Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bustin' My Chops

On to a grill that is... We are trying to enjoy being outside more, so we utilize the grill as much as possible. We seem to eat a lot of chicken, so tonight I thought I'd mix it up a bit and grill some pork chops. These were very juicy and flavorful. I did a foil packet of veggies on the side, and they were pretty good. I think I'll add some garlic to them next time, to kick it up a little.

Pork Chop Willy's Grilling Rub

3 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon coarse salt, either kosher or sea salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
Six to eight 10- to 11-ounce bone-in pork rib chops, 3/4 to 1 inch thick
Vegetable oil spray

At least 1 and up to 8 hours before you plan to grill the pork chops, prepare the dry rub, combining the ingredients in a small bowl. Coat the chops with the spice mixture, place them in a large plastic bag, seal, and refrigerate.

Fire up the grill, bringing the heat to medium.

Remove the chops from the refrigerator and let them sit covered at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

Spray the chops with oil and transfer them to the grill. Grill for 18 to 20 minutes total. Turn onto each side twice, rotating the chops a half turn each time to get criss-cross grill marks. The chops are done when just a hint of pink remains at the center. Serve hot.

Source: Epicurious.com

Yellow Squash, Tomato, & Onion Packets

1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium yellow squash, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
4 large plum tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup KRAFT Shredded Parmesan Cheese

Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Place onions in center of (24x18-inch) sheet of foil; top with squash and tomatoes. Sprinkle with basil.

Bring up foil sides. Double fold top and ends to seal, leaving room for heat circulation inside.

Grill 15 min. or until vegetables are tender. Open top of packet; sprinkle vegetables with cheese. Let stand 3 min. or until cheese is melted.

Source: Kraftfoods.com

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Brown Baggin' It

I'm tired of the usual frozen entree for lunch, so to get myself motivated to go back to work after a vacation, I made chicken salad to have with mixed greens and tomato slices for lunch tomorrow. I thought I'd try a Barefoot Contessa recipe, and of course it turned out great, even though I did make a few slight changes.

Chicken Salad Contessa
1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts
Olive oil
Kosher Salt
Black pepper
1 cup walnuts halves
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1/2 cup light sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves, divided
1 cup green grapes, cut in 1/2
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Set aside until cool.

When the chicken is cool, cut chicken into a 3/4-inch dice.

Meanwhile, place the walnuts on a separate sheet pan and toast in the oven for 7 to 8 minutes until golden. Set aside to cool.

For the dressing, mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream, 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Fold in half the chopped tarragon leaves.
Place the diced chicken in a bowl, add the walnuts and grapes. Pour the dressing over the chicken and toss well. Sprinkle the remaining chopped tarragon leaves on top, and serve on a bed of lettuce leaves.
Source: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa

Back to the Real World

We're finally all unpacked and getting ready to head back to the real world. I picked a few tasty looking grilled recipes to try this week. Tonight we tried some grilled BBQ chicken with a tangy orange twist. Very good! I'm looking forward to the leftovers tomorrow.

Citrus Barbecued Chicken Breasts
1-1/2 cups Barbecue Sauce
1 Tbsp. grated orange peel
1/3 cup orange juice
6 large boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 2 lb.)

Mix barbecue sauce, orange peel and juice. Reserve 1/2 cup of the barbecue sauce mixture. Pour remaining barbecue sauce mixture into shallow baking dish. Add chicken; turn to evenly coat both sides of each chicken breast. Cover.

Refrigerate 30 min. to marinate. Drain; discard marinade.

Preheat greased grill to medium heat. Grill chicken 12 to 15 min. or until tender and no longer pink in centers (170°F), turning and brushing occasionally with the reserved 1/2 cup barbecue sauce mixture after 8 min.

