Friday, December 24, 2010

Ranch Snack Mix #105

One of my friends once made the best ranch snack mix from Taste of Homes magazine.  I was trying to find it.  I came upon this one, which is also from Taste of Homes, but it isn't the one she made.  I once had it and I remember baking it.  Since I can't find it, I'm going to go ahead and try this one.

The case:
1 package (12 ounces) miniature pretzels
2 packages (6 ounces each) Bugles
1 can (10 ounces) salted cashews
1 package (6 ounces) bite-size cheddar cheese fish crackers
1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix
3/4 cup vegetable oil

In two large bowls, combine the pretzels, Bugles, cashews and crackers. Sprinkle with dressing mix; toss gently to combine. Drizzle with oil; toss until well coated. Store in airtight containers. Yield: 6 quarts.

The ruling:  
It's so hard to make snack mix and not bake it, but there really isn't any need in this recipe!  I'm not saying this recipe is perfect, but it's so simple and has a good flavor.  I still think it can be improved upon but until then I will be making this one!  I made it to snack on for Christmas and everyone kept munching!

Lemon Delight Trifle #104

I found this while going through my old Taste of Homes magazines.  I love lemon cookies and this looked easy so I figured I could make it for Christmas Eve dinner.

The case:
3 1/2 cups cold milk
2 (3 1/2 ounce) packages instant lemon pudding
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
12 ounces Cool Whip, thawed, divided
1 (12 -14 ounce) packages lemon cream-filled sandwich cookies, crushed

1.  Whisk milk and pudding for 2 minutes. Let stand 2 minutes or till soft-set.
2.  In another bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, and sugar till smooth. Gradually stir in pudding till blended.
3.  Set aside 1/4 cup each of Cool Whip and cookies for garnish. Fold remaining Cool Whip into pudding mixture.
4.  Place half remaining cookies in 3 quart glass bowl; top with half the pudding. Repeat. Garnish with reserved Cool Whip and cookies. Refrigerate till serving.

The ruling:
This reminds me of banana pudding with Nilla wafers, but it's lemon pudding with lemon cookies.  I thought it was tasty.  Michael thought it was lacking fruit, so he added strawberries and thought it was great.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Garlic Cheddar Chicken #103

I'm always on the lookout for a new chicken dish.  I've had this in my recipe box on pretty much since I joined the site years ago. 

The case:

1/2 cup butter
4 cloves garlic, minced (I just used 2)
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs (used Panko bread crumbs)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - pounded thin

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2.  Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat, and cook the garlic until tender, about 5 minutes.
3.  In a shallow bowl, mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, Cheddar cheese, parsley, oregano, pepper, and salt.
4.  Dip each chicken breast in the garlic butter to coat, then press into the bread crumb mixture. Arrange the coated chicken breasts in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Drizzle with any remaining butter and top with any remaining bread crumb mixture. 
5.  Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. 

The ruling:
I've been on a surprising roll lately considering I barely cooked for 3 months.  I loved this chicken!  Besides using Panko instead of regular bread crumbs, the only other change I made was to dip the chicken in flour before the butter.  I even forgot to pour the extra butter over the top, which of course would make everything better!  About halfway through eating, Michael mentioned the only thing that might make this chicken better was honey mustard.  Boy was he right.  Honey mustard is the perfect pairing for this dish!  Next time, I'm going to try cooking the chicken a little less.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Creamy Stovetop Mac and Cheese #102

I grew up loving the famous blue box mac and cheese.  It wasn't until later that I realized the texture and flavor of the blue box isn't exactly ideal.  Don't get me wrong I still enjoy a blue box here and there, but it wouldn't be the ultimate mac and cheese for me.  Most mac and cheese recipes I've tried and enjoyed are baked.  While I've loved many of these, the creamy/runnier texture from my childhood was missing.  This recipe is from Alton Brown's Good Eats.  His ultimate mac and cheese was a baked one, but made this one as more of an after thought for those "people" who like the blue box.  I immediately knew I had to try the stove top recipe.

The case:
1/2 pound elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
6 ounces evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
10 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded

1  In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente and drain. Return to the pot and melt in the butter. Toss to coat.
2. Whisk together the eggs, milk, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and mustard. Stir into the pasta and add the cheese. Over low heat continue to stir for 3 minutes or until creamy.

