Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mac & Cheese

This is my favorite Macaroni & Cheese recipe, and I think it's because it's so classic and simple. This is a recipe that my friend, Jenny, gave to me a while back. I believe she may have found it in her Betty Crocker cookbook, but I'm not 100% sure.

The Mac & Cheese was so creamy and smooth and paired well with the Parm Pork Chops.



2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni (7 ounces)
1 stick of butter cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (8 ounces) (we used extra sharp)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook macaroni as directed.While macaroni is cooking, melt butter in a 3-quart saucepan over low heat. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly; remove from heat. Stir in milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute; remove from heat. Stir in cheese until melted.

Drain macaroni. Gently stir into cheese sauce. Pour into ungreased 2-quart casserole. Bake uncovered 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly.

Parmesan-Crusted Pork Chops

Tonight I decided to use up the pork chops that were in the freezer. I've seen many raves about this particular recipe, so I thought it was time to give it a try!

This recipes is a Giada recipe and, as always, was great! The only change I'll make for next time is to cut the pork chops in half lengthwise, so that they are thinner. Matt and I are not huge fans of thick pork chops.



2 large eggs
1 cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs
3/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan
4 (1/2 to 3/4-inch thick) center-cut pork loin chops (each about 10 to 12 ounces)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons olive oil

Whisk the eggs in a pie plate to blend. Place the bread crumbs in another pie plate. Place the cheese in a third pie plate. Sprinkle the pork chops generously with salt and pepper. Coat the chops completely with the cheese, patting to adhere. Dip the chops into the eggs, then coat completely with the bread crumbs, patting to adhere.

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a very large skillet over medium heat. Add pork chops, in batches if necessary, and cook until golden brown and the center reaches 150 degrees, about 6 minutes per side.

**After browning the chops, I transferred them to a baking dish and cooked them in the oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. This helped to crisp the crust and to ensure they were cooked through.**

Chicken with Lemon & Garlic

Thanks to Ashley for her great pan sauce recommendation. This recipe is so versatile. My recipe it noted below.

This chicken was wonderful and easy to make. Matt really liked it, so we'll definitely be making it again!

My version didn't have much of a sauce because I dredged the chicken in flour. If you like it more saucy, just omit the dredging in this receipe.

Be sure to check out Ashley's blog for her version, which I'm sure is just as tasty!


1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1lb chicken tenderloins
1/2-3/4 cup flour for dredging
1 small cooking onion, thinly sliced
3 large cloves of garlic, pressed
1 1/2 tablespoons parsley
Juice of 1 medium lemon
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/2 tablespoon butter

Combine flour, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Dip chicken tenderloins in flour mixture to coat and shake off excess.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken to the pan and cook about 4 minutes per side, or until done. Remove the chicken from pan and keep warm.

Add the onions to the pan and saute until tender (you may need to add an extra teaspoon of olive oil at this point). Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the white wine and cook until it's reduced by half. Add the chicken broth, doing the same. Add the lemon juice, butter, parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Return the chicken to the sauce and simmer for 10 minutes, flipping the chicken half way through.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Chicken Cacciatore

I have been wanting to make Chicken Cacc for a while, but couldn't seem to find the right recipe. So, I decided to combine what I like from a bunch of different recipes to come up with something spectacular.

This was such a great, healthy, easy dinner. I served the Chicken Cacciatore over rice pilaf with a side salad. It was very flavorful and filled us up! We even managed to have some leftovers for tomorrow, which is a plus! This recipe will be one of our regular weekday meals, for sure!



1 pound boneless skinless chicken tenderloins or breasts
2 teaspoons olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1/2 pound fresh white mushrooms, sliced thin
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
3/4 teaspoon of dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or more, to taste

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Brown the chicken on both sides. Once browned, transfer the chicken to a plate cover with foil and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion and red pepper, cover and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, stirring occasionally. Add the mushrooms and cook, uncovered until the mushrooms begin to brown, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the white wine and cook until reduced by half. Add the tomatoes and juice, oregano, red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and simmer for 10 minutes, covered.

Return the chicken tenderloins to the pan and cover. Simmer about 20 minutes longer or until the chicken is done.

Serve over rice pilaf or pasta.

Easy Rice Pilaf

Here's my yummy recipe from Aunt Gail. Enjoy! Makes a great side for so many dishes!


