Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cream Cheese Potato Soup

You guys, I am so excited to share this recipe with you! I know that it's the middle of summer and that soup is the last thing that most people want to eat, but most people are not me, and I love soup year-round. I love seasonal eating, I really do, but I just cannot resist a good bowl of soup at any time during the year, even if it's 90 degrees outside.

This is the best potato soup I have ever had, and that includes my grandma's recipe. It's so creamy and velvety and has such wonderful flavor. You could definitely top the soup with shredded cheese and bacon, but I made grilled cheese sandwiches with bacon and tomato to eat with it instead. Joe and I both loved it, but despite how strong our love was, Andrew's was stronger. He could not get enough of this soup, and I hope he enjoys the leftovers for lunch at daycare today!

Cream Cheese Potato Soup
Source: adapted from Recipezaar

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, cut into chunks

1. Heat butter in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and saute until onion becomes translucent. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Season with seasoning salt and pepper.

2. Add broth, potatoes, and bay leaf and boil until potatoes are tender. Discard bay leaf and smash a few of the potatoes to release their starch for thickening.

3. Reduce to low heat and add cream cheese. Heat, stirring frequently, until cheese melts.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Weekly Meal Planning

I mentioned in one of my posts last week that I'm trying to do more consistent meal planning. I've always been good at going through cookbooks and writing down meals I want to make, and then referring to that list when I'm not sure what to have for dinner, but it isn't something I do on a regular basis -- until recently, that is. And only a couple of weeks in, I'm quickly discovering that meal planning is even more cost-effective and convenient than I thought it would be. Plus, it suits the OCD part of my personality very, very well.

I have to thank Jessie for her awesome Monday Meal Planning posts that never fail to inspire me. I also have to thank Lisa, who inspired me to go one step further and assign weekly "theme nights" for dinner. This idea fits our growing family very well, and it helps me focus when I'm going through my massive binders and multitudes of cookbooks trying to decide on something for dinner.

So without further ado, I present to you my inaugural Weekly Meal Plan -- which, I just noticed, is quite pig-heavy this week. Guess what the pregnant lady is craving! At this rate the baby will come out oinking.

Monday -- Soup or Salad: Cream cheese potato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches with bacon and tomato

Tuesday -- Pasta: Springy shells, breadsticks, salad

Wednesday -- Grilling: Grilled pizzas with hot sausage, peppers and onions, and oregano ricotta (except probably without the oregano, since the rabbits have eaten all of mine)

Thursday -- Quick and Easy: Spring chicken roll-ups, baked potatoes

Friday -- Burgers and Fries: Jerk pork cheeseburgers with green apple slaw, fries

Saturday -- Regional or International: Probably nothing. We're attending Joe's family's annual Fourth of July cookout earlier in the day and will most likely stuff ourselves beyond belief.

Sunday -- Comfort Food: Pork chops with roasted garlic cream sauce, roasted potatoes, steamed broccoli

Coca-Cola-Glazed Baby Back Ribs

One of the last cookbooks I bought for myself before my self-imposed Cookbook Embargo was Bon Appetit, Ya'll: Recipes and Stories from Three Generations of Southern Cooking. The author, Virginia Willis, was raised in the South but attended culinary school in France, so she has a unique point-of-view. This recipe for ribs is the first recipe I've made from the cookbook, but just looking through it I can tell I'm going to be using it frequently!

Joe and I are very much traditionalists when it comes to ribs, so this recipe was a departure for us. We both really, really enjoyed the end result. The sauce was tangy and sweet, with just the right amount of heat, and the oven-baked ribs stayed nice and tender. These ribs could easily be adapted for the grill, making them perfect for a Fourth of July cookout.

