Monday, February 28, 2011

Cordon Bleu for Two!

Why does Monday come every week?  I think Monday deserves a day off every now and then, this would have been a good day for it.  Monday, if you're reading, I approve a vacation day for next week.  Enjoy your time off, as I would really like to as well!! 
This is the perfect Monday dinner.  It's quick, and surprisingly very flavorful.  It's my first time making this, and I admit I was a little taken aback by the end product.  It was simple, didn't require a lot of ingredients, yet everything fits together perfectly.  Bonus is that it's low fat!  Each serving is only 280 calories, which will be hard to believe when you're chowing down. 
The recipe is for two, so obviously I used two chicken breasts.  If you're cooking for more, this recipe is very easily doubled!
Cut each piece of chicken in half to make a little pocket.  Be careful not to cut all the way through!  My only tip here is not to rush, if you slice slowly with your knife you shouldn't have any issues.  I sliced Gruyere cheese and placed it in the middle.
Then added a thin slice of ham to the center.
Place chicken in a oven safe dish lined with foil and sprayed with non-stick.  Pour about 1/2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over piece. Massage the oil into the chicken.
In a bowl combine breadcrumbs, parsley, salt and pepper.  I debated covering the whole piece of chicken, feel free to do that, but ended up just sprinkling the breadcrumbs on top of each piece.  It worked great, and I honestly don't think it needed any more than that.  I also added a toothpick to keep the "stuffing" in the middle a little better.  Cook at 375 degrees F for around 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cook through. 
The cheese will have melted outside the chicken a little bit.  I scarped it off and put it on the bottom of the plate with the chicken on top, for a little extra cheese.  I didn't want to waste it!  This is a great change of pace if you're getting into a rut with your chicken recipes.  The breadcrumbs make it a little crunchy, and the cheese and ham were delicious.  Enjoy (except for you Monday, we're still fighting.)

Chicken Cordon Bleu for Two
2 boneless chicken breasts
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons Gruyere cheese *or you can use Swiss cheese
4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
1 1/2 teaspoons parsley
1 tablespoon evoo
2 tablespoons ham

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Slice chicken breasts in half, but not all the way through, to form a pocket.
Place Gruyere cheese and ham into pocket of each chicken breast.
Pour 1/2 tablespoon of evoo over each piece of chicken, massage oil into each piece.
Combine breadcrumbs, parsley, salt and pepper in a bowl.
Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over chicken. 
Place toothpick through chicken to keep the pocket closed.
Cook for 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Friday, February 25, 2011

You're Sloppy, Joe

Sloppy Joe's might be one of the best and easiest meals ever.  It's what I call my "lazy meal."  I don't have to put in a lot of effort, don't have to follow a recipe, and normally have all the ingredients in my apartment already - no shopping needed.  This time I had a minor hiccup when after I started cooking the meat, I realized I forgot the seasoning packet at C's apartment.  One of the many great things about living between two apartments.  Joking.  Luckily I was able to make do with what I had in the fridge, and I must say it turned out great.  I don't normally post a whole meal, but will this time, as it was super easy!
Cut up 1-2 garlic cloves and put in a large pan over medium heat.  I add garlic to pretty much everything I cook, because I love the taste it adds.  This is optional though, so if you're not a big garlic fan you can skip this.
Add around one pound of ground turkey and cook until cooked through.
Here's where the "oh crap I don't have the seasoning packet, what can I throw in here that will taste good?" came in.  I added one cup of BBQ sauce, salt, pepper, and some cayenne seasoning.
Also added 1/2 cup of quarto fromage cheese.  Figured it couldn't hurt!  It ended up mixing into the meat perfectly.  You can substitute most kinds of cheese here; cheddar or Parmesan, whatever you have around.
When the cheese has melted, scoop meat onto your bun.  I used whole wheat hamburger buns. 
I started the potatoes a couple minutes before the meat.  I cut two potatoes into slices and cooked them in salted water over medium-high heat.
After the potatoes are cooked add butter, garlic salt, your favorite seasoning, and rosemary.
Mix all the ingredients in, the potatoes will start get more of a mashed potatoes consistency.
I also steamed some broccoli for a side dish.  Gotta have a little green in your diet!
The more I use turkey the more I enjoy cooking with it, I really cannot tell a difference between ground turkey and ground beef in the dishes I've made so far.  The added cheese to the meat was awesome.  I didn't add much, but it made the sandwich extra delicious.  The potatoes and broccoli were a great paring.  I'm one of those people who think potatoes go well with everything, because well, they do!  Make sure you have a napkin near by, you might get a little sloppy eating this one :)

I have a good friend that I worked with in Milwaukee, and her sister, here for the weekend.  I'm very excited to spend some time with old friends.  Hope everyone has a great couple days, see you back here on Monday!

