Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Herb-Rubbed Grilled Chicken with Creamy Orzo

I had this recipe bookmarked for a couple months and today seemed as good a day as any to try it.  I really enjoy cooking with orzo, mainly because it's fun to eat afterwards.  My husband really liked the tastes, but he's not into eating "casserole" type dishes so he thought it was just okay.  I, on the other hand, thought it was quite tasty for being somewhat on the healthy side.  I will just have to make this when I am only cooking for myself and I have no problem with this!

Source:  Annie's Eats, adapted from Smells Like Home, adapted from Food Network


8 oz. orzo pasta, uncooked
2 chicken breasts, butterflied into halves (4 pieces total)
Salt and pepper
2 tsp. Herbes de Provence
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, with juices
2 cups broccoli florets
½ cup heavy cream
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Bring a saucepan of salted water to boil. Add the orzo and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water.

Season both sides of the chicken breast halves with salt and pepper. Sprinkle evenly with the Herbes de Provence. Heat the olive oil in a 12- or 14-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken breast halves to the pan and cook about 3 minutes per side, until golden brown. Reduce the heat to medium, add the shallot to the pan and sauté 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté an additional minute, until fragrant. Add the diced tomatoes with juices and the broccoli florets to the pan, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer over medium-low. Cover and let cook until the broccoli florets are crisp-tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cooked orzo, heavy cream and Parmesan cheese. Mix until well blended and the cheese has melted. If necessary, add some of the reserved pasta water to smooth out the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

French Bread - Bread Machine

This post is going to be a little different than what I normally do.  My husband eats a lot of bread on a daily basis, especially for his lunches.  I noticed we were spending a LOT of money on french bread from the bakery at the grocery store. Therefore, I decided to invest in a new toy!

There really isn't anything this bread machine can't do.  Besides making regular loafs of white and french bread, it can make gluten-free breads, pizza dough, and jams.  Although I plan on trying the easy stuff first so that I can get a hang of the whole process, I will be making some pretty complex bread in the near future!  I know most readers won't be too interested in these entries, especially if you don't even own this machine.  But hopefully these entries will inspire you to either purchase your own machine or make your own breads from scratch!

Source:  Cuisinart


1 1/2 cups water, 80-90 degrees
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 cups bread flour
2 1/4 tsp yeast, active dry, instant or bread machine

Place ingredients, in the order listed, in the bread pan fitted with the kneading paddle.  Place the bread pan in the convection bread maker and set machine to appropriate settings.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Cake

Yum! This was great!  I really had no reason to make this other than the fact that I was bored and I felt like cooking up a storm tonight since the house was so quiet.  As I was mixing all of the ingredients and I began to add the sour cream, I began to have second thoughts.  The recipe used the ENTIRE tub of sour cream and it looked like a gloppy mess as I stirred the batter in the mixing bowl.  However, once I layered the cake with the sugar/cinnamon combo and it came out of the oven, I would never have known there was sour cream in if I didn't know about it.  This cake was so wonderful and the bits of cinnamon and the cinnamon crust balanced all of the tastes together perfectly.

Source:  Smitten Kitchen


1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs, separated
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
16 ounces sour cream
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
12 ounces chocolate chips
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, cream butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar, then mix in the egg yolks and vanilla. Sift flour, baking soda and baking powder together into a separate bowl. Alternately add sour cream and then dry ingredients into butter mixture. Beat eggs whites until stiff, then fold into batter. Mix last 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon together in a separate, small dish.

In a greased 9″x13″ pan, pour in half of the cake batter. Sprinkle the top with half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture and half of the chocolate chips. Pour remaining batter on top, sprinkling the top with the remaining cinnamon-sugar and chocolate chips. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

Creamy Taco Mac

All sorts of variations of taco mac blog updates have been posted on the What's Cooking? board on TheNest.com.  I decided to follow the fad and do a blog update of my own.  This dish turned out really well although the recipe could probably feed 4 hungry people.  Although I don't mind having plenty of leftovers for lunch! 

Source:  Delish


1.25 lbs ground turkey  (can use ground beef)
8 oz dry pasta + 1 cup reserved pasta water
1 can (14.5 oz) petite diced tomatoes
4 Tbsp mild taco seasoning (one packet)
3 oz cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
salt & pepper
cheddar cheese


Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta per directions. Reserve one cup of pasta water.

Over medium heat, brown ground beef and drain off fat. Add taco seasoning and diced tomatoes. Allow to simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Add cooked pasta, reserved water, cream cheese and sour cream. Give it a good stir until cheese is melted and incorporated. Simmer over low heat for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt & pepper, as desired. Top off with cheddar cheese for extra cheesy goodness.

Red Velvet Rich and Creamy Cookies

This past weekend, my husband and I went to Iowa to visit my brother and sister-in-law.  While the boys were out golfing, us girls decided to make something that was really easy, but different than just a regular cookie.  I love red velvet and I don't make it very often because my husband doesn't have much of a sweet tooth.  However, I was extremely happy to not have to share these cookies with him.  They were delicious and turned out perfect.

Source:  Betty Crocker


1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® sugar cookie mix
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon red food color
1 egg
3/4 to 1 cup Betty Crocker® Rich & Creamy cream cheese frosting
1/4 cup chopped nuts


Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, stir cookie mix, cocoa, butter, sour cream, food color and egg until soft dough forms.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls; place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8 to 9 minutes or until set. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.

