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Monday, January 28, 2013

Oven Baked Tacos

Partnered with Mexican Rice

I LOVE TACOS! If I can find a new way to make those scrumptious little meat filled crispy shells, I am trying it. When I found a recipe by way of the Mommy I'm Hungry food blog, it was going on the Blackburn's menu! What I loved most about this recipe is that there are refried beans mixed into the meat mixture, as well as diced chiles to give it a little extra kick! Although my family did notice the decrease in the salt from the traditionally commercial packaged taco seasoning, they loved the flavors.

Just to give a heads up, the recipe below makes 24 tacos. I made them in 2 batches to ensure the crunchiness of the taco shells. Nothing worse than a soggy hard taco shell!

So, here we go!

TACO SEASONING Ingredients:

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

In a small bowl, mix all together and set aside.

Then do this!

2 lbs LEAN ground beef
1 small onion diced
1 small can diced green chilies
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (16 ounce) can  refried beans
2 cups shredded Co-jack or Mexican Blend cheese
2 packages (12 each) hard taco shells





Garnishes:
Lettuce
Diced Tomato
Salsa or Salsa Verde
Sour Cream
Additional shredded cheese


1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

2) In a large skillet brown ground beef and onion over medium-high heat. Drain off any excess liquid. Return to pan, add chilies, refried beans, tomato sauce, and taco seasoning. Mix well and simmer for about 15 minutes. Mixture should not be runny.




3) Spoon the taco meat mixture into the taco shells and place into a 10x15 pan. I used my lasagna pan. Tacos need to stand upright. Sprinkle cheese over the top of the taco meat in each shell.



4) Place into the oven and bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Don't let cook too long otherwise the shells will burn. Never a good thing! Garnish as desired!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

CopyKat's Biltmore Estate Chicken Breasts Over Blue Cheese Rigatoni



Creamy blue cheese sauce and a lightly fried chicken breast pair together beautifully in this pasta dish which was "recreated" by Stephanie Manley with Copykat Recipes and was originally on the menu at the Biltmore Hotel. Our son, who isn't a fan of blue cheese even had seconds on this scrumptious dish.

Although there wasn't a scrap of food left from this meal, I think if I had to make any changes to this dish, I might choose to use a thin cut chicken breast versus the "full sized" version. In her original recipe, Stephanie called for 4-6 oz chicken breasts and I think the smaller breast or even smaller, would have fit beautifully into this recipe. I found that the larger chicken breasts weighed down the dish to much. Another choice, especially as I am changing my eating habits, is that I might make is to grill the breast after marinading it in and not fry it at all. In my opinion, the heaviness of the fried chicken added to the heaviness of the dish and somewhat detracted from a spectacular blue cheese pasta.

Serve with a side salad, french bread and, of course, either a Riesling or a Chardonnay for a perfectly rounded out meal.

So, here we go! :

Ingredients:

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
4 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
12 ounces rigatoni
1/3 cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced parsley for garnish, if desired

Directions (copied from CopyKat Biltmore Chicken Cooking Directions):

TO MARINATE CHICKEN: Lightly pound each chicken breast between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. In a glass or porcelain dish, combine the lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of the oil and 1 teaspoon of the garlic and season with salt and pepper to taste. Marinate the chicken in this mixture, covered, in the refrigerator, for not more than 2 hours.

TO MAKE SAUCE: In a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onion and remaining teaspoon of garlic and cook stirring, over low heat, for 5 minutes or until the onion is tender. Add the cream and bring to a boil, add the sage and parsley and remove from the heat. Set aside until later.

TO MAKE PASTA AND COOK CHICKEN: In a stock pot, bring 3 quarts of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta for about 12 minutes or according to directions on the box. Meanwhile remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry. Dip the chicken lightly in the seasoned flour on both sides. In a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook the chicken for about 5 minutes per side or until completely cooked through. Remove the chicken to a plate and loosely cover with foil, keep warm. Add the white wine to the skillet and boil, stirring with a wooden spoon until there are only 2 tablespoons of liquid in the pan. Add the reserved cream mixture and bring to a boil, add the Blue Cheese and Parmesan cheeses and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.

TO ASSEMBLE DISH: Drain the pasta and return it to the cooking pan, add the sauce and toss until well combined. Divide the pasta between 4 dishes and top each portion with chicken. Garnish the chicken with minced parsley and serve immediately.

