Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It's going to be a long, hot summer!

Since we are not fans of summer so much we are keeping it lite again this week. Jack requested Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes and Peas so we made that. I wanted to try an easy Chicken Marsala and then we found two wrap sandwiches that looked yummy.

Nothing special about the meatloaf, just that the kids like it and actually ask for peas! The chicken marsala is not authentic by any means but tastes great. Chicken breast and thighs baked in the oven then covered with a mixture of sauteed mushrooms, marsala wine and cream of chicken soup.

The two wraps can be found on food network's site and kraft foods site...check them out, they were both really good!



No fancy photos this week, I mean meatloaf is only so pretty and by the time we thought about it we had already eaten most of the mushrooms out of the marsala!
Do try out the wraps if you are looking for lite summer suppers though...they were both great.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Keeping it Lite for Summer

So last week we were so full and tired that we never even gave baking directions for the Puff Pastry Braid...after it was braided we brushed it with an egg wash and baked it in a 400 degree oven until it was golden brown and puffy. The braid is something I used to make years ago and can't remember where I got the recipe so it was all from memory. Last night we made homemade pizza, pepperoni for the kids and tomato, basil and fresh mozzarella for me and John & Erin. It was so easy and good we ate every bite!

This week we made some salads, a sandwich and stuffed chicken breasts, only had to turn the oven on for the angel food cake. Here is what we came up with this week:

Chicken Stuffed With Goat Cheese & Sundried Tomatoes

* 4 sundried tomato halves (not packed in oil)
* 1 cup hot water
* 2 ounces goat cheese (soft type)
* 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 2 (5-ounce) chicken breasts
* Salt
* Cooking oil spray

1. Place sun dried tomatoes in a small bowl, and cover with hot water. Soak 10 minutes, drain, and chop. Add goat cheese, basil, and pepper to tomatoes and stir to combine.
2. Place chicken on a cutting board and use a paring knife to slice a pocket into the side of each chicken breast to hold the filling. Enlarge the pocket carefully without cutting all the way through. Divide cheese mixture between pieces of chicken, gently stuffing it into the pocket. Secure with toothpicks if desired.
3. Season the outside of the chicken breasts lightly with salt and pepper. Coat a medium nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium flame. When hot, add chicken and cook 5 minutes or until golden brown underneath. Reduce heat to low, turn chicken breasts over, and cover. Cook 10 minutes or until no pink color remains when cut through the thickest part.

So yeah this makes 2 servings, as if that is enough for anyone, we quadrupled it and made 8 servings.

Spicy Pinto Bean and Tuna Salad with Peperoncini, Tomatoes, and Parsley

1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 T peperoncini juice (brine from the bottle of peppers)
1/2 tsp. green Tobasco sauce (or more if you like it spicy)
1 tsp. Spike Seasoning (optional but recommended)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
5 T extra-virgin olive oil
4-6 large peperoncini peppers, stem and seeds removed and finely chopped
1/4 cup sliced green onion
1 cup chopped tomato, drained if the tomatoes are very juicy (I used cherry tomatoes cut in fourths)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 can (5-7 oz) Italian Tuna packed in olive oil

Dump beans into a colander placed into the sink, then rinse well with cold water until no more foam appears. Let beans drain while you mix dressing ingredients.

Mix together the lemon juice, peperoncini juice, green Tobasco sauce, and Spike seasoning. Whisk in the olive oil, then season dressing to taste with a little salt and fresh ground black pepper. (I used just a pinch of salt and about 1/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper.)

In a bowl large enough to contain all the salad ingredients, mix the drained beans with 2 T of the dressing mixture and let beans marinate while you prep other ingredients.

Cut stem end off peperoncini, remove seeds, then finely chop peperoncini and slice green onions. Chop tomatoes to make 1 cup diced tomatoes, then drain in a small colander if the tomatoes seem juicy. Wash parsley, spin dry or dry with paper towels, then chop enough parsley to make 1/2 cup. Drain oil from the tuna (I just do this by removing lid and using it to press out the oil) then use a fork to break up the tuna slightly in the can.

Add chopped peperoncini, sliced green onions, diced tomatoes, and chopped parsley to the bowl with the marinating beans, mix together, then toss with the remaining the dressing. (If you like your salads on the dry side, you may not need all the dressing, but I used it all.) Add the tuna and gently combine with other ingredients, season with more salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste, and serve.

The sandwich we made has artichoke, sundried tomato, pesto, and fresh mozarella. We put it on an Olive Oil bread from Giant Eagle. This has no actual recipe, just found the description on another blog about food. Super delicious!!

We also made Chicken Salad using a roasted chicken (from Giant Eagle - couldn't buy a chicken for that price and its already cooked!!), just a touch of lite mayo, celery, onion and sweet pickle relish. Of course salt and pepper to taste. Simple, easy and good.

