Sunday, December 2, 2007


I've been making quite a bit of lasagna lately. I like making lasagna. I find the assembly somewhat tedious, but I enjoy it. I like seeing the progress as the layers are put together. I think my homemade recipe book has about 6 or 7 lasagna recipes I want to try some day, and I swear, I'll make them all one day. I made the following recipe for the previously-mentioned dinner with the in-laws and it was a big hit. I know I might be biased because I made it, but I do think it's the best lasagna I've had outside of Italy.

Photo from

The Lady and Sons Lasagna
Recipe by Paula Deen
*Serves 8-10*
Prep Time - 25 min Cook Time - 2 hrs, 20 min

For the sauce:
2 cups canned, diced tomatoes, with juice (I use petite diced tomatoes)
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup water
1/2 cup onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp seasoning salt
1 1/2 tsp sugar
2 bay leaves
1 lb ground beef

For the Lasagna:
6 to 8 long strips lasagna noodles (I think I used about 10)
12 oz cottage cheese, mixed with 1 beaten egg and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

For the sauce:
Combine tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, onions, garlic, parsley, seasoning mixtures, sugar, and bay leaves in a stockpot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. If sauce is too watery, thicken it up by mixing 1 TBSP of cornstarch with 1/4 cup water.

Brown ground beef in a saucepan. Cook until no pink remains and drain off any excess fat. Add ground beef to the stockpot. Simmer for another 20 minutes. Remove bay leaves. Par cook noodles. Drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For the lasagna:
Place a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Place a very thin layer of sauce at the bottom of the pan. Layer as follows:

1/2 noodles
1/2 cottage cheese mixture
1/2 Gruyere cheese
1/2 Swiss cheese
1/2 cheddar cheese
1/2 cream cheese - pinch off small pieces and dot over the other cheeses
1/2 meat sauce

Repeat with the remaining ingredients, ending with the sauce.

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and top with mozzarella and continue to bake for another 10 to 15 minutes.

Below is the lasagna recipe I grew up with. I don't like it as well as the lasagna recipe above, but it is significantly simpler and is even easy to throw together on a week night. Today, I made one to give away to a friend that's going through a rough time.

Short Cut Lasagna

1 lb ground beef
1 (32 oz) jar spaghetti sauce (I don't like to use homemade for this)
1/2 jar water
1/2 onion, chopped
salt & pepper, to taste
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (12 oz) container cottage cheese
2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
12 oz lasagna noodles, uncooked
Parmesan cheese

Brown ground beef with onions, garlic, salt, & pepper. Mix with spaghetti sauce & water.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Layer as follows:

1/3 meat sauce
1/2 lasagna noodles
1/2 cottage cheese
1/2 Mozzarella cheese
1/3 meat sauce
remaining lasagna noodles
remaning cottage cheese
remaining Mozzarella cheese
remaining meat sauce

Sprinkle top with Parmesan cheese.

Bake covered for 1 hour.

Thanksgiving pies

I made the pies for this year's Thanksgiving dinner for (apparently) 35 people (see post called "Talking Turkey" below). The in-laws usually get pies from Baker's Square, not that there's anything wrong with that. I decided homemade pie would be better. Seeing as I strongly dislike anything pumpkin, I made one apple pie and one pumpkin.

Photograph from -
I took pictures on my camera, but the memory card won't let me retrieve them

Pumpkin Pie (from Libby's pumpkin can)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 can (15 oz.) 100% pure pumpkin
1 can (12 fl. oz) can evaporated milk
1 pie crust (I used the refridgerated roll-out kind for convenience)

Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.

Pour into pie shell.

Bake in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center
comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving.

Dutch Apple Pie
recipe from my mom

Bottom Crust
1 stick melted butter
1 TBSP sugar
1 cup flour

4-5 sliced apples (sour-ish ones are usually better)
½ cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Top Crust
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
½ cup butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix bottom crust together with a fork an press into pie plate.

Mix apples and cinnamon/sugar; put in pie tin with the crust. When filled, it should look sort of like a dome.

Mix brown sugar, flour, & butter to crumbly mass (do this with your hands). Top the apples with this mixture.

What happened to my cheesecake?

We had the in-laws over for dinner and I decided to make cheesecake for dessert. Nothing fancy, just a plain 3-step cheesecake in a pre-made graham cracker crust. I've made dozens of them in the past, and they always turn out great. For some reason, something went terribly wrong this time. This is what happened:

So, I made a new one at last minute. Exact same recipe, exact same ingredients. The results were much better this time:

I still have no idea why this cheesecake turned out great while the other one mysteriously flopped. If anyone can tell from these pictures, please let me know.

Cheesecake (from Philadelphia Cream Cheese Cookbook)

2 pkg. (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 pre-made graham cracker crust.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs; mix just until blended.

Pour into crust.

Bake 40 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Talking Turkey

Now that Thanksgiving is over, I feel the need to talk about the Thanksgiving turkey. We spent turkey day with my in-laws this year. Apparently, they're on a quest to find the biggest turkey possible. This year, there were 4 of us at dinner, and the turkey was 30 1/2 lbs. Yep, you read that right - almost 31 lbs. Easily, this was the biggest turkey I've ever seen. I secretly think it was one of those ginormous show turkeys they have every year at the state fair.

I don't want to be too deceiving, though. They did bring a turkey dinner to my sister-in-law and some of her colleagues, who were on-call at the hospital on Thursday. When they bought the turkey, they were planning on serving 4 or 5 at the hospital. So, they planned on having this 30+ lb turkey feed a max of 9 people. Apparently everyone eats over 3 lbs of turkey. I think about 10 people at the hospital actually ate what they brought, though.

The pictures I took with my camera phone don't quite do the turkey's size justice, but I had to post a couple of them anyway.

Despite its huge-ness, the turkey was delicious. I'm looking forward to finishing off our leftovers. I'll be posting about my spectacular pies soon.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A little spoonful of heaven

I love Nutella.

That's all I wanted to say.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Balsamic Wings

I've always liked Giada de Laurentiis's Balsamic Chicken Wings, but I thought they were missing a little something. Then, one night when we were eating them and my husband suggested we try frying the wings to get the skin crunchy. We tried it last night, and man, were they good that way. I can't wait to make them again. We gobbled them up way too quickly to get a picture.

