Saturday, December 15, 2007

December Cooking Challenge: Catching Up

I've been cooking, I just haven't been posting. I think I need an additional 3 or 4 hours a day. *sigh*

Kay-baby, I'm alive and well...and waiting for an update from you. You ok? Shoot me an email, will you?

Anyway, below is a list of recipes I've made recently. I'll add a note about how well they went over underneath.

Stuffed Green Peppers

I have my own recipe for this, but the one I linked is pretty close. However, instead of using tomato soup and whole tomatoes, I use a jar of spaghetti sauce. I also use minute rice (the Boil-In-A-Bag kind). I cook the rice while browning the ground beef with onion and spices. Then add the rice to the ground beef mixture and stir the spaghetti sauce into it. I then scoop the mixture into the pre-cooked green peppers (boil on the stove for approx 10 mins) and bake as directed.

It's very filling and tastes great. You can also do this recipe in a slow cooker, which is nice for those of us who have to work, but either way it's pretty simple. These are a big hit in my house. The Girl constantly begs me for these and even Little Man, who's extremely picky, asks for them.

Shrimp Primavera w/ Linguine

This is the recipe I made for The Girl's bday. I made mine a bit different than the above recipe, but it was close. The veggies I used were:

2 Tomatoes
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1/2 cup broccoli

In a large skillet I melted 1 cup butter and sautéed onions and garlic, then added 1/8 cup fresh cilantro and 1/8 cup fresh parsley. Once the parsley and cilantro were well blended and slightly sautéed, I added the fresh, chopped veggies and simmered over medium heat approx 15 minutes, until well cooked through and slightly limp. Because MM doesn't like shrimp, I took some sauce out and set it aside for him, then added the shrimp and 3 tsp lemon juice and another 1/3 cup butter. I covered it and simmered another 10 minutes or so, then served it over linguine. It turned out very well.

Chicken with Skillet Gravy

I got this recipe from one of the cookbooks (Anyone Can Cook from Better Homes and Gardens) I got The Girl for her birthday. She helped me cook this and it turned out great. It's no secret that I can't make pan gravy to save my life (how I can manage to cook a 7 course meal for 25 but ruin the gravy is beyond me) but this simple recipe made even me seem like a pro with it. I was highly impressed (mostly with myself or not ruining it), although it was rather rich. I served it with mashed potatoes and green beans. It went over well.

Balsamic Glazed Salmon

The sauce for this turned out nasty. I have no idea how it was supposed to taste, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't like that. I love balsamic vinegar and often cook with it, but in this case? Blech. Luckily I hadn't glazed the fish with it before I tasted it, so I was able to dump it and save the fish. Instead I made a sweet glaze out of honey, orange juice and brown sugar, which turned out pretty well. I don't know if I did something wrong with this recipe, or if it needs modifying on it's own, but either way..never again.

I served the sweet glazed salmon with yellow rice and baby peas. It was good and there was no fish leftover. Yay!

I think that's about it for now. I also made a couple of standard recipes, like meatloaf and cheese stuffed ravioli, but these were the only new ones I tried.


Don't forget to check in with the other participants:

Ana
Isabel
Teena
CindyS
Marg

I think tonight I'm going to try Chicken Piccata. My company Christmas party was last night and the Italian restaurant that catered it made this. It was delish. I'm going to see if I can recreate it, but I don't think so, since the chef wouldn't give up his recipe...I'm going to work on it, though. :)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

An Official Pre-Teen

11 years ago today, at 7:28 in the morning, after 12 grueling hours in labor, The Girl was born. Yes, today is The Girl's birthday. Today, she is officially a Pre-Teen.

Kill me now!

I'm so sad today. I want her to go back to being that adorable 2-year-old. Or the precocious 4-year-old. Anything but the chest developing, hormonal thing she is now.

*Sigh*

She got a filled donut for breakfast this morning and I'm making her Shrimp Primavera tonight, her special request. She's been wanting to learn to cook, so MM and I bought her some cookbooks. This weekend we're taking her to Knott's Berry Farm to celebrate her Birthday. She's really excited to go. Me? I'm just sad that my baby is growing up.