CopyKat's Taco Bell Tacos

Adapted: Stephanie Manley (CopyKat Recipes)

I swear, as I get older, I am disliking the taste of salt more and more. One of my favorite "recipiers" is Stephanie Manley with CopyKat Recipes. When I came across her recipe for Taco Bell Tacos that didn't use the standard high salt taco mix, I knew I wanted to give it a taste.

Now, I will tell you that my family didn't think these tacos tasted like Taco Bell tacos. I will tell you that we loved the seasoning of these tacos. They were definitely less salty which allowed the other flavors to really come out. As the "dampness" of the meat is very important, I intentionally didn't photograph these filled so that you could see how the meat turned out.

So, here we go!:

Meat Mixture:

1 1/3 pounds lean ground beef
1 1/2 tablespoons masa corn flour
4 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon instant minced onion
1/2 teaspoon beef bouillon

1 Package Taco Shells
Taco fixins of preference: tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, sour cream, salsa

Directions: 

1) Mix together all SPICE ingredients and blend well. 

2) Crumble ground beef and brown stirring well. Remove from heat, rinse with hot water and drain water and grease from beef. 

3)  Return beef to the pan and add spice mix. Add 3/4 - 1 cup water to ground beef and seasoning and simmer on medium low temperature for 20 minutes. 

4) VERY IMPORTANT!!!!! Simmer until most of moisture has cooked away. Remove from heat when moisture in meat as dissipated but meat is not dry. The meat should be "damp".

5) Garnish as desired 

Mocha Crumble Bars






Every month, I attend my library's live book club and bring the treats for the meeting. It gives me the opportunity to not only try out new recipes on someone other than family and close friends, but also to give treats to some of my favorite people in the world...my library's staff! It is just a little bonus way for me to let them know how much I appreciate them and how they take care of my addiction to books!

I came across these mocha crumbe bars on Food.com and had never made anything similar to it and figured it would be good to try something new on these guys. The feedback that I got from the group was that they loved them. They were chowing them down and were clearly a favorite to the other treats I had brought.

So, here we go!:

Ingredients:


1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 eggs
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
2 cups quick oats
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
1 (14 ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon instant coffee 

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350°F Line a 15x10x1-inch baking pan with foil. 

2) In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer set on high speed, beat butter and brown sugar until light and creamy. On medium speed, beat in egg. 

3) In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. 

4) Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture and mix until dough is smooth. Stir in oats and walnuts. 

5) Reserve 1 cup dough for topping. Press remaining dough into bottom of prepared pan. 

6) In a medium saucepan, heat 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, condensed milk, instant coffee and remaining cinnamon over medium heat; stir until smooth. 

7) Spread mixture evenly over the dough in the pan, smoothing the surface with a spatula; crumble reserved dough on the top. 

8) Sprinkle with the remaining chocolate chips. Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. Lift foil to remove from pan; cut into 2-inch bars.
 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

100 Easy Recipes in Jars by Bonnie Scott





Book: 100 Easy Recipes in Jars 
 
Author: Bonnie Scott
 
Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: The author lays out 100 different "jar" recipes ranging from drinks to cookies that are perfect for holiday giving! 
 
My rating: 5 Stars
 
My opinion: I love when I get great cookbooks for free on Kindle. This was one of those cookbooks. The author laid out the recipes beautifully, as well as the preparation to be printed onto the bottles. To boot, she had some unusual recipes, particularly in the cookie section. Each recipe had a picture that was included, some with several steps so even the most novice baker can put them together. Second, she gave very specific directions, as well as tips/tidbits for constructing the jars so that they look very professional. I also loved the fact that there is a website for printing of labels and such. Everything about this book was well thought out. As someone who is no longer buying commercial gifts but giving homemade goodies, this fit in perfectly to my plans.

 
Source:  Amazon
      
Would I recommend? : Yes. Although I was able to download this book for free, this is one I would gladly pay for.
 
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Slow Cooker Posole



Adapted: Allrecipes

A wonderful Mexican pork stew, this dish was superb in its' flavors.  This was the first time I ever had this dish and it definitely will not be the last. 

I liked this dish because, although it was considered a stew, it had the consistency of a soup. Furthermore, it had some spiciness to it, but wasn't overpowering for my husband, who doesn't like his food to spicy.

Be sure to serve with lime wedges. The lime really makes the stew pop!

