Friday, February 25, 2011
My husband and I always talk about eating more fish, but lately, it's been so expensive! We had been on a Tilapia kick for a while, but I picked up some frozen salmon the last time I was at the store and thawed it out for a quick weeknight meal last night. (My husband had a late class and I didn't want anything too heavy, that late at night!) Don't get me wrong, I much prefer fresh fish, but we've been relatively pleased with most of the frozen fish that we've bought...especially those that come in their own little vacuum-sealed packages. I can't honestly say that I was overly pleased with the brand we had last night, but I'd really like to try this recipe with fresh salmon, if and when it ever is on sale! I think a big part of the problem was that the salmon cooked a lot more quickly than I anticipated, so it may not have even been an issue with the brand. I had (4) 4 ounce pieces and wish I had checked the salmon after about 18-20 minutes. The recipe states to cook it for about 25 minutes, but that probably would have been a more accurate time if I used
(2) 8 ounce fillets. Either way, though, I'd suggest checking it after about 20 minutes to avoid overcooking the salmon! We both really enjoyed the lemon butter flavor and definitely will try this again!
Salmon with Lemon and Dill
1 pound salmon fillets
1/4 cup butter, melted
5 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon dried dill weed
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
sea salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a medium baking dish.
Place salmon in the baking dish. Mix the butter and lemon juice in a small bowl, and drizzle over the salmon. Season with dill, garlic powder, sea salt, and pepper.
Bake 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until salmon is easily flaked with a fork.
Friday, February 18, 2011
I've expressed in previous posts that I'm not a huge fan of more authentic Mexican food, but I do love fajitas and quesadillas--they were two of my biggest pregnancy cravings! Prior to having kids, my husband and I used to go out to dinner at least a few times a month, but since the two little rugrats have arrived, it's been a bit more challenging to eat out. Not only do they get antsy, which makes it difficult to relax and enjoy dinner, but it's rather costly to take a family of four out to dinner these days! Short of going to the Chinese buffet on "kids eat free" night, we very seldom go anywhere else. I saw that Cassie (of Cassie Craves) had posted a recipe for quesadillas that quickly caught my eye! Not only do I love quesadillas, but how can you possibly go wrong with combining chicken, bacon and avocado?!? I took her general concept to use those three key ingredients and altered the recipe a little in terms of ingredients and the cooking method, but oh, my...these were delicious and certainly as good (if not better) than any I had eaten out! I tried to estimate about how much each quesadilla cost to prepare and I think I figured it was around $4-$4.50/each, which is probably less than half of what you'd pay to eat them out! Plus, they were SUPER hearty the way that I made them and I honestly couldn't eat more than half of one...they were really rich! I did serve Spanish rice as a side dish, so honestly-speaking, I would think that if you prepared them as heartily as I did, they could easily feed 3 people...especially if you serve them with a side dish! Also, I baked my bacon, which is now my preferred way to make it! Not only is it a bit healthier than frying, but it tastes just as good to me and you don't have to deal with the mess! I used a grill pan for my chicken and a griddle to cook the quesadillas, but if you don't have either of those, you can always grill your chicken on an actual grill or you may want to refer to Cassie's recipe, as I believe she actually fried her bacon and then cooked her chicken in the same pan. As for the griddle, you could always just use a frying pan/skillet! One last thing: I did leave the avocado off of my husband's, because he had his mind made up that he didn't care much for avocado, but I left a little separate and when he tried it with his quesadilla, he said "it honestly isn't too bad"--which means "I actually like this, but am not going to give you the satisfaction of admitting that you may have been right all of these years". :) Enjoy!
Chicken, Bacon, and Avocado Quesadillas
4 burrito-sized flour tortillas
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
8 strips of bacon, chopped
1/4 - 1/3 cup diced red onion (I only had yellow onions on hand, so that's what I used, but I tend to prefer red!)
1 avocado, diced
8 ounces Colby Jack cheese (2 cups)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place bacon on a foil-lined cookie sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until crispy. (Place on paper towel to drain, after removing from oven).
While bacon is cooking, pound chicken breasts to 1/3 inch thickness and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Place in greased grill pan and cook for approximately 5-6 minutes on each side or until no longer pink on the inside and juices run clear.
Remove chicken from pan and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Add diced onion to grill pan and cook for 2-3 minutes or until slightly tender, stirring frequently; remove from heat. Cut chicken and bacon into small pieces/chunks.
Preheat griddle to 250 degrees. Butter four tortillas on one side and place two on heated griddle, butter side down. Top each tortilla with cheese, chicken, bacon, onion and avocado, dividing the chicken, bacon, onion and avocado equally between the two. Sprinkle with more cheese and top each with another flour tortilla (butter side up). Cook each quesadilla until browned and crispy and cheese is completely melted, approximately 3-4 minutes on each side. ***To flip, my husband put a plate over the quesadilla and carefully used a spatula to flip each one onto the plate and then back on the griddle to cook the other side.***
Serve with sour cream, if desired.
