Thursday, October 29, 2009

Chicken with Asiago Sauce

OMG. That was the first thing that came out of my mouth when I tasted this, until Andy told me to never talk like that again. All language aside, this was the first meal I've cooked that I thought actually tasted almost restaurant quality. Andy gave it a 5 out of 10, and said that it was "too bland" looking, but I've come to think we have different palates. I thought it was awesome, and I was equally proud that I finally conquered how to make a roux. I had to dump out my first attempt tonight because it was not thickening like it was supposed to. I was following a Rachael Ray recipe, but have you ever seen her actually measure anything? She'll say she's adding a tablespoon of something, but it really looks like half a cup! Anyway, the recipe calls for a tablespoon of flour, and since I've never seen her use an actual measuring spoon, the second time around I used her method of using a large 'eating' tablespoon and what do you know, it worked!

I served this with some frozen cheese ravioli, but I think it would be better with regular pasta. It was almost too much of the same consistency/flavor going on. This would also be really good on top of veggies.

Chicken with Asiago Sauce
Source: Adapted from Rachael Ray
Serves 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 Tbls olive oil
salt, pepper, garlic powder

2 Tbls butter
1 heaping Tbls flour
1 1/2 cup milk
1 cup Asiago cheese, grated
1/8 tsp Thyme, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil over medium heat in skillet; season chicken with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Add to hot pan and cook 6-8 minutes on each side, until juices run clear.

While chicken cooks, melt butter over medium heat in small saucepan. Whisk flour into melted butter; cook for 1 minute; roux should be thick, if not add a bit more flour. Whisk in milk and cook to thicken, about 5 minutes. Stir in cheese and thyme; add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve chicken breasts topped with cheese sauce.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Weirdest dinner ever.....

but surprisingly tasty! However, it does not photograph much better than a pile of mush:(

I love to clip coupons, whether or not it saves me money, I don't really know but I do it anyway. Quite often the Sunday paper has coupons for Hillshire Farm products, and I always feel the need to stock up on smoked sausages. I don't even particularly like these sausages, but in my quest to serve less chicken for the hubby, these are a quick alternative.

I had one of these bad boys to use up, so I ventured to the Hillshire Farm website to get some inspiration. I found this recipe, and decided that it could easily be adapted with the minimal supplies I have right now. Below is my take on the original (which could possibly be just as good, I just didn't have the right ingredients).

Baked Pasta and Smoked Sausage
Source: Adapted from Hillshire Farm
Serves: 4-6

1 (16 oz.) package Hillshire Farm Smoked Sausage
1 can Campbells Fiesta Nacho Cheese soup
2 1/2 cups milk
2 1/2 cups dried pasta of your choice (I used elbow macaroni)
1 cup cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut sausage into 1/4" slices and brown in a skillet; drain.

Combine milk, soup, pasta, and 1/2 cup cheese in a 2 1/2-3 qt casserole dish. Add cooked sausage.

Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and bake for 3-5 more minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Enchilada Bites

Ah Girl's Night....a great excuse to meet up with old friends, eat junk food and drink too much:) This past weekend I met up with old roommates for a night out, and I knew that dip's are usually the most common appetizer for people to bring, so I wanted something different. I stumbled upon this recipe for Enchilada Bites and immediately knew I had found my party contribution.

I had a lot of trouble making these, and almost gave up before I finished. The original recipe seemed to leave out some helpful hints, or else I was doing something wrong. I also doubled the recipe, leaving some extra filling for delicious and easy enchiladas a couple nights later. Below is my adaptation of the original recipe.

Enchilada bites
Source: Adapted from Home is Where the Holman's Are
Makes 24-36

8 corn tortillas
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
2 cans cream of chicken soup (low sodium/healthy request works fine)
1 can (1 cup) enchilada sauce (Old El Paso Hot)
Mexican cheese blend, about 1 cup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine shredded chicken, soup and enchilada sauce and heat until bubbling. Cut 3" circles out of each tortilla (3 circles per shell), place cut-outs in microwave and heat according to directions on package, about 30 seconds. Once warm and pliable, press each round into well of a mini-muffin tin.
*This is my adaptation of the original recipe, I finally figured out that the only way to get the rounds to fit into the muffin tin without crumbling was to warm them up first.