The case:
Move over all other mac and cheese recipes.  Not only was this just as easy as the blue box to make, it is some of the best tasting mac and cheese I've ever had.  I omitted the dry mustard, but everything else was the exact same.  Besides cooking the pasta and shredding the cheese, this dish took about 5 minutes to create.  This is now my official go to mac and cheese.  This recipe is what creating this blog was all about.  I've been trying to find ultimate recipes for all of mine and Michael's favorite dishes, and this was a way for me to keep up with my thoughts about those recipes.  I know no matter how many mac and cheese recipes I make in the future, this will be the tired and true one for my kitchen.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Charleston Cheese Dip #101

Here is another recipe from Trisha Yearwood. 

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
2 green onions, finely chopped ( I omit)
Dash of cayenne pepper
8 Ritz or butter crackers, crushed
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1.  Preheat oven to 350*.
2.  In a medium bowl, mix the mayonnaise, cream cheese, Cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, green onions, and cayenne pepper.
3. Transfer mixture to a shallow baking dish.
4. Top the mixture with the cracker crumbs and bake for 15 minutes, or until heated through.
5. Remove from the oven and top with bacon.
6.  Serve immediately with corn chips, crackers, or bagel chips.

The ruling:
Another winner from Trisha.  I'm officially asking for both of her cookbooks for Christmas.  I served this with Ritz cracker chips and corn chips.  It was absolutely divine with the Ritz cracker chips!!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole #100

YAY!!!!  I've officially made my goal and tried 100 new recipes in 2010!  It seems like just yesterday when I watched Julie and Julia and decided to challenge myself.  It took a little longer than expected after the morning (aka all-day) sickness started, but I've done it!!! 

One of my favorite soups is creamy chicken and wild rice, so I was excited to see this casserole.  I can't wait to try the added ingredients of almonds and mushrooms. 

The case:
- 2, 4 1/2 oz cans, sliced mushrooms drained (reserve broth) or 16 oz sliced fresh mushrooms
-  1 cup (2 sticks) butter
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 3 cups half-and-half
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves cooked and diced
- 2, 6 oz boxes long-grain and wild rice mix, such as Uncle Ben's, cooked
- 1 cup slivered almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup sliced pimento
- 4 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 9 x 13 x 2-inch casserole dish.
2.  If you use fresh mushrooms, saute them in a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of butter until tender, about 10 minutes.  Drain and reserve juice.
3.  In a large skillet, saute the onion in the remaining butter until tender.  Stir in the flour, cooking 2 to 3 minutes.
4.  Combine the mushroom juice with enough broth to make 3 cups of liquid.  Slowly stir the juice-broth mixture into the onion mixture.  Stir in the half and half.  Cook until the mixture is thickened.
5.  Add the sauteed or canned mushrooms, the chicken, rice, almonds, pimento, parsley, salt, and pepper.  Pour into prepare dish and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until most of liquid is absorbed.

The ruling:
This is the perfect comfort food casserole.  I omitted the pimento- not a big pepper fan.  Next time, I'll omit the onion as well.  I used less than what was called for and it still tasted too oniony for me. 

Cheese Muffins #99

This is the 2nd Trisha Yearwood recipe I've made.  Usually you see garlic and cheese in biscuits, so I'm very intrigued by a muffin recipe.  The original recipe leaves out the cheese and garlic, but who would do that knowing that its an option?

The case:
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 cups self-rising flour
- 1/2 cup grated cheddar
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic

1.  Preheat oven to 400.
2.  With an electric mixer, mix butter and sour cream.  Add flour and mix well.
3.  Drop with large spoonfuls of dough into muffin pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray or lined with muffin cups.
4.  Bake 25 minutes.  (Or 15 minutes in mini-muffin pan)

The results:
Yummy!!!  I loved these!  Both the flavor and the texture were perfect!  I may even like these better than my normal cheese garlic biscuit copycat recipe- which says a lot!

Twice Baked Potatoes #98

My mom recently bought Trisha Yearwood's new cookbook, Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood.  Up until this point, I had no desire to even look at a Trisha Yearwood cookbook. She made a spicy corn dip for her Bunco party from the book.  I just had to try it.  Needless to say, it was delicious, so I  picked up and thumbed through the rest of the cookbook.  I discovered recipe after recipe that I wanted to try.  I decided to finish my 100 recipes today with three recipes from Trisha's cookbook:  Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole, Twice Baked Potatoes, and Cheese Garlic Muffins. 