Sloppy Joe's with Turkey
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground turkey
1 cup BBQ sauce
salt and pepper *to your taste
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup quarto fromage cheese
4 hamburger buns

Cook garlic over medium heat in a large pan.
Add ground turkey, cook until cooked through.
Add BBQ sauce, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. 
Stir until well combined.
Add cheese, and stir in until melted into the meat.
Serve on a hamburger bun.

My favorite Potatoes
2 Yukon potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons Lawry's seasoning salt *or whatever seasoning you like
1 tablespoon garlic salt
2 tablespoons rosemary

Cook potatoes in salted water until cooked through.
Drain water out, and stir in butter, salts and rosemary.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

One Beautiful Rock

About a year ago, I was able to get away from the cold, blistery Wisconsin weather and come down to Texas to visit C.  This was when were still doing the long distance thing, so the trip was familiar to me.  His parents were also visiting Texas, staying in Fredericksburg, about an hour west of Austin.  We went to see them, and were able to take a trip to Enchanted Rock.  It's a state park, but mainly it's this huge granite rock formation.  We walked around on the trails, and then hiked up it, and it really was a hike!  As I was going through old pictures, I found these, and thought I would share them with you.  I never thought rocks were beautiful, they're rocks, I was proven very wrong.  This rock, being exactly who it is, was breathtaking.
We are born with only one obligation, to be completely who we are.  Yet, as we grow up, the world seems to have this impact on us, that maybe we're not enough.  When we feel badly about something in our lives, or feel badly about ourselves we often try on other "skins."  Playing out "if only" scenarios in our heads, instead of focusing on understanding and caring for exactly who we are.  We compare ourselves to others, and most often will come up short. 
In an effort to escape whatever pain we're feeling we think, "if I was ___ I'd be further from this pain."  I would be harder to miss, I would have a better chance at being loved and understood.  The reality is in the end we'll return to exactly who we are, and the pain will still be right there.  That saying "if we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back," is very true.  I'm sure each of us can name something that one of our loved ones has gone through and we've thought, "thank God that wasn't me."  I find myself repeating this when I see someone that looks or has something I don't. 
I have a close friend that is going through a hard time in her life right now.  She's not where she thought she would be, things don't seem to be going her way.  There are a couple things she is going to try to work on to improve herself, and I think that's awesome.  Change is possible when it's for the right reasons, and when you're not trying to fundamentally change who you are at your core.  We have to embrace where we are, who we are, and move forward with a true understanding of those two things.  I believe this will bring you to your happiest self.  
Sometimes we have to stop focusing on how the world sees us, how we compare to others, and just be us.  If we're smart, confident, ambitious, or lazy :)  Take a lesson from the rock, be who you truly are and you will be beautiful. 

PS You know who you are:  I love you :)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chocolate Makes Everything Better

Yesterday kind of kicked my butt.. I'm still recovering today.  I woke up really wishing it was Saturday.  Ok ok, I wish that everyday, but today in particular!  I truly do think that a good dessert can make you feel loads better, and put a smile on your face after a long day.  These brownies will do just the trick!  I found the recipe on the back of my King Arthur flour bag, and since my recent visit to their store I've been dying to try one of their recipes.  I was very impressed, if I do say so myself :)
Start by melting butter in a microwave safe bowl, or in a saucepan over low heat.  Add the sugar to the melted butter and stir to combine.  Return the mixture to the heat, or microwave, just until it's hot, but not bubbling.  It'll become shiny looking as you stir it.  I've never heard of heating the butter again once the sugar was added, but the recipe says this makes a shiny top crust on the brownies, and that proved to be true. Then stir in the cocoa, salt, baking powder, and vanilla. 
The batter will be a very rich brown color.  Add the eggs beating until smooth.
Add in the flour, and mix until combined.  Then add chocolate chips!
I might have left a little extra in the bowl so I could get at taste.  I have to make sure the batter is good before I let anyone else try the brownies... obviously. 
Spoon the batter into a lightly greased 9x13 inch pan.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 28-30 minutes, I only left them in for probably 26 minutes.  The brownies should feel set on the edges and in the center.  Remove from the oven and after sitting for five minutes, loosen the edges with a knife.  Cool completely before cutting and serving.  
I sprinkled a little powdered sugar on top for fun, and they turned out so well.  They were warm, and cooked to perfection.  I really enjoyed the top being kind of a crust, it was a great addition to the moist middle of the brownie.  Usually when I bring baked goods into work it takes everyone a couple days to eat the whole plate, these babies were gone by noon. Note to self (and you): make sure if you want to keep some for yourself you hide them! 

What makes you feel better after a long day? 