Balsamic Chicken Drumettes

Recipe by Giada de Laurentiis, adapted

*Serves 2-4*
Cook Time - 20 minutes

½ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup honey
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup soy sauce
5 sprigs of rosemary
5 garlic cloves, chopped
10 to 12 chicken drumsticks
Oil for frying

Combine the balsamic, honey, brown sugar, soy sauce, rosemary sprigs, and garlic cloves, in a medium pot. Bring the marinade to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook over low heat until thick, about 15 minutes. Reserve. If sauce is too thin, add a cornstarch/water mixture.

Heat oil to 375 degrees F. (We used our deep fryer).

Meanwhile, place chicken wings in a large re-sealable bag. Shake with flour to coat.

Fry drumsticks until cooked through (Should be about 5-10 minutes).

Place chicken wings in pot with the sauce and shake to coat.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Mac & Cheese, with a twist

I know I've said before that I really like Rachael Ray's concept of the "30-Minute Meal," but usually don't like her actual recipes. I found this one a while back and thought it looked interesting. My husband picked it out for dinner on Friday. We both thought it was great.

Italian Mac & Cheese
Recipe by Rachael Ray (my changes noted)
Prep Time - 10 minutes, Cook Time - 20 minutes

1 pound ziti rigate, penne rigate or cavatappi (I used shells - It was what we had on hand)
1 pound Italian bulk sweet sausage (I used hot)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (I omitted)
1 tablespoon butter
3 or 4 cloves garlic, chopped
12 crimini mushrooms, sliced (I omitted)
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 (10-ounce) sack, 2 1/2 cups, shredded Italian 4 cheese blend, available on dairy aisle
1 can diced tomatoes, drained well
1 teaspoon hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco), optional
1/2 cup Parmesan, a couple of handfuls

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt water and cook pasta to a chewy al dente, about 8 minutes.

In a nonstick skillet, brown and crumble the sausage. Drain cooked crumbles on paper towel lined plate. Return pan to heat and add extra-virgin olive oil, butter, garlic and mushrooms. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Saute 3 to 5 minutes, until mushrooms are lightly golden. (Because I omitted the mushrooms, I added the garlic to the sausage about 1/2 way through the browning).

Preheat broiler to high.

To mushrooms, add flour and stir, cooking 2 minutes. Whisk in stock, then stir in cream. (Since I omitted the mushrooms, I added the stock first and whisked in the flour, then added the cream). Bring cream to a bubble, then stir in 2 cups of 4 cheese blend. When cheese has melted into sauce, add tomatoes. When sauce comes to a bubble, remove from heat and adjust seasonings, adding hot sauce if desired.

Combine cheese sauce with sausage and pasta, transfer to baking dish, casserole or oven safe serving platter. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of 4 cheese blend and the grated Parmesan over the top and brown under hot broiler. (This only took about 2 minutes)

Three Cheese Pasta

This week was really cold. So, it was time to try some of the heavier, baked pastas. I printed off this recipe from a while ago and it reminded me of a baked ziti I made a while ago - but we both liked this recipe better.

Three Cheese Baked Pasta
Recipe from (my changes noted)
Prep Time - 20 min -Cook Time 30 min
Serves 12

1 pound uncooked pasta (I used about 2/3 lb of rotini)
1 pound ground beef (I used 1/2 lb)
1 onion, chopped (I used about 1/4 of a really big onion)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
6 1/2 cups tomato pasta sauce (I used my homemade - about 4 cups)
6 ounces provolone cheese, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups sour cream (I used about 1 cup)
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (I didn't measure)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I didn't measure)

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, cook ground meat, garlic, and onion in a skillet over medium heat until meat is browned. Stir in pasta sauce, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. (I think I did about 10)
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish. Layer the ingredients in the prepared baking dish as follows: (thin layer tomato sauce), half of the cooked pasta, all the provolone cheese, all the sour cream, half of the sauce mixture, remaining pasta, mozzarella cheese, and remaining sauce mixture. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until bubbly.
*I served this with a garlic bread made from Texas Toast*

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Brownies, anyone?

I've taken a brief break from blogging, but I haven't taken a break from cooking. I hadn't baked in a while, so I decided to make brownies. Now, if I'm going to eat a brownie, I'd much rather it be a really good, full fat one than a low or non-fat one that tastes like preservatives (I'm talking to you Trader Joe's No-Pudge!!). I really hate to brag, but I think my brownies are the best. They're rich and fudgy and pretty much just melt in your mouth.

Family recipe - original source unknown

1 cup butter, melted (must be butter)
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 325.

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Pour into 9x13 inch brownie pan and bake 30-40 min or unti toothpick comes out clean.

Let brownies cool and then with chocolate frosting (recipe below).


1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cream (substitutes do not work)
1/2 cup chocolate chips


Mix together cream and sugars. Bring to a boil & boil, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.

Add chocolate chips, cover, and walk away. In about 20 minutes, uncover and stir. Keep uncovered. Walk away again.

Let stand to thicken, stirring occasionally.

Frost brownies when the frosting has reached your desired thickness.

*Shameless plug for my brownie pan... I got a Calphalon brownie pan for a bridal shower and I swear my brownies taste better when I make them in that pan than when I make them in a regular 9 x 13 pan. If you're into brownies, you should check out the pan.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Orange Chicken

Last night I was on my own for dinner. My husband was off at a friend's house watching football. Since he doesn't like Chinese, and I love it, I usually use the times he's not home for dinner to make it. About a month ago, I bought a package of Mandarin Orange Chicken from Trader Joe's and decided it was the night to make it. I highly recommend it.

I fried the pieces for about 5-7 minutes using our deep fryer and then tossed the pieces with the sauce. I served it with some brown rice on the side. I wanted it again for lunch today.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Wiener Schnitzel

I was first introduced to schnitzel when I was 18 years old and touring Europe. I didn't actually visit Vienna on that trip, but I found schnitzel on the menu all over Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. I loved it at first bite and was determined to learn how to make it. I was wholly unsuccessful. Even two more trips to Austria didn't give me any deep insight how it's made. Then, about 6 years later, I attended an Austrian cooking class and got a recipe for it. I tried it and it tastes just like I remembered it tasting in Austria.

