Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Nacho Casserole (pending picture)

Did you miss me?  You should have.  On some occasions I like to consider myself missable... (yes, I am making up words again)

ANYWAY!  This week I have returned and after being AWOL I am feeling much more rejuvenated and ready to start blogging!  Not sure if I feel ready to start cooking, that may be asking too much, but hey, I'm trying.

So tonight I got home late from a day out shopping for random things *cough*scrapbooking stuff*cough* and my dear Husband called me up to let me know he was on his way home.  He said my least favorite words, "I'm hungry."

The plan was to make some leftover steaks I had set out to thaw in the fridge.  The only problem is, I had set them out about almost two weeks ago.  In case you were wondering, meat doesn't last much longer than a week in the refrigerator, at least not in ours.  So yeah, that plan was a fail and I had to get more creative since we didn't have any other thawed meat in the fridge.

I came up with this:

Nacho Casserole
Active Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

1 can corn
1 can chili (with meat)
1 can crushed tomatoes
Taco seasoning

Make a layer of nachos in a casserole pan (optional).  Add all other ingredients into pan and you can mix it around with a fork.  Top with cheese.  Bake in oven at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
Serve with nachos and sour cream.

My Experience:
The Process-
This took me about 5 minutes to throw together.  Super easy!  As you can probably tell from the ingredients, I pretty much just raided our pantry for canned goods that would mesh well together.  As long as you know how to open a can, not very difficult at all.

The Result-
My husband really enjoyed the dinner, his favorite part turned out to be my least favorite part.  Baking the mixture with nachos on the bottom caused them to get really soggy and almost completely disintegrate into the rest of the food.  I found the texture to be unpleasant but the husband really enjoyed it.
Next time, I'll skip cooking it with the nachos and make it as more of a dip, or perhaps sprinkle crushed nachos on top.

All in all I would give the recipe four stars, because it was a really easy, fast, "Crap, I have nothing to make for dinner!" recipe.  In fact, I think I am going to label it as such.

Thanks for reading!  Until tomorrow,

Friday, September 10, 2010

Chili-Orange Chicken Recipe -slow cooker (Woman's Day Month of Menus)

I have to be honest here, I almost gave up today.  I bought enchilada sauce way back when I went grocery shopping.  I set it aside for the day I would make this recipe.
Well, I was going to a work event to have some nice socializing with co-workers, and decided today would be the perfect day for a slow cooker recipe.  I looked everywhere and just could not find the enchilada sauce.  I was seriously frustrated and decided I just wasn't going to do it.  I was tired of cooking, I was tired of just everything and I just wanted to go out and have fun.  Very mature, right?
Well, I got all my stuff ready to go, packed the baby in the car and got halfway down the block.  I don't know why, but I just felt bad and so I turned around, unpacked the baby, went back in the house, and got everything ready, replacing the enchilada sauce with salsa.

I think it was a turning point for me.  But I feel good about it now.  I decided to do something, and I stuck to it, even though it was very difficult to do!

So anyway, here it is:

Chili-Orange Chicken

Recipe Ingredients

    3/4 cup mild enchilada sauce 1/4 cup barbecue sauce (we used Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Chipotle) 1 Tbsp salt-free chili powder 1 tsp ground cumin 4 bone-in chicken breasts (about 2 3/4 lb), skin removed, or 8 chicken drumsticks (about 2 1/2 lb), skin removed 3 Tbsp orange marmalade 1/2 cup chopped cilantro 2 tsp grated orange zest

Recipe Preparation

1. Mix enchilada sauce and barbecue sauce in a 6-qt or larger slow cooker.

2. Mix chili powder and cumin in a small cup. Rub all over chicken. Put chicken in slow cooker and turn to coat with sauce.

3. Cover and cook on high 3 to 4 hours or on low 5 to 7 hours until chicken is cooked through.

4. Turn off cooker. Remove chicken to a serving platter. Stir marmalade into sauce until blended. Stir in cilantro and orange zest, then pour over chicken.

My Experience:
The Process-
Well, getting started on the process, as I mentioned, was definitely a challenge.  But this slow cooker recipe was true to how I feel crock pot recipes should be.  Simple, easy, minimal preparation.  One thing I was sad about was that the chicken shrunk significantly, but I should have known that since it always happens to me.

