Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Well, it's Girl Scout Cookie season and guess what that means. I need some lighter, healthier recipes to make up for it. Here is a fantastic recipe that is low in calroies and high in fiber! I found this recipe in my Williams-Sonoma cookbook that has been collecting dust over the years. I rarely cook from it because I am very intimidated by it and also because a lot of the recipes are more summer/fall related. It is the winter right now: time for soups and stews. Well, I don't care! I needed something for lunch today and this absolutely satisfied. There are usually little tid-bits of information about the recipe's so I will include that here and keep in mind they are not my words. I also will include the original recipe that I loosely adapted my recipe from (i.e. I don't like olives so I discluded those and added a few more cucumbers and tomatoes as well as using dry basil instead of basil leaves). Keep in mind I made it in a smaller quantity than the orignial recipe too.

"This salad is reminiscent of the deli-style Greek versions made with iceberg lettuce, but instead of lettuce, it uses lots of juicy ripe tomatoes and crunchy cucumbers. A medium tomato only has 35 calories but is high in vitamins C and A, lycopene, and flavonoids that fight cancer and some types of heart disease. Very red tomatoes are richest in lycopene." - Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Healthful Cooking

Tomato and Cucumber Salad

1.5 lb ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves (I used dry basil)
2 tbsp olive oil or peanut oil
1/2 tsp minced garlic
kosher salt
6 inch piece English cucumber (I used about 3/4 of a regular cucumber from my local supermarket)
1/2 sweet onion
1/2 cup crumbled ricotta cheese
2 tbsp sliced, pitted Kalamata olives (I ommited this)
1 tsp red wine vinegar
freshly ground pepper

Combine tomatoes, basil, oil, garlic, pinch salt and toss gently to combine. Let stand 5 minutes. Then cut the cucumber in half discarding the seeds and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Next, dice the onion. Add the cucumber, onion, cheese, and olives to the mixture, then sprinkle with the vinegar and toss to mix. Season with pepper and stir. Serve at room temperature.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Spicy Mac and Cheese

If I could eat macaroni and cheese every day for the rest of my life, I'm pretty sure I would never complain. I absolutely love almost any variation of macaroni and cheese. When I saw this post online I knew I just had to make it because I had never had a spicy macaroni before! Plus I was allowed to use my own noodles and had a bunch of rotini leftover so it was the perfect way to use it up. I actually had half a box of whole wheat and half a box of white .. but my husband didn't seem to notice. ;)

This was the most perfect macaroni. My husband's only complaint was that I made it for our main course so it didn't have any meat in it. Yeah yeah yeah .. sure thing honey. So next time, for him, I think I might add some spicy Italian sausage for meat. If I do make this again, I might double the recipe and have guests over. This would be an absolute MUST for my Thanksgiving dinner table as a side dish (without the meat addition).

If you notice I did go a little crazy with the bread crumbs but I won't do that next time.

Spicy Mac and Cheese
Adapted from: Annie's Eats

4 cups pasta shapes (I used rotini)
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper (or roasted red pepper)
2 jalepenos, seeded and finely choppd
6.5 tbsp butter, divided
4 tbsp all-purpose flour
2.5 cups milk
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
16 oz four cheese blend, shredded (you can use any 4 cheese combo)
italian bread crumbs, for topping

Cook pasta stove top to package directions. When finished cooking, drain and keep in collander. Meanwhile, melt 1/2 tbsp butter in small skillet on medium-high heat. Add onion, pepper and jalapeno to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally about 5-7 minutes until softened and remove from heat and set aside.

In medium sauce pan, melt 4 tbsp butter on medium-high heat. Once melted, slowly whisk in the flour and add the milk almost immediately. Cook until well blended and bubbly (about 5 minutes). Reduce heat to medium-low and mix in the spices. Then add in the cheese and mix well until completely melted. Try at this point to refrain from eating all the cheese mixture because it is soooo good. Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a small casserole dish (2 quart). Return the drained pasta to large pot that it was cooked in. Add the cooked vegetables and cheese mixture to the pot and combine well. Pour into the casserole dish and gently flatten. Sprinkle bread crumbs over top (not too many). Bake for 25 minutes or until mixture is heated and top is golden brown. Allow to stand 5-10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Taco Soup

If you are as sick of this snow as I am, you will love this recipe. It will give you plenty of time to snuggle up on the couch after eating it with very few dishes to do afterwards. My kind of recipe. I have an all-crock pot recipe book that I absolutely love and it was so inexpensive but it has produced some tasty results over these months that I have had it. This was one of them. Especially in the winter I love dinners that I don't have to slave over the stove for hours making. At least if I end up not liking a crock pot recipe, we still have time to order some take-out. ;) This week's theme seems to be thick, hearty soups for winter. Old man winter .. I love you, but can only stand you for a certain period of time. Your departure is long overdue. If you like Mexican (as we do in this household) and easy recipes, then you must try this!