*sigh*

Happy Birthday Baby Girl. I love you more than life! But stop growing already, will you??



PS. She loves The Beatles. Is she great, or what? ;)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Note To Self:

When cooking, remember to take off the produce sticker before boiling green peppers.

December Cooking Challenge: Days 2 and 3

Ok, so cooking isn't my problem...posting what I'm cooking is. I'm trying, really!

I made pot roast on Sunday. It was ok, but the roast I got was really fatty. The flavor was good and it was really tender, though.

Savory Pot Roast & Harvest Vegetables

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. vegetable oil
3 lb. boneless beef bottom round roasts OR boneless beef rump roast
1 can (14 oz.) Swanson® Seasoned Beef Broth with Onion
3/4 cup V8® 100% Vegetable Juice *
2 cups fresh OR frozen whole baby carrots
3 medium potatoes, quartered
3 stalks celery, cut into 1" pieces
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water

Directions:

HEAT oil in saucepot. Add roast and cook until browned on all sides. Pour off fat.

ADD broth and vegetable juice. Heat to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat 1 hr. 45 min.

ADD vegetables. Cover and cook 30 min. or until vegetables are tender. Remove roast and vegetables and keep warm.

MIX flour and water. Add to saucepot. Cook and stir until mixture boils and thickens. Serve with roast and vegetables.

Yesterday I made Pork Chops.

EASY BAKED PORK CHOPS

Ingredients:
4-6 boneless pork loin chops
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 soup can water
1 pkg. onion soup mix

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place chops in baking dish. In bowl, combine soups with water. Pour mixture over chops.

Cover with foil and bake for 30-45 minutes, depending on thickness of chops.

This dish creates its own gravy and is great served with rice!

I made mashed potatoes and corn to go with it and I think it turned out well. The chops were tender and the gravy was really good.

Don't forget to check in with the other participants:

Ana
Isabel
Teena
CindyS
Marg
If I missed anyone, let me know. And remember, you can cook as little or as much as you like during the month of December to participate in this challenge. The only rules are you post the recipe and what everyone thought of it. ;)

Conversations with MM

A little background:

Last week MM had a crappy day at work (I think it was Tuesday) and decided he needed a "mental health day" to recoup. At about 1 in the afternoon, he sent me an email:

Just for your entertainment. Im very happily sitting on the couch doing nothing. I let the dogs in and they have been sleeping on the floor. Chewy has terrible gas. I just watched the news and [my town (where he works)] is going to shit. Life is good!!!


I rolled my eyes and IM'd him. Just so you know, we have three dogs, all black labs. Buddy and Chewy are MM's and Bella is mine. AF is the woman who referred MM to our company for a home loan, which resulted in us meeting.

me: hi babe
MM: Hi
me: move the party out to the backyard so the house doesn't stink, k?
MM: well he has only farted twice in two hours so i think you will be ok
and Bella smells like an elementary school urinal
me: are you going to give them bath's?
you should so we can start training them
see, that's a good mental health day project for you
MM: no a good mental health day project is doing nothing. if i have time i will do it
me: if you have time you'll do what?
nothing?
are you making dinner tonight?
MM: yes i will come up with something
me: you're my favorite
MM: i know, but now i cant make anything for 30 days
me: don't make me add that to my blog (ref: This)
MM: i just read the blog. thats what made me think of it
me: i know, i could tell, i'm smart like that
even though i seem to be getting dumber (ref: This)
MM: "seem to be getting" and are getting are two different things
me: so am i getting or do i seem to be getting
MM: in some things i lean toward are getting but overall your not getting dumber
me: good answer
MM: right right i try
me: well, good effort
would it be wrong of me to kill someone today?
just curious
MM: no because im not at work to deal with it
as long as you get congical visits
me: aww, you'd come visit? every day?
MM: not every day just when i wasnt getting enough from my girlfriend
i figure in jail you will always be willing to put out
me: that's sweet of you babe
prolly the nicest thing you've ever said to me
give me a minute to try my tears here
AF just called
she said to tell you hi
DW says we should send her a card
MM: maybe we should
although its not like she set us up
she was just a tool fate used to get us together
me: wow
that really was a sweet thing to say
MM: its true
me: yes it is
and i'm thankful
MM: so what do you want for dinner
me: whatever you want to make
i'm not picky today
MM: ok i will find something
wow i think something died in Chewy's ass
the smell just woke Buddy up and he looked at me like i should do something
me: babe
seriously
TMI
MM: i just needed to vent. no pun intended
any way im going to sign off. i need to make lunch
ill talk to you later. i love you
me: k, love you

