December 30, 2008

Some things are just meant to be...

So I have been obsessing over getting a Kitchen Aid mixer for some time. For those of you who follow my blog, I usually blame not having one for some recipes not working right and the one thing standing in the way of me becoming the next Barefoot Contessa. Or for anyone knows what I am most excited when it comes to the wedding is:

  1. Marrying Steve...I am truly the luckiest girl in the world to have him as my fiance and soon to be husband :)
  2. Changing my last name to a nice, 6 letter one, rather than 13 that no one can pronounce
  3. Getting a Kitchen Aid mixer

I originally wanted the Grass Green color exclusive to Williams Sonoma. However, the more I thought about it, I would rather have someone use a 20% off coupon at BB&B if they wanted to buy it for us. So, I registered for the green apple color at BB&B back in August. For Christmas, my very generous parents gave us money as a gift. I asked Steve if I could get my Green Apple Kitchen Aid at BB&B, he said "yes", so we went on the 26th to go get it at the store. Well, as fate would have it, they don't have that color in the store, it would take 2 weeks to come in and to top it off, were on back order till who knows when. I left the store fairly bummed and we just thought, there had to be a reason that didn't work out.

Today at lunch, I had to run to the mall for a few things and I popped into Williams Sonoma to check out some gadgets I wanted to add to our registry. I am walking past the clearance tables and lo and behold, like a gift from god, sat the Green Grass Kitchen Aid I longed for back in August. I thought to myself, "Something has to be wrong with it, it doesn't have attachments or is scratched." It was on clearance for $199!!!! Even cheaper than with a coupon at BB&B!!! I didn't see a box for it and left the store. I texted Steve, and he responded, "Just buy it". And this is just another reason I am marrying him!!!

So, I went back and bought my glorious Green Grass Kitchen Aid mixer for a heck of a deal! It is perfect, came in the box with all the attachments. The clerk said they are discontinuing certain colors, so are marking them down...different colors nearly every I suggest checking it out if you want one!

Oh, and if anyone has any recipes that are perfect for a Kitchen Aid mixer, feel free to pass them along! :)

December 29, 2008

Mini Beef Wellingtons

This is a delicious recipe we got at our cooking class. So yummy...I could eat these all the time! Slightly time-consuming, but you can make them ahead of time and leave them in the fridge until you are ready to cook them. This was another "fan favorite" at our "Merry Little Cocktail" party!

1 pound beef tenderloin, cut into 2" cubes
1 cup mushroom cream sauce
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
1 package Boursin cheese (we used garlic and herb flavored)
oil for sauteing
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon of milk for egg wash

  1. Pre-heat large saute pan over medium high heat.
  2. Season beef with your favorite seasonings
  3. Place 2 tablespoons of oil in the saute pan and swirl to coat
  4. Place beef in the pan and sear for 30 seconds to 1 minute per side
  5. Remove from pan and cool completely
  6. Roll puff pastry out to about 1/8" of thickness and cut into 16 3-4" squares, depending on the size of beef; dough must be able to wrap completely around the meat and mushrooms
  7. Place 1 teaspoon mushroom mix in the center of each square, then 1/2 tsp of the Boursin cheese, and top with a piece of seared beef.
  8. Brush the edges of the square with egg wash, and fold around the beef, mushroom sauce and cheese. Seal the edges as best as you can.
  9. Brush the bottom and the top with egg wash.
  10. Place the Wellingtons seam side down on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper.
  11. Refrigerate the Wellingtons for at least 15-30 minutes to allow the pastry to get cool.
  12. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees
  13. Bake until golden brown and puffed, about 10-15 minutes
  14. Let rest for 5 minutes, then serve warm

Madeira - Mushroom Cream Sauce

This is a great sauce we used in our mini beef Wellington's, but could be great as a sauce for chicken, pork or beef or even as a lasagna layer! I love mushrooms so I would love to just eat a bowl of this plain. :)

1 pound mixed sliced mushrooms (use any kind you like), brushed clean of dirt, minced
1/2 red onion, small dice (we used shallots)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup Madeira or Marsala (Steve discovered dry Vermouth is an acceptable substitute, so we used that since we had it and Marsala is pricey)
1 cup heavy cream
Pinch each of nutmeg, cayenne pepper and white pepper
Salt to taste
Lemon juice to taste (just a few drops)
4-6 tablespoons whole unsalted butter, melted

