Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Breakfast for dinner, Bacon and Cheese Fluffy Frittata

So my menu plan went completely out the window last week because Michael again had a crazy schedule. On Friday night I asked what he wanted for dinner and he said that breakfast sounded really good. Well, that sounded great to me since I had 34 eggs to use up since the store had them as buy one get one free this week.

We also had some beautiful thick cut bacon and cheddar and Ementaler cheese so off to the Internet we went. We didn't find any suitable recipes at foodnetwork.com, my usual standby so off to allrecipes.com we went. DH was very intrigued by the fluffy frittata recipe and wanted to try that one so I broiled some bacon, my preferred way of preparing bacon, and then prepared the recipe according to the directions.

My DH asked me to leave out the onion so I did (I would have preferred the recipe made with the onion and maybe some bell pepper too). I put a Tablespoon of the bacon drippings in the bottom of the pan and then proceeded as the recipe directed. This turned out well, but we didn't care very much for the texture of the eggs. I guess we just aren't fluffy egg people. I'll make this again but I'll either beat the egg whites less or just not separate them at all.

Fluffy-Bacon Cheese Frittata

6 bacon strips, diced
1/3 cup chopped onion
5 eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

In a skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp; remove to paper towels. Drain, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings. In the drippings, saute onion until tender. Remove from the heat; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat egg yolks, milk, flour and paprika until smooth. Add Swiss cheese. In a small mixing bowl, beat egg whites and salt until stiff peaks form. Fold into cheese mixture.
Pour over onion in skillet; cover and cook on medium-low heat for 12-15 minutes or until almost set. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and bacon. Cover and cook 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with parsley.

Lemon Pepper Chicken with brown rice

I was feeling very lazy on Saturday. I just didn't feel like cooking supper and I really didn't feel like going out, so I had to come up with something very quick and simple to have for dinner.

Quick and Easy Lemon Pepper Chicken

7 frozen chicken tenderloins, cut into bite sized chunks
1 green bell pepper
1 sweet onion (I used Vidalia but Peru sweet would also be good)
1/4 cup Ken's Lemon Pepper Marinade
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons Olive oil
1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken broth

1. Cut the top off of the bell pepper and remove all seeds. Cut off bottom and cut around the stem thing into three chunks. Cut the "body" of the pepper into 5 thick strips and then cut those in half.

2. Cut the onion in half lengthwise. Cut off the top and the bottom "roots." Cut each half into three big wedges. Keep in wedge form (because they will be easier to dig out of marinade.

3. Rinse the ice coating from the chicken so that it can thaw in the marinade. Add the marinade to a large ziplock bag and add pepper, onion and chicken. Allow to marinate for one hour. Chicken should thaw during this time.

4. Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Add in 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and 1 Tablespoon of butter. Allow butter to melt and then add the pepper and onion (remove from marinade with tongs). Stir with wooden spoon to break up onion wedges. Cook until onion is translucent. Remove to plate.

5. Add remaining olive oil and butter to skillet. Allow butter to melt. Brown chicken on both sides. Remove from skillet.

6. Deglaze the pan with the chicken broth and add in the used marinade. Boil to kill off any bad stuff. Add the peppers, onions and chicken back to skillet and cook until chicken is cooked through and sauce is reduced.

Serve over brown rice made with half water and half chicken broth.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Steak quesidillas, the reason my husband loves me

This is the most asked for meal in our home. My husband absolutely loves these and doesn't complain one bit about eating them for leftovers (and he HATES leftovers)

I start with my version of carne asada (see recipe below) and then slice it very very thinly against the grain into small strips. I place these on top of a burrito sized tortilla and top with loads of cheese. I usually use a combination of monterrey jack and cheddar cheeses. Then I put another tortilla on top and put it in a non stick skillet. I don't put butter or spray or anything else in the skillet while I am toasting the bread. Then I cut them into quarters and serve with salsa and sour cream.

Carne Asada

from: me!

London broil roast, trimmed of all fat and gristle
Juice and zest from two lemons
1/4 cup olive oil or canola oil
packet of taco seasoning

1. In a large ziplock bag mix together the lemon juice and zest, oil and taco seasoning. Add in the roast and marinate for one hour.

2. Heat a large grill pan over high heat. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sear the meat on both sides (about 3 minutes) and then put in oven for 5 minutes.

3. Remove pan from oven. Set roast on a cutting board. Allow to "rest" for about 10 minutes.

4. Thinly slice the meat against the grain.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day Brunch

I thought it only fitting to blog about the brunch that I prepared for my mom yesterday for Mother's Day. You see, I get my love of all things kitchen gadget, place settings, recipe hunting, bargain finding, taste testing and cooking from my mother. She is the original downhome diva! I wanted a nice, quiet brunch for just the two of us so that we could spend some time together. I don't get to see her as often as I want to (which would probably be as often as we talk on the phone- multiple times a day!) so I wanted some special time with just the two of us.

