Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day!

Thank you to those who have given their 
time, energy, and lives so that we as Americans 
could enjoy freedom!  You are amazing!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Chicken and Asparagus Alfredo

Last week I bought a really big bundle of asparagus.  We ate it multiple times... as a side dish, in stir fry, with this pasta.  I really liked it with pasta and Alfredo sauce.  And for this I cheated and used a jar of Alfredo sauce, which made it a nice easy meal after a day at school.

We are looking for the secret to juicy cooked chicken.  When I cut it into bite-sized pieces and then cook it it tends to dry out a little.  We decided we should try to cook the whole chicken breasts and then cut them up, maybe that will be better.

Chicken and Asparagus Alfredo
• Chicken breasts (1 for each person you're serving)
• Asparagus (1/2 cup to 1 cup for each person)
• Pasta of your choice
• Alfredo Sauce

1.  Begin cooking chicken in a pan with oil and set a large pot of water over high heat to boil for pasta.  When water boils add in pasta and cook according to box.  When chicken is done remove from pan and let sit until cool enough to cut.

2.  Steam asparagus in a pot with a lid and boiling water just covering the bottom for 3-5 minutes.  Cut chicken into bite-sized cubes.

3.  Drain pasta and put back in pot over low heat.  Add Alfredo sauce, asparagus and chicken.  Stir and keep over low heat just until alfredo sauce is hot. (No longer than 3-5 minutes so that it doesn't dry out).

Friday, May 27, 2011

Mustard Chicken

Pros for this recipe:
• Made with stuff I already had at home
• Only 3 ingredients
• 5 Minutes or less prep time
• Yummy (with respect to how easy it is)

This is maybe not the best chicken that I've ever had, but considering how easy it is, we said it's good enough to make again.  I've had corn flakes, bread crumbs, spice mixtures, etc. coating chicken, but I've never had French Fried Onions on chicken.  We liked this one because it was different.  Plus, I've never used French Fried Onions for anything but green bean casserole.  I like knowing that I can use them for more than one thing.

Some of the reviews on said it doesn't really taste like mustard.  We thought it tasted like mustard.  Those people are nuts.  Not that it was a bad thing.  It just... tasted like the mustard that was on it.

I didn't measure how much mustard or onions I used.  I pretty much just estimated.  That's what I usually do when I coat stuff.  Then if I need more, I just dump in more.

Mustard Chicken
• Chicken breasts
• Mustard
• French fried onions

Preheat oven to 375°.  Lightly grease a glass pan.
Get out two bowls.  Put in one bowl enough mustard to cover your chicken, and in the other bowl enough French fried onions to coat your chicken.  Dip the chicken in mustard, then move it to the second bowl and coat with French fried onions.  Place in lightly greased pan.
Cook for 40-50 minutes or until juices run clear.

Source: "Juliet"at

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Chocolate Coffee and Cream Cookies

This recipe is from a Better Homes and Gardens "Favorite Bars and Cookies: 50 All-Time Best Recipes" booklet.  I was excited when my Mom gave it to me and decided that I should make cookies right away.  Mine are not nearly as pretty as the cookies pictured with the recipe.  It's not so easy to make half and half cookies look perfect!

I also decided to skip adding the nuts... and then completely forgot to add the chocolate chips.  I was a little frustrated.  I bought the really cute tiny chocolate chips just for these!  Anyway, the cookies were good without them, but I'd make with the chocolate chips and maybe the nuts next time.

I really liked these cookies and they got good reviews from friends and family.  The only thing is.... I like eating cookies and coffee.  But these are coffee cookies.  Makes me feel kinda weird drinking coffee with coffee flavored cookies!

Chocolate Coffee and Cream Cookies 
Makes about 48 cookies
• 2 tablespoons instant coffee crystals
• 3 tablespoons light cream or half-and-half
• 1 cup butter
• 2/3 cup granulated sugar
• 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 egg
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1/2 cup chopped nuts
• 1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate pieces

1. In a small bowl combine coffee crystals and 1 tablespoon of the light cream, stirring until coffee is dissolved.  Set aside

2. In a large bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.  Add sugar and brown sugar, baking soda, and salt.  Beat until combined, scraping the side of the bowl occasionally.

3. Beat in the egg, vanilla, and the coffee mixture until combined.  Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer.  Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour.

4.  Divide the dough in half.  Stir cocoa powder and the remaining light cream into one portion of dough; stir in nuts.  Stir chocolate pieces into the other portion of dough.

5.  Drop a scant teaspoon of each dough side by side onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Press dough pairs together.

6. Bake in a 375° oven for 8 to 9 minutes or just until set.  Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute.  Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.

Source:  Better Homes and Gardens' Favorite Bars & Cookies: 50 All-Time Best Recipes, 2002 (Coffee-and-Cream Drops, p. 13)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp Scampi is so easy and I just love it.  Truly - Cook pasta.  Cook shrimp.  Mix together.  Eat.

I like to be able to just throw stuff together when I can... instead of following an exact recipe.  When things have so few ingredients, like this does, thats what I do.

At the bottom are a few places where I got ideas.  I chose to add some chicken broth to make some more sauce, and a little bit of parsley.  I don't have amounts for shrimp or pasta because it really just depends how hungry you are... but I'd use the rest of the amounts for about 1/2 - a whole box of pasta, and double if you're making more than that. Here's an overview of what I did.