Wiener Schnitzel
Recipe from a chef from Austria (I don't remember his name)

4 veal cutlets (I normally use chicken, but veal is traditional)
Unseasoned bread crumbs (use regular, not panko)
1 lemon wedge (optional)
Lard, for pan frying (I normally use vegetable oil, but lard is traditional)
2 eggs, beaten and mixed with a little water

Pound the cutlets as thin as you can. Literally, just wack the h#ll out of them.

Prepare three shallow dishes:

1. Bread crumbs (No set amount, just dump some in).
2. Eggs
3. Flour, seasoned with salt & pepper (again, no set amount - Just add some. You should be able to see pepper flecks in the flour.

Meanwhile, heat oil or lard in a pan over medium heat.

Dredge the cutlets in the flour mixture, then dip in the egg, and then the bread crumbs. Shake off any excess and pan fry about 3 min per side, or until the coating is a golden brown and internal chicken temperature is 160 degrees. Repeat with each cutlet. Briefly drain on paper towel.

Squeeze a tiny bit of lemon on each cutlet (I usually skip this because we don't regularly keep lemons).

Hamburger Helper Inspirations

I'm not afraid to admit it - I like Hamburger Helper. In college and law school, when I barely had any time or cooking skills, I made it frequently. However, I know how full of sodium and preservatives it is, so I basically never eat it anymore. Tonight, I decided to try my hand at a homemade version. I was impressed with the concoction.

Italian-style Shells
Inspired by Hamburger Helper

*I didn't really pay attention to my measurements, so the following is just an estimate.*

1 lb ground beef
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup onions, diced fine
salt & pepper to taste
Marinara sauce (I used my homemade stuff, recipe below)
Uncooked pasta shells (probably about 1 1/2 or 2 cups)
Shredded Mozzarella cheese

Brown ground beef with onions & garlic. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Drain off any excess fat and return to pan.

Add about 2 cups marinara sauce and uncooked pasta. The sauce should be fairly thin at this point. Add water if necessary. I think I added about a cup of water.

Bring to a boil. Stir, and reduce heat. Simmer, covered for about 15-20 minutes, or until noodles are tender. Stir a few times during cooking. If it gets too dry, add a bit more water.

Top with shredded Mozzarella cheese.

Marinara Sauce

*All measurements of spices are estimates*

2 cups tomato sauce
2 cups diced tomatoes, with juices
1/2 cup onion, diced fine
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBSP flat leaf parsley, chopped.
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp seasoning salt
1 TBSP sugar
2 bay leaves

In large pot, combine tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and water. Stir.

Add EVOO, onions, garlic, & parsley. Stir.

Add seasonings and stir.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hr. Stir a couple times during cooking. Remove bay leaves before serving.

**When I make this sauce for spaghetti, I drain the tomatoes before serving and add a couple TBSP of tomato paste - the above is what I use for baked pastas.**

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Chicken With Rice

Last night I really wanted some comfort food. I also needed something pretty quick. So, I searched through my freezer and pantry and decided to try a little twist on my regular Chicken & Rice casserole recipe. It turned out pretty well.

*Note - this recipe calls for Cream of Chicken soup, so if you have an aversion, please stop reading*

Chicken with Wild Rice Casserole
12 oz uncooked wild rice (I used Uncle Ben's Fastcook - no seasonings)
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 can cream of chicken soup (I use the low-fat, low-sodium variety)
1 packet dry onion soup mix

Cook rice according to directions and place in the bottom of a greased 8x8 pan.

Place chicken breasts on top of the rice (For convenience and quickness, I grilled these first on the George Foreman grill).

Spoon cream of chicken soup over the top and sprinkle all with the onion soup mix.

If using fastcook rice, top with about 1/2 to 2/3 cup of water (It should form a very thinlayer at the top).

Bake for about 15 min.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Penne alla Vodka

Penne alla Vodka is one of my favorite Italian dishes. I’ve had a few different recipes and this is my all-time favorite. It’s hearty, it’s comforting, and it’s incredibly easy to make. I don’t understand why anyone would ever buy it jarred after making this.

Penne alla Vodka

Recipe from Cooks Illustrated, adapted slightly
*Serves 4*

1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce (or whatever the medium size is)
1 (7 oz) can diced tomatoes (or whatever the smallest size is)
2 TBSP olive oil
½ small onion, minced (about ¼ cup)
1 TBSP tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ - ½ tsp red pepper flakes
table salt
1/3 cup good vodka (I use Smirnoff or Absolut)
½ cup heavy cream (I usually use half & half and add a bit more than ½ cup)
1 lb penne pasta (I used rigatoni this time cause I was out of penne)
2 TBSP minced fresh basil leaves (or about 2 tsp dried)

Combine tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Add some of the liquid from the diced tomatoes.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are light golden around edges, about 3 min. Add garlic and pepper flakes; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in tomatoes and ½ tsp salt. Remove pan from heat and add vodka. Return pan to medium-high heat and simmer briskly until alcohol flavor is cooked off, about 8-10 min (easy to tell by smelling). Stir frequently and lower heat to medium if simmering becomes too vigorous. Stir in cream and cook until hot, about 1 minute.

Meanwhile, boil noodles to al dente. Drain and add to pasta and toss to coat. If sauce s too thick, add a bit more cream.

Stir in basil and adjust with salt if necessary.

Serve and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Lasagna in a Bowl

I’m generally not a huge fan of Rachael Ray recipes, but this one looked too good to pass up. Since I’m usually pretty busy with work at don’t usually leave my office before 6, I like her idea of “a great meal is never more than 30 minutes away” but her recipes just usually don’t look that good to me, or they call for a lot of ingredients I don't usually have on hand. I modified this quite a bit to fit our tastes, and make it more lasagna-like, but it was excellent. It was really easy and didn’t take more than 30 minutes to whip up, too. I’ll definitely be making it again.

