or 4 recipes in this 'kid' section that I would like to try.

Below is the recipe. I left it in the wording that Rachael used (directed towards kids). I made the recipe pretty much exactly as written in the book, but did make some minor modifications (in orange). I thought these chicken tenders came out really well and like the fact that they were not fried: less greasy, less mess, and less of a chance for a fire! I accidentally grabbed 'zesty' breadcrumbs which made the chicken tenders pretty spicy and made it so that it was hard to taste the other spices in the breading (next time I will use plan), however Eric liked the extra 'kick'. Also the title of the recipe is "Crunchy" Oven Baked Chicken Toes and even though there was and added crunch I wanted more; so next time I think I will use more corn flakes. Other than my changes I thought the recipe was easy, tasted great, and made me feel 'healthier" because they were not deep fried. Crunchy Oven-Baked Chicken Toes
adapted from Rachael Ray's Classic 30 Minute Meals: The All Occasion Cookbook

1 cup cornflakes cereal, any brand (I would add an additional 1/2 cup)
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt***
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper***
1/2 teaspoon allspice***
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 pounds chicken breast tenders, cut into 2-inch pieces by a grown-up helper (GH)
1/4 cup honey mustard
1/4 cup barbecue sauce

Have your GH turn the oven up to 375°F.

Make the breading: pour the cornflakes into a pie pan or other large, shallow dish. Crush the cereal up with your hands. Mix in bread crumbs, brown sugar, salt, pepper and allspice.

Drizzle the vegetable oil evenly over the breading. Have your GH pour the oil out slowly. Toss and turn it to mix the oil all through the bread crumbs and crushed up corn flakes.

Pour the flour into another shallow dish (***I added an additional 1/2 a teaspoon of salt, pepper, and all spice to the flour) and the beaten eggs into a third one. Turn the chicken in flour, then in the eggs and then in the special, crunchy breading. Arrange the chicken toes on a nonstick baking sheet.

YOU AND YOUR GH SHOULD GO WASH YOUR HANDS NOW.

Place the chicken toes in the oven and cook until crisp and brown all over, about 15 minutes.

When the toes come out of the oven, it's time to stir up the sauce for dipping them. Mix together honey mustard and barbecue sauce in a small bowl. Dip your hot chicken toes into the honey mustard barbecue sauce. Yum-o!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I Promise

For the cookbook of the month for the month of July I have chosen Rachael Ray's Classic 30 Minute Meals: The All Occasion Cookbook. I will just start by apologizing for using Rachael Ray again. I know I have talked about her books several times in the past but for some reason I keep turning to her books. But I promise that I won't use her books again for quite sometime (I already have a stack of cookbooks with months already assigned to them to be the featured cookbook of the month and no Rachael in sight!).

The reason I decided to go with her this time is that when I stumbled upon this book I was impressed. I have complained before that I did not like Rachael Ray's cookbooks because the lack of pictures. I love pictures in cookbooks for many reasons. First, pictures help give you guidance as to how your product is supposed to turn out. Also (as I have stated before) I believe good pictures of food can make you smell the food, taste the food, want to make the food. So pictures in cookbooks are BIG for me. Another complaint I have about Rachael Ray cookbooks are the recipe set ups. She likes to list all of the ingredients and directions all together. My preference is to have the different parts to the same recipe separate. If there is a topping for a muffin, I would like the ingredients, as well as the directions, for the topping and the batter to be separate.

However, Classic 30 Minute Meals: The All Occasion Cookbook has a good number of pictures. Granted there is an overwhelmingly large amount of pictures of just Rachael (something I could do without- I already know what she looks like- do I need a pic of her on every page!?!). But still- compared to her other books- there are a large amount of food pics. The book is broken into different sections like "Everyday", "Parties", "Date Nights" and "Kid Chefs". Each section has appropriately themed recipes- from drinks to desserts to appetizers, salads, sides, and the main course- this book does have it ALL.

Since the book is a compilation book, many of the recipes have been featured in her other books. However, even though some of the recipes are repeats from her older books (since I am such a Rachael Ray cookbook expert, I can attest to this) a great deal of them are new (or at least to me).

I also like this book because it is in hardback (unlike any of her other books) AND because there are a long list of recipes that I would like to try and make (well worth the purchase). I had a very difficult time narrowing down the recipes to choose only four; so you will defiantly have to check the book out.

If you do not have any Rachael Ray cookbooks in your collection I would check this one out first. If you do have quite a few of her books I would glance through it first before you buy. Like I said there are several repeats but I found enough recipes that I wanted to try, so it was worth the buy.

Friday, July 3, 2009

My Independence Day BBQ Dilemma

Originally for the 4th of July holiday I was supposed to head out-of-town. I was excited about this because I would get to be the 'guest' at the party; and since I would be driving in from over 4 hours away I would be off the hook to have to bring anything. Not that I don't mind cooking and bringing something to a party or get together or even hosting the shindig- it is nice to just be able to come and not have to fret about things. I guess this thinking has back fired in my face. My out-of-town plans fell through and now since I am going to be home everyone wants to come to my place to celebrate Independence Day and to BBQ!

