Saturday, August 30, 2008

Convection is HARD

I'm struggling to adjust to the convection setting on our new oven. It's one reason we spent a little more on this model, though, so I'm really trying to make the adjustment.

Alas, my Key Lime Cheesecake for tomorrow came out kinda blackish on top instead of the delightful browning I typically get. It otherwise looks nearly perfect and smells delicious.


Newlyweds is giving away a $25 CVS gift card. Go check it out at

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Chicken Marsala

From ATK.

I've made this before, and it was really good. This time, however, I clearly used too much tomato paste, leading to the ugly color and the very ketchupy flavor. ICK.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Ham Steak with Fruit Salsa

Tonight was filled with cooking disasters. I planned and started to make Chicken Marsala for dinner. I went into the basement to get some of my supplies, and came through the pantry to get some flour. For some reason, we keep this STAPLE of cooking on a very high shelf far away from my little self on a step. You can imagine what happened next.

You got it; a container of flour, on the floor. So, chicken marsala was clearly out.

I had everything for this meal, so decided to make it. However, my ham steaks were the mini presliced ones. I turned the broiler on high (because recipes just say to preheat broiler, never indicating if it's supposed to be lo or hi), and moved the rack up as indicated. Fearing the worst, I dropped the time a little. Not thinking, I moved the rack with the cookie sheet of ham steaks on it, lost my grip, and lost a ham steak to the linoleum monster.

First, my little ham steaks...shriveled. Then, it set off the smoke detector, which someone (who shall remain nameless) decided would best go IN the kitchen, setting off that oh so pleasant melody. As I was taking them out of the oven, the boiling water of my potatoes (which I had started before the flour incident), splashed me.

So, we're up to a no go chicken marsala, shriveled and crunchy ham steaks, a screeching smoke detector, and a lost ham steak. It was almost funny, things were so bad.

Usually, though, this is a delicious meal. It's a standby in our house, especially at this time of year when peaches/nectarines and plums are so delicious and cheap! I love that this is a recipe that is meant for NO MEASURING. I eyeball if I have enough plums to peaches... cut up the amount of red onion I'm feeling on that particular night, etc. The cookbook authors suggest that this is a versatile recipe and that lemon juice can be substituted for the lime, mint for the cilantro, and any seasonal fruit for the peaches and plums. These ingredients are the only ones I've tried, however.

This recipe is a Weight Watchers one too, with 4 points per serving. It's from their Make it in Minutes cookbook.

2 peaches, diced I used one, today
6 plums, diced Today I used two
1/4c finely chopped red onion
1/2 jalepeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped I just keep a jar of sliced ones in my fridge and use as many slices as I see fit--today, only one slice
2T fresh lime juice
2T chopped cilantro
1T Dijon mustard We were out; I used spicy brown, which is definitely not as good.
1T packed dark brown sugar
1-1lb ham steak

1. Preheat the broiler
2. Combine the peaches, plums, onion, jalepeno pepper, lime juice, and cilantro in a bowl.
3. Combine the mustard and sugar in a small bowl. Place the ham steak on the rack of a broiler pan and broil, 4 inches from the heat, 4 minutes. Turn the ham over and brush with the mustard mixture; broil 4 minutes longer. Cut the steak into 4 portions and top each with 1 cup of the fruit salsa.

Cheesecake Pops

When I saw this recipe on my google reader (after Daring Bakers had made it,) I knew I would one day make them. Chocolate covered cheesecake? On a STICK?? SWEET.

I made them for some friends last night. They were very pleased upon seeing them--words like "creative," and "brilliant" were used.

Since I didn't have 5 things of cream cheese, I halved the recipe. It worked out pretty well. I used a 1" cookie scoop to get the cheesecake out of the pan, and then rolled them in my hands (they kinda looked funny if I didn't). I ended up with almost 30 pops, despite halving the recipe. Our friends commented that they could never imagine the pops being double the size--they would've been HUGE!

I struggled with the chocolate covering and the sprinkles, though. I felt that they just weren't pretty after the chocolate coating on some occasions, and I couldn't figure out an efficient way to put the sprinkles on. I tried just sprinkling them on, I tried putting the sprinkles in a cupcake cup... neither really worked and both wasted sprinkles and made a big mess.

But I will DEFINITELY be making these treats again!! Pictures coming soon!