The Result- 
This food was really, very good!  I never would have thought barbecue sauce with enchilada sauce (salsa), and oranges would taste good.  But it was, really good!  I used the remaining sauce on the rice and thoroughly enjoyed dinner.
My husband also thought it was very good, and today was the first day we had no leftovers ;)

Five stars!  Easy, delicious, and surprising.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Beef Valencia (Woman's Day Month of Menus)

I take back what I said yesterday, I don't like cooking.  Not after this.  The 18 minutes is a joke.  I guess it does say for medium-rare but it was very rare in my opinion, had to cook it much longer.

Beef Valencia

Recipe Ingredients

    • 1. Four 3/4-in.-thick boneless shell steaks (about 6 oz each)
    • 2. 2 navel oranges, peel and pith removed, cut into sections
    • 3. 3/4 cup Goya Alcaparrado (Manzanilla olives, pimientos and capers)

Recipe Preparation

Season steaks with 1/2 tsp pepper and 1/4 tsp salt. Heat 1 tsp oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.Add steaks and cook, turning once, 6 to 7 minutes for medium-rare. Meanwhile, mix oranges, Alcaparrado and 1/4 tsp pepper in medium bowl. Serve steaks topped with mixture.Different TakesAdd some sliced red onion and chopped cilantro to orange-olive mixture.Rub steak with ground cumin before cooking.Use pork chops instead of steak.

My Experience:
The Process-
I will NEVER cook steak on the stove again.  Never have before this recipe, and never will again.  It doesn't taste nearly as good, doesn't cook as thoroughly, in my opinion, and was just not effective.  If I had cooked over medium-low instead of medium-high my results may have been different, but I had to cut the steak up smaller in order to get it to cook through to the medium cook my husband and I like, well he doesn't mind medium rare, but I do.
It was a hassle to have a pot of rice boiling over and practically overflowing and steaks cooking and trying to peel the oranges at the same time. 
Once dinner was served though, things got better.

(can't find the picture for this anymore... no idea why)

The Result-
This food was really, very good!  The steak was slightly chewy probably because of how I cooked it but I really liked the oranges and cilantro, surprisingly they complimented each other very well.  The rice wasn't cooked the way I would have liked, and I wish I had added more salt but that's not the recipe's fault.
I would rate the recipe only three stars because even though it tasted good, it was not a very practical recipe for me.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Oven Fried Drumsticks (Woman's Day Month of Menus)

Man, I am so tired.  Unfortunately, the blissful moments of rest I experienced on our vacation did not last long.  It's funny, cooking dinner has always been the most dreaded chore for me, but now as I continue with my blog, it seems the part I least look forward to is making the actual cooking post!  And I enjoy blogging, and used to not like cooking (yes, I admit, it's not so bad anymore)... how is this making sense?

Anyhow, here is the recipe after getting some sleep I promise to update you all on how disastrous it was tonight.

Oven-Fried Drumsticks Recipe

By Woman's Day Kitchen from Woman's Day | April 1, 2009

Recipe Ingredients

    • 8 drumsticks (3½ lb)
    • 1 large egg
    • Crunchy Coating, below
    • Nonstick spray
    Crunchy Coating
    • Italian: 1 cup wheat germ, ⅓ cup grated Parmesan, ¼ tsp each garlic salt and pepper
    • Honey-Mustard: 3 cups honey-mustard pretzel pieces, ¼ tsp pepper
    • Mexican: 3 cups tortilla chips, 2 tsp each chili powder and ground cumin
    • Krispie Ranch: 1½ cups crisp rice cereal (Rice Krispies), 1 envelope ranch dressing mix
    • Cheesy: 3 cups cheese crackers, 1 tsp onion powder, ¼ tsp pepper
    • Herb: 1½ cups herb stuffing mix, 1 tsp each onion powder and paprika
    • Curry: 3 cups french fried onion rings, 2 tsp curry powder

Recipe Preparation

1. Heat oven to 400ºF. Line a jelly-roll pan or shallow roasting pan with foil. Coat with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Skin chicken by grasping skin with paper towels and pulling off.

