Sunday, April 26, 2015

Recipe Testing

I made a version of this Baked Spaghetti Squash and Cheese, but I made the following changes based on what I had on hand:
  • replace skim milk with 2% milk
  • replace fat free chicken broth with low sodium chicken broth
  • replace reduced fat mild cheddar with sharp cheddar
  • replace 4 cups baby spinach with 4 cups baby spinach, kale, and chard blend
  • add 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • add 2 caprese chicken sausages, chopped
  • add italian bread crumbs to parmesan topping
Can you tell low-fat isn't my thing? This recipe didn't really set up, it turned out fairly soupy after its time in the oven. The flavor, however, was fantastic. Next time I'd wring out the spaghetti squash as much as possible and reduce the amount of chicken broth.

*****
I wanted to use up my baby greens blend, so I made a Spinach Dip from this recipe Stovetop Spinach Dip and altered the recipe based on what I had on hand:
  • replace frozen spinach with fresh baby kale, spinach, and chard blend
  • replace onion with leeks
  • omit water chestnuts
This turned out very tasty, and I'll definitely try it again. It would be a great easy potluck recipe!

*****

I purchased some cubed steak on sale and made the Pioneer Woman's Fried Round Steak, which was very tasty! I served it with roast potatoes and steamed asparagus with lemon butter.

While we're talking about the Pioneer Woman and steak, I should mention that my go-to recipe for Philly Cheese Steak is her MM Sandwich, PW Style. This is so delicious! The mushrooms really take it to the next level. I serve it with freezer fries. Yum!

*****

While out I found a good deal on some boneless beef chuck western style ribs, and not knowing much about beef I snatched them up. When I got home I looked them up and discovered they come from the shoulder, not the ribs, and can be rather tough. Low & slow was the recommended cooking method, so I decided to make them in the crock pot. I seasoned them with salt and pepper and browned them in a skillet before putting them into the crock pot. I used the same skillet to sautee a diced onion and added that on top of the "ribs." Then I poured a bottle of beer and some NC Style (vinegar based) BBQ sauce in the crock pot, covered it, and cooked them on low for the day. I served them up with corn on the cobb, salad, and stuffing.

*****

I felt like making something that would freeze well for an easy dinner later this week, so I made the Pioneer Woman's Lasagna. I really enjoy most of the recipes the Pioneer Woman has, so I figured this would be a winner. I didn't have any tomato paste on hand, so I left that out. I also only had dried basil, and I just estimated the amounts there. This turned out to be a tasty lasagna recipe, though a bit basic. Perhaps the two items I didn't have would have given it the extra flavor I was hoping for.

*****

We got a deep fryer recently, so I decided to try it out with some Beer Battered Chicken Tenders! Yum!

I also made Pioneer Woman's Chicken Tenders, but I made nuggets instead. I made a few other alterations to the recipe:

  • deep fry nuggets for about 4 - 5 minutes in batches of roughly 10 nuggets at a time
  • add to flour mixture 1tsp oregano, 1tsp paprika, and 1/4tsp garlic powder
  • replace buttermilk with 2% (because that's what I had at home)

These turned out awesome! Definitely the "extra crispy" version with the little bits of batter stuck to the chicken! I think adding spices to the flour mixture really helps, and I will probably tweak this over time (if I make it often enough) until I get the spices just how I'd like.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

FUDGE!

Fudge! What a tasty treat that can be so easily adapted to so many palates. I have been making fudge using the same quick and simple recipe for years now, but when I talk about fudge with people I usually hear comments about how difficult it is to make. Well that doesn't need to be the case when I have an easy recipe that is made in the microwave! I have done this with white, milk, and semi-sweet chocolate chips as well as peanut butter chips and it turned out great every time. I've added orange zest, coconut, nuts, crushed peppermints... even made Funfetti Cake Batter Fudge! Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:
3 cups chocolate chips
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup butter, softened or melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
additions as desired (see "Additions" below)

Directions:
Line an 8x8" or 9x9" pan with foil. Combine first 3 ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and stir to coat chips with butter and milk. Microwave on high for 30 seconds at a time, stirring very well between microwaving. The key to this is to heat the chocolate slowly and stir the fudge very well, say for 30 - 45 seconds, after each microwaving. It should only need to be microwaved 2 or 3 times before it's smooth and all the chips are melted. Once it's smooth stir in the vanilla extract. If you're using additions add them now. Pour fudge into your prepared pan and refrigerate until set, 3 - 4 hours. Carefully remove foil and cut into small pieces, I usually cut an 8x8" pan into 36 pieces

Additions:
For orange chocolate add 2 teaspoons fresh orange zest
For coconut add 1/2 - 3/4 cup sweetened coconut flakes (I usually combine this with nuts and add 1/2 cup each)
For walnuts add 3/4 - 1 cup chopped nuts
For peppermint add or top with 3/4 cup crushed peppermint (for a prettier look use a mesh strainer to remove the dusty part of the crushed peppermint, and press the chunks into the top of the fudge)

