Thursday, June 30, 2011

Veggie Bean Burger

This morning, my friend Lauren shared this recipe on her blog, and I was intrigued.  I love the health element of beans, and love the idea of eating something that's easier on my health, the environment, and my wallet.  My husband, however, refuses to eat beans.  When we go out for Mexican, he will say, "No beans, anywhere on the plate," so it was awesome that she shared it on a night he was not expected to be home for dinner.

This was so stinking easy, and it had so much delicious flavor.  I do have to admit, I wasn't nuts about the texture of the food, but it was yummy.

The boys, however wouldn't touch it.  E wouldn't even touch the cheese I put on top. We got A to give it a good try, but it was still a no go.

I encourage you to give this a try, especially if you're just looking for something to feed adults, though I do suggest giving it a try with your kids.

I froze the leftovers, and hope they'll be good for me for lunches over the next few weeks!

The recipe calls for "white kidney beans," and I've never seen those before, so I used Great White Northern Beans.

Summer Cookout Veggie Burgers
from Leslie Sarna, via Lauren's Kitchen
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup rolled oats (non-instant Oatmeal)
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs (I like to use Panko also called Japanese bread crumbs if you can find them)
  • 1 tsp. (or more) chili powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • about 3 tbsp. chopped chives
  • 1 egg
  • olive oil
  • 1 small red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 4 oz. mushrooms, finely diced
  • 6 sun dried tomatoes, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
In a medium frying pan, heat some olive oil. Add the chopped onion, garlic, bell peppers and a pinch of Salt. Let cook 2 minutes on a lower heat. Add mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes; let cook another couple minutes. Let cool when cooked. While the veggies are cooling, in a large bowl combine the Beans, Oats, Bread Crumbs and all the spices and chives. Toss a little and add the egg. Using your hands to mix the mixture until it's slightly sticky and about 3/4 of the beans are smashed. Add in the veggies. Continue to work with your hands. If the mix feels a little dry, add water by the teaspoon until right. If it's too wet, add bread crumbs : ) Form 8 burger patties. Refrigerate for about an hour. (you can also place these pouches in a ziploc bag and freeze for up to a couple of weeks) To cook, unwrap the burgers from the plastic and cook in a heated skillet with cooking spray or olive oil in the bottom. Cook about 3-4 minutes on each side.
PS these should always be cooked on a skillet or frying pan. Unfortunately, they can fall apart if cooked on the bbq.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Portobello Mushroom Burger

My original plan was to make a different Portobello recipe, but was out of a few of the key ingredients, so turned to the Food Network for help and came up with this one.

These really got mixed reviews here.  I really enjoyed it (though I can never figure out what people are talking about when they say portobello mushrooms taste like beef), but the three boys weren't on board AT ALL.  M ate it, but wasn't really thrilled about it, and the boys wouldn't even eat it.

I used a slice of tomato instead of a roasted red pepper and romaine lettuce instead of arugula.

Maybe someone else will have better success with her family than I had with mine!

Portobello Mushroom Burger from Paula Deen at FoodNetwork.com


  • 4 portobello mushroom caps, cleaned
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon prepared pesto
  • 2 teaspoons coarse-grained mustard
  • 4 hamburger buns, split, buttered, and toasted
  • 1 cup baby arugula
  • 1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained


Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
Brush mushrooms caps with olive oil; sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper. Grill mushrooms, smooth side down, covered with grill lid, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until tender.
In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, pesto, mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread mixture evenly over cut sides of buns. Divide arugula evenly over bottom halves of buns. Top each evenly with peppers. Place mushrooms caps over peppers. Cover with tops of buns.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Baked Buffalo Chicken Pasta

I've said it a few times I'm sure that my son is enthralled with mac and cheese, so when I saw this in my Google Reader, I knew I wanted to try it soon.

As he saw me pour the wing sauce into the dish, my husband asked, "Is this going to be too S-P-I-C-Y?" to which I replied, "I sure hope not!"  Then, as it was cooking, that delicious hot sauce smell was pretty strong; I got really worried again.

But all the boys enjoyed it--the medium one liked it, maybe because I called it "mac and cheese."  The little one liked it, but I don't think either of the boys liked the chicken so much.  Even the big one, who doesn't like mac and cheese at all enjoyed it.  And I liked it a lot too!