Not-sagna Pasta Toss

Recipe by Rachael Ray, adapted
*Serves 6-8*
Prep Time – 15 min
Cook Time – 20 min

10 oz mini lasagna
2 TBSP olive oil
1 lb ground beef
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Black pepper
½ cup dry red wine (I used Chianti)
1 (28 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 TBSP tomato paste
1 tsp garlic powder
1 ½ tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp parsley flakes
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
½ tsp seasoning salt
1 tsp sugar
1 ½ cups ricotta cheese (use whole milk ricotta – the lesser fat ones are gritty)
20 fresh basil leaves
½ cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese, for garnishing

Bring a large pot of salted water to boiling. Boil noodles to al dente and drain. *Note – reserve about 1 cup of the starchy water*

Heat a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground beef and brown with onions and garlic. Season with salt & pepper.

Once meat is browned add red wine to deglaze the pan. Cook off alcohol. Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and seasonings. Bring to a bubble. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer 5 min.

Place ricotta cheese in the bottom of a shallow bowl. Add shredded mozzarella and 1 ladle-full of starchy pasta water. Stir to combine.

Toss hot pasta with the cheeses. Add about ½ of the meat sauce to the pasta bowl and combine. Tear the basil and add to the meat and pasta and toss again. Adjust to taste with salt & pepper.

Serve in bowls and top with meat sauce and Parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


One of my best friends is getting married in a couple weeks and I’m her Matron of Honor. My fellow bridesmaids and I threw her bachelorette party last weekend and had a little pre-party shower for her. I made oreo truffles and chocolate covered strawberries. Everyone went NUTS over the truffles. I didn't let on how easy they are to make. Below is a picture of our food table.

Oreo Truffles

Recipe from

1 package Oreo cookies (regular, mint, or peanut butter)
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
2 pkg (8 oz each) semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted

Crush 9 cookies (you only need about 3 cookies, so do 3 and save remaining 6 for eating) in food processor or in a big bag with a rolling pin. Set aside.

Crush remaining 36 cookies in similar fashion. Place in medium bowl. Add cream cheese and mix until well-blended. (this is best done with your hands).

Roll cookies into small balls, about 1-inch in diameter.

Dip balls into chocolate; Place on wax paper-covered baking sheet. Sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs.

Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Gnocchi, anyone?

I love gnocchi, so I was really excited to find pesto-cheese filled gnocchi at Trader Joe’s a while back. I finally decided to make them and pair it with a mornay sauce. I figured the mornay would be a good match and the creaminess would compliment the pesto/cheese filling well. Overall, I wasn’t impressed with the gnocchi (the taste, that is. The texture was excellent). The pesto was way too strong and over-powered everything. The mornay sauce was excellent, though.

My husband hadn’t had gnocchi before and I don’t think he liked it. His reaction was quite funny. He took one bite, looked at me, and said “what is this?? Is it dough? Is it potato? Is it noodle?”

Gnocchi with Mornay Sauce

Recipe by Michele Urvater, adapted
*Serves 4*
Prep Time – 5 min
Cook Time – 20 min

1 package frozen gnocchi (from Trader Joe’s)

Mornay Sauce
2 TBSP unsalted butter
2 TBSP flour
2-3/4 cups half & half, divided (original called for 2 cups milk and 3/4 cup cream)
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus ¼ cup for topping

Heat butter. Add flour and stir in 2 cups half & half. Cook until thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk in 3/4 cup half & half to thin sauce and add 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese.

Meanwhile, cook gnocchi according to package. Drain. Toss cooked gnocchi with sauce and serve.

*The original recipe calls has you actually making your own gnocchi. I don't have the time or the patience for that, but if you do, I'm sure it would be great.*

Sunday, September 9, 2007

I've been tagged!

Brooke from ... and a cookie for dessert ( tagged me. So, now I have to list 8 facts about myself and then tag 8 people.

1. Before I met my husband, I didn't like cats. Kittens were a different story, but I didn't care for full-grown cats. Well, he had 2 cats when we started dating and I think they're the greatest. I really don't know what I did without them. My husband says I would be a lot more productive, and he's probably right. I think I spend way too much time just watching them and laughing at them.

2. I don't like Gorgonzola cheese but I love Gorgonzola sauces. No idea why.

3. I recently discovered Filet Mignon. I thought I hated all beef (except ground beef) until last night when we were at the Melting Pot and one of our meats was a Filet. Man, that was tasty. It's like a whole new food world opened up for me.

4. Sometimes I miss college and have considered taking a class here and there just for fun. Then I remember that would involve homework and think better of it.

5. I was a music major in college (vocal performance) and haven't seriously sung in the 4 years since graduation. I miss it like crazy but can't figure out how to make the time to join a community choir.

6. I love orange chicken from Panda Express and honestly believe I could eat it at least 3 times a week. Unfortunately, my husband doesn't like Chinese food, so I don't get to eat it as much as I would like to.

7. I'm a lawyer. I've been a lawyer for about 10 months now and it still sounds funny to me. Even when I'm in court, it seems weird to me that I'm actually a lawyer. I'm hoping that feeling ends soon.

8. I really want to buy a house. We're still under lease in our apartment for about another year, so one would think the urge would subside for about 5-6 months until it's realistic for us to buy, but it's just getting stronger. If anyone has any suggestions to cure this (other than actually buying a house), I'd be really appreciative.

There, so now the following people are tagged:
Carrie's Cooking Adventures (
Gillian's Goodies (
Creative Country Cookin' (
One Tiny Pink Kitchen (
Blonde Ambition in the Kitchen (
Annie's Eats (
Delish (

Hello, again

I've taken a brief hiatus from blogging (and any meaningful cooking, really). My late summer/early fall has been crazy! We've had something going on every single weekend since mid-August and it won't stop til mid-October. EEK! Anyway, I've made a few goodies since my last blog and finally downloaded the pictures off my camera, so I figured it was about time I start blogging about them. So, here goes:

We went to my husband's parents house for dinner a couple weeks ago and I decided to bring dessert. I let my husband pick out what he wanted to eat, and he picked out peanut butter fudge brownies. They were wonderful - I think my father-in-law ate about 5 of them and my mother-in-law wanted the recipe. ;)

Peanut Butter Fudge Brownies
Original Recipe taken from, but I adapted it just a tiny bit.

1 cup butter, melted
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
2/3 cup cocoa
½ tsp baking powder
¾ cup creamy peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Blend melted butter, sugar and vanilla in large bowl. Add eggs and mix well with spoon.

