Monday, December 17, 2007

Easy zuccini

I love zuccini (or however you spell that little green squash) but never really had it growing up so I didn't know how to cook it. Recently I ordered some at a local restaurant. It was breaded and fried and then sprinkled with parmesan cheese and served with marinara sauce. I decided that I really wanted to try this at home but that I wanted to make a healthier version. I saw somewhere that some people dip chicken breasts in Italian dressing and then dip in breadcrumbs to add flavor and save some fat and calories from dipping in egg. That is what I wanted to do, until I realized that we didn't have any Italian dressing. The thought of dipping them in egg was VERY unappetizing so I improvised and used water. Here's my "recipe:"

1 zuccini, thinly sliced into coin shapes
1/4 cup of Italian seasoned bread crumbs (I used the stuff from the can)
a few tablespoons water
Olive oil cooking spray
Marinara sauce (I actually used some pizza sauce that I made that same day and I will post that recipe in a couple of days)
a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Dip zuccini slices into water and then into bread crumbs and then place on a baking sheet. Spray well with olive oil cooking spray. Bake for 6 minutes or until browned. Flip over. Spray other side with the olive oil spray and then bake for 6 more minutes. Remove to plate. Sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese and serve with marinara sauce.

This is really good and I can't wait to have it again. I think I will make this anytime I am making a red sauce with pasta and then just serve it with that sauce.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Steak potatoes

1/4 pound ground sirloin
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon Worshire (sp?) Sauce

2 potatoes
2 slices cheddar cheese

Cook ground sirloin over medium high heat in a non-stick pan until nearly browned. Add salt, pepper and Worshire Sauce. Finish browing. Drain well to drain off fat and excess sauce. Put in a baggie and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Scrub two baking potatoes, then poke holes in them with a fork and bake at 350 degrees for 75 minutes (1 hour, 15 minutes). Remove from oven and let cool until you can handle without burning yourself. Slice open potatoes and put half of sirloin mixture in each potato and top with a slice of cheese. Place on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees or until sirloin mixture is heated up and cheese is melted.

Last night I made cheeseburger individual pizzas so I doubled the sirloin recipe to use on those. I call these steak potatoes since I use ground sirloin.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Michael Cooks Country Fried Steak, Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans

Last night I was exhausted and so did not feel like cooking but I wanted Country Fried Steak, Mashed Potatoes and Fresh Greenbeans in the WORST sort of way. So I asked my DH if he minded cooking last night if I gave him a recipe. He said he would!

I made this recipe about a year ago. I was at Publix doing some grocery shopping and they were handing out samples. It was so good that I made this for dinner that night. I somehow lost the recipe and forgot about it until recently. I was going to Publix for lunch and decided to swing by the Apron's counter and see if they had the recipe. They always have two recipes on the counter and then some on a spinner. Well the recipe I was looking for just happened to be sitting out on the rack!

I think that my DH did a better job of making this than I did. We didn't have pre-made refrigerator mashed potatoes so he made homemade and we just had regular green beans, not the pre-snipped kind. Also we did not have bacon bits, only bacon so he zapped some in the microwave. All in all that added about 15 minutes on to the 30 minute estimation that they give to make these recipes.

Here is the recipe copied straight from the Publix site:

Country-Fried Steak, Peppered Mashed Potatoes, Southern Green Beans
Meal Time - 30 minutes / Serves 4
Cooking Sequence
Prepare potatoes through step 1 and beans through step 1 - 5 minutes
Prepare steaks and begin to cook - 10 minutes
Complete beans - 10 minutes
Complete steaks and potatoes; serve - 5 minutes

Country-Fried Steak


1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 cup egg substitute (or 2 large eggs, beaten)
2/3 cup plain bread crumbs
4 cubed steaks (about 1 1/2 lb)
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 packet sausage gravy mix (about 2 1/2 oz)
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 cup water


1. Combine flour and seasoned salt in medium bowl. Place egg substitute in second bowl and bread crumbs in third bowl. Preheat large sauté pan on medium 1–2 minutes.