So, here we go!: 

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 (2 pound) boneless pork loin roast, cut
into 1-inch cubes
2 (14.5 ounce) cans enchilada sauce
2 (15.5 ounce) cans white hominy,
drained
1 onion, sliced
1 can green diced chilies
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 quarts chicken broth
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
Directions: 
1) Heat the canola oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the pork; cook and stir just until meat is browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.

2) Place the meat in a 4 quart slow cooker. Pour the enchilada sauce over the meat. Top with the hominy, onion, chilies, garlic, cayenne pepper, and oregano. Pour in enough chicken broth/water to fill the slow cooker.

3) Cover, and cook on High for 6 to 7 hours. Stir in the cilantro and salt. Cook on Low for 30 minutes more.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Paula Deen's Farmer's Pork Chops





So everyone knows, I am a huge fan of Paula Deen. Her food screams down to earth goodness. This is a one dish casserole that is just the epitome simple comfort food. Now, it did take a bit more time to prepare, but was worth every second of it. The sauce was creamy and the potatoes were perfect. I skimmed down the meat and potatoes a little bit due to the size of my family and it slimmed down beautifully.

Due to the time involved, which was about 2 to 2.5 hours from start to table, I wouldn't do it again unless it was an weekend meal, but am very happy that I had a chance to taste this. Even my husband who isn't a pork chop fan had several pork chops.


Ingredients:


8 Pork Chops, about 1/2 inch thick
8 medium potatoes
1/2 medium onion
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons Paula Deen’s Revamped Seasoned Salt (see my favorite seasonings)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
Paula Deen’s white sauce 

Paula Deen’s White Sauce

8 tablespoons (1 stick) of butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or chives
 1 to 2 teaspoons salt
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon pepper

1) Preheat oven to 350 degree F.
2) Peel potatoes; slice 1/4 inch thick and cover with cold water. Slice onion into very thin slices, and then cut the slices in half. Drain potatoes.
3) Layer half the potatoes in a well-greased 15x10 inch casserole dish. Scatter half of the onion slices on top of potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Repeat with remaining potatoes and onions. Cover potatoes with white sauce. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes.
4) Sprinkled seasoned salt on pork chops and dredge chops in flour mixture. Lightly brown chops, do not cook thoroughly, in vegetable oil. As chops are removed from frying pan, lay them on top of potatoes. 5) Bake at 350 degrees F for 50 to 60 minutes. The juices from the pork chops will drip down into the potatoes.

White Sauce

1) Melt butter; remove from heat. Stir in flour; add salt and pepper.
2) Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is bubbly.
3)  Add milk, 1 cup at a time. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer 1 to 2 minutes, then let stand at least 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in parsley or chives, if desired.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Deen Brothers Bloody Mary Cocktails


Adapted: The Deen Brothers

I am not a fan of the Bloody Mary cocktail. It is too heavy and strong for me. The Deen boy's Bloody Mary is totally different for me. It is much lighter than ones I have had before. It has lime in it which lightens it up beautifully!

Like all Bloody Mary cocktails, the bonus is how it is garnished. We love blue cheese olives, beef sticks and green onions. Other ideas include celery stalks, olives, cheese cubes, shrimp. These really are little meals in a glass! A celery salt rimmer with lime juice to wet the rim is a must!

So here we go!: 

Ingredients:

3 cups tomato juice
3/4 cup vodka
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons hot sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon onion salt
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
Garnishes (see above)

Directions:

In a pitcher, mix together all the ingredients except garnishes. Pour into glasses over ice. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Jalapeno Popper Cups

Adapted: Allrecipes.com

These bad boys are standard sofa tailgating fare. I get constant requests for them which I love because they have all the goodness of Jalapeno Poppers without the drudgery!

Be sure to grab the mini phyllo shells that are in with the phyillo sheets. These whip together in no time whatsoever. I always double and triple the recipe.

So, here we go!:

Ingredients:


1 Package mini phyllo tart shells
4 oz softened cream cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
1 T. hot sauce
bacon bits

Directions:
1) Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place phyllo cups onto a baking sheet.

2) Stir together cream cheese, Cheddar cheese, jalapenos, and hot sauce in a bowl. Spoon mixture into phyllo cups. Sprinkle bacon bits on top. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve warm.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Hoisin Glazed Cornish Hens



I am a fan of Chef Aaron McCargo. He has a show on Food Network called Big Daddy's House. Chef McCargo does some great pub style food and drink recipes on this show. The recipes are just down right FUN!

