Monday, August 31, 2009

Italian Sausage Sandwiches with Peppers and Onions

My husband is a very patient man. It's one of the reasons I was drawn to him all those (nearly NINE!) years ago, since I am very much not patient. He balances me out nicely. I bring this up because he's always been very tolerant of me and my antics in the kitchen. He doesn't complain when I constantly make new recipes (some he loves, some he doesn't) and let months go by between his favorite meals. That's why, when I was planning last week's menu, I thought it was high time I served him up one of his favorites. It's been a while, and he's been very patient.

This sandwich is definitely one of his favorites. It's one of the first things I ever learned to cook for him, and he's loved it ever since. Just to prove how grateful he was, he ate three of these last night. Three!

Everyone has their own version of this sandwich, and the one I'm sharing with you today is ours, with my own little touches I've added over the years. Usually I use jarred tomato sauce, but last night I used the sauce from this post, and I think it's safe to say that it will be my go-to choice from now on.

Italian Sausage Sandwiches with Peppers and Onions
source: Cassie

1 package Italian-style sausages

1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon butter
1 large red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 large green bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 cup tomato sauce (add more if you want; it just depends on how saucy you like your peppers)
Hoagie rolls, split (and toasted, if desired)

1. Bring water to a simmer in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sausages. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover and cook until casings are crispy and sausages are completely cooked through, about 10 to 15 more minutes.

2. Meanwhile, melt remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add peppers, onion, and garlic and saute until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning. Add tomato sauce and heat through.

3. Serve sausages on hoagie rolls, topped with pepper and onion mixture.

Baked Zucchini Fries with Tomato Coulis Dipping Sauce

Just by looking at the picture you can tell what the main problem was with these zucchini fries, right? If you said, "They absolutely REFUSED TO GET CRISPY," you'd be exactly right. That was my main issue with them. The flavor was great (with a few modifications -- without my changes, I think these would have been on the bland side), the zucchini was nice and tender, but the breading just wasn't nearly crispy enough for my liking. Joe didn't even try them, just because they didn't look appealing to him.

The good thing is, though, that I know exactly what I need to do to these next time to make them crispier. I'll cook them at a higher temperature, probably 400 or 425 degrees, for about the same amount of time, and I'll drizzle some olive oil over them before they go in the oven. I think if I make those changes, I'll get the crispiness I was looking for this time around. (I've reflected these changes below.)

I probably wouldn't be posting this recipe if it wasn't for the tomato coulis sauce that accompanied the zucchini fries. It was really, really good, and totally made suffering through the non-crispy fries worth it. Although the peeling and coring of the tomatoes is a little bit more time-consuming than just popping the lid off a can of diced tomatoes, I definitely recommend using fresh ones for this. The flavor of fresh tomatoes is just so much sweeter and, well, fresher than canned. I loved the way the honey, vinegar, onion and basil all worked so well together. I'll be making this sauce frequently and will probably be putting it on just about anything I can think of.

Baked Zucchini Fries with Tomato Coulis Dipping Sauce
source: adapted from Epicurious

For the tomato coulis:


1 pound ripe tomatoes, peeled, cored, and diced
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon minced shallot or onion
2 teaspoons fresh basil, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the fries:

1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
2 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into 2-inch-long and 1/4-inch-thick pieces

1. Combine all the coulis ingredients in a blender and pureé. Transfer to a sauté pan and cook over medium heat until fragrant and warmed through, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to the refrigerator to cool.

2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the bread crumbs, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Place the flour in another medium bowl and the beaten eggs in a smaller bowl.

4. Dip the zucchini sticks first in the flour until lightly coated, then in the beaten eggs. Roll them in the bread crumb mixture until well covered.

5. Transfer the zucchini pieces to a nonstick baking sheet. Drizzle with olive or vegetable oil and toss gently to combine. Bake until the zucchini is tender but the coating is crisp, about 20 minutes. Salt immediately after removing from oven. Let the fries cool slightly before eating. Serve with the coulis as a dipping sauce.

Provolone, Prosciutto and Pesto Quiche

For breakfast on Sunday morning, I decided to try my hand at something I'd never made before: quiche. Quiche is another one of those dishes that just intimidates me, for some reason; plus, it requires the kind of time commitment that I don't usually have. Well, I guess I should say that it used to intimidate me; now that I've made one, with pretty successful results, I know I'll be more confident making this in the future.

Joe was skeptical when I told him what we were having for breakfast. "I've never liked quiche…" he told me, but after trying this one he informed me that he was officially a real man who was proud to eat quiche, and that I could make this as often as I wanted. Even more surprising than Joe's reaction was Andrew's: My little man absolutely loved this, and ate nearly a whole slice all by himself.

The prosciutto and artichokes are my own additions to the recipe, and I really liked the added flavor they gave to the filling. This was a cheesy, hearty, filling and fulfilling breakfast, and I'm pretty sure Joe is going to be asking me to make it again very soon!

Provolone, Prosciutto, and Pesto Quiche
source: adapted from Pillsbury Annual Recipes 2008

1 refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on box
2 cups shredded provolone cheese
3 tablespoons refrigerated pesto
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 thin slices prosciutto, diced
1/2 cup canned artichokes in water, drained, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
5 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
Dash of hot sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Make pie crust as directed on box using 9-inch glass pie plate. Bake 7 minutes.

2. Remove crust from oven; sprinkle 1 cup of the provolone cheese over the bottom of the crust.

3. In a small bowl, mix pesto and parmesan cheese until smooth. Carefully spread over provolone cheese. Top with prosciutto, artichokes, bell pepper, and the remaining provolone cheese.

4. In large bowl with wire whisk, beat eggs, milk, hot sauce and salt and pepper until well blended. Pour over cheese.

5. Bake 7 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees; bake 15 minutes. Cover edges of crust with foil. Bake 23 to 28 minutes longer or until set and knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand for 5 mintues before serving.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Weekly Meal Planning


Anyone who knows me "in real life," especially my husband, will tell you this about me: I am slightly obsessive-compulsive. I make lists for everything, and I like things to be a certain way. One thing I'm very OCD about is my Google Reader. I get stressed out when I have tons of unread items, and I get even more stressed when my starred items category reaches the triple digits -- which, as of last week, it has officially done (and it's your fault. Yes you, out there, posting your delicious recipes and making me click the little star icon!). So this week, a lot of the recipes I'm making are coming from my starred items. I've gotta start cleaning that bad boy out or I just might go insane. That means there's only one measly cookbook recipe this week. The time keeps ticking away and my goal seems further and further out of my reach. (I'm in a weird mood today. Can you tell?)

