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Archive for the ‘cooking’ Category

The other night, when I came home from my night class I was craving something sweet. I didn’t want to make a big mess just a quick dessert.  I live with a champion snacker with an insane sweet tooth; a.k.a. “The Cookie Monster!”  So, of course there was nothing to statisfy my need for sweets!

I opened the fridge and I drew inspiration from this can of pancake batter, Marc bought for me. (He had a neighbor that promoted this product and he was eager for me to try it) Pancakes stuffed with bananas, yum! It was like having a crepe. The batter in a can, isn’t as fluffy as the real deal, but I thought it would be perfect for a thin crepe like texture. TA-DAH! A great snack idea to ease my craving:

The pancake:

The Stuffing:

  • 1 banana sliced ½ inch pieces
  • 1tbs maple syrup
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon

Mix the banana slices, maple syrup, and cinnamon in a bowl so the bananas are well coated.

Lightly butter the pan and warm up your banana mixture. You are trying for a thick warm consistency.Prep your pancake pan, on medium low heat, and just cook your pancakes like you would normally.

Once your pancakes are done place your banana stuffing in the middle of the pancake creating a line.

Then, roll the sides of the pancake around it.

Take a bite its sooo good!

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getting stuffed

Woah, what a busy week!  But that doesn’t mean I didn’t cook—I did! I just didn’t have the time to stop and take pictures of everything and then write about it. Sorry, I’ll be better about it next week.  So to make up for it, I’ll share one of the best things I made stuffed chicken breast with sausage and mushroom, thyme gravy, mashed potatoes, and roasted carrots.

Does the stuffing look familiar? It’s left over from the stuffed mushrooms, and the base of the gravy is the compound butter I used for Marc’s birthday dinner.  I love inventing meals based on stuff I had left over, I didn’t have to run out to the store, and it was so easy to make—really!

I like to start with the starch first because, it takes the longest to cook.  I prefer to keep the skins on because that’s where all the nutrients are.  Once, I did peel the potatoes, and Marc felt that they weren’t as good.

These are the ingredients I grabbed for the photo shoot, the stars of the meal:

  • about a cup of sausage mushroom stuffing
  • 1/8 of a cup of compound butter
  • a few small potatoes
  • boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • a handful of parsley
  • baby carrots

     

    The basics that did not make the picture:

    • salt
    • pepper
    • flour
    • chicken stock
    • dash of Worcestershire
    • pat of unsalted butter
    • splash of milk
    • drizzle of olive oil

To start cooking’:  Cut the potatoes into large chunks, and put them into a pot of cold water (always start with cold water so the potatoes will cook evenly), and a large pinch of salt.  Bring the pot to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes, until it’s fork tender.

As that’s cooking, take your carrots and cut them lengthwise into 2in. pieces. Finely chop your parsley (set aside some for garnish). Place your carrots on a baking sheet, and lightly coat with olive oil, sprinkle with parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Put them in a 400O oven
for 15-20min.

For the chicken breast, carefully cut a pocket into it with a paring knife.  Then, take your stuffing and do just that—stuff the chicken breast with it!  (For the stuffing recipe: https://atebyate.wordpress.com/2010/01/24/stalling-with-snacks/ )  Next, salt and pepper a few tablespoons of flour, and lightly coat the chicken.  This will give the chicken a nice crust that will go well with the gravy.  (If you’re watching your calories, you can just season each side with salt and pepper) In a pan, add a little pat of butter and a drizzle of olive oil. (The olive oil prevents the butter from burning.) Once the butter has melted and the oil is hot place the chicken in the pan, and cook for about 3 minutes on each side.  Take the chicken out of the pan, and onto a baking sheet.  Finish cooking the chicken in a 350 O oven, for another 10min.  While that’s finishing, I get the compound butter, (https://atebyate.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/happy-birthday-marc/) and equal parts of flour and cook it in a pan for about a minute.  Then, I whisk in about ½ – 2 cups of chicken stock and season to taste.  If the gravy doesn’t have the depth of flavor that I want I add a dash of Worcestershire, which I did to with this gravy. 

Take the potatoes and drain well, and smash them with a splash of milk, 2tbs. of butter, and salt and pepper. 

At this point everything should be done. Plate your potatoes, then your chicken, next the carrots.  Pour your delicious gravy over your stuffed chicken and potatoes sprinkle with parsley and EAT!!!


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Have you ever come across a recipe that you would love to make, but don’t have all the necessary ingredients?  I experience this frustration all the time. I solve this common problem by cross referencing. 

As I was watching Rachel Ray one day she made this delicious side dish of gnocchi, which reminded me of a Giada recipe that I saw months prior.  It was the browned butter and sage sauce that reminded me of Giada’s dish.  With the two recipes in mind, I felt driven to combine the two, and this is what I came up with: Roasted Butter Nut Squash with Gnocchi, in a Sage Browned Butter Sauce.