Coca-Cola-Glazed Baby Back Ribs
Source: adapted from Bon Appetit Ya'll: Recipes and Stories from Three Generations of Southern Cooking by Virginia Willis; recipe also featured on her blog

1 cup Coca-Cola Classic

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 rack baby back ribs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. To make the glaze, in a small saucepan, bring the Coca-Cola, vinegar, brown sugar, and pepper to a boil over high heat; reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until syrupy, about 10 minutes. Decrease the heat to low and keep the sauce warm while the ribs cook.

2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Liberally season both sides of the ribs with salt and pepper. Place the ribs on a broiler pan and bake for 30 minutes, glazing the ribs occasionally with the Coca-Cola mixture. Turn the ribs over and continue to cook for an additional 30 minutes, glazing occasionally, or until the ribs are tender and the meat is starting to pull away from the bone.

3. When the ribs are cooked through, set the oven to broil. Liberally spoon half of the remaining glaze over the ribs and broil until glazed a deep mahogany brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Turn over; repeat with the remaining glaze, an additional 5 to 7 minutes. Serve immediately.

Grandma's Scalloped Potatoes

What I'm about to say needs to come with a disclaimer: I have never tried another recipe for traditional scalloped potatoes, so this is completely my own opinion, but I truly believe that my grandma's scalloped potato recipe is the best in the entire world. Whenever I taste them, I'm automatically transported back to my childhood, when she used to serve them with homemade white bread and thick pork chops, dredged in flour and fried. To round out the meal, we'd always drink cans of caffeine-free Coke, and for dessert: canteloupe fresh from the garden, dripping with juice. Food can be a really powerful thing, with its ability to transport you to another time and place.

My grandma lives in a retirement community now, in a tiny apartment with only a stovetop and no oven, so she can't make her scalloped potatoes anymore. When she moved there, she passed along to my mom the special casserole dish she always made them in, and when my mom died the casserole dish passed on to me. I've never used that dish for anything other than Grandma's potatoes.

There's nothing really special about this recipe or its ingredients; it's straight-forward and simple and just very homey. But because of the memories it evokes, to me it's one of the best-tasting things in the world.

Grandma's Scalloped Potatoes
Source: Grandma P.

3 pounds potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup flour
Salt and pepper
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
Milk (estimate it: you want enough to entirely cover the potatoes)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine flour, salt and pepper. Heat milk over low heat in a small saucepan.

2. Butter a casserole dish. Layer a third of the potatoes in the bottom. Top with half of the sliced onion. Sprinkle half of the flour mixture over the onions and dot with butter. Top with 1/2 cup cheddar cheese. Add another layer of potatoes, the rest of the onion, the rest of the flour mixture, dotted with butter, and another 1/2 cup of cheese. Top with remaining potatoes and the remaining cup of cheese.

3. Pour milk over potatoes. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 1 hour, or until potatoes are fork-tender.

Texas BBQ Chicken Quesadillas

I've had my eye on these quesadillas for quite a while now, and I finally put them on the menu last week. Before this pregnancy, I was indifferent to BBQ sauce. I didn't dislike it, it's just not something I would have chosen to eat. Now, though? Now I can't get enough of the stuff. So these quesadillas did a good job of fulfilling my craving, and on top of that they were delicious! I loved the sweetness of the onions in the filling. This Mexican sour cream rice is the perfect accompaniment. I'll definitely make these quesadillas again. The recipe as I've listed it below makes 2 servings.

Texas BBQ Chicken Quesadillas
Source: seen on A Taste of Home Cooking, adapted from Jenn and Food, Perfect Together

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 vidalia onion, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon honey
1 large chicken breast, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon Montreal steak seasoning
1/4 to 1/2 cup BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Chipotle, which worked great)
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
4 10-inch flour tortillas

1. Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a pan over medium high heat. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook until they begin to carmelize. Mix in the honey and stir until it is golden brown. Remove and set aside.

2. Place the remaining oil in the pan and add the chicken. Season chicken with steak seasoning and cook through over medium high heat. Stir in the BBQ sauce to evenly coat the chicken.