Monday -- Soup or Salad: Creamy tomato soup, artichoke bread. The tomato soup recipe is our household favorite recipe. Usually we eat it with grilled cheese, but I thought the artichoke bread would be a great alternative. I can't wait to eat this -- yum!

Tuesday -- Pasta: Skillet lasagna, Caesar salad, garlic bread

Wednesday -- Grilling: Our favorite grilled chicken (marinated simply in Italian dressing), corn on the cob, pasta salad with cheddar and grapes (minus the ham listed in the recipe)

Thursday -- Quick and Easy: Buffalo chicken minis, leftover pasta salad

Friday -- Burgers and Fries: Cowboy burgers, steak fries

Saturday -- Regional or International: Baked chicken meatballs with peperonata, more garlic bread

Sunday -- Comfort Food: Crock pot pork roast with potatoes and carrots, Aunt Mary's zucchini casserole, rolls. This is, hands down, my absolute favorite meal ever. And we haven't had it for a while, so I can't wait to eat this one!

Weekend Breakfast: Bacon, egg and cheese breakfast pizza We had brunch at one of our favorite breakfast places instead.

Baking: We're having a garage sale over the weekend in an attempt to clear out the house and make some room for our new baby boy, so I'll probably be too busy with all of that to bake anything. If I do get a chance to bake, though, I'm dying to make this skillet-baked chocolate chip cookie. How good does that sound?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Burger and Fries Friday: Buffalo Chicken Burgers with Bacon Ranch Slaw

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, it'll come as no surprise to you whatsoever that I love buffalo chicken in any form. Last week I started getting a craving for buffalo chicken (which is something that happens to me frequently), and I thought it would be fun to incorporate that craving into this week's burger. I found this Rachael Ray recipe, but there were a few things about it that didn't appeal to me -- namely, the blue cheese. I'm not a big fan of blue cheese. (Also, just as an aside, can I tell you how much it irritates me when she calls things "gravy"? Usually whatever she's making is not gravy, it's just sauce. But. Moving on.) I used that recipe as my inspiration, and I turned it into this delectable, spicy, flavorful burger.

Joe and I both inhaled these burgers; they were absolutely delicious! Spicy, but not too spicy, with a nice sweetness from the carrots. The cole slaw on top added texture, and the flavors all worked really well together. Since I had to fry the bacon anyway, I decided, what the heck, I'll just cook the burgers in the bacon grease. This, of course, made them smoky and salty and totally irresistible. This is definitely a burger I'll be making again.

Buffalo Chicken Burgers with Bacon Ranch Slaw
source: burger inspired by Rachael Ray; slaw from Kraft Foods

2 handfuls prepared cole slaw
1/3 to 1/2 cup Ranch dressing
3 slices bacon, chopped

1 pound ground chicken
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon hamburger seasoning blend
1 tablespoon chives
Half of a small carrot, shredded
1 small stalk of celery, finely chopped
1/4 cup hot sauce (we prefer Frank's Red Hot)
2 tablespoons butter

4 slices cheddar cheese
4 hamburger buns, split (and toasted, if desired)

1. In a small bowl, combine cole slaw mix and Ranch dressing; refrigerate.

2. Brown bacon to desired crispness in a large skillet; remove to a paper towel to drain, reserving grease. Add bacon to slaw mixture.

3. Meanwhile, combine chicken, garlic powder, hamburger seasoning, chives, carrot, celery, and hot sauce. Separate into four equal-sized patties.

4. Add butter to bacon grease and melt over medium heat. Cook burgers until cooked through.
5. Top burgers with a slice of cheddar cheese, a quarter of the slaw, and sliced tomato, if desired.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pesto Pasta Salad

I have three different versions of pasta salad in my "repertoire" that I make regularly. One is a tri-color pasta salad with pepperoni cubes, cheddar cheese cubes, artichoke hearts, black olives, onions, green peppers, and Italian dressing. One is a creamy "deviled egg" pasta salad with mayonnaise and mustard, vinegar, sugar, hard-boiled eggs, paprika, and pickles. The one I'm sharing with you today is my third version, the one that is most requested at family gatherings, and definitely Joe's favorite. Since I can't seem to get enough pesto lately, I thought this would be the perfect accompaniment for our prosciutto pork kabobs.

This is a delicious pasta salad. It's creamy and slightly sweet, and it has a nice balance of textures. I love the way the fresh mozzarella just melts in my mouth, almost as much as I love the pop and juiciness of the grape tomatoes. Red onion would be a nice addition to this salad, as would fresh basil or some cubed salami or pepperoni, but I like to keep it pretty straightforward. I hope your family likes this as much as ours does!

Pesto Pasta Salad
source: Cassie

8 ounces short pasta (we usually use shells)
1/2 to 1 cup mayonnaise, depending on how creamy you like it (I like it creamy, so I use a full cup)
Splash of balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
3 teaspoons prepared pesto (add more if you like)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 carton fresh ciliegine mozzarella
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

1. Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions; drain; rinse in cold water; drain again.
2. Meanwhile, whisk together mayonnaise, balsamic vinegar, sugar, pesto, and salt and pepper in a large bowl.

3. Add cooled, drained pasta to dressing; stir pasta to coat. Gently mix in fresh mozzarella and grape tomatoes. Chill until serving.

Prosciutto Pork Kabobs

Oh, how I love prosciutto. I think I would eat its salty deliciousness with, in or on pretty much anything, but my favorite thing to pair it with is pork tenderloin. Something about the pork-pork combo really gets me. In the words of Emeril, pork fat just totally rules.

When I saw these kabobs combining prosciutto-wrapped pork pieces with zucchini and mushrooms, I was immediately smitten. Even though Joe over-cooked them just slightly (he got distracted with talking to our neighbor over the fence), they turned out to be just as delicious as I'd hoped. Because I never buy flavored oils (seriously, why spend the money when you can make your own so easily?), I used regular olive oil that I added a few cloves of crushed garlic to and cooked over low heat until the oil just started to bubble. The flavor infused perfectly.

Nothing screams "summer" like a grilled kabob, so this meal was a nice way to say goodbye to summer as we welcome the cooler weather.