All these changes just happened this morning and now I am scrambling to get my apartment cleaned and to create an Independence Day menu. Luckily my local grocery store had watermelon on sale the other day so I picked that up then (check). And another local store had hamburger meat on sale for 99 cents a pound (check).

Then Target had corn on sale. 10 for a $1 (check times 10)what a steal, especially since at the grocery store corn was 2 for $1. You should have seen it! The corn went on sale on Sunday and I just happened to be in Target and thought what a good deal I will have to get some. I literally had to fight through the crowds of people to try and get my hands on some. Someone asked the Target employee if he had anymore and he said no. When he said that all hell broke loose and everyone went crazy over the corn! You would have thought it was the end of the world and that was the only food left! I quickly grabbed up 10- even though later I was thinking there would be no way Eric and I could eat 10 ears of corn just by ourselves. But now I am glad I have it to use this weekend.

Well, now I know what you are thinking- why am I so worried about hosting the 4ht of July BBQ- I have a good chunk of the menu already. But the problem is not the food (luckily I do so happen to have the majority of it).The problem is that I live in a one bedroom apartment, with a tiny kitchen, and no backyard for a grill. This poses a problem when you are trying to host a get together for about 8 to 10 people. I do live in an apartment with a pool and community grill by the pool but these grills are really small- only big enough for about 6 burgers. How am I supposed to cook the corn AND the burgers at the same time?

I know you all probably don't care at all about any of this but I just had to vent for a minute and then explain where I got the idea for the recipe I am posting. Any who- because the apartment's grill is so small I had to come up with an idea to more efficiently cook the corn. I decided to roast the corn in the oven. When I recently roasted broccoli it came out the best tasting broccoli I have ever had. I decided to try a couple of ears of the corn today to 'test drive it' before the get together tomorrow. And just as I suspected the corn came out wonderful. It was so flavorful and juicy. I love summertime for all the fresh fruits and veggies and corn is one of the top ones. Eating corn on the cob at a BBQ is the essence of summer, but now I can eat it even if I have a grill or not. Dilemma solved (after reading this I realized that I actually kind of over reacted (me? overreact?) and have more things under control than I thought- my house is actually very clean right now and I already have a lot of food- but being a drama queen for 5 minutes is so much fun!).

Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob

corn (as many ears as you need), shucked (is that what you call removing the "outer parts" of the corn?)

1/2 teaspoon olive oil per ear of corn

salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. "Clean" corn and place onto baking sheet. Rub olive oil over corn. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 20-25 minutes. (Because you used the olive oil you don't need any butter- the oil provides moisture and flavor)

Hope everyone has a safe and happy 4th!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Re-adjusting

This past Monday I started a new job. I think it is going ok. I am working for a company in an industry that I barley have any knowledge about- so I am having to learn a TON of stuff. The first two days were the hardest because I felt like I was having to ask the same questions over and over again. But now I am starting to feel more comfortable with it and it helps that all my fellow employees are nice and helpful.

The only bad thing is that I am going from working part time on the nights and weekends to full time during the day Monday thru Friday. I am glad to have my nights and weekends back I just hope my cooking and blogging time are not affected too severely. I love to cook and to blog and because of this I want to do so many more things and my plate was already full to begin with and now I have a full time job.

Speaking of doing more things. I recently posted that I wanted to do more cookbook reviews and so I was going to start a "cookbook of the month". I will be starting this on Monday. So every month I will pick one cookbook to feature and I will post a different recipe each Monday from the honored cookbook. I only hope that I can keep up with it all!

Because of my new job I will be needing to find easy recipes and things to cook since I will not be getting home from work until after 6 now and by that time I am so ravishingly hungry that if it is not quick it will not be made and therefore I will be eating sandwiches or cereal (my go to starvation meals). So when I stumbled upon the below recipe on My Kitchen Cafe and then my friend Stacy tried it and raved about it on her blog decided to give it a try. And that is what I did. I tried this recipe and now I am raving about it! This stuffed bread was so yummy and super fast (it literally took less than 20 minutes- my kind of meal). I know this will be a go to meal on busy week day nights. Below is MY version, however if you go to My Kitchen Cafe or My Favorite Recipes, you can get the original recipe.

Cheese and Chicken Stuffed French Bread
adapted from My Kitchen Cafe

1 loaf french bread, cut lengthwise
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (in a pinch, you can use two large cans chicken breast, or left over rotisserie chicken)
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped****
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped (or 2 tablespoons dried)
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded and divided
1 cup monetary jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place french bread on large baking sheet. Mix all topping ingredients together in a bowl,except for one cup of the sharp cheddar cheese. Spread topping evenly on top of both lengths of french bread. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle top with remaining cheddar cheese. Return to oven an bake for just a minute or two more or until bubbly and edges are lightly browned. Slice into pieces and serve immediately.

****I usually chop 1 or 2 onions at one time during the week and then just store the in Tupperware in the fridge and then take out what I need when I need it. This saves on 'crying' sessions and makes it easy to make dinner fast. They usually stay good for a week or so cut and stored in the fridge.
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