I grilled my chicken this time around, since I figured it would be the fastest way to get them done, so I was happy to have some wings without the fry!

Baked Buffalo Chicken Pasta  Source:  How Sweet It Is
serves 4-6
1 pound pasta (I used whole wheat orecchiette)
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into chunks
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 1/2 cups milk

4 ounces grated monterey jack cheese (I used half a brick) + more for topping
1/3 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese + more for topping
1/3 cup buffalo wing sauce
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
for garnish: 3/4 cup chopped green onions, 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, 1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese, additional buffalo wing sauce
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Prepare water for pasta and cook according to directions.
While pasta is cooking, heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter, and once it’s melted and bubbly add the flour. Whisk together to create a roux and cook for 1-2 minutes until mixture gets a bit golden in color. Add milk, stir and turn down heat to low. Continue stirring until milk thickens. Add in grated cheeses and continue to stir until mixture is smooth. Stir in buffalo wing sauce. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
Spray a baking dish (9 x 13 is fine, I used a round 4-inch deep dish) with non-stick spray. Add pasta and chicken, then pour cheese sauce over and mix throughly until everything is coated. Sprinkle with additional grated cheese and bread crumbs. Bake for 25 minutes or until cheese is golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately top with gorgonzola, green onions and cilantro. Drizzle with buffalo wing sauce.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Meal Plan...err.. Tuesday

Behind as usual.
Monday--Baked Buffalo Chicken Pasta
Tuesday--Popcorn shrimp, Cook's Country Feb/Mar 2011
Wednesday--Mix and Match Pasta Salad
Thursday--Cheese-Stuffed Portobellos
Friday--I'm out, so pizza from the freezer for the boys
Sat/Sun--Mom and Dad's for the weekend!

Popcorn Shrimp

I grew up in a fishing household.  Summer flounder, aka: "fluke" was the most common catch.  Mom would batter and fry the fish, and kid that I was, I would refuse to eat it.

The smell of deep frying (and I've done quite a bit in the past few weeks) just brings me right back to that time and place; I could practically taste the battered fluke as I was cooking these shrimp.

As these were coming out of the oil, M started grabbing some of the cooked batter and proclaimed it good.  He then tasted the cooked shrimp and exclaimed that it was delicious and a keeper.  The only thing really missing was that I forgot to make cocktail sauce; we used lemon wedges and it was quite good with that, but we knew it would be even better with the cocktail sauce.

As for the little guys, the bigger one couldn't get enough.  He kept grabbing more off the platter, which is practically unheard of around here.  The littler one kept crying for dinner, so he had his meal while I cooked, and STILL ate two or three shrimp.

So, here's another major win for Cook's Country magazine.

Popcorn Shrimp Cook's Country Feb/Mar 2011

1.5lb medium/large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed
3 qt canola oil
1t grated lemon zest
1 garlic clove, minced
1-1/2T Old Bay, divided
1-1/2c AP flour
1/2c cornstarch
2t black pepper
1t baking powder
1-1/2c bottled clam juice (I used 8 oz clam juice and 1/2 c water)

1.  Combine shrimp, 1T oil, lemon zest, garlic, and 1/2t Old Bay in a large bowl.  Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.
2.  Heat remaining oil over medium-high heat to 375 degrees in a Dutch oven.  In a large bowl, mix flour, cornstarch, Old Bay, pepper, and baking powder; add clam juice and mix until smooth and no flour clumps remain.  Add in shrimp and carefully stir until evenly coated.
3.  Add 1/4 of the shrimp to the oil, one at a time.  Stir frequently, and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes.  Drain on a paper towel lined plate, then move to wire rack set inside a baking sheet.  Return oil to 375 degrees and repeat with remaining shrimp.  Serve with cocktail sauce, tartar sauce, or lemon wedges.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

BBQ Grilled Chicken

I didn't take photos of this because it was really a last minute meal and we were starving. 

It never occurred to me that grilling chicken breasts would require any more work than grilling them up and then slathering some BBQ sauce on top.  But for some reason, I did a little googling and found this website, which directed me otherwise.  I took her advice and came up with some really tasty BBQ chicken.