Source: Inspired by Cassie Craves
Monday, February 14, 2011
First of all, I would like to wish everyone a Happy Valentine's Day!!! Secondly, I would like to thank Angie, from "Angie's Kitchen" for awarding me with the Stylish Blogger Award! It means so very much to know that she thought highly enough of my blog to acknowledge it, especially with all of the wonderful blogs out there! This is my second year blogging...I started as somewhat of a hobby and as I've mentioned before, it's been very therapeutic for me. When I'm stressed out, I either cook or clean--you can likely guess what my preference is! All kidding aside, I have "met" some very outstanding and inspirational people and have had so much fun experimenting in my kitchen! I've even been able to probably quadruple what my husband would eat when we initially started dating! I thank all of you for sharing your wonderful recipes/posts! I am new to Angie's blog, but have already bookmarked several recipes that I intend to try and thank her, again, for thinking of me!
Here is how the award works:
-Thank and link back to the person who awarded this to you.
-Share 7 (random) things about yourself.
-Pay it forward to 10 bloggers whom you feel are deserving.
-Contact those bloggers and let them know about their award.
Seven Random things about myself:
1.) I am addicted to coupons...seriously! I have a HUGE binder filled with hundreds (and I mean hundreds) of coupons, all categorized nicely and I will spend HOURS at the grocery store, going up and down each aisle trying to find bargains!
2.) I worked two part-time jobs in high school, one of which was at McDonald's. They would NOT "promote" me to drive-thru or to work the counter...I was the "fry girl" and despised it! It wasn't so funny at the time, but I have to laugh now when I think back to the day I called in and quit, letting them know that I wasn't coming in that night or EVER again! The manager said "for future reference, you may want to give your employer a little bit of notice". Sorry, being a "fry girl" wasn't really my thing and I didn't plan to use McDonald's on my future resume, when I applied for my first job as a nurse! (Especially since my job description would have stated "made fries"!)
3.) My husband and I grew up living about 20 minutes apart, but didn't meet until we were both down at IU Bloomington. (Small world!)
4.) I save every greeting card that I'm given...I'm not joking when I say that I probably have about 4-5 HUGE storage containers filled with cards. I'm very sentimental!
5.) I am so very blessed to be able to stay home with my kids as much as I do! My husband and I have always been able to work it out so that one of us can be home with the kids, avoiding daycare/babysitters altogether. Wouldn't trade it for the world!
6.) I apparently am "left-brain dominant"...I discovered this after taking a little quiz last week! Not surprising at all!
7.) I'm a huge fan of online shopping...and I LOVE Ebates! I just received a free $10 and change for this past quarter ($85 total), just for going to their site before starting my shopping! (If you want more info, contact me...it's great!!!)
I would now like to pass this award on to some of my favorite blogs that I read routinely--the first 9 are cooking blogs and the last is my dear friend, Devonay, who has a little bit of everything!
1) For the Love of Cooking
2) Lynda's Recipe Box
3) Finding Joy in My Kitchen
4) Tried-and-True Cooking with Heidi
5) Indigo's Sugar Spectrum
6) Recipe Shoebox
7) Amanda's Cookin'
8) One Perfect Bite
9) Macaroni and Cheesecake
10) Lumpkin and Me
Friday, February 11, 2011
I have NEVER seen my kids inhale their dinner as quickly as they did the night I made this chicken! Being 2 and 5, I always get their plates ready and cooled, before fixing our plates. My children were asking for seconds before my husband and I even sat down...they had polished off their entire plates! (Not only the chicken, but their mashed potatoes and broccoli!) This recipe comes from "Annie's Eats". Her dishes always look absolutely delicious, but having a picky husband has somewhat limited the recipes on her blog that I am able to try! I bought a family pack of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and had four left to use, so this seemed like the perfect recipe to suit my whole family! While I never doubted for a second that this recipe would be "good", I couldn't get over just how good it was...it was unbelievably easy and the ingredient list was quite short and consists of ingredients that the majority of you have at home already! As soon as I dropped my son off at school, I mixed the marinade ingredients in a ziploc bag, added the chicken, stuck the bag in the refrigerator and didn't have to do anything else with the chicken, aside from sticking it in a baking dish and baking for 45 minutes! As mentioned above, we served with mashed potatoes and broccoli, per Annie's suggestion!
½ cup vegetable oil
3 tbsp. lemon juice
1½ tbsp. soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed (I added about 3-4 cloves...I LOVE garlic!)
½ tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 chicken breasts (about 2 lbs)
Combine all ingredients except chicken in a mixing bowl or large airtight plastic bag. Whisk or shake well until the marinade is well mixed. Add the chicken breasts to the bowl or plastic bag so that they are covered by the marinade. If using a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap. If using a plastic bag, press out all the excess air and seal the bag tightly. Refrigerate and marinate up to 10 hours.
When ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 350° F. Place the chicken breasts in a baking dish and pour the excess marinade over them. Bake in the oven until cooked through and the internal temperature reaches 165° F, about 45 minutes (exact baking time will depend on the size of your chicken pieces.) Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Source: Annie's Eats
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Due to the nasty ice storm we experienced this past week, school was canceled four days in a row for my son. That made for a very happy mommy and little sister...we miss Jake now that he's in kindergarten and know it will be even worse next year, when he goes all day! On that note, while it was fun having everyone home together, it did get a bit stir-crazy at times--both of my children have an ungodly amount of energy! As a diversion, I decided it would be fun to make cookies--the kids LOVE helping! Since we were pretty much stuck at home, I knew I had to work with what we had available in the cupboard. I immediately thought about making chocolate no-bake cookies, since I just bought a container of quick oats. I remember both my mom and grandma making these cookies when my sisters and I were little, however, I couldn't seem to find the recipe anywhere...I know it's in one of the homemade cookbooks (containing recipes from family and friends) I was given at one of my bridal showers! My kids were quickly growing impatient, so I did a quick search online and found countless versions of the recipe, the majority containing peanut butter. I was somewhat intrigued by the addition of peanut butter, because my mom and grandma had never used it in their recipe and my children could sit and eat peanut butter right out of the jar! The cookies were a huge hit with my kids and husband--they're super easy and will definitely satisfy your sweet tooth!
Chocolate and Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies
1/2 cup butter or 1/2 cup margarine (I personally prefer margarine for this recipe!)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 cups dry quick-cooking oats
2 teaspoons vanilla
Add the first four ingredients into a 2 1/2 to 3 quart sauce pan. Bring to a rolling boil and continue to boil for 60-90 seconds. Remove from heat and add the peanut butter, oats and vanilla. Using a tablespoon, spoon onto waxed paper and allow to cool for approximately 2 hours. Store in refrigerator.
(Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies)
Source: slightly adapted from original recipe on www.food.com
Friday, February 4, 2011
This might seriously be my new favorite "at home pasta dish"...YUM! I selected this recipe that many people stated they felt was "restaurant quality", for our family dinner that we've been having every Friday night. (It's the only night of the week that we're able to sit down for dinner together, as a family, because of our crazy schedules and it's something that our kids look forward to each week!) I really loved it, but am so very grateful that I made some adjustments, including doubling the sauce ingredients and adding extra garlic. I also felt the need to thicken the sauce a bit, because it was way too runny--thus the addition of cornstarch. My recipe below reflects the increase in sauce ingredients, however, I would suggest going ahead and doubling the recipe altogether--I have a feeling that I'll be fighting my husband for the leftovers! All kidding aside, the recipe (as written below) would be enough for a family of 4, but if you're especially big eaters or have a larger family, I'd suggest doubling it. My kids are 2 and 5, so it was more than enough for us, but if you've got older kids, you may at least want to one and a half it! Again, don't forget...I wrote the recipe to reflect the amount of ingredients I would suggest for a single recipe!
2 tablespoons butter
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
2 cups chicken broth, divided
2 cups heavy cream (or half and half)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons dried basil
12 ounces dry fettuccini pasta
In a large saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and 1 1/2 cups of the chicken broth; increase to medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are tender. Add the cream (or half and half) and cornstarch and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Simmer over medium heat until the sauce begins to thicken.
Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm oil and saute chicken. Press on chicken occasionally with a slotted spatula. Cook for about 4-6 minutes per side (depending on the size of your chicken breasts and until the chicken is no longer pink inside). Transfer to a dish, cover and keep warm. (I stuck mine in the microwave!)
Discard the fat from the skillet and in the same skillet, over medium heat, bring 1/2cup chicken broth to a boil; stirring the pan juices. Reduce slightly and add the cream sauce to the skillet. Stir in basil and adjust seasonings to taste; continue to simmer on low.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add fettuccine and cook according to package instructions, approximately 10 minutes; drain, transfer to a bowl and toss with 6 tablespoons of the sauce.
Transfer pasta to serving plates and top with chicken. Cut chicken into diagnoal slices and coat with the cream sauce. Sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese on top, if desired!