  1. Pre-heat a saute pan over high heat for 3-4 minutes, or until you cannot hold your hand within an inch of the pan surface for 5 seconds
  2. Toss mushrooms and onion together with the butter in a large bowl
  3. Add mushrooms to pan and shake pan only briefly to create an even layer; let mushrooms brown - DO NOT STIR THEM OR MOVE THEM AROUND for at least 1-2 minutes or until they are golden brown on the first side; then shake or stir with a wooden spoon to brown both sides.
  4. Add wine and shake pan to distribute evenly; scrape bottom of pan to remove all brown bits and cook until the wine is cooked off; (at this point, continue cooking mushrooms until all liquid has evaporated; this may take quite a while if the mushrooms were high in moisture)
  5. Add cream to pan and scrape again; bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 2-3 minutes; season with salt, pepper, cayenne and nutmeg to taste, then add a few drops of lemon juice.
  6. Finish with an additional splash of wine if desire

"Upgraded" Pigs in a Blanket

We learned how to make this in our Mirepoix Retro Cocktails and Appetizers class. I love the classic version, but this "upgraded" version is pretty phenomenal. We got rave reviews on them at our "Merry Little Cocktail" party, so I thought it would be blog-worthy. A little more labor-intensive than the little smokies, but well worth it!

6-8 good quality sausages (we used Aidell's Chicken sausage Portabella Mushroom and Roasted Garlic and Artichoke)
1 box puff pastry dough, thawed at room temperature
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
2 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons milk

  1. Cut sausages in half length-wise, then half again so you have quartered sausages, length wise.
  2. Next, cut each quarter into 3 pieces
  3. If the sausage is raw, saute in a large saute pan over medium high heat, with just a little bit of oil, until almost cooked through; about 5-7 minutes. Cool completely.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
  5. Place a piece of parchment paper on a small sheet tray and put the Dijon mustard on the parchment (spread out, but not too thin); roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown; cool completely.
  6. Spread out thawed puff pastry and cut into strips smaller than the piece of sausage and just long enough to wrap around the sausages once.
  7. Thoroughly mix together the egg whites and mustard; mix the egg yolks with 2 tablespoons of milk
  8. Brush the inside of each piece of puff pastry dough with the mustard, place a piece of sausage inside and wrap it snugly
  9. Brush the outside with the egg yolk mixture for all "pigs in a blanket"
  10. Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown and puffed

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail and Cocktail Sauce with a kick!

I love seafood. I also love shrimp cocktail at a party. However, sometimes I have found that some of the pre-done trays kind of leave the shrimp a little rubbery, so when my idol, The Barefoot Contessa, did shrimp in the oven on her show, I was intrigued! I was also delighted with the recipe was in my Barefoot Contessa's Back to Basics cookbook!

This is so easy and it saves the hassle of dealing with boiling the shrimp tastes soooo yummy!

For the shrimp

2 pounds shrimp (12 to 15 count shrimp, I got ours at Costco...already de-veined! Woo hoo!)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Peel and de-vein the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place them on a sheet pan with the olive oil, salt and pepper and spread them in one layer. Toss them around to make sure they are covered with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 8-10 minutes, just until pink and firm and cooked through. Set aside to cool.

For the cocktail sauce

1/2 cup Heinz chili sauce
1/2 cup Heinz ketchup
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

Combine together and refrigerate before serving.

Bay Scallop Gratins

I have been really looking at my Barefoot cookbooks a lot lately, and came across this one and it sounded right up our alley. Steve and I had a low-key Christmas at home, so we decided to make a nice dinner for ourselves. I love scallops and Steve loves prosciutto and this recipe is a nice combination of them both.

I think the topping would have come out a bit better if a) I would have used individual gratin dishes like the recipe calls for instead if a glass 8x8 dish, b) if I would have broiled them the entire time to get a much crustier top and c) if I had a Kitchen Aid mixer to blend it :). I didn't take a picture, because mine did not look at all like the Barefoot's. Tasted good, but not so appealing to look at. So, here is the photo from the Food Network website.

Makes 3 gratins

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (very important)
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 medium shallot, minced
1 ounce thinly sliced prosciutto di Parma, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon Pernod (French liquor, with a licorice smell)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
3 tablespoons dry white wine (something you would drink with dinner)
1 pound fresh bay scallops

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place 3 6" round gratin dishes on a sheet pan.

To make the topping, place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (you can also use a hand mixer). With the mixer on low speed, add the garlic, the shallot, prosciutto, parsley, lemon juice, Pernod, salt and pepper until combined. With the mixer still on low, add the olive oil slowly, as though making a mayonnaise, until combined. Fold the panko in with a rubber spatula and set aside.

