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 - allrecipes.com

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 (gscooking.blogspot.com) 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 (allrecipes.com, 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 allrecipes.com.

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.