2. Dredge each steak in flour mixture, coating evenly. Dip into eggs; remove and let excess drip off. Dredge in bread crumbs (wash hands). Place oil in pan; swirl to coat. Add steaks (wash hands); cook 3–4 minutes on each side or until golden. Remove from pan and cover to keep warm.

3. Stir in gravy mix and gradually add milk and water, stirring continually, until gravy is smooth. Reduce heat to low and cook 2–3 minutes, stirring often, to heat thoroughly. Serve gravy over steaks.

Peppered Mashed Potatoes


1 (24-ounce) package refrigerated mashed potatoes
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper


1. Combine all ingredients in microwave-safe bowl; cover.
2. Microwave on HIGH 4 minutes, stirring once, or until hot. Stir and serve.

Southern Green Beans


1 (12-ounce) bag snipped green beans
2 cups water
1 tablespoon cooked bacon pieces
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper


1. Place beans and water in medium saucepan on high and bring to boil. Boil 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until beans begin to soften.

2. Drain; stir in remaining ingredients. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 8–10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until desired tenderness. Serve.

Shopping List


1 (24-ounce) package refrigerated mashed potatoes
1/2 cup egg substitute (or 2 large eggs)
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter

Dry Grocery

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 1/2 teaspoons + 1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 packet sausage gravy mix (about 2 1/2 oz)
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 cup flour
2/3 cup plain bread crumbs
3 tablespoons canola oil


1 tablespoon cooked, crumbled bacon
4 cube steaks (about 1 1/2 pounds)


1 (12-ounce) bag snipped green beans

Utensils & Cookware
large sauté pan
medium saucepan with lid
microwave-safe bowl with lid
mixing bowls, colander
tongs, cooking spoons
measuring utensils

Shortcuts & Tips
To reduce fat content, try the steak recipe with chicken cutlets instead.

I would like to thank my husband for making such a great meal and Publix for providing such great recipes!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Twice Baked Bacon, Ranch and Cheddar Potatoes

My husband is a meat and potato kind of guy. Sometimes I like to treat him to a meal just for him with things that I know he will love. A local grocery store had T-bones on sale for $4.99 a pound this week so a picked a couple up and we had them last night. Since we are having summer weather here I went ahead and had DH grill them outside. With a kiss on the cheek and a request to not under-cook my steak he marched outside to begin his manly task. Meanwhile I whipped these up to serve with them. These take a while to prepare so we probably won't be having them during the week and they are calorie overload so they are definately for a rare treat. DH LOVED them so I know that I'll be making them again.

2 small baking potatoes
4 strips of bacon cooked to crispy and crumbled
4 oz of sharp cheddar cheese
2 Tablespoons Ranch Dressing
1/2 Teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 Teaspoon pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Scrub potatoes and dry. Poke holes in the skin with a fork so that the potato doesn't explode.

2. Bake for one hour.

3. Remove from oven and let cool until you can handle the potatoes without burning yourself.4. Combine bacon, cheese and ranch dressing in a bowl. Cut potatoes in half length-wise and scoop out the white part. Combine with cheese mixture. Put the potato and cheese mixture back into the potato skins and mound up smoothing the tops with the back of the spoon. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.5. Place on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and the potato mixture is warmed up.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Suzabelle takes over Mommy's blog

Hi bloggers!

This is Suzabelle. You may have heard my Mommy talk about me before. She usually calls me "the crazy Chihuahua." First of all, mom, I am 1/2 pug too. Secondly, just because I run around the house chasing my sisters 18/7 (I have to sleep sometimes!), destroy anything I can find when you leave the house, and give you militant kisses, I still don't understand why that makes me crazy, that just makes me a Chihuahua!