When I was shuffling around his site and came across this one, it SCREAMED sofa tailgating. It was a winner. It was simple to make and my boys ate every bite. A bonus, The Bears won that day. It will be a staple on my menu when I am looking for something interesting for dinner. I partnered it with a fried rice recipe, but was unhappy with that recipe and will not go back to that one. It didn't detract from the tastiness of the Hoisin Glazed Cornish Hens! Don't believe me? This recipe has a 5 star rating AFTER 47 REVIEWS

Now, I like a crispy crust and shook the hens in some cornstarch before deep frying it. I think it did a lil' somethin' for it!

So, here we go!:

Ingredients:

2 Cornish Hens
Canola Oil (for deep frying)
1/2 cup corn starch in a Ziploc bag
1/2 cup hoisin
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup green onion, sliced

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut hens in half and shake in cornstarch.


2) In a deep fryer, fill the pot by 2/3 of the way. Heat the oil to 350 degrees F.

3) Add the hen slowly to the oil and fry for 15 minutes until golden brown or your hen has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

4) Remove the hen from the oil and drain on a paper towel.


5) Whisk together the hoisin, honey , red pepper flakes, and the green onion. Brush mixture over the cooked hen on both sides and reserve the extra sauce for dipping.


6) Place in oven for about 10 minutes. Flip over and brush reserved sauce on flipped side. Place in oven for another 10 minutes.



 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Stephanie O'Dea's Crock Pot Acorn Squash


adapted: Stephanie O'Dea

One of my crock pot "go to girls" is Stephanie O'Dea. I own both of her crock pot cookbooks, Make It Fast,Cook it Slow and More Make It Fast, Cook It Slow. I use both regularly in my crock pot cooking. I am also a big fan of those considered to be in the squash family. When I found this in one of the cookbooks, it was a matter of time before I made it.

Now, she said to quarter the squash, but I like mine cut in half. First, it soaks in the butter/sugar mixture so the flavor just explodes when it is bitten into. Second, my husband and I are the only ones to eat the squash so I like the presentation better.

On a final note, Stephanie uses salt in her recipe. I am trying to cut salt in my family's cooking, so I omitted it. I couldn't tell the difference. 

So, here we go!

Ingredients:

acorn squash  
2 T brown sugar  
2 T butter  
2 tsp cinnamon
Directions.





1) Cut the squash in half, and scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp.
 
2) Put 1 T of butter, 1T of brown sugar and 1 t. into each half.  Place the pieces into your crock pot. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours, or low for about 3. The squash is finished when it is fork tender and peels away from the skin easily.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Chile Relleno Casserole

Top View




Side View





Like tamales, I had heard of Chile Rellano all the time, but was intimidated to prepare them, particularly as it related to the charring of the Anaheim peppers. I can't believe what I missed out on. This dish is fantastic and simple!

When this popped up on Pinterest, for some reason, I felt ready to wade in. Originally published at TeenieCakes. Cristina did a SPECTACULAR job of laying it out step by step. I knew I was ready to go. Now, I will admit that I was kind of lazy and switched out a couple of things. I think it worked fine.

I have linked this post to her blog so that both directions can be referred to if questions pop up. Her pictures are beautiful and educational.

So, here we go!

Ingredients:

8-10 Anaheim peppers, charred and cleaned

Sauce:

1 T. Olive Oil
1/3 c. diced onion
1 can (28 oz) CRUSHED tomatoes
salt and pepper, to taste

Eggs:

6 eggs separated
1.5 cups low-fat milk
6 T. flour
salt and pepper, to taste

1 package (4.5 cups) Mexican blend or Co-jack cheese
Cojita Cheese (optional)

Directions:

1) If not done, char peppers. This is so easy with a gas stove. Simply place the pepper over the flame and turn as it is browning. One thing I noted is to put aluminum foil around the burner ANY time I do this in the future. As you can see, the peppers will leak juice while cooking and led to a HUGE clean up job for me! Place the cooked peppers in a Ziploc bag for 1 hour. Clean the burnt part off the pepper in the sink. Remember to take out the seeds and stems. Again, a huge mess so be prepared!


Mine aren't as pretty as Christina's

2) In a sauce pan, saute the onions in the olive oil until transparent. Add the crushed tomatoes, salt and pepper. Simmer 15-20 minutes.





3) Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Liberally spray a 9x13 pan. Line pan with half the peppers. Then, half the cheese. Repeat layers.