3. Place the chicken, onions and cheese onto a tortilla, top with the other tortilla and cook in a quesadilla maker or skillet about 5 minutes, or until tortillas are golden brown.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Burger and Fries Friday: Caprese Burgers with Basil Balsamic Mayonnaise

This week's burger is one of our absolute favorites. Caprese salad is one of the best dishes in the world, in my opinion, and this is my deconstructed cheeseburger version of it. I top the Italian-style burgers with fresh mozzarella and tomato, and then I stir the basil and balsamic vinegar into the mayonnaise. Couldn't be simpler, more elegant, or more delicious. We always have ours with steak fries (the frozen ones work fine), tossed with olive oil and tons of black pepper. When they come out of the oven, we sprinkle them generously with grated Parmesan cheese. I guarantee that you'll enjoy this meal!

Caprese Burgers with Basil Balsamic Mayonnaise
Source: Cassie

1 pound ground chuck
1 teaspoon hamburger or steak seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

4 slices of tomato
4 slices fresh mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup torn or chiffoned basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Sweet Italian rolls, halved, buttered and grilled

1. Combine ground chuck, hamburger or steak seasoning, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, Worcestershire and Parmesan cheese in a large bowl. Shape into four equal patties. Cook patties to desired doneness in olive oil over medium high heat.

2. While burgers are cooking, combine mayonnaise, balsamic vinegar, basil leaves and garlic powder in a separate bowl.

3. Top burgers with mozzarella cheese for the last minute or so of cooking so the cheese can soften. Serve burgers on grilled buns, topped with the tomato and the basil balsamic mayonnaise.

Hot Hoagies

This week's burger will be up later tonight after, you know, I've had a chance to actually make it and eat it. It's a good one this week, so be sure to check back!

I just have to share last night's delicious, simple dinner with you. These hot sandwiches were soooo good, and they took absolutely no time at all to prepare. Please excuse the terrible picture; you're lucky I even took a picture, I was so eager to sink my teeth into these!

Joe and I both really liked these sandwiches. I made the full recipe so we'd both have lunches for today. I made a few changes to the recipe, just to fit our preferences. I think some chopped pimiento, or even some pimiento-stuffed olives, would be a great addition to the sandwich topping, too, so I may try that next time. I think these are going to find their way into the regular rotation pretty quickly!

Hot Hoagies
Source: adapted from Laura at Real Mom Kitchen, who got it from Melanie at My Kitchen Cafe

1 loaf french bread, cut lengthwise
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1/2 cup Miracle Whip
1/2 cup sour cream
2 green onions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 cups shredded cheese (I used a cheddar-Jack blend)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place french bread on large baking sheet. Mix all topping ingredients together in a bowl. Spread topping evenly on top of both lengths of french bread.

2. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until bubbly and edges are lightly browned. Slice into pieces and serve immediately.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cheese-Stuffed Grilled Peppers

Without a doubt, Wednesday night is my favorite night of the week. That's grilling night at our house, and there is nothing I like to eat more in the summer than food fresh from the grill. Last night, we had chicken breasts marinated in Italian dressing and seasoned simply with salt and pepper, and to go with them, these delicious, cheesy, grilled stuffed peppers.

I saw these peppers in Food & Wine magazine quite a while ago, and ever since then I've been dying to try them. They were so good! The Cubanelle peppers provided just the right amount of heat, which balanced nicely with the sweet, creamy, gooey filling. They held up nicely on the grill; they maintained their crunch, and the filling stayed right where it was supposed to. I adapted the recipe to serve just Joe and me, but if you want the original recipe just click the link below. What a perfect, easy side dish these were. Joe told me, "This is definitely something we should make again," and I completely agree!

Cheese-Stuffed Grilled Peppers
Source: adapted from Food & Wine, April 2009

1/2 cup ricotta cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3 Cubanelle peppers
Olive oil for rubbing

1. In a medium bowl, blend the ricotta with the cream cheese and Parmesan. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

2. Light a grill or heat a grill pan. Using a small, sharp knife, remove the stems from the peppers and reserve. Cut around inside the peppers to detach the membranes and remove the seeds. Using a butter knife, fill the peppers with the cheese mixture and reattach the tops. Rub the peppers with olive oil.