Funfetti Cake Batter Fudge

Funfetti Cake Batter Fudge

Ingredients:
3 cups white chocolate chips
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup butter, softened or melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup sprinkles

Directions:
Line an 8x8" or 9x9" pan with foil. Combine first 3 ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and stir to coat chips with butter and milk. Microwave on high for 30 seconds at a time, stirring very well between microwaving. The key to this is to heat the chocolate slowly and stir the fudge very well, say for 30 - 45 seconds, after each microwaving. It should only need to be microwaved 2 or 3 times before it's smooth and all the chips are melted. Once the fudge is smooth add the extracts and stir well. Gently fold in the sprinkles. Be careful not to stir the sprinkles too much; if they melt they'll turn the fudge brown. Pour fudge into your prepared pan and refrigerate until set, 3 - 4 hours. Carefully remove foil and cut into small pieces, I usually cut an 8x8" pan into 36 pieces.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Recipe Testing: February 2015

I've made this Perfect Queso Dip recipe twice now, and I concluded that I simply bought the wrong type of Queso. I bought "Queso Fresco" and it crumbles in the way feta does. It never truly melted in my Queso dip, so I wound up with a soupy liquid with cheese curds. I have since purchased Queso Quesadilla which bragged about it's melt on the packaging, and I'm hoping for better results. The overall flavor was the most similar to what I've had in restaurants, so I'm feeling pretty optimistic about this one! I also found the Queso Quesadilla with jalapenos in it, so I'll experiment with that at some point too.

I made Alton Brown's Cocoa Brownies recipe recently as well (and added M&Ms) and oooooohhhhh man are these good!!! They're dense, gooey brownies. The M&Ms worked really well, and I think lots of other things could be added (coconut? nuts? PB chips? toffee? peppermints?) and be very tasty. I would recommend serving these with milk, whipped cream, or even vanilla ice cream!

This afternoon I will make, and tomorrow morning I will bake these Cream Cheese Biscuits. I had Cream Cheese Biscuits at Whole Foods recently and loved them, and I'm hoping this will be a recreation at home! Side note: I never have buttermilk on hand, so I usually make a substitute. TheKitchn suggests combining 1TB white vinegar with 1 scant cup milk and letting it sit for 10 minutes, or thinning sour cream or yogurt with milk.

Bright and early tomorrow morning while I'm baking biscuits I'll also be starting No-Knead Chewy Sandwich Rolls for cold cut sub lunches! I'm not too good with this type of baking, but I'm excited to be trying it out!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Weekly Meal Plan: Mon, Nov. 18 - Sun, Nov. 24

Mon, Nov. 18:
Take-out

Tues, Nov. 19:
Dinner out with the barn girls

Weds, Nov. 20:
Leftovers

Thurs, Nov. 21:
Italian Chicken Sausage Simmered in Mushroom & Bell Pepper Tomato Sauce over Pasta with Steamed Asparagus

Fri, Nov. 22:
Pepperoni Pizza

Sat, Nov. 23:
Ranch Oven Fried Drumsticks, Caesar Salad, and Leftover Pasta with Cheese Sauce

Sun, Nov. 24:
Italian Sausage Marinara Croissant Sandwiches and Freezer Fries

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Weekly Meal Plan: Mon, Nov. 11 - Sun, Nov. 17

Mon, Nov. 11:
Mexican Take-out

Tues, Nov. 12:
Chicken Eggplant Jalfrezi over Jasmine Rice with Naan Bread

Weds, Nov. 13:
Leftover Chicken Enchilada Soup

Thurs, Nov. 14:
Dinner out at Horsemasters

Fri, Nov. 15:
Date Night at the local BBQ Shop

Sat, Nov. 16:
Chinese Take-out

Sun, Nov. 17:
Philly Cheese Steak and Freezer Fries

Also make: Friendship Bread Belgian Waffles, Broiled Buffalo Chicken Drumsticks, Crock Pot Stock, and [Modified]Garlicky White Bean and Chard Soup

Weekly Meal Plan: Mon, Nov. 4 - Sun, Nov. 10

Mon, Nov. 4:
Mexican Take-out

Tues, Nov. 5:
Surprise Dinner Date!

Weds, Nov. 6:
Slow Cooker Braised & Broiled BBQ Pork Ribs, Mashed Potatoes, and Salad

Thurs, Nov. 7:
Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup

Fri, Nov. 8:
Chicken Andouille Sausage and Sauteed Mushrooms over Creamy Chili Cheese Grits

Also make: Banana Bread Muffins

Sat, Nov. 9:
Leftover Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup

Also make: Pineapple Margaritas

Sun, Nov. 10:
Leftovers