Shrimp Scampi
• Shrimp
• Pasta (Your choice of linguine, spaghetti, angel hair, whole wheat pasta...)
• Salt and pepper
• Parsley
• 4 tablespoons Butter
• 2 teaspoons Minced garlic
• 1/4 or 1/2 cup White wine or chicken broth
• Olive oil

Boil pasta to al dente.  While pasta is cooking heat oil in pan and begin to cook shrimp.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Mix in 2 teaspoons mixed garlic and butter.  Once the shrimp is cooked move it to a bowl.  Add butter and chicken broth to pan.  Cook until it boils and stir to thicken.  At this point you can add a bit of corn starch to thicken it up if you want.  Add shrimp back in.  Mix in drained pasta and add parsley to taste.  Serve with garlic bread and enjoy!

Sources: Food Network, Tasty Kitchen Blog

Monday, May 16, 2011

German Chocolate Cake

This cake was for my Dad's birthday.  I found it on Annie's Eats - another Annie who made it for her Dad's birthday!  Sounds perfect!  I am not a big fan of coconut, so I omitted it and added extra nuts instead.  So it was really nutty, but very good!  I used my food processor to chop the recommended amount of nuts with an extra half of a cup instead of the coconut.

Annie from Annie's Eats also recommended using less rum syrup, so I followed her recipe changes and still had extra syrup.

There's a really nice printable version of the recipe on Annie's Eats... you can check it out there!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Substituting for Eggs

Today I learned about substituting for eggs because of lack of, well, eggs.


My Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook told me that if you are out of eggs, you can substitute 1 whole egg with 2 egg whites or 2 egg yolks.  This troubled me... as I was still out of eggs and did not have egg whites or egg yolks.

We were making pancakes and had already started mixing stuff together, so I used a tip from this website and substituted some mashed banana.  Also could have used applesauce.

Thumbs up to this, we had perfect blueberry pancakes!

Sorry for the lack of posting for the last week.  More to come soon!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Baked Brownies

These are from the cookbook Baked: New Frontiers in Baking.  I found them on Brown Eyed Baker.

I had to take advantage of my last chance of the Spring to make a snack for our small group.  Nick suggested brownies, and so my recipe hunt began.  I didn't have to look far, starting on Brown Eyed Baker's blog.  She talked up these brownies (and talked up how other people talked them up) so much that I had to make them.  And they're awesome.  I considered making an icing for them, but it totally wasn't necessary.  They're awesome on their own.  

The only problem that I had was that I didn't let them cool completely before cutting them and they didn't cut nicely.  The good part about this was that it allowed for a lot of tasting of crumbs!  But make sure they have enough time to cool.  At an hour and a half the center was still not cool.

Baked Brownies
makes 24 brownies
• 1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
• 1 tsp. salt
• 2 Tbsp. dark unsweetened cocoa powder
• 11 oz. dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
• 1 c. (8 oz.) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
• 1 tsp. instant espresso powder
• 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
• 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
• 5 eggs, at room temperature
• 2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350°.  Grease the sides and bottom of a 9x13 glass or light colored baking pan.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and cocoa powder together.

3. Put the chocolate, butter, and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water (I used a double boiler).  Stir occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth.  Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars.  Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan.  The mixture should be room temperature.

4. Add three eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined.  Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined.  Add the vanilla and stir until combined.  Do not over beat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.

5. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture.  Using a rubber spatula (not a whisk) fold in the flour mixture until just a bit of the flour is visible.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it.  Let the brownies cool completely.  Cut into squares and serve.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Beef, Mushroom, and Noodle Soup

This soup was surprisingly good.  I think it's because I rarely eat soup like this.  Maybe if I ate soup like this more often it wouldn't have been as exciting for me.  I definitely recommend it.  It's kind of like a beef stroganoff in a soup form.

I think the only thing that I changed in this recipe was to add extra noodles.  I added 3 cups of uncooked noodles instead of the 2 cups of uncooked noodles the recipe called for.  We liked it like this, but if you'd rather have more broth, 2 cups might be better for you.  Oh, also, my cheap beef broth substitution of bullion cubes.

Also, if you prefer, drain off the fat after cooking the meat.  I was afraid of losing flavor, so I didn't, but it would probably look a little better.

Beef, Mushroom, and Noodle Soup
• 2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
• 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (1/2 cup)
• 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
• 1 8 oz. package sliced fresh mushrooms (3 cups)
• 1 1/2 lb. beef boneless top sirloin steak, cut into bit sized pieces
• 6 c. beef flavored broth
• 1/2 cup dry sherry or beef flavored broth
• 1/4 c. ketchup
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/8 teaspoon pepper
• 3 cups uncooked egg noodles
• 8 oz. sour cream

In a 5 to 6 quart dutch oven, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Add onion, garlic, and mushrooms.  Cook 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are cooked.

Stir in beef.  Cook 7-8 minutes, stirring frequently, until beef is no longer pink.

Stir in remaining ingredients except noodles and sour cream.  Heat to boiling.  Reduce heat to med-low.  Cover and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the noodles.  Cover and cook 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until noodles are tender.

Stir in sour cream.  Cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until well blended.

Source: Carrie's Sweet Life