First, I trimmed the breasts, and cut slits in them.  I set them in a marinade of 1c olive oil, 1/2c red wine vinegar, garlic, pepper, and Italian seasoning.  I was pressed for time, so I marinated for 15 minutes a side.  Meanwhile, I sprayed my grill, and preheated it to medium. 

I then drained the chicken from the marinade, discarding the marinade, and placed the chicken on the grill with the score marks down.  I basted the top with my BBQ sauce, rotated after about 4 minutes, and then basted with BBQ sauce again.  I grilled them for about 15 minutes total, until the chicken felt firm.

So good and so easy!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Chicken Chimichangas

Dear folks at America's Test Kitchen,
I wasn't going to renew my subscription to Cook's Country, mostly because I'm cheap.  I mean, everything I've made has been good, and nearly everything has been awesome.  But I'm cheap.  And do I really need another magazine subscription?

Well, this recipe sold me.  I'm renewing my subscription.  Yeah, I don't need recipes that take an hour from start to finish.  But this one was awesome.

Sign me up, ATK.  I'm yours.
Mad Men Kitchen

 Chicken Chimichangas Source:  Cook's Country Magazine June/July 2011
1-1/4c low sodium chicken broth
1T minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
1/2c long grain white rice
Salt and Pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
1T plus 3c canola oil
1 onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1t chili powder
1/2t ground cumin
4oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/3c chopped fresh cilantro
1T all purpose flour
1T water
4 flour tortillas

1.  In a 2 cup liquid measuring cup, whisk broth and pepper.  Mix 1/2 cup of this mixture, rice, and 1/4t salt in a bowl.  Cover and microwave until liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper.
2.  In a Dutch oven, heat 1T oil over medium high heat until just smoking.  Cook onion until softened, about 5 minutes, then add garlic, chili powder, and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add remaining chipotle broth, partially cooked rice, and bring to a boil.
3.  Reduce heat to medium low, add chicken, cover, and cook until chicken's internal temperature is 160 degrees and rice is tender, about 15 minutes, flipping chicken about halfway through.  Remove chicken to a cutting board to rest for 5-10 minutes, then cut into 1/2 inch pieces and return to rice mixture, adding cheddar and cilantro, all in a large bowl.  Wash the pot.
4.  Whisk flour and water in a small bowl.  Microwave tortillas, covered, on a plate, about 1 minute.  Divide chicken mixture into 4.  Working with one tortilla at a time, place 1/4 of the chicken mixture in the center.  Brush edges of tortilla with flour paste, then wrap top and bottom of tortilla tightly over filling (fold side toward center, then fold in the sides--you might want to repaste the last pieces). 
5.  Heat remaining 3c oil in Dutch oven over medium high heat until 325 degrees.  Place 2 chimis, seam down, in oil, and fry until deep golden brown, about 2 minutes a side.  Monitor your oil temperature, keeping it between 300 and 325 degrees.  Drain on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining chimis.  Serve.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ham Steak with Fruit Salsa

I've blogged about this one once before, and it's so funny reading about the horrible missteps of making the recipe that time.  I've made this one many times, and while the recipe suggests that it can be made with any fruit, I like it as it's written so much, that's the only way I've made it.

The last time I blogged it, I did not share any pictures.  Additionally, my photo taking has improved immensely, if I do say so myself.

I always struggle with side dishes to serve with this recipe.  It's ham, so my mind says I should serve it with some sweet potatoes.  I always mean to do that, but it's usually not something I do since my husband doesn't like them.  Tonight, I served with carrots and a salad.

Did I mention that this is a Weight Watchers recipe?

Ham Steak with Fruit Salsa from Weight Watchers' Make it in Minutes cookbook.

