Saturday, September 8, 2007

Chicken Souvlaki with Tzaziki Sauce

I can't quite remember if I have posted this recipe before, but even if I have, it's worth mentioning again. It's called Chicken Souvlaki with Tzaziki Sauce. It has very strong flavors, which I like A LOT. I actually do it a bit differently than how the recipe states, so I will give you the recipe as is, then tell you how I 'make it my own'.

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into (1/2-inch-thick) slices
Cooking spray

Tzatziki Sauce:
1/2 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded, and shredded
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt (greek yogurt if possible)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced


To prepare souvlaki, combine the first 5 ingredients in a zip-top plastic bag; seal and shake to combine. Add chicken to bag; seal and shake to coat. Marinate chicken in refrigerator for 30 minutes, turning once.

Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade. Thread the chicken and zucchini, alternately onto each of 4 (8-inch) skewers.

Heat a grill pan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add skewers; cook 8 minutes or until chicken is done, turning once.

To prepare tzatziki sauce, combine cucumber, yogurt, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 garlic clove, stirring well. Serve the tzatziki sauce with souvlaki.


2 servings (serving size: 2 skewers and about 1/4 cup tzatziki sauce)

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 219(19% from fat); FAT 4.7g (sat 1.3g,mono 2.3g,poly 0.6g); PROTEIN 30.9g; CHOLESTEROL 69mg; CALCIUM 161mg; SODIUM 705mg; FIBER 2.4g; IRON 1.4mg; CARBOHYDRATE 12.3g

My changes:
I marinate the chicken as stated, without the zucchini. Let it sit for a few hours to overnight (most times I don't wait overnight because I don't like to think that far ahead) and fry it in a frying pan until the chicken is done. If you fry it like I do, add some cooking spray to the bottom of a pan and just add the chicken, NOT THE MARINADE. The marinade it too delicate and WILL burn. Discard the marinade unless you are making a second round of the chicken the next day.

I eat the chicken as is. In fact, I eat it both hot and cold. Hot when I am eating it with a pita, and cold for the left overs. It is really good cold - in fact, I eat the chicken as finger food when I am hungry in between meals. Lots of lean protein and flavor.

I serve the chicken in a pita with some tzaziki sauce and cut up fresh tomatoes and/or cucumbers. I also make a side dish of fresh cut tomatoes and cucumbers in tzaziki sauce.

Speaking of the Tzaziki Sauce - my modifications are: Not so much garlic. I use just a tiny bit of raw garlic because the whole clove is WAY to overpowering. I use yogurt, some sour cream, previously stated tiny amount of raw garlic, garlic powder, dill - fresh or dried, cucumber that is peeled, seeded and grated with a cheese grater, lemon and of course salt. I don't have the exact quantities since I mix and taste as I go, but if you are going to modify the recipe, start with the basic recipe and modify from there. A tend to add almost equal parts of sour cream and yogurt (but the sour cream isn't necessary - my husband happens to LOVE sour cream). Once I get the grated cucumber in there, I add and taste until I like it.

Let me know if you have any questions! :) Happy Cooking!!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cherry Delight

Cherry Delight:
1 - 20oz. can of Cherry Pie filling (I use different fillings like Apple or Blueberry too - Comstock is the brand I use)
1/2 box of white cake mix
1/2 stick of margarine
1/2 cup of nuts of your choice

Melt margarine and pour it over the cake mix. Mix it up with your fingers so it becomes crumbly. Mix in the nuts. In an 8x8 baking dish, pour in cherry/blueberry/apple pie filling. Over the pie filling, sprinkle the cake mixture (should be kinda dry and crumbly). Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes until heated through. Serve with whipped cream on top.

I am telling ya folks, this is the easiest dessert ever and it's so incredibly yummy. I swear ladies, make this when your husband isn't looking and he will think you are amazing. It's so easy, but the taste is amazing. My step-dad who was on a diet for most of my teenage years and young adult life would wait until the middle of the night and eat the WHOLE THING. It's irresistible. :)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bread Recipes

Here are a couple of recipes for homemade breads I made last week:

Carrot-Raisin Bread

1 1/2 Cup sifted all purpose flour
1/2 C sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 egg, beaten
1/2 C water
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 C finely shredded carrots
1/4 C chopped pecans
1/4 C golden raisins

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Lightly oil a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.
  2. Stir together dry ingredients in large mixing bowl. Make a well in center of dry mixture.
  3. In separate bowl, mix together remaining ingredients; add this mixture all at once to dry ingredients. Stir just enough to moisten and evenly distribute carrots.
  4. Turn into prepared pan. Bake for 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  5. Cool 5 minutes in pan. Remove from pan and complete cooling on a wire rack before slicing.

Yield: One loaf--Serving Size: 1/2-inch slice

Each serving provides:

Calories: 99
Total fat: 3 g
Saturated fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: 12 mg
Sodium: 97 mg

Review: I really liked this bread. It comes out a bit orange because of the high amount of carrot, but it was good. It has just enough sweetness without being too overly sweet. I will definitely be making this again.

