Thursday, March 31, 2011

2 Yummy Reviews in 1 Meal!

Tonight I tried out 2 new products and made an amazing and SUPER quick meal! This is a yummy bowl of Buitoni Wild Mushroom Agnolotti and Philadelphia Italian Herb Cooking Creme along with some mushrooms and chicken. I love making meals from scratch but there's nothing wrong with using convenience items once in a while especially when they taste this good! I totally recommend them and can't wait to try some of the other flavors!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Emeril's Essence Never Fails!

I fell in love with Emeril's Essence a few years ago and now always have a jar of it on hand. It's just the perfect mixture of spices and great on anything, especially tonight's Braised Chicken Thighs. The meat was so tender and full of flavor. I served it on some mashed potatoes to soak up all the yummy sauce. I can't think of a better mid-week meal to get us over the hump!

Plum Sauce from Target is ALL GOOD!

If you've ever ordered Spring Rolls at an Asian restaurant, you've probably been served some type of Plum Sauce as a dip. It's a yummy sweet and sour condiment that's good with just about anything, especially meat and fried dishes. Over the weekend I picked up a bottle of Plum Sauce from Target and couldn't wait to try it! So tonight I used it to make a sweet, sour and spicy pork stir-fry. The secret to tender meat is to marinade it in a cornstarch mixture but make sure you reserve the marinade cuz the cornstarch also helps thicken the sauce. (Don't worry that it's touched raw meat cuz you need to boil it for several minutes.) It was seriously one of the best stir-fries I've ever had! Not conventional, I'm sure, but REALLY yummy!


1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp Teriyaki sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb boneless pork, cut in 1-inch cubes
1 Tbsp oil
1/4 c Chinese plum sauce
1/4 c chicken broth
1 c pineapple chunks, undrained
2 green onions, minced
4 dried red chillies
Rice, for serving


1. Combine cornstarch, soy sauce, Teriyaki sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, sesame oil, and garlic. Toss with pork. Let marinate 30 minutes in room temperature (or longer in the refrigerator).

2. Heat oil in a pan. Add pork, reserving marinade, and stir-fry until browned, 5 minutes.

3. Add plum sauce, broth, pineapple, green onions and red chillies. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer about 5 minutes, until pork is tender and cooked through.

4. Add the reserved marinade and bring to a boil, then cook, stirring, until sauce thickens, 5 minutes. Serve with rice and garnish with more green onions.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New McD's Burger!

Have you tried the new Angus BBQ Bacon Chipotle Burger at McD's yet? It's definitely a mouthful to say and a monster of a burger too! I bought 1 for my hubby over the weekend and had a bite myself. The verdict? I'd stick to the good old Quarter Pounder with Cheese and my hubby agrees. The BBQ Sauce was really tasty but the bacon was a bit overkill. The "Premium" Bun" and "100% Angus Patty" didn't taste all that different from the other burgers either. I mean, this burger wasn't bad by any means, but just not very impressive either. Keep trying McD's!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Asian Coq au Vin is NOT an Oxymoron!

I know Coq au Vin is French but it literally just means "rooster cooked in wine" and to me, that's international! I found this recipe for Lemongrass Coq au Vin, which is an Asian take on the dish and much lighter using Vermouth in place of the traditional red wine. The lemongrass also brightens the flavor, making it a great springtime meal. Of course, I had to add some heat with red chillies and it turned out amazing!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A $5 Rotisserie Chicken for the Elite Customer!

You know you grocery shop too much when you've achieved Elite Status at Safeway with a household of 2! Anyway, it does come with some awesome perks though and 1 of them is getting $5 Rotisserie Chickens ALL weekend instead of just on Fridays. They're such time-savers and I never run out of things to make with them like BBQ Chicken Pizza, Chicken Alfredo and of course, Chicken Enchiladas! We NEVER get tired of Enchiladas (or pizza) at our house and I love making them on Sundays cuz that means we've got left-overs to munch on the rest of the week. Yummy cheesy goodness!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Meatloaf Turned into Baked Penne

Remember the Meatloaf I made last weekend? Well, I threw some in the freezer and turned it into Baked Penne tonight. I love revamping left-overs and turning them into a whole new dish. Greg didn't even know it was meatloaf in there! Perfect lazy meal on a Friday night!