Taco Soup
Adapted from: Easy Slow Cooker Cookbook

1-1.5 lb ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning (1 oz)
2 cans mexi-stewed tomatoes (28 oz)
1 can chili beans, with liquid
1 can whole kernel corn, frozen (I just used a leftover can from beans and measure the corn in that)

For topping:
crushed tortilla chips
shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream

In a medium skillet, brown the ground beef on medium-high heat until no longer pink. Drain and add to crock pot. Add seasoning, tomatoes, beans, corn and 1 can of water. Mix well. Cover and cook on low 4 hours or high 1-2 hours. I put this in at lunch time and came out perfectly for dinner.

Serve over crushed tortilla chips and sprinkle cheddar cheese and sour cream if desired on top.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Mexican Lasagna

This was the perfect combination for me and my husband: he loves Mexican food and I love lasagna. Perfecto! My dad and step-mom were up in our area and ate this too and had absolutely no complaints from anyone. I also had ZERO leftovers because my dad liked it so much he wanted to take the rest home with him! This was the last littl piece and I am surprised I remembered to snap a picture of it! If you are a fan of Mexican food then this is definitely something worth trying. It was very different from the usual enchilada's, burrito's, etc. I liked it but would have loved it even more if I could have figured out how to make the corn tortillas more soft and easier to cut through. Maybe next time I will cook them a little?? I dunno.

Mexican Lasagna

10-12 corn tortillas
1 lb ground beef (or chorizo if you are feeling spicy)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 tbsp taco seasoning
salt and pepper, to taste
2 cans refried pinto beans (28 oz)
1 tub ricotta cheese
1 egg
2 cups mexican shredded cheese blend
1 can diced tomatoes (14 oz)
1 jar salsa (16 oz)
sliced gree onions, for garnishing

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sauce pan on medium-high heat, brown your meat. Once cooked through add the garlic and onion. Stir and cook until softened. Add salt, pepper and taco seasoning and mix well. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

In a small bowl, combine ricotta and egg. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Lightly grease a 9x13 glass baking dish. Place a layer of 4 corn tortillas on the bottom (the edges may overlap which is fine). Then layer as follows: 1/2 refried beans, 1/2 ricotta mixture, 1/2 beef mixture, 1/2 shredded mexican cheese, 1 can diced tomatoes. Add another layer of 6 corn tortillas. Then repeat next layer topping with salsa instead of diced tomatoes and extra cheese on top of that.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. Allow to cool about 5-10 minutes out of the oven. Garnish with green onion and serve warm.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Cookie Dough Truffles

Stop what you are doing and make these right now! Eat a few, then give the rest away. People will love you .. if they are human and love chocolate. K? Mkay. So now that you are back and have many more friends than you thought you did, let me tell you my little story with these .. and melting chocolate. And if you can't tell from my picture I made one batch slightly pink with two drops of red food coloring because a friend just found out she is having a baby girl!!! I couldn't find white mini chips so the regular chocolate had to do. No complaints so far.

I love to bake for the holidays. I have never had much success as I do not own a double boiler. People have said, "oh just use a bowl and place it on top of a boiling pot of water" but that makes me so nervous about cracking the bowl. You see, a long time ago while dating my husband I thought I would make him fondue cheese in the ceramic pot. It cracked on us in the middle of dinner and scared me so I totally freak out any time I melt chocolate or anything similar.

This past holiday season I found a new trick! I figured out I could put chocolate in a heat proof bowl on the defrost setting and that would melt it perfectly! Worked like a charm! The only problem!? I still buy the chocolate chips and not the regular chocolate that melts thin and is better for things like this. See, I like a thin layer of chocolate rather than a thicker coating. Usually it goes on so thick I need like 3 packages of chips for two dozen buckeyes or in this case cookie dough balls. So if you learned a lesson from all this: BUY REAL CHOCOLATE for dipping!