2 peaches, diced
6 plums, diced
1/4c finely chopped red onion
1/2 jalepeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped  slices 
2T fresh lime juice
2T chopped cilantro
1T Dijon mustard
1T packed dark brown sugar
1-1lb ham steak

1. Heat the broiler to the hi setting.
2. Combine all ingredients, up to an including cilantro, in a large bowl.
3. Mix the mustard and sugar in a small bowl. 
4. Place the ham steak on the rack of a broiler pan; brush with half the mustard mixture and broil, 4 inches from the heat, 4 minutes. Turn the ham over and brush with the remaining mustard mixture; broil 4 minutes longer. Cut the steak into 4 portions and top each with 1 cup of the fruit salsa.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Charred Cauliflower and Grape Tomatoes

I often forget to make sides.  Of course, most meals I cook don't involve much in the way of veggies, so getting some on the plate typically consists of throwing some frozen veggie into a bowl and nuking it to hot.  It's veggie but it's not the world's most flavorful thing on a plate.

So I stumbled across this recipe while doing some meal planning, and thought it looked yummy and easy to put together, so I added it to the meal plan (despite having done this, I still almost forgot to make it).  Tonight's dinner was A's request of mac and cheese, and I didn't add any veggies to it, so I thought it would be a great idea. 

This was really tasty.  It wasn't a great pairing with said mac and cheese, but it was delicious on its own.  And so very easy; I was able to do the whole thing while the mac and cheese baked in the oven.

Sorry for the awful picture; I forgot to adjust the white balance.  I'm also just realizing it's totally blurry.  Great job.

Charred Cauliflower and Grape Tomatoes Source:  Wegmans

2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 head cauliflower, broken into small florets, wipe dry (about 5 cups)
12-16 super sweet grape tomatoes, wipe dry
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp curry powder


  1. Add 1 Tbsp oil to large skillet on HIGH, until oil faintly smokes. Add cauliflower; reduce heat to MEDIUM-HIGH. Cook 4-6 min, stirring occasionally, until darkened on the edges. Remove from pan; wipe pan of excess oil.
  2. Add remaining Tbsp oil to skillet on HIGH, until oil faintly smokes. Add tomatoes; reduce heat to MEDIUM-HIGH. Cook 1-3 min, until they're blackened on one side.
  3. Return cauliflower to pan with tomatoes; reduce heat to MEDIUM. Season to taste with salt; add curry powder. Saute 1-3 min, until cauliflower is heated through. (Tomatoes should remain whole, not collapse.)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Chicken, Spinach, and Artichoke Bake

This popped up in my feed the other day and it just looked and sounded delicious.  It comes from the Cooking Nurse's blog.

I asked M to bring some muscle to stir everything, at which point he commented that it smelled "amazing."  He attributed the smell to the cream cheese.

The initial odor (which has such negative connotations; what do you say for something that smells awesome??) did not disappoint...  this was one fantastic meal.  I followed the recipe as written by The Cooking Nurse, adding the artichokes, and boy was I glad I did.  M commented that artichokes and spinach are just a natural pairing, and I agree.

Of course, artichokes aren't a flavor I enjoyed until I was in my mid 20s.  I hated them as a kid.  So, it's no surprise that neither of the boys liked this meal.  A said he liked the cheese and chicken, but wouldn't touch the pasta.  E just wouldn't eat it. 
But we really enjoyed the meal and maybe next time, I'll add some roasted red peppers.

Chicken Spinach and Artichoke Pasta Bake
Source: Adapted From The Love Life Cooks, originally from, via Cooking Nurse

8 oz whole wheat penne pasta
1 (10 oz) package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 15 oz can artichoke hearts, chopped
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 8oz container of chive and onion cream cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.
Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper, and saute over medium heat until lightly browned on both sides. Cut into bite sized pieces.
In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta, cubed cooked chicken, chopped artichoke hearts, drained spinach, and cream cheese. Stir well. Season with Italian seasoning, and salt/pepper to taste.
Transfer to a greased 9×13 in pan. Top with shredded mozzarella. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until heated through.

Meal Plan Monday

Monday-- chicken, spinach and artichoke pasta bake
Tuesday-- Macaroni and Cheese with Charred Cauliflower and grape Tomatoes
Wednesday--Ham Steak with Fruit Salsa (Weight Watchers)
Thursday--Popcorn Shrimp (Cook's Illustrated Feb/Mar 2011) with Jojo Potato Wedges (Cook's Illustrated...)
Friday--Chicken Chimichanga (Cook's Illustrated June/July 2011)
Saturday--Baked Buffalo Chicken Pasta 
Sunday--Grilled Mojo Pork Tenderloin with Salsa Verde

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Barbecue Chicken Burgers

Annie's Eats has become my baking go-to resource.  Her baked goods have been complicated and time consuming for me, but the results have been exceptional.  Annie's blog is more than just baked goods, though, and I've also made some delicious dinners from her recipes.  I saw this burger recipe come up in her facebook feed, and knew I'd be adding it to the meal plan soon.

