Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pictures Coming Soon!!

I got a great deal on a canon digital camera yesterday. It was an early morning impulse buy, but it is for the good of Foodie Nation that I can take photos of my creations. (rhymed)

Last night was comfort food night. It was a cozy 62 degrees in my house when I got home, and soup and macaroni and cheese certainly sounded good!

Brocolli and Potato Soup (5-6 servings)
1 small onion chopped
1 smaller carrot peeled and chopped small
2 potatoes peeled and cubed
1 brocolli stalk, chopped
2 T butter
chicken broth to cover, about 3.5 cups
1 cup milk
1/3 cup Half and Half
1 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded
salt and pepper

In a pot, melt butter, and add onion and carrot, seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook until softened. Add potato, brocolli, and broth (I did not add salt and pepper here, but you probably should). Simmer until potatoes are softened. Then cover for about 10 minutes over low heat. While simmering, take about 1/4 cup of the milk, and mix with 1/4 cup of flour; this is The Agent, the thickening agent.

Uncover the soup and add the milk, The Agent, and the cream. Bring to a simmer; let it simmer until it creams up. Add the cheese.

With soups, I just prefer to salt to my personal taste when I eat it. This was a little under salted upon serving, but I prefer it that way!

Second Course: Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon and Ham (6 servings)
2 cups dry elbow macaroni
1 can Fat Free Evaporated Milk
1 cup milk
3 T butter
1/3 cup flour
1.5-2 cups shredded cheese (I used white cheddar and swiss. Just use up what you have!)
1/2 cup deli ham chopped
4 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped

Cook the macaroni.
Melt the butter, add the flour (The Agent), then whisk in the milk. Once creamy, add the Evaporated Milk. Mix in shredded cheeses. Once thick and looking like heaven, add the ham and bacon. Stir in macaroni. Turn into a buttered round casserole dish and bake at 375 until bubbly goodah.

-I am NOT a breadcrumb topping kinda gal, so you won't see a topping on the mac.
-Block cheese, shreddeed on your cheese grater, melts the best.
-If you eat the soup first, it will fill you up more, and you will not need as much of the super rich mac and cheese.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Trader Joes....Loves Me, Love Me Not

In the cooking world, Trader Joe's is known as "TJ's". In my world, it is known as Trader Joes.

I have had some issues with good old Trader Joe's. Last thing that sucked royally, Thai Style Green Beans with the ICKIEST sauce ever to come in a frozen pack of vegetables. Yes, even ickier than the pack of garlic sauce for Trader Joe's Garlic French Fries. That is some serious ICK.

Last night, was a triumphant Trader Joes night. I bought Gorgonzola Walnut Tortellini from their Frozen Food section, thinking I would use up some of the butternut squash that I roasted. I mashed up the roasted squash, mixed it with a pat of butter and a cup of milk, and then tossed that with the cooked tortellinis, adding the appropriate amount of parmesan cheese (meaning, what is appropo for me, is probably NOT the suggested serving amount). It was DELICIOUS! You can definitely taste the walnut and the gorgonzola is perfect. If only I had a little fresh sage!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ravioli Lasagna

Ravioli Lasagna
serves 4...cook in a LOAF PAN
1 package Trader Joes Cheese Ravioli (cooked per package directions)
1 cup-ish mushroom cream sauce (recipe follows)
2 cups marinara sauce (recipe follows)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
frozen spinach (1/2 a package)
2/3 lb ground beef, browned with 1/4 onion chopped

Mushroom Cream Sauce:
Brown 1 cup sliced baby bella mushrooms and one large minced garlic clove in 1 t olive oil. Remove from the pan. Place 1 T butter and melt, then add 1/4 cup flour and make a roux. Slowly whisk in 1 cup of skim milk. Salt and pepper to taste, adding some parmesan cheese. Stir BACK in mushroom. Remove from heat. This makes more than you'll need.

Marinara Sauce:
(this is adapted from a Cooking Light magazine recipe...I had to change it a little)
1/4 chopped onion
1 large minced garlic clove

In 1 T olive oil, cook onion with garlic. After softened, add:
1/2 t dry: basil, oregano, salt, and crushed red pepper.
After herbs are combined with the onion, pour in:
1 14 ounce can of chopped tomato (mine was with balsalmic and garlic)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1T balsalmic vinegar

Let simmer so that it thickens, about an hour. I then added about 1 cup tomato sauce, because the recipe was very chunky and it wasn't reducing much. It tasted great! And it went along well with the lasagna.

The assembly of this lasagna went, from bottom up,
3 cooked ravioli
cream sauce
3 cooked ravioli
tomato sauce
cream sauce
strip of tomato down the center of the cream sauce

Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes. Let set about 15 minutes, so it hopefully sets up a little.

Oh how I wish I had a camera. It was pretty, but then when served, that first piece looked crazy. I need little individual baking dishes, so that I don't have to use a spatula to get it out!