Also as another tip: Do NOT use wax paper. It will stick to your truffles, buckeyes, etc. If you just put them onto a cookie sheet they pop off just fine once refridgerated.

Cookie Dough Truffles
Adapted from: Annie's Eats, originally Taste of Home

8 tbsp butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

1.5 cups semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, for dipping (chopped)
mini chocolate chips, for garnishing

Combine butter and brown sugar in mixing bowl with hand mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in half the flour, then condensed milk and vanilla and mix well. Then add the other half of the flour. Mixture will thicken. When combined well, gently beat in the 1/2 cup of the mini chocolate chips. Refridgerate dough for 10-15 minutes so it can harden.

Once hardened, roll into desired sized balls placing on a cookie sheet and placing in the freezer to harden for at least 1 hour. After hardened, begin to melt chocolate in double boiler or stove top in heat proof bowl atop pot with boiling water. Once melted, begin to dip choclate balls with a toothpick into the chocolate compeltely covering them. Allow to drip excess chocolate for a few seconds and return to cookie sheet and immediately garnish with mini chocolate chips as desired. Return to fridge to cool and set.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

White and Green Chili

This chili was a very warm and refreshing difference from our usual chili. I have tried pumpkin chili but it's really not fall anymore so it just seemed that this was more winter-friendly. Since most of the country is getting snow dumped on them and we are no exception here in Indiana, I thought this was a perfect, easy week night dinner to warm any family up! And did I mention it came from my big recipe book for THIRTY MINUTE MEALS? How's that for quick and easy!? My menu this week is mainly just that: crock pot and quick meals. I'm a little worn out from moving and unpacking. I'm not wonder woman. I can't do everything.

Although at times I wish I could.

White and Green Chili
Adapted from: Biggest Book of 30-Minute Meals (Better Homes and Gardens)

1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 can navy beans, rinsed and drained
1 jar salsa (16 oz)
1 can chicken broth (14 oz)
1.5 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
sour cream, for topping

In large skillet, brown ground beef and onions. Once onions are soft and ground beef is cooked through drain off fat and return to pan. Add beans, salsa, chicken broth and cumin. Mix well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Mix in tbsp cilantro before serving and sprinkle any additional desired on top with sour cream.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

I am always looking for the perfect cookie. I don't like them crunchy or doughy in the middle. Whether it's snickerdoodles or peanut butter .. I like them to stay soft out of the oven. I never had much success before I started this blog but I have begun to develop some skills thankfully. These cookies are a MUST-MAKE for any occasion. They are very simple and easy to make, especially if you have a stand mixer. This was the very first recipe I used my Kitchen Aid mixer for!!

Such a beautiful sight huh!? Please excuse the background where my outlet cover is missing. I was in the midst of painting my kitchen. Can we say embarassing! You can view how that went here on my other blog.

Anyways, the cookies turned out fantastic despite dinner that was a failure (no need to blog that). I actually forgot the shortening even though I had it set out .. and Annie explicitly mentions it in her blog post (link below). I should really think about re-naming this blog to something like "Kelly forgets another ingredient." That just doesn't have a nice ring to it though. I will for sure make another batch soon with the shortening to see if I can taste the difference. We will call these my "experimental" peanut butter cookies. Oh and I also replaced honey with karo light syrup because that is what I had on hand (and Google said I could substitute it).

Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from: Annie's Eats, originally Taste of Home

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1.5 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/4 cup vegetable shortening (I accidentally omitted this)
4 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup light corn syrup (or honey)
2 large eggs
sugar, for rolling dough

In medium mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Whisk together and set aside. Cream together shortening, butter, peanut butter and syrup (or honey). Mix in eggs one at a time being sure to incorporate well before adding the second. With mixer on lowest speed, slowly add in dry mixture little by little until blended well.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough into 1-1.5 inch balls and roll in sugar. Place onto greased cookie sheets and slightly flatten with fork to make a cross-section design (see original recipe link for picture). The dough rises a bit and the cookies stay very thick so the design won't stay but it's to help them shape a little. Bake for 10-12 minutes until they are golden. Since they are peanut butter cookies they don't change color too much so don't over-cook them. Allow them to cook for about 5 minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to wire racks to finish cooling completely. Serve with cold milk for best results! Store in airtight container.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Louisiana Chicken Pasta

I am not really sure where to begin to talk about this dish. My husband and I both love cajun food. This looked like it would be a fantastic hit. The preparation and cooking was so easy for this I thought that maybe I had missed an ingredient (as usual) or it wasn't going to be what I had expected. It completely surpassed both of our expectations!! This was a 110% success. All of the spices came together perfectly. There wasn't too many bell peppers. The pasta and sauce went wonderfully together. The only thing I might change next time is adding a little more chicken for my husband. He likes his meat.