3. In a pie plate or shallow bowl, slightly beat egg. Coat a few drumsticks in egg at a time.

4. Place desired Crunchy Coating in plastic food bag. If using tortilla chips, stuffing mix, french fried onions, cheese crackers or honeymustard pretzels, close bag and crush with a rolling pin. Put 1 or 2 drumsticks in the bag at a time and shake to coat chicken evenly.

5. Place on prepared pan; lightly coat drumsticks with cooking spray. (If using fried onions or honey-mustard pretzels, do not spray.) Bake 30 to 35 minutes until chicken is cooked through and coating is browned.

My Experience:
The Process-
I used the ranch dressing variation of this recipe and it was pretty good.  I was kind of annoyed that I didn't read the recipe through the night before, otherwise I would've used my skinless chicken rather than the drumsticks I had where I had to pull the skin off.  I've never pulled the skin off of chicken before, it's pretty gross.

Then I pulled it out of the oven and it looked and smelled pretty good, but turns out the chicken was almost completely raw on the inside so we ate leftovers instead and popped the chicken back in the oven.

The Result-
 Well, I had a bite of the chicken and then realized it was raw, so we didn't really get to eat this. It smelled good though...

Let's just call this endeavor a fail and move on :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Roasted Sausages, Peppers and Potatoes (Woman's Day Month of Menus)

I know, I am posting this a day late, I'm sorry.  But I am back-dating the post to make it look like I posted it on time ;)
I did in fact cook it yesterday, so that has to count for something, right?

Roasted Sausages, Peppers and Potatoes Recipe

Recipe Ingredients

    • 1 lb Italian sausages
    • 2 bell peppers, cut in 1-in. strips
    • 1 bag (20 oz) red potato wedges
    • 1 Tbsp olive oil
    • 1 tsp chopped garlic (used minced garlic)
    • 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
    • 1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives
    • yuck! We don't like olives so I left these out
    • Garnish: chopped parsley

Recipe Preparation

1. Position racks to divide oven into thirds. Heat oven to 500ºF. You’ll need 2 large rimmed baking sheets lined with foil (for easy cleanup).2. Divide sausages, peppers and potatoes between pans; toss with oil, garlic, salt and pepper.3. Roast 10 minutes. Toss; switch position of pans. Roast 10 more minutes until sausages are cooked.4. Cut sausages into slices; toss with potatoes, peppers and olives. Sprinkle with parsley.

My Experience:
The Process-
Pretty simple preparation, even for a noob like me, but I checked more than once to make sure it did in fact say, 500 degrees for the oven setting. I don't think I have ever turned my oven past 400... maybe 475...
The only thing is that the recipe didn't say whether I should put water in the pan or not while cooking it.  I didn't at first but checking on it, it looked really dry so I added some in halfway through.  I'm glad I did!  I would suggest that for anyone making this recipe because the olive oil just isn't enough.

The Result-
So my mom used to make a recipe very similar to this and it is so, sooo, SOOOO good! I was afraid that this wouldn't even hold a candle to her recipe, but it actually turned out very, very good.
We both really enjoyed this meal a lot.  I don't honestly think there is anything I would do  differently if I ever make it again.  Five stars!  Even though it wasn't quite as good as my mom's.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Grilled Sweet Onion and Cheddar Pizza (Woman's Day Month)

Grilled Sweet Onion and Cheddar Pizza
* Active Time: 6 minutes
* Total Time: 25 minutes

Recipe Ingredients

o 1 tube (13.8 oz) refrigerated pizza crust
o 1 sweet, medium onion, sliced 1⁄2 in. thick
o Nonstick spray
o 1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
o 11⁄4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
o Garnish: chopped parsley

Recipe Preparation

1. Heat outdoor grill. Line a baking sheet with nonstick foil. Unroll dough on foil; press into a 16 x 10-in. rectangle. Coat dough and onion with nonstick spray.

2. Grill onion 10 minutes, turning slices as needed, until tender. Remove; cut bite-size. Invert dough on grill; peel off foil. Grill 1 minute until bottom is lightly browned. Turn crust over and spread with sauce; top with onion and cheese. Cover and grill 2 minutes until cheese melts; remove. Sprinkle with parsley; cut in 12 pieces.