Frozen Pesto Cubes to the Rescue!

A while ago I read about Freezing Pesto in an Ice Cube Tray and couldn't wait to try it. It's such a great idea cuz I LOVE Pesto but can never seem to use it all up before it went bad. Freezing it in cubes meant that I always have just the right amount to spread on Panini, make a dressing or in tonight's case, make a very quick Chicken Pesto Tortelli. These are Pesto Tortelli from Trader Joe's, which is such a time saver, not to mention a GREAT deal! I just made a simple sauce using heavy cream and frozen Pesto cubes. I also added Chicken Strips to the mix since my man doesn't consider it a meal unless there's meat in it! Then right at the end, I stirred in some shredded Monterey Jack cheese cuz everything's better with cheese right? Quick and easy on my baking night!

Soft Like Butter(milk)!

I love the flavor of buttermilk so when I came across this recipe for Soft Buttermilk Sugar Cookies, I just couldn't resist! They taste like Snickerdoodles but the texture is a lot softer and there's just a hint of tang from the buttermilk. Soft cookies are hard cuz they're so easy to overbake. In fact, my 2nd batch went a minute too far and I had to toss them. (Sniff sniff...) These cookies are ready when the bottoms are only slightly golden, any darker and they're burnt! If you like buttermilk, you should definitely give these cookies a try. (Oh and do use shortening, not butter, cuz they contribute to the pillowy texture.) Happy Friday!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Coconut Ginger Pork Chops

I LOVE experimenting with sweet and spicy and these pork chops definitely have both in a very yummy way! I added a whole tablespoon of Red Curry Paste but please use less if you're not super Spicy Lovers like we are! Coconut milk and curry just go so well together and the honey and apricots added just the right amount of sweetness to cut the heat. I served the pork chops over our favorite Coconut Rice and it was the perfect weeknight meal!


2 bone-in pork chops
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/4 c chopped onion
1 Tbsp red curry paste
1/4 c chicken broth
1 c unsweetened coconut milk
1 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 c chopped dried apricots
1 Tbsp honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp butter
Coconut rice, for serving
Chopped green onions, for garnish


1. Sprinkle pork with pepper and salt. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pork; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove pork from pan.

2. Add onion and curry paste to pan. Cook 2 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring frequently. Add broth and deglaze. Add apricots, honey, and garlic; bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium, add coconut milk and pork. Cover and simmer 10 minutes or until pork is done.

3. Remove pork from pan. Increase heat to medium-high. Add butter and boil until sauce is thickened. Serve pork over rice, garnished with green onions.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Everything's Better w/Crunchy Fried Onions On Top!

I bought a can of French's Fried Onions to make Neely's Mac and Cheese a while back and still had some left over. (I'm sure those things last forever so I wasn't in a hurry to use them up!) Anyway, tonight I decided to use some as a crunchy topping for Tilapia and it turned out SO good! I topped the fillets with some Kraft Horseradish Mayo but regular mayo mixed with some horseradish will work just as well. I also added a touch of Worcestershire Sauce for some tang and served the fish on top of Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes. A perfect and simple meal on a weeknight!


Olive oil, for greasing and drizzling
1/4 c Horseradish mayo
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 fish fillets (tilapia, sole or catfish)
1/2 c French-fried onions, slightly crushed
1 tsp lemon pepper
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
Mashed potatoes, for serving


1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a baking dish with olive oil and place fillets inside.

2. Mix together the mayonnaise and Worcestershire. Spread on top of the fillets. Cover with fried onions. Sprinkle lemon pepper and Parmesan on top. Drizzle with olive oil.

3. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until fish flakes easily. Serve on top of mashed potatoes.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Welcome to Jamaica "Mon"!

I love trying out new cuisines and the one I haven't had too much experience with is Caribbean. I don't know why since according to Wikipedia, Caribbean Cuisine is a fusion of lots of cuisines including African, Chinese and Indian, which I make all the time. Anyway, I bought some Jamaican Jerk Seasoning at our corner store the other day and decided to experiment with it on some pork chops. I'm sure this recipe isn't authentic at all but the sweet and spicy flavors along with the Tropical Fruit reminded me of the Island and that screams "Jamaica" for me! I also loved the coconut rice, which is just regular white rice cooked in some Coconut Milk along with water.