I was also surprised to find out that my dish (despite my best picture taking efforts) actually looked almost the exact same as the original blog I found it on. That almost never happens! And my husband took every last morsel for himself the next day for lunch. I think next time I will double the recipe with no problem. I'm sure the leftovers will get eaten very quickly around here. The recipe below is adapted to what I will make next time (just adding that extra half chicken breast).

Louisiana Chicken Pasta
Adapted from: Annie's Eats, originally Smells Like Home

For chicken:
1 tbsp butter
1.5 boneless chicken breasts, uncooked, cubed
salt and pepper, to taste
cajun seasoning, to taste

For pasta and sauce:
8-10 ounces bowtie pasta
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp canola oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped (I omitted this time)
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp cajun seasoning
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1.5 cups whipping cream
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp water
3 scallions, chopped

First, heat a medium skillet on medium-high heat melting 1 tbsp butter. Once melted add the cubed, uncooked chicken, salt and pepper. Toss to combine until chicken is cooked thoroughly. Meanwhile, begin to heat a pot of boiling water for the pasta. When chicken is done, set in small bowl and set aside (it may cool off but this is okay). Cook pasta in boiling water according to package directions until desired consistency.

While pasta is cooking, heat butter and oil in medium skillet (used previously for chicken) on medium heat. Once butter is melted add peppers and onion. Mix in the salt, pepper, cajun and cayenne seasonings. Cook until peppers are softened (about 6-8 minutes). Add whipping cream to skillet and simmer. Meanwhile, in a very small bowl, combine cornstarch and water and whisk well. Once skillet mixture has started to bubble, add the cornstarch mixture. Continue to simmer abother 5 minutes until thickened, stirring frequently.

When sauce has thickened, add chicken and pasta. Toss to coat well and cook on medium-high heat for a few minutes to warm chicken pieces up. You may add additional cajun seasoning to taste. I added another 1.5 tsp at this point because we like a lot of spiciness!! Also add the scallions at the last step. Toss well and serve warm.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Spinach Lasagna

Lasagna is my favorite thing to make. I always make the traditional meat, ricotta, tomato sauce. I found this one on another blogger's website and the pictures just looked amazing! My pictures aren't the best, but I am working with a point-and-shoot. I do see a dslr in my near future though.

Anyways, this lasagna was FULL of ricotta and other cheeses. I usually love cheese but this was cheese-overload. I would have happily halved the recipe and baked in a smaller 8x8 pan. Based on most recipes with ricotta and my experiences with Lasagna, I used only 2/3 of what the original called for. It still was too much. The parmesan cheese, however brought a wonderful taste to the palate. I might use more of that next time. My husband was not fond of this at all! Most people say they are a 'meat and potatoes' person. Well, he is just a meat person. He loves his meat. Me? My cholesterol is over 300 and I need to eat better! It's a really good thing I don't like red meat at all anyways.

If you do like lasagna, spinach and ricotta then you will love this one!! I have adapted the recipe below to what I made. I will post another adaptation as I begin to make it suitable to what my carnivorous husband will eat.

Spinach Lasagna

Bechamel Sauce:
6 tbsp butter
4 cups warm milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
salt and pepper, to taste
pinch of nutmeg

In large saucepan on medium heat melt butter. Add the milk and flour and whisk together. Add seasonings and mix well. Reduce heat a little to make sure sauce does not boil! Cook for about 10 minutes until thickened. Place in heat-proof bowl (I placed in a mixing bowl), cover and put into the freezer* for later.

*If you make this sauce well ahead of time you may just place it in the refrigerator instead.