First I coated the squash with olive oil and sprinkled some salt and pepper.

Then, I roasted it in a 400O oven for about 20 minutes.   Next, I cook the gnocchi per the instructions on the package.  (No, I don’t make everything from scratch.  Every home cook needs help.)

Once, the gnocchi and the squash is done, I dump them in a mixing bowl, and start the sauce.  

For the sauce, I melt enough butter to coat the sage and the gnocchi, ½ to ¾ of a cup of butter.  Pay very close attention to the butter, as soon as it starts to bubble and turn very light brown (about 5 min.) drop in the sage and take it off the heat, and stir for about a min.  Then, pour your sauce over the gnocchi and squash and mix until they are thoroughly coated.  Depending on your gnocchi you may to season with salt or pepper.  The gnocchi I had, was flavored with parmesan, which is a bit a salty, thus there was no need for me to add any salt.

Here are the recipes that I cross referenced: (Giada De Laurentiis: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/butternut-squash-tortellini-with-brown-butter-sauce-recipe/index.html  Rachel Ray: http://www.rachaelrayshow.com/food/recipes/sage-butter-gnocchi/ )

I would like to mention that I have started school this week, so please forgive me for not being as diligent with my posts.  Thank you for checking and be sure to visit again soon!

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stalling with snacks

We had a surprise guest for Marc’s birthday week— his brother!  Marc’s brother lives out of state, and it’s been quite a long time since they have seen each other.  To make sure the surprise went off without a hitch I had to stall Marc before I got the okay to procede to the restaurant.  How can I stall a hungry man from going to dinner?  Snacks!  But not just chips, it had to be something delicoius enough to stop him from wanting to  leaving the house.  Stuffed mushrooms did the trick!


• 1 lb of mushrooms
• Handful of parsley finely chopped
• ¾ cup of freshly grated parmesan
• ½ a shallot (depending on the size)
• ½ a garlic (depending on the size)
• 2 links of sausage out of the casings and browned (I was at the market yesterday and saw these “Vino & Formaggio Sausage” I had to try it.)
• 1 cup of bread crumbs
• Salt and pepper to taste

In the picture shown, there’s a piece of a French bread. I didn’t have bread crumbs but just a few pulses in my little food processor and—TA-DAH, bread crumbs. I mixed the fresh bread crumbs with the chopped parsley and place it in a mixing bowl and set it aside.
Preheat the oven to 400.
Take the sausage out of the casing, and brown:
After the sausage has cooled pulse it in the food processor for a couple of seconds. You are aiming for a fine texture that will blend well with the bread crumbs.
When cleaning the mushrooms, do not run them underwater. Mushrooms have a sponge-like texture and will absorb the water, thus ruin the delicate flavor and texture. Just take a clean cloth and wipe them. After the mushrooms are clean separate the stems and from the caps. Finely chop the stems.

Sauté the chopped stems with the garlic and shallot in the same pan as the sausage. This will add sausage flavor to the mushrooms. After the mushrooms have browned, lightly season them with salt and pepper, and add them to the mixing bowl along with the grated parmesan cheese.
In the mixing bowl you have everything you need to stuff the mushrooms.

Mix them together being careful not to crush the bread crumbs. Sample the stuffing and season with salt and pepper if needed.  Next, line the mushroom caps on a baking sheet and lightly brush with olive oil on both sides.
Next, take each mushroom and scoop the stuffing into the mushroom cavity where the stem once was. I like to do this over the mixing bowl so the excess stuffing falls back into the bowl. After the mushrooms are stuffed bake for about 20 minutes.

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cooking therapy

Today was a bit stressful! I was out in the rain with car problems.  Glad it was an easy fix!  After a day like today I definitely needed to do some cooking.  Marc was happy with the soup we had left over (it’s even better the next day), but I wanted to cook! So, I just made simple pasta for myself.  Whole wheat pasta, 3tbs olive oil, vine ripe tomatoes (gotta love hydroponics, how else could we get such beautiful tomatoes in January), garlic, parsley, red pepper flakes, and dried oregano (the oregano didn’t make it the photo shoot). 

Oil, garlic, and red pepper go in the pan on low, for about 10min.  I’m trying to infuse the oil with the sweet roasted garlic flavor (in a fraction of the time of roasting it in the oven) be very careful to avoid burning the garlic; thus the low temperature.  As the oil is being infused I dice the tomatoes and salt them; this get’s their juices going.  Then I add the parsley to the oil and season with a little salt and pepper.  I put in my pasta, and the tomatoes.  I’m very careful to not cook the tomatoes, but just heat them.  And that’s it.  I’ve had my therapy for the day, just a little time in the kitchen and —

 I’m all better!