The case:
6 large baking potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups sour cream
10 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon garlic salt
salt and pepper
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled


1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
2. Wash the potatoes and pierce them with a fork. Rub the potatoes with the olive oil and place them on a jellyroll pan or a large cookie sheet with a rim. Bake the potatoes for 45 minutes to an hour, or until done. Remove the potatoes from the oven and cut them in half lengthwise. Set aside. Reduce the temperature of the oven to 350 F.
3.  When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop out the potato flesh into a large electric mixing bowl. Add the milk, butter, sour cream, cheese, garlic salt, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix until creamy.
4.  Divide the mixture evenly and spoon it back into potato shells. Return the potatoes to the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and garnish with the bacon and green onion.

The ruling:
Michael says these are some of the best twice baked potatoes he's ever had.  I loved the bacon/cheese topping and the tangyness the sour cream added.  I used half and half instead of milk and actually used about twice as much as was called for.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Saucy Island Sandwiches #97

I've done a horrible, horrible job of posting the new recipes I'm trying.  I've tried some good ones too!  The biggest problem I've had is taking the pictures before the food is eaten.  Urgh! Oh well I guess I can just pledge to start fresh.

This recipe was given to me from a good friend from church, Alberta Floyd.  She brought them to a Christmas party.  My mom made me try them even though I typically don't eat ham.   Boy, was I glad I did.  These are some of my favorite sandwiches I've ever had!  In fact I'm making them two days later if that shows you how much I like them.

My friends and I once had a Hawaiian recipe exchange.  If I could do that over I would definitely take these! 

The case:
- 1 cup butter
- 6 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 3 Tbsp. yellow mustard
- 3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 2 Tbsp. poppy seeds
- 2, 12 oz Hawaiian sweet rolls, split
- 2,  8 oz Swiss cheese slices
- 1 lb sliced honey ham
- 2, 8 oz Provolone cheese slices

1.  Melt butter in a saucepan.  Stir in brown sugar, mustard, Worcestershire, honey, and poppy seeds.  Stir all ingredients over medium heat well combined.
2.  Arrange roll bottoms cut side up, on a rectangular baking sheet.  Brush with about half of butter mixture.
3. Top rolls with Swiss cheese, tearing to fit.  Do the same with ham and then provolone. 
4.  Brush cut side of roll tops with butter mixture.  Place over sandwiches.
5.  Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until heated thoroughly. 

The results:
Yes, even when I made these, they were just as good.  The honey mustard butter mixture is out of this world delicious.  The flavor of the two cheeses just pushes this recipe over the top!  These are the perfect appetizer potluck dish!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Broccoli Cheese Soup #96

 I'm simply in a soup mood and trying to figure out a way to eat more vegetables.  What better way to eat broccoli than in a cheese soup?  I have a couple of broccoli cheese soup recipes that I already like, but I feel like there is still a better one out there.


1. Cook broccoli until tender& drain.
2. Cook onions in butter until tender& transparent.
3. Stir in flour& cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
4. Add milk slowly, stirring constantly.
5. Stir in grated cheese until smooth.
6. Slowly blend broth into sauce.
7. Add Velveeta cheese and stir until melted.
8. Puree 1/2 cup of the broccoli with a fork (or in the food processor).
9. Cut the rest of the broccoli into pieces.
10. Add all broccoli to the soup.
11. Simmer 15 minutes.
12. You can add more Velveeta for a cheesier flavor.
1 bunch broccoli
1/2 cup butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup flour
2 cups milk
1 cup grated mild cheddar cheese or 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
2 (10 3/4 ounce) cans chicken broth
salt and pepper
Velveeta cheese

This is the recipe!  I really think this is the best broccoli cheese soup I've ever had.   It's creamy and thick, full of flavor.  I could just go on and on.  The perfect dish for a cool fall or winter night!  I used two bags of frozen broccoli, no onion, about 2 cups of grated cheddar, and 1 lb of Velveeta.  I will be making this regularly.  

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Cheese Sticks #95

I have been wanting to try homemade mozzarella sticks for forever, but every recipe I've seen says to place the sticks on a cookie sheet in the freezer before cooking.  Well, last week I got a new refrigerator that has the freezer in the bottom.  Finally, enough room to place a cookie sheet inside.  This particular recipe is the Pioneer Woman's and came from her new cooking share site, Tasty Kitchen.  Later this week, I'm going to try Giada De Laurentiis's.