My mom and I are both chocoholics and so I wanted to incorporate our shared love of all things chocolate into brunch.

On the menu:
Dutch pancake with Nutella, fresh strawberries and powdered sugar
Bellagio Hot Chocolate
a taste of Amano chocolate for dessert

To prepare the bacon, I used my absolute favorite method. I broiled it! I like to use thick sliced bacon, and yesterday I used some Tyson that I had picked up on sale. It was to die for good and had the perfect combination of crispy and chewy. What I do is place the bacon in a single layer on a broiler pan (that's the one with the slots) and put it under the broiler set on high for a few minutes (I would guess about 4) then I flip it over using tongs and broil it for about two more minutes. Remove from the broiler pan and drain on paper towels (although with this method there is really not much to drain as most of the fat cooks off while leaving the wonderful flavor).

For the dutch pancake, I used a recipe that I found from a nestie. I was bad and forgot to write down which blog I stole it from, so if it is yours please leave me a comment and I will give you credit. Sorry about that. I did make a couple of changes to the pancake since I would be serving it with chocolate and strawberries. I added a tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla.

Here is the recipe that I used, with my changes:

Dutch Pancake

4 eggs
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tsp butter

1. In medium mixing bowl, place first 6 ingredients. Beat with an egg beater on medium for about 2 minutes until frothy and well mixed.
2. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 425. Prepare 2 glass 8x8 dishes, or pie dishes, with 1.5 T butter each. Place in oven while it's preheating, so butter gets a nice brown color.
3. Remove pans and pour 1/2 the mixture into each pan. Return to oven and bake at 425 for 15 minutes.

Top with powdered sugar and cinnamon for a fantastic breakfast treat!

Each pancake makes 4 servings, in my opinion. I topped each serving with about 1/2 teaspoon of nutella and spread it very thin. I then piled on the sliced strawberries. I did not sweeten the strawberries since I topped everything with powdered sugar. My mom and I polished off a whole quart of strawberries together, but I suppose you can never really eat too much fruit.

Now, for a funny story. When I was looking for a small strainer to sift powdered sugar on top of the strawberries I found this small shaker that had what I THOUGHT was powdered sugar in it. Well, it was flour. oops. Luckily it did not ruin anything and I just added the powdered sugar on top of that.

I had a wonderful time and am so lucky to have a mom as wonderful as mine! Happy Mother's Day mom, I love you!

Amano chocolate, what they serve in heaven

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Image from www.blakemakes.com

Please visit http://www.amanochocolate.com/ to find out more about this wonderful chocolate and to purchase the finest quality chocolate bars that I have had the pleasure of eating.

So I recently became a sooper hero on Blake Makes, which means that I get the opportunity to try out all kinds of wonderful food products. Last week I arrived home from work to find three lovely chocolate bars waiting on my front steps. It was very hot that day (hello I live in SC from April to October it can be considered very hot!) and I was a little worried that the chocolate would be one melted mess. I was very happy to discover that while the chocolate had softened, it had maintained it's shape. Talk about impressed! If this chocolate can stand up to the SC heat then it can withstand anything.

I decided that rather than cooking with this chocolate, that I would enjoy it as I would any fine quality chocolate, by eating it as an after dinner treat with coffee. The first night I tried a couple of squares of each and put them away to finish firming back up (they were soft from sitting on my porch all day).

The next day I had a few more bites of each and also asked my husband to try the bars. Now, my husband is not a big dark chocolate fan (I know, I know, how is that even possible?!?) but he liked the Madagascar. I would say that is the creamiest and most mild, so that would be good for someone like him who tends to prefer milk chocolate. My favorite, by the way, is the Ocumare. I ate that whole one by myself and didn't let anyone else try it. Because I am selfish and it was my favorite, that's why!

Then, yesterday, was Mother's Day so I knew that I would be around a lot of dark chocolate lovers so I threw what was left of the Madagascar and the Cuyagua into my purse to tote around and have others try.

First up was my mom. She really liked both types but the Cuyagua was her favorite. I would tend to agree with her, as it was my second favorite, and because I am selfish, she didn't get a chance to try the Ocumare. Sorry about that mom. :)

Next up was my mother-in-law. She is a big fan of the dark chocolate. She liked them both, but again the Cuyagua was her favorite. I believe that she was the one who mentioned that a little of this chocolate goes a long way because it is so pure and rich. I would tend to agree with her. I am a big time chocolate lover and it took me several sittings over several days to pig out on the Ocumare. :)

My father-in-law sampled the chocolate next. He also enjoys dark chocolate. He also preferred the Cuyagua.

Then my brother-in-law's girlfriend sampled both chocolates. She agreed with my husband that the Madagascar was her favorite.