Apricot-Orange Bread


(6 oz) package of dried apricots cut into small pieces
2 C water
2 Tbsp margarine
1 C sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 Tbsp freshly grated orange peel
3-1/2 C sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 C nonfat dry milk powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 C orange juice
1/2 C chopped pecans

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Lightly oil two 9x5-inch loaf pan.
  2. Cook apricots in water in a covered medium-size saucepan for 10-15 minutes or until tender but not mushy. Drain; reserve 3/4 cup liquid. Set apricots aside to cool.
  3. Cream together margarine and sugar. By hand, beat in egg and orange peel.
  4. Sift together flour, dry milk, baking powder, soda, and salt. Add to creamed mixture alternately with reserved apricot liquid and orange juice.
  5. Stir apricot pieces and pecans into batter.
  6. Turn batter into prepared pans.
  7. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until bread springs back when lightly touched in center.
  8. Cool 5 minutes in pan. Remove from pan and completely cool on wire rack before slicing.

Yield: 2 loaves--Serving Size: 1/2-inch slice

Each serving provides:

Calories: 97
Total fat: 2 g
Saturated fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: 6 mg
Sodium: 113 mg

Review: I thought this bread was ok. It seemed like it was going to be a winner, but I think it's missing some spices - maybe a dash of cinnamon or something. I will make it again because it is a very attractive bread, but I will be adding some ingredients like maybe lemon and lemon zest - and maybe even some raisins or something.

Overall I liked both breads - the carrot raisin bread had a bit more flavor. And, to know me is to know that I really like BOLD flavors in what I eat. The apricot orange bread had mild flavors. Happy Baking!!!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Tomato and Bean Stoup

I just got done making this, and from what I can tell so far, it's pretty good. Here's the recipe:

This recipe is straight from the Food Network cite...Thanks Rachel Ray!!!!!

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 small zucchini, sliced
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomato
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (15-ounce) can small white beans or cannellini beans
1 (10 ounces) box, cut frozen green beans
Salt and pepper
1 cup fresh basil, torn or shredded
Grated Parmigiano or Romano, to pass at table
Crusty bread, to pass at the table
Add extra-virgin olive oil to the pot, 2 turns of the pan. Add garlic and crushed red pepper flakes, stir then stir in the onions, carrots, celery and zucchini. Cook 10 minutes, then add in the stock, tomatoes and beans. Bring soup up to a bubble and season with salt and pepper, to your taste. Simmer 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and wilt the basil into the soup. Ladle up the soup and serve with grated cheese and bread.

Some of the comments on this recipe are:
*Add ground beef to make it a bit more hearty
*Definitely use the basil AND the cheese
*Let simmer a bit longer than recommended to get the veggies a bit softer
*Some didn't like the amount of pepper flakes and reduced it a bit
*Add an extra can of beans (this is what I did)
*Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches
*Add pasta or left over chicken to 'hearty it up' a bit

I hope you enjoy!!!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Too much

There is far too much to blog about - so, my default will be posting a new recipe. I could have blogged about my students, who are once again driving me batty (not all of them, just ONE student in particular). This student NEVER looks at the course calendar, yet, will send me an email in a second to find out what is due for the next class session.....uh, yeah moron, try looking at your calendar BEFORE emailing your professor to answer your asinine questions. Sometimes I feel like I am teaching kids to walk, or better yet, potty train...but I digress.

I could have blogged about the rafting, or better yet floating trip and super soaker wars we had over the weekend near North Lake Tahoe with my sister and her husband, which was really fun, but I am thinking something a bit more exciting for our annual rafting trip.

I could also have blogged about the fact that I finally found all of my Victoria's Secret products from living at the townhouse in the Bay Area. I came across my Sweet Temptation and Love Spell Body Spray and Bath Gel - Oh how excited am I? Once, about 3 or 4 years ago I walked by a man who I worked with on occasion and was wearing Love Spell - - - he literally stopped me, asked me what scent I was wearing because he wanted to get it for his wife, and then said to me, "wow, I am blushing, I need to get out of here - I will be waiting outside". Apparently Love Spell works.

But, I shall not blog about all of that. Instead, I will post a recipe that I make at home. It was served at a restaurant near San Jose State where I used to teach classes. Oh how I miss working at San Jose State. If I had my choice, I would transplant San Jose State to Placerville, students and all. I loved working there. Anyway, here it is:

Bell Peppers
Eggplant (optional)
Salmon, Chicken, Beef, Tofu, Lamb (any meat that BBQ's well will work)
Rice (Jasmine or Basmati will work)
Butter (I use no cholesterol butter substitute)
Extra large bullion cubes
Balsamic Vinegar
Marsala wine

Veggies/Meat: Cut veggies BIG - maybe 1 inch pieces (leave the mushrooms whole), put them on skewers. Make sure you put the protein on separate skewers - meat and veggies have different cooking times. Spray with some olive oil spray, a little salt and a little pepper. Cook over on open flame until done.

Rice: Any type of rice will work, just allow for proper cooking time. I really like the herb and vegetable rice medley that is sold in a package at Trader Joe's - but I make it with plain white or brown rice. Any rice that you use, either cook it in chicken broth, or add bullion cubes (I use 2 cups of rice with appropriate amount of water and two extra large bullion cubes). In addition to that, I add a bit of country crock, extra calcium butter substitute. Shawn likes real butter, but then again, he likes butter on everything. :) You can add the butter either during the cooking process (which is what I do), or after it's done.