2 tablespoons butter
2 cups Minute Rice (white)
2-3 ounces Vermicelli pasta (or thin spaghetti)
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon allspice

Add butter to medium sauce pan and melt over medium/medium high heat. Once the butter is melted, break the Vermicelli (in small batches over the sauce pan) into 1/2 inch pieces and add to sauce pan. Cook the Vermicelli until golden brown, stirring often.

Once the Vermicelli is browned, add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cook until the Vermicelli is tender (4-6 mins). Once Vermicelli is tender, remove from heat.Add the Minute Rice, stir and cover for 10 mins. Once the liquid is absorbed, add the salt, pepper, cumin and allspice. Stir to combine.

Fluff with a fork and serve.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Cake

All I can say is YUM! This was sooooo good! I made 3 pans of this cake over the weekend. One for my brunch, one for my mom and dad and one for Matt & I. Matt is taking the rest of our pan to work tomorrow. It's time for it to go. I've had plenty!

This is another fabulous recipe from Smitten Kitchen.


1 stick butter, at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
3 eggs, separated
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
16 ounces sour cream
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda

12 ounces chocolate chips
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream butter and 1½ 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 ½ 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.

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette

So, I was bouncing around on blogs looking for something to whip up and came across Smitten Kitchen. Let me just say . . . this blog is amazing! Not only did I stumble across this blog, taraandkyle06 recommended it when I was searching for something to bake for a brunch this weekend.

This was my first pastry-from-scratch attempt and it came out great! I couldn't resist and ended up eating some of this and gave the rest to my dad. So, needless to say, this didn't end up making it to the brunch today!!

This is such a fancy looking dish and would make a great appetizer for a party of some sort!


For the pastry:
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
¼ cup sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
¼ cup ice water

For the filling:
1 small butternut squash (about one pound)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced in half-moons
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of sugar
¼ teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
¾ cup grated fontina cheese
1½ teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves

Make pastry: In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Place the butter in another bowl. Place both bowls in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove the bowls from the freezer and make a well in the center of the flour. Add the butter to the well and, using a pastry blender, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Make another well in the center. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add half of this mixture to the well. With your fingertips, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Remove the large lumps and repeat with the remaining liquid and flour-butter mixture. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Prepare squash: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Peel squash, then halve and scoop out seeds. Cut into a ½-inch dice. Toss pieces with olive oil and a half-teaspoon of the salt and roast on foil lined (for neatness sake) sheet for 30 minutes or until pieces are tender, turning it midway if your oven bakes unevenly. Set aside to cool slightly.

Caramelize onions: While squash is roasting, melt butter in a heavy skillet and cook onion over low heat with the remaining half-teaspoon of salt and pinch of sugar, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly golden brown, about 20 minutes. Stir in cayenne.

Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Mix squash, caramelized onions, cheese and herbs together in a bowl.

Assemble galette: On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Spread squash, onions, cheese and herb mixture over the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Fold the border over the squash, onion and cheese mixture, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open.

Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Friday, November 9, 2007


This is the second time I've made this, but the first time I've blogged it. I haven't made any repeater dishes lately. I've been on a kick of cooking as many different meals as I can. Nonetheless, I made an exception with this dish. It's so easy and flavorful.

To be quite honest, I've never been a huge meatball/meatloaf fan. This recipe, however, has changed my perspective on all things balls (you know what I mean!!). This is definitely a recipe to try. You'll be blown away with how incredibly good it is!

I served over pasta and used a store bought jar of spaghetti sauce.

My adaptation to Giada's recipe is below.


1/4 cup plain dried bread crumbs
2 tablespoons skim milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup grated Romano
1 pound ground turkey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a large bowl, add bread crumbs and milk. Mix until well combined. Mix in eggs and 1/2 cup Romano cheese. Mix well. Add turkey and gently combine, being careful not to overwork the meat. Season with salt and pepper. Shape into golf-size balls.

In a large skillet heat the oil over medium/medium high heat. When almost smoking, add the meatballs and, without moving or turning the meat, allow it to brown for about 4-8 minutes, covered. Turn meatballs and brown the other side. Continue to cook until all sides are golden brown.

Remove meatballs from pan and place on a paper towel covered plate, to help remove excess oil.

Add the spaghetti sauce to pan and add meatballs to the sauce, bring to a boil. Lower heat and allow meatballs to simmer for 5-10 minutes. Turn off heat and keep warm on stove. Be careful not to over-handle the meatballs since they are soft and fragile.