Oh, Mommy says I have ADD and I got distracted... anyways back to the reason I am taking over Mommy's blog today. I have to tell you about my new FAVORITE THING EVER!!! (other than Mommy of course) Mom brought home a pint of Haagen Das Frozen Yogurt yesterday (Vanilla and Raspberry Swirl) and she gave me and that new puppy (Isabelle) a bite when she was done. I have never tasted anything better in my life! That is way better than jelly beans (which I steal from dad) and Ms. Kitty's food (which I steal from Ms. Kitty- I don't understand why I have to share with Izzy but Ms. Kitty doesn't have to share with me). When I saw Mommy get up to put the rest in the freezer my little heart ached and so I cried. I wanted Mommy to give me the rest but she says I have to stay "healthy" so we can be together forever. So Mommy got me a Breath Buster bone (what are you trying to tell me Mom) but that didn't make my little aching heart feel any better. :-(

Mommy says that if I am good today and do not shred all of the toilet paper in the house or eat any shoes that I can have some after dinner. I guess there is at least that.

All of you should run to the store RIGHT THIS MINUTE and pick some up. Have a bite for me, and if you could sneak me a pint or two behind Mommy's back I am sure that she would never find out. :)

Friday, November 30, 2007

Tropical Chicken

I am calling this tropical chicken for lack of a better name. I recently had some very yummy chicken at California Dreaming and wanted to try to duplicate it at home. This is what I came up with.

Tropical Chicken

2 chicken breasts
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup terriyaki sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
1 Tablespoon butter

Combine the pineapple juice, terriyaki sauce, soy sauce and ground ginger, stir well. Pour 1/2 cup into a seal able plastic bag. Reserve the remainder in the refrigerator. Add the chicken breasts to the plastic bag and place in refrigerator for 2-3 hours.

Preheat an oven-safe grill pan over medium-high heat on the stove. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove chicken from bag and pat dry. Dispose of plastic bag and marinade that was in the bag.

Once the pan is heated up, put the chicken in the pan and sear on both sides. Once seared on both sides, place pan and chicken in the oven. Cook until chicken is done, usually about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to "rest" before cutting or serving.

Meanwhile, reduce reserved marinade in a pan over medium heat. Keep reducing until the marinade is a syrupy like consistency. At the end add in the tablespoon of butter. Serve over chicken.

This was very good, and while the steps sound complicated it was actually pretty quick. I served with steamed vegetables and Zataran's Carribean Rice. I highly recommend the rice. It was very good.

Hope you enjoy!

Gingerbread Pancakes

I wasn't exactly sure when Michael would be home last night, so I wanted something that would be quick to make. I also wanted him to have a warm, comforting meal because he has been working his booty off. A few days ago I was browsing through the Betty Crocker website looking for Bisquick recipes. I accidentally found myself with two open boxes and wanted to use them up. I found this recipe and set it aside. I thought it would be perfect for last night. I served these with maple sausage (my husband's favorite!) and some maple syrup (although I ate mine plain). These would make an excellent Christmas morning meal, as they are very quick to whip up. I hope you enjoy! My notes are in Italic.

Gingerbread Pancakes

Spice up your morning with pancakes flavored with rich apple butter, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Prep Time:25 min
Start to Finish:30 min
Makes:18 pancakes

2 1/2 cups Original Bisquick® mix
1 cup milk
3/4 cup apple butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 eggs

1. Heat griddle or skillet over medium-high heat or electric griddle to 375ºF (for me this meant medium high); grease with cooking spray, vegetable oil or shortening. (Surface is ready when a few drops of water sprinkled on it dance and disappear.)

2. Stir all ingredients until blended. Spoon batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto hot griddle.

3. Cook until edges are dry. Turn; cook until brown. (My edges never got dry so I flipped when there were a lot of bubbles on the top)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Very exciting news

It should be noted that I have never really been a picky eater.

So I read an article that said that your tastes change in your mid-20's because your taste buds can become less sensitive and that many people who disliked certain things as children find that as adults they now like them. I have been trying things for the last few months that I thought I did not like to great results. For example, I didn't think I liked squash... turns out that I do! So I finally decided that I would eat peas, or at least try them. I was a true pea hater. Even my myspace name has something to do with hating peas.