Preheat broiler if its separate from your oven.

Place 1 Tablespoon of wine in the bottom of each gratin dish.

Pat the scallops down with a paper towel so they are dry and distribute them among the 3 dishes. If you could only find sea scallops (which are larger than bay scallops), cut them into quarters before placing them in the dish.

Spoon the garlic butter evenly over the top of the scallops. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the top is golden and sizzling and the scallops are barely done. If you want the top crustier, place under the broiler for 2 minutes until browned. Serve with a squeeze of lemon and chopped parsley.

Turkey Meat Loaf

This is one of my most favorite, cold weather, comfort food dishes. This was the first recipe I tried when I got my first Barefoot Contessa cookbook last Christmas and have made it a few times since with rave reviews every time. WARNING - this recipe as is makes the biggest meatloaf you have ever seen. Barefoot says it serves 8-10 and my guess it could serve a small army. I cut it in half recently, and it was still big, but what we didn't eat, we froze and it was still very yummy reheated.

3 cups chopped yellow onions (2 large onions)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dry)
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
3/4 chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
5 pounds ground turkey breast (I told you it was the biggest meatloaf you have ever seen)
1 1/2 cups plain, dry bread crumbs
3 extra-large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup ketchup

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium saute pan, on medium-low heat, cook the onions, olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme until the onions are translucent, but not browned (appx. 15 minutes). Add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock and tomato paste and mix well. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Combine the ground turkey, bread crumbs, eggs and onion mixture in a large bowl (might need your bath tub if you make a 5 pound loaf). Mix well and shape into a rectangular loaf on an ungreased baking sheet. Spread the ketchup evenly on top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, until the internal temperature is 160 degrees and the meatloaf is cooked through.

A helpful hint, if you place a pan of hot water in the oven as the loaf is cooking, it will prevent the ketchup from cracking.

Parmesan Smashed Potatoes

I have made this recipe a few times from my Barefoot Contessa cookbook and love them. They are a great side dish with turkey meatloaf. The recipe as is serves 6-8, which is a ton. I have cut it down and it is still delicious...even as a leftover!

3 pounds red potatoes, unpeeled
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups half and half
1/4 pound unsalted butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place potatoes and 1 Tablespoon of salt in a 4 qt. sauce pan with cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer covered for 25-35 minutes, until the potatoes are completely tender, drain.

In a small sauce pan, heat the half and half and butter.

Put the potatoes into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix them for a few seconds on low speed to break them up
**Note: I do not have stand mixer, so I just used a potato masher for this part**

Slowly add 3/4 of the the hot cream and butter to the potatoes, mixing on the lowest speed. The last 1/4 of the cream and butter should be folded in by hand.

Then fold in the sour cream, Parmesan cheese, remaining salt and pepper; taste for seasoning and serve immediately.

November 21, 2008

Our New Buffet!

Last weekend I went to the Pottery Barn Outlet with my two fabulous friends, Jess and Linds.  We kind of went nuts shopping...but there were really great deals!  Here is us in the car heading home.

"Go Big, or Go Home.", Lindsay

When we were there, I spotted this awesome green buffet.  I kept thinking about it the whole drive home, kept talking to Steve about it and finally over our 2nd dirty martini at the Old Pointe Bar in Grosse Pointe, Steve said "Do you want to go back tomorrow and get it?".  And this my friends is one of the many reasons I am marrying him!

So we went back and got it.  We love it.  It gives us so much more storage and adds a really fun element to the one room in the house I am itching to re-do, but think we will wait for the dream kitchen at the next house.

It was a pain getting the 140 pounds of it into the house, but the end result is worth it!  I can just see the Kitchen Aid mixer on it now... (hint, hint)

Celery, Artichoke, Hearts of Palm and Shrimp Salad with Basil Vinaigrette Dressing

Steve actually made this for dinner last night from our "The Healthy Kitchen" cookbook. It was given to me from a lady I work out with and this is the second recipe we tried. It was so good! Super refreshing and light. It would be perfect for a summer BBQ...but was still great in the middle of November in Michigan.

For the salad

2 pounds cooked medium shrimp, cut into bite-sized pieces (we used is easier)
14 oz. canned artichoke hearts in water, sliced (about 2 cups)
2 cups peeled and chopped celery stalks, including the hearts
14 oz. canned hearts of palm, drained
1 cup green onions

For the dressing

2 tablespoons of pesto
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons of salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
3 large shallots, minced
1 teaspoon honey
1/8 teaspoon chili flakes

  1. Mix all the salad ingredients together in a big bowl
  2. Mix all the dressing ingredients in a large bowl and pour over the salad
  3. Toss to make sure everything is evenly coated with the dressing.
  4. Cover and refrigerate until everything is ready to be served.

