Kitchen Concoctions: March 2011

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lovin' Lunch

Before I started working from home I worked a boring 9 to 5 desk job. With only an hour break, my lunch time routine was pretty dull. A ham or turkey sandwich with a side of fruit. Or leftovers from dinner the night before. Or a can of soup or frozen TV dinner. And if I was really unprepared and unorganized a quick lunch out at a nearby fast food joint or sandwich shop.

Now that I am working from home my lunch time routine is a little bit more, you could say, flavorful. I get to spend a a few minutes in the kitchen preparing myself (and Eric, if he's lucky) a nice decent yummy lunch.

That's why I was really happy to see this recipe for a Cuban inspired panini. I love most any form of panini so I knew this would be good. And it was, with the crisp tangy pickle and melted provolone cheese with the OMG my favorite, sweet caramelized onions!

And don't fret if you don't have a panini maker just use your indoor (or outdoor) grill and this nice lunch (or dinner) can be yours in minutes!

Two Years Ago: Butterscotch Sweet Potato Cookie Sandwiches

Ultimate Panini
Printable Version
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 35 minutes Serves 4

2 large onions, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
4 slices provolone cheese
1/2 pound thinly sliced deli ham
8 garlic-flavored sandwich pickle slices
8 slices Italian bread (1/2 inch thick)
2 tablespoons butter, softened

In a large skillet, saute onions in oil until softened. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until deep golden brown.

Spread mustard on one side of each piece of bread. Layer the cheese, ham, pickles and caramelized onions on four bread slices; top with remaining bread. Spread outsides of sandwiches with butter.

Cook on a panini maker or indoor grill for 3-4 minutes or until bread is browned and cheese is melted.

adapted from Taste of Home, February/March 2011

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Holler! Dinner for Ten Dollars!

I seriously can't believe April is almost here! Because I have been so busy this month is flying by. I am ready for April to come and things to slow down a bit but I am sad to see all these fun times go.

I couldn't let April come and March go without the magazine of the month feature. So over the next few days I will highlight recipes from the Taste of Home Magazine.

First up is this super easy and budget friendly stir-fry! One of the things for my to do list for April is to not only get back to blogging regularly but also update some features. I am working on cleaning up the 'key words' on the side bar and creating a tab that will have an alphabetical recipe index divided into categories.

One of these categories will be dinners that are $10 or less for a family of 5. I think this will be super handy not only for myself but you all as well; with everything going up in price these days.

This stir-fry falls into this category. Based on the prices at my local grocery store this meal cost about 6 bucks... Even with beef being the main protein! And what is even better is that this tastes great and after the meat marinates it takes less than 30 minutes to prepare!

Gingered Beef Stir-Fry Recipe
Prep Time: 5 minutes Marinate Time: 30 minutes Cook time: 10 minutes Serves 5

4 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce, divided
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh gingerroot or dash ground ginger
2 garlic clove, minced
3/4 pound beef flank steak, cut into thin strips
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup beef broth
1 1/2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
1/8 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 (16 ounce) package frozen stir fry mixed vegetables, thawed
3 cups hot cooked rice

In a large re-sealable plastic bag, combine 3 tablespoons soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, garlic and ginger; add the beef. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, broth, hoisin sauce, sugar and remaining soy sauce until smooth; set aside.

In a large skillet or wok, stir-fry beef in marinade and 1 tablespoon oil until no longer pink. Remove and set aside. Stir-fry vegetables in remaining oil until heated through.

Stir cornstarch mixture and add to the pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Return beef to the pan; heat through. Serve with rice.

adapted from Taste of Home, April/May 2009

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bon Appetit

My review of February's MOM (yes from February) is another blog post that I have let slip through the cracks. So here is a quick review of February's Magazine, Bon Appetit, and a recap of the recipes I featured.

Over all I thoroughly enjoyed this magazine. It has a lot of great recipes, is well written and has great cooking tips. One of my favorite features of this magazine is that very issue has step by step how to instructions and pictures on things like how to make stuffed chicken breasts or cut a pineapple. Very useful!

Pictures: Yes: about 90 percent of the recipes
Since this is a food magazine there are a lot of pictures of most of the recipes but I was shocked at the quality of the pictures. Since this is a food magazine I expected great, quality pictures (like the ones from Food and Wine) however most of the pictures were dark, and had poor color.

Prep Time, Cooking Time, and Number of Servings listed: Yes and No
The number of servings are listed on all recipes, however the recipes do not have cooking times clearly listed at the top of the recipes (just in the directions).

Clear, easy to follow directions and ease of preparation: medium
With a name like Bon Apetit you would think that the recipes would be difficult. And yes all of the recipes are written by restaurant chefs and chef consultants, but I found that most of the recipes were very doable even by beginner cooks. The step by step how to section really helps clarify procedures.