2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
2 bone-in pork chops
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 c chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 (4 oz) Tropical Fruit Cup, undrained
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
Coconut rice, for serving


1. In a resealable plastic bag, combine flour and Jamaican jerk seasoning. Add chops and shake to coat.

2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Add chops and brown 5 minutes on each side. Remove and keep warm.

3. Turn heat down to medium and add onion. Cook until soft, 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, brown sugar and vinegar. Bring to a boil, scraping up brown bits.

4. Return chops to skillet and add fruit along with juice. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 10 minutes or until chops are done.

5. Remove chops to serving platter. Turn heat up to high. Add butter and boil until thickened, 5 minutes. Pour sauce over chops and serve with coconut rice.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

My Hubby's Back!

My week of flying solo is over and I welcomed my hubby back with Italian Stuffed Meatloaf. No, not the prettiest thing but sure was yummy! I omitted the ham and just stuffed the meat with Mozzarella Cheese slices since I felt they were more "Italian" than Cheddar. The bacon on top was THE BEST! I always thought it would be overkill to top a massive loaf of meat with yet more meat but it was the perfect topping, all salty and crispy! Saturday nights with the hubby AND meatloaf? Now I can't think of anything better than that!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Yes I'm Still Working Out

I realize that all my posts are about cooking and you're probably wondering where the "workout" part went. Well, my workouts aren't very interesting and I'm definitely NOT gonna post a picture of me on the elliptical! Once in a while though, I do find something I'd like to blog about. I discovered Exercise TV on On Demand a while back but haven't really done many of the workouts only cuz I'm exhausted by the time I get home and working out more is the last thing on my mind. Since I'm flying solo this week, I had some free time and decided to check out some more workouts. Last night, I tried Bootcamp Calorie Burn and totally loved it! Kendell Hogan is super energetic and the workout was easy to follow but definitely a calorie-burner! The 30 minutes totally flew by with all the fun and quick movements. I also really like Cindy Whitmarsh and her Incredible Abs Series. If you have On Demand, you should definitely check out Exercise TV. It's under the Sports and Fitness Category and you can't beat a FREE workout!

I'm Still Alive!

I know I'm usually posting everyday but I'm flying solo this week so I'm not too motivated to cook and bake. I've also got tons of lil projects I've been putting off so I'm catching up on those and (*Gasp!) taking a break from the kitchen. I mean, don't get me wrong here, I LOVE to cook and bake but once in a while, I do need to get other things done. Anyway, I baked these Strawberry Banana Muffins to take to my mom's on Sunday and we got to enjoy them together, which was a lotta fun. I always watch her take the first bite and wait anxiously for her reaction to see how I did. I did pretty well this time, if I do say so myself! You just can't beat the classic combination of strawberry and banana. It's good in smoothies, yogurt, ice cream, and of course, muffins!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tagine-ish Moroccan Pork Chops

Ever since I discovered how much Greg liked dried fruit in savory dishes, I've been trying to come up with more recipes that incorporate them. These are my Tagine-ish Moroccan Pork Chops. Tagine-ish cuz they're full of dried apricots and raisins. If you've never tried Harissa Paste, you should definitely seek it out. It's an African chili sauce that's got a serious kick and really good with other Moroccan flavors like cumin and coriander. The sauce was so flavorful and just perfect on top of some couscous! Almost Friday!


1 Tbsp Harissa paste
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 bone-in pork chops
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 c onions, chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 c chicken broth
1/4 c heavy cream
1/4 c dried apricots, chopped
1/4 c raisins
Couscous, for serving
Fresh parsley, for garnish


1. Mix together Harissa, cumin, coriander and cinnamon in a small bowl. Place pork chops in a resealable bag, add spice mixture, seal and shake until well-coated. Marinate the meat for 30 minutes in the fridge.

2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and brown 4 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate.

3. Turn heat down to medium. Add onion and cook 5 minutes, stirring. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add broth and deglaze. Add cream, apricots and raisins and bring to a simmer. Return pork and any juices. Simmer, uncovered, 7-8 minutes until pork is cooked through.

4. Remove pork to serving plate. Turn heat up to high and boil until sauce thickens, 5 minutes. Serve pork on top of the couscous with sauce on top and garnished with parsley.

Getting Ready for St Patty's Day!