Easy Apple Betty

I love to bake. I am a little intimidated by crust for pies, so when I saw this easy recipe for Apple Betty on a fellow Knottie's blog, I wanted to give it a try.

4 cups thinly sliced apples (I used MacIntosh and Empire)
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/2 pound of butter

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9" pie plate.
2. Mound sliced apples into greased pie plate
3. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt.
4. Cut in the butter into the mixture looks like coarse crumbles. (I used my hands for part of this to break up the butter)

Bake for 45 minutes. We served it with one scoop of vanilla ice cream! Yummy.

Laughing Cow Chicken

I got this recipe from a fellow Knottie's food blog and it was yummy and super easy! It was perfect for 2 people too, which I was relieved about!

2 chicken breasts, cut horizontally 3/4 of the way through (for stuffing the cheese)
2 wedges Laughing Cow light cheese (one per each breast)
Italian seasoning to taste (I used chicken seasoning because that is what we had)
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs (I used seasoned)
Handful Parmesan cheese (I used shredded because we had some left over)
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Open up each chicken breast and spread one wedge of Laughing Cow cheese in the middle. Sprinkle seasoning to taste. Fold back over to original shape.
3. Mix together bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese in a shallow dish.
4. Spray each chicken breast with cooking spray, then dip in bread crumb mixture to coat. Place on cookie sheet (I used an 8x8 dish)
5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

November 2, 2008

Ghosts in the Graveyard

I thought Steve was reverting back to some elementary school Halloween party when he asked me to make this for Halloween...turns out, he regularly used to make this for work pot-lucks around this time of year. "I don't want to grow up, I'm a Toys R'Us kid" comes to mind! It is yummy and I think I made Steve's fall by making it and having leftovers for him to have multiple times a day!

3 cups of cold milk
2 packages (4 serving size each) Chocolate Instant Pudding
1 tub (12 oz) Cool Whip, thawed
15 Oreo cookies, crushed
Assorted decorations

Pour milk into large bowl. Add dry pudding mixes. Beat with whisk until well blended. Let stand for 5 mins.

Gently stir in 3 cups of the whipped topping and half of the Oreo crumbs. Spread evenly into a 13x9 dish. Sprinkle with remaining cookie crumbs.

Refrigerate at least one hour. Decorate with candy corn, cookie tombstones, etc.

Cheesy Spinach and Bacon Dip

Anything with cheese is good in my book.  I also love a good dip for tortilla chips and I wanted something new to try.  This comes from the Kraft website and I know I will be making this again.  The next time, I will probably keep it in the crock pot so it stays warm, gooey and easy to slop on tortilla chips!

It makes a lot, but would be easy to half it.

1 package (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained
1 lb. Velveeta, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 oz. cream cheese, cubed (I used fat free)
1 can diced tomatoes and green chilies, un-drained
8 slices bacon, crispy cooked, drained and crumbled (I used only 4)

Combine all ingredients in a microwavable bowl.  

Microwave on high for 5 mins or until Velveeta is completely melted and the mixture is well blended.  Stir about half-way through to help this process along.  

Serve with tortilla chips or veggies.

Hot Broccoli Cheese Dip

This recipe was very highly ranked on the Kraft recipe site, so I thought I would give it a whirl for our little Halloween gathering. It was really easy and delicious! I actually made it the night before and threw it in the oven when we were ready and I think it turned out great.

1 8 oz. package of Cream Cheese, softened (I used Fat-free)
1 cup sour cream (I used reduced fat)
1 envelope dry ranch dressing mix
1 package (10 oz.) frozen, chopped broccoli, thawed and well drained
1 package (8 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Mix cream cheese, sour cream and dressing mix with an electric mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add broccoli and 1 1/2 cups of the cheddar cheese. Mix well.

Spoon into a 9" pie plate.

Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

Serve with crackers.

Cream Cheese Crock Pot Chicken

Since we had our 3rd (and final) wedding prep class with the church all afternoon today, I wanted to make something that wouldn't take much to do when we got home.  I got this recipe from a fellow Knottie's food blog and have been wanting to try it.  We really liked it and are already thinking of things to add to it for the next time!