The case:
16 pieces String Cheese, Removed From Wrappers
½ cups All-purpose Flour
2 whole Eggs
3 Tablespoons Milk
2 cups Panko Bread Crumbs (I Used Kikkomans)
1 Tablespoon Dried Parsley Flakes
Canola Oil, For Frying
Marinara Sauce, For Dipping

1.  Slice string cheese pieces in half, for a total of 32 pieces.
2.  Place flour in a small bowl.
3.  In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and milk.
4.  In another separate bowl, combine panko bread crumbs with parsley flakes.
5.  TO ASSEMBLE: One by one, roll mozzarella sticks in flour, then dunk in egg/milk mixture, then place in panko crumbs. Use your hand to sweep crumbs all over the mozzarella stick. Gently remove and place on a tray or cookie sheet. Repeat until all mozzarella sticks are coated.
6.  ***Place tray in freezer for 20 to 30 minutes to flash freeze.***
7.  TO COOK: Heat 1 1/2 inches canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add mozzarella sticks 8 at a time. Watch closely and turn over to evenly brown, cooking less than 2 minutes. Do not allow cheese to bubble and leak.
8.  Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.
9.  Serve immediately with warm marinara sauce.

The ruling: 
Yummy!  I think the breading could use a little more flavor; maybe garlic powder and salt.  I loved the crispy texture of the panko bread crumbs.  Another winner Pioneer Woman! 

Garlic Herb Spinach Artichoke Dip #94

Another game day inspired dish.  I found this on Allrecipes this morning, and just happened to have all the ingredients on hand.  I love garlic herb Alouette cheese, so I can't wait to try this recipe. 

The case:

8 slices bacon
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 (14 ounce) can quartered marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1 (5 ounce) container garlic-herb flavored cheese spread
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
2.  Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain and crumble into a medium bowl.
3.  Mix spinach, artichoke hearts, garlic-herb flavored cheese spread, Parmesan cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise into the bowl with bacon.
4.  Scoop mixture into a 7x11 inch baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven 20 minutes, or until bubbly and lightly browned.

The ruling:
Michael loved this dip!  I really liked it, and if I still wasn't in my first trimester, I think I would love it.  It is definitely creamy and garlicky.   

Sausage Puffs #93

This is from Plain Chicken's blog.  I love sausage balls and all their varieties.  I thought this would be perfect for football Saturday.

The case:
1/2 pound sausage
1 1/2 cups biscuit/baking mix
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
6-7 Tbps buttermilk

In a skillet, cook and crumble sausage until no longer pink; drain.  In a bowl, combine biscuit mix and cheese; stir in sausage. Add buttermilk and toss with a fork until just moistened. Shape into 1-1/2-in. balls. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 400 degrees F for 12-15 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Cool on wire racks.

The ruling:
I made these exactly as written and they are delicious!  I like these much better than regular sausage balls.  They are lighter, fluffier, and have more flavor.  A new favorite!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Chicken Bacon Crescent Rolls #92

This is the combination of a recipe a friend gave me and a pampered chef recipe.

The case

- 2 cans crescent rolls
- 3 cups chicken
- 1 cup shredded cheddar
- 1/2 cup mayo
- 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 5 strips of bacon crumbled
- egg white

1.  Roll out crescents.
2.  Combine the rest of the ingredients.
3.  Place spoon fulls of mixture on crescent.  Layer an additional crescent on top.  (I made a Pampered Chef wreath)
4.  Brush egg white over crescent and sprinkle additional cheese.  Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes.

The ruling:
Easy and satisfying.  What's not to like?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Mini Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

These are quick to make and delicious!

- Rolls
- Deli ham
- Swiss cheese
- 2 Tablespoons Honey Mustard
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1-2 Tablespoons poppy seed

1.  Cut rolls lengthwise. 
2.  Spread honey mustard over tops of rolls.  Lay down ham and then Swiss cheese. 
3.  Bake rolls at 400 for 10 minutes. 
4.  Melt butter and mix together with honey mustard and poppy seeds.
5.  Brush mixture over rolls.

Sweet and Spicy Meatballs #91

I never liked meatballs until a few years ago.  Randomly, I tried one at a banquet catered by the UT dining department of all places.  They were delicious.  I've been trying to find a good recipe for them ever since. 

