Monday, October 12, 2009

baked chicken with onions, potatoes, garlic, and thyme

(Apologies in advance for crappy pics)
And so who would've thought I've actually been cooking and not blogging? Well, admittedly, I didn't cook this one, I just supervised. But this dish is easy enough to throw together (literally, you just throw it all in the roasting pan) for your kitchen illiterate husband to make. And based on your meal standards, this may or may not be a complete meal. I would round it out with a nice green salad to make it complete. But again, easy. It's a set it and forget it kind of meal.

Hubs was actually the one to notice this recipe in my Everyday Food magazine from October. I often find myself flipping quickly through this magazine, but hubs found a bunch of recipes he wanted to try to make himself. This was the first one he tackled. After thoroughly enjoying this meal, here is our version adapted to our liking.

Source: Adapted from Everyday Food, October 2009

2-4 bone-in chicken breasts (1 per person)
1-1 1/2 lb new potatoes, halved (quartered if large)
1 red onion, cut into eighths
1 head garlic, cloves separated but left unpeeled
6 sprigs thyme
2 lemons, quartered
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 450.
2. Throw chicken, potatoes, onion, garlic, thyme and lemons in roasting pan.
3. Whisk together olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
4. Drizzle the olive oil mixture over chicken and vegetables. Toss to combine.
5. Turn chicken skin side up.
6. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Pop into oven and roast until chicken is browned and cooked through, about 50 minutes.

To serve, we squeeze those roasted lemons on top of our chicken. To die for. Enjoy!

Marbled Chocolate Banana Bread

I know I haven't blogged in forever, but I still follow all of my favorite blogs in my google reader. Yesterday I came across this recipe on Elizabeth's Edible Experience. I've had 3 bananas over-ripening on my counter for a week (since I bought them to go with my Cheerios, and then suddenly, ran out of Cheerios) and was going to try a different recipe with flax seed in it but haven't gotten around to purchasing it. So when I saw this recipe, I knew I had all of the ingredients on hand, and I went ahead and made this last night.

The first thing I can say about this recipe is that it is now replacing my old standby. If you love the combination of banana and chocolate, you can't go wrong with this one. And it's a healthier version to boot. Second, the cook time for this recipe is too long, by about 15 minutes. My old standby recipe only calls to be baked for 60-65 minutes. When I saw this recipe called for about 1 hour 15 minutes, I pulled out my old recipe card to compare because I thought it seemed like a long time, and I thought Elizabeth's version looked a little on the dry side. I prefer my banana bread super moist. So I decided to set my timer for about 60 minutes and do the wooden pick test then. Sure enough, it seemed perfectly baked at around 65 minutes so I took it out. After cutting into it about an hour later (I just couldn't wait to try it), it was still nice and warm, but super moist. So I would recommend doing the same.

Source: Elizabeth's Edible Experience (make sure you visit Elizabeth's blog for some great step-by-step photos!)
Adapted from: Cooking Light

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups mashed banana (about 3 bananas)
2 eggs
1/3 cup low-fat sour cream
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
cooking spray
1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray an 8 1/2 in. x 4 1/2 in. loaf pan with cooking spray.
2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.
3. Beat together the butter and the sugar. Add the mashed banana, eggs and sour cream. Mix well until incorporated.
4. Add flour mixture in about 3 additions and mix well.
5. In a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips on high heat for about 1-1 1/2 minutes, stirring every 20 seconds. Cool slightly.
6. Add 1 cup of the batter to the chocolate and stir well to combine.
7. Layer the batter with the chocolate batter in your prepared loaf pan.
8. With a knife, stir gently to swirl the batters together.
9. Pop in the oven and check it after about 60 minutes and do the wooden pick test. I personally didn't want mine to come out clean, but with some moist crumb on it. If not done, continue baking and checking at 5 minute intervals.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Seriously Moist Chocolate Cake

This is my go-t0, most favoritest chocolate cake recipe. I found it on the internet eons ago and can't find it again to give credit.

It was my sister's 26th birthday yesterday and mom was having us over for a really nice dinner so naturally I offered to make and bring the cake. I asked my sister what kind of cake she wanted - chocolate. I asked her what kind of icing she wanted - rainbow chip. You got it Sis!

I've never in my life had a slice of chocolate cake as moist as this. I urge you to try this recipe the next time you need a chocolate cake. Seriously, you cannot go wrong.