I thought it was cool that she added a homemade BBQ sauce; I'm always on the search for one without high fructose corn syrup and/or low sugar.  This one has molasses and brown sugar, so probably not so much on the low sugar, but at least there's no corn syrup.

Definitely a yummy burger; we all loved it and it was a perfect pairing with the veggie skewers I served alongside.

Barbecue Chicken Burgers
Source: burgers from Pink Parsley Catering, sauce from Cook’s Illustrated, via Annie's Eats

Yield: 4 burgers
For the sauce:
½ cup ketchup
¼ cup molasses
2 tbsp. grated (or very finely chopped) onion
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. cider vinegar
1 tbsp. brown sugar
Hot sauce, to taste
For the burgers:
1 lb. ground chicken
¼ cup cornmeal (or ½ cup crumbled cornbread)
1 scallion, minced
1 tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. dry mustard
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. paprika
¼ tsp. garlic powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2/3 cup chopped pulled pork (optional)
5 tbsp. barbecue sauce, divided
For serving:
Burger buns, toasted on the grill
Grilled onion slices
Sliced cheddar cheese
Additional barbecue sauce
Heat a grill to medium-high heat.
To make the barbecue sauce, combine all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and is reduced to about 1 cup, about 7 minutes.  Remove from the heat.  Chill until ready to use.
To make the burgers, combine the ground chicken, cornmeal, scallion, cilantro, brown sugar, spices, pulled pork (if using) and 2 tablespoons of the barbecue sauce in a medium bowl and mix gently until well combined.  Form the mixture into four equal patties.  Transfer to a plate and refrigerate until ready to grill.
Oil the grates of the grill.  Place the burger patties on the heated grill and cook about 3-4 minutes.  Flip the burgers and brush the cooked sides generously with some of the remaining 3 tablespoons of barbecue sauce.  Cook about 3 minutes, then flip once more and brush the second side with barbecue sauce.  Top with cheese slices, if using.  Cook just until cooked through and cheese is melted.  Place the burgers on the toasted buns and top with grilled onion slices and additional barbecue sauce as desired.

Dave Lieberman's Veggie Skewers

For E's first birthday party, I decided to make vegetable skewers to healthy up our burgers and hot dogs, and found this recipe from Dave Lieberman on the Food Network's website.  I made these again to go along with some burgers for the family.

Not only are these super tasty and super healthful, but they're also so fast and so easy too.  It's really a no brainer recipe, but one I never would've thought of on my own.  I added whole mushrooms because they were on sale, and a great addition to any veggie skewer; a no brainer!

Veggie Skewers from Dave Lieberman


  • 3 red, yellow, or orange bell peppers (or a combination of), cored, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium zucchini, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1-inch slices
  • 1 medium yellow squash, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1-inch slices
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 to 4 pinches salt
  • 10 to 15 grinds pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into 2-inch chunks*

Special Equipment:

  • wooden or metal skewers


If you are using wooden skewers, soak them in plenty of water for about 10 minutes if grilling on an indoor grill pan or for 30 minutes if grilling on an outdoor grill to prevent them from burning up.

Place all of the veggies in a large bowl or baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and garlic. With your hands, toss to combine well. Stick onion pieces in with the vegetables to coat with the marinade; avoid tossing once onion is added so that the onion does not fall apart.

Alternate the vegetables with the onions on wooden or metal skewers. The onions will get nice and juicy rubbing up against the other veggies. You can do this up to a few hours before you grill them.

Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat.

Arrange the skewers on the grill pan and cook, turning often, until slightly charred, about 15 minutes. Remove from grill and serve hot or at room temperature.