Best Fudge Brownies Ever
1 cup butter
2 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups Dutch-process cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups flour - plug for King Arthur flour!
2 cups (12oz bag) chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Lightly grease a 9x13 inch pan.
In a microwave safe bowl, or in a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter.
Add sugar and stir to combined.
Return the mixture to heat, or microwave until just hot, but not bubbling.
Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl, and stir in the cocoa, salt, baking powder, and vanilla.
Add eggs, beating until smooth.
Then add flour and chocolate chips, beating until well combined.
Spoon the batter into a prepared pan.
Bake the brownies for 25-30 minutes until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Brownies should feel set on edges and in the middle.
Remove from the oven, let sit for five minutes, then loosen the edges with table knife.
Cool completely before cutting and serving. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Chicken Divan Casserole

Chicken+Broccoli+Mushrooms+Creamy sauce = great comfort food.  I have to say though, be prepared to get some dishes dirty.  This is a simple recipe, but you will be using a lot of different pans, bowls and spoons.  Now at least you can't say I didn't warn you!
I cut the recipe in half, fyi!  Start by cutting chicken breasts in half, and then season with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add chicken.  Cook until they're cooked through, around 8-12 minutes.  Remove from heat, let cool for a few minutes then cut into bite size pieces.
While chicken is cooking, cook broccoli in a large pot with salted water until just tender.  Drain broccoli and set aside.
Ingredients you will be using.  I was actually cooking in daylight, so I was excited to take some pictures that wouldn't be as dark as usual!
Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add flour and whisk for a couple minutes.  Add stock in a slow steady stream while whisking constantly.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, whisking occasionally, for around 10 minutes.
Beat cream with an electric mixer until it holds stiff peaks.  Fold cream into sauce along with sherry (I substituted apple juice) and lemon juice.  Then add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, or to your taste.
Arrange broccoli evenly in bottom of a shallow baking dish, I used a 9x9 inch dish.  Pour half the sauce over the broccoli.  Mushrooms weren't part of the recipe, I added them on my own because I like mushrooms.  I sliced around six mushrooms and put them in the pan with the broccoli.
I used freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.  It looks like beautiful snow when it's grated.  Add the cheese to the remaining sauce.
Arrange chicken over broccoli and pour remaining sauce over chicken.  Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.  Bake for around 15 minutes at 375 degrees F.  Then turn the oven to broil, and broil until sauce is golden brown and bubbling, just around a minute.
Let sit for a couple minutes, as it will come out pretty hot.  I don't want to be responsible for anyone burning themselves ;)
I served the casserole over potatoes; I thought it needed some kind of starch.  I didn't do anything fancy with potatoes; chopped them into thin slices and cooked them in water on the stove.  Since there's a sauce with the chicken, I didn't need to add anything to the potatoes, and it really brought everything together.  I said this in the beginning and I'll say it again, it really reminded me of comfort food.  Very simple ingredients, but a very rich dish.  Some advice -- I had a little leftover and I put the potatoes and casserole all in one dish and it got a little runny.  I would recommend keeping them separated so you don't have that issue when you go to reheat!  

Have a "comfy" day!  

Chicken Divan Casserole
1 1/4 pound boneless chicken breast
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large bunch broccoli (1 1/2 pounds), trimmed and cut into small florets
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
5 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup medium dry sherry *I used apple juice
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup finely grated Parmigianino- Reggiano
6 mushrooms, sliced *optional
Season chicken with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add chicken.
Cook until cooked through, 8-12 minutes.  Let stand for a couple minutes, and then cut into thin slices.
Meanwhile, cook broccoli in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, then drain.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat.
Add flour and whisk for around three minutes.
Add stock in a slow stream, whisking constantly, and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally for around 10 minutes.
Beat cream with an electric mixer until it holds stiff peaks.
Fold cream into sauce, along with sherry and lemon juice.
Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
Arrange broccoli and mushrooms evenly in bottom of a shallow baking dish.
Pour half of sauce over broccoli.
Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan into remaining sauce.
Arrange chicken over broccoli and pour reaming sauce over chicken.
Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.
Bake for around 15 minutes, just until it's hot.
Turn oven to broil and broil until sauce is golden brown and bubbling, around one minute.
Let cool for a couple minutes, then serve.
*You can make the casserole a day ahead of time, and keep covered in the fridge.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Moment of Silence

How was every one's weekend?  I did a little of everything this weekend.  Cooked, baked, had my first dessert failure, hung out with C, went out to eat, was lazy on Saturday, then picked up the slack on Sunday.  I decided to try to make homemade pasta this weekend.  I recently bought a pasta maker, and have been anxiously waiting to try it out.  Sunday was the perfect day, nothing on the agenda but little chores around the apartment.  It was definitely a project, but the end result was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.  C even said he thought it was my best meal yet.  Now for the bad news.  Breaks my heart to say that in a fluke accident my pictures from the "day of pasta" were deleted.  I almost cried, no joke.  I would like to have a moment of silence to remember my first pasta making experience, although I now no longer have documentation of it.       :(