Sauce: I make a Balsamic reduction to spoon over the rice/veggies/meat. Dice shallots and saute on low heat until soft. Add balsamic vinegar and marsala wine and let simmer until it's reduced by about half (make sure it coats the back of a spoon). I don't have specifics on how much to put in the pan, but I add and taste as I go. You can't get the sauce wrong as long as you do it to your particular taste. Last time I made it I didn't reduce it enough, but I thought it was still good. I love vinegar. :)

Serve as follows: rice on the bottom of the plate, skewers on top of the rice, and spoon the sauce over the top.

If you do it right, it should taste really good, lower in calories and fat than you would get in a restaurant. This recipe is sure to impress your guests. It's simple and delicious!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Tomato Lovers Pasta

Since I posted the last recipe, I have been thinking about how to make it better, and today I decided to tweak it a little. Here's what I did:

*1 can of petite cut tomatoes (mostly drained)
*4 - 6 medium vine ripened tomatoes (seeded and peeled)
*8 cloves of garlic (separated from the head, but still in their casing - do not peel)
*Artichokes packed in water (or oil, but drain the oil)
*12 oz. of pasta (I used a confetti pasta, but penne or other medium pasta will work)
*Fresh Basil (I skipped this today, but it would have made it soooo much better)
*Sundried tomatoes - I don't know how much, but DO NOT get the ones packed in oil. Get the
dried ones and reconstitute them in hot water until soft.
*Pine Nuts (to taste - I have no idea how much I put in, but add as much or as little as you'd like)
*2 Chicken Breasts - cut into bite size pieces and sauteed
*Olive Oil
*Fresh grated parmesan cheese
*Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In an 8x8 baking dish, add can of tomatoes and a splash (about a teaspoon to a teaspoon and a half of olive oil), salt and pepper
to taste
. In another 8x8 baking dish, add quartered tomatoes that are seeded and peeled. Add the garlic cloves to this 8x8 dish (I actually put the garlic into the pockets of the seeded tomatoes to keep them moist - it worked well). Splash the tomatoes and garlic cloves with a but of olive oil, about a teaspoon and a half, add salt and pepper to taste. Bake for about 40 minutes or so, but watch to make sure they don't burn.

Boil pasta to desired consistency, maybe a little aldente (or keep a bit of a bite to the pasta). Aldente means "to the tooth" - or translated, means sticks to the tooth a little bit. Anyway, while the pasta is cooking, sautee the chicken in a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Take the tomatoes out of the oven and remove the garlic. Squeeze the garlic into a bowl and smash the garlic into a paste (throw away the peels). When the pasta is done, add the roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic paste, reconstituted sundried tomatoes, artichokes, pine nuts, basil and chicken. Stir together. Add parmesan cheese to individual bowls. Yummy!

This is by far one of the best pasta dishes I have made yet. You MUST be a tomato lover in order to eat this dish (obviously I am a big fan - I eat fresh tomatoes by the bowl on a continuous basis). Since this is an original creation, let me know if you have any questions. And, if you decide to make it, send me a message. :)

Some of the items do not have quantities - I did that on purpose because I think that people need to experiement with food and find out what tastes good to them. I could easily say, 1/4 cup of basil shiffonade, but that's what I would like (or even more for that matter). I would just add little by little until it looks good and tastes good to you. If you need more specifics, message me and I can guestimate for you. :) Happy cooking!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

It's Time

For a new Recipe!!! Yeah!!!!! This one is from Ellie Krieger, and it's GREAT!!!! It's got yummy tomatoes, basil, beans and pasta. I LOVED this recipe....Shawn, not so much. He really liked the flavor, but didn't like the beans. I think next time I make it I will add some chicken and/or pine nuts to it to kick it up a bit. But, I really love the recipe just like it is. It's healthy, lower in calories and simple. Without further ado, here it is:

Penne with Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic, and White Beans

3 large tomatoes, cut into wedges
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1(15 ounce) can cannellini beans
1/2 pound penne pasta
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Slice each tomato into 8 wedges and discard the seeds. Put the tomato wedges and garlic into a 9 by 13-inch roasting pan. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and a few turns of pepper. Roast in the oven, uncovered, for 40 minutes.

Drain the beans into a large colander in the sink. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain the pasta into the colander containing the beans, so the hot pasta water will warm the beans. Return drained pasta and beans to the pasta pot.

When the tomatoes are done, pick out the garlic cloves, squeeze the garlic out of the skin into a small bowl and mash with a fork. Pour the roasted tomatoes into the pasta pot, add the garlic, the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the basil and additional salt and pepper, to taste. Toss to combine. Serve topped with the Parmesan.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The long awaited RECIPE!!!!

The Back Story:
When Shawn and I were dating I bought stuffed shells from Costco. Shawn LOVES stuffed shells - well, I say that lightly - Shawn has a love affair with stuffed shells. Costco does not carry them anymore and I have been unable to find them anywhere. So, to thank Shawn for all of the work he has been putting into the house for the upcoming party, I decided to make him stuffed shells - only I couldn't find EXTRA LARGE shells anywhere. I had to settle for manacotti - which, I might add, was a HUGE hit!!! I can't take credit for this recipe - as the idea was inspired by Giada De Laurentis (of course I took her recipe and tailored it to my taste).