The case:
1 pound ground beef
2 eggs
1 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons dried minced onion flakes
9 drops hot pepper sauce
seasoning salt to taste

3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons dried minced onion flakes
1 teaspoon mustard powder
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
6 drops hot pepper sauce

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
2.  In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, eggs, rolled oats, minced onion flakes, hot pepper sauce and seasoning salt. Mix well and form into 1 inch meatballs. Place into a 9x13 inch baking dish.
Bake, uncovered, at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 30 minutes.
3.  Meanwhile, in a separate medium bowl, combine the ketchup, water, vinegar, brown sugar, minced onion flakes, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce and hot pepper sauce. Mix together well and set aside.
4.  Remove meatballs from oven and pour reserved sauce over them. Cover with foil and return to oven.
5.  Bake, covered, in a preheated oven for 1 hour.

The ruling:
I was in a hurry so I just made the sauce with frozen meatballs.  I threw it all in the crockpot for about 3 hours.  These were delicious!  I loved the sweet and spicy flavors together.  I'm sure they would have been much better with homemade meatballs.

Sausage Wontons

I can finally announce why I haven't been blogging.  It's because I am nauseous just about 24/7.  I'm proud to announce Michael and I are expecting our first child in April!  While I am very excited about this, the thought of most foods, especially having to cook them, is enough to send me running to the bathroom.  I finally decided to fight it out today.  I love cooking tailgating foods for football season.  I made a few of my regular favorites and even tried a new one!    My friend Lindsey Spencer gave me this recipe, and I've made it over and over again ever since. 

- 1 1/2 lbs sausage
- 1 cup ranch dressing
- 4 cups cheese (I use 2 cups cheddar and 2 cups Monterrey jack)
- Wonton wrappers

1.  Brown sausage; drain.
2.  Mix with with cheese and ranch.
3.  Put wontons in muffin tin, creating a bowl.  Bake at 350 for 5 minutes, until hardened.
4.  Fill wonton with mixture and bake for an additional 7-8 minutes until cheese is melted.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

This is my favorite homemade ice cream recipe.  I made it for Senior Saints at my church the other night, but completely forgot to take a picture.  Several people asked for the recipe so I figured I would go ahead and post it on here.  I guess I'll just have to make it again soon and post the picture. :)

2 cups 2% milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
3 drops green food coloring (optional)
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl, stir together the milk, cream, sugar, salt, vanilla extract and peppermint extract until the sugar has dissolved. Color to your liking with the green food coloring.
Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. After about 10 minutes into the freezing, add the chocolate chips. After the ice cream has thickened, about 30 minutes later, spoon into a container, and freeze for 2 hours.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup #90

This is actually the combination of about 3 recipes I found while searching the internet.  I put in all my favorite ingredients!

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth

1/2 cup half and half
1 flour tortilla
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 can black beans
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 can Rotel
tortilla chips
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
sour cream

1.  In a large pot over medium-low heat, cook the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic and cumin and mix well.
2.  Then add the broth, corn, chili powder, black beans, lime juice and Rotel.
3.  Break the tortilla soup up into small pieces and add to a food processor.  Add about 1/2 cup of broth and pulse until completely combined. Add mixture to broth to thicken.  Simmer 20-30 minutes.
4.  Serve in individual bowls, top with the Monterey Jack, sour cream, and tortilla chips.

The ruling:
Yummy!  This was extremely good and healthy too!  I will definitely be making this again.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Roasted Chicken with Balsamic Vinaigrette #89

This recipe is comes from a little Italian girl you might know that goes by the name of Giada De Laurentiis.  If there is one thing I could learn to cook and die happy (besides biscuits and gravy) it would be good roasted chicken in the oven.  I love to get roasted chicken in restaurants, especially when it has a certain sauce made over it.  A lot of time these recipes call for roasting pans or pans you can set on the eye afterwards to make a glaze using the drippings left over from cooking.  For my birthday, Michael got me my first Le Creuset dutch oven.  I got a larger one just so I could try one of these recipes.  Well, I'm finally getting around to it!