Cheesecake Pops
from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O'Connor

Makes 30 – 40 Pops

5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature
2 cups sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ cup heavy cream
Boiling water as needed
Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks
1 pound chocolate, finely chopped – you can use all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white (Alternately, you can use 1 pound of flavored coatings, also known as summer coating, confectionery coating or wafer chocolate – candy supply stores carry colors, as well as the three kinds of chocolate. White chocolate is harder to use this way, but not impossible)
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) - Optional

Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.
In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.

Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.

Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.
When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it’s shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.

Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.

Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionery chocolate pieces) as needed.

Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tomato Basil Quiche

Some friends came over for lunch yesterday, so I figured I would make a quiche. I've never done one before, and it was a great one to start off with. Tomato/basil/mozzarella are probably my favorite things together,so this seemed logical.

Anyway, I found this recipe here. It was a big big hit, and it was even decent microwaved as leftovers. It was so easy to make; the worst part was shredding the cheese and chopping the onions and tomatoes.

No pictures because I didn't want my guests wondering why the heck I was taking pictures of the food! LOL

Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Total preparation time: 70 minutes
10 servings

* 1 unbaked pastry shell
* 1 cup chopped onion
* 2 garlic cloves, chopped
* 1 teaspoon olive oil
* 8 ounces part-skim mozzarella, shredded
* 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
* 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
* 1 cup evaporated skim milk
* 1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
* 1/4 teaspoon fresh pepper
* 3 eggs

Place pastry in 10-inch deep-dish pie pan. Softly sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until golden. Spread onions and then cheese over pastry. Arrange tomatoes decoratively in a single layer over cheese. Arrange chopped basil atop tomatoes. (You can prepare ahead this far, making later preparations extra quick.)

In a blender, combine remaining ingredients and blend well. Carefully pour into pie shell without disturbing tomatoes. Bake 45 minutes at 350F or until knife inserted in middle can be removed clean. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.
NUTRITION ESTIMATE Per Serving: 214Cal (46% Fat); 8g Protein; 11g Tot Fat; 3g Sat Fat; 21g Carb; 2g Fiber; 301mg Sodium; 75mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 5 points

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Making the rounds

Yet another poll type thing is making the internet rounds...

Bumblebutton posted about playing this little omnivore game, as thought up by Andrew at Very Good Taste. I thought it would be fun to play along—maybe you would like to do it too!

Andrew's post--Here's a chance for a little interactivity for all the bloggers out there. Below is a list of 100 things that I think every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food - but a good omnivore should really try it all. Don't worry if you haven't, mind you; neither have I, though I'll be sure to work on it. Don't worry if you don't recognise everything in the hundred, either; Wikipedia has the answers.

Here's what I want you to do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.

2) Bold all the items you've eaten—

3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.

The Omnivore's Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl (um... I've had it, just never in a bread bowl... does that count for something?)
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Chicken Enchiladas

I got this from allrecipes
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 pint sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 (10 inch) flour tortillas
  • 1 (12 ounce) jar taco sauce
  • 3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a medium, non-stick skillet over medium heat, cook chicken until no longer pink and juices run clear. Drain excess fat. Cube the chicken and return it to the skillet. Add the onion, sour cream, Cheddar cheese, parsley, oregano and ground black pepper. Heat until cheese melts. Stir in salt, tomato sauce, water, chili powder, green pepper and garlic.
  3. Roll even amounts of the mixture in the tortillas. Arrange in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Cover with taco sauce and 3/4 cup Cheddar cheese. Bake uncovered in the preheated oven 20 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

I made a few changes... I used an 8oz can of tomato paste instead of the tomato sauce (I halved everything) and filled the can with water. I used a yellow bell pepper because that's what I had, and enchilada sauce instead of taco sauce (what is taco sauce anyway?). I used whole wheat tortillas, and cut the chicken before cooking. I omitted any extra salt. Finally, I baked for 19 minutes in my convection oven.

This was not bad, but I have to admit I was really disappointed. I guess I was expecting something more like what I would get at a Mexican restaurant--even one of the Mexican chains, and this just wasn't even close.

It wasn't BAD per se, it just wasn't what I was expecting. I'm going to keep looking for a chicken enchilada recipe, I guess.

If I were making this again, I would probably cut the chicken into strips for easier rolling of the tortilla.