The Recipe:
12 ounces (1 box) jumbo pasta shells (approximately 36 shells)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for greasing baking sheet
5 cups marinara sauce (I will not post my sauce recipe on here! I am very protective of my sauce recipe - but if you REALLY REALLY REALLY want the recipe - email me and I will send it to you - I love my readers). :)
2 (15-ounce) containers whole milk ricotta cheese
1 1/3 cups grated Parmesan
4 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves (I didn't use this)
3 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint leaves (I didn't use this either)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Lightly oil a 12 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish and set aside. Lightly oil the baking sheet and set aside.

Partially cook the pasta shells in a large pot of boiling salted water until slightly tender but still quite firm to the bite, about 4 to 6 minutes. You will continue cooking the shells in the oven after they have been stuffed. Using a slotted spoon, drain pasta shells and place on oiled baking sheet, spreading them out so that they don't stick together and allow to cool.

In a medium bowl, stir the ricotta, Parmesan, egg yolks, basil, parsley, mint, salt, and pepper. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spoon 1 1/4 cups of the sauce over the prepared baking dish. Fill the cooked shells with the cheese mixture, about 2 tablespoons per shell. Arrange the shells in the prepared dish. Spoon the remaining sauce over the shells, then sprinkle with the mozzarella.

Bake in the lower third of your oven until the filling is heated through and the top is golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Here's the OTHER recipe that was amazing (very easy - and tasty). Cheese and Rosemary Breadsticks:
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (fresh grated - don't use the stuff in the green can)
1/3 cup grated Gruyere (also fresh grated)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 (11-ounce) container refrigerated breadstick dough (recommended: Pillsbury)
Finely ground sea salt, optional
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line 2 heavy large baking sheets with silicone baking sheets or parchment paper. In a food processor, chop the Parmesan, Gruyere and rosemary together until coarsely chopped. Set the cheese mixture aside. Separate the dough strips. Using a pizza cutter or a large sharp knife, cut each dough strip in half lengthwise to form thin strips. Working with dough strip at a time, coat each strip with the cheese mixture, pressing very gently. Twist each cheese covered dough strip and place onto prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle with the salt, if you wish.

Bake until the breadsticks are golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the warm breadsticks to a basket and serve.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


This is one of the surprises for this week. I do not think that I will get to baking my other surprise, but I should get to it next week at some point. In any case, the two at the top ARE NOT what I baked. The tiny one in the front is though. I tried to replicate the taste of the blueberry cake located at the upper right, but didn't even come close. I have no idea how to do it. If you will recall, I am NOT a baker. I don't like baking, don't think I ever will. But in my meager attempt, I made the upside-down blueberry muffins. They are small (I like baked things small - well, simply because if I have a whole big cake sitting in front of me, I am likely to eat it ALL.....but not cake with frosting, because I don't like frosting very much). So, I have decided to make smaller versions of the BIG mama cakes sitting in the back. The pineapple upside-down cake is simple enough - but how do I make the blueberry ones? Look at the marbling of the blueberry upside-down cake - how does that happen in baking??? The best I could come up with last night was the little thing you see in front - it's not even close to tasting like the big ones in the back, but they did come out pretty darn good. So simple if you want the recipe:

1 box of cake mix - I used pound cake mix, but don't think I would use that again. (Maybe yellow next time).
Prepare cake as suggested.
In a saucepan, heat a no cholesterol butter substitute and some brown sugar.
In a muffin tin, place frozen blueberries at the bottom and about a tablespoon or so of the brown sugar mixture and then the cake mix on top of that. Fill about 2/3 of the way up. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean. While still warm, flip the pan over to reveal your blueberry upside-down muffin. The taste really good, but are NO WHERE NEAR completed. I will be experimenting again tonight with a recipe like this. (This is why I HATE BAKING!!!!)

Jambalaya (Emeril's Kicked-Up Jambalaya to be exact)

(Once again not my pic, but I am finding pics on the internet that look just like my other words, I am taking the easy way about again).

To continue on with my restaurant quality cooking, I decided to make Jambalaya last night. As Rachel Ray would say, "Yum O". I can't believe how good this came out. Don't be discouraged by the amount of ingredients, it's not hard to make. Here's the recipe:

Creole seasoning (recipe below)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces (I used 5 chicken breasts cut into 1 inch pieces)
1 1/2 pounds andouille sausage, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped bell pepper
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped thyme leaves
1 cup chopped tomatoes (I used a can of chopped tomatoes)
6 cups water
2 cups rice
Salt and pepper
1 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped parsley

Creole seasoning:
Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Season chicken pieces with Creole seasoning. Add some olive oil to pot and when hot, add chicken pieces and saute until browned, about 8 minutes. Remove and set aside. Add sausage and cook until browned. Add onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, bay leaves, cayenne (if you want it MORE spicy than it already is. If not, leave out) and thyme and cook until vegetables are wilted, about 6 minutes. Add tomatoes and water and return chicken pieces to pot. Season with salt and pepper and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Add rice to pot, stir well and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and cook for 15 minutes. Add shrimp, green onions and parsley to Dutch oven, mixing carefully, and continue to cook, covered, for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit 10 minutes before serving. (This is where I seasoned the shrimp and sauted it until done and then stirred it into the Jambalaya. I find that if you cook the shrimp ahead of time, the little suckers get tough and don't stay nice and soft like if you just cook them).

Monday, April 23, 2007

Baking and more

This week I am going to bake something special. Actually, probably two something specials - but I am not going to ruin the surprise, so I will post a pick when I am done.