Source: the vast world wide web

2 cups sugar
1 cup oil (I use canola oil)
2 eggs
1 cup milk (I only ever buy 1%)
1 cup HOT coffee
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cups cocoa powder (I use Penzey's Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder)
2 cups cake flour (when I've substituted all-purpose flour, my cake always sank in the middle)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup sour cream
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Grease and flour your cake pan(s) (2 round, or 1 sheet).
3. Add all dry ingredients (except sugar) to a bowl and whisk to combine.
4. In mixer, add sugar and oil and mix to combine.
5. Add eggs one at a time until incorporated.
6. Slowly add milk, coffee and vanilla extract.
7. Add dry ingredients in increments with mixer on low speed.
8. Add sour cream and stir to combine.
9. Pour into cake pans and transfer to oven.
10. Bake for 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Again - try this recipe the next time you need a chocolate cake - you'll never try another!

Chicken Scampi

Fortunately for me, my mother-in-law is a pretty good cook. I've learned how to make a few dishes of hers and this has always been one of my favorites. Back in the day when the hubs and I were still dating, if we didn't have plans for us to hang out on a day where his mom was planning on making chicken scampi, he would always call me up and say "Mom's making chicken scampi, wanna come over?" It was just one of those dishes for me.

So she taught me how to make it, and it's relatively simple. The most daunting part about it is the chopping of practically an entire head of garlic. And one thing I'd never sacrifice in this dish is the use of fresh garlic. I was almost gonna this time - but just couldn't! I made a stop at the produce stand during my travels that day just to get fresh garlic because I knew I was making it for dinner and didn't have any on hand.

Another thing - if you haven't noticed by now - is that this is a red sauce scampi. People are usually surprised when I mention this dish and the fact that it's made with tomato puree, but it's just normal to me!

Source: my mother-in-law

2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
2 Tbsp butter
1 small onion, diced finely
1 head of garlic, diced finely (I usually use about 9-10 cloves of the head)
1 can tomato puree (you can also add a can of diced tomatoes to add some texture/additional veggies)
long pasta, cooked according to package directions
1. Melt butter in skillet.
2. Add chicken and cook until browned.
3. Add onion and garlic and saute until translucent.
4. Slowly add the tomato puree and stir.
5. Cover and simmer until pasta is done, stirring occasionally.
6. Season with salt and a few pinches of sugar to reduce the acidity (I personally don't think pepper has a place in this dish).

Serve this with a salad and some nice italian bread. I picked up a fresh loaf from Baker Street Bread, sliced it up, buttered one side and sprinkled some garlic salt from Penzey's.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A lightened up Cheesecake Factory meal...

My husband and I like to eat out more than we care to admit. The last time we made it to the Cheesecake Factory he ordered the Louisiana Chicken Pasta. Sure enough, as always, the meal was killer. I thought I'd try to find a copycat recipe to surprise him with, and sure enough, I found one that had great reviews. The only problem - I refused to make a dish so fattening, especially when the nutrition information was flashing in my face. The easiest change I could make was to nix the cream and replace it with low fat evaporated milk on the advice of my friend Dana. I kept everything else pretty much the same.

I was leery of the flavors being the same. The cream sauce was pretty much just red and yellow peppers, and red onion. I thought for sure there had to be some Cajun seasoning in there. I decided to try to trust the recipe and add Cajun seasoning if I felt it wasn't right. I kept sniffing the sauce to see how close it was. From the moment I added the evaporated milk to the peppers and onion, I knew instantly that this copycat recipe had nailed it.

The result: it was SO CLOSE to the real thing. Definitely a recipe we will be making again perhaps when the funds aren't there to hit the restaurant for the real thing.

Go to RecipeZaar
here for the recipe (it's pretty long, but easy when you have a hubs who doesn't mind helping you out in the kitchen). Note that my only changes were: (1) to sub lowfat evaporated milk in place of the cream, and (2) I scaled the servings down to 2, and there was plenty of food for 3-4 people. You're sure to enjoy this if you try it!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sausage Coins & Farfalle

Sometimes I feel like I make the idea of dinner too complicated. I look for "recipes" and sometimes I find one that seems easy enough, uncomplicated, and ends up tasting good. But other times I just don't even want to think about it. That explains the extreme lack of posting lately.

So yesterday I was stressing over what to make for dinners this week, and I recalled a lunch I once had at La Cena Italian Ristorante. It was called Linguini Salsiccia e Broccoli di Rape, also known as Italian sausage sauteed with garlic and olive oil, topped with broccoli rabe and crushed red pepper then tossed with linguini. Of course I ordered it minus the broccoli rabe. I've never had it before and have heard it tastes bitter, so I decided not to even go there.