3. Grill the peppers over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until blistered all over and the cheese filling is piping hot, about 7 minutes. Transfer the peppers to plates and serve.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Frozen Banana Bites

Every Sunday evening, my stepmom and stepsister come over to my house to watch our very favorite TV show, True Blood. It doesn't start until 9:00, which is too late for us to eat dinner together, so at the beginning of the season we decided to make sweets to eat during the show instead. We're supposed to be taking turns, but I've selfishly made the snack two weeks in a row. Last week we enjoyed strawberry pretzel squares, and this week I made these absolutely delicious frozen banana bites.

This is an idea I originally saw in Bon Appetit magazine a couple of months ago, and I've had it in my mind to make my own version ever since. You can roll the chocolate-dipped bananas in any coating you want; I chose miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips, peanuts, hazelnuts, and vanilla wafer crumbs.

This is the perfect summer treat, hands-down. The frozen bananas are somehow still really creamy, almost the texture of ice cream. Add in the chocolate and the salty-sweet coatings, and this is truly a heavenly -- and simple! -- dessert. I can see myself making these for my kids in a few years!

Frozen Banana Bites
Source: inspired by Bon Appetit

1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 ripe bananas, peeled and cut into slices (about 12 slices per banana)
Assorted coatings for bananas (peanuts, hazelnuts, miniature chocolate chips, vanilla wafers crumbs, toasted shredded sweetened coconut, chopped candy, etc.)

1. Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler over low heat. Meanwhile, place each coating in a separate dish and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. Using a fork, dip a slice of banana in the melted chocolate, shaking off the excess. Immediately drop banana in coating, using your fingers to sprinkle more coating over the top of the banana. Place on prepared cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining bananas, chocolate and coatings.

3. Freeze for about 3 hours, or until firm.

Honey-Teriyaki Chicken

Inspired in equal parts by Lisa and Jessie, I've been working on implementing a new meal planning system in our house over the past week or so, and so far it's working pretty well. It involves assigning "themes" to each night of the week that are consistent from week to week. It's really helped me organize the recipes I want to cook, and I've been doing a lot better at actually cooking dinner rather than opting for frozen pizza or a quick sandwich. My husband is part of a spring softball league that's been occupying the better part of his Monday and Thursday nights, which makes cooking on those nights pretty tough, but after his games are over I'll definitely start sharing my meal plans with you.

Anyway, the theme I've decided on for Saturday nights is international cuisine, and this week I made a fantastic meal brought to you straight from the pages of Everyday Food. Joe and I both really enjoyed this honey-teriyaki chicken. I thought it had great flavor, and although I worried it would be too sweet, it wasn't overwhelmingly so. I love cooking with chicken thighs; they're always so tender, and this dish was no exception.

I would suggest cooking the chicken in a casserole dish, or anything with high sides, rather than on a cookie sheet as the recipe suggests. The honey mixture bubbled up quite a bit in the oven, and it could have easily run over the sides of the cookie sheet and made a real mess that I wouldn't have enjoyed cleaning up at all. The skin on the chicken got a bit darker than I would have liked, so if I make these again I may cook them at a lower temperature for a little bit longer. Apparently the skin was still edible, though. I peeled the skin off my chicken, but Joe seemed to enjoy crunching through his!

I served this with Asian cabbage slaw, and it was a delicious accompaniment. This meal is definitely a keeper!

Honey-Teriyaki Chicken
Source: slightly adapted from Everyday Food, May 2009

1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
Coarse salt and ground pepper
6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 2 pounds total)

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. In a large bowl, mix honey, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add chicken and toss to coat. Transfer chicken and sauce to baking sheet.

