Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bringing in the New Year with LOBSTER!

I just can't believe 2009 is over! It's been a great year for us and so much has happened (engagement, moving, etc)! I'm sure 2010 will be even better and I see some wedding planning ahead. :)

Last year we went out to dinner but this year we decided to stay in (and party afterwards!). Since it's NYE, I decided to make something special and what could be better than LOBSTER? I've actually never made lobster tails before but I followed this recipe and it was pretty easy. I served them over some Trader Joe's Israeli Couscous with mushrooms and we had a VERY yummy NYE dinner to welcome 2010! (Like the new plate that Priscilla got me?)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I Got a Panini Press for Christmas!

If you follow my blog, you know that we make Panini quite often at our house. I've been pretty satisfied with just using the grill pan but I've ALWAYS wanted a REAL Panini Press! I mentioned that to Kanika during Thanksgiving since she said that she never uses hers and guess what I got for Christmas? Thanks Kanika and Ryan! You guys are the best! Look how nice and professional this looks? All the ooey gooey cheese...YUM!

This baby featured thick slices of Smoked Ham, LOTS of Provolone Cheese, Tomatoes, Caramelized Onions and Sauteéd Mushrooms, all sandwiched between 2 BIG slices of Sourdough Bread that had been slathered with Grainy Mustard and Mayo. WOW! 1 bite and you're in heaven!

Our House Has Never Smelled So Asian

Greg will NEVER pass up Duck Curry if it's on the menu so I finally decided to try it at home. I went to an Asian Supermarket while visiting my mom today and bought a Roasted Peking Duck. I also picked up some Red Curry Paste and Coconut Milk but then realized that I had a bottle of Red Curry Sauce from Trader Joe's sitting in the cabinet. Since I'd been traveling the last 4 days (and had a TON of Christmas presents to put away!), I decided to take the easy route. That sauce did NOT disappoint! (How does Trader Joe's do it EVERY single time?) And the best part? Dinner was ready in 10 minutes! I just deboned the duck, reheated it with the sauce and served it over some rice that I also picked up from the supermarket. DONE! (Do you like the cute Asian-style bowl that I got from Pier One?)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Roadtrip with My Mommy!

My mom and I decided to take a trip this Christmas since it was just the 2 of us. We didn't wanna go too far (airfare was CRAZY!) but still wanted to get away. Since our favorite activity together is SHOPPING, we decided on Palm Springs! (In case you didn't know, there's a HUGE outlet mall there!) It wasn't a bad drive at all, especially leaving on Christmas Day, and we were there in less than 8 hours. We stayed at the newly renovated Renaissance Inn (I guess it's too new cuz I couldn't find their website!) and had a really good time. We didn't actually get on the road until about 11am so we got to the hotel around 8pm. They were having some special Christmas Dinner at the on-site restaurant so we just enjoyed a light dinner at the bar. (Neither of us had much of an appetite since we pretty much snacked the entire way!) The food was good and fairly priced and the Champagne was flowing! I just HAD to take a picture of this Veggie 6-Pack! Isn't it cute? There were carrots, cucumbers, asparagus, celery and tomatoes with a yummy Ranch-style dipping sauce. We loved it so much, we ended up ordering it again for a snack the next day!

The next night we all went to Morton's for dinner with Greg and his family. (We got EXTREMELY lost thanks to faulty iPhone directions but I won't get into that!) Dinner started with this beautiful platter of Baked Seafood. There were Bacon-Wrapped Scallops, Breaded Shrimp, Oysters Rockefeller and Crab Cakes. EVERYTHING was SO good and our entrées were amazing too (even though I didn't take pictures!). My mom and I shared the Salmon Filet and got to sample everyone else's Steaks and Crab Legs too! Greg got the Cajun-Style Ribeye again, which had been marinated for 60 hours. We actually ended up purchasing the rub and and I can't WAIT to recreate it at home!

Here's a picture of the happy couple!

I LOVED this picture of me and my mom at the hotel lobby. I can't believe my Auto Timer worked so well!

Merry Christmas EVERYONE!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

My Mommy Came Over so SHRIMP was on the Menu!

Anyone who knows my mom knows that she LOVES LOVES LOVES shrimp! SO whenever possible, I try to make just that for her. My mom also has a mild obsession with Red Lobster and one of her favorite dishes is their Lobster Pizza. I tried to get lobster meat but couldn't manage to find it, so I substituted it with shrimp. It was SO good and SO easy too! My mom LOVED it and I'm pretty sure I'll be testing out Crabmeat Pizza really soon! The crust was crunchy and had such good flavor from the Garlic Butter. The tomatoes and basil added a wonderful freshness as well as color. (As Giada would say, it looks like the Italian flag!)

With the left-over shrimp, I made a simple Shrimp and Angelhair Pasta. It was just shrimp, pasta, mushrooms and store-bought Marinara sauce. Nothing fancy, just an easy and yummy Christmas Eve Dinner!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Girlie Party at My House!

I invited my girlfriends over for a pre-Christmas Party and we had a total blast! I couldn't imagine having 5 people around our tiny dining room table, but we all fit perfectly along with some yummy food! I have a bit more experience hosting a party now and knew that I couldn't make everything in advance cuz well...COLD baked appetizers just aren't very good! Of course, I couldn't have my guests waiting for their food, so I purchased a Crudités Platter, some Cocktail Shrimp and Hummus with Crackers for them to munch on while I cooked. It was the perfect plan and we all chatted away happily as the "Main Events" came piping hot out of the oven. Here is the table waiting for my guests to arrive. (Do you recognize my Blue Cheese and Walnut Crackers?)

This was one of the appetizers that I made, Festive Baked Brie. Look at the pretty "festive" colors! It was SO good on the crackers and we finished every last cheesy bite!

I can't wait to host another party!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Taste Testing My Potluck Meatballs

Greg's work is having a Holiday Potluck tomorrow so I decided to make my 2 favorite party dishes: Meatballs and Deviled Eggs. I wanted a way to keep the meatballs warm so I made them in the slow cooker last night. I used this recipe since I know they'll turn out good but JUST in case, we decided to taste them tonight with some spaghetti! YUM YUM YUM! I swear you can NEVER go wrong with meatballs, especially cooked for 10 hours! I'm sure Greg's coworkers will appreciate these!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Box of Christmas Goodies

Remember how I was making homemade goodies for my guys this year? Well, these are what they look like! This box contains Holiday Biscotti, Mrs Field's Chocolate Chip Cookies, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Lemon Drops and Brownie