Did you feel the love? Well, just in case you missed it, he did say a sweet thing to me last night. Let me think how it went....Oh yes, now I remember:

MM: You are the core in the apple of my existence

Awww, isn't that just sweet?

Freaking MM (have you noticed how often I end a post with those two words? What does that tell you...)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

December Cooking Challenge: Day 1

I didn't cook last night. I took The Girl out for a girls day to celebrate her Birthday (she's going to be 11 next week...can you believe that? Freaking 11 years old...I'm getting so old). We shopped for a bit then saw Enchanted, which was really cute. Not at all what I expected (in a good way).

Anyway, by the time we got finished with that and I dropped her off at my mom's (she and Little Man spent the night there) it was late when I got home. Since I had an extra squash left over from the other day, I made the Butternut Squash Soup again for MM. He was bummed the other day when I made it because there weren't any leftovers and he wanted some for work.

I'd planned to make a pot roast last night, but I'm making it tonight instead. But since I promised new recipes, I'm going to give you the one for the Alfredo Sauce I made Friday night instead.

I make seasoned chicken breast to go with it (I've made Alfredo before, but not this particular recipe) and I'll try to give you the recipe for those, too. The problem I have is, I don't have a recipe for them. I just add spices and cook them in a pan with olive oil. So, you may have to play around with it a bit, to get the right amount of seasoning.

Alfredo Sauce
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic -- pressed
1 package (8 oz size) cream cheese -- cut up
2/3 cup fresh Parmesan cheese -- grated (more if desired)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup whipping cream -- or half and half

Directions:

In a large sauce pan lightly cook the garlic (DO NOT BROWN). Add the cheeses, butter, cream and milk, whisking constantly until smooth. If the sauce is too thick, you may want to add a little milk.

Toss fettucini lightly with sauce, coating well. This recipe is easily doubled, tripled, or whatever for large crowds and any leftover sauce freezes well. This recipe is enough sauce for about 1/2 to 3/4 pound (before cooking) of fettucini.

Seasoned Chicken Breast
Ingredients:
2 chicken breasts - approx. 2 lbs.
Basil
Rosemary
Sage
Garlic
parsley
(I used dried spices, but you can use fresh if you'd like)
Olive Oil

Directions:
Coat the bottom of a medium sized skilled on medium heat with olive oil. Place chicken breasts in oil and sprinkle with spices (I know a "sprinkle" isn't very helpful when it comes to measuring, but generally I just shake the spice bottle over the chicken until it's coated with each), in equal parts. Turn chicken and sprinkle the other side. Cover and cook on medium heat approximately 10 minutes, until cooked through, turning at least once.

When chicken is cooked through (with no pink in the center and the juices run clear) remove from heat and cut into strips or cubes and add to cooked noodles in a large bowl. Poor sauce over chicken and noodles and stir until evenly coated. Serve hot.

It's all pretty simple.

Some notes:

You can substitute non-fat yogurt for the heavy cream in the Alfredo sauce and low-fat cream cheese to make it more health conscious. It doesn't take away from the flavor at all. Oh, and you can substitute Smart Balance for the butter, too.

I'll post the recipe for the Pot Roast either later tonight or tomorrow. Just so you know, the Alfredo was a huge hit. Again, no leftovers. I judge all my cooking by how much is leftover, because I generally make more than a small army could eat (I seriously need to work on portion control).

Have a great Sunday. :)

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