Source: Kraftfoods.com

Tasty Treats in Tucson

We had a great trip out to Arizona to visit Scott's Dad & Step-mom. We spent 5 relaxing days hanging out in the sun, visiting the sites, and spending time with Scott's family. I also got to take a little road trip down to Tucson. I went to visit my old college roomie, Andrea, and her new beau, Moose (aka Eric). I had a great, but way too short visit. We went and had some great wine, Masi Campofiorin at dinner. Because the wine was so good, we headed to Bev Mo (the "Wal-Mart of Liquor" as Andrea puts it) and bought a few bottles. We decided that we would also make some Peach Sangria. We found it ironic that both of us had seen a Peach Sangria at Applebee's and both of us had taken the time to write down the ingredients from the menu. So we bought the required ingredients and concocted a very yummy sangria. The next morning, Andrea & Moose fixed a quick and very healthy breakfast that I enjoyed before hitting the road and heading back to Sun City. Here are the two recipes we enjoyed:

*note- I didn't take a picture, this one is borrowed from Martha Stewart

Peachy Sangria Ala Andrea & Crista

1 bottle White Zinfandel
1 liter Lemon-Lime Soda
1 small can Pineapple Juice (approx 10 oz)
1/2 cup Peach Schnapps
frozen peach slices for garnish

Mix together and serve. Yum!

Source: Applebees inspired us.

Turkey Waffles

sliced deli turkey
sliced apple
whole wheat waffle

Prepare as seen in the picture for a healthy and very tasty breakfast.

Source: Andrea & Moose

Friday, April 18, 2008

Freaky Friday

Today has been a long, but very interesting day. It started this morning when I was awakened by an earthquake at 5:38am. I was completely dazed and startled when I woke from my slumber and immediately started questioning why the bed was swaying and the windows were rattling loudly. Without missing a beat, or even opening and eyelid, Scott said, "its just an earthquake, go back to sleep." Now maybe if I lived in California, that would have been the case, but here in Indiana, it is exciting! The rest of the day was absolutely gorgeous with perfect weather, so we couldn't resist using the grill and eating outside on the deck.

Alongside steak for myself, and chicken for Scott, I grilled veggies and potato packets.

Zesty Grilled Veggies

2 medium zucchini, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 red pepper, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
1 yellow pepper, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
2 Tablespoons Kraft Fat Free Zesty Italian Dressing
1 Tablespoon Grated Parmesan Cheese

Preheat grill to medium heat. Place vegetables in a greased grill basket.
Grill 10 min. or until crisp-tender, turning occasionally. Place in large bowl.
Add dressing; toss to coat. Sprinkle with cheese.

Source: Adapted from Kraftfoods.com

Grilled Potato & Mushroom Packets

2 baking potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large white onion, sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried parsley
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Sour cream

Preheat grill for high heat.

Toss potato slices, onion slices, and mushrooms in olive oil and salt, pepper, parsley, and garlic.
Fold up into 2 large and liberally greased foil sheets, sealing tighly.

Place on the preheated grill, and cook 25 minutes, turning once, or until potatoes are tender. Sprinkle potatoes with Cheddar cheese, reseal foil packets, and continue cooking 5 minutes, until cheese is melted. Serve with sour cream if desired.

Source: Adapted from Allrecipes.com

Red Velvet Cup Cakes

I watched Paula Deen make these a few weeks ago, and have been tempted ever since. This week we had girls night, so I volunteered to bring dessert to have an excuse to make these very moist and sinful cupcakes!

Red Velvet Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 pound cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting: In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Second Best Lasagna

I found this recipe on one of my favorite cooking blogs, The Pioneer Woman Cooks. It touts itself being the Best Lasagna Ever. It was delicious, and I will be making it again, but I still have to stay that my grandmother's lasagna was the best ever. This comes pretty darn close though! Definitely try this recipe the next time you are craving some gooey lasagna!