This dish, in all of its simplicity, was so good that 4 months later I was remembering it out of nowhere and craving it. So I made a stop at the grocery store to grab some things for the next few nights worth of dinners (God willing I cook each night) and set to trying to recreate this dish.

And so, here it is:


Enough farfalle for 2 servings, cook according to package directions (linguini would of course work just as well)

2 italian sausage links (hot or mild), cut into coins (hint: it helps if the sausage has been in the freezer for an hour or so - and to have a sharp knife)

2 Tbsp olive oil

several generous dashes of crushed red pepper

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

grated parmesan for serving


1. Cook pasta according to package directions.

2. Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Add sausage coins and saute until nicely browned on both sides.

3. When the sausage is done browning, shake a healthy dose of crushed red pepper and add garlic. Turn the heat down a little to prevent the garlic from burning. Sautee quickly until fragrant and return to a medium sized bowl.

4. When pasta is done, drain and add pasta to the bowl with the sausage coins. Toss. Add in more crushed red pepper to taste.

5. Serve with parmesan cheese.
(Serves 2)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cajun Chicken & Rice Stuffed Peppers

Why is it that cooking healthy dinners is so much easier when you're unemployed? I think the answer to the question is obvious. In any event, I'm enjoying my unemployment while I can. One of the first things I did after being laid off was I scoured the internet for some new healthy recipes. One of my go-to websites for such recipes is I like to search for Cooking Light recipes.

Well, when I found this recipe I knew I wanted to give it a try when the hubs would be on night work. "Why?" you ask? Well that's because he's Picky Peter and doesn't like peppers. I, for one, love stuffed peppers but just haven't found a recipe I liked that was easy enough. This recipe turned out to be just the ticket.

I made a few modifications based on ingredients I typically have on hand and I couldn't have asked for a more delicious dinner tonight. I highly recommend this dish. I'll definitely be making it again, and again and suggest you try it soon!

adapted from
Cooking Light

2 portion sized chicken breasts, or 1 large chicken breast, diced
2 green peppers, sliced in half lengthwise, seeds and membranes discarded
1 1/4 tsp cajun seasoning
2 tsp EVOO, divided
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 cups fat free reduced sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup minute rice
2 pinches of salt


1. Place pepper halves in a shallow dish. Cover with saran wrap and microwave 4-5 minutes. Remove from microwave and drain off liquid.

2. Heat 1 tsp oil in skillet. Add chicken and season with cajun seasoning. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove chicken to a clean bowl and set aside.

3. Heat remaining 1 tsp oil in skillet. Add onion and garlic. Saute 1 minute.

4. Add chicken broth, rice and salt. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat. Simmer 15 minutes. (This is a good time to get your dishes done)

5. Return chicken to skillet and continue cooking until rice is done and broth is absorbed, about another 3 minutes.

6. Divide chicken and rice filling and stuff pepper halves equally.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sausage, Pepper & Onion Sandwiches

One meal I like but tend not to make often is sausage, pepper and onion sandwiches. I don't know why I don't make it more often (honestly, I just don't cook that often anymore). Anyway, I used to make it by just browning the sausage, doing a quick saute of the peppers and onions, adding beef broth, seasoning with salt and pepper, and simmering away until the onions and peppers were cooked to my liking. I always knew it was sort of bland, so one day I was reading the cooking board and realized there were actual recipes people use to make these sandwiches.

I bookmarked
this recipe and it's been saved in my email ever since November. That's not half as long as I usually save recipes before trying them, so I guess that's an improvement.

This recipe, with a few modifications, was actually really great, not bland in the least! I'm happy to have found this recipe and will definitely be making it again in the future, and probably more often than usual :)

Source: adapted from Food Network

1 package sweet Italian sausage
1 Tbsp EVOO
1 large sweet onion, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 large green bell pepper, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
3 large garlic cloves, minced
about 1/4 cup chicken broth
about 1/4 cup cooking sherry
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
3 6-inch italian rolls
1. Remove casing from sausage and cut into 3 inch links. Cut links in half and flatten so both sides will cook evenly (I'm weird about making sure my sausage is thoroughly cooked and not pink in the middle and this has been my solution to ensuring that doesn't happen). Cook in skillet until browned on both sides (about 8-10 minutes). Remove sausage from pan and set aside.

2. Add EVOO and onions. Saute about 10 minutes, stirring, until golden.

3. Add tomato paste and cook about 1 minute.

4. Add peppers, chicken broth and sherry. Season with salt and pepper. Cook about 5 minutes until peppers are softened.

5. Return sausage to pan and cook until peppers are cooked to your liking (I don't like a lot of crunch to my peppers so I tend to cook them longer).