2. Bake chicken, skin side up, basting occasionally with pan juices, until well browned and cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve chicken drizzled with pan juices.

Asian Cabbage Slaw

I love cole slaw, so when I saw this recipe in the May issue of Everyday Food, I was intrigued by the idea of doing an Asian twist on something so quintessentially American. And I have to say that I really, really enjoyed this version. The cilantro gave it a sharpness, the jalapeno provided just the right amount of heat, and the dressing was perfectly tangy. I used a few of handfuls of cole slaw mix instead of fresh carrot and cabbage, just for convenience's sake. This is a wonderful alternative to a typical run-of-the-mill cole slaw.

Asian Cabbage Slaw
Source: adapted from Everyday Food, May 2009

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons sugar
3 handfuls cole slaw mix
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
4 scallions, cut into matchsticks
1/2 fresh jalapeno, minced

1. In a large bowl, combine lime juice, rice vinegar, vegetable oil, and sugar; season with salt and whisk.

2. To dressing, add cole slaw mix, cilantro, scallions, and jalapeno, and toss to combine.

Fancy Scrambled Eggs

One of the major pregnancy cravings I've been having consistently is eggs. Typically I'm a fried over-medium kind of girl, but lately I'll take eggs any way I can get them. To satisfy my craving and to use up some leftover ingredients in the fridge, I concocted these fancy scrambled eggs for dinner one night last week. They were delicious! Even Andrew liked them, which is a miracle considering that they were full of spinach (and spinach is most assuredly not one of Andrew's favorite things). Served with buttered sour dough toast and some crispy bacon, this was an inexpensive and yummy meal!

Fancy Scrambled Eggs
Source: Cassie

1/4 cup butter
Half a small red onion, finely chopped
Half a red bell pepper, finely diced
Salt and pepper to taste

6 eggs
Splash of milk
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
Dash of hot sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups fresh baby spinach

1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper and season to taste. Cook until vegetables begin to soften.

2. Meanwhile, combine eggs, milk, parmesan cheese, hot sauce, and salt and pepper in a separate bowl. Add to vegetables and cook, stirring frequently, until eggs are almost completely cooked through.

3. For the last minute or so of cooking, add spinach to skillet to wilt.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mini Corn and Pepper Cakes

Last night was Joe's night off, which means only one thing around our house in the summer months: Time to fire up the grill. Joe makes the best steak I have ever had, I think mostly because of his ultra-secret rub recipe that he won't share even with me, and last night was no exception. I found a couple of gorgeous T-bones at our local butcher's, which he grilled to juicy, delicious, smoky perfection. He also grilled a bunch of asparagus, which I prepared with salt, pepper and brown sugar (thank you, Jessie, for the brown sugar inspiration) and slathered with olive oil.

For my part, I made these delicious mini corn and pepper cakes. I thought they'd be a nice alternative to some kind of potato, and they took no time at all to prepare. They were so good! They'd probably be even better with a little bit of shredded cheese mixed in. I halved the recipe, which gave us 10 cakes, and we ate all of them. This was truly one of the best meals we've had for a long time.

I've listed the full recipe for you here. These little corn cakes would be perfect for a backyard barbecue!

Mini Corn and Pepper Cakes
Source: adapted from Betty Crocker Country Favorites

2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 eggs, separated
1 small bell pepper, any color, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1. Beat flour, milk, sugar, salt, pepper and egg yolks in medium bowl. Stir in corn and bell pepper.

2. Beat egg whites until stiff and glossy. Fold corn mixture into egg whites.

3. Heat oil in 10-inch skillet. Drop corn mixture by tablespoonfuls into hot oil. Fry about 30 seconds on each side or until golden brown. Serve with sour cream, if desired.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cheesy Sausage Ravioli Bake

Last time I was pregnant, I got off relatively easy. I had lots of cravings, but I didn't have very many food aversions at all. I was able to eat pretty much anything I wanted -- most of which was fast food, since for the majority of my pregnancy we were remodeling our kitchen. So it's a good thing my major cravings were chicken nuggets with ketchup and burritos from Chipotle.

