Monday, February 11, 2008

Stuffed Baked Potatoes McAlister's Deli Style

4 Small Baking Potatoes (the kind that come in the 5 or 10 pound bag) You want two sets of matching potatoes of similar size and shape
1 large chicken breast, seasoned and grilled
2 slices of Motzorella Cheese
1/2 cup broccoli
Grated Parmesan Cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Scrub potatoes and use a fork to poke holes in them so that they don't explode in the oven.

3. Bake for one hour.

4. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes.

5. Meanwhile, dice the chicken breast. Take raw broccoli and put in a microwave safe bowl and add 1 tablespoon of water. Microwave for 45 seconds, or until just not raw.

6. Slice one end off of each potato and cut down center length-wise. Match up potato ends so that it looks like you have one giant potato. Stuff with broccoli and chicken. Cover with a slice of Motzorella cheese and some freshly grated Parmesan. Place in oven-safe cooking dish.

7. Bake until cheese is melted, about 7-10 minutes.

8. Enjoy!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Peach turnovers

Last night I made peach turnovers as a treat for my husband. It was my first time trying and overall they came out well. I will share with you what went right, and what went wrong. Probably what went wrong most is that I made up my own recipe. lol Here it is:

1 package of puff pastry (2 sheets)
1 large can of peach pie filling
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons raw sugar
butter for greasing

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Unwrap puff pastry and use a rolling pin to lightly roll it out in a square shape (most puff pastry comes in a rectangle shape)

3. Using a pizza cutter, cut each sheet of puff pastry into 4 equal sized squares so that you have a total of 8 squares of puff pastry.

4. Grease a large cookie sheet with butter (because I live in the South and butter makes everything better!)

5. One at a time take a square of puff pastry, place it on the greased cookie sheet, and put 2 tablespoons of peach pie filling in the center making sure that you are getting mostly peaches and very little syrup (I realized this when I was almost done which is why I had some turnovers that were soggy from too much syrup).

6. Fold over 1/2 of the puff pastry square to make a triangle shape. Using a fork pinch the edges to seal. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Also using the fork, poke a few holes in the top of the turnover to allow steam to escape.

7. Repeat steps 5&6 until all turnovers are formed.

8. Bake for 15 minutes. Check and make sure that pastry is puffed and golden brown. If not bake for a few more minutes until pastry is puffed and golden brown.

9. Remove pan from oven. Allow pastries to cool on pan for a few minutes and then remove to a cooling rack.

10. Say mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm as you bite into a yummy turnover and smile because YOU made them!

Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Simple grilled chicken... inside

Sometimes I want a quick and easy dinner. Last night was one of those nights. Something that I often make at those times is grilled boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I use several different seasonings, depending on what we are in the mood for. Last night I used sea salt, multi-colored peppercorns (my favorite!) and Citris Basil rub that I got from Pampered Chef. Let me tell you, that stuff is worth its weight in gold! It is so good to use on so many things. I have used it on green beans, chicken, pasta... the list goes on and on.

So I have a trick for getting the juiciest chicken boobies that you ever did eat. Step 1 is preheating the oven to 450 degrees. I saw a show on the Food Network once (I don't remember which show) that said when you are cooking chicken without the skin the trick is to cook it quickly before it has a chance to dry out. I then take an oven safe grill pan (I forget which one I have but it's a fancy smanchy one that I got at Bed, Bath and Beyond so if you don't have one check there) and preheat it over medium high heat. Once the pan is screaming hot I sear the chicken on both sides until it is good and golden and then throw it in the oven to finish it. I would say it takes about 7 minutes in the oven... depending on how big the boobies are.

A trick to checking your chicken to see if it is done without cutting it or sticking a meat thermometer in (which would let the juices escape) is to poke it with your finger. If the meat is firm to the touch and bounces back right away then it is done. You will have to experiment several times to get it just right but eventually you will be able to check for the doneness just by poking it. I think this only works on chicken breasts. At least I have only used this trick for chicken breasts.

So that is my rather boring post for the day on how to get the juiciest chicken breasts and how to poke them to tell if they are done.

We are having leftovers tonight so no great updates tomorrow either. Hopefully next week I will be fully back into the swing of things. Believe it or not I am still getting over the cooties that my husband so sweetly shared with me. My energy level is about a one right now.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Rigatoni with Steak Sauce

I have been making very boring stuff lately, if I have been cooking at all and nothing has been "blog worthy" so I am posting a recipe that I tried over the summer and I just LOVED. Now Michael didn't care for this, even though I specifically made it for him since it has steak in it, because he just doesn't like pasta. It is very good though and a nice balanced meal with vegetables, starch and meat all in one. It's pretty easy too!

Recipe Summary
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 servings (note from the Diva: I think you would have to be feeding lumberjacks to only get 4 servings out of this. I remember getting AT LEAST 6)

Rigatoni with Steak Sauce

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 (12-ounce) rib-eye steaks
Salt and pepper
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 cup dry red wine (I used Merlot)
1 (26-ounce) jar marinara sauce
1 cup beef broth
16 ounces dried rigatoni pasta
3 ounces Parmesan, shaved

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy large frying pan over high heat. Sprinkle the steaks with salt and pepper. Cook the steaks until they are brown but still rare in the center, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the steaks to a plate and set aside to cool completely.

Add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil to the same pan. Saute the onions and carrots until the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes, with additional salt and pepper, to taste. Add the garlic and oregano, and saute for 1 minute. Add the wine and simmer for 1 minute. Add the marinara sauce and broth. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat to allow the flavors to blend, about 10 minutes. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, trim off any fat from the steaks, then cut the steaks into bite-size pieces and set aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the rigatoni and boil until it is tender but still firm to the bite, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Drain the rigatoni.
Toss the rigatoni and reserved steak pieces and any accumulated juices from the steaks with the sauce to coat. Transfer the pasta to bowls. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese shavings and serve.