Penne with Vodka and Chicken

Last night, I planned to make chicken enchiladas. Then I realized that the recipe would take an hour and a half, and I needed to have started it a long time ago. So I bumped up the penne with vodka sauce I planned to make on Friday and moved it to Tuesday. But I also had some cubed chicken from when I made The Boy chicken nuggets and decided to look for a recipe that added chicken into penne with vodka sauce.

I found this here.

Overall it was pretty good. I can't quite give it a very good because I made a user error--I didn't think there was enough tomato in the pan, so added another tablespoon of tomato paste. That caused the meal to come out orangey and not creamy enough.

User error and all, though, this was pretty good and SO MUCH EASIER than my typical penne with vodka recipe. I'll definitely be making this one again (correctly) on a workday!

Penne with Chicken and Vodka Sauce
serves 2
derived from The Silver Spoon

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into bite sized chunks
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 box of penne, cooked al dente
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cloves minced garlic
red pepper flakes to taste
salt and pepper
1/4 cup vodka
5 tablespoons heavy cream

1. Melt butter in pan and brown chicken over medium heat. Add tomato paste, garlic, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper and cook for about 3 minutes. Add vodka and heavy cream and cook until you can no longer smell the vodka.

2. Taste to adjust seasoning. Add cooked pasta and allow the dish to heat through.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Whole wheat pizza, AGAIN.

I made my recipe for whole wheat pizza last night. We ended up not having it then, so I Saran Wrapped and then left it in the fridge over night.

I usually only use half the dough, but this time I figured I'd use the whole thing because it usually tears on me.

SUCH A GOOD DECISION. It was the perfect size to fill my pan and the crust was just perfect. It looked and tasted like a DiGiornio... certainly not as good as a takeout, but cheaper than a frozen.

I just raided my fridge for some veggies and toppings and used yellow peppers, canned mushrooms, and a tomato. YUM!!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Bruschetta Chicken

This is yet another stolen from Lauren's blog. See the original recipe here.

Pictures coming soon.

I ended up using the yellow tomatoes I had leftover, so this looked kinda strange. But it tasted super good! All my favorite things combine into "Caprese Salad," so I knew this would be a big hit. I used to make Rachael Ray's Chicken Caprese Salad (I thought for SURE I could find this on the internet, but it's not popping up), but this is much better.

I pan fried my breasts (heheh) in olive oil, after pounding them a little thinner.

Next time, I would probably not mix the olive oil with the balsamic for brushing, especially since I already had olive oil in the pan.

Definitely a keeper in this house!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Spicy Pasta with Shrimp,Tomatoes, and Basil

Original recipe from Noodle Nights and Muffin Mornings

The idea of this meal sounded perfect. Pasta? Check. Tomatoes? Check. Basil? Check. BAJ's request for shrimp one night? Check.

And the meal itself was...fine. I felt like there was a lot too much sauce for the half pound of fettucine I used, which is unusual, but I just wasn't bowled over in love with this one.

I did like that this recipe was EEEEASY.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Eggplant Parm



  • 3 eggplant, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 6 cups spaghetti sauce, divided
  • 1 (16 ounce) package mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Dip eggplant slices in egg, then in bread crumbs. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes on each side.
  3. In a 9x13 inch baking dish spread spaghetti sauce to cover the bottom. Place a layer of eggplant slices in the sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Repeat with remaining ingredients, ending with the cheeses. Sprinkle basil on top.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.
I followed the instructions of some of the reviewers for this recipe. First, I salted these and let them sit in a colander for 20 minutes. I then rinsed them and patted dry. I baked them for 7 minutes on each side at 450. I also used one large eggplant.

Somewhere along the way, I turned the temp of the oven down to 350, but I'm not sure when. I just kept an eye on it until the cheese on top was melty and the sauce was bubbling.

This was definitely the best I've made this dish. The eggplant came out nice and soft and it was even good as leftovers (of which I am not a fan). I ended up using an entire jar of spaghetti sauce because I wanted to make sure everything was covered and got nice and soft.

This went really well with some Texas Toast!

Chicken Nuggets


  • 3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  2. Cut chicken breasts into 1 1/2 inch size pieces. In a medium bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, cheese, salt, thyme and basil. Mix well. Put melted butter/margarine in a bowl or dish for dipping.
  3. Dip chicken pieces into the melted butter/margarine first, then coat with the breadcrumb mixture. Place well coated chicken pieces on a lightly greased cookie sheet in a single layer, and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
I made this for the boy, whose father has been giving him Perdue Popcorn Chicken. I figured, I was battering stuff for Eggplant Parm, so I'd try to make him some chicken nuggets too. Instead of using melted butter, I used an egg, which I scrambled lightly. I didn't measure too much, and I think I used garlic powder and Italian seasoning only.