This time, though, I've had a lot more food aversions -- the major one being tomato sauce. The very smell of it was enough to send me rushing to the bathroom just a few days ago. But then yesterday, what happened? I started craving ravioli with a thick, chunky tomato sauce. Pregnancy is so weird, man.

I came up with this recipe on the fly to satisfy my craving, and it was really very good. I love food like this, that's simple to prepare and so hearty and delicious. We ate this with a wheat version of our favorite garlic bread, and we thoroughly enjoyed this meal. I even made Andrew a portion, minus the sausage and copious amounts of cheese, and he seemed to enjoy it. Although in this picture his inner food critic seems to be thinking, "Hmmm, it could really use some salt."

Cheesy Sausage Ravioli Bake

Source: Cassie

1 bag frozen miniature cheese ravioli
1 pound spicy Italian sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 jar chunky vegetable tomato sauce
1 (14.75-ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Cook ravioli according to package directions; drain.

2. Meanwhile, brown sausage and onion in olive oil in a high-sided skillet until sausage is no longer pink. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add tomato sauce and diced tomatoes.

3. Mix ravioli with 1 cup of the shredded cheese. Add sausage mixture and stir gently to combine, being careful not the break the ravioli. Pour into a greased 13 x 19 casserole dish. Top with remaining cup of cheese.

4. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees or until cheese is melted. If desired, broil for 2 minutes to blister cheese.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Strawberry Pretzel Squares

This recipe has been around forever. My aunt used to make this sweet treat for all of our family get-togethers, and I haven't had it since she passed away four years ago. So when I saw it pop up on Carrie's blog, it immediately sparked a craving. A neighbor recently brought us over a bunch of his home-grown strawberries, and this treat was the perfect way to use them up. It was absolutely just as good as I remembered. You just can't beat that salty/sweet/creamy combination!

Strawberry Pretzel Squares
Source: Kraft Foods

2 cups finely crushed pretzels
1/2 cup sugar, divided
2/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 1/2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup thawed Cool Whip Whipped Topping
2 cups boiling water
1 (6 ounce) package JELL-O Strawberry Flavor Gelatin
1 1/2 cups cold water
1 quart (4 cups) strawberries, sliced

1. Heat oven to 350°.

2. Mix pretzel crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar and butter. Press onto bottom of 13x9-inch pan. Bake 10 minutes. Cool.

3. Beat cream cheese, remaining sugar and milk until blended. Stir in Cool Whip; spread over crust. Refrigerate.

4. Add boiling water to gelatin mix in large bowl; stir 2 minutes until completely dissolved. Stir in cold water. Refrigerate 1 1/2 hours or until thickened (spoon drawn through leaves definite impression). Stir in strawberries; spoon over cream cheese layer. Refrigerate 3 hours or until firm.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Burger and Fries Friday: Salsa Verde Turkey Burgers

First of all, before we get to this week's burger, I have to seriously apologize for the lack of posting around here lately. You see, I'M PREGNANT, and the first trimester is bringing with it lots and lots of food aversions. For the past few weeks I've been basically shoving my face full of anything my stomach will accept, which has mostly been limited to cinnamon toast and salt and vinegar potato chips. That's also why I didn't get around to making and posting a burger recipe last week; I've had absolutely no energy to cook or really do much of anything. I only have a couple more weeks to go in the first trimester, though, so I'm hoping my nausea and lack of energy will fade quickly once it's over!

Once I actually get back to cooking regularly, I plan to keep this blog all about the food, so if you're curious about the pregnancy or anything else that's going on in my life, you can visit me at my personal blog.