Prosciutto Pork Kabobs
source: Better Homes and Gardens New Grilling Book

1/4 cup garlic-flavored olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 pound pork tenderloin
3 ounces thinly-sliced prosciutto
8 ounces fresh whole mushrooms, stems removed
2 small zucchini and/or yellow summer squash, cut into 3/4-inch thick slices
2 tablespoons finely shredded parmesan cheese

1. In a small bowl combine oil, lemon juice, and crushed red pepper; set aside.

2. Trim fat from pork. Cut pork into 1 1/2-inch cubes. Cut prosciutto into 1 1/2-inch-wide strips. Wrap a strip of prosciutto around each pork cube. On (metal or water-soaked wood) skewers, alternately thread pork cubes, mushrooms, and zucchini, leaving a 1/4-inch space between the pieces.


3. For a charcoal grill, grill kabobs on the greased grill rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals for 18 to 20 minutes or until pork is no longer pink and juices run clear, turning once halfway through grilling and brushing with the oil mixture during the last four minutes of grilling. (For gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place kabobs on grill rack over heat. Cover; grill as above.)

4. Just before serving, sprinkle kabobs with parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Chicken Fajita Pasta

This is just another one of those simple weeknight pasta tosses that comes together in no time. And this particular one? It's really, really good. The peppers and chipotle marinade provide just the right amount of heat, and the sour cream balances the spice perfectly. I amended the recipe slightly, but I've linked to the original.

We love Mexican food in our house, so I pretty much knew from the get-go that this dish would be a hit. I topped our servings with some shredded cheese (to me, a fajita isn't a fajita without cheese!) and some extra sour cream. This is definitely one that I'll make again!

Chicken Fajita Pasta
source: adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Annual Recipes 2007; original recipe found here

16 ounces pasta (I used rotelle, but any short or long cut of pasta will work)
1 8-ounce carton dairy sour cream
1/2 cup chipotle liquid meat marinade (I used Lawry's Baja Chipotle marinade)
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
1 medium red sweet pepper, seeded and cut into thin bite-size strips
1 fresh Anaheim chile pepper, seeded and cut into thin bite-size strips (1/3 cup)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound boneless skinless chicken tenders, cut into bite-size pieces

1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.

2. Meanwhile, in a bowl combine sour cream, marinade, lime juice, chili powder, and cumin; set aside.

3. In large skillet, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and cook chicken over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Remove from skillet. Add remaining olive oil and onion, sweet pepper, and Anaheim pepper. Cook and stir over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes or until
crisp-tender.

4. Add chicken, vegetables, and sour cream mixture to drained pasta. Toss to coat. Heat through over low heat.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Blondies

Wow, these blondies were really good. Rich, sweet, decadent, and 100% addictive. Even Joe, who isn't usually a big butterscotch fan, absolutely loved these. (Andrew loved them too, but I think that goes without saying, right?) They're the first blondies I've ever made, and an awesome beginning to what I think is going to be a long, beautiful relationship.

The only issue I had was that the caramel topping made them really sticky and hard to eat with our fingers. The caramel is supposed to be marbled into the blondie batter -- but the batter's pretty thick and doesn't really lend itself well to marbling. I smeared it in the best I could, but I think most of the caramel ended up on top of the batter. So after eating these, we had sticky fingers but very happy tastebuds. It was definitely a fair trade.

Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Blondies
source: Cookies, Brownies and More

1/2 cup butter at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping


1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla.

2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt; add to wet mixture in batches, mixing well after each addition.

3. Stir in chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and pecans. Pour batter into a greased 13 x 9-inch baking dish.

4. Dollop caramel topping on top of batter; use a knife to marble topping into batter.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Roast Beef, Gravy and Onion Ring Sandwiches

I debated whether or not to post this, but in the end I decided it was just too darn good not to share with you. I don't know how many of you are like me, but I absolutely love watching The Food Network. One of my favorite shows to watch is Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The food always looks so amazing, and by the end of each episode I've usually seen five or six things that I'm just dying to re-create in my kitchen. This sandwich is one of those things. I saw a version of it on Triple D, and I just couldn't wait to make it. Roast beef, gravy, and onion rings, all piled on soft fresh bread? How could you possibly go wrong?

This is a great sandwich. The meat was really tender, and the gravy thickened for me perfectly (and gravy is something that's always a little iffy with me; I'm an over-thickening repeat offender). I loved the crunch of the onion rings on the sandwich; they provided just the right amount of texture. I served some onion rings on the side, too, because I just can't seem to get enough of them.

This sandwich is comfort on a roll, pure and simple. Thanks for the inspiration, Triple D!

Roast Beef, Gravy, and Onion Ring Sandwiches
source: inspired by Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives


1 1/2 - 2 pound beef top round roast (or any cut of beef you prefer)
Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
Onion rings (we strongly prefer these because they're really crispy)
Fresh rolls, split and toasted (if desired)

1. Rub roast with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Place in a Crock pot. Add bay leaf, thyme, and water. Cover and cook on low heat 9 to 10 hours or until meat is tender and shreds easily with a fork.

2. Heat butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add flour and whisk until mixture is thick and bubbly, about 1 minute. Add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the beef cooking liquid. Stir over medium heat until gravy reaches desired thickness; salt and pepper to taste.

3. Top the bottom of a roll with a portion of the shredded beef. Top with gravy and two onion rings, then roll tops. Serve with additional onion rings on the side.

Greek Chicken-Stuffed Pitas

First of all, I have to say that these were actually supposed to be chicken gyros, but I couldn't find pocketless pitas in my grocery store. Therefore, they became Greek chicken-stuffed pitas. Ah, well -- it certainly didn't affect the flavor at all, which was pretty amazing.

I've seen this recipe floating around on a lot of blogs recently, and I was really excited to try these. There's quite a bit of prep work invovled, so this is perfect for a weekend meal. The chicken is tender and flavorful thanks to the marinade, and the tzatziki sauce is completely addictive. I served these with Greek-style potatoes, and I even dolloped some of the tzatziki sauce on those (it was delicious!). Joe, Andrew and I all really liked these, and I will definitely be making them again!

Greek Chicken-Stuffed Pitas
source: slightly adapted from elly says opa!

1.25 pounds chicken pieces

4 cloves garlic, smashed
Juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 heaping tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper
Tzatziki sauce (recipe follows)
Sliced tomatoes
Sliced red onions
4 pitas (pocketless for gyros; sadly, I could only find pita pockets)

1. Whisk together the garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, oil, yogurt, and oregano in a bowl. Add the chicken and rub the marinade in. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour.

2. Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides, and then saute until cooked through.

3. Heat the pitas. Top (or, in my case, stuff) each pita with the chicken, tzatziki, tomatoes, onions.

Tzatziki Sauce

source: adapted from elly says opa!

16 ounces plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
1 cucumber, seeded
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
Salt and a little pepper
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

1. Strain yogurt using a cheesecloth over a bowl (if you don’t have that, a strainer lined with a coffee filter will work) for several hours or overnight to get out as much moisture as possible. (I used Greek yogurt, which has already been strained, so I skipped this step.)

2. Peel and seed the cucumber. Shred the cucumber and squeeze them in a clean towel to get as much moisture out as possible.

3. Mix together the yogurt, shredded cucumbers, garlic, vinegar and lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate 30 minutes or more before serving so flavors can meld. Before serving, drizzle a little olive oil over the top.

Greek-Style Potatoes

I have a confession to make: I have never been to a Greek restaurant. I haven't tried a lot of traditional Greek dishes, so I can't tell you how much these potatoes taste like the ones you'd get in a Greek restaurant. What I can tell you, however, is that they are really good. Joe didn't really like them, but that's because he's not a huge fan of lemon, and these potatoes are very lemony. I knew when I started making them that he probably wouldn't like them, but you know what? Sometimes I have to make something just for me.

Some of the commenters on Allrecipes said the potatoes were bland, so I did a couple of things to combat that: I added lots of salt and pepper, and I used fresh herbs. If you don't like the flavor of lemon all that much, definitely cut back on the amount of lemon juice you use. Or, you know what? If you don't like the flavor of lemon, just skip these and make something else. Since rosemary and thyme both have lemony overtones, the dominant flavor in these potatoes is definitely lemon.

I liked them a lot and had two helpings. Andrew ate his fair share, too, so I guess he's following in my footsteps instead of his father's and is embracing citrus for all it's worth. Good boy.

Greek-Style Potatoes
source: adapted from Allrecipes.com

1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/4 cups chicken stock
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
6 potatoes, quartered

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a small bowl, mix olive oil, chicken stock, garlic, lemon juice, thyme, rosemary, and salt and pepper.

3. Arrange potatoes evenly in the bottom of a medium baking dish. Pour the olive oil mixture over the potatoes. Cover and bake 1 1/2 hours in the preheated oven, turning occasionally. Uncover and cook for another half hour, until potatoes are tender but firm.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Weekly Meal Planning


I'm cooking out of my cookbooks again this week -- well, for the most part. About half of this week's recipes are coming from my cookbooks, and that's good enough for me. For now. I will start getting more frantic about it as the end of the year approaches, just you wait and see.

There's a new addition to my meal plan this week -- a weekend breakfast category. For a while now Joe has been lamenting the fact that I never make him breakfast anymore, why don't I ever make him breakfast, he loves it when I make breakfast, whine whine whine. So I've promised him that I'll make a big family breakfast for us either Saturday or Sunday morning, depending on if we're going to church. I think this will be a nice tradition for our kids to grow up with, too. And given my strong love of breakfast food, I'm happy to do it.

Guess what this week's craving is? If you said "pesto," you'd be absolutely correct. I can't get enough of the stuff lately. (I may have eaten a spoonful straight from the jar last night. That's not a confession necessarily, I'm just saying: I may have done that.)

Monday -- Soup or Salad: Chorizo chicken spinach soup with roasted red pepper and manchego toasts. Rachael Ray calls this a "stoup," but I think that is a stupid (ha) made-up word and I refuse to use it. I am definitely excited to try this recipe, though, because every single word in the title makes my mouth water. Even though I was excited to try this, I didn't make it this week. The weather was beautiful Monday evening and I wanted to maximize our playing outside time with Andrew, so I opted for quick, no-cook chicken tender tortilla wraps and potato chips.

Tuesday -- Pasta: Chicken fajita pasta

Wednesday -- Grilling: Prosciutto pork kebabs, pesto macaroni salad (my own recipe, which I'm very excited to share with you)

Thursday -- Quick and Easy: Peach and bacon panini, pita chips Joe had his final softball game (the "tournament" round), so he wasn't home for dinner. He picked up some fast food on his way home -- not the healthiest choice, but it definitely fit the quick and easy requirement!

Friday -- Burgers and Fries: Buffalo chicken burgers (inspired by this recipe), ranch-style cole slaw with bacon (which I will probably pile right on top of my burger, because that's just who I am)

Saturday -- Regional or International: Tuscan-style grilled chicken sandwiches, leftover macaroni salad. I told you we'd be having these sandwiches again soon. Look for them on the menu probably, oh, every other week or so. THEY ARE THAT GOOD. Have you tried them yet?

Sunday -- Comfort Food: Italian sausage sandwiches with peppers and onions, baked zucchini fries with tomato coulis dipping sauce (we'll use the sauce for the sandwiches, too)

Weekend Breakfast: Provolone, pesto, and prosciutto quiche, fresh fruit

Baking: Snickers cookies, FINALLY. I've been dying to try these for a long time, pretty much ever since Donna posted her recipe. I'm also making mini chocolate chip cookie pies, because chocolate chip cookies are my new crack and Jessie's recipe sounds too simple and delicious to resist. Clearly I am taking advantage of the fact that I am pregnant and can eat as much as I want -- within reason, of course.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Burger and Fries Friday: Hawaiian Sliders with Pineapple Mayonnaise

This week's burger is one that I just sort of dreamed up. The idea came to me when I saw a package of those delicious Hawaiian rolls in the grocery store last week -- you know the ones I'm talking about, right? The sweet ones? I love those rolls, and I wanted to use them for some type of burger. A slider packed with Hawaiian flavors seemed like the perfect fit -- literally, as it turned out. These mini burgers were just the right size for the amazing rolls.

Joe and I both liked these a lot. The burgers are sweet and spicy at the same time, and I think the crunchy macadamia nuts and creamy pineapple mayo balance each other perfectly. Some cilantro would have been delicious in the mayo mixture; I may add that next time I make these. Amazingly, Joe, Andrew and I polished off 11 out of the 12 sliders this recipe makes. These little burgers are definitely packed with big flavor!