Combine flour, cocoa and baking powder. Blend into egg mixture.

Spread into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan.

Meanwhile, melt the peanut butter over low heat. Drizzle over the top of the brownies and cut into the batter.

Bake for 18 to 22 minutes until brownies begin to pull from edges.

* The original recipe called for 1 (18 oz) jar of creamy peanut butter, and said to frost the brownies with the peanut butter while still warm. Once the brownies cool, frost them with your favorite fudge frosting recipe. I'm sure that would've been good too, but I didn't want to bother. *

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Angel Chicken

I'm not sure why this is called Angel Chicken. I got this recipe a while ago from a friend that said she got the recipe from The combination seems a little weird, but it's very tasty.

Angel Chicken Pasta
Serves 4

1-2 lbs chicken breast, cut into strips
1/4 cup butter
1 packet dry Italian dressing mix
1/2 cup white wine
1 can cream of chicken soup
4 oz chive cream cheese
1 lb egg noodles

In medium saucepan, melt butter. Add dressing mix and mix together. Add wine and bring to a boil. Keep at low boil for a couple minutes to burn off the alcohol.

Reduce heat. Add soup and cream cheese and whisk together. Let simmer.

Meanwhile, cook chicken and cut into strips. Add to the sauce mixture and stir. Simmer, covered.

While simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook to al dente. Drain and add to sauce, mix together so noodles are covered and cook for another couple minutes to complete pasta cooking.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Best. Alfredo. Ever.

Ok, that title might be a bit of a stretch. However, tonight I did make what was by far, the best Fetuccini Alfredo I've ever had - either home made or in a restaurant. I can't imagine finding a better one. It even got a "wow" from my only-red-sauce-loving husband. So, thank you, Giada de Laurentiis, for giving me what just might be the most fantastic Fetuccini Alfredo on the planet.

*Picture taken from*

Fettuccini Alfredo
From Giada de Laurentiis, modified ever so slightly
*Serves 6-8*

18 ounces fresh fettuccine
2 1/2 cups heavy cream (fat-free half & half worked fine, just was a TINY bit thin)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups (generous) grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally. Drain.

Stir the cream and the lemon juice in a heavy large skillet to blend. Add the butter and garlic and cook over medium heat just until the butter melts, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Add the pasta and toss. Add the Parmesan to the cream sauce in the skillet. Add the salt, and white pepper. Toss the pasta mixture over low heat until the sauce thickens slightly, about 1 minute.

If sauce is too thin, add a cornstarch/water mixture.

Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Chicken Stuffed Shells

I've been meaning to post this for a while. I made stuffed shells last weekend and froze them to cook during the week. I found this recipe in a cook book a while ago and I like it because, unlike most recipes for stuffed shells I've come across, this one doesn't use ricotta cheese. I usually half the recipe because it's huge.

Cheese & Chicken Stuffed Shells

24 Uncooked jumbo pasta shells
1/2 lb shredded chicken (the original recipe called for ground beef)
1 jar Pasta Sauce (I use my own)
1/4 cup Water
1 1/2 cups Shredded 6 cheese Italian cheese Blend (be generous)
1/2 container (4 oz) Onion & chive cream cheese
1/2 container (4 oz) regular cream cheese
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan
1 Egg

1. Heat oven to 350°. Cook and drain pasta shells as directed on package.

2. In 10 in skillet, cook ground beef over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly cooked; drain. Do not rinse. Cool slightly.

3. In large bowl, mix pasta sauce and water. Pour 1 cup of the pasta sauce mixture in bottom of ungreased 9x13 inch glass baking dish. In Medium bowl, mix cheese spreads, 1 cup of the Italian Cheese, the Parmesan Cheese, egg and shredded chicken. (use your hands).

4. Spoon heaping tablespoon mixture into each shell. Arrange stuffed shells over sauce in baking dish. Pour remaining sauce over top. Cover with Foil.

5. Bake 40 to 45 min or until bubbly and cheese filling is set. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Italian cheese. Bake 10 mins longer or until cheese is melted.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Cookie Time

I honestly think I make the best chocolate chip cookies in the world. Now, I know people tend to favor whatever cookie recipe they make, but I think that's just cause they haven't tried this recipe yet. It's pretty basic, but I haven't found a recipe I like better.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter softened (I usually use crisco sticks)
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed (I like to use the light colored kind)
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs (These should be at room temperature, or at least not "right from the fridge" cold)
1 tsp real vanilla
1/2 tsp water
2-1/2+ cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
Chocolate Chips (usually about 1/2 bag)

Mix together butter, brown sugar, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and water. (Sometimes I cream together the butter & sugars first but I don't think it makes that much difference)

Add one cup flour, and the salt and baking soda and mix together.

Add one more cup flour. Mix together

Add 1/2 cup flour, mix together (you'll probably have to do this by hand - even my kitchenaid doesn't like this part)

Depending on how the dough feels, add more flour. If you use crisco sticks, 2-1/2 cups should be about right. If you use butter, you'll want closer to 3 cups. I usually judge by how the dough feels - if there's not enough flour, the dough will be very wet and stick to your fingers. If there's enough flour, it won't.

Add chocolate chips and stir in. I don't measure - just add and mix till it looks about right. You can adjust to your liking of chippy-ness.

Spoon onto cookie sheets.

Bake at 350. I usually start them out on the second rack from the bottom. Bake them there until the dough spreads out and takes cookie form, but haven't really started to brown. Then, move them up to the second to the top shelf in the oven and bake until just before your desired done-ness (you take them out just before they're done because they will continue to bake for 3 minutes once they're out of the oven - leaving them in til they look done will cause the cookies to be overdone). Let cool on a cooling rack.