Source: Adapted from allrecipes.com
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
First of all, I must apologize for this horrendous picture! I didn't have much to work with in terms of lighting and there really wasn't much "color" to the lasagna. I was almost too embarrassed to post the recipe, as I was afraid the picture might deter anyone from trying it! Don't let the picture fool you--while the lasagna was rather "labor intensive", it had such a rich and hearty flavor and we're really looking forward to the leftovers tonight! Here's the thing...I don't believe I ever made homemade lasagna prior to meeting my husband and since we've been together, the ONLY lasagna he will eat is Stouffer's! He absolutely despises the taste of ricotta cheese, which is traditionally used in more authentic recipes. Yes, I realize that I could have substituted cottage cheese a long time ago, but you'd have to know my husband to understand that once he gets something in his head, it is VERY difficult to change his mind! He made up his mind that he didn't like homemade lasagna, so I stuck with Stouffer's--after all, it's relatively inexpensive (usually on sale for about $10 for a lasagna that would feed 9-12 people, depending on how big your family's appetite is!) and all you have to do is throw it in the oven...SO simple! Anyway, I decided to press my luck with this recipe and sway him more by focusing on the fact that it had Italian sausage, which he loves! We both agreed that the Italian sausage was a nice substitute for the beef, but I would even consider adding perhaps a 1/2 pound of ground beef next time (in addition to the sausage). I had a heck of a time with this recipe and had to continuously improvise as I was cooking. The original recipe called for 1 lb of Italian sausage, but I actually bought the Italian sausage in the casings (about 1 1/4 lbs) and just removed the casings prior to cooking--I'm all for buying it in the least expensive form and that's what happened to be on sale the day I did my shopping! I found that I ran out of sauce at the end, which is why I added an extra can of tomato sauce (as reflected below). I also tweaked the spices a bit and TRIPLED the amount of mozzarella cheese. I found it a bit crazy that the original recipe only called for 2 cups (8 oz) of mozzarella cheese. I mean, seriously!?!?!? Even when we buy the Stouffer's lasagna, I add 2 cups of cheese to the top...and that "supposedly" already has what they consider a sufficient amount of cheese! I couldn't even imagine eating lasagna that wasn't oozing with cheese! Anyway, if your family consists of "non-picky eaters", I would HIGHLY suggest adding spinach and mushrooms and perhaps even sauteed zucchini--that's what I would have done, had I made this lasagna for myself :) My daughter (who is almost 3) ate the lasagna, but didn't seem overly impressed, however, my son (who is almost 6), kept going on and on about it. Bless his heart...he always goes out of his way to compliment me and tell me that I "make the best recipes"...such a sweet and gracious child! All in all, I would make this again, but it's certainly not something I would make on a regular basis, as it was rather time-consuming and costly.
Before I get to my recipe, I wanted to thank my dear friend, Devonay, for the very kind words she expressed about myself and my blog. Devonay and I used to work together...she, too, is a nurse, and is one-of-a-kind! Not only is she so down-to earth and warm-hearted, but she has a witty sense of humor that I greatly appreciate! I would like to encourage you all to check out her blog, as well: lumpkinandme.blogspot.com . Her blog has a little bit of everything, but she just posted a potato soup recipe that sounds delicious!!!
Now for my recipe...
Italian Sausage Lasagna
1 - 1 1/2 lbs Italian Sausage
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced (depending on how much garlic you like!)
1 large onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons parsley flakes
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
(2) 15 ounce cans tomato sauce
(2) 14 1/2 ounce cans diced tomatoes
(1) 12 ounce package lasagna noodles
2 cups ricotta or small curd cottage cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
6 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (24 ounces)
In a large skillet, cook sausage, onion and garlic over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sausage is no longer pink; drain if necessary.
Stir in 1 tablespoon of the parsley, the basil, sugar, tomatoes and tomato sauce. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low; simmer uncovered about 1 hour--sauce will thicken.
When sauce has been simmering approximately 45 minutes, cook noodles as directed on package and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain noodles.
In medium bowl, beat the egg and mix ricotta (or cottage) cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, remaining 1tablespoon parsley and the oregano.
Spread approximately 1 cup of the sauce mixture in ungreased 13x9-inch glass baking dish. Top with 4 noodles. (I actually added an additional noodle vertically, across the end of the dish...there was about a 2 inch gap!) Spread half of the cheese mixture over noodles and then top with about 1 1/2 cups of the sauce mixture. Sprinkle with 2 cups of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat with 4 noodles (again, I added an additional noodle!), the remaining cheese mixture, approximately 1 1/2 cups of the sauce mixture and 2 cups of the mozzarella cheese. Add one last layer of noodles and top with remaining sauce mixture. Sprinkle with 2 cups mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Cover; bake 30 minutes. Uncover; bake about 15 minutes longer or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting.
Adapted from "Italian Sausage Lasagna" on Betty Crocker.com