Hawaiian Sliders with Pineapple Mayonnaise
source: Cassie

1 pound ground pork
Half of a small green pepper, finely diced
Quarter of a small red onion, finely diced
1/2 tablespoon hamburger or steak seasoning
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon teriyaki sauce
1 tablespoon finely chopped macadamia nuts
1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Splash of pineapple juice

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/8 to 1/4 cup crushed pineapple
Salt and pepper to taste

1 package King's Hawaiian sweet rolls, split and toasted

1. In a large bowl, combine first nine ingredients. Separate burger mixture into four equal-sized sections, then separate each section into thirds to make 12 sliders. Cook over medium heat in a large skillet until cooked through.

2. Meanwhile, combine mayonnaise, crushed pineapple and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Chill until serving.

3. Place one slider on each roll bottom. Top with a dollop of pineapple mayonnaise, then the bun tops.

Taco Puffs

I almost didn't make these last night. On the way home from work I got a wicked craving for Kenutcky Fried Chicken, but at the last minute I decided to forge ahead with our original dinner plans and make these taco puffs. I'm really glad I did, because these were delicious! Joe liked them even more than I did -- these are absolutely his kind of food.

Because I am an airhead and also easily distracted, I completely forgot to add the cheese to the filling of the taco puffs. But no worries -- I just melted the cheese on top of the puffs for the last 5 minutes or so of cooking, and the cheese flavor was definitely still there. I'm excited to experiment with this method in the future -- by filling the puffs with sloppy joes, pizza toppings, etc. The possibilities are endless! These came together so quickly, and they were just yummy.

The recipe below reflects my changes (minus the whole cheese-on-top thing. If I make these again I'll try to remember to put the cheese inside). If you're using only one package of biscuits (which will make four taco puffs) you'll only use about half a pound of meat. I cooked up a full pound, though, just so we could have leftover beef for tacos for lunch today.

Taco Puffs
source: slightly adapted from Taste of Home Prize Winning Recipes; original recipe found here

1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chilies
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 tube (16.3 ounces) large refrigerated flaky biscuits
1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese

1. In a large skillet, cook beef, onion and chilies over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add the taco seasoning and prepare according to package directions. Cool slightly.

2. Flatten half of the biscuits into 4-inch circles; place on a greased cookie sheet. Spoon a small amount of the meat mixture onto each; sprinkle with shredded cheese. Flatten the remaining biscuits; place on top and pinch edges to seal tightly. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Peach-Glazed Pork Chops with Grilled Peaches

One of the ingredients I've been really into lately is peaches. I just can't get enough of them in any way, shape or form (see: this pie). So when I saw this recipe in one of my Cooking Light cookbooks, I knew I wanted to try it.

I made some changes to the recipe to fit my time-frame and lifestyle, so if you want the original recipe just click the link below. The original calls for fresh peaches to be stewed in white wine for 30 minutes, then pureed and used as a marinade for the pork for at least 30 additional minutes before grilling -- but I just don't have that kind of time on a weeknight. Besides, I don't really want my toddler eating something that's been cooked in white wine, even if the alcohol has cooked out. I'm just not that progressive. So I used a plastic jar of peaches and skipped the first step all together, and marinated the pork in the mixture for about 20 minutes. And I was still very pleased with the end result. The peach marinade made the pork sweet and incredibly juicy, and the grilled peach slices on top really bumped up the fruity flavor. These grilled pork chops were delicious and summery, and this is something I would definitely make again.

Peach-Glazed Pork Chops with Grilled Peaches
source: adapted from The Best of Cooking Light; original recipe can be viewed here

1 plastic jar yellow cling peaches
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
4 center-cut pork chops, trimmed
1 peach, pitted and quartered
Cooking spray

1. Combine peaches, salt and black pepper, vinegar, maple syrup, chili powder, paprika, and red pepper in a food processor or blender; pulse to combine. Place half of peach mixture in a large heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag; reserve other half for basting. Add chops to bag; seal bag and refrigerate at least 20 minutes (up to 4 hours).

2. Preheat grill.

3. Remove pork from bag; discard marinade. Sprinkle pork with salt and black pepper. Place pork and peach quarters on grill rack coated with cooking spray, and grill 10 minutes or until the pork is done and the peaches are tender, turning once. Baste pork and peach slices with the reserved peach mixture every 2 minutes during the first 6 minutes of cooking.

Creamy Bow Ties with Ham and Vegetables

Not a very exciting picture, huh? I should have topped the pasta with some parsley or chives or something, just for color. Regardless of how it looks, though, I think everyone needs a pasta dish like this in their "go-to dinner" arsenal: something that's quick and easy and made with readily available ingredients. This is one of those go-to pasta dishes for us. I've made it three or four times now, and it's simple and tasty and the perfect weeknight dinner. It would also be delicious with chicken. Andrew especially loves it (it has asparagus and carrots in it, two of his favorite things. He's a weird boy.) and Joe and I are big fans too. Not only is it quick and comforting, but it's also cheap: this recipe makes four servings, for much less than $10.00. Take that, Melissa d'Arabian!

Creamy Bow Ties with Ham and Vegetables
source: slightly adapted from Betty Crocker One-Dish Family Favorites

2 cups uncooked farfalle pasta
3/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup cream cheese with chive and onion
1 cup sliced carrots
8 ounces asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into thirds
1 1/2 cups cooked diced ham

1. Cook and drain pasta as directed on package.

2. While pasta is cooking, mix cream cheese and half-and-half in 12-inch nonstick skillet. Cook over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth.

3. Stir in carrots. Cook 4 minutes, stirring occasinally. Stir in asparagus. Cover and cook 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender.

4. Stir in ham and pasta until hot.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Cupcakes

I first saw these cupcakes on Denise's blog and I found myself practically drooling. And then I saw that the recipe comes from a cookbook I actually own, Martha Stewart's Cupcakes, and I knew that I had no excuse not to make these delicious little delights immediately. So that's exactly what I did.

These were sooooo good -- creamy, decadent, rich, and delicious. And addictive, too! I'd eaten three before I even knew what I was doing. Needless to say, they disappeared very quickly. They're so easy to throw together and bake up in no time, and they taste really special. Next time, I may try making them with peanut butter Oreos -- or even mint Oreos during the holidays. You're going to love these!


Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Cupcakes
source: Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

42 Oreos, 30 left whole, 12 coarsely chopped
2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

2. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Place one whole cookie in the bottom of each lined cup.

3. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat cream cheese until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Gradually add sugar, and beat until combined. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs, a bit at a time, beating to combine and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in sour cream and salt. Stir in chopped cookies by hand.

4. Divide batter evenly among cookie-filled cups, filling each almost to the top. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until filling is set, about 22 minutes.

5. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely. Refrigerate in tins at least 4 hours or up to overnight. Remove from tins just before serving.

Bavarian Pork Roast with Sour Cream Gravy

Typically when I make a pork roast in the Crock pot I do it only one way: I rub it with a seasoning blend, throw it in the slow cooker with some chopped carrots and potatoes, pour water over the whole mess, and let it cook all day long until it literally falls apart. And it is delicious, and one of my favorite meals. It will probably never be topped.

This Bavarian-style pork roast was quite delicious, though, and a nice change from our typical pork roast. I'm sort of indifferent to caraway -- I like rye bread as much as the next person, I guess -- but it's one of Joe's absolute favorite flavors. When I saw this roast, I wanted to give it a try because it sounded like something he'd really like. And he did really like it -- as a matter of fact, we all did. The roast was nice and tender with the perfect amount of seasoning. I served this with some green beans and sauerkraut-laced mashed potatoes, and it was a delicious, comforting meal.

The gravy, though -- it was a little strange, even for me, and I like sour cream in just about anything. The texture was sort of weird. If I were to make this again, I'd skip the gravy and drizzle the roast with the pan juices instead, then top the sliced pork with a nice dollop of sour cream. It would have the same effect as the gravy, and be much more pleasing texture-wise.

Bavarian Pork Roast with Sour Cream Gravy
source: Better Homes and Gardens

1 1 1/2- to 2-pound boneless pork shoulder roast
2 teaspoons caraway seed (I used about 1 1/2 teaspoons, which was plenty)
1 teaspoon dried marjoram, crushed
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil or cooking oil
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 8-ounce carton dairy sour cream or plain yogurt
4 teaspoons cornstarch

1. Trim fat from roast. If necessary, cut roast to fit into a 3-1/2- to 6-quart crockery cooker. Combine caraway seed, marjoram, salt, and pepper. Rub all over roast.


2. In a large skillet, brown pork roast on all sides in hot oil. Drain off fat. Place meat in crockery cooker. Add the water to skillet; bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring to loosen brown bits in bottom of skillet. Pour skillet juices and vinegar into crockery cooker.

3. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours. Remove meat from cooker; keep warm.

4. For gravy, skim fat from juices; measure 1-1/4 cups juices (add water, if necessary). Pour juices into a saucepan; bring to boiling. Combine sour cream or yogurt and cornstarch. Stir into juices. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Slice meat and serve with gravy.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tuscan-Style Grilled Chicken Sandwiches

Do you ever see a recipe and think to yourself, "Mmm, that sounds good, I think I'll give it a try." And you make it, and then it tastes SO MUCH BETTER THAN YOU EVER COULD HAVE IMAGINED? These sandwiches are that kind of food. Joe liked them so much he begged for me to make them again the next night. I liked them so much I actually posted a link to the recipe on Facebook. Seriously. We both liked them so much we almost cried over the SHEER JOY OF EATING THEM. You think I'm exaggerating, don't you? I promise, I'm not.

If I were to pinpoint one thing that made this such an awesome sandwich, I'd have to say it's the pesto mayonnaise. It worked so well with the rest of the flavors and tied them all together in a way that was just absolutely perfect. We will be having these sandwiches again soon, and we will be having them on a regular basis FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES. If I could reach through your computer screens and force you to try them, I would. But since I can't, I'll just assure you that if you do try them, I know you'll love them just as much as we did. We ate ours with a side of zucchini cakes, which were a quick and tasty accompaniment.

Tuscan-Style Grilled Chicken Sandwiches
source: Epicurious

1/4 cup mayonnaise
4 teaspoons prepared pesto
2 4x4-inch squares focaccia or ciabatta (I used a sweet Italian loaf, cut in half and sliced sub-style, and grilled)
2 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
Olive oil
4 thin slices fresh mozzarella (I used 6 thick slices, 3 per sandwich. I love my fresh mozzarella!)
2 canned artichoke hearts, drained, thinly sliced
1 plum tomato, thinly sliced
1 cup mixed baby greens (omitted)

1. Prepare grill (medium-high heat). Combine mayonnaise and pesto in small bowl; whisk to blend.

2. Brush chicken lightly with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill chicken until just cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to cutting board; cool slightly. Cut chicken on sharp diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices (I did this with Joe's sandwich, but I kept mine whole, which I would recommend because it keeps the juices in).

3. Spread pesto mayonnaise onto cut surfaces of bread. Layer chicken, mozzarella, artichokes, and tomato onto bottom halves. Top with bread tops.

Zucchini Cakes

Sunday evening I caught some kind of terrible, horrible, awful stomach bug, which is why things have been quiet around here so far this week. I am woefully behind on my posting, but it's really hard to write about food when the mere thought of food is enough to make you queasy, you know what I mean? (Possibly I'm the first food blogger to have ever uttered such a sentence.)

Anyway, I'd heard a lot of buzz about these zucchini cakes, and I was really excited to try them. Zucchini is in season right now and is readily available at our local farmer's market, and I thought these little cakes would be the perfect way to use up our abundance (I over-bought. I always over-buy). These were definitely good, although maybe not as good as I was expecting. I don't think I was as wowed by them as a lot of other people were.
Joe liked them a lot, though, so it's possible it was just me.

Don't get me wrong: These are a perfect, easy side dish, and I'll definitely make them again. They just didn't blow me away.

Pastor Ryan's Zucchini Cakes
source: The Pioneer Woman Cooks!

1 large zucchini
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil

1. Wash and cut the ends off of one large zucchini. Shred it using the large holes of a cheese grater. Squeeze the shredded zucchini inside a clean towel until you've removed as much of the liquid as possible.

2. Place shredded zucchini in a medium-sized bowl. Add garlic, breadcrumbs, cheese, eggs and salt and pepper to taste. Stir with a fork until well-mixed.

3. Add about 1/4-inch of olive oil to the bottom of a skillet. Heat to medium. When the oil is hot enough, drop zucchini batter by tablespoons and flatten a bit. After about 2 minutes, turn the cakes over and cook on the other side until done, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Weekly Meal Planning


Those of you reading this in a feed reader will have already seen this week's meal plan. I always plan a week in advance and keep the post in draft form, but I accidentally published it way early. So no surprises for you this week. Sorry about that! Me = airhead, more often than not.