St Patty's Day is just a week away and I decided to celebrate early by baking some Baileys Butterscotch Cookies. I followed this recipe for Baileys White Chocolate Chip Cookies but just substituted Butterscotch Chips instead cuz I thought the flavor went better with the Baileys Liqueur. They turned out SO good and you can totally taste the Baileys in them! Now I'm left with the rest of the bottle...hum...what to do? Guess I'll be having some Baileys Coffee this weekend! (Bummer!) I also got to test out my new Cookie Sheets, which were just awesome BTW! Completely non-stop and no need for parchment paper like my old ones. Happy early St Patty's Day everyone!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sweet and Spicy, Just the Way We Like It!

I ran across this recipe for Vietnamese Sweet and Spicy Fish and knew I wanted to try it. To me, there's no better flavor combination, especially in an Asian dish. I used Catfish and cut the fillets into big chunks but they kinda just fell apart during the cooking process. Instead of fresh lemongrass, I used my trusty Gourmet Garden tube, which is a total time-saver. (I also have the ginger flavor on just about everything!) The spicy red chiles and sweet brown sugar combined with the salty fish sauce made the most flavorful sauce I've ever had on fish! Of course, no Asian meal is complete without a big bowl of rice to soak it all up!

Monday, March 7, 2011

No More Dried-Out Pork!

I've just recently ventured out of my comfort zone with pork meaning making more than just pork chops. I've now tried making it in many different ways but somehow only my stir-fries seem to not dry out. I couldn't figure it out at first but then I realized the main difference. Stir-fries usually require dredging the meat in a cornstarch mixture first, whether it be chicken or pork or even fish. It really is the secret to tender and juicy meat no matter what type of dish you're making. So tonight, I made Martha Stewart's Pork Paprikash but added cornstarch to the paprika mixture and it definitely did the trick! Greg took one bite and said he wasn't expecting such tender meat at all. I also did some research and found that baking soda works in the same way as a meat tenderizer so I'll have to give that a try. I just love learning new cooking tricks!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Popeye Would LOVE This Meatloaf!

Why? Cuz it's got a TON of spinach in it! When I saw this recipe for Layered Creamed-Spinach Meatloaf, I knew I had to make it ASAP! Meatloaf and Creamed Spinach together? How can that NOT be good? OMG it was AMAZING! As usual, my meatloaf didn't stay perfectly shaped like the picture but it tasted even better than I'd imagined. We're not big fans of fennel so I just used 2 onions instead and for the meat, I used a pound each of ground beef and Italian sausage. I served the meatloaf with mashed potatoes and it was total comfort on a Sunday night!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Jambalaya (and Hurricanes) to Welcome Mardi Gras!

It's almost Mardi Gras so we thought we'd welcome it by making Hurricanes and Jambalaya this weekend. I've had a Hurricane during my New Orleans Trip and remember it being really sweet and good! I found a lot of different recipes and decided on an easy one with rum (of course!), orange juice, Grenadine, Simple Syrup and lime juice. I'm sure they do it better in New Orleans but ours turned out really good! Of course, man (or woman) can't live on Hurricanes alone so I made Jambalaya to go with the Mardi Gras theme. It's a really easy recipe using Zatarain's Jambalaya Mix. I couldn't find Andouille Sausage at the store so I used Saggs Atomic Hot Links instead. They were SUPER spicy and really good in the Jambalaya! Mardi Gras at home has never been so much fun!

Baking Inspiration from a Wine Pairing Guide

I stumbled upon this article on Pear and Cheese and Wine Pairings recently. I found it really interesting that the type of pear would actually make a difference since they all taste pretty much the same to me. (Guess I'm not a fruit Aficionado!) Anyway, I bought Bosc Pears the other day so I thought I'd make some Pear and Cheddar Bread to find out if they really do go well together. You know what? They totally do! I'm not sure if using a different type of pear would actually NOT taste good here but these are definitely worth trying and VERY good with a nice glass of Cab!

Ingredients: (1 regular loaf or 8 mini loaves)

1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
3 eggs
1/3 c whole milk
1/3 c olive oil
1-1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese
1 pear, diced


1. Preheat to 350°F. Spray regular or mini loaf pan with cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sage, salt and black pepper. In a large measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, milk and olive oil. Pour egg mixture into flour mixture and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in cheese and pear.