I ordered a meal in a restaurant last week (when my dad and I went to see the Cirque Dreams show) that came with several choices for sides. One of them was steamed vegetables and the vegetables were broccoli (my favorite), cauliflower (also a favorite), carrots (yum), and snow peas in the pod (um...) so I decided that this would be the perfect time to try peas because even if I still did not like them, I had some of my other favorites to fall back on. I timidly took my first bite of the peas and was pleasantly surprised. They taste very similar to green beans and those are another of my favorites (I have many favorite vegetables if you couldn't tell by now).

So then at Thanksgiving my mother-in-law made creamed peas. I asked many questions before trying them: "what's in them?", "what kind of peas are these?", etc. Once I had received my responses: peas in a cream sauce and frozen, I decided to give them a try. I closed my eyes and took a bite and wow! they were great.

So, in conclusion, my hatred of peas is over. I don't know that I will ever have the love affair with peas that I enjoy with broccoli but I can now tolerate them and at least mildly enjoy them.

My kitchen problem

I have a problem in the kitchen. I can't measure. I knew last night that I wanted to make stew meat for dinner and so I called my mom to confirm a recipe. Her recipe is a little of this and that. So I told myself as I was driving home that I would measure my ingredients so that I could make a post on last night's dinner. I was sure that I would make friends with my measuring cups and spoons. Until I got in the kitchen. It is second nature for me to pick up ingredients and just start tossing them in. Who needs measurements when you can add a dash, pinch or splash? So the result was a very tasty meal but no recipe for my blog. Stew meat is different from beef stew (so my husband says) in that you are eating cubes of meat and vegetables in a thick gravy like sauce. It is served over rice and doesn't have potatoes in it (which I think beef stew does).

Here are some of the things I pinched, dashed and splashed to get the meal:

First I made a flour mixture with flour, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt (kosher), and fresh ground pepper. I rolled my cubes of meat in the flour mixture and then browned them in my pan. I used maybe three tablespoons of oil to brown a whole lot of stew meat. I had parceled it out from a bigger package but my husband thinks it was about a pound and a half of meat.

Once the meat was browned on all sides (and I had to do that in batches), I removed them all to a plate and then carmelized one sliced onion in the drippings. Don't forget to add your pinch of salt because it helps in the carmelization process. Then I deglazed the pan with some red wine. I used about 1/2 cup of Merlot. Once that was bubbling and slightly reduced (but not nearly syrupy like it can get when you reduce) I added the meat back in and added about 4 cups of boiling water. I also added about a cup of beef stock. I let that simmer for about 45 minutes.

**** Please note: I should have added minced garlic to the onions right before I deglazed the pan but I forgot to. I realized it about 30 minutes in to the simmering process so I just sprinkled in about 1/2 tsp of garlic powder. I don't think it was as good but it was passing. ****

Once the 45 minutes were up, I tested for seasonings. I ended up adding probably a tablespoon of salt (I use low sodium stock and hadn't put much in the flour) and probably 2 tsps of pepper. I added in sliced carrots and parsnips (one of my new favorite things). I also made a slurry with about 1/4 cup of beef stock and the leftover flour from coating the beef and then I had to add a couple of tablespoons more flour to that. I turned the heat up a little since flour does not thicken until it boils. I let that cook for 15 more minutes until the vegetables were done.

I served this over rice that was cooked in half water and half beef stock.

This was very good and Michael requested that I make it again.

For dinner tonight I am on my own since Michael will be working late. I think I am going to try to "recreate" a restaurant meal that I really like. I am going to marinate a chicken breast in Teriyakki (or however you spell that) sauce and add in a little pineapple juice. Then I will cook in my grill pan and finish in the oven. I'll serve it with steamed veggies like I had at the restaurant. They were broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and snow peas. Then they were tossed with a small amount of butter and sprinkled with seasoning salt. I'll let y'all know how that goes and I will TRY to measure. I think I need to put a sign up in my kitchen "remember to measure your ingredients." Oh well. A zebra can't change it's stripes and I guess I can't change the way I naturally cook. I have some very exciting news to tell you and I will create a new post for that.