8 ounces lasagna noodles, uncooked
1 recipe Bechamel sauce (above)
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained (10 oz)
20 ounces ricotta cheese
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper, to taste
1 lb mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese, for topping

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In large stock pot boil water and cook lasagna noodles according to directions on package. Meanwhile, in medium mixing bowl combine ricotta, spinach, 1/2 cup parmesan, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Once noodles are cooked and drained, line bottom of greased 9x13 pan with noodles. Then add a layer of ricotta mixture, half of the mozzarella, 1/3 of the Bechamel sauce. Repeat layer. Cover with nooles again and top with remaining Bechamel sauce and sprinkle parmesan cheese on top. Cover with foil and cook in the oven for 40 minutes. Uncover and cook an additional 10 minutes. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes then serve.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Spicy Sausage & Rice Casserole

First things first .. I didn't actually make this dish, my husband did. I prepped everything and he did the bulk of the work. Either way, it is the spiciest thing I have ever made!! I think it had a lot to do with the extra spicy sausage I got from the grocery. It was on sale so I stocked up and made some for breakfast with my eggs too. It was delicious!

Well this recipe did not disappoint. I loved every single aspect of it. I loved the spiciness of the sausage, the peppers, onions, and especially the rice. I have never purchased or used long-grain rice before but it seems to take longer to cook in the oven. I think I might have liked it better if it was partially cooked beforehand. Some of it was still a little crunchy, but not much. I also put some cheese on top which the original recipe didn't call for. I am a cheese person .. what can I say. This was definitely a dish I could have kept going back for seconds and thirds and so on.

Spicy Sausage & Rice Casserole
Adapted from: Joelen's Culinary Adventures, originally All Recipes

28 oz spicy pork sausage
1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
3/4 cup onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 bell peppers chopped (I used 75% green, 25% red)
2 cans diced tomatoes (14 oz)
1 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp cayenne pepper
shredded cheese, to taste (for topping)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, brown the sausage on medium heat while chopping into smaller pieces. Drain grease and return to skillet on medium-low heat. Add rice, onion, garlic, and peppers. Mix well and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, broth, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Mix well and pour into a 9x13 baking dish. Bake for 55 minutes making sure the rice is completely cooked. Top with cheese as desired and cook an additional 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

You can also cover the casserole and freeze for a later day and time at this step.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Southwestern Stuffed Peppers

This was the very first recipe in our new home! My husband and I both put this on our to-make-often list of recipes. It was a huge hit and we almost couldn't stop eating them. Moving has been really hard on both of us but this was a very simple and rewarding recipe. He loves mexican food and could eat it daily if I made it every day. 

I cut two peppers lengthwise and two just with the tops off and ended up halving them because it was much easier to stuff them that way. Whenever my mom makes stuffed peppers she doesn't make them like this .. I don't think. This is the first stuffed pepper recipe I have eaten or made. Next time I might double the recipe and make it for some guests we have over. I know it will be a huge hit!

Southwestern Stuffed Peppers
Adapted from: Homemade by Holman 

1/2 lb ground beef
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup black beans
1 cup corn
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1 can diced tomatoes (option w/chiles)
1/2 cup brown rice, uncooked
4 bell peppers, any color
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 lime
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (optional)
sour cream, (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook rice as directed and set aside. Meanwhile brown ground beef in large skillet on medium-high heat and crumble as it cooks. Add 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp cayenne and 1/4 tsp chili powder. Mix well and add diced tomatoes, reducing heat to medium low. Add onions, black beans, corn and simmer until rice is cooked and softened.

Meanwhile prepare peppers by cutting in half lengthwise (top to bottom) and removing stem, seeds, etc. Rinse and set in a large glass baking dish. Add 2 tsp water to bottom of dish. 

When rice has cooked thoroughly, add 1/2 tsp cumin and 1/4 tsp chili powder and mix well. Stir into the ground beef mixture and add half the cilantro. Note: I didn't use cilantro because per the norm I didn't have one of the ingredients on hand. They still turned out WONDERFUL without it. Spoon filling into pepper halves. Cover pan with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes. Uncover (peppers should be softened) and sprinkle on cheese and continue cooking an additional 5 minutes until cheese is melted. Top with remaining cilantro and sour cream if desired.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Chicken, Broccoli and Noodle Supreme

To be honest, some recipes just scare me. This was one of them. I love broccoli, egg noodles and chicken. The other ingredients I was a little skeptical on if they would taste well together in the same dish or if we were going to be getting take-out somewhere again.