3 - 4 boneless chicken breasts (un-thawed or frozen, I used frozen and it worked great)
4 Tbsp. butter
1 packet dry Italian dressing mix
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 can cream of chicken soup (we used the Healthy Request kind)
8 0z. cream cheese (I used Neufchatel, less fat, same cream cheese taste we all know and love)
1/2 cup chicken broth

Place the chicken breasts on the bottom of the crock pot, sprinkle the packet of dressing mix on top of the chicken.  Melt 2 Tbsp. of butter and drizzle over the dressing covered chicken.  Set the Crock Pot on low and cook for 4-6 hours.

About an hour before you want to eat, melt the remaining 2 Tbsp. in a large pan and saute the chopped onion and garlic.  Add the remaining ingredients (cream of chicken soup, cream cheese and chicken broth).  Stir until smooth.

Add the mixture to the crock pot and cook for an additional hour.  We had it with egg noodles...rice would probably be good as well!  Enjoy!

October 8, 2008

Chicken Broccoli Stuffing Casserole

This recipe came from a Knottie friend TizzyLish. It was super easy and yummy! Next time, I might cut it in half so it doesn't make so much, but I am sure we will enjoy the leftovers!

2 chicken breasts, cooked
1 bunch of fresh broccoli, cooked
1 box Stove Top Sage Stuffing
3 cans cream of chicken soup
Shredded Cheddar Cheese

To cook the chicken breasts, I just boiled them until they were done. I did the same with the broccoli. I am sure you could use frozen broccoli and prepare it as directed on the package...but I decided to make things a little harder on myself and do it the old fashioned way!

Prepare the stuffing as directed on the package.

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix together the cooked chicken breasts (I kind of cubed them), broccoli and cream of chicken soup. Place the soup mixture in the bottom of a 9x13 dish. Spread the prepared stuffing over the top of the soup mixture and then sprinkle cheese as desired on the top (I used a mixture of cheddar and was yummy).

Bake until the soup mixture starts to bubble (around 30 minutes or so) and enjoy!

October 6, 2008

Crock Pot White Chicken Chili

I love anything I can use a crock pot for. It is my new favorite kitchen gadget! Since the weather has turned colder, I have been craving soup and chili, so I made some super easy chili this weekend that turned out yummy!

1 1/2 pound boneless chicken breasts
2 15.8 oz. cans Northern Beans (drain 1 can, leave the liquid in the other)
1 15.5 oz. can white hominey, drained
1 packed reduced sodium taco seasoning
1 4.5 oz. can chopped green chilies
1 can reduced sodium cream of mushroom soup

Sour cream
chopped green onions

Place chicken in the bottom of the crock pot. Add the beans, hominey, taco seasoning, chilies and cream of mushroom soup. Mix together and cover. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Top with sour cream and chopped green onions if you choose.

September 22, 2008

Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas

I found this recipe in a cookbook my future mother-in-law gave me for Christmas and thought I would give it a try. It was super easy, fast and yummy!

2 cups shredded cooked chicken breasts (I threw 2 frozen breasts into the crock pot with a can of salsa verde diluted with one cup of water and some various spices on low for 6 hours and it worked like a charm)
1 10 oz. can of red enchilada sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
6 6" corn tortillas
Shredded lettuce (optional)
Chopped tomato (optional)
Sour cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Tightly wrap the corn tortillas in foil and cook in the oven for around 8 minutes, until they are warm.

In the meantime, place shredded chicken in a bowl and mix in half of the can of enchilada sauce and half of the amount of cheese.

Place about a 1/3 of the mixture in the tortillas and roll up. Place them seam side down in a 2 quart baking dish. Cover with the remaining enchilada sauce and cheese.

Bake for 15 minutes. If you choose, top with shredded lettuce, tomato and sour cream. Enjoy!

September 17, 2008

Parmesan Encrusted Chicken

Another recipe I scammed from the Barefoot Contessa. It was so easy, quick and yummy I had to share! I was amazed at how juicy and tender the chicken stayed.

Like everything she does, the recipe is way too much for just 2 people, so I cut it in half. But here is the original.

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs
1 tablespoon of water
1 1/4 cups seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus a little extra for serving
Unsalted butter
Olive oil

Pound the chicken breasts until they are 1/4" thick with either a meat mallet or rolling pin (I used a wrench, since we don't have all our fancy tools yet!). I placed in-between sheets of wax paper before pounding and it worked like a charm.

Combine the flour, salt and pepper on a plate. On a second plate, beat the eggs with the water. On a 3rd plate, combine the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese.