In addition to the baking, I am going to make a special dinner at some point this week - probably later on in the week at some point. But again, I will post pics as soon as I do it. :)

Too many surprises this week, I'm so excited!!! :)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

To balance things out

Since I posted a very yummy, but very caloric recipe yesterday I decided that I need to balance things out a bit (just so y'all know, I don't normally cook high fat foods - in fact, I try to cook low fat and healthy, on a normal basis - but you gotta live every once and a while right?). Here is a recipe from the McDougall cookbook. It is a Black Bean and Corn Salad that I make on a regular basis. In fact, when I go to potluck's and the like I take this dish. It's usually a BIG hit. And, even those that don't like 'healthy' foods love it.

Black Bean and Corn Salad
2 - 15oz cans of Black Beans rinsed and drained
2 - cups of frozen corn kernels thawed (sometimes I used cans of corn rinsed)
1 - red or green bell pepper chopped
1 - 4oz. can green chilies
1 - pint of cherry tomatoes cut in half
3-4 scallions chopped
1/4 cup of fresh cilantro

Savory Salad Dressing
1 teaspoon - Dijon Mustard
1/4 cup - red wine vinegar
1/4 cup - H2O
1/4 cup - Soy Sauce (or soy amino alternative)
Several dashes of Tabasco sauce

Please take note though that this recipe yields a very large quantity. Of course it will keep in the refrigerator for a few days, but I find it's way too much for one person. So, cut the recipe in half if you are unsure about it just to test it out.

(Again, these are not my pics - but the dish looks VERY close to these)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Chicken Marsala

Since Shawn and I bought our townhouse a few years ago I have been meaning to make Chicken Marsala for dinner. I researched how to make it and bought Marsala Wine, but never really got around to making it. Well, last night I finally made it. Oh my gosh, it was one of the best things I have ever made. I found a recipe on the internet (I must give credit where credit is due) and tweaked it a bit and came up with my own creation. Here is the recipe:

This is not my photo - but it looks close to what I made last night.

  • 4 Chicken breasts (skinless - pounded flat)
  • 1- 20 oz. bottle of Marsala wine (I used dry - but sweet would be wonderful too)
  • 2 oz. olive oil
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1 lb fresh mushrooms (sliced - I used crimini's)
  • 1 cube of chicken bouilon

Wash chicken breasts and pat dry. Lightly pound into about 1/2 inch thickness.

Turn the burner on to medium temperature and put a pan on it. When the pan is starting to produce heat through, pour in the olive oil spreading it around until the pan is fully coated. Add some butter. (Keep the pan on medium or the butter will burn).

Make a powder mixture by combining the flour, salt, and black pepper. Coat the chicken breasts with this flour mixture.

Pan the chicken breasts. Flip them onto the other side when one side is golden brown. When both sides are golden brown, take them out and put them on a plate.

Pour in 10 -15oz. of Marsala wine and add the chicken bouillon cube. Add the sliced mushrooms. Start cooking and continuously add butter until the sauce begins to thicken. (I added a wondra flour mixture to thicken the sauce). You may have to add more or less Marsala wine to get this to proper thickness. Play around with this part of it.

Cook until mushrooms are reduced down and sauce it thickened.

Serve hot, immediately after preparing.

I must say - I have never been so impressed with a recipe off of the internet. Like I said, I tweaked it a bit, so play around with it. I thought the sauce could have used a bit of herbs - not chunky herbs, but some herb flavor. So maybe next time I will infuse the sauce with herbs and then take them out before serving.

With this I served my famous garlicy-cheesy mashed potatoes (recipe on a previous post) and some steamed broccoli sauteed with a bit of butter, salt and then sprinkled with some fresh grated parmesean cheese.

I don't normally cook with soooo much fat - especially butter, but I really wanted to go all out for Shawn last night. This is a recipe I will definitely make again and again (but since it's got so much butter in it, I will probably only make it for special occasions).

My next conquest - - - lightly crispy chicken breasts with some kind of lemony sauce - - - and of course I have always wanted to make a really good chicken piccata recipe. :) Happy cooking!!!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Cassarole and the job

I take great care in choosing the pictures I put up on my blog....teee heee heee! If only that were true. I haven't mastered the art of keeping a camera handy so I can take pictures of the stuff that I cook. However, I do take time to search for a picture that best represents what I am talking about....because really? Who doesn't like a blog with pictures? It gives you something to look at while you read. (You can thank me

Tonight I made a chicken noodle know, instead of tuna I used canned chicken. Sharon (for those of you that are new to my blog - Sharon is my newest sister-in-law) and I were talking today about looking at stuff in our cabinets and not wanting to eat it because you stare at it too long. Well, after this conversation I was determined to use the pesky cans of chicken that have been sitting in the cupboard for the last couple of months. Anyway, I made up my own recipe....again! It was macaroni, cream of mushroom soup, milk, cheese (but not too much), spinach (which I don't think I would use again, but instead use peas if they are available), corn, celery, onion (grated) and panko breadcrumbs and cheese on the top. It actually came out pretty good. I was surprised when Shawn said that he like it....amazing! I really think the panko breadcrumbs were a winner as was the thin layer of cheese on top. I can't say for sure what quantities I put in the casserole because I used the "what's in the house and what can I dump into this thing" method. I can honestly say though, out of the 29 years of my life, I don't think I have ever made a casserole. My next stint in casserole making is probably going to be something Mexican. Maybe a taco/tortilla casserole or something, who knows?