Spoon mixture evenly into each muffin cup. Top each with shredded cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese bubbles and begins to brown. Use a spoon to pop out each bite.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pancetta-Wrapped Pork Roast

(ugh, excuse the horrible photo, taken on my iphone since my other camera stinks, thought this might be better)

We eat a lot of chicken here in our humble Georgia Avenue home. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are just so easy, and there are seriously so many ways to make chicken! When it is brought to my attention that all we eat is chicken, I try to expand our menus a bit. Normally, I wait until I find some good deals on pork, and occasionally I'll stock up on steak and tilapia at Costo. One item that I always look for though are boneless pork loins. When I buy one, this is my go-to recipe for pork roast. I guess someday I should try something else, but this is SO good, and it makes the hubby happy:)

One thing I don't like about the recipe is that it is supposed to be roasted in a roasting pan, and I have not acquired one yet. It still turns out great, but makes me wonder what the difference would be (and it just furthers my 'need' for a roasting pan.)

Another helpful hint regarding the pancetta: I have normally found this by the 'gourmet' cheeses in the grocery store, but on my recent trip to Rainbow it was nowhere to be found. I ended up having the deli counter slice me some, and since I forgot how much the recipe called for I got 8 thin slices and it worked out perfectly.

Pancetta-Wrapped Pork Roast
Source: Giada De Laurentiis

8 large garlic cloves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (3 1/2 to 4-pound) tied boneless pork loin roast (I always use the pre-packaged one's in the meat section, about 3 pounds, and is not tied)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups dry white wine

Blend the garlic, rosemary, thyme, and oil in a small food processor, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until the garlic is minced.

Sprinkle the pork roast generously with salt and pepper. Arrange the pancetta slices on a work surface, overlapping slightly and forming a rectangle. Spread half of the garlic mixture over 1 side of the pork and between the 2 loins that meet in the center of the tied pork roast. Place the pork, garlic mixture side down, in the center of the pancetta rectangle. Spread the remaining garlic mixture over the remaining pork. Wrap the pancetta slices around the pork. Place the pork in a roasting pan. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Pour 1/2 cup of broth and 1/2 cup of wine into the roasting pan. Add more broth and wine to the pan juices every 20 minutes. Roast the pork until a meat thermometer inserted into the center registers 145 degrees F for medium-rare, about 1 hour. (since mine was only 3lbs it took about 50 minutes) Transfer the pork to a cutting board. Tent with aluminum foil and let stand for 10 minutes. Pour the pan drippings into a glass measuring cup and spoon off any fat that rises to the top. (I also did not do this, and did not use any of the juices. I feel the roast does not need the extra juice, but again, a roasting pan may change my mind.)

Using a large sharp carving knife, cut the pork into 1/4-inch-thick slices and serve with the pan juices.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pork Potstickers

A few months ago I had an assignment at school to attend a 'cultural event.' After my first attempt at an event turned out to be a bit disappointing, I found plan B. Plan B took me to my first Asian grocery store, United Noodles, and it introduced me to Dr. Lo. Dr. Lo works with my mom, and she taught me how to make traditional Pork Potstickers, as well as the history behind how these dumplings came to be called 'potstickers.'

This is the first time I have made potstickers since meeting Dr. Lo, but I was surprised by how much I remembered! These are definitely fun to make, but a bit time consuming. Next time I think I'll invite someone to join me (my mother-in-law has already requested I teach her!).