Coat the chicken breasts with the flour mixture on both sides, then dip both sides in the egg and then dredge both sides in the bread crumb mixture, pressing lightly.

Heat 1 Tbsp. of butter and 1 Tbsp. of olive oil in a large saute pan and cook 2-3 chicken breasts on medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes on each side until cooked through. If cooking more chicken, add more butter and oil and repeat the cooking directions. I cooked each side for around 4 minutes over medium-high heat and it was definitely cooked through and I am paranoid about cooking chicken!

August 21, 2008

Roasted Asparagus

We love asparagus, so we decided to try a different way of cooking it, inspired by the Food Network. Super easy and delicious! It makes the tips nice and crunchy!

1 bunch of asparagus, rinsed, ends snapped off
Olive oil
Fresh cracked salt
Fresh cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 400.

Place asparagus on a cooking sheet.
Drizzle olive oil over top. I usually just eye-ball it, but I would guess around 2-3 tablespoons. Crack salt and pepper to taste. Toss around on the pan to make sure the asparagus stalks are covered.

Bake for around 20-25 minutes. Enjoy!

Outrageous Brownies

Another recipe stolen from the Barefoot Contessa! These are super rich and moist brownies. I was really pleased with my first attempt at making brownies that didn't come from a box! And just like everything from the Barefoot, it makes A LOT of brownies!

1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound, plus 2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips, divided
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra large eggs
3 tablespoons instant coffee powder
2 tablespoons real vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or regular)
3 cups diced walnut pieces

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 13x9x1 inch sheet pan.

Melt together the butter, chocolate chips and unsweetened chocolate in top of a double boiler (I used a large pot of boiling water, with a large glass bowl placed on top). Cool slightly.

Stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.

Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the cooled chocolate mixture.

Toss the walnuts and 2 cups of semi sweet chocolate chips with flour to coat (this prevents them from sinking to the bottom of the tray). Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for around 30 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Halfway through the baking, rap the pan against the oven rack to allow air to escape from between the pan and brownie dough.

Cool throughly, refrigerate well and cut into squares. Enjoy with a nice, cold glass of milk!

June 24, 2008

Easy Shepard's Pie

My fiance loves the Shepard's Pie at Foran's Irish Pub in downtown Detroit. Although this isn't as great as theirs, it is a great recipe to hold him over in-between trips!

1 17 oz. package refrigerated cooked beef tips with gravy
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
1 11 oz. can condensed tomato bisque soup
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 24 oz. package refrigerated mashed potatoes
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375. Lightly spray a 2-qt. baking dish with cooking spray, set aside. In a large saucepan, stir together beef tips with gravy, vegetables, onion, soup, thyme and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Transfer to baking dish.

Place potatoes in a large bowl, stir until smooth. Spoon potatoes into 6 mounds on top of beef mixture.

Bake uncovered in the preheated oven for 20-25 mins. or until heated through and bubbly around the edges. Sprinkle potatoes with cheese. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Cheezy Cracker Dip

This is another recipe from my aunt which I LOVE. It seriously tastes like the string cheese out of a can, without the weird visual.

2 jars Kraft Old English (can be found in the cheese section at your grocery store, it is glass)
1 jar Kraft Roka Blue (same as above)
1 8oz. package cream cheese softened

Blend together with a hand mixer (or I am sure a Kitchen Aid would work if you have one). After placing everything in the bowl, I usually let it sit for awhile to get really softened so it is easier to mix, other wise, it stays all clumpy rather than getting nice and smooth.

Serve with crackers. I like this with traditional Keebler Club Crackers or those Stix for dipping!

Layered Taco Dip

This recipe is my aunt's and I just love it. I don't love making it, because I despise chopping up tomatoes, but I sure do enjoy eating it!

2 cans Frito Lay Bean dip
1-2 containers of pre-made guacamole
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup mayo
1 package taco seasoning
1 bunch green onions, chopped with whites
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup chopped green peppers
1 bag Mexican shredded cheese

Spread bean dip on the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Spread guacamole over bean dip. Mix together the sour cream, mayo and taco seasoning in a small bowl. Spread mixture over guacamole.

Sprinkle onions, then tomatoes, then green peppers. Sprinkle cheese over top.

Chill at least 2 hours before serving with tortilla chips.

Amy's Best Bruschetta

I was having a hard time finding a really good bruschetta recipe I liked, so I made some modifications of others I had found and came up with my own.