Note for the dieting: These raviolis from Trader Joes claim to be enough for TWO. So I stretched these raviolis into 4 servings. Also, the beef, 2/3 lb, for 4 people is a smaller sized portion too. I used Skim Milk Mozzarella, skim milk in my cream sauce, and smaller amounts of olive oil, since I have lovely Calphalon cookware. I don't feel too bad about this dish, diet wise.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Roasted Poblano and Chicken Penne

3 handfuls Dry Penne Pasta
1 cup chopped rotisserie chicken
1 roasted poblano peppers
1/2 roasted red pepper
1/4 of a yellow onion sliced
1 cup sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 large garlic clove
1t oil
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (pisses me off...because why do I have a whole can and then only use I need more recipes that calls for this)
1T flour
1t cayenne
1/4 t cumin
2 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup broth
1/2 cup water
optional: shredded taco cheese

And now for the process:
I created this dish based off of the Mushroom Cream Sauce that is used in a Cooking Light Mushroom Enchilada recipe.

Warning: This ended up spicy!!

Under Broiler: place peppers, halved. Roast until skin is black. Place peppers in a zip-loc bag to cool. This will make it simple to peel skin off.

In nonstick pan, heat oil and add mushroom, onion, and garlic. Cook until soft and shiny. Add chipotle pepper (cut it up...and if you remove the seeds, this won't be so hot). Add flour and spices. Cook to make it nutty smelling. Whisk in broth and water. Bring to a simmer to thicken. Add sliced roasted peppers. Add chicken. Add cream cheese and remove from heat.

After boiling penne, add to sauce (salt sauce to taste). Shredded mexican cheese looks nice and adds a little more cheesiness.

This makes two big servings. And I did NOT eat all of it by myself.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Faster than frozen pizza Pasta

Faster Than Frozen Pizza Pasta:

4 cups penne (uncooked)
1-2 cups chopped roasted chicken from the grocery
1 cup sliced mushrooms
4 sundried tomato pieces (mine were in oil)
2-3 T pesto ( I used Trader Joes Genovese Pesto)
1 large garlic clove minced
2 T pine nuts
2 ounces cream cheese
1/3 cup crumbled feta
white wine (I just use splashes here and there for some liquid, broth would work too)

I had parent teacher conferences last night, so I asked my special friend to put pasta water on the stove, so hopefully it would be boiling by the time I got home (12 minute drive) Note: This means COVER the water and put on the burner with a good heat radius (is that what it would be called??). The pasta making is seriously the most time consuming thing in this recipe. Everything will be done in the time it takes for the pasta to cook.

Before making the "sauce", bring pasta water to a boil. Once you add the pasta, heat a saute pan and add the mushrooms. I use a nonstick pan, and then add NO oil. As the mushrooms are cooking, they will emit liquid, and then add a splash of wine or broth. Add the minced garlic and cook about 1 minute. Then add chopped sun dried tomatoes and the chicken. Stir to coat chicken and to heat the chicken. Add 2 T of pesto. At this point, I slid the chicken to the side of the pan to keep warm, and toasted the pine nuts.

Drain pasta and add to saute pan. I added another T of pesto to the pasta, and then added the feta and cream cheese (I used my fingers to break it up and scatter along was messy). Stir, and add some splashes of wine to add some liquid and make the cream cheese create a creamy coating.

Voila! This should probably serve 4 people, along with a salad. We just ate this. All of this. But it was 8pm and we was hungry!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Egg Noodle Coma

Chicken Ala King Noodles

1 Chicken breast from Grocery Store baked Chicken (chopped)
1 handfull of frozen peas
1 handfull of frozen corn
1 cup milk
1T butter
2T flour
1 cup sliced mushroom
1 garlic clove, chopped
optional: parmesan cheese and italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 bag of egg noodles (figures to 3 servings after cooked)
(preheat oven to 400)
Here is what I did. Because this is a blog and not a recipe machine! I am going to explain, rather than make it all recipe-ish.

I love casserole.

I had mushrooms to use up, as they were about to get a little slime. Recently, I have discovered how it is cheaper to buy mushrooms from the bulk bin, rather than the prepackaged business. So that makes me happy.

I had milk to use, as it expired last Friday. Using my super-smeller, I can tell it will not be spoiled until tomorrow around 4am.

I get a little skeeved out by the curd looking thing that squeeks out of the Cream of Mushroom can. Sometimes it makes funny noises coming out! And it has ridges (for her pleasure) from it forming to the can. So I used the soon-to-spoil milk and the mushrooms and made my own "soup". First, I cooked the mushrooms, until they started to let their "juice go", then I added the garlic, being careful that it didn't burn. I removed that business, then added the butter. After it melted and picked up the mushroom leftovers, I added the flour. I salt and peppered that, and then whisked in the milk. Once the flour was combined without lumps, I added the mushrooms and garlic back. Then added the chicken. Then added the peas and corn.

While all that was going on, I was cooking the noodles. Duh. If you don't know to do that, you need a better blog than mine. Sorry. I consider certain things to just be OBVIOUS, so sue me.

Add the cooked noodles to the chicken and soup stuff. Then bake it at 400 for about 20 minutes. I added some bread crumbs and parm to the top.

And sadly, I ate all of it while watching America's Next Top Model. Or also known as "Dog Show", named such by my new special friend :)

A warning: If you eat all of this in one sitting, do NOT try to watch baseball, as it will make you sleepy and unable to move for the rest of the night. It will also make you send sleepy text messages that say, "Gooj nite". It will also make you pour water all over the counter, in an attempt to make coffee for the next morning. And then you find the water the next morning, as it has been soaked up by random things on the counter, and then wonder "Where in the hell was the water??" Thus creating the term: Egg Noodle Coma.