*Cook's Note: To get skewer-able chunks of onions, cut the onions in half through the core and then cut each half into quarters. Remove 2 or 3 of the innermost layers, leaving the larger outermost layers. They will fit nicely on your skewers.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Lemon and Herb Roast Chicken

I've made a roast chicken or two in my day.  I've used recipes from Perdue's website, from ATK, and from various places online.  But making it in the crockpot has got to be the easiest and perhaps most delicious of the ways I've made roast chicken.

I loved how this came out; so tasty and juicy.  The juices left behind were incredibly good over the chicken and mashed potatoes I made to go along with the chicken.  It also was delicious on the steamed green beans I made!

So, if you have any doubts or are intimidated by the idea of roasting a chicken, definitely give it a try in your crockpot.  I used a Perdue Oven Stuffer, which I STUFFED into my 3.5 qt Crockpot.


Lemon and Herb Roast Chicken courtesy of Kim O'Dea
--one thawed and skinned whole chicken. It wasn't as gross for me this time! yay! But I'm not pregnant, so if you are and are prone to pukeage, be forewarned...
--head of garlic

--2 lemons (yeah, those are lemons. I tried to find yellow ones, and even went outside at 3:30am (I had insomnia) with a flashlight to find riper ones, and nearly scared the neighbors cat bald, but could only find green guys. They still tasted okay.)
--salt and pepper
--a bunch of fresh rosemary (this is from my mom's garden. hi, mom! thanks for the rosemary!)

The Directions.

After you skin the chicken, rub it inside and out with a bunch of salt and pepper.   (I did not know what I was doing as I skinned.  It might be easier to leave the skin on, but then you'd lose the flavor of the seasonings.  Just do the best you can!)

Plop it into the crockpot.

Peel your garlic and shove a bunch of the whole cloves into the bird cavity and throw some more on top and around the chicken.

Slice the lemon and put slices on top, around, and inside the bird

Wash the rosemary and do the same. If you are using dried rosemary, use a good amount---probably 2-3T of dried herbs.
cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Cheesey Stuffed Tomatoes


I've commented a few times about the recipe swaps I've been happily participating in.  A few weeks ago, I ran a grilling swap, and when I saw this submission, knew I'd be making it soon.

They were so absolutely delicious, I can't even describe it.  They were just like my mom's fried tomatoes, but without the frying.  So much healthier!  I served these with grilled corn, and had I been thinking, I'd have also made mashed potatoes.

You have to make these.  They're so great and fresh and delicious, and YUM!

Cheesey Stuffed Tomatoes courtesy of The Novice Chef


4 medium tomatoes
1/4 cup of your favorite breadcrumbs
2 tbl butter, melted
8 basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup monterey jack cheese, shredded
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Parsley for garnish


Slice off top of tomato, hollow out (leaving 1/2 inch thick shell), and chop pulp and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine bread crumbs, butter, basil, salt and pepper. Next stir in cheese and tomato pulp. Fill each tomato shell and then wrap each tomato individually in foil.
Grill, or bake (at 400 degrees) for 10 to 15 minutes, until cheese is completely melted. Garnish with parsley and serve hot!
A Novice Chef Blog Original

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bug Tunnel Defense

This post brought to you by GamingTags. All opinions are 100% mine.

I've been introduced to this new, free, online game called Bug Tunnel Defense.  It's not a game I'd ever heard of before, but it's an interesting concept.

Your job is to kill the bugs before they make it to their destination.  You have guns and other weapons you place in their path, but of course, have a limited amount of money.  Bugs can take tunnels (hence, Bug Tunnel Defense), and once you let 25 bugs reach the end, your game is over.

It's an interesting strategy game, but for me, it takes a really long time to play.  Each level has a few sets of bugs (and you can correct your weapon placement by adding more), which means you're sort of just sitting there waiting for the bugs to go for a LONG time.  The graphics aren't really awesome.  I feel like this would have been something that might have been a huge distraction for me ten-fifteen years ago, but it just can't compete with the graphics and other elements of free computer games today.

But The Reading Rainbow kids always said "Don't take my word for it," so neither should you.  This might just be the perfect time wasting strategy game for you!

Visit Sponsor's Site

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Caramel Banana Ravioli

This is a very late post for the recipe swap a group of friends participate in; this time around, the theme was dessert.  I submitted Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies.

If you're interested in what the results of the other recipes were, check out NJ Nesties' Best Recipes for the recipe roundup!

