Why another cooking blog?

I decided to create this blog as a way for family and friends to see what I'm cooking and to share interesting food related tidbits I come across.
I'm frequently asked for recipes so I thought this would be a good place to start collecting the old, new, and funky recipes that I have.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Low-fat Chocolate Cherry Brownies

Holy sweet gooey mess Batman! These were..... interesting. At first I thought I liked them but as time went on I realized I really was not enjoying the texture of these bad boys. Jeff took one bite and refused to eat anymore.

Low Fat Chocolate Cherry Brownies
Serves 18

1 package low-fat fudge brownie mix
1/2C plain whole milk yogurt
1 egg lightly beaten
1C cherry preserves

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 13X9in pan.
Mix together all but the preserves and pour into prepared baking dish.
Using a spoon, drop cherry jam onto brownie batter. Using a dull knife to cut jam through batter.  Bake for 25 minutes or according to package directions.
Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then invert onto a plate to cool completely.

My notes
Alright so I didn't use full fat yogurt and I only had strawberry preserves so there's that.
However, IF I were to make these again I would not put a whole cup of preserves in there. Maybe just 1/2C. I didn't see the point of buying one container of full fat yogurt just for brownies. Plus what is the point of buying low-fat brownie mix and then using full fat yogurt? I used fat free greek yogurt. My main complaint is that the preserves really messed with the texture of these brownies. Maybe I didn't 'cut' the jam in enough... idk. But I think I will stick to my regular brownies... the ones that Jeff makes. Ha!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Grilled Ginger Sesame Chicken Breasts

This is part of my cooking for a month series....
My family grills a lot. Like just about every weekend so we have a lot of recipes but oooh boy this recipe was good! It's definitely a keeper.  We had it for a Sunday night dinner and everyone enjoyed it.  I assembled on a Wednesday, froze it and then thawed and served the following Sunday.  The cook book says to serve with soba noodles tossed in peanut sauce or Ginger and Veggie fried rice. I served with pasta salad.

Grilled Ginger Sesame Chicken Breasts
Serves 8

1/4C olive oil
1/4C tamari
3T sesame oil
3T minced fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
juice and zest of 2 limes
3 scallions, chopped
8 boneless skinless chicken breast halves

In a large plastic bag or container, whisk together oil, tamari, sesame oil, giner, garlic, lime juice and zest, scallions, and pepper. Place chicken in marinade for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Pour marinade into a saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Preheat grill to medium-high and oil the grate.
Gill chicken breasts for 5 minutes and flip. Baste the cooked side with reserved marinade.  Grill for 5 more minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Baste with marinade. Remove from heat.

My notes
The cookbook says that tamari is a wheat free salty condiment that is richer and more complex in flavor than soy sauce..... I didn't have tamari, neither did my store so I used soy sauce. It still tasted great. I also forgot to baste with the marinade, but in my defense I wasn't the person doing the grilling.....
I did not grill this before freezing, I threw the chicken in the marinade in the freezer... it worked great.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Asian Pork and 5-spice Apples

This is part of my cooking for a month series....
This was quite tasty and is definitely going on the keeper list. The great thing about pork tenderloin is it's a lean protein source. It's so versatile, there are limitless possibilities when it comes to preparing pork tenderloin. A trick I learned from AB is to remove the silver skin from the tenderloin. This clip shows how to do it.

Asian Pork and 5-spice Apples
Serves 8

2T black or balsamic vinegar
2T dry sherry
1T sesame oil
1T tamari
1T cracked black peppercorn
3T chopped fresh tarragon leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
2lbs boneless pork loin, cut into strips
2T canola oil
3 Golden Delicious apples, cored, halved, and sliced
1t Chinese 5 spice powder
2T packed brown sugar
1/4C freshly squeezed orange juice
1T cornstarch
3T minced chives
4C cooked brown rice

In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, sherry, sesame oil, tamari, pepper corns, tarragon, and garlic.  Reserve 1/2C of the marinade and refrigerate.  Add pork and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
Heat oil in a wok over medium-high heat, add apples, and stir-fry for 2 minutes.  Sprinkle with 5-spice powder, brown sugar, orange juice and continue to stir-fry for 2-3 minutes.
Remove pork from marinade, allowing excess to drip off.  Add pork to the work and cook, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes or until pork is cooked through.
Whisk cornstarch into reserved marinade and stir into pork mixture until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in chives. Cool completely (if freezing).

To Freeze
Place pork mixture and rice in 2 separate gallon bags and freeze.