My Experience:
The Process-
Okay so, I guess I am breaking my own rules, or not learning from my mistakes because if I had read this recipe all the way through earlier today, i would have gone and gotten gas for the barbecue.  But I don't like propane grills anyway, I prefer charcoal cooked food and we gave that grill away.

So, I went ahead and made this pizza in the oven and just sauteed the onions again beforehand.  I also made the pizza dough from scratch because it was like $12 at the store and I thought that was pretty ridiculous.  In addition to this, I added oregano, basil and mozzarella cheese baked into the crust- my own attempt at stuffed crust, that sadly didn't turn out as well as I had hoped.

When it was finished cooking, I also added some tomatoes from our garden, because no pizza is complete without fresh, uncooked tomatoes on top!

The Result-

The pizza was very, very good!  My mouth is watering for another piece but I'm just too full to eat more.  I served it with some of the leftover salad from yesterday (sans salmon, we're saving it for another day) and it was really delicious!

Being from New York, I am a huge pizza critic but also a huge fan of it when done right.  I would have to say this pizza was pretty much perfect, I only wish I had more mozzarella to add to it, and fresh basil  could have put with it.  Love basil!

My husband, not as much of a pizza lover and a little disappointed at the lack of meat still said that today's pizza was pretty good, and better than yesterday's dinner.  I would give this recipe overall a four!  Very good!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Glazed Salmon on Greens and Orange Salad (Woman's Day Monthly Menu)

I changed up the order of the recipes for this month so today I am doing this recipe. Mainly because we have a delicious salmon given to us in Alaska that I am eager to eat!

The recipe for today is Glazed Salmon on Greens & Orange Salad with a side of sesame breadsticks.

Glazed Salmon on Greens & Orange Salad
* Active Time: 10 minutes
* Total Time: 30 minutes

Recipe Ingredients

o 4 (5-oz) salmon fillets
o 1/3 cup Asian ginger salad dressing
o 2 Tbsp clementine or orange juice
o 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
o 8 cups salad greens (I used lettuce and arugula, maybe not the best mix but it's what I did)
o 4 clementines, peeled and sliced
o 1/3 cup chopped unsalted toasted almonds I left these out

Recipe Preparation

1. Place salmon skin-side down on foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Spoon on or brush salmon with 2 Tbsp of the dressing. Let stand 15 minutes.

2. Put remaining dressing and the juice in a large bowl; add onions and toss to coat. Heat broiler.

3. Broil salmon 8 to 10 minutes or until just cooked through.

4. Add salad greens and clementines to bowl with onions; toss to mix and coat. Arrange salad on serving plates. Lift salmon off foil, leaving the skin behind. Place salmon on salad and sprinkle with almonds.

My Experience
The Process-

Okay, so I've never actually broiled anything before but it turns out there is an actual "broil" setting on the stove so you don't turn it to a specific temperature, it's just "Broil". And our oven took a really long time to heat up, so I wish I had started pre-heating sooner.
Anyway, so being from Alaska and all, my husband is pretty picky about his salmon so I was pretty apprehensive about this. Also, I've never cooked a salmon before, ever so I was nervous. Of course the first thing my husband says when he gets home is, "why are you cooking it in the oven?" As if this was the worst possible thing you could do to a salmon (he always fries it in bread crumbs).
So having a high standard to meet, this was a challenging recipe but pretty quick to prepare. And P.S our salmon was given to us as a gift in Alaska so it came cleaned and skinned already. I don't think I would ever cook a salmon with the skin on, in my opinion that is what gives it the fishy smell and taste.

The Result-

The first time I pulled it out of the oven (after 8 minutes) it turns out the salmon was not cooked properly. You can tel because when it's cut the center looks like one big chunky center and when it's cooked it's more lined and falls apart. If that makes sense...
So after popping it back into the oven we tried the food. I thought the salmon really didn't have any flavor whatsoever and I didn't really like the taste of the arugula so I ended up just picking the orange segments out of my salad and not eating much else.
Despite his earlier doubts, the Husband enjoyed the meal and said it tasted pretty good. I did have him add some lemon zest and black pepper seasoning to it though because I thought it was lacking in flavor. He gave it about a 3 and 1/2 but I only give it a 2, which brings this recipe's score up to about a 3.
I'd skip this recipe and just grill the salmon or cook it in a trusted seasoning that you like.