The case:

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (4-pound) whole chicken, cut into pieces (giblets, neck and backbone reserved for another use)
1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves

Whisk the vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper in small bowl to blend. Combine the vinaigrette and chicken pieces in a large resealable plastic bag; seal the bag and toss to coat. Refrigerate, turning the chicken pieces occasionally, for at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove chicken from the bag and arrange the chicken pieces on a large greased baking dish. Roast until the chicken is just cooked through, about 1 hour. If your chicken browns too quickly, cover it with foil for the remaining cooking time. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Place the baking dish on a burner over medium-low heat. Whisk the chicken broth into the pan drippings, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the baking sheet with a wooden spoon and mixing them into the broth and pan drippings. Drizzle the pan drippings over the chicken. Sprinkle the lemon zest and parsley over the chicken, and serve.

The ruling:
The chicken was cooked perfectly.  It was probably the most moist chicken I've made so far on this journey.  I'm sure the drippings aided the moisture.  I loved the outside of the chicken.  The lemon zest and parsley really added a pop of flavor.  Michael's first comment was, "Wow, that looks fancy!"  This would be a perfect company dinner.  I wish I knew a better way to get the flavor all the way through the chicken, but this was still delicious!

Baked Potato Casserole #88

This delightful little cheesy potato casserole came from Taste of Homes magazine.  Look at the ingredients.  What's not to like?  I'm sure it's low in fat too! :)

The case:

5 pounds red potatoes, cooked and cubed
1 pound sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 cups cubed Cheddar cheese
4 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 cup mayonnaise*
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon minced chives
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

In a large bowl, combine potatoes and bacon. In another bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; add to potato mixture ad toss gently to coat. Transfer to a greased 4-1/2-qt. baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 325 degrees F for 50-60 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned.

The ruling:
I used half a pound of bacon in my pasta dish last night, so I used the other half in this today.  I didn't see the point in opening another pack.  I also only mixed 4 cups of cheese in with the potatoes- half cheddar and the other half a Monterrey jack and Colby blend.  Then a added another cup on top.  I just thought 8 cups of cheese sounded like a whole lot!

Wow! I have hit a home run on this one!  The texture of the potatoes with the cheese and mayo/sour cream mixture is perfect.  I was afraid the potatoes might get to soft after boiling them and baking them for 1 hour, but they were spot on!  The saltiness of the bacon added wonderful flavor as well.  Just when I thought these couldn't get any better, I added ranch dressing.  They were kicked up another notch!  I now feel like I need to get on the elliptical machine for 4 or 5 hours, but that's okay.  Maybe later.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Garlic Herb Parmesan Bread #87

The only thing that can make a good pasta dish better is good garlic bread to go with it.  This recipe came from The Dragon's Kitchen, another food blog that I like to check up on. 

The case:
1 large Baguette or French Loaf
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 teaspoon thyme, chopped
2 teaspoons rosemary, chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Slice baguette in half lengthwise. Prick to top of each slice with a fork.
2. Combine butter, garlic and herbs. Season the butter with some salt and pepper. Generously spread the butter mixture on each slice.
3. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese evenly on top of the butter.
4. Place the bread on a foil lined baking sheet. Place the bread in oven for about 10-15 minutes or until the top is toasted to your liking.

The ruling:
This recipe has officially moved up to my #1 favorite garlic bread recipe.  It's amazing what a difference fresh herbs make!

Smoky Chicken Pasta #86

I love one dish meals, and pasta is my favorite type of one dish meal.  I've had this recipe bookmarked for awhile.  It came from the blog, Plain Chicken.

The case:

8 oz. Farfalle pasta
1 - 1 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream (I used half & half and 1 Tbsp of flour)
2 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 c. butter (I used 5 Tbsp)
1/2 lb. bacon, crumpled
1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 bottle (12 oz) Lawry’s mesquite marinade with lime juice

Put chicken and marinade in the crock pot on low for 6 hours. Pull marinated chicken out of the juices, allow to cool a little bit, and shred. Set this aside. About a half-hour before serving, boil the pasta. In a small saucepan, melt butter (and flour), add garlic, whipping cream, basil, pepper, parmesan cheese, and crumpled bacon. Whisk together on low heat for 5-6 minutes. In a large bowl, pour over cooked, drained pasta, add chicken and stir through. Sprinkle a little bit more shredded parmesan cheese on top.

The ruling:
I LOVED the sauce for this, but the chicken flavor didn't do much for me.  Overall this was very good; it's still going on my favorites list.  The white sauce overpowered the chicken flavor.  My favorite chicken in pasta recipes has been simply chicken breast sprinkled with salt, pepper, and Italian herbs, and grilled on the stove top.  I will be making this again, sooner rather than later, using a different type of chicken. 