6. Stir in balsamic vinegar and add just a few more splashes of chicken broth to take the edge off of the vinegar.

7. Serve in fresh italian rolls and top with cheese if you like.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Food Blogging Equipment

Well, I finally did it. I went and built myself a light box. Here's hoping that it gets me posting more during the winter! I still have some lighting stuff to figure out, I think one 60 watt bulb isn't enough, but it's better than nothing :) These pics were taken at 10pm.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

My newest favorite thing... gourmet loose tea

I went to visit a friend last week and she introduced me to gourmet loose teas. I tried the vanilla and instantly fell in love. It's such a cozy and comforting drink, perfect for a chilly day, a stressful day, even a generally good day. I've taken to having 2 cups a day. I just absolutely love it.

I purchased my new teas from Adagio Teas. With the easy to use teapot with built in tea strainer, it's kinda fun to make myself a cup of tea now. With each purchase of their tea pots, you get to pick a sampler pack of teas. I picked the herbal sampler which included blood orange, chamomile, spearmint and rooibos. I still have no idea what rooibos is, but I've always enjoyed minty teas, have taken to liking chamomile in the last year, and blood orange just sounded fun. It was the obvious sampler for me to pick.

Shipping was cheap, delivery was fast, I couldn't have been more pleased with my purchase from Adagio.

, my new favorite tea. It's just amazing, the smell, the taste. Simply the best:

Blood Orange
smells incredible right out of the tin. It smells super fruity, and when brewed, produces a delicious tea reminiscent of juice. This tea needs minimal sugar added:

is a flower tea, known for its soothing and calming qualities. These buds are almost too cute to brew:

- it kinda looks like oregano, but it most definitely is not. It smells exactly like spearmint:

, which I know is a red tea, is caffeine free, which is ideal for soothing cups of tea in the evening:

They also sent me a free sample of Aries, one of their zodiac teas, based on my birthday. Described as a blend of irish breakfast and masala chai, it smells freaking amazing and I'm excited to try it:

So if you have a favorite tea flavor or want to experience a new world of teas, go check out their website, and explore their large selection!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

White Cupcakes

Yesterday I had a random craving for a really nice cupcake. I remembered coming across Bridget's blog, The Way The Cookie Crumbles, and she did a comparison between 3 recipes for white cake. I was so inspired, not only by her pictures, but because I was able to see the inside of the cupcakes side by side. I'm weird and there are certain types of cupcakes that I like over others, so I thought it was neat to be able to pick which recipe I wanted to try based on what the inside of the cupcake should look like. I chose Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake recipe.

I adapted Dorie's recipe by excluding the lemon zest and using vanilla extract in place of lemon extract (because I really don't like citrus undertones in my cakes) and I followed the directions I found on Bridget's blog to a T. I filled the cupcake tin and popped it into the oven, ensuring that the temperature was correct on my oven thermometer. I set the time for 18 minutes and hoped for the best. You see, the last 3 times I tried to make cupcakes from scratch, they all sank!

I was pleasantly surprised, and ecstatic, when I checked the cupcakes when the timer went off, they were all perfectly puffed up. I stuck my cake tester in, prayed it wouldn't deflate the cupcakes, and it didn't! Then, I took the cupcakes out of the oven, again nervous that the change from oven temp to room temp would cause them to deflate. And after a few minutes I checked on them again - and they were still perfectly risen! A success in itself :)

So then, I set out to make my own chocolate frosting, something I'd never done before. I had a debate with my friend, Dana, who balked when I told her I was just going to buy some Betty Crocker icing. I explained that I didn't want to deal with the hassle of melting chocolate. She politely informed me that Domino sugar has a recipe for chocolate buttercream which she uses, and adds cocoa powder to instead of adding melted chocolate to. I couldn't disappoint her.

So here's what I came up with for the frosting, which, by the way, turned out super awesome:

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3 3/4 cups (450 grams) powdered sugar
3-5 Tbsp whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
5-7 Tbsp cocoa powder

Basically I just creamed the butter, sugar, vanilla and 3 Tbsp of milk together. Then I added the cocoa powder 1 Tbsp at a time until I achieved the desired chocolatey flavor. Then I just added another 2 Tbsp of milk to bring the frosting to the right consistency. And then I iced away!

I found the interior of the cupcakes to be really soft and tender, almost reminiscent of an angel food cake, but the edges were a little too chewy for my liking. However, the chocolate frosting was awesome and I don't think I'll be buying Betty Crocker ever again :)