Bye for now.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Cheesy Ham and Potato Casserole

In case you can't tell, I am saving some of my favorites to my blog today. This was inspired by my husband. He loves all things pork so I made this recipe to accomidate him. This is a frequent request in the fall and winter. This takes me for freaking ever to make because I am the slowest when it comes to thinly slicing potatoes. There is a reason I have never cut myself in the kitchen, I'm afraid of my knife! Anyways, here is the recipe:

2 lbs. of potatoes
3 medium onions, thinly sliced
boiling water
1 T salt
6 T butter or margarine
4 T flour
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp Paprika
4 1/2 c milk
2 c cheese
1 slice of center cut ham steak, cubed

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Lightly grease 3 qt (or bigger) casserole
3. Wash, pare and thinly slice potatoes.
4. Cook potatoes and onions covered in small amount of boiling water with 2 tsp salt about 5 minutes or until slightly tender.
5. Drain potatoes and onions
6. Melt remaining butter in sauce pan. Remove from heat. Stir in flour, paprika, pepper and remaining salt until smooth. Blend in milk and add 1 1/2 cups cheese.
7. Cook stirring over medium heat to boiling point or until thickened and smooth.
8. In prepared casserole dish, layer 1/3 of potatoes and onions, top with 1/3 ham and 1/3 of remaining cheese cover in 1/3 of cheese sauce mixture. Repeat. Add remaining potatoes and onions, top with remaining ham, cheese and cheese sauce mixture.
9. Bake uncovered 35 minutes or until top is browned, potatoes are tender when pierced with fork.

Hint: Cook this on the top shelf and put a cookie sheet on the bottom shelf beneath it because this tends to boil over!

Do not skip boiling the potatoes. I tried and I couldn't get the potatoes done even adding a ton more time. It was awful!

Carolina Style BBQ Sauce

I thought that I would save this to my blog. Recipe and notes courtesey of my mother:

South Carolina Style Barbecue Sauce

This recipe makes meat taste like it was cooked by Maurice’s Barbecue. It’s combination of sweet and tangy flavors bring out the absolute best in grilled pork or chicken.

1 cup prepared yellow mustard
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsps. chili powder
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. white pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsps. butter
1 Tbsp. liquid smoke (hickory flavoring)

Mix all except soy sauce, butter and smoke. Simmer 30 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer for 10 more minutes. Vinegar taste may be very strong until completely cooled. Refrigerating overnight is best and allows flavors to blend. Add a few drops of Louisiana Hot Sauce at the end if additional heat is desired.

Baked Mac & Cheese

Lots of people ask for baked mac & cheese recipes on my cooking blog so I thought I would go ahead and put this one in my blog so I would be ready for the next one. My mom and grandmother have been making this for as long as I can remember. Tot was my grandmother, she was my dad's mom, and she was a wonderful southern cook. She would spend hours in the kitchen preparing meals for her family because that was something that she truly enjoyed. I am making this to take to my mother-in-law's house on Thanksgiving day. We always had Mac&Cheese Pie as my mom calls it on Thanksgiving. I think that baked mac & cheese is a southern thing so I am excited to share this with my non-southern ILs and to get their opinions. Ok without further delay here is the recipe and notes straight out of the family cookbook, courtesey of my mother:

Macaroni and Cheese like Tot’s

I didn’t get this recipe from Tot. I had to experiment for years to duplicate the taste of hers. She added lots of margarine, but I think the cheese is fatty enough, especially if you use Borden’s.

1-7 or 8 oz. pkg. of small elbow macaroni, or two cups from a bigger box, boiled according to package directions
3 cups of milk, again I use 2% milk because the cheese has so much fat in it
3 cups (12 oz.) of shredded sharp cheese
Salt and pepper to taste. Do not add butter or margarine or it will turn out too greasy.