Note: In case you wanted to know...I grated the onion so it was in small pieces, cut the celery into little cubes and sweated it until soft. Added the spinach and corn to heat them and set it aside. Cooked the noodles at the same time I heated the cream of mushroom soup and milk. Then simply dumped all of it together into glass bakeware, topped it with a thin layer of cheddar cheese and panko breadcrumbs and baked it on 375 for 30-40 mins. or so. I then broiled it on high for a few minutes to get the breadcrumbs a bit brown.

On the job front...I called Sierra College today since they were supposed to call me yesterday but didn't. The Dean said that they are going to offer me a class during the summer and at least one class during the Fall. I was actually expecting 3 classes during the Fall since this is what she told me on the phone a month ago when she originally contacted me, but apparently they are hiring more than one person to fill those classes (which she did not originally tell me). But hey, at least I have something right? And for that I am thankful! My class during the summer starts in mid to late it looks like I have the next 3 months off. Well, that is unless I find another job before then. :)

Blessings for today:
1). My husband - simply because he is the greatest man in the world and puts up with my crap everyday. :) And let me tell you, I am NOT an easy person to be with sometimes.

2). Family - we spent the day with Shawn's dad, brother and new sister-in-law at a tool show and then lunch. Then we all came back to the house and talked for a while. It was nice!

3). The job that I have lined up. Even though it's not what I was expecting, it's still something!

4). God - for throwing me head first into the fire...and while I absolutely HATE the fire - I will come out the other end refined and stronger...and probably a bit shinier. :)

5). My dog - because she is stupid happy all the time, even when she doesn't feel well. I have a lot to learn from her. What a cutie!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Food Fetching

Sometimes I don't sleep too well and last night was one of those nights. Shawn woke up and was playing with his cell phone to see what time it was at o-dark-hundred......3am, and of course, this was the very thing that woke me up. About a half hour after he woke up to check his watch, he sat up and looked at me. I asked him, "what's going on baby?", and he promptly responded, "There's lots of food fetching going on". I obviously questioned him to see if I had heard correctly, and he repeated, "There's lots of food fetching going on". Of course I thought this was hilarious (and when asking him if he remembers this later on this afternoon he confirmed he had no idea what I was talking about). Hmmmm, maybe I've been experimenting in the kitchen a bit too much lately...what do you think?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Thanksgiving is long over.....but....

As you probably know, I am searching for a job due to our recent move 3 hours away from the place where I spent the last 20 years or so. I no longer have any business contacts, no academic contacts, and friends are few and far between. Sometimes I feel completely lost...but all in all I feel blessed. I know that this was a necessary move for us to take, and it will all work out in God's timing. I know that sounds so Christianese, but it's kind of true. There are so many things I am thankful for:

*The friends that remain, and of course family.
*The gift of being able to get out of bed and walk.
*The house the we were able to buy.
*My husband, even though on occasion he drives me crazy (but I always remind myself that I drive him just as crazy at times).
*The gift of new things. New house, new town, new opportunities.
*My doggie - because I know she is in pain just like me a lot of the time (her arthritis, my back), yet she is stupid happy even though her hips bother her.
*The ability to pay for bills.
*The opportunity for entertainment when we feel like going out.
*The continuing information we find out about our house...that's it's built extremely well. :) (This is a double blessing since we bought the house 'as-is' because we knew this is where God wanted us).
*The vision that my husband has about the house....knocking down walls, floor plan etc....
*The party we are able to have in June (June 2nd to be exact....and if you are in the area, please stop by), I will be turning 30
*The opportunity to interview for jobs even though I may not get the job, at least I am getting better at interviewing. :)
*The job that God has for me....even though I may not know what it is, He does, and really, that's all that matters right now.
*Many many many other things I am thankful for.

If you remember, please pray for me. I have a test with the county tomorrow morning. It's for a a Personnel Analyst position, a job that I really want....but then again, I only want what God has in store for me.

To follow up with the pizza competition, we made pizza the other night again (no more pizza for a while, thank you).....and Shawn, his brother and I tested both pizza's. The vote was 2 to 1.......they both like Alton Brown's recipe better since it crisped up on the bottom nicely. But, they did say that Justin's recipe had better flavor. I agree with them, but I think taste is more important than a little crispiness. I still haven't asked if I can post my brother-in-law's recipe....but like I said, Alton Brown's recipe is available on the Food Network website.

Until later......

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Preliminary Pizza Results Are In!!!

So, Shawn and I have eaten pizza for the last three or four days. Ugggghhhhh, I am so sick of pizza. The bright side though, is that I have kept up with the exercising to counter balance my pizza consumption. I bet that you don't really care about my exercising though do you? You just want to know which recipe won right? Ok ok are the you will notice from my blog below, there were three different doughs that I used to make pizza.

1). Store bought bread dough that can also be used for pizza. I give this a meager 4/10. This is because it's plain dough, not really meant for pizza, but meant for high production and pretty much should be used for white bread.

2). Alton Brown's pizza dough recipe. This was a really good recipe. I liked it very much. It had a good flavor to it for the most part, and had I not been closely comparing three pizzas back to back, I would have said this was a perfect pizza dough. It cooked up nice and crispy on the bottom, but not too crispy and chewy in the middle, which makes for a great pizza. Overall I give this recipe about an 8.5/10.