Pioneer Woman's Best Lasagna Ever

1-1/2 pounds ground beef
1 pound hot breakfast sausage
2 cloves minced garlic
2 14.5 oz cans whole tomatoes
12 oz can tomato paste
2 T dried parsley flakes
2 T dried basil
1 t salt
8 lasagna noodles, cooked to al dente
1 lb sliced (deli-style) mozzarella cheese
3 cups lowfat cottage cheese
2 beaten eggs
½ cup Kraft Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
2 T dried parsley flakes
1 tsp salt

In a skillet, combine 1 1/2 pounds ground beef, 1 pound hot breakfast sausage, and 2 cloves minced garlic. Cook until brown. Drain off about half the fat (or more, to taste). After that, add two 14.5-oz cans of whole tomatoes, two 6-oz cans of tomato paste, 2 tablespoons of dried parsley flakes, 2 tablespoons dried basil and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix together thoroughly and simmer, uncovered, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the meat mixture is cooking, mix 3 cups lowfat cottage cheese in a bowl with 2 beaten eggs. To the cottage cheese, add 1/2 cup Kraft Parmesan Cheese, 2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes, and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix together well.

Lay four cooked lasagna noodles in the bottom of the pan, overlapping as you go. Spread half of the cottage cheese mixture evenly over the noodles. Then lay 1/2 pound of mozzarella cheese slices on top of the cottage cheese mixture. Spread a little less than half of the meat mixture over the mozzarella cheese slices until it’s evenly distributed.

Repeat and finish with meat mixture. Top with a pretty generous layer of good ole Kraft grated parm. Now pop it in a 350-degree oven for 20-30 minutes, until hot and bubbly. (Alternately, you could cover and freeze it, unbaked, at this point or cover and refrigerate, unbaked, for up to two days before baking.)

Source: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Fruity Breakfast Burrito

I wanted to whip up something for breakfast that involved stuff I need to use up. I have a ton of strawberries and bananas, and some left over tortillas. Combined with a few pantry staples, this was a delicious treat!

Strawberry & Banana PB Burrito

1 fajita sized flour tortilla
1/4 cup diced strawberries
1 diced small banana
2 Tablespoons peanut butter
1 teaspoon of honey

Spread peanut butter over tortilla, top with diced fruit and drizzle with honey.

Pizza Night!

No ordering take out here! We decided to make our own pizza. Since we both love buffalo chicken wings, we tried Rachel Ray's Wingless Buffalo Chicken Pizza. It was great with a side of ranch dressing for dipping. I did make a little alteration by pre-baking the pizza crust, as recommended by Pillsbury, and it came out perfectly crispy. In the words of Rachel Ray, this meal was YUM-O!

Wingless Buffalo Chicken Pizza

3/4 pound chicken breast cutlets
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
2 teaspoons grill seasoning, (Montreal Seasoning)
1 pizza dough, Pillsbury
Cornmeal or flour, to handle dough
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoons Frank’s Buffalo Wing Hot Sauce
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
3 scallions, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Preheat grill pan to high.

Place chicken on a plate and drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over the chicken then season with grill seasoning. When grill is hot, add chicken and cook about 3 minutes on each side.

Stretch dough to form pizza using cornmeal or flour to help you handle it. If you let it rest and warm up a few minutes it will handle even easier. Set pizza on pizza pan to the side and clean board. Per package instructions, pre-bake pizza crust for 8 min at 425.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt butter and stir in Worcestershire, hot sauce, and tomato sauce. Remove the chicken from grill and thinly slice it. Add chicken to sauce and coat.

Cover the pizza dough with the saucy Buffalo chicken, cheeses, and scallions. Bake 18 minutes or until crisp.

Source: adapted from Rachel Ray's recipe on foodtv.com

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Double Duty Recipe

Not only was this recipe incredibly healthy and delicious, it also does double duty by allowing you to freeze half for another meal later. Even if you are a meat lover at heart, I dare you to try this recipe, and you won't even notice anything missing. (To freeze half for later, follow the instructions, preparing one dish for now, and freezing the other.)