Enjoy! And be sure to eat a few when they're warm - they're magical right out of the oven.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


It's hot. I don't feel like cooking. Tonight, we decided to get takeout from Famous Dave's. I know it's a chain, and some people frown upon that, but it's really not justified. I challenge all the nay-sayers to try it. Their barbeque really is fantastic.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Heat Wave

It's been super hot around here lately. I know what you're thinking... it's Minnesota - how hot can it be? Well, very. I think it's been close to 100 degrees for almost 2 weeks straight. So, what does a girl make when it's so hot outside? Apparently, casseroles. I decided on Sunday to do a bunch of "make-ahead" meals. I made up one I found in an old cookbook called "Marzetti." I seemed to remember my grandma, or mom, or aunt or someone making something similar when I was young so I figured I'd give it a try. I'm not the hugest casserole fan (Given I'm from Minnesota, I know that's about as shocking as the fact that I've never cooked anything in a crockpot), but this one was really good.

I knew there wasn't any reason for it to be bad, but I was surprised at just how much we liked it. We both agreed it's definitely a keeper.


1 pound ground beef (I actually used about 3/4 lb)
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed tomato soup, undiluted
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
8 ounces wide egg noodles, cooked to al dente and drained (I used a little less)
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Brown ground beef, onion and green pepper; drain off fat. Stir in next nine ingredients. Spoon into a greased 3-qt. casserole; top with cheese.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Garlic Cheddar Chicken

Yesterday night, I was busy cooking. My work schedule is crazy busy this week, so I decided to prepare a bunch of make-ahead meals to freeze and have for the week. I'll blog more about that later. Well, when I was done, I was starving, and still felt like cooking, so I made Garlic Cheddar Chicken. It's a favorite in our house, and I haven't made it in what seems like ages. I've learned that I'm horrible at remembering to take pictures of what I cook, so I'll download one tonight and post it when I get home.

Garlic Cheddar Chicken -

2 TBSP butter
2 TBSP Olive Oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - pounded thin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat, and cook the garlic until tender, about 5 minutes.

In a shallow bowl, mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, Cheddar cheese, parsley, oregano, pepper, and salt.

Dip each chicken breast in the garlic butter to coat, then press into the bread crumb mixture. Arrange the coated chicken breasts in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Drizzle with any remaining butter and top with any remaining bread crumb mixture.

Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.

NOTES: The original recipe calls for only butter. I like the taste of mixing melted butter & olive oil. I'm sure you could use only one or the other and it would still be fantastic.

*I've tried using Panko instead of regular bread crumbs and I didn't really like the texture. I'd recommend using regular bread crumbs.

*Sometimes, the bottom of the chicken gets kind of soggy. I've never tried it, but I've heard placing the chicken on a rack before baking will eliminate that.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

No-Pudge? No way.

Last week, I was at Trader Joe's and picked up a box of their "No-Pudge" brownie mix. I made them this weekend.

To be fair, I wasn't expecting much since they're fat free. There's no way a brownie without fat can taste as good as the fudgy brownies I make, with 2 sticks of melted butter & 4 eggs. Basically, I was expecting them to taste pretty much like any other brownie mix. You know, chocolate-y, with a brownie texture and preservative-y. These brownies somehow failed to even meet my meager expectations. They were the worst brownies I've ever had. They did have the brownie texture, but the taste was... off. Kind of like chocolate, but overpowered by preservatives, and with a very odd after taste.

I don't get the hype over these things. Overall, my recommendation is to skip these brownies. If you're eating a brownie anyway, you should have a good one and fully enjoy it. I'll post my favorite full-fat recipe soon.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Sour Cream Experiment

Last week, I was cleaning out my fridge, and I found 2-16 oz cartons of sour cream in the way back. Both unopened, and both expiring this week. Puzzling. Worse yet, this was an odd ocurrence I couldn't blame on my cats.

Anyway, I decided I needed to at least try to use them up. Last night I played around and ended up making a chicken stroganoff.

Chicken Stroganoff (my recipe)
~3 TBSP Olive Oil
1/2 large onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can chicken broth
1 lb chicken breast, cubed or cut into strips
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1 cup (8 oz) sour cream
1 to 1 1/2 cups uncooked egg noodles.

Saute onion & garlic in Olive Oil until onion is translucent.

Meanwhile, cook chicken (I did this on the George Foreman grill). Cut into strips or cubes.

Add broth, chicken, salt, pepper, & paprika. Bring to a boil. Cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Uncover, and add sour cream. Whisk together. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and stir frequently.

Meanwhile, boil noodles till not quite al dente. Drain, and add to sauce. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until noodles are tender.


Sunday, July 8, 2007

Simple Foods

I like to tease my husband that he's an easy man to please - his 3 favorite meals I make take less than 20 min to put together. Those 3 are: Chicken Nachos, Chicken Parmesan, and Chicken Puffs with Cheesy Hashbrowns. This weekend, I made a huge pot of Marinara sauce, so he requested Chicken Parmesan. I've been told that Chicken Parmesan isn't a traditional Italian recipe, but it tastes good, so I don't care.

Chicken Parmesan (my recipe)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded just a bit
Bread crumbs
A few shakes Italian seasoning
A few shakes grated Parmesan cheese
Shredded (or sliced) Mozzarella cheese
Marinara sauce
spaghetti noodles, cooked to al dente
2-3 TBSP Olive Oil, for frying

Preheat oven to 350.

Heat Olive Oil in medium skillet.

Combine bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, and Parmesan cheese. Dredge chicken breasts in the bread crumb mixture and pan fry until chicken reaches 160 degrees in the thickest part.

Transfer chicken to baking sheet and top with Mozzarella. Bake for about 7-8 minutes or until cheese is melted & bubbly.

Meanwhile, heat up marinara sauce and cook noodles to al dente. Drain noodles and put on a plate. Top with marinara sauce.

After cheese is bubbly, transfer to the plate and put it on the bed of spaghetti and enjoy!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

I've been tagged!

Ok, because I'm blind or something, I was actually tagged about 2 weeks ago. BUT, I didn't see it till today. Gillian ( got me.

Here are the rules since I'm tagging you now! :)

Each player starts with seven random facts or habits about himself or herself. A tagged player then writes a blog entry with the seven things, as well as these rules. Then the player tags seven others and lists their names on his or her blog. Remember to leave a comment for your newly tagged players, letting them know they have been tagged and to read your blog!

Seven random facts/habits about me:

1. Three different times in my life, I have seriously considered moving abroad. Of those times, I actually did it once. If I could become qualified as a solicitor with relative ease, I'd be living in Ireland right now.