Spray Pam in a two quart baking dish - I use round sometimes and oblong others. Preheat the oven to 350°. While that’s warming up, if you have a 1-quart Pyrex measuring cup, pour in the milk to the 3 cup mark and then break the three eggs into it. You can add the salt and pepper to the liquid, or wait and sprinkle it over the layers later. Whisk them together till sort of foamy, or at least blended well. Put about half the boiled macaroni and half the cheese in the baking dish and then repeat. Make the cheese look nice on top and then pour the liquid over the layers. Lots of people like to sprinkle paprika on top, but my family doesn’t like that. Cook in the preheated oven 50 minutes or until it is as golden or brown as you like it. Kind of jiggle it when the 50 minutes is up to be sure it has set. If it seems loose, cook it longer. A lot depends on the dish you use. You can actually do the same thing, same amounts, in a crock pot, just mix it up and cook three hours on low. It won’t be brown or golden, but it will taste just the same.

Yummy Yummy Broccoli!

I made this for MIL's birthday dinner and just had to post because it is so good and so easy. I originally got the recipe from Publix (Apron's) but I changed the cheese and the amount of cheese as well as a little of the cooking technique.

Sicilian Broccoli
1 (14-ounce) bag frozen broccoli florets
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pre-diced red onions
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2-3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1. Fill medium saucepan half full of water. Cover and bring to a boil on high for broccoli.

2. Stir broccoli into boiling water. Boil 3–4 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until desired tenderness. Drain broccoli thoroughly.

3. Return saucepan to stove; reduce to medium-high. Place olive oil in pan; swirl to coat. Add onions cook 2–3 minutes then add garlic and cook about 1 minute watching carefully to make sure that the garlic does not burn.

4. Stir in broccoli until coated with oil. Cook 3–4 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until flavors are well blended. Season with salt and pepper; grate cheese over broccoli and serve.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Shimp Shrimp

After visiting Italy in 2004, Michael and I discovered that scampi means shrimp in Italian. Since then we have referred to shrimp scampi as shrimp shrimp. :) Michael hates seafood and was working late last night, so I decided to take the opportunity to make myself some shrimp shrimp.

Here's what I did:
Sautee shrimp in butter. Remove shrimp from pan. Add the zest of one lemon and the juice of half a lemon to the pan. Add about 1/2 cup of white wine. Add in 1/2 shallot. Reduce, reduce, reduce until thickened into a sauce. Serve over the shrimp. yum yum yum!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Best Ever Cream Cheese Frosting

I slightly tweaked this recipe that I got from a friend. Here it is:

one box of powdered sugar
one package cream cheese, well softened at room temperature
one stick of butter, well softened at room temperature
one teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all of the above ingredients until well mixed.

I like to use on carrot cake, red velvet cake, spice cake, chocolate cake... really just about any cake is made better with cream cheese frosting.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Raw eggs

Let's talk about raw eggs. I know I need to get over my fear of putting raw eggs into things like frosting but I can't! I want to make this frosting for tommorrow night but it calls for a raw egg. Uh!!!! I don't know what to do. I guess I'll keep looking for a different recipe. Ok just had to vent.

Mocha Mousse or is it pudding?

Let me start out by saying I don't measure. Sorry about that. Half the fun in cooking for me sometimes is just going in the kitchen and throwing things together. That is something that I would encourage anyone who happens to run across my blog to do.

So I was watching Nigella Express a few weeks ago and she made a Ameretto Silibob for a friend. So that got me thinking. We aren't big Ameretto fans but we do love our chocolate and coffee and what better way to deliver them than through heavy cream?

I took some instant coffee (ok I don't drink it I had it leftover from another recipe) and made it 3x stronger than it said to on the package. I thought that would make it taste more like espresso and would give me more flavor with less liquid. Then I added in some ice cubes to make it cool so it wouldn't destroy all my hard whipping work.

I took 1/2 cup of heavy cream (don't cheat and try to use something else because it won't come out as well) and wisked that until soft peaks formed. I added one heaping tablespoon of confectioner's sugar and 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder. I did not sift them but you should and I will next time. Then I added in about three tablespoons of the super strong instant coffee and I wisked again until it was light and fluffy. I had some chocolate biscotti so I put one in a baggie and beat it with my rolling pin until it was crumbly and put half in the bottom of each ramekin and then spooned the mousse on top. Couldn't be easier. I think from start to finish (not counting boiling the water to make the coffee) it took about 5 minutes. If you were going to make this for a dinner or a party you could easily make the coffee in advance.