Veggie Enchiladas

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for baking dishes
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium vegetable broth
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3 cups grated pepper Jack cheese (12 ounces)
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 box (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 box (10 ounces) frozen corn kernels, thawed
6 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
16 corn tortillas (6-inch)

Make sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add 1 teaspoon cumin, flour, and tomato paste; cook, whisking, 1 minute. Whisk in broth and 3/4 cup water; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook until slightly thickened, 5 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Make filling: In a large bowl, combine 2 cups cheese, beans, spinach, corn, scallion whites, and remaining 1 teaspoon cumin; season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil two 8-inch square baking dishes; set aside. Stack tortillas, and wrap in damp paper towels; microwave on high for 1 minute. Or stack and wrap in aluminum foil, and heat in oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Top each tortilla with a heaping 1/3 cup of filling; roll up tightly and arrange, seam side down, in prepared baking dishes.

Dividing evenly, sprinkle enchiladas with remaining 1 cup cheese, and top with sauce. Bake, uncovered, until hot and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool 5 minutes; serve garnished with scallion greens.

To freeze: Prepare enchiladas through step 3; top with cheese, and cover baking dishes with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. Place sauce in an airtight container. Freeze enchiladas and sauce for up to 2 months.

To bake from frozen: Thaw sauce in refrigerator overnight (or microwave on high 2 minutes, stirring once halfway through). Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove foil and plastic wrap from baking dishes, and pour sauce over enchiladas; cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes; remove foil, and bake until bubbly, about 15 minutes more. Cool 5 minutes before serving.

Source: Martha Stewart

Mulligan would give the meal a two thumbs up, if he had thumbs.

Happy Birthday Ali!

This week one of my best friends had a birthday. I wanted to give her a useful gift, and also do something friendly for the environment. So for her gift I bought her a re-usable canvas grocery bag and filled it with the essentials, which included 6 bottles of her favorite wine and a container of these simple but very yummy treats!

White Chocolate Covered Pretzels with Peanut Butter Drizzle

1 large brick of white chocolate
1 bag of mini pretzels
1 bag of peanut butter morsels
food coloring

Melt the white chocolate and peanut butter morsels in separate double boilers. Stir in desired amount of food coloring, in this case pink, Ali's signature color!

Toss mini pretzels in the white chocolate to coat and lay them on wax paper to cool. Using a pastry bag with a small tip (or zip lock bag with corner cut) drizzle the melted peanut butter over the pretzels. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container.

Carnitas Take 2

Awhile back I made some really tasty crockpot carnitas. They were good, but not spicy enough for my taste. I found a different recipe and this one had a lot more flavor! I highly recommend it!

Crockpot Carnitas

3 lb. pork butt roast
1 onion, sliced into rings
4 garlic cloves
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp cumin
2-3 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and deveined, cut into strips
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, leaves only
1 can beer (12 ounces)
salt and pepper

Insert garlic cloves in roast; place in Crock Pot with onion, herbs, jalapeno peppers and cilantro which has been chopped. Season to taste. Pour in beer. Cook on high 4 to 6 hours until fork tender. Remove meat; shred. Or can be placed in roasting pan in preheated oven (450ยบ) for about 15 minutes before shredding. Serve with warm tortillas, shredded cheese and pico de gallo.

We had enough meat for leftovers, and I made shredded pork nachos with the meat the next night, and they were great also!

Source: http://kayaksoup.blogspot.com/

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Movin' to a New Ranch Potatoes

This week two of my friends (and fellow bloggers), Miss Burns & The Alberts moved in to new digs. I was able to help one of them, and it was a good thing I did because she (Miss Burns) fell under the weather in the midst of the move. Here's to speedy unpacking and recoveries to all of my friends in their new homes...

Cheese Ranch Potato Bake

1 bag Simply Potatoes (diced potatoes w/onions)
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
2 TBS butter, cubed
1/2 cup shredded Colby Jack cheese
1/4 cup Ranch dressing

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8x8 casserole dish.

Place the potatoes in the dish and season evenly with chili powder, salt, & pepper. Evenly distribute butter over the potatoes.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour, until potatoes are tender. Remove from oven and mix in Ranch dressing and cheese. Continue cooking 10 minutes, until cheese is melted.

Source: adapted from Allrecipes.com