2. I still love hot dogs, especially when they're grilled. I'm picky, though. No yucky Oscar Meyer for me.

3. I majored in Music (vocal performance) in college. I was a complete music snob too - I was good, and I knew it. Once, I had dreams of becoming a famous opera singer at the Met. Unfortunately, I'm a soprano, and sopranos are basically a dime a dozen, so I came back to the real world and went to law school. I still think my profile on my firm's website looks a little weird where it says my college major was Opera Performance.

4. I love pickles. Really, really love them. I've recently become obsessed with pickle spears. They're just so convenient.

5. I didn't have any pets until I was 24 years old. Now, I have two cats. Technically, they were my husband's before we got married, but now I call them mine, and sometimes I think they like me better, but thats probably just because I'm home more than my husband is, and I let them do things he doesn't.

6. One of my favorite bands is The Police. In fact, I just went to their reunion concert this past Tuesday. However, most of my favorite songs of theirs were written before I was born, and they broke up when I was three years old.

7. I grew up in a very small town and had a very thick Minnesota accent growing up. In college, moved to the city and made a conscious effort to lose my accent. Now, it only comes out once in a while, usually when I'm sick or being whiny.

OK, tag! I am now tagging you, however I'm cheating and am only going to tag one person - Monica, you're it! :) Have fun!!

The challenge

A while ago, I read on someone's blog that she was trying to see how long she could go cooking exclusively with items in her pantry/fridge. This intrigued me. So - I'm going to try it. Today, I am going to make a list of all food items in my fridge & pantry. If I'm out of chicken breasts, I will go to the grocery store and buy those, and then, I will cook for as long as I can using only food we have in the house. However, I will go to the grocery store for fresh produce, milk, and bread. Wish me luck!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Busy Weekend

This weekend was full of cooking. I wanted to bake, so I decided to make Chocolate Revel Bars. My grandma used to make these when my cousins and I were kids and we all went crazy for them - one of my cousins would eat an entire pan in only a day or two. Now, no offense to Grandma, but I think these turned out even better.

Chocolate Revel Bars (My Grandma's Recipe)

3 cups quick cooking oats
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.

In a large bowl, beat together 1 cup butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Mix in eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla. In another bowl, combine oats, flour, baking soda, and 1 teaspoon salt; stir into butter mixture.

Pat 2/3 of the oat mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Set aside remainder.

Melt 2 TBSP butter in a medium saucepan. Add sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, and 1/2 teaspoon salt over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla.
Pour chocolate sauce over the oat mixture, and dot the top with the remaining oat mixture.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in preheated oven. Let cool completely before cutting.


A few weeks ago, while looking through my recipe books, my husband came across a recipe called "Hoagie Bake." There was a little glimmer in his eyes that only comes around for a few, select food items. He took it upon himself to buy all the ingredients for me so that I could make it for dinner some night. Finally, I did. After some well-needed tweaking, it is a definite keeper.

Hoagie Bake (, adapted to our tastes)

2 (8 ounce) packages refrigerated crescent rolls
1/4 pound hard salami, sliced
1/4 pound cooked ham, sliced
1/4 pound pepperoni, sliced
4 slices Provolone cheese
4 slices Swiss cheese
4 slices Sharp Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Italian seasoning
Melted butter or Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Coat an 8x8 inch baking dish with cooking spray (9x13 would probably work too).

Cover bottom of baking dish with 1 package crescent roll dough. Layer with salami, ham, and pepperoni. Cover meat with a layer of Provolone cheese, Cheddar cheese, and Swiss cheese. Sprinkle generously with Italian seasoning. Top with second package of crescent rolls. Brush with butter or olive oil, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning. (I ended up with 2 unused crescent roll triangles after I'd assembled it).

Place on center rack. Bake, uncovered, in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Cover with foil, and bake for another 5-10 minutes. Let cool about 3 minutes before cutting.

Tonight, I intend to make my husband's favorite meal: Chicken Puffs with Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole. I came across the recipe for the Chicken Puffs in the appetizer section of a Herberger's cookbook about a year ago and ever since, they've been placed in our regular rotation. Definitely not the healthiest, but they're so good, you won't care. Since I haven't made them yet today, I don't have a picture, so enjoy this similar-looking one I found on

Chicken Puffs (Herberger's "Simply Delicious" cookbook)

1 package Crescent Rolls (the "large" size - they come 6 to a package)
4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 TBSP butter, melted
1 chicken breast, cubed
1/2 med. onion, diced fine
Parsley flakes
1-2 TBSP melted butter
1-2 TBSP cream or milk

Preheat oven to 325.

Unroll crescent rolls onto a cookie sheet. Pinch 2 together at the seam to form rectangles. Repeat with remaining crescents. One package should produce 3 rectangles.

Mix together cream cheese and 2 TBSP melted butter. Add diced onions.
Meanwhile, cook chicken breast, and cut into small cubes (do not shred). I've also used rotisserie chicken and cut that into small chunks and it worked well. Add chicken to the cream cheese mixture and mix together. If the mixture is dry, add 1-2 TBSP cream or milk.

Spoon 1/3 of the mixture on top of each crescent roll triangle. Bring up the sides and pinch together to form a "puff." Brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle with parsley flakes.
Bake for approximately 25 min, or until crescent roll is golden brown.

Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole (family recipe)
2 lbs frozen hashbrowns (I like to use the chunks, not the shredded potatoes)
16 oz sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 med. onion, diced fine
2 cups shredded cheddar (I usually use about 1 cup of cheddar and 1 cup of colby jack)
1/2 cup melted butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix together sour cream, cream of chicken, and melted butter. Mix in shredded cheese and onion. Add potatoes and combine.
Pour into lightly greased 9x13 pan or casserole dish. Cover and bake for about 45 minutes.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Foodie Blogroll!

I've joined the Foodie Blogroll. If you have a cooking blog, and you haven't joined it yet, you should click on the link on the right side of my blog and join. :)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Chicken Enchiladas

My husband thought he hated Mexican food for about the first 4 or 5 months we were dating. Then, one day, I decided to make Chicken Enchiladas, and he loved them. Granted, those enchiladas I made that day are about as close to authentic as a Taco Bell crunchwrap, but I think they're pretty darn tasty. Ever since that day, he's requested them on a fairly regular basis. Tonight, I decided to try a new recipe. Overall, we like my regular recipe better, but these were great, and a nice change. Unfortunately, mine didn't look pretty coming out of the oven, so enjoy the picture I downloaded off the internet.