Also made a homemade Angel Food Cake, these are cheaper and better to make at home rather than using the store bought. The store bought ones are sticky and expensive ~ the mix is $2 and takes little time of effort and the taste and texture is soooo much better!! Fresh strawberries and whip cream make for an almost healthy dessert :)

So that was this weeks fun. We probably should have grilled something but its too humid and we will be grilling ribs again on Father's Day. Until then happy cooking.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A buffet of Love

We are happy that today was a bit cooler and we could actually cook. Lets start out with finally taking a look at the most fabulous delicious ribs we had on Memorial Day.
We cooked them in the oven slow and low all day long and then placed them on the hot grill and slathered them in BBQ Sauce. They were falling off the bone, literally!

As I sit here I am having a hard time typing this because I ate so much today while cooking ~ of course we have to sample everything we make ;)

Today we made 5 dishes and chocolate chip cookies.

Happy Lemon Risotto

1. Bring your stock to a simmer (you’ll need ~2.5 cups for every cup of uncooked arborio rice). [Since I had some asparagus I wanted to use up, I just trimmed it and blanched it right in the stock for 2-3 minutes until tender crisp, then set it aside.]
2. Saute some finely diced onion and celery in olive oil until softened. Add the uncooked arborio rice to the pan and saute for several minutes until it starts looking less chalky and more translucent.
3. If you have some available, add a splash of white wine (1/2 cup or so) and let it completely absorb before starting to add the stock (if you don’t have any, you can skip it without sacrificing too much). Then, start adding the warm stock one ladle at a time, stirring until the liquid is completely absorbed between each addition. My Italian cooking guru Marcella Hazan says to start checking the rice for done-ness after about 20 minutes.
4. When you’re getting close to your preferred done-ness, add your goodies [in this case the zest of 1 lemon and the juice of 1.5 lemons, a handful of frozen peas which I didn't bother defrosting].
5. Off heat stir in a generous amount of grated parmeggiano and a little pat of butter if it strikes your fancy. Taste taste taste and correct your seasonings. [I scattered my blanched asparagus on top. For a little zip, I also garnished with some finely chopped chives, crispy fried sage leaves (nice for texture and takes the intensity way down), a little squeeze of lemon and drizzle of good olive oil.]

Chorizo and Beans
serves 8

2 tblsp olive oil
2 red onions, sliced
2 chorizo, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 x 400g cans diced tomatoes
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 tsp dried oregano leaves (or 4 sprigs fresh oregano)
1 tblsp brown sugar
3 x 400g cans white cannellini beans
1 tblsp red wine vinegar

1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
2. Add the onions, chorizo and garlic, and cook for 8 minutes until the chorizo is brown and the onions are soft.
4. Add the tomatoes, paprika, chilli flakes, oregano and brown sugar. Stir to combine, then lower the heat to medium and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.
5. Add the cannellini beans and heat through for 3 minutes.
6. Serve the chorizo and beans in a bowl, with crusty bread.

Orecchiette with Rapini and Goat Cheese

Kosher salt, to taste
1 bunch rapini (about 1 lb.),

 roughly chopped
1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, crushed
3⁄4 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
12 oz. orecchiette
2 tbsp. lemon zest
4 oz. goat cheese, softened

1. Bring an 8-qt. pot of salted water to a boil. Add rapini and boil until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer rapini to a large bowl of ice water; chill. Drain rapini, pat dry, and set aside.

2. Heat oil in a 12" skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 3 minutes. Add chile flakes and cook, stirring frequently, for 30 seconds. Add rapini, toss, and remove pan from heat; set aside.

3. Meanwhile, bring a 6-qt. pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain pasta and transfer pasta and lemon zest to reserved skillet over high heat. Toss to combine and season with salt. Divide pasta between bowls and add a dollop of goat cheese to each.

SERVES 2 – 4

Thai Beef Noodle Salad


* 1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
* 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
* 3 tablespoons orange juice
* 3 tablespoons canola oil
* 1 tablespoon sesame oil
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 2 teaspoons ground ginger
* 1 teaspoon peanut butter
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 12 ounces uncooked spaghetti
* 1 cup fresh broccoli florets
* 1 cup fresh or frozen snow peas, thawed
* 1 cup julienned sweet red pepper
* 1 cup julienned zucchini
* 1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
* 1 pound boneless beef sirloin steak, cooked and cut into thin strips
* 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted


1. For dressing, combine the first 10 ingredients in a blender; cover and process until blended. Cook spaghetti according to package directions; drain and place in a large bowl. Add the broccoli, peas, red pepper, zucchini, celery and cooked beef. Add dressing and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Just before serving, sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Puff Pastry Braid

1 sheet puff pastry
8oz. cream cheese
touch of mustard
1 cup chopped up ham
1/2 cup peas

Melt cream cheese in sauce pan add in ham and peas

once melted place in middle of puff pastry and braid ( see photos)

We will go to bed with full bellies tonight and about 5 extra pounds.

Please do not mind the placement of our pics ~ we can not control how this happens :(