Thursday, December 31, 2009

Fried Rice

I love, love, love fried rice. I have tried making it before, and it has always been pretty good. This is the first time I've ever used a recipe for it. I had to have something to go with my Bourbon Chicken! This and the Bourbon Chicken came from my second favorite cooking site

The case:

* 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
* 2 eggs, beaten
* 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
* 1/4 cup chopped onion
* 1/4 cup chopped green pepper (optional)
* 2 cups rice, prepared and cooled
* 1/2 cup cooked pork (optional) or cooked shrimp (optional) or cooked chicken (optional)
* 1/4 cup soy sauce
* 1/2 cup cooked peas (optional)

1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in skillet or wok.
2. Scramble eggs in butter, breaking up the cooked eggs into small pieces.
3. Set aside.
4. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in skillet or wok.
5. Saute onions and/or green peppers in butter for 3 minutes.
6. Combine eggs, onions, rice, and meat.
7. Stir in soy sauce until color of rice is uniform.
8. Stir in peas.
9. Heat only until warm.

The ruling:
I didn't add any extra meat or the peas. I added teriyaki sauce at the end for more flavor. It really enhanced this dish. This was really good, but still not as good as Japanese restaurants.

Bourbon Chicken 12-31-09

Happy New Year's Eve! I love Chinese food. This is my first attempt at making any. We'll see how it turns out.

The case:


* 2 lbs boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
* 1-2 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 garlic clove, crushed
* 1/4 teaspoon ginger
* 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
* 1/4 cup apple juice
* 1/3 cup light brown sugar
* 2 tablespoons ketchup
* 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
* 1/2 cup water
* 1/3 cup soy sauce

1. Heat oil in a large skillet.
2. Add chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned.
3. Remove chicken.
4. Add remaining ingredients, heating over medium Heat until well mixed and dissolved.
5. Add chicken and bring to a hard boil.
6. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
7. Serve over hot rice and ENJOY.

The ruling:
This is absolutely delicious! I added cornstarch at the end of the cooking to thicken the sauce, and cooked for an additional 5 minutes. Served over fried rice. My husband just kept saying wow over and over. This is definitely a keeper!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Truffle Mac and Cheese 12/30/09

I've heard about truffles from higher-scale cooking shows and seen them on up-scale restaurant menus. My husband has even watched shows about gardening that show how much truffles are worth, and it is ridiculous. Which is why I was super surprised to see truffle oil in my small town Kroger. Now, I know that it is flavored grape oil, but still at $12 for a small bottle, it is a delicacy for around here. I bought some because I just have to try it. I want to try to make a grilled cheese like what was featured on Gossip Girl, but apparently there were real truffles on it. I still found several recipes for grilled cheeses cooked in truffle oil online. Anyways, for Christmas my husband and I went to see the play A Christmas Story in Nashville. Before we went to eat at a nicer restaurant called Boundry. One of the side dishes I got with my meal was truffle mac and cheese. It was by far the best part of my meal. Well I knew what to google as soon as I got home and what I wanted to use my truffle oil for! This particular one comes from Oprah. I decided to use it mainly because it also has goat cheese, another food item I just recently realized I enjoyed.

The case:


* 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
* 4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
* 3 1/2 cups warm milk
* 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and cracked pepper to taste
* 3 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese , shredded
* 4 ounces goat cheese , cut up
* 2 Tbsp. truffle oil (optional)
* 8 ounces macaroni (I used one pound)
* 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the broiler to 400°. Spray a 4-quart casserole dish or pie plate with cooking spray.

In a small saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour and mix together to form a roux. Add half of the warm milk. Using a whisk to make sure you get the sides and bottom of the saucepan, mix well as you add rest of the milk.

Using a wooden spoon, continuously stir the sauce until it begins to thicken and tiny bubbles form on the sides (5 to 6 minutes). Do not boil.

Add salt, pepper, cheddar cheese and goat cheese into the sauce. Mix until completely melted and smooth. Add the truffle oil (optional) and mix well. Cover and set aside.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil (1 tablespoon salt for 3 quarts of water). Cook macaroni according to package directions.