4) Beat egg whites until they form into stiff peaks. Mix together milk, egg yolks, flour, salt and pepper. Blend this mixture with the egg whites.

5) Pour all over the pepper/cheese layers. Bake in oven for 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown.





6) Pour tomato sauce over the eggs and return to the oven to bake for another 30 minutes.

7) Sprinkle with Cojita cheese, if desired. I served with corn on the cob and Mexican Rice




.





Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tuscan Garlic Chicken

adapted: melskitchencafe.com

One guess where I found this dynamic, restaurant quality dish. If you guessed Pinterest, you are dead on. This dish has all the flavor that it looks like in its' picture. It is jam packed with a spinach, red bell pepper cheese sauce that I served with lemon wedges not included in the original recipe. I increased the spinach to a full bag because I love spinach so much. I was concerned about having a problem but none were to be found. I made this a couple of months ago, but my mouth still waters thinking about it!

I did make some changes from the original recipe. First, I used thin cut chicken breasts when the original called for regular b/s chicken breasts. This took out one of the cooking steps which was necessary to finish the cooking in the oven. Second, I didn't wipe out the pan after frying the chicken in it. There is some tasty oil/drippings that I wanted incorporated into the sauce.

Now, it did take a bit more time to prepare, but it was worth every second! I did do a thinner cut of chicken breast than what was noted in the first recipe and I think that really helped with the sauce to chicken ratio.

So, here we go!:

Ingredients (4 servings):
 3/4 cup flour
1/2 T. salt
1 t. pepper
1/2 t. dried basil
1/2 t. dried oregano
8 THIN CUT b/s chicken breasts
5 T. olive oil, DIVIDED
1 T. jarred garlic
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup LOW SODIUM chicken broth (very important otherwise too salty!)
1 package baby spinach
1/2 cup HEAVY cream
2 t. cornstarch
1 cup lowfat milk
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 pound fettuccine
Lemon wedges, optional

Directions:

1) In a Ziploc bag, combine flour salt, pepper, basil and oregano. Shake each piece of chicken until well coated. Get water started for your fettuccine.

2) In a large skillet, heat 3 T. olive oil over medium heat until oil is hot and shimmering. Place the chicken breast in the pan and fry 3-4 minutes each side. Do not move chicken in pan until it is time to flip it. The coating will fall off if you do. Once fried, move the chicken to a 9x13 pan and allow to continue to warm in a preheated 170 degree oven.

3) Prepare fettuccini according to package directions. Whisk together cornstarch and cream.

4) Add remaining 2 T. of olive oil to frying pan. When hot, add garlic and bell pepper. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Stir in 1 T. flour and stir constantly. Add the chicken broth and switch to a low simmer while whisking constantly. This will thicken within 3-4 minutes.

5) Add cream/cornstarch mixture, milk and spinach to the pan. Continue stirring and let this simmer. Once the spinach has wilted and the sauce has thickened, add the Parmesan cheese.

6) The original recipe calls for mixing some of the sauce with the fettuccine. I did not do this and simply spooned it over the bed of fettuccine and 2 of the chicken breasts. I thought it photographed prettier that way. It is up to you how to serve it. Have lemon wedges to pass, if desired.

Serve immediately with a salad and bread sticks!


Cookbook Review: Madhouse Cookbook by Jo Pratt





Book: Madhouse Cookbook
 
Author: Jo Pratt
 
Release date (if applicable):February 28, 2013

Synopsis: A collection of healthy, family friendly, simple to prepare recipes. Recipes range from appetizers to desserts. For the big kids, alcoholic drinks included. 

Jo includes plan ahead ideas, tips on menu planning and shopping. 
 
My rating: 3 Stars
 
My opinion: I have to be honest and say I found a large handful of recipes that I felt would not be kid friendly in this book. Having raised a son, there are recipes included that I know I couldn't have gotten him to eat even if I had tied him down and force fed him. This included recipes based with  lamb, pork belly or curry based recipes. Now, this author is British, so eating habits are a tad different, but speaking to a number of American parents/grandparents of young kids, they confirmed what I had gone into this review with.  To be honest, there were a couple of recipes in there that I wouldn't have eaten and I consider myself pretty open, but with a large handful of the recipes being lamb based, I don't eat lamb and felt the author focused too much on this meat. 

Because a chunk of the recipes are Middle Eastern based, I think there are a large number of ingredients that might be difficult for a cook to find unless one lives in a large urban area. These include galangal, lemon grass stalk and kaffir lime leaves. 