This made two servings and all mesurements are guesstimates.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Must Try Porkchops!

We have never met a porkchop that we haven't liked so when I saw this recipe I knew that I had to give it a try. I had planned to make corn fritters to go along with it but unfortunately my corn got freezer burn. Instead I made rice and for the first time I made it entirely with chicken broth and that turned out really well and was the perfect side for this. I thought Michael was going to faint he loved this meal so much. It really was delicious with the sauce drizzled on top.

Here is the link to her blog (Oct11bride03):

Here is her original posting of it:

Here is the corn fritters recipe in case you want it (it looks super good):

When I posted the recipe rave on the cooking website I frequent someone said that her husband didn't like porkchops (gasp! How is that possible?!?) and asked for another suggestion. Like most recipes involving pork, chicken can easily be substituted. You would, of course, have to figure out cooking times but just look at another recipe or dig out a cookbook.

Thanks for the recipe and I can't wait to make it again! :)

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Cooking lessons with Jennifer

My brother-in-law (aka Bubba)'s girlfriend doesn't know how to cook, but she wants to learn how. We were all at the ILs hanging out the other day (grandfather-in-law, GFIL) is in town and we were visiting. Well Mother-in-Law (MIL) and Father-in-law (FIL) took GFIL out to dinner but told us that we could make whatever we wanted at their house. Well, as you all may know it is much harder to cook in someone else's kitchen than it is your own. So, I went to my house and got a few ingredients for something that I had created in my head and wanted to try because I thought it would be a good basic lesson for the girlfriend. Here's what we made:

Basic white sauce turned cheese sauce:
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/8 teaspoon (or a big pinch) pepper
1 1/2 cups whole milk (do not cheat and used reduced fat or skim or your sauce will taste like a combination of dog poo and wallpaper paste-you have been warned)
1/2 cup heavy cream (we all have to cheat now and again)
one golf ball size portion of Parmesan cheese, finely grated

1. Combine flour, salt & pepper in a bowl and set aside.

2. Melt butter over medium heat, stirring contantly. When butter is melted remove pan from heat.

3. Gradually add flour mixture and stir until smooth.

4. Combine the whole milk and heavy cream in a liquid measuring cup with a spout. Slowly wisk into the butter and flour mixture.

5. Place back onto burner over medium heat and wisk constantly until boiling. Boil for two minutes.

6. Remove from heat. Grate in pamesan cheese and stir until melted.

7. Pat yourself on the back, you have just made a white sauce and then a cheese sauce. You also made a roux (combining the butter and flour and cooking the flour- although we used the heat of the pan to cook it), which is the basis for soups and other yummy goodness.

Red sauce a la Jennifer

1/4 pound panchetta cubed
1/2 cup onions, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup white wine
1 large bell pepper (could be green, red, yellow, etc- use what you have or what you like)
1 cup spinach, chiffonade
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes

1. Place a stainless steel frying pan over medium high heat and allow the pan to heat up.

2. Add in panchetta. Cook on both sides until browned and slightly crispy. Remove from pan, leave behind the fat (which should not be much).

3. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion to pan and cook until translucent. Add in garlic and cook slightly. Do not burn garlic, cook for only 1-2 minutes.

4. Deglaze pan with wine. Scrape up all the "goodies" on the bottom of the pan. Allow the alchohol to cook out.

5. Add bell pepper and panchetta back to pan. Allow to cook for about a minute.

6. Add spinach, diced tomatoes and sundried tomatoes. Allow to heat through and to slightly reduce.

7. Pat yourself on the back, you just made red sauce.

I served this with grilled chicken breasts that I cooked in my grill pan. I seasoned them with my Italian spices spice grinder (dried spice) and some salt & pepper. I seared them over high heat on both sides and then finished cooking in the oven. I just placed the grill pan into the oven.