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This is a favorite! I’ve made it for my cousin after she just had her adorable little boy, and just recently when she was expecting her 2nd child. She was craving it! This is my, ‘go-to’ when a family member is feeling under the weather. Marc makes a request for this tomato based chicken soup when he starts to feel a cold coming on.
You don’t have to be sick to enjoy it. Today is the 4th straight day of rain we’ve had; Chicken soup would be perfect. Also, I’m not going to be home during my usual dinner hour; so Marc will have something to warm his tummy when he gets home.
It’s pretty basic:
• Equal parts, onion, celery, and carrots diced. (mirepoix)


• 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces. (Any chicken will do)
• 1 QT of low sodium chicken broth
• 1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
• I packet of savory broth concentrate chicken flavor, reduced sodium.
• Olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pot.
• Grated parmesan cheese
• ¼ cup of cooked rice
The aromatics:
• 4 cloves of garlic minced
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 tsp. herbs de Provence
• A handful of parsley roughly chopped


Put the oil in the pot, and put in your onions, carrots, and celery and sprinkle with salt. The salt will encourage the veggies to release their juices. Let it sweat for about 10 minutes. Add your aromatics after five minutes, turn down the heat a little bit and allow all the flavors to blend. Pour in the broth, and dissolve the broth concentrate. Next, the crushed tomatoes go in. Dump it in the pot. Add your chicken. Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce to a low simmer. Simmer for 2 hours, uncovered.
This allows the broth to reduce, making the flavor more intense. If you don’t have a couple of hours, give it at least 30min. Your home will smell delicious!
I put about ¼ cup of rice into the bowl before I laddel the soup. After the soup goes into the bowl, I garnish with parmesan cheese.


I don’t put the rice into the soup pot because the rice will soak up all the broth. I learned that the first time I made this.

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Happy Birthday Marc!

Marc’s Birthday Dinner:

Surf & Turf is on the menu along side with petite twice baked potatoes and roasted broccoli

The desert was first on the list. I had to form the ice cream into a ball shape, and then freeze it.  Then I take that beautiful brownie from La Farine bakery, and put it in a plastic bag and smash it up into crumbs.  I am careful to not make it too fine.  I then plate it and give it a dusting of cocoa powder so it looks like real dirt.  I hide it from Marc until it’s ready to plate.  When the ice cream got hard enough; with the raspberry Smuckers Plate Scrappers, I made little lines along the sides in the pattern of baseball stitches.  Then I took a toothpick threw the lines in an attempt to make the stitching more realistic.  Marc doesn’t just love baseball; it’s practically a religion to him.  The only thing he loves more than baseball is the Chicago White Sox. 

 

For the petite baked potatoes: Before boiling, I cut off a little sliver on each end so they a flat surface and would be able to  stand on their own.  Then I boiled them for about 15 minutes. Start with cold water that way the inside and outside of the potato is cooked at the same rate.   As they were boiling I got my ingredients for the filling. 

When the potatoes were done boiling, I cut them in half and hallowed them with a melon baller.  I put the insides of the potatoes in a bowl and mixed it with the milk, minced green onion, butter, shredded cheddar, minced green onion, salt and pepper.  After mixing the stuffing I placed it back into the hallowed out potatoes, and topped it with more shredded cheddar.  I baked it for about 20min in a 400O In the last 7 min. I added some broccoli along side of it.  I put a little extra virgin olive oil, and seasoned it with salt and pepper.  I do this a lot with broccoli; it’s my favorite way to cook it without losing the crunch. 

 

 When the potatoes were done boiling, I cut them in half and hollowed them with a melon baller.  I put the insides of the potatoes in a bowl and mixed it with the milk, minced green onion, butter, shredded cheddar, salt, and pepper.  After mixing the stuffing I placed it back into the hollowed out potatoes, and topped it with more shredded cheddar.  I baked it for about 20min in a 400O In the last 7 min. I added some broccoli along side of it.  Before putting the broccoli in the oven I tossedthe it with a little extra virgin olive oil, and seasoned it with salt and pepper.  I do this a lot with broccoli; it’s my favorite way to cook it without losing the crunch.

 The stars of the show were the steak and shrimp they were really easy to make. I took out the steak about a ½ hour ahead of time so it would be a good consistent temperature internally.  Salt and pepper on both sides, a couple of min on each side then five minutes in the oven, which was at 400O  After it did it’s time in the oven, I tented a piece of foil on it and let it rest for 10min, so the juices could redistribute. 

For the shrimp I made a compound butter of lemon peel, thyme, and garlic.  I was in a hurry to take the picture before the sun went down so I forgot the garlic in the photo.  I cooked the shrimps while the steak rested, since shrimps cook so fast.   

I’m glad he enjoyed his birthday dinner; I hope your wish comes true…oh wait he already has a girl that loves to cook! 

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