Place the cooked and drained macaroni in a large bowl and pour the cheese mixture over it mixing well. Spoon into casserole dish or a deep-dish pie plate. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top and broil until the top is crusty and golden, approximately 6 to 10 minutes depending on your broiler. Watch it carefully and be careful not to burn it. Serve immediately.

The ruling:
Not a fan. It has a weird taste. I could only eat two bites- not sure if it is the cheese or the truffle oil, but I definitely won't be making this again.

Sour Cream Pound Cake

This is Paula Deen's recipe. It was also featured on Oprah's favorite recipes show.

The case:
* 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
* 3 cups sugar
* 1 cup sour cream
* 3 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 6 eggs
* 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream butter and sugar together; add sour cream. Sift flour and baking soda together. Add to creamed mixture, alternately with eggs, one at a time, beating after each. Add vanilla. Pour into a greased and floured tube pan and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes.

The ruling:
Very good. There needs to be some kind of pound cake icing. I bet this would be really good with a side of vanilla ice cream. Best part it was super easy to make. All that was messy after I was finished was the kitchen aid mixing bowl and a spatula. I appreciate the twangyness the sour cream adds!

Chicken and Dumplings 12-30-09

Well since the soup I made at lunch was a previous failure, I decided to make another dish that I have tried once without success. This would be Chicken and Dumplings. The first time I made this, I did it in the crock pot. The recipe was from and had lots of wonderful reviews. Well, mine was mush. Baby food mush. So here I am for round 2. This recipe is none other than Tim McGraw's. I can't decide whether just starting out that is a good or bad thing. He doesn't exactly look like a cook, but it is his grandma's and he is southern, so what the hey! He made this with Faith on Oprah. It was featured again on her all-time favorite recipes show. So, if this doesn't turn out, I'm blaming Oprah!

The case:
* 1 small chicken
* Water
* Pinch of salt
* 1 cup chicken broth
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 3 tablespoons butter shortening
* 1/2 cup buttermilk

Boil chicken in a pot, adding salt to taste. When tender, pull chicken from the bone and return to the pot, adding broth.

In a bowl, combine shortening and flour, mix together with a pastry cutter, then add buttermilk to form a doughy consistency (similar to how you would make biscuits). Sprinkle flour on cutting board. Pinch off part of the dough and roll into a thin sheet and cut into squares. Drop one square at a time into broth. Continue this until all of the dough is used. Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer until tender.

Allow the dumplings to thicken the broth for 2 hours until it is a creamy consistency.

The ruling:
I added half a stick of butter to broth for flavoring. Cracker Barrell has nothing on Tim McGraw... enough said. (If your not from the South, Translation- these are REAL GOOD)

Creamy Tomato Soup 12/30/09

I have never been a huge fan of tomatoes. I love pizza and ketchup, but besides those two tomato-based condiments, I've never cared for anything else dealing with tomatoes. Well all that changed about 2 years ago when a friend begged me to try her tomato basil soup at Panera. "It tastes like liquid pizza," she exclaimed. Well, of course that sold me, I had to try it. And lets just say ever since that day, the creamy tomato soup has been my choice of soups when available. I've even started eating other foods with cooked tomato pieces. The combination of tomatoes and basil, especially when cheese is added, just simply can't be beat. So since that time, it has been my goal to find a good tomato soup recipe. I've only tried one before, Bobby Flay's opponent's from Throw Down, and my husband and I were disappointed. Nothing like the comforting soup from Panera. Well this is try #2. This is from a news station site and is supposedly Panera's recipe.

The case:
Creamy Tomato Soup with Asiago Croutons

From the Panera Bread Kitchen
Serves 6
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 tablespoons flour
4 cups milk
1/2 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups tomatoes, chopped (fresh or canned)
Adding baking soda to the tomatoes keeps the milk from curdling
1 Loaf of Asiago Bread(sliced Thick)

Melt the Butter in a soup pot.
Add the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the onion is softened but not browned.
Sprinkle the flour over the butter mixture and continue to stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
Slowly add the milk, bay leaf, sugar, and salt and continue to cook and stir until slightly thickened.
Stir the baking soda into the tomatoes.
Add the tomatoes to the milk, and bring just to a simmer.
Remove from the heat and put through a strainer.
Taste and correct seasonings.
Reheat before serving. Top with Asiago Croutons- The More the Better!