To reheat
Defrost rice and pork mixture overnight (I do 24 hours). Preheat oven to 350. Place rice in a baking dish and cover with pork mixture.  Cover with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes or until heated through.

My notes
The math on this is off. The marinade doesn't make 1/2C of liquid so I'm not sure where they get that you can reserve a 1/2C of it. I used all the marinade, then pulled the pork out of the marinade and shook off the excess and used the left over for the sauce you make at the end. I also ended up marinating overnight due to unforseen laziness.
I did not freeze this so I cannot comment on how well it froze or reheated.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mushroom Enchiladas

This is part of my cooking for a month series....
The cook book calls this Cream Mushroom Empanadas but I think that is a typo because these are not like any empanada I've ever seen and the look suspiciously like an enchilada. Therefore I call them enchiladas. With this recipe we discovered that freezing and reheating tortillas just does not work. They get soggy and gross. So, while I think the filling (chef's treat) for these was quite tasty Jeff said they were absolute mush so I didn't eat them after they were reheated. But he said it tasted good so I think this recipe is a keeper but only when not frozen first.

Creamy Mushroom Empanadas
10 servings

2lbs mix of wild mushrooms
2T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 t dried thyme
pinch of salt
3T finely chopped fresh cilantro
1C light sour cream
8oz neufchatel cheese, cut into small cubes
1 can mild green enchilada sauce
8 burrito size whole wheat tortillas
1/2C shredded monterey jack cheese

Spray a 9in backing dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Chop mushrooms and set aside.  Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.  Add mushrooms, thyme, salt, pepper, and cook stirring often until mushrooms release their moisture and become tender and brown, about 7 minutes.
Transfer to a large mixing bowl and stir in cilantro, sour cream, neufchatel, allowing the cheese to melt and the mixture to get creamy.
Heat enchilada sauce in a large skillet over low heat. Dip tortilla in sauce to coat both sides and allow excess sauce to drip off.
Lay tortilla in the baking dish and fill with mushroom mixture, rolling tortilla around filling and placing enchilada seam-side down against the side of the baking dish.  Repeat with remaining tortillas and mushroom mixture.  Pour remaining enchilada sauce evenly over tortillas and sprinkle with cheese.Put in oven for 20-30 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.

This is before freezing.

My notes:
I froze this. It didn't work out so well. Also this made two (13X9) pans of enchiladas. I used regular sized tortillas instead of burrito sized because my store doesn't have whole wheat burrito sized tortillas. I think this would be quite tasty fresh out of the oven. Frozen it turned to mush during reheating. Not terribly appetizing.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Chicken Cannelloni with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

This is part of my cooking for a month series...
I love roasting bell peppers. Roasted red bell pepper sauce is just amazing.... so when I found this recipe on Pinterest I had to try it. This was tasty but I think I can improve on the filling for the cannelloni and you really need two boxes of manicotti/cannelloni instead of one. I ended up making two full pans of this and doubling the sauce.
1 (8-ounce) package cannelloni or manicotti shells
4 cups finely chopped cooked chicken $
2 (8-ounce) containers chive-and-onion cream cheese
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
1 cup (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese $
1/2 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon seasoned pepper
Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce
Garnish: chopped fresh basil or parsley

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
Stir together chicken and next 6 ingredients.
Cut pasta shells lengthwise through the other side. Spoon about 1/2 cup chicken mixture into each shell, gently pressing cut sides together. Place, cut sides down, in 2 lightly greased 11- x 7-inch baking dishes. Pour roasted red bell pepper sauce evenly over shells.
Bake, covered, at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Garnish, if desired.

Southern Living
2 (7-ounce) jars roasted red bell peppers, drained
1 (16-ounce) jar creamy Alfredo sauce $
1 (3-ounce) package shredded Parmesan cheese

Process all ingredients in a blender until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides.
Note: For testing purposes only, we used Bertolli Five Brothers Creamy Alfredo Sauce.

Southern Living

I know these are shells, I ran out of manacotti noodles...

 My notes
I had my reservations about this one...chive and onion sour cream? Really? But I gave it a shot. It turned out well. I followed the recipe for the cannelloni but the roasted red bell pepper sauce I just had to deviate. I don't see the point of buying roasted peppers when I can do it myself. Same thing for the alfredo sauce and the pre-shredded parm. As always I used fresh spinach for the filling and I ground up 2 good sized chicken breasts and cooked with some Italian seasoning.
I can't tell you if it was kid-approved as she got herself excused from the table before she had the opportunity to taste it, but if I had to guess I would say that it would be kid-approved.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cooking for a month.......