I received a recipe from Dana for Caramel Banana Ravioli, and oh wow, were they good.  I had a bit of trouble with the dough, so most of them turned into Caramel Banana Purses, but it doesn't much matter when they tasted as good as these do.  I almost drizzled these with hot fudge as well as the caramel, but decided not to at the last minute--I'm glad I didn't.  I figured there was both chocolate and caramel inside, so why not top it with both too, but I think it would have been overwhelming to have the chocolate outside as well as in.

If I hadn't had to fight so much with the dough, this would have been a super easy dessert recipe.  I'll most definitely be bringing it to some party we go to in the future, or maybe if we're entertaining!

Pictures coming soon!

2 Firm Medium Bananas
24 Pieces of Rolos (the chocolate covered caramel candy) or something similar
2 packages (8oz) refrigerated crescent rolls with no seams  (I had a hard time finding NO SEAM dough, which could by why I struggled so much)
1 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup of caramel sauce

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Brush a large pan with vegetable oil.  Slice bananas diagonally into twenty four 1/4 inch thick slices.  Cut caramels in half.
2. Unroll one package of dough onto bottom of pan, shape to form a rectangle.  (don't stretch.  dough shouldn't cover the entire pan)  Arrange banana slices over dough in four rows of six each, spacing approx 3/4 inch.  Top each banana slice with two caramel halves.  Unroll the remaining dough directly over the other and the filling, matching the edges of the two doughs.  Press firmly around each filling to seal.  Pinch together any tears.
3. Trim and discard edges of dough.  Cut into 24 raviolis. Separate the raviolis over the pan.  Sprinkle the sugar over the ravioli.  Bake about 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.  Cool for 2 minutes, and drizzle with caramel sauce.

Chicken, Gruyere, and Veggie Quesadillas

Wow, long time no post.  No, I haven't forgotten about you, my two very dear readers, I've just been making a lot of old standbys in the past few weeks... homemade chicken nuggets, tacos with homemade taco seasoning, and pierogie bake, among other things.

Tonight, I had litle in the fridge and no meal planned.  To avoid the grocery store on a weekend, I took out some frozen chicken breast this morning.  But no plan.  As the time to start cooking approached, I realized I had some gruyere in the fridge that was intended for something or other, so turned to Mr. Google and searched for recipes with chicken and gruyere.  This recipe from Mark Bittman, which appeared in Cooking Light's April 2011 issue was the most promising thing that turned up. 

The original recipe included mustard greens, which don't typically appear in my fridge when it's well stocked, let alone when it's at the dregs.  So I turned to my dreg filled fridge and dug out some veggies I thought would go well with the recipe, and threw in some tomatoes and red pepper.  Inspired and brilliant; it was excellent.

I liked this preparation of the quesadillas; we typically cook it in a skillet, but I thought it was much easier to get them crispy this way.

I took pictures of this lovely meal, but the camera cable has disappeared in my disheveled and disorganized home.  One day they'll get uploaded....

Chicken, Gruyere, and Veggie Quesadillas, adapted from Mark Bittman as appearing in Cooking Light's April 2011 issue

  • YIELD: 2 servings (serving size: 2 quesadillas)
  • COURSE: Main Dishes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts(about 5 ounces), diced into small pieces
  • 2 cloves pressed garlic
  • Dash of kosher salt
  • 4 (6-inch) whole-wheat tortillas
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated Gruy√®re cheese
  • 1 plum tomato, seeded, juiced, and diced
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and diced 
  • 1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  • 2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan; swirl to coat. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/8 teaspoon salt over chicken; toss to coat. Add chicken to pan; cook 2 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic; cook 3 minute.  Remove chicken from pan with a slotted spoon.
  • 3. Pour oil remaining in the skillet into a jelly-roll pan and spread; arrange tortillas in a single layer on pan. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon cheese evenly over each tortilla; evenly divided chicken, then tomatoes and peppers, over each tortilla. Bake at 400° for 5 minutes or until cheese begins to melt. Remove pan from oven; carefully fold each tortilla in half, pressing gently to close. Bake quesadillas an additional 10 minutes or until browned and crisp, turning carefully after 5 minutes.
  • Let cool
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