Finally, when I review a cookbook, I place it on my computer for optimal viewing. One thing that I am really particular about is photograph quality. What really stood out to me was that the photographs were highly pixelated and blurry.

On that note, she had some rockin' recipes in there, particularly in the dessert area, that really saved the cookbook for me. 
 
Source: Netgalley for Publisher       

Would I recommend? : I am on the fence with this one. I would encourage you to check it out at your library before purchasing it. 
 
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Simply Great Chicken (and it's cheap too!)

Sorry for the shadows...it is that time of the year!

Rummaging around Pinterest, I came across this recipe that seemed so gross with its' ingredients that I knew it had to be good. I jumped at trying it because I saw it as another way to serve the chicken thighs I love.

I didn't realize how much I would enjoy this recipe. The 3 ingredients combined together really do work and work well! There was a tangy sweet to the chicken. Plus, it is cheap! I serve it over a bed of rice with some of the drippings spooned over it and with a nice veggie.

On a side note, I did double Italian dressing mix and brown sugar. I really wanted a nice sauce and coating and felt that the original numbers looked kind of anemic to cover all the chicken. I am happy I did.

So, kudos to Food for a Hungry Soul blog for posting this delightful recipe! It is definitely a keeper on those hectic nights!

So, here we go!:

Ingredients:

3 lbs Bone In/Skin On Chicken Thighs
2 Packages Dry Italian Dressing Mix (such as Good Seasonings)
1 cup Brown Sugar

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. LINE A 9x13 PAN WITH ALUMINUM FOIL! Trust me on this one...the sugar caramelizes! Spray with non-stick cooking spray.

2) Combine dressing and brown sugar in a Ziploc bag.

3) Rinse and dry chicken.

4) Shake chicken in mixture and place in pan.

5) Bake for one hour.

Dinner is done! I told you it was simple.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Crock Pot Chicken and Biscuits


I love Chicken and Biscuits as a comfort food. Make it in the crock pot and I love it even more. I can't remember where I found the original recipe which I tweaked to my liking. I think a family member had given me the original recipe, but it has definitely been a keeper.

The chicken and veggies cook all day long and then I simply throw on some Bisquick drop biscuits to wrap up the meal.You want to make it easier, simply use the biscuits that you find in the refrigerator. I don't like the taste of those as much as the Bisquick ones though. It is such pure comfort food and filling. I never have any left! While the biscuits bake, I shred the chicken. Dinner is served! Periodically, I will serve it with a salad, but even that gets to be too much.

So, here we go!:

Ingredients:

3 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
30 baby carrots, cut into chunks
8 celery stalks, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 chicken bouillon cubes
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 (14 oz) can chicken broth
1 T. Herbes de Provence
1/4 cup cooking sherry
1 batch Bisquick drop biscuits or refrigerator biscuits

Directions:

1) Place first 4 ingredients in a crock pot.

2) In a mixing bowl, combine the next 5 ingredients and pour over ingredients in crock pot. Cook on low for 8 hours.

3) When ready to serve, prepare biscuits. Shred chicken and return to crock. Stir. Ladle chicken over biscuits.




Tomato Cream Sauce






Adapted: Allrecipes.com

I found these wonderful chicken/mozzarella/spinach sausages at Jewel Foods where I shop. I wanted to make a lighter pasta to go with them that didn't mask the taste of the sausage. I knew a heavy tomato based sauce would kill it and with a bit of searching, found a recipe on Allrecipes.

It is a creamy sauce with a light tomato flavor. Because of the amount of the sauce, it doesn't sit too heavy with the pasta. The thing that I love most about this sauce is that it works beautifully with meat, but could easily work as a meatless dish, as well.

On a final note, the original recipe called for sugar. I didn't use it because general comments on Allrecipes was that it just made the sauce too sweet. I am very happy I didn't use it. If you feel that you want it a bit sweeter, I would start with a small amount of sugar and work your way up to no more than 3/4 of a teaspoon.

So, here we go!:

Ingredients:


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian-style diced
tomatoes, undrained
1 tablespoon dried basil leaves
3/4 teaspoon white sugar (OPTIONAL)
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
 
Directions: 
 
1) In a saucepan, saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat. Make sure it doesn't burn. Add tomatoes, basil, sugar, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to boil and continue to boil 5 minutes or until most of the liquid evaporates. 
2) Remove from heat; stir in whipping cream and butter. Reduce heat and simmer 5 more minutes.