I have decided to try something new. I recently decided that I am kind of tired of my evenings being spent in the kitchen and us not eating til 8pm.  I love cooking however sometimes I don't feel like cooking on those nights we end up eating fast food and that my friends is a bad thing when trying to change eating habits.

I have been thinking about buying one of those books fix and forget it or one of the freezer meal books I see all the time. Problem is when I looked at some of the recipes in the books they were all cream of ___ soup and highly processed foods. That does not make for a healthy meal. Then I found this little gem Make Ahead Meals Made Healthy by Michele Borboa. The reviews on Amazon were all pretty good and the few recipes I looked at appeared to be pretty good. So I bought the e-book version.
I am cooking our meals for a month (with the exception of Friday night pizza night) and storing them in our deep freeze. Sounded pretty simple in theory. But here it is August 14th and I still have 4 of the recipes from this book to make. All in all for the first attempt I'd say that isn't bad but I over-ambitiously assumed I could bang all these out in a day or two. Boy was I wrong. So far I've put over 16hrs into cooking. Yikes. However I chalk that up to inefficiency on my part. I've been working one recipe at a time. Next time I am going to cross-reference my recipes looking for ones that use similar ingredients prep all the ingredients for those meals, cook them, and then start all over again. And I will probably prep all my staple ingredients (onions, cheese that needs shredding) ahead of time.

Here's a list of everything that has been or will be cooked....
Whole-grain Pesto Pasta Casserole
Better Than Takeout Asian Beef Strips
Make It A Meal Meatloaf
Asian Pork and 5 Spice Apples
Good for You Mu Shu Pork
Mom's Green Chile Chicken Breasts
Cajun Pasta*
Grilled Ginger Sesame Chicken Breasts
Mushroom Enchiladas
Quick Fix Paella
Asian Spiced Tuna Cakes
Naturally Sweet Agave Glazed Carrots
Fast Fix Zucchini Slaw
Tender Roasted Vegetables
Smashed Garlic Potatoes
Weeknight Stuffed Shells
Beer Can Chicken*
Chicken Stuffed Cannelloni with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce*
Crockpot Thai Chicken*
Spaghetti* - already made
Tacos* - already made
Tater tot casserole*
Dark Chocolate Almond Scones
Lowfat Chocolate Cherry Brownies

*these are not from the book

This isn't even 1/2 of it.....

Better Than Takeout Asian Beef Strips

This is part of my cooking for a month series...
We had this recipe last night. Jeff and I found it to be somewhat bland* which is disappointing it seemed to have a lot of good flavors in it while I was making it. I would say this was not better than takeout but it was edible. The kid seemed to like it quite a bit.

*as I am typing this recipe I realized that I let out the red pepper flakes. So that might have had something to do with it.

Better Than Takeout Asian Beef Strips
1/2 C fresh squeezed orange juice
1 T minced orange zest
1 T minced fresh ginger
2 T rice wine vinegar
3 T shoyu
2 T honey
Pinch of hot red pepper flakes
2lbs flank steak, sliced diagonally into 1/4 in slices
1 T cornstarch
1 T canola oil
1 T sesame oil
4 C cooked brown basmati rice, cooled completely

In a large bowl, whisk together orange juice, orange zest, ginger, vinegar, shoyu, honey, and red pepper flakes. Place steak in bowl and toss to coat. Cover bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Remove meat from the marinade and whisk cornstarch into marinade. Heat oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Swirl to coat.

Stir-fry the meat for 2-3 minutes add the marinade and cook, stirring, until sauce is thickened. Drizzle with sesame oil. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

To freeze
Individual Servings: Divide steak and rice into 1qt freezer bags or freezer and microwave safe containers.

For a crowd
Place steak and rice in 2 separate 1 gallon freezer bags, removing as much air as possible before sealing.

To reheat
Let steak and rice thaw in fridge overnight.

Microwave method
Reheat individual servings in the microwave on high for 2-3 minutes or until heated through.

Oven method
Preheat oven to 350F. Place rice in a baking dish and top with steak.  Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes or until heated through.

My notes
I got this out of the freezer Sunday night after dinner. The rice was still rock hard when I got it out to start cooking at 5:30 yesterday. so that was a bit of a problem. I also didn't like the fact that there were no vegetables in this dish so I added some bell pepper. Jeff said mushrooms and onions would be good as well. I also used agave in place of honey as my honey had crystallized. Oh and my store doesn't have shoyu or basmati brown rice so I used soy sauce instead of shoyu and regular brown rice instead of basmati.