Now, onto some good stuff.
I recently went out for breakfast with some great company to Cindi's, a place recommended to me by a co-worker.  They have a couple different locations around Dallas, and luckily there is a location near C's apartment.  I was a little nervous when we walked in around 11am on Sunday morning, to find we had around a half hour+ wait.  As I've said before, I'm from a very small town, so the whole "make a reservation, or wait" thing is something I'm still getting used to.  In my opinion, if I'm standing and waiting for more than five minutes, the food better beat my expectations.  Thankfully, Cindi's did!
The menu is very large, they had breakfast and lunch options available.  I opted for breakfast, since it's not something I go out for regularly.  I ordered the "Cindi's Omelet," which included salsa, ham, green pepper, onion, and cheese.  It was served with home fries and two pieces of toast.  Lots of food makes me happy!  The pictures don't do it justice, it was such a great omelet.  They weren't skimpy on the ingredients either, especially the cheese, which makes all the difference.  
C's Mom got egg's over easy with grits.  I didn't try it, but the grits looked incredibly creamy!
C's Dad got oatmeal, among some other things.  He said it was the best oatmeal he'd ever had.  It was loaded with syrup and brown sugar.  Now that's the way to eat oatmeal.
And finally C... had to be a little difficult and order something not on the menu ;)  They had homemade bread and bagels, so he asked for them to make an egg and sausage sandwich on a bagel.  He got hash browns as his side, which I snuck a taste of.  I think I liked them better than Ihop hash browns, hard to believe I know!
I held myself back and didn't order dessert, but they did look very tasty.  They also had a variety of cakes. 
Overall, I really enjoyed myself.  The food was great, the serving sizes were large, and it was for sure worth the wait.  It wasn't a large place, but it was cozy, gives you a very at home feel.  I hope to go back again very soon, and try one of the many other things on the menu.  If, by chance, you've been there and have any suggestions please let me know in the comments!

Rating: 4 1/2 

Have a great Monday everyone.  RIP pasta photos, you will be very missed.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Oreo Cookies on Steroids

You're going to have a love-hate relationship with these cookies. For me, love wins over hate, for sure.  I've started to CRAVE these cookies, luckily I don't have the nutritional value, and refuse to try and figure it out.  My best friend and I have game that I encourage you to try with these; if she eats one, and I eat one, we cancel each other out and it doesn't count.  Hey, it works.
Pictures are a little dark, I apologize.  I made these when I first started taking food pictures.  Bare with me, the end result is worth it.  Start by beating butter and sugars until well combined.
Add in the eggs and vanilla and continue beating.
In a separate bowl mix the flour, salt and baking soda.  Slowly add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.
Add chocolate chips until just combined.
Using and ice cream scoop take one scoop of cookie dough and place on top of an Oreo Cookies.  Take another scoop of dough and place on bottom of the Oreo Cookie.
Seal edges together by pressing and cupping in your hand until the Oreo is enclosed with dough.  Place on a lined baking sheet (I just sprayed with Pam.)  Bake cookies for 9-13 minutes at 350 degrees F.  I baked for around 10 minutes because I like the dough to be a little under cooked. 
Let cool for a coupe minutes before transfer to a cooling rack.  You'll need a large glass of milk with these bad boys. 
To burn some calories before eating these, hold a cookie in each hand, and lift them like weights.  They're heavy, they are two cookies in one after all.  I got this idea from Picky Palate.  She has made an art out of stuffing anything in the middle of a chocolate chip cookie, and it turning out delicious.  Which is exactly what these are.  You will want to take a nap after eating them, but they make your mouth water.  Great thing to bring into work, or to a party if you want people to compliment your baking skills for a couple hours! 

Ahhh the weekend, it's finally here!  Hope everyone enjoys it :)

Chocolate Chip Oreo Cookie Sandwich
2 sticks softened butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
10oz bag chocolate chips
1 bag Oreo cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a stand mixer or electric mixer cream butter and sugars together.
Add in eggs and vanilla until well combined.
In a separate bowl mix the flour, salt and baking soda together.
Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, then add chocolate chips until just combined.
Using an ice cream scooper take one scoop of cookie dough and place on top of an Oreo Cookie.
Take another scoop and place on the bottom of the Oreo Cookie.
Seal edges together by pressing and cupping in your hand until Oreo is enclosed with dough.
Place on a lined baking sheet, and bake for 9-13 minutes.
Let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.
Try and eat without saying out loud "oh my goooddddd."  You won't be able to.