I was very pleasantly surprised and my husband was too. He rarely eats anything with broccoli or any green vegetable in it. When doing the dishes later, I was so happy to find that he didn't even push his broccoli aside, he ate them all!! Another fantastic success! Now if I could just find something to coat asparagus in..

Chicken, Broccoli and Noodle Supreme
Adapted from: Recipezaar

1 lb chicken breast, cubed
3 cups uncooked egg noodles
2 cups fresh broccoli florets
1 can cream of chicken soup (10 oz)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Boil uncooked, cubed chicken pieces on medium-high heat in 80% water 20% chicken broth. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer covered for about 15-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked throughout.

After chicken is simmering, place a pot on stove to boil egg noodles in water (add a little extra for the broccoli in later step). In the last 5 minutes of cooking time, or once the noodles begin to loose their "stiffness" add the broccoli to the pot and cook another 5 minutes. Be sure to not over-cook the noodles though.

Drain the pot with noodles and broccoli and return to stove. Place on medium heat and add chicken cubes, sour cream, parmesan, soup, and pepper. Mix well and cook a bit longer until warmed.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

P.F. Changs China Bistro

I have been doing a lot of restaurant reviews lately, I know. The reason is because we were supposed to move mid-January. Then again at the end of the month and our closings kept getting delayed for one reason or another. I kept trying to get the bare minimum at the grocery store and we would go out one day (assuming that was the day we were closing .. to celebrate).

FINALLY on February 1st, we closed on our new home! Time to celebrate! It couldn't have been better timing too because the Indianapolis Colts are going to the Superbowl and we should have just under a week to hook up our family room. We can't wait!

Anyways, back to the review at hand. P.F. Changs is a place that my husband and I go to often. Mainly we go for the chicken lettuce wraps because they are divine! We normally get the Two for $40 deal they offer. It really is a fantastic deal. You get:

2 soups
1 appetizer
2 main dishes
2 mini desserts

By the time you are finished with all that food, the mini desserts are more than enough. They are fantastic. Okay, I can't really say that because the only one I have ever had is the cherry cheesecake. I just don't like change when I've got a good thing going, ya know. They offer other fantastic flavors, however. If you want gourmet asian food, this is the place for you!

Wait time: D (we waited 2 hours .. yes TWO hours)
Food: A-
Menu diversity: A (it is a "China Bistro" of course)
Service: A-
Nutritional value: C- (keep your portions smaller here for better nutrition)
Price: $$

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Chicken Etoufee

If you are from Indianapolis or have travelled here, I highly suggestion going to visit a cajun place called Yats. There are now four locations: Fishers (north), Greenwod (south), Downtown and Broad Ripple (the original). They have the most amazing Chili Cheese Etoufee you have ever feasted upon in your entire life! Nothing really compares so it's hard to start from scratch. I had to start somewhere so I searched a few websites and found a recipe on Tasty Kitchen that looked like it had the same color and consistency.

As I said before, nothing compares to Yats. But I can always try again.

This was a great place to start. It wasn't the best, but who can be the best on their first try? Certainly not me .. a rookie in the kitch. Well, this was a fantastic recipe to start with. I think it had too much chicken soup and not enough cheese for my taste so next time I might add some cheese soups in place of those. Also, I might try to add some different spices to see how that goes. The spices were okay but not quite right.

Etoufee also goes well with white rice (although I almost always make brown). Please, please use crawfish if you can find it. I used chicken and I just don't like the texture of the shredded chicken compared to the crawfish. It's times like these I wish I lived near the coast.. any coast.

Chicken Etoufee
Adapted from: Tasty Kitchen

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or cooked crawfish)
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cans cream of chicken soup
3 cans water
1 cup diced green bell pepper
1 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup green onions, to taste

Boil chicken in large stock pot with water and a little chicken broth on high, then reduce head to medium-low to simmer for 20-30 minutes until cooked thoroughly. When done, shred chicken with a fork and set aside.

Then, heat oil in large skillet on medium heat. Add garlic and onions and saute until translucent. Add cans of soup, water, and shredded chicken to the pan. Mix well and then add seasonings. Reduce heat to low and simmer about 15 minutes to thicken. Serve on a bed of white rice and with a side of cheesy garlic bread.