I did make the sauce a little differently than listed.  First I melted the butter over low heat.  Then I added the basil, pepper, half and half, garlic, 1 Tablespoon flour, and double the Parmesan cheese over medium  heat.  After the cheese melted,  I turned the eye up to medium high and whisked constantly until the mixture came to a boil.  Then I lowered the temperature to lo and continued to stir while adding the bacon. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Honey Bun Cake #85

I was craving something sweet, so I searched until I found something with good reviews that I had all the ingredients for!

The case:

Cake Ingredients
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Icing Ingredients
2 cups confectioners' sugar
4 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
2.  In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, oil, eggs and sour cream. Stir by hand approximately 50 strokes, or until most large lumps are gone. Pour half of the batter into an ungreased 9x13 inch glass baking dish.
3.  Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle over the batter in the cake pan.
4.  Spoon the other half of the batter into the cake pan, covering the brown sugar and cinnamon. Twirl the cake with a butter knife or icing knife until it looks like a honey bun (or whatever design you want to make).
5.  Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Frost cake while it is still fairly hot. Serve warm.
6.  To Make the frosting: In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioner's sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth.

The ruling:
Oh me, oh my!!  This is spectacular!  I just can't get enough of it.  It's sweet and savory.  It's part sweet like a cinnamon roll but the cake is also savory from the sour cream.  The middle was warm and gooey.  I added maple extract in with the vanilla.  I believe the maple added a lot more flavor.  I couldn't have had a better night- honey bun cake, a tall glass of milk, and cuddled on the couch with my husband watching The Bachlorette!

Green Chile Soup #84

I know it's July and not many people want feel like eating soup in July, but in my defense it is a very gloomy, rainy day.  Plus, I love soup and could pretty much eat it anytime, even laying out by the pool!

1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped fresh green chile peppers
1 (5 ounce) can chunk chicken
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 1/4 cups half-and-half cream
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup sour cream

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute onion until transparent. Stir in the garlic, green chiles, chicken meat, and cumin. Cook for one minute to blend the flavors. Stir in the cream of chicken soup and half-and-half. Cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Ladle hot soup into bowls. Top with cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

The ruling:
 I used canned green chilies, boiled chicken, no onion, and about half of the called for cumin.  I made the soup according to directions and tasted it.  I felt like it was missing something so I went ahead and added the sour cream and cheese.  It was definitely better with the toppings mixed in.  I liked this soup, but it is by no means the greatest thing that I've ever put in my mouth.  Bottom line, this soup is very easy with common ingredients that I always have on hand, so in a pinch I would make again. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Garlic Chicken Pizza #83

Saw this the other day on Allrecipes.  I was in the mood to try something out of the box.

The case:
1 skinless, boneless chicken breast half
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 (10 ounce) can refrigerated pizza crust dough
2 roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1.  Place the chicken breast in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook until no longer pink, about 20 minutes. Drain and cool slightly, then cut into strips.
2.  Meanwhile, in a small skillet over medium heat, melt the butter with garlic, onion and basil. Pour into a chilled dish to cool, and refrigerate until set.
3.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
4.  Roll out the pizza dough, place onto a pizza pan or other baking sheet, and spread the herb butter over the surface using the back of a spoon. Arrange chicken on top, then dot with ricotta cheese. Top with tomato slices, cilantro and Parmesan cheese.
5.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until crust is browned and center is cooked through.

The ruling:
Hmmmm.... This is very different.  It's okay, even good.  I doubt I will ever make it again, but it was a good change of flavors from what we normally eat, which is what I wanted.  This would be a lot better with some sort of sauce added to it.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Yellow Cupcakes with Sticy Chocolate Icing #82

I recently found a list on Pioneer's Woman's website of all her recipes.  It is a wonderful little page to bookmark, if you're like me and like to visit all the time.  Overall, this recipe stood out the most to me.  I am one of the few people on Earth that just don't care for chocolate.  I know it's weird, but I do like homemade chocolate icing on white cake for some reason, and these look just about as good as it gets!  I just wish I could get my pictures to look as good as hers.... one day.