I think my oven was set at 450 for another thing I was making, so I only baked for 10-15 minutes.

These were really good! Both BAJ and I tried one and they were tasty... maybe I'll make these for all of us on night. Oh, and The Boy liked them too!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

French Onion Risotto

I got this from Lauren's blog as well.

I have to admit that I didn't love it. I liked it, but just can't go on raving about it. BAJ agreed, thinking that either I don't know how to properly make it (certainly a possibility), risotto just isn't his thing, or the risottos I've made just haven't been his thing. I don't know what it is, either, but any of those are real possibilities. I don't think I've ever had risotto made by someone else, so can't be sure if I like risotto or not.

I digress...

Perhaps the problem is the addition of white wine instead of sherry.

This certainly SMELLED good as it cooked, and it was surprisingly easy to make (one hears such horrors about making risotto, but it really wasn't bad at all). But I have to admit to being disappointed (especially since Lauren loves hers so much!)


  • 3 cups of any combo of beef broth and water (I used a can of broth (1-3/4c and the rest water)
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Half of a large onion, thinly sliced
  • Fresh thyme I used dried
  • 2 tablespoons sherry, to taste I used white wine because I needed to use it up or throw it out...
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • Provolone or cheese of your choice, optional

In a medium saucepan, bring broth and water to a boil. Simmer on a low-medium heat.

Heat butter and olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add onion and cook 3-4 minutes until tender.

Add rice, stir, and cook 1-2 minutes. Add about 1/2 cup broth mixture. Cook on a low-medium heat. When almost all the liquid is absorbed, add the next 1/2 cup. Continue adding broth, 1/2 cup at a time.Before adding the last 1/2 cup broth, stir in thyme and sherry. Cook with remaining broth until rice is done. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir in cheese, if using.Makes about 4 small portions.

French Onion Chicken Casserole

I got this one from Lauren's blog.
I also got the side dish from her (French Onion Risotto).

This was super duper easy to make... I used regular soup mix... I figured that I had it and wouldn't go buying specific French onion mix--gotta be the same, right?

I only used 2 breasts so I only used 1/2 an onion and ended up baking for about 20 minutes or so. The chicken came out so moist and tender... YUM! I just wasn't super excited about the sauce. It was good, but in small doses for me. I thought it was way too salty, and I don't love me some salt. BAJ, on the other hand, really enjoyed it.

  • 4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 2 Tbs plain flour
  • Packet of french onion soup
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 Cup water
  • 2 Tbs sour cream or plain low-fat yoghurt

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (180 degrees C)

2. Put the soup mix and flour into a ziplock bag, add the chicken breasts and shake it to coat them. Save the excess flour mix.

3. Heat some oil in a pan, or spray it with non stick cooking spray - and add the chicken and cook until browned all over. Turn them often, but carefully cause it will take off the coating if you aren't!

4. Take the chicken out, and put it in a casserole dish.

5. Add onions to the pan. Stir constantly over heat until onions ar soft.

6. Blend the saved flour mixture into a cup of water, and add it, to the pan with the onions and bacon. Cook for a couple of minutes, then pour over the chicken in the casserole dish.

7. Cover, then cook for about 35 minutes, or until chicken is tender. Remove chicken, and stir in sour cream/yoghurt, then replace chicken in the gravy. Serve!!

"Fried" Tomatoes

Fried tomatoes is one of my go to summer meals. I love it, and I love to eat it outdoors. My mom makes it with some kind of white sauce, which I have not been able to a. find online, b. replicate, or c. get the recipe from her.

So I found a recipe on allrecipes, which I can't seem to locate there now. So I'll have to type it out here at some point, just not right now.

I found yellow tomatoes at the farmer's market and couldn't resist them, so I used one yellow and one red for this. It turned out pretty good for both kinds!

I served it with Parmesan pasta of one kind or another by Rice a Roni or the like, since I had no potatoes for the traditional mashed potatoes side dish. It turned out to have the perfect creaminess to accompany the tomatoes.
Related Posts with Thumbnails