2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 can Italian Herb tomatoes
1/2 8 oz. package of cream cheese
1 4 oz. package herb and garlic feta, crumbled
1 loaf of french bread
1 package Italian flavored shredded cheese (sun-dried tomato, bistro blends, etc.)

Heat olive oil, garlic and tomatoes in a pot until tender.

Blend cream cheese and feta together. Spread this mixture over the french bread, sliced.

Next, spread the tomato mixture and shredded cheese on top. Place on cookie sheet and broil for around 5-10 minutes until the cheese is slightly browned.

Yummy Cheese Ball

Who doesn't love cheese? Especially cheese in the shape of a ball? This is one of my former co-workers recipe that is demanded at every party she comes too! I love it because of the small ingredient list!

2 small tubs of sharp cheese (you can always find Kaukauna in the grocery store)
2 bars cream cheese
1 ranch dip packet
crushed nuts of your choice

Combine all ingredients, form into a ball, roll in crushed nuts. Serve with crackers!

Greek Layer Dip

This appetizer is really light and refreshing...and super easy!

1 6 oz. carton of plain yogurt
1/2 cup finely chopped unpeeled cucumber
1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
1 teaspoon fresh mint
1 10 oz. container of plain hummus
1/2 cup chopped, seeded tomato
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Pita chips or bread for dipping

In a small bowl stir together yogurt, 1/4 cup of cucumber and onion and mint. Set aside

Spread hummus in the bottom of a 10-inch quiche dish or 9" pie plate. Spread yogurt mixture over the hummus. Sprinkle with tomato, remaining cucumber and the feta cheese.


May 26, 2008

Homemade Mac & Cheese

I had always eaten mac & cheese out of the box, so I was very interested while watching a Barefoot Contessa episode where she made it from scratch. Steve and our friend John were the guinea pigs for me this past weekend and gave it a thumbs up! I did halve the recipe and it worked out well! I also used equal parts of cheddar and Gruyere since Gruyere is so pricey! Next time, I may switch up the cheeses to get a different taste!

Vegetable oil
1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi (which really made it a fun dish!)
1 quart of milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (4 cups)
8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 pound fresh tomatoes (4 small)
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling, salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package (around 6-8 minutes), drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small sauce pan, but don't boil it. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter into a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth.

Off the heat, add the Gruyere, cheddar and 1 tablespoon of salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add the cooked pasta and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.

Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. Melt the 2 remaining tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs and sprinkle on top of the tomatoes.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on top.

Scallops Provencal

Just like the Herbed Basmati Rice, this was from the Barefoot Contessa and first tested by my friend Elizabeth. Given Amy's love for scallops, this recipe is a must in the recipe book!

1 pound fresh bay or sea scallops
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
All-purpose flour (for dredging)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup chopped shallots (appx. 2 large)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh, flat-leaf parsley leaves (Barefoot says they have more flavor than curved)
1/3 cup dry white table wine

If you are using bay scallops, keep them whole. If you are using sea scallops, cut each in half horizontally. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss with flour and shake off the excess.

In a very large saute pan, heat 2 tbsp. of butter over high heat until sizzling and add the scallops in 1 layer. Lower the heat to medium and allow the scallops to brown lightly on one side without moving them, then turn and allow the other side to brown. This should take about 3-4 minutes, total.

Melt the rest of the butter in the sauce pan with the scallops, then add the shallots, garlic and parsley. Saute for 2 minutes, tossing the seasonings with the scallops.

Add the wine, cook for 1 minute and taste with the seasoning. Serve hot. Goes well with the Herbed Basmati Rice.

Herbed Basmati Rice

I saw this recipe on my cooking hero's show, the Barefoot Contessa, and my friend Elizabeth had tried it and said it was AMAZING! The Horgan's-to-be concur and it a favorite of ours to make for "special" dinners! It also contains Amy's favorite herb...dill!

1 cup, uncooked white basmati rice (we use Texmati because the Barefoot said so, and we love it)
1 3/4 cups water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced fresh curly parsley leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh green onions (both white and green parts)
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Combine the rice, 1 3/4 cups of water, the salt and the butter in a small, heavy bottomed sauce pan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, stir once and simmer, covered tightly, for 15 minutes. I sometimes pull the pot half off the heat to prevent it from boiling over.

Turn off the heat and allow the rice to sit covered for 5 minutes. Add the parsley, dill, green onions and pepper.

Fluff with fork and serve warm.

Chicken in a Pocket

Yet another recipe thanks to the Detroit Knotties! This is very yummy and surprisingly easy!