All of these chocolates were beyond wonderful. I was a confirmed Godiva fan before sampling these, but I am now a convert. I can't wait to have more of these, and I think both of our moms would enjoy a bar as a present.

Thank you Blake Makes and Amano for the chance to sample these wonderful chocolates and for my first opportunity to review something for Blake Makes!


Friday, May 9, 2008

Italian Sausage and Potatoes

I saw this recipe in Quick and Simple magazine a few months ago. I used kielbasa instead of Italian sausage since that is what I had. I added the kielbasa in with 15 minutes to go, at the same time that I stirred the potatoes, peppers and onions, and this was the perfect amount of time for the sausage to cook. This is not healthy at all... but it is yummy and quick and very, very easy so it was great for a week night meal.

Italian Sausage And Potatoes.

1 Pound Sweet And/Or Hot Italian Sausage( Or Use Turkey Sausage.) Cut Crosswise Into Thirds.
1 Pound Small Red Or Yellow Potatoes, Scrubbed And Halved.
1 Large Onion, Cut Into 12 Wedges.
2 Red And/Or Yellow Bell Peppers,Cut Into Thick Strips.
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil.
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Pepper.

Preheat Oven To 450 Degrees . In A 15&1/2 X 10&1/2 Jelly-Roll Pan, Toss Together Sausage,Potatoes,Onion, Bell Peppers, Olive Oil,Salt And Pepper.

Roast 30 To 35 Minutes, Or Until Potatoes Are Fork-Tender And Sausage Is Lightly Browned, Stirring Once Halfway Through Roasting.

EDIT 5/21/08- I made this again last night because we needed a quick and easy meal. DH got off of work very late. This takes only one cutting board, one knife and one cookie sheet to make so it doesn't make a huge mess of the kitchen, which is wonderful when you are as tired as we were. I had Italian Sausage this time so I used that. I also sprinkled about a teaspoon of dried Italian seasoning over the potatoes. I preferred this recipe made with the Italian Sausage, but my DH preferred the kielbasa. I guess we'll just alternate, or use whatever is on sale. :-)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

My first ever chicken salad

I know that this may seem weird but sometimes I find that while I have "mastered" cooking techniques that others may be wary of, I have simply not tried many of the basics. Chicken salad was one of those basic things that I had not tried to make before today. I roasted a 6 pound chicken on Sunday (hello it was 49 CENTS a pound!) to use as a base for meals throughout the week.

Yesterday I made chicken, spinach, sun-dried tomato and mozzarella paninis for dinner and found that I still have A LOT of chicken to use up. I had bought some pitas to use for pita pizzas so I decided that I light, refreshing chicken salad would be great to go with them. Here is what I came up with:

Fruity Chicken Salad
By: me!

1 roasted (or rotisserie) chicken breast, cut into large cubes (mine was huge but you may need to add more if your chicken is not as well endowed as mine was)
1/2 stalk of celery, chopped
2 tablespoons almonds, chopped
1/4 cup of crasins or other dried fruit
8 large grapes, cut into 4 pieces
2 tablespoons of light mayo
1 tablespoon Champagne Vinegar (or other vinegar that you may have on hand)
1 teaspoon Pampered Chef Citris & Basil Rub
salt and pepper to taste

Combine everything making sure that the seasonings are well distributed throughout. Enjoy!

Butter Crunch Lemon-Cheese Bars

This is a Cooking Light recipe, although I think I first encountered it in adamswife's blog. The first time I made them, last summer, I forgot to put the eggs in the filling. Well needless to say that didn't exactly work so I decided to give them another try last night. They are so good, so tart and are the perfect treat on these hot Spring days. Give them a try soon, you won't regret it!

Butter Crunch Lemon-Cheese Bars


1/3 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground mace or nutmeg
1 cup all-purpose flour
Cooking spray

1 cup 1% low-fat cottage cheese
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
3 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg
1 large egg white

Preheat oven to 350°.
To prepare crust, place first 4 ingredients in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Lightly spoon 1 cup flour into a dry measuring cup, and level with a knife. Add 1 cup flour to butter mixture, and beat at low speed until well-blended. Press crust into an 8-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes.

To prepare filling, place cottage cheese in a food processor; process 2 minutes or until smooth, scraping sides of bowl once. Add 1 cup granulated sugar and remaining ingredients, and process until well-blended. Pour filling over crust. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until set (the edges will get lightly browned), and cool. Cover and chill for 8 hours.

8 servings (serving size: 1 bar)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 281(29% from fat); FAT 9g (sat 5.2g,mono 2.6g,poly 0.6g); PROTEIN 6.7g; CHOLESTEROL 49mg; CALCIUM 40mg; SODIUM 298mg; FIBER 0.5g; IRON 1.1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 44.5g
Greg Patent , Cooking Light, JANUARY 2001