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.