Variety of recipes: extensive

Easily available ingredients and budget friendly: yes
Since there are a variety of recipes you are guaranteed to be able to find ones that meet your needs.

Special feature:
Besides the how-to section my other favorite feature of this magazine is where they interview celebrities (and not food celebrities or chefs) about their eating habits/food preferences. Like did you know that race car driver Danica Patrick took cooking classes at the infamous C.I.A. (Culinary Institute of America). Or that singer Josh Groban drinks apple juice all day long before a performance. Really interesting stuff!

Cost: $5 for a single issue and $12 dollars for a year subscription (which is 12 months/issues).

I loved EVERY. SINGLE. RECIPE. I made from my collection of Bon Appetit recipes. Seriously this is an AWESOME food magazine!

Cranberry Pumpkin Bread: Even though Thanksgiving 2011 is still months and months away this recipe is a must to bookmark to try when cranberry and pumpkin season roll around. That is unless you have cranberries in your freezer and a can of pumpkin in your pantry left from last year then by all means make this now!

Ham and Swiss Quiche: I have always been a quiche hater... that is until now. The sweet ham paired perfectly with the tangy Swiss cheese.. and the spinach... well it never hurt anybody!

Cuban Spiced Chicken Strips with Rice: Mmm..Mmmm...Mmmm! I love Cuban food and this rice dish is pretty darn close to the authentic Cuban food I've had before!

Bourbon-Molasses Chicken Drumsticks: These were so easy and were a FAB-ulous new twist on the classic BBQ chicken.

And a drum roll please...

Ok. Ok. Per several emails I am taking a 'break' from a aforementioned insanely busy life right now and going to do some blogging! Hip Hip Hooray!

To be honest with you I am so mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted that all I want to do on my first 'free' night in weeks is curl up on my couch and watch Oprah's and Biggest Looser episodes saved on my DVR. I was doing this earlier but decided to pull myself off the couch to come blog because I new this would be the only real time I would have to blog for several more days. I can't wait to get my tax return money so that I can by a laptop so that I can blog and watch my shows at the same time!

But here were weeks after the $25 Kroger Gift Card Giveaway is over and I have yet to announce a winner. So with out further a due the winner is.... (beating my drum).....

True Random Number Generator

Min: 1
Max: 43
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Beth left comment 24 and said she follows Kitchen Concoctions! Congrats Beth on winning. Please email me at kitchen_concoctions at hotmail dot com with your mailing address so that I can get your gift card sent out! (Note: If I do not hear from the winner within 48 hours a new winner will be chosen and notified)

Thanks who all participated in the giveaway and who are fan, followers, and readers of Kitchen Concoctions!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Missin' You

Dear Blogging World,

Oh how I miss thee! I miss reading all my favorite blogs. I miss taking pictures of food. And I really miss writing blog articles and developing recipes.

But unfortunately the craziness that I call 'my life' is keeping me away from you right now.

Because of major work commitments, my sister's wedding, my dear friend's wedding, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, being in both weddings, making both wedding cakes, a mini va-ca to go visit my sister and new bro-n-law in Colorado, my nephew's 1st b-day, not to mention normal day to day chores and errands; my life is pretty hectic these days.

I tried to be organized and on top of things so that I would not let you all down but unfortunately something had to give and it was you, my blog. Please forgive me.

It looks like things are starting to wind down and get back to normal. So I am hoping to be back blogging regularly real soon!

Thanks for still lovin' me and stickin' with me through these hectic times!

Til' we speak again some day real soon-

~Heather of Kitchen Concoctions

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Finger Licking Good

There are just some foods that are gender specific. I mean women are typically all over wine and chocolate and men pizza, chicken wings, and beer. Not that I don't mind a slice (or two) of cheese covered pizza every once and awhile, but I have a major sweet tooth and need to satisfy that chocolate craving more frequently.

Today's recipe falls more under the masculine umbrella of food. These chicken drumsticks are man food because they are sticky and messy and have Bourbon in the sauce. And I am not saying that us women folk can't enjoy these, because I certainly did! But serve these up to the man in your life with a beer, some French fries or corn nuggets (another total man food that I had never heard of until recently, deep fried creamed corn) and the they will be a very happy camper!

Bourbon-Molasses Chicken Drumsticks
Printable Version
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 55 minutes Serves 4-5

3 tablespoons butter butter
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons (packed) brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons bourbon

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
12 chicken drumsticks

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add next 6 ingredients, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and chili powder. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Stir in bourbon; cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt. Divide sauce in half in two equal portions.

Mix 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in bowl and season chicken. Place chicken on prepared baking sheet. Spoon about half the prepared sauce over the chicken (save other half of sauce for dipping after chicken is cooked). Bake chicken for 40 minutes or until no longer pink. Serve with reserved sauce.

adapted from Bon Appetit July 2004
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