Be sure to make the meatballs as close to golf-ball sized as you can. The first time I made this, I made the meatballs larger and they were harder to work with.

When turning the meatballs to brown/cook, be very gentle. I recommend using a spoon, scraping under and lifting, to avoid breaking the meatballs. The larger the pan the better. A little extra room really helps when flipping the balls.

I covered the pan the entire time the meatballs were cooking.

Also, I found it easier to add the meatballs to the sauce vs. adding the sauce to the meatballs.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

An apple a day...

I've been on the hunt lately for a yummy apple cobbler receipe that didn't call for oats. Then, along came Katye's Blog. I followed the recipe closely and it came out great!! The topping is crunchy and sweet. It's literally to die for.

is would've been perfect with a big, fat scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. However, I opted for Cool Whip Lite. It worked, but ice cream would've been that much better.

APPLE CRISP (Kayte's Recipe)

1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
8 tablespoons butter, melted
4 apples - peeled, cored and sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Gradually add in egg until mixture is crumbly. Layer apples in a lightly greased 8x8 cake pan. Cover the apples with the flour mixture and drizzle with melted butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.

Thanks Kayte!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Lentil Soup with Beef

This is such a hearty soup. Matt loves it because it's loaded with protein and fiber. The flavors are so wonderful and it's the perfect soup for those cold winter nights.

This is a Giada recipe. My adaptation of the recipe is below! The recipe makes a ton. If you're only serving a couple, I'd halve the recipe (unless you want to freeze some).



2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
3 large celery stalks, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
6 (14-ounce) cans beef broth
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
2 cups (about 11 ounces) lentils, rinsed
2/3 cup elbow macaroni

Heat the oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the beef with salt and pepper. Add half of the beef and cook until brown, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to a bowl. Repeat with the remaining beef. Add the celery, carrots, onion, garlic, rosemary, crushed red pepper and oregano to the pot. Saute until the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes. Return the beef and any accumulated juices from the bowl to the pot. Add the broth and tomatoes with their juice. Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium. Cover and simmer until the meat is just tender, stirring occasionally, about 30-45 mins. Add the lentils. Cover and continue simmering until the lentils are tender, about 45 minutes. Add the elbow macaroni during the last 15 mins of cooking. Season the soup, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve. Top with fresh Parmesan cheese!

Stuffed Grape Leaves with Lamb

So, I took on the task of stuffed grape leaves this weekend. It was such a fun project. The actual task of stuffing the grape leaves was time consuming, but the end result was so worth the wait!

I used a combination of recipes and followed Katie's directions closely. This recipe made about 60 grape leaves. I thought we might have to freeze some, but they seem to be going quick! They make such a great healthy snack/meal!

The grape leaves passed the test. Matt loves them! I was worried since Matt was used to his family's grape leaves that mine might not be the same. However, they were perfect.



16 ounce jar of grape leaves
2 cups long grain white rice
1 lb. ground lamb or beef
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice
5 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 1/4 cup lemon juice, for in pot
6 Tablespoons butter
8- 12 cups of water
4 Tbsp olive oil

Rinse grape leaves under water and separate. Lay grape leaves out to dry.

While grape leaves are drying, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a small pan and saute onions until they are cooked through.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together lamb, rice, allspice, cinnamon, 5 tablespoons melted butter, lemon juice and cooked onion. Use your hands and mix until combined.

Begin stuffing grape leaves. Place 1/2 tablespoon of the rice mixture close to the bottom of the grape leave (where the stem was). Proceed to fold/roll like a burrito. Make sure to roll the grape leaves pretty tight so that they stay secure.

When you have finished stuffing and rolling the grape leaves, line the bottom of a stock pot with torn or broken grape leaves. Layer the grape leaves tightly in rows in the pot. When all of the stuffed grape leaves are layered, top with more torn or broken grape leaves. Place a flat plate on top of the grape leaves. Place a pitcher of water on top of the plate to hold it down.

Fill the pot with 8-12 cups of water, olive oil, salt and 1 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Make sure the liquid is just above the height of the grape leaves. Bring to a boil and simmer for 45 mins - 60 mins, or until done. (eat a stuffed grape leave to make sure they're done!) Use tongs to remove grape leaves from pot.