Make croutons for the top of the soup by cubing Panera Bread Asiago Loaf into 3/4-inch thick slices.
Butter both sides of those slices, then cut the slices into bite-size cubes.
Bake the bread in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes or until crispy.

The ruling:
I was so disappointed in this soup initially. It had zero flavor! So I had to doctor it up a bit, which yielded fabulous results! I added a small can of tomato sauce. (The soup was barely pink before?) Then I added lots of spice- more salt, about a tablespoon of basil (duh, couldn't believe this wasn't already in there), onion powder, garlic powder, white pepper, and a little cayenne pepper. Then I removed the bay leaf and pulsed the soup in two batches in my food processor. VERY SATISFYING!!! Next time I'm going to try adding another can of tomatoes (I used two this time)to make it a little thicker. This is going in my recipe book!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tres Leches (3 Milk Cake) 12/28/09

So the other night I ate dinner at Chuy's in Franklin, Tennessee. It is a chain Mexican restaurant, that I believe started in Texas. I by far had some of the best Mexican food, heck food period, of my life. My brother-in-law's gf, who is from Texas, made us try the Tres Leches, which is a milk cake. First, of all I'm not a dessert person. I would much rather eat another helping of the cheese dip and salsa than dessert, but she insisted we try this cake since we had never seen or heard of one. It was described as a moist sponge cake with milk sauce. Gross, I know. Just let me tell you when I tried my first bite my taste buds did a happy dance. With food, texture is more important to me than taste. I hate beans, not because of their taste, but the dry mushyness that happens in my mouth. Well this cake was slightly slimy, normally a texture I would gag at, but it was delicious! So anyways, now to the present. I went right home and googled 3 milk cake, since I couldn't remember how to say the Spanish words, and made it the next night. Once again the source for this recipe is (LOVE that place)

The case:
# 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
# 1 teaspoon baking powder
# 1/2 cup unsalted butter
# 1 cup white sugar
# 5 eggs
# 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

# 2 cups whole milk
# 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
# 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
# 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
# 1 cup white sugar
# 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour one 9x13 inch baking pan.
2. Sift flour and baking powder together and set aside.
3. Cream butter or margarine and the 1 cup sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs and the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract; beat well.
4. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture 2 tablespoons at a time; mix until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan.
5. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes. Pierce cake several times with a fork.
6. Combine the whole milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk together. Pour over the top of the cooled cake.
7. Whip whipping cream, the remaining 1 cup of the sugar, and the remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla together until thick. Spread over the top of cake. Be sure and keep cake refrigerated, enjoy!

The Ruling:
MY NEW FAVORITE DESSERT! This tasted just like the one at Chuy's! Oh my... it is soooo good! Who would have thought? I didn't make homemade whipped cream. It doesn't need whipped cream at all. My husband added fresh, sliced strawberries. I woke up the next morning craving this. I was worried how milk-soaked cake would be the next day. (Even though it spend the night in the fridge) It was still to die for!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Lemon Roasted Chicken 12/28/2009

This is now my second attempt at roasting a chicken. For my birthday, my husband got me this fun pottery roaster, that the chicken stands up in. It has a cavity to put the juice/seasonings into. The recipe I used came from

Roasted Lemon Herb Chicken

* 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
* 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
* 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
* 1 teaspoon garlic powder
* 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 1 (3 pound) whole chicken
* 2 lemons
* 2 tablespoons olive oil


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Combine the seasoning, salt, mustard powder, garlic powder and black pepper; set aside. Rinse the chicken thoroughly, and remove the giblets. Place chicken in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons of the spice mixture inside the chicken. Rub the remaining mixture on the outside of the chicken.
3. Squeeze the juice of the 2 lemons into a small bowl or cup, and mix with the olive oil. Drizzle this oil/juice mixture over the chicken.
4. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours, or until juices run clear, basting several times with the remaining oil mixture.

Ruling: My husband really likes this, but I still don't feel like the flavor was all the way through like it rotisserie chickens from the grocery store. The outside needed a little salt or something else to enhance the flavor. The middle of the chicken tasted like chicken. URGH! What am I doing wrong?! I put olive oil, lemon juice, and the seasoning in the cavity. I know I'll be trying this more throughout the year... Tips would be appreciated!