3/4 - 1 pound chicken tenderloins
1 package crescent rolls (we used reduced fat)
4 oz. cream cheese, softened (we used fat free)
1/4 cup diced onion
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

4 oz. sour cream (we used fat free)
1/2 cream of chicken soup (we used reduced fat)
2-3 splashes of milk
1 tablespoon dried parsley

  1. Preheat oven according to directions on the crescent roll package
  2. Heat a little olive oil over medium-high heat in a sauce pan. Add chicken, onions and salt and pepper (to taste) and saute until chicken is no longer pink.
  3. Remove chicken and onions from pan and onto a cutting board. Allow the chicken to cool slightly. Dice up chicken.
  4. In a bowl, mix together diced chicken and cream cheese
  5. Spread the crescent rolls out on a cookie sheet.
  6. Place about 1/8 of the chicken mixture into the center of a crescent dough triangle.
  7. Fold up the two short corners of the roll over the chicken, then take the long corner and fold it over the mixture. You should still be able to see some of the mixture.
  8. Bake the chicken bundles according to the directions on the crescent roll package.
  9. While the bundles are baking, combine the sour cream, soup, milk and parsley in a sauce pan. Heat over low heat, stirring occasionally.
  10. Put a few spoonfuls of sauce on a plate and place 2 chicken bundles on top. Enjoy!

Sweet and Salty Bars

I was given this recipe from some of my teammates on my co-ed softball team, Team Husky Pants. Steve absolutely loves these and were a hit at our annual Opening Day party this past March.

Bottom Layer
1 package yellow cake mix
1/3 cup margarine
1 egg

Combine the above ingredients until crumbly and press into a 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-18 minutes, or until golden brown.

Middle Layer
3 cups miniature marshmallows

After taking the bottom layer out of the oven, immediately pour the marshmallows on top. Bake for 1-2 minutes, or until fluffy. Take out and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Top Layer
While the marshmallows are baking and cooling...

In a sauce pan, heat:
2/3 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup margarine
2 teaspoons of vanilla
10 oz. package of peanut butter chips

Stir the above ingredients until melted. Remove from heat.

Stir in:
2 cups Rice Krispies
2 cups salted peanuts

Immediately spoon this mixture over the marshmallow layer...try to spread as best you can over the dish.

Chill to firm. For best results, allow to firm over night in the fridge. I recommend letting it sit out for a bit after taking it out of the fridge so it is easier to cut. Cutting it is the hardest part!

Taco Bake

This is another recipe posted to the Detroit Board on the Knot! It is very yummy and is a Detroit board favorite!

1 pound ground round (can also use ground turkey or chicken for a healthier option)
1 package taco seasoning
15 oz. can tomato sauce
8 ounces seashell pasta
8 oz. package cream cheese (softened)
1/2 cup sour cream
8 oz. package shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown ground meat, drain. Add taco seasoning and tomato sauce. Bring meat, seasoning and tomato sauce to a boil, then let simmer for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, cook pasta according to directions on packaging then drain. Mix the softened cream cheese and sour cream in a separate bowl.

Spray the bottom of a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Place cooked pasta in the bottom of the pan. Drop dollops of the sour cream and cream cheese mixture about an inch apart and try to spread as best you can across the pasta. Spoon the ground meat mixture over this layer, then finally, sprinkle the shredded cheddar on top.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Allow to cool about 15-20 minutes before serving.

Crockpot Salsa Chicken

This recipe was posted to the Detroit Board of the Knot, and has become a fast favorite at our household. It inspired Steve to buy an entire cookbook of Crock Pot recipes!

This is very yummy and easy...just throw it all in the pot and let it do all the work! Plus, it is very easy to halve it to make it more portion friendly for two and it easy to make low fat with reduced sodium and low fat ingredients!

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (you can even use full frozen ones, trust me, they cook in more than enough time!)
1 cup salsa
1 package taco seasoning
1 can condensed cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup (I always use cream of mushroom)
1/2 cup sour cream

Mix together the soup and salsa. Place chicken in the Crock Pot. Sprinkle taco seasoning over the chicken. Then pour the soup and salsa mixture over the chicken.

Cook on "Low" for 6-8 hours, then shred the chicken with a fork (it is so easy to d0). Mix in the sour cream until it is thoroughly heated.

Serve with white rice, flour tortillas or even tortilla chips!

Here we go!

I am new to this world of blogging and cooking as well, so this should be a fun adventure for all! I hope people can share some of these recipes on here with friends and family and share the love we all have around eating yummy things!

Happy cooking!


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