ANYway. Waaaay back at the beginning of the year, I made a resolution, and that resolution was to cook one recipe from each of my cookbooks by the end of the year. Well, here we are in the middle of August, and I've only cooked out of a handful of them. I have a loooong way to go. So the majority of the recipes on our meal plan this week -- and probably for quite a few weeks to come -- will be from the cookbooks I haven't used yet.

My only excuse is that the internet is just such a wonderful and immediate source for delicious recipes. But cookbooks, like the internet, are a treasure trove of good eating, and to me there's something very calming about sitting back and paging through one looking for recipes. I'm looking forward to trying everything on the menu this week!


(Also, be sure to check in tomorrow for three or four new posts -- including the recipe for our new favorite sandwich and some delicious cheesecake cupcakes. I got a little behind on my posting last week.)

Monday -- Soup or Salad: Southwest chicken corn chowder, grilled pepper-Jack cheese sandwiches We were all suffering from a terrible stomach bug the day we were supposed to eat this soup, so I froze the whole batch to have at a later date -- that "later date" probably being soon after the baby comes home, and the very last thing in the world I feel like doing is cooking.


Tuesday -- Pasta: Creamy bow ties with ham and vegetables

Wednesday -- Grilling: Peach-glazed BBQ pork chops, grilled asparagus, some variation of foil packet potatoes

Thursday -- Quick and Easy: Taco puffs

Friday -- Burgers and Fries: Hawaiian sliders, steak fries

Saturday -- Regional or International: Chicken gyros, Greek-style potatoes

Sunday -- Comfort Food: Roast beef sandwiches topped with gravy and oven rings, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli. (Inspired by Diners, Drive-Ins and Drives. That show always makes me so damn hungry.)

Baking: Butterscotch blondies

Friday, August 14, 2009

Burger and Fries Friday: Sausage Burgers on English Muffin Buns

After a two-week hiatus, Burger and Fries Friday is back! This week's burger is actually the one I'd planned to make last week but didn't due to other plans. But it sounded so good that I just had to move it to this week's menu.

Don't let the appearance deceive you: This burger may look simple, but it's very flavorful and oh-so-juicy. When I initially tasted the sauce before adding it to the pan with the burgers, I was skeptical of the amount of soy sauce. The soy sauce was overwhelming before it cooked, but after the sauce cooked down the flavor concentrated and it was absolutely perfect. An English muffin is the perfect bread choice for this burger, too, since the burger is kind of breakfast-y, and also because the English muffin has lots of nooks and crannies to soak up the flavorful sauce. I have yet to try a "bad" burger from Rachael Ray. Joe and I both really liked this burger, and it's one I will definitely make again!

Sausage Burgers on English Muffin Buns
Source: slightly adapted from Rachael Ray

1 pounds ground pork
1 teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar or maple syrup
4 slices sharp cheddar cheese
4 sandwich-size English muffins, regular or whole grain, toasted

1. Pre-heat the broiler.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground pork with the ground sage, thyme and cayenne pepper. Mix well with your hands, then form the meat into four equal-size patties.

3. Pre-heat a large skillet with the olive oil over medium heat. Sear the patties on both sides, then add the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and brown sugar to the skillet and let the mixture cook down until it coats the burgers and becomes saucy, about 5 or 6 minutes.

4. Place the English muffin halves on a baking sheet and pop them under the broiler to toast.

5. Place a piece of cheddar cheese on top of each burger to melt. Serve the burgers on the toasted English muffins topped with a spoonful of the sauce.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mozzarella-Studded Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

When I was planning our menu last week, I realized we hadn't had spaghetti in quite a long time, and that was just unacceptable. We're simple people, and spaghetti and meatballs is one of our favorite meals to eat. I knew I had to put it on the menu this week, but I also wanted to get a little bit creative. Typically I make my meatballs with hot Italian sausage, but since Andrew can't handle really spicy foods quite yet, I wanted to find an alternative. I could have made these again (which are delicious), but then I saw this post from Cake, Batter, and Bowl and a lightbulb went on. Chicken parmesan meatballs! What an ingenious idea.

I took my inspiration from the post I linked to above, but I did my own thing with the recipe. I just winged it, and we all absolutely loved how these turned out. These meatballs taste exactly like little servings of chicken parm. I was initially going to put a small piece of mozzarella cheese in the center of each meatball, but to save time I opted to mix the mozzarella directly into the meatball mixture. I used about 3 pieces of chopped string cheese (I know, I know, but Andrew loves it and we always have it in the house), but you could also used chopped fresh mozzarella or shredded cheese. This is a very versatile recipe, and these meatballs are beyond delicious. They were the perfect topping for our spaghetti!

Mozzarella-Studded Chicken Parmesan Meatballs
source: inspired by Cake, Batter, and Bowl

1 pound ground chicken breast
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped or shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs, divided
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, divided

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened.

3. Add cooked onion and garlic, ground chicken, parsley, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese to a large bowl. Mix just until combined. Shape into balls.

4. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese. Heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the same large skillet used for the onion and garlic. Roll the meatballs in the breadcrumb and parmesan cheese mixture.

5. Add meatballs to skillet and cook in batches until all sides are well-browned, adding more olive oil as necessary. Transfer meatballs to a cookie sheet and finish baking in the oven, 7 to 10 minutes, depending on the size of the meatballs.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ultimate Creamed Corn

I'm not going to lie: I love creamed corn out of the can. Warmed up with a little bit of butter, some salt, and a generous sprinkling of pepper, it makes me a very happy girl. I have definitely been known to indulge.

But last summer, I was browsing through cookbooks and found a recipe for homemade creamed corn that sounded too good not to try. (It contained cream cheese. You know how much I love that stuff. I couldn't pass up the opportunity.) I did some tweaking to the recipe, and this has been our family's favorite creamed corn recipe ever since. I made it for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, and everyone commented on how delicious it was. It's impossibly rich and creamy and buttery and it makes a perfect, decadent side dish for any home-cooked meal. I'm sorry for keeping this one from you for so long!

Ultimate Creamed Corn
source: adapted from Betty Crocker's Annual Recipes 2009

1 16-ounce package frozen whole kernel corn
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Green onions, thinly sliced

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Pour corn into an ungreased baking dish. Top with dollops of cream cheese.