I served the sauces over whole wheat rotini pasta. I cooked the pasta and then drained it. I added a laddle of the red sauce on top and then a small amount of cheese sauce on top of that. Mixed together they made a rich, creamy tomato sauce.

Everyone raved about how great the meal was and having a soux chef in the kitchen definately helped.

Oh, I almost forgot the appetizer. I made crustini with brushetta.

We sliced a baguette on the bias to create larger slices of bread. We brushed them with olive oil and sprinkled with parmesan cheese. Then we placed them under the broiler until the edges of the bread were browned and the bread was nice and crispy.


Roma tomatoes, deseeded and diced
basil, torn into small pieces
onion finely chopped
garlic powder (because you do not want to bite into raw garlic)
olive oil
balsamic vinegar

I used about 6 roma tomatoes and about 1/2 of a very large onion. I used about 1/4 cup of basil leaves, a really big four finger pinch of garlic powder, about 1/4 tsp of salt and about 1/2 tsp of pepper. I used about 2 tablespoons each of the olive oil and balasmic vinegar.

You should really make this recipe to taste. You can add more or less of everything to make a brushetta that you really like. There are many things that you can add to this. A local restaurant makes their brushetta with basically the same ingredients I do but then they add in some olive tapenade for some added flair.

What I hope that you take away from the blog entry today is to have fun and experiment in your kitchen. Read cookbooks for ideas but then really make the recipes your own by going into your kitchen and adding the things that you really like.

Oh, and my non-vegetable eating husband ate the red sauce and said that it was very good and did not taste like vegetables. :)

p.s. sorry there are no pictures, still working on that.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Too good to wait.

I was going to wait to start posting to my blog until I got the digital camera situation straightened out, but I just had to share this with everyone. A couple of weeks ago I stumbled across adamswife's blog and saw a recipe that I thought Michael would like. He loves to dip chicken nuggets into honey so when I saw this I knew it would be an instant hit. I made it the next day and he loved it! Last night he was working late and I needed a quick meal for just me so I whipped this up again to use up some chicken breasts that I had thawing. It came out even better this time because I gave the chicken a double roll in the cracker crumbs. I rolled them once and then waited a few minutes and rolled them a second time (but didn't re-dip in the egg) to get them extra crunchy. mmmm just how I like them! I was hesitant at first to try baked chicken because I love me some fried chicken, but since we are trying to eat healthier and I knew that it was something Michael would like I decided to give it a go. I am so glad I did! Here is the link to her blog so that you can see the recipe.

Thank you adamswife for a great recipe that will definately go into my rotation!

Monday, August 20, 2007

My first posting!

Hi y'all and welcome to my blog! I got inspired to create a cooking blog by the nesties on the What's Cooking board. After discussing it with my husband we decided it would be a great idea. We both love to cook and love to try new recipes. Most of the time though we go in the kitchen grab stuff, throw it in a pot and come out with a wonderful meal. I think it is a gift that we developed watching our parent's cook for so many years.

Anyway, here's some stuff about us. We live in SC. I (Jennifer) am a native, Michael is an army brat transplant, but he's been here forever so he's practically southern. We are in our 20's and are child-free for the moment (unless you count the dog, cat & bunny). We both work full time (and Michael a little more than full-time) and are both students. We are taking a semester off to transfer schools so that will free up a little more time for "real meals." Most of the time during the school year we cook meals on weekends and make tons extra for leftovers or "re-creations" during the week.

I am cooking for the world's pickiest man. He eats practically no vegetables. He is a real "meat and potatoes" kind of guy. I, on the other hand, prefer vegetables with rice or pasta and some lean meat in small portions. There are a few vegetables that I refuse to eat though. I hate peas. Hate them. I will never like them and I am done trying new recipes for them. I give up. I also dislike asparagus. Other than that I like practically anything although I am picky about the way some things are cooked. My favorite vegetable is broccoli and I am always looking for new recipes to try using it.

I hate baking for the most part and never (ok almost never) bake completely home-made. If you are looking for bread recipes you need to move on because you won't be finding them here. :)

Welcome to our blog and our kitchen!