3). Justin's recipe (my brother-in-law). He used to own a pizza place, so I'd say this guy knows his pizza! This dough had great flavor. You could taste the depth of the crust and the flavor was not flat at all (which, after tasting all of the pizza's, Alton Brown's was a bit flat after comparing the pizza's back to back.....sorry A.B. .......I love your show, think you are brilliant in so many ways....but my brother-in-law's dough was a bit better this time around). This dough rose a bit better overall, had a great consistency and overall had a much better 'mouth feel' than the other two (ha ha ha....'mouth feel' if I actually know what I am talking about). If there was one improvement I would make with this pizza though is the crispiness of the bottom crust. After cooking the bottom came out a bit soft. I like a pizza with a tiny crunch on the bottom. Don't get me wrong, I DO NOT LIKE crispy pizza, I like it chewy, but the bottom has to 'feel' like it's cooked when I bite into it. I think if I tweek the temperature and cooking time a bit, this will correct itself perfectly. As the recipe stands now, I give Justin's recipe 9/10.

I know, I are probably thinking.....

1). Did she cook them the same? Yes. Same temperature, same time.

2). Did she use the same pizza sauce? Of course! Justin's recipe for pizza gosh...sooooo good!

3). Did she use the same toppings? Duhhhh! I used the same everything.

4). Was there any difference in the pizza's except for the recipe? To my shame, yes. I prepared one for cooking and Shawn prepared the other. This is the factor that could have affected the outcome of the pizza's. So, in order to make sure the pizza's are the same, Shawn and I are going to invite his brother over tomorrow to make the pizza's. Jonathan used to work at a pizza place preparing pizza, so we are going have him prepare the pizza's with the same amount of dough, sauce and cheese. Then we are going to cook them together and do one more retest. I would like to test them again, and get the opinions of Shawn and Jonathan as well, then I will post a final result on Tuesday (or Monday if I feel up to it).

In addition, if I can get permission from Justin, I will post the recipes up here. If not, then I am sorry, those recipes will go with me to the grave (although, you can find Alton Brown's recipe on the Food Network website). Until then.....

Thursday, March 8, 2007

The competition continues

I'm taking it to the next level!!! Over the next couple of days I will be preparing a pizza cook-off in my kitchen. Yes, that's right, I've lost it! I will be making a very involved Alton Brown pizza dough recipe, a recipe my brother-in-law has graciously shared with me (thanks Justin), and the last recipe is not really a recipe at all, but a store bought frozen pizza dough. There is another dough I would like to try though. I have gone to Trader Joe's a million times over the last 10 years or so and have noticed that there is pizza dough in the refrigerator section that looks mighty tasty (and thanks to my sister-in-law Sharon who has tried it and gave it good results, I may go and purchase some to test out), but I will have to leave that for another day.

I will also be making Justin's recipe for pizza sauce and using that on all three pizza's so the only difference is the dough. I would like to find a good dough recipe, ideally one that is super easy, but for really good, mind-blowing pizza, I am not sure that's possible. All of the recipes that I have found have a resting time of 4-24 hours for the dough. And let's face it, that's simply too much time to wait (or plan for that matter), for a simple dinner of pizza.

So, as it stands, I have borrowed a Kitchen Aid Mixer (which I can't justify buying since I would only use it like twice a year because I don't bake that often - or let me rephrase that, bake out of a box.......but, to tell you the truth, I am a great baker, just don't like to do it too much), and will be utilizing it for the next day or two to make the various pizza doughs. Once I figure out which is the winning recipe I will post the results. :)
(on second thought, since I have borrowed the mixer, maybe I will make those brownie cheesecake bars I love so much....hmmmmm, I will have to think about that one a bit more before committing to such a task.....but from what I hear, they are super easy to make).

Thursday, March 1, 2007

The results are in

If you are one of my many and continuous blog readers, you will know that I underwent a tumultuous competition yesterday. Yes, that's right, it was a pot roast competition with myself. And the winner is.....ME!!!! LOL If you recall, I used two recipes, one from a notable chef, and one of my personal favorites, Mr. Alton Brown. The other was a simple recipe I found on the internet. Here are the recipes:

Alton Brown:

1 (2-pound) blade cut chuck roast
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons cumin
Vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
5 to 6 cloves garlic, smashed
1 cup tomato juice
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup cocktail olives, drained and broken
1/2 cup dark raisins
1-2 cups of beef or chicken broth (if you use the slow cooker)

Preheat the oven to 190-200 degrees F. Place a wide, heavy skillet or fry pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, rub both sides of meat with the salt and cumin. When the pan is hot (really hot) brown meat on both sides and remove from pan. Add just enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan then add the onion and garlic. Stir constantly until onion is softened. Add the tomato juice, vinegar, olives, and raisins. Bring to a boil and reduce the liquid by half. Create a pouch with wide, heavy duty aluminum foil. Place half the reduced liquid/chunk mixture on the foil, add the roast, and then top with the remaining mixture. Close the pouch, and wrap tightly in another complete layer of foil. Cook for 3 to 3 1/2 hours or until a fork pushes easily into the meat. Remove from oven and rest (still wrapped) for at least 1/2 hour. Snip off 1 corner of the foil pouch and drain the liquid into a bowl or measuring cup. Add some of the "chunkies" and puree with an immersion blender. Slice meat thinly, or pull apart with a fork. Serve with sauce.