Cottage Cheese Chicken Enchiladas (

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - boiled and shredded
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 (7 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
1 (1 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups cottage cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 pinch ground black pepper
12 (6 inch) corn tortillas (I used flour)
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 (10 ounce) can red enchilada sauce

To Make Meat Mixture: Heat oil in medium skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken, onion and green chile peppers and saute until browned, then add taco seasoning and prepare meat mixture according to package directions.

To Make Cheese Mixture: In a medium bowl mix sour cream with cottage cheese and season with salt and pepper; stir until well blended.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

To Assemble Enchiladas: Heat tortillas until soft. In each tortilla place a spoonful of meat mixture, a spoonful of cheese mixture and a bit of shredded cheese. Roll tortillas and place in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Top with any remaining meat and cheese mixture, enchilada sauce and remaining shredded cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted & bubbly.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Braised Chicken with Onions, Garlic, & Balsamic Vinegar

I love recipes with minimal ingredients. They make my already busy life so much easier. I especially love it when I happen to have all those ingredients in my kitchen. So, I was absolutely thrilled to come across this little wonder on It has such amazing flavor. I hope you all enjoy it as much as we did.

Braised Chicken with Onions, Garlic, & Balsamic Vinegar

6 slices bacon (4 oz), cut crosswise into 1/4 inch strips
1 chicken, cut up into 8 pieces (I used chicken legs because it was all we had)
1 lb onion or shallots, thinly sliced
1 head garlic, cloves separated & peeled
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar.

Cook bacon in a deep, 12-inch, heavy skillet over moderately low heat, turning twice, until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain and reserve bacon fat in skillet.

While bacon is cooking, pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Brown in bacon fat, beginning with skin side down, in 2 batches, over moderately high heat, turning, about 8 minutes. Transfer browned chicken with tongs to a plate, and pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from skillet.

Lower heat, add onions to skillet and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until soft and pale golden, about 10 minutes.

Remove lid and cook onions, stirring, until deep golden, about 10 minutes more. Add garlic and 1 cup water to skillet and boil, stirring, 1 minute.

Return chicken to skillet, turning pieces to coat, then arrange them skin sides up and gently simmer, covered, until chicken is cooked through and garlic is tender, about 30 minutes.

Transfer chicken with tongs to a serving dish. Add vinegar to sauce and boil, uncovered, mashing garlic with back of a spoon or a potato masher, until slightly thickened. Season sauce with salt and pepper and pour over chicken, then sprinkle with bacon (I tossed out the bacon after using it for the grease because I don't really care for bacon).

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Another reason I love my husband

Below, you shall see just one of the many reasons I love my husband:

My husband was at the grocery store a couple days ago while I was still at work and found New York Seltzer. I used to drink the stuff all the time when I was a kid. It was the worst day ever when I found out they stopped making it.

For some reason, it just tastes like corn syrup to me now. :(

Monday, June 18, 2007

Good Old Fashioned Comfort Food

Last week, I didn't cook once. Blame work, blame laziness, blame the government, whichever you want. I vowed that this week would be different. Tonight, we were in the mood for some comfort food. So, we decided on Rachael Ray's Parmigiano & Herb Chicken Tenders with some Mac & Cheese. I forgot to take a picture, so here is the one I downloaded from

We didn't follow the recipe exactly, as usual. I've indicated our changes. I think you should make them too.

Parmigiano & Herb Chicken Tenders (, slightly modified)

Olive oil, for frying (we used peanut oil)
1 1/2 pounds chicken breast tenders
Salt and pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, beaten with 1/4 cup water

2 cups Italian style bread crumbs (we used regular)
1 cup shredded Parmesan
6 sprigs or stems fresh thyme leaves, stripped and chopped, 2 to 3 tablespoons
6 sprigs fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped, 3 tablespoons
2 handfuls chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped (I used garlic powder - the thought of deep fried garlic cloves seemed a little wrong).

Heat 1/2-inch oil in a large nonstick skillet or frying pan over medium to medium high heat. (We used our deep fryer, heated to about 370 degrees).

Place flour in a shallow dish. Beat eggs with water in a second dish along side the flour. In a third dish, combine the breading ingredients. Coat chicken in flour, then egg, then bread and cheese mixture. To keep your hands clean, ask for plastic gloves at the butcher counter. To ease your clean up, try using disposable tin pie tins for the flour, egg and bread crumbs.

Cook chicken until deeply golden on each side, 3 to 4 minutes. (Because of the deep fryer, we just fried them for 5 minutes total). Transfer to cookie sheet in preheated oven and finish off for another 5 minutes cooking time. Cook chicken 5 or 6 tenders at a time in a single layer, adding additional oil if necessary. If the chicken begins to brown too quickly lower heat slightly. (We just skipped this, as the tenders didn't need additional cooking time). Serve with your choice of dipping sauce.

As I said before, I made some homemade mac & cheese to go along with the tenders. I didn't follow a recipe, I just sort of made it up as I went along. So, this is my best guess of what I did.

Homemade Mac & Cheese
2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
1/2 cup milk
1 cup cottage cheese (yes, cottage cheese)
4 oz Velveeta cheese
freshly ground pepper

Boil noodles to al dente. Set aside.

In food processor, mix together cottage cheese, pepper, & milk. Add that to the noodle pot; mix in noodles. Cube the Velveeta, and stir in until melted.

So now, I'm sitting on my couch writing this, feeling full & happy. Life is good.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

First Post!

My first post on my newly-created food blog... how exciting.

Before I start posting the good stuff, let me introduce myself. My name is Elizabeth. I'm a mid-twenties attorney in Minneapolis who began cooking as a way to procrastinate and reduce stress while studying for the bar exam last summer. I soon discovered that I like to cook, and am actually pretty good at it. I love scrounging through cook books and cooking web sites finding new recipes to try out, watching Food Network, and trying to decipher my grandmother's old recipe cards.

I've found some great ones over the past year and I hope you enjoy them too.