The case:
2 cups Cake Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
¾ teaspoons Salt
½ cups Unsalted Butter, Softened
1 cup Sugar
3 whole Eggs Room Temperature
2 teaspoons Vanilla
¾ cups (plus A Tad More) Whole Milk
¾ cups Sweetened, Condensed Milk
6 ounces, weight Semi-sweet Chocolate
2 Tablespoons Butter

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
3.  With an electric mixer, mix butter and sugar on high speed until fluffy. Scrape sides of bowl and mix for a few more seconds. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla. Mix to combine.
4.  Alternate adding dry ingredients and milk in three batches, mixing for a few seconds after each addition.
5.  Scrape sides of bowl, then mix one final time.
6.  Fill paper-lined muffin tins 3/4 full with batter. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until poufy but not brown. Cool before icing.

Sticky Chocolate Icing:
1.  Mix ingredients together in a small/medium saucepan. Melt ingredients over medium low heat, stirring gently. Icing is ready when all ingredients are melted and combined.
2.  Spoon warm icing over warm cupcakes, stirring icing to smooth after every third cupcake or so. Allow iced cupcakes to sit at least ten minutes before serving.

The ruling:
Mollye really enjoyed this cupcake as you can see!  I really liked this icing, but the cake was a little heavy.  I'm not sure if this is because of my horrible baking abilities or the recipe.  The flavor is good, I just like my cake lighter and fluffier.  

Monday, July 12, 2010

Olive (Pepperoni) Cheese Bread #81

This is my mom's favorite Pioneer Woman recipe.  The only problem is that I don't like olives.  My mom suggested I try it with pepperoni instead.  So where this recipe calls for olives, I used pepperoni instead!

1 loaf French Bread
6 ounces, weight Pimiento-stuffed Green Olives
6 ounces, weight Black Olives
2 stalks Green Onions (scallions)
1 stick Butter, Room Temperature
½ cups Mayonnaise
¾ pounds Monterey Jack Cheese, Grated

1.  Roughly chop both black olives and pimiento-stuffed green olives. Slice green onions into thin pieces.
2.  Combine butter, mayonnaise, cheese, olives and green onions in a mixing bowl. Stir together until thoroughly combined. Spread mixture onto French bread that has been sliced lengthwise. Bake at 325ºF for 25 to 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and browning.
* Mixture can also be refrigerated (up to two days) and used as a dip. Great with crackers.
 The ruling:
I accidentally turned the oven up to 425, so this got a little brown, but this bread is amazing.  Besides switching the olives for pepperonis, I also omitted the green onions.  I could make this as a french bread pizza and eat it alone any day.

Rolled Feta Chicken

This is the simplest, yet one of the most delicious chicken recipes I have.  I was actually out of Italian breadcrumbs, so I used Panko mixed with Italian seasonings. 

6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
6 ounces tomato basil feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup Italian-style dry bread crumbs, divided

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
2.  Place chicken breasts between 2 pieces of waxed paper. Gently pound chicken with flat side of meat mallet or rolling pin until about 1/4 inch thick; remove wax paper.
3.  Place 1 ounce of feta cheese in the center of each chicken breast, and fold in half.
4.  Roll chicken in bread crumbs.
5.  Bake 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.

Cinnamon Roll Pizza #80

I just love the internet.  I love sharing recipes and reading other people's recipes.  I would do anything to find a way to do this stuff full time.   The Picky Palate is one of my absolute favorite food blogs.  As many of you probably know, I can be a picky eater.  Her slogan is to "dress up" family recipes so that even the pickiest eater will enjoy it.  This is my theory also, I like things plainer than most people, but I still want to have stand out flavor of all ingredients.  As soon as I saw the post for cinnamon roll pizza, I knew I couldn't go another day without trying it!  Okay that is really sad, but it's also true....

The case:
4 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes
1/2 Cup packed brown sugar
13 oz pizza dough of choice
4 Tablespoons room temperature butter
1/2 Cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 Cup powdered sugar
4-5 Tablespoons heavy cream

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray pizza pan with cooking spray and layer  with butter cubes and brown sugar.
 2.  Gently place dough into pan over butter and brown sugar then spread butter over tops of dough.
 3.  Layer with brown sugar and cinnamon.
 4.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until pizza crust is cooked through.  Let cool for 10 minutes or until butter and brown sugar have set.  (This part is torture!) Cut into wedges.
5.  Place powdered sugar and cream into mixing bowl and stir until smooth.  Drizzle over warm slices of pizza and serve.

The ruling:
I am officially 80% of the way to my goal, and out of those 80 new recipes I've tried in 2010, this is my favorite!  It is yummy, delicious goodness!