Anyway! Let's get to the burger, shall we? This week's burger is one I've been looking forward to trying for a while now. I thought the combination of flavors sounded fantastic, and this burger has lots of my favorite things: salsa verde, pepper Jack cheese, cilantro and avocado. Apparently, though, avocado is my latest food aversion, which made it hard for me to enjoy these burgers. Joe loved them, though, so don't let that deter you from trying them!

I made a few changes to the recipe: I finely chopped the cilantro and mixed it in with the avocado aioli, and I also added some finely diced red onion to the mayo mixture to give it even more of a guacamole feel. My changes are reflected below, but just click the link to get to the original.

Salsa Verde Turkey Burgers
Source: Every Day with Rachael Ray

1 avocado, halved and pitted
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 of a red onion, finely diced
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 cup salsa verde
4 slices pepper Jack cheese
4 kaiser rolls, split

1. Scoop the avocado flesh into a small bowl. Add the mayonnaise, garlic, cilantro and onion and mash with a fork until well combined but chunky. Season with salt and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the ground turkey and salsa. Divide the mixture to form 4 patties.
In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, cook the patties for 4 minutes on one side. Flip and top each with a slice of cheese; cover and cook for 4 minutes more.

3. Serve the burgers with the avocado aioli.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Brownie Pudding Cake

Hey, um, hi there. Remember me? I'm the girl who hasn't posted in A WEEK AND A HALF. Let me assure you that I'm still alive and well and eating; I just haven't been eating anything exactly blogworthy (unless you call Velveeta shells and cheese mixed with ground beef and salsa blogworthy? …No? Okay. Moving on.).

Yesterday Sara posted a recipe for her family's brownie pudding cake, and I left her a comment telling her I was going to make it immediately. And I got home from work last night, and that's exactly what I did.

Everything about this cake is just fantastic. Not only does it taste absolutely amazing, but it couldn't be simpler to prepare. It doesn't even require a mixer, and the ingredients are ones that I think most people already have on hand. It's a magic dessert, too, what with the way the pudding layer starts on top and ends up on the bottom.

I'm so glad Sara shared this dessert. It's decadent and delicious and so easy, and I'm pretty sure it's going to become a favorite in our family pretty quickly!

Brownie Pudding Cake
Source: Sara's Kitchen

3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 3/4 cups boiling water
Powdered sugar, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch square baking dish or round souffle dish. Combine flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and 1/3 cup cocoa in medium bowl. Add milk, butter and vanilla, stir until just blended. Spoon the batter into the prepared dish.

2. Combine brown sugar and remaining 1/4 cup cocoa in small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over batter. Pour boiling water over entire mixture; do not stir.

3. Bake 35 to 38 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the top layer comes out clean. Cool at least 10 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Crock Pot Asian Shredded Beef

When I saw this recipe on A Year of CrockPotting, I just knew I had to give it a try. I tend to be very boring with roasts; I've only ever made a beef roast one way, and this Asian version was definitely something different for me. I'd had a beef roast in the freezer for a long time that I'd never got around to cooking, and I had all of the other ingredients on hand.

I wish I would have used less 5-spice powder. That was my one complaint. I'm not a huge fan of the flavor of anise, which I should have taken into consideration. Other than that, though, this was a delicious meal that we really enjoyed. I added some cole slaw mix to the beef for the last fifteen minutes of cooking, and I served the beef over beef-flavored ramen noodles (how college freshman of me, right?). This was a flavorful meal and was very simple to throw together. I love my Crock pot, and I really do need to learn to use it more often.

Crock Pot Asian Shredded Beef
Source: adapted from A Year of CrockPotting

4 pounds boneless beef roast

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
6 tablespoons ketchup
6 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons Chinese 5-spice powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder

Sprinkle the dried spices directly onto the beef. Add to Crock pot and top with the ketchup and honey. Pour in the soy and hoisin sauces. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 9 hours, or until the meat shreds easily with a fork. About 15 minutes before serving, add a handful of cole slaw mix to the Crock pot to wilt. Serve over white or brown rice or noodles.