3. Combine milk, butter, sugar, salt and pepper; pour over corn and cream cheese.

4. Bake, uncovered, 30 to 45 minutes, stirring frequently, until corn is creamy and heated through. Top with sliced green onions, if desired.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sour Cream Peach Pecan Pie

Out of all the cooking magazines I subscribe to (and oh, there are many), the one I've been getting the longest is Taste of Home. I have about a million Taste of Home cookbooks, too. But lately I've been thinking that it may be time to let my subscription lapse. The recipes have begun to lose their appeal for me. That is -- until I received the current issue in the mail. As soon as I saw this pie, I knew I had to make it. As soon as I possibly could. And man, am I ever glad I did!

This pie is a-mazing. It takes advantage of juicy ripe summer peaches (using fresh peaches is a must!) and combines them with a creamy, tangy, custardy filling and a sweet, buttery, crispy topping. What more could you possibly ask for in a summer dessert?
Not a thing!

If you get a chance this summer, you should definitely try this pie. I really don't think you'll be disappointed!

Sour Cream Peach Pecan Pie
source: Taste of Home Magazine, August/September 2009

For the pie:

Pastry for single-crust pie (9 inches)
4 cups sliced peeled peaches
2 tablespoons peach preserves (ommited, and really not necessary in the first place. Ripe peaches have plenty of juice and the pie has enough sugar in it.)
1 cup sugar
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the topping:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons chopped pecans
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup cold butter

1. Line a 9-inch pie plate with pastry; trim and flute edges.

2. Combine peaches and preserves (if using). Transfer to pastry. In a small bowl, whisk the sugar, sour cream, egg yolks, flour and vanilla. Pour over peaches.

3. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the flour, sugars, pecans and cinnamon. Cut in butter until crumbly; sprinkle over pie. Cover edges of crust with foil to prevent overbrowning.

4. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean and topping is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Store in the refrigerator.

BBQ-Stuffed Baked Potatoes

I've seen this idea popping up in a lot of cookbooks and on quite a few websites recently, and given my current continuing obsession with all things barbecue, I was drawn to it. I'd never considered topping baked potatoes with barbecued meat before, but as soon as I saw this recipe I thought to myself, "Of course. What a perfect pairing."

And it really is a perfect pairing. And so easy! This recipe uses prepared store-bought shredded barbecue chicken, something I'd never tried before. I used Lloyds, and I gotta say, I was really impressed with the flavor. You could also used leftover shredded meat (barbecued beef, pork, or chicken would all be delicious) or pick up some take-out from your favorite barbecue place. This was a hearty, delicious, and oh-so-simple dinner for us last week.

BBQ-Stuffed Baked Potatoes
source: slightly adapted from Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast

4 baking potatoes
1 1/3 cups shredded BBQ chicken
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
2 green onions, finely chopped

1. Pierce potatoes with a fork; arrange on paper towels in a microwave oven. Microwave on high for 10 minutes or until done, rearranging potatoes halfway through. Remove from microwave and let cool slightly.

2. Heat chicken in microwave according to package directions.

3. Slice potatoes lengthwise and fluff with fork. Top each potato evenly with chicken, cheese, sour cream, and green onions.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Weekly Meal Planning


Monday -- Soup or Salad: Pineapple chili, cheesy pineapple cornbread muffins. I've been taking some liberties with my categories lately -- does chili count as soup? What do you think? Probably not, but regardless, that's what we're having tomorrow night. Ever since Jessie first posted this recipe, this meal has been a quick and easy favorite in our house. I think the cheesy, pineapple-y cornbread is the perfect accompaniment.

Tuesday -- Pasta: Spaghetti with mozzarella-stuffed chicken parmesan meatballs (inspired by this recipe)

Wednesday -- Grilling: Ribeye steaks with sweet onion relish, mashed potato cakes, garlic toast

Thursday -- Quick and Easy: Tuscan chicken sandwiches, zucchini cakes

Friday -- Burgers and Fries: Sausage burgers on English muffin buns, hashbrowns. A carry-over from last week. I know, I know, it's been two weeks since I wrote a Burger and Fries Friday post. I've been slacking, but I promise it will be back this week!

Saturday -- Regional or International: Bavarian pork roast with sour cream gravy, mashed potatoes with sauerkraut, green beans

Sunday -- Comfort Food: Delivery pizza. Sometimes there is nothing more comforting than not having to cook at all, so I'm giving myself a little break.

Baking: Cookies and cream cheesecake cupcakes

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Pepper Jelly-Glazed Chicken with Corn and Zucchini

One of my favorite, simple appetizers for parties -- and one of my favorite snacks to eat myself -- is crackers dipped in softened cream cheese topped with red pepper jelly. So when I saw this recipe combining pepper jelly and cream cheese with some of my other favorite things, I was immediately drawn to it.

The chicken was good, but not great. I think it would have been better if I'd used our outdoor grill, but we didn't feel like firing it up last night so I cooked this inside. The glaze wasn't quite as flavorful as I was hoping for. The vegetables, though -- they were incredible! I opted to use flat-leaf parsley instead of cilantro (cilantro, usually one of my favorite things, doesn't seem to like me too much lately), and it was delicious. I actually think the vegetables would have been just as good without the cream cheese.

I probably won't make the chicken again -- or I'll tweak the glaze to make it more flavorful -- but I already know that the vegetables are going to become one of my favorite summer sides.

Pepper Jelly-Glazed Chicken with Corn and Zucchini
source: adapted from Epicurious

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
1 large zucchini
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Half of a red onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
2 tablespoons red pepper jelly
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 pounds chicken cutlets
2 tablespoons cream cheese

1. Halve tomatoes and cut zucchini into 1/2-inch pieces. In a heavy skillet cook onion in oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, corn, and salt and pepper to taste and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until zucchini is tender, 25 to 30 minutes.

2. While corn mixture is simmering, prepare chicken. In a small saucepan melt jelly over moderate heat, stirring, and remove pan from heat. Stir in lemon juice and chili powder and divide jelly mixture between 2 small bowls (to prevent the potential contamination caused by uncooked meat juices). Pat chicken dry and brush with jelly mixture from 1 bowl. Season chicken with salt and pepper and grill on an indoor or outdoor grill just until cooked through, about 4 minutes on each side. With a clean brush, coat chicken with jelly mixture from other bowl.

3. Stir cream cheese into corn mixture until melted. Stir in parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Serve corn mixture topped with chicken.