3. Transfer dough to prepared pan and smooth the top.

4. Bake until golden on top and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 55 minutes for a regular loaf and 25 minutes for mini loaves. Cool bread in pan 5 minutes, then turn out onto rack and cool completely.

Friday, March 4, 2011

General Tso Ain't Got Nothing On Me!

General Tso's Chicken is a well-known dish in America but not even Wikipedia has a clue where the name came from. In fact, just like Kung Pao and Orange Chicken, there are endless recipes and ways to make it. Tonight, I made my simple version using once again, Tyson's Chicken StripsThe sauce mixture was sweet and spicy and really good on the crispy chicken! See, cooking yourself really is faster and WAY better than takeout!


2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp rice wine
3 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp cornstarch
1 lb crispy chicken strips
1 Tbsp oil
5 dried red chili peppers
3 green onions, sliced + more for garnish
1 Tbsp ginger, minced
2 tsp garlic, minced
Rice, for serving


1. In a small bowl combine rice vinegar, rice wine, soy sauce, sugar and cornstarch. Mix well and set aside. Heat chicken according to package directions.

2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add dried chili peppers and green onions and stir fry for 30 seconds. Add ginger and garlic and stir fry for another 30 seconds.

3. Add sauce mixture to the wok and cook stirring until the sauce becomes thickened and bubbly, 5 minutes. Add chicken and toss to coat with sauce.

4. Serve on rice garnished with more green onions.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Left-overs Never Tasted So Good!

Remember the Coconut Curry Meatballs I made last week? Well, I threw some in the freezer and tonight they made the most awesome quick dinner! I guess you can call it an Asian-style Stroganoff with the curry and ginger flavors. I just cooked up some egg noodles and reheated the meatballs, breaking them apart a bit to make a meaty sauce. Then I stirred in some sour cream at the end for extra creaminess. SO good and Greg didn't even know he was eating left-overs!

Mardi Gras Rum Cookies

Since Mardi Gras is next week, I decided to celebrate early with some Butter Rum Cookies. This is just a basic sugar cookie dough with the addition of Rum Extract and pretty purple and yellow sugars on top. (I ran out of green after Christmas!) Very easy but oh so buttery and yummy! I can wait to make some Hurricanes this weekend!

Ingredients: (2 dozen cookies)

1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c confectioners' sugar
1 tsp rum extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1-3/4 c all-purpose flour
Colored sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in extract. Gradually add flour and mix well.

3. Drop tablespoonfuls of dough onto baking sheets 1 inch apart. Flatten with a glass dipped in water. Sprinkle with colored sugar.

4. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until slightly browned on the bottom. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tomato Chutney only Sounds Time-Consuming

What do you think of when you hear the word "Chutney"? Something exotic with lots of spices and very time consuming, right? I know that's what I used to think and that's why I've tried just about every jar of chutney at Trader Joe's. Not any more! Tonight, I made Rachael Ray's Pork Chops with Tomato Chutney and it was so quick and easy! The tart flavors of the tomatoes and vinegar paired so well with the sweet raisins and brown sugar. The sauce thickened up into a syrupy topping just PERFECT on top of the pork chops. No more jarred Chutney for us! Thanks Rachael Ray!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Anything's Good with a Cheesy Crust on Top!

There's actually salmon under all that but the yummy crust was what stole the show. It's got horseradish, Dijon mustard, honey, fresh parsley AND of course, LOTS of Parmesan! I also made Tyler Florences's Horseradish and Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes on the side and dinner was just PERFECTION! If you or someone in your house is not a fish fan, you've gotta try this recipe. You'll barely taste anything but the yummy crust, I promise!


2 slices white bread
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp prepared horseradish
1 Tbsp honey
1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp canola oil, divided + more for greasing baking dish
6-8 oz salmon fillet
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp lemon pepper


1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a baking dish with canola oil and set aside.

2. In a food processor, pulse bread until coarsely chopped. Remove to a bowl and stir in Parmesan and 1 Tbsp oil.

3. In the same food processor, process the horseradish, honey, parsley, Dijon and remaining Tbsp oil until smooth.

4. Place salmon in prepared baking dish, skin side down. Sprinkle with salt and lemon pepper.

5. Spread mustard mixture over fillets; gently press bread crumbs and Parmesan on top. Bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
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