Super Easy Pot Roast Recipe
5 1/2 pounds of Pot Roast
(2) 10.75 oz. cans of condensed cream of mushroom soup
(1) 1 oz. package of dry onion soup mix
1 1/4 cups of water

Throw everything in the slow cooker on low for 8-9 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.

The Super Easy Pot Roast came out very good. The meat was tender and the sauce was really good (after thickening it with some Wondra). It tasted very 'down home cookin'. Really good though. The Alton Brown recipe I didn't finish until this morning. After cooking it per the directions, the meat was tough, so after I was done with the other recipe I put it into the slow cooker and left it there for a few more hours. It was late when it finally finished cooking, so I threw it back in the slow cooker for a hour to heat it back up and finished the sauce this morning. If I do the Alton Brown recipe again I will start the recipe the same and then throw everything in the slow cooker for 8 hours instead of taking the oven step.

I know you are not going to want to hear this, but I really can't compare the recipes. The easy recipe had a steady taste, very traditional, nothing too notable....but very good! The AB recipe had some very robust flavors involved, and the gravy was sooooo good! Of course, that is, if you like really robust flavored foods. I must leave you with one other recipe was of the cheddar mashed potatoes that I made at the last minute. Here you go:

3-4 large russet baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
5 cloves of garlic crushed
1-1 1/2 cups of milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil potatoes until tender, about 10 minutes. In another pot add milk and rushed garlic. Bring up temperature slowly so you don't scorch the milk and let sit on very low heat until the potatoes are done cooking. Drain potatoes and return to pot. Add milk (you may not use all of the milk/garlic mixture, so add slowly), salt and pepper and mash with fork until smooth. Stir in cheese and butter until melted.

This recipe makes the YUMMIEST cheddar garlic potatoes EVER!!! And they are sooo easy to make.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Dueling Pot Roasts

This past weekend my newest sister-in-law (Sharon) and I were talking. She mentioned that she had cooked dinner in her crockpot the day she and her sister went skiing and that dinner turned out great. That conversation sparked something in me that I nearly forgot about.....I need to cook in the crockpot more (something I have wanted to learn how to do for years, but have been incredibly distracted by buying and selling houses and moving a million times). Since I am a crockpot gimp, I was thinking that I would make a pot roast tonight in the crockpot and see how it comes out. You are probably thinking, what's so unusual about cooking in a crockpot. And to that I will say "absolutely nothing". But alas, my name is Carol and I can't leave it at a single crockpot recipe. ARE YOU READY FOR THIS???? Tonight I will be competing against myself. I am making dueling pot roasts. One in the oven that is slow cooked (thanks Alton Brown for your recipe), and one in the crockpot. I want to see which one comes out better....and which recipe is better so I can put it into my rotation of dinner recipes. Plus, I will be able to freeze quite a bit of pot roast for left over meals in the near future. I will be sure to let you know how it turns out. :) (And, if one of them are especially good, I will post the recipe).

(Have you see the Thanksgiving Friends episode where Monica competes against herself to make a better Thanksgiving dinner than last year??? Am I completely unhinged???)

Hmmmm, this reminds grandmother has a very simple but really good Chicken Cacciatore recipe...I wonder how that would taste in the slow cooker???? I feel an experiment brewing.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Here's why

One of the only reasons why I am thoroughly enjoying being a stay at home wife is cooking. I love being able to see something on TV, eat something at a restaurant or hear about something, doing a bit of research and trying to figure out how to make it. A few weeks ago Shawn and I went out to an Italian restaurant and had a really good grilled pear salad with balsamic. We also went to a different place and had some amazing butternut squash soup. Since those visits I have made both, and actually had both for lunch today. I should be a chef.....kidding of course......but I really do love to cook and create really good food. Between yesterday and today I have made:
-Lemon balsamic roasted vegetables
-Butternut squash soup
-Pear and walnut micro greens salad with the same lemon balsamic I used to roast the aforementioned veggies
-Greek chicken with a yummy yogurt sauce

There are also a bunch of other "signature Carol" dishes that I make:
-Pesto chicken pasta with mushrooms, tomatoes (sundried and fresh), baby spinach and pine nuts
-Bruchetta (2 different kinds - one with artichokes and one without...although I can't decide which one I like most)
-Chicken stir fry
-Cream of mushroom with chicken over rice
-Eggplant Parmesan (this was my grandmothers recipe)
-Lots of different pasta dishes that I have copied from restaurants and have added my own twist
-A wonderful garlic bread
-Pesto bread with mozzarella cheese
-Navy bean soup (which coincidently I burned myself on pretty badly about 6 months ago)
-Awesome Salmon skewers
-Meat sauce
-Stuffed chicken breast (stuffing needs some tweeking, but the sauce is lemony needs nothing different)
-BLT pasta salad - yum
-Many many others

So, as you can see, I love to cook. Now, I must give props to my husband because he tests all of my cooking. Sometimes my recipes work, other times they don't....but I always learn something from my experiments. That's the beauty of staying at home for a period of time.....the experimentation of cooking. You know what's sister does the same thing....she is an amazing cook. Maybe she and I need to open up a catering business (we should think about that). So, if you would like any of these recipes, message me and I will be sure to send them along to you.