Frost cooled cookies with frosting. Sprinkle with nuts. Store tightly covered at room temperature.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bacon-Wrapped Pork Medallions in Red Wine and Rosemary Sauce

This recipe had been saved on my favorites to make for a couple weeks now and I can't believe what I was missing.  Although I almost started a grease fire in the oven while cooking the bacon, I can say that this is the first recipe I made that made me feel like someone who KNOWS what they're doing in the kitchen.  The medallions looked absolutely gorgeous as I seared them on both sides and as I cooked them in the wonderfully smelling rosemary and wine sauce.  Every step turned out perfectly.  (I am ignoring the oven dilemma).  When it was complete, the meat was so juicy and it had absorbed so much of the wonderful tastes of the sauce.  I couldn't stop raving about what a great job I had done.  Now you go try it and rave about it yourself!

Source:  Amy's New Kitchen, adapted from Cooks Illustrated


1 pork tenderloin, trimmed of excess fat (mine was 2.25lbs)
sea salt
10 slices bacon, thick cut or Applewood smoked
1 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup red wine
2/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tsp rosemary
1 bay leaf


Arrange bacon in a single layer on a cooling rack that is placed on top of a baking sheet with 4 sides. Bake at 400 degrees for 13 minutes. Remove from oven, blot excess grease with a paper towel and let cool on cooling rack.

Meanwhile, slice the tenderloin into 1" thick pieces. Season both sides with salt and pepper and then wrap each medallion with one slice of bacon. Secure bacon with a toothpick.

Heat oil in cast iron skillet until you see light whisps of smoke come from the oil. Sear medallions until nicely browned on each side, about 2 minutes per side. Feel free to do these in batches if they don't all fit in your pan. Transfer medallions to a plate.

In the same skillet over medium-high heat, pour in the wine (I used a Cabernet). Cook, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, until the wine has reduced to about 2-3 Tablespoons. This takes about 6-7 minutes.

Increase heat to high and add the chicken broth, rosemary and bay leaf to the reduced wine sauce. Cook until this sauce is reduced to a thicker consistency, about 3-5 minutes. Place the pork medallions back in the wine sauce, and add any juices from the plate as well. Continue cooking, about 3 minutes, to heat and cook the pork through, turning once to coat each medallion with the sauce.  (This took 10 minutes for me to cook the meat through).

Transfer to a plate, remove the toothpicks, spoon additional sauce over each piece if you like and serve immediately with your favorite sides.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cheddar and Cracker Chicken

I love Ritz crackers and I tend to eat them by themselves as a snack.  When I found this recipe online, I knew that it was right up my alley.  It really turned out well and it made a simple meal taste like it had taken a lot longer to prepare.  The only thing I would do differently and use smaller chicken breasts because even though I pounded the breasts until they were pretty thin, the cooking time still took a lot longer and the cheese was a little overcooked.  Still a really good meal!

Source:  Joelen's Culinary Adventures, adapted from Real Simple


16 buttery crackers (such as Ritz), crushed (about 3⁄4 cup)
6 ounces sharp Cheddar, grated
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1-2 stalks scallions, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


Heat oven to 350° F. In a bowl, combine the crackers, cheese, garlic, scallions and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Pound the chicken to about 1/4 - 1/2 inch thickeness with a meat mallet. Dip the pounded chicken in the butter, then in the cracker mixture, pressing gently to help it adhere, and place on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Sprinkle any remaining cracker mixture on the chicken and drizzle with any remaining butter. Bake until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.  (Mine took almost 30)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Oreo Cupcakes

Please.  Make these right now.  Soooooo good.  I wanted to make something easy yet entirely different than what I usually make.  I don't make a lot of cupcakes, but these were so easy and a lot of fun to make and soooo incredibly unhealthy for you, but I was making them for my co-workers' birthdays and birthdays are all about eating bad.  So make these if you want to try smething delicious!

Source:  Stephanie Cooks, inspired from Culinary Infatuation


1 box of white cake mix, prepared by the directions on the box (I used chocolate cake mix)
1 box of double stuffed Oreos
Frosting (I used white)


Preheat the oven to 350. Line 2 cupcake pans with liners.

Break 24 Oreo cookies apart, trying to keep all of the filling on one side. Place the cookies filling side up in the center of each liner.

Place the tops of the Oreo cookies in a bag and crush until they form crumbs. Toss about 1/2-1 cup of the crumbs in with the batter, stir well to combine.

Fill the liners 3/4 of the way.

Bake according to the package, about 15 minutes.

Allow to cool. Frost the cupcakes and top with remaining crumbs and/or halves of Oreos

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Ravioli with Fire Roasted Tomato Sauce

I have a pretty busy weekend ahead, and I was looking for something simple as well as a bit healthy to make.  This sauce, paired with some good wine turned out very well.  It's a little bit sweeter than some sauces that I am used to, but I would definitely make this again.

Source:  Stephanie Cooks


1 package refrigerated ravioli (I used cheese)
1 15 oz. can Fire Roasted tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp. tomato paste (optional, I omitted)


In a small saucepan combine the garlic, and white wine. Heat over medium-high until the garlic is fragrant.

Add the can of tomatoes, stir.

Season with salt and pepper, add the tomato paste if you want a thicker sauce.

Allow the sauce to heat over medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes.

Serve over the hot ravioli (mine had to boil with some olive oil for 7-9 minutes)