Here is a shot of the potstickers during the pan-frying stage:

Here is a shot during the final, steaming stage:

Pork Potstickers

1/2 C. finely chopped Bok Choy leaves
1/2 C. finely chopped Sui Choy (Napa cabbage)
1/4 C. finely chopped green onion
1/4 C. finely chopped shitake mushrooms
1 Tbls. finely chopped ginger
1 lb. ground pork
1 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. Chinese rice wine
1 tsp. sesame oil
dash of black pepper
1 egg yolk
1 package wonton or gyoza wrappers

water for sealing wrappers and steaming
vegetable oil for pan-frying

Combine all ingredients through egg yolk (easiest to use your hands.) Place a heaping teaspoon of filling in the middle of a wrapper, being careful not to overfill or get too close to the edge.

To fold the dumpling, moisten the edges of the wrapper with water. Gently fold the wrapper up over filling and crimp edges to seal tightly. Cover dumplings with a slightly damp paper towel until ready to cook.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tsp. vegetable oil. Add 8-10 potstickers, being careful to not overcrowd the pan. Fry 2-3 minutes, until the bottom is browned. Add 1/3 cup water, cover and let steam until all the liquid is absorbed, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from pan and cook the rest of the potstickers.

Serve alone, or with the following simple dipping sauce:
4 Tbls. soy sauce
1 Tbls. sesame oil
2 tsp. finely minced ginger
2 tsp. chopped green onion
pinch of sugar, to taste

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Homemade Noodles

This is my mom's recipe for the noodles she makes for Chicken Noodle Soup. The recipe is really simple, but don't let the dough fool you. It will seem too crumbly, and you may have to add a drop of water, but when rolled out it will turn into great noodles. Next time I will make a double batch though.

Homemade Noodles
Source: my mom

1 cup flour (I used half regular and half whole-wheat)
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp butter
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 Tbls milk

Measure flour into a bowl and make a well in the center. Add all remaining ingredients, mix with a fork until stiff. (This is where it stayed crumbly for me, so I used my hands and added a couple drops of water just before rolling it out.)

Roll dough into a very thin rectangle, let dry for 20 minutes. Roll up dough and cut into strips (next time I will dust some flour on before rolling up in order to make the un-rolling a bit easier.) Unroll or shake out noodles, lay flat and let dry for 2 hours.

Boil for 10 minutes.


Chicken Noodle Soup

Wow, it has been over a month since the last time I posted anything. My internship is keeping me a lot busier than I expected, so home-cooked meals have been lacking a bit around our house. And my treat baking has been pretty much non-existent, unless you count the pre-packaged cookies I made out of desperation one day.

Today I finally had some extra time, we had our first snow yesterday, and Andy and I are both feeling colds coming that means it's soup time!! This is my mom's recipe, it's the soup I grew up on and there is nothing more comforting. I have fond memories of her homemade noodles drying on the counter, mainly because everytime I walked by I would sneak one, hoping she wouldn't catch me.

So tonight I made mom's chicken noodle soup with homemade noodles, and it was delicious. Everything went smoothly until I went to take the garbage out, and came back in to catch the dog eating the noodles off of the counter, boy was she in trouble! She only got to half of them, but it was too late to make any more so our soup was lacking in the noodle department.

In my excitement to eat, I forgot to take a picture of the soup, so the uncooked noodles will have to suffice for today. I'm sure you can imagine what chicken noodle soup looks like:)

Chicken Noodle Soup
Source: my mom

1 whole chicken
Approximately 8 cups chicken broth
Approximately 1 cup each of celery, carrot and onion
1-2 Tbls chopped parsley
Potatoes (I used 2 red potatoes)
2 garlic cloves

Place chicken in stock pot, add broth (if chicken isn't fully covered add water until it is). Simmer about 1-1.5 hours until chicken is tender. (I also added roughly chopped garlic and onion to my broth, can't go wrong with that) When chicken is done, remove to cool.

Add carrots, celery, onion, potatoes and parsley to broth. Cook while deboning the chicken, about 1/2 hour. Return chicken to the pot. When ready, bring soup to a boil and add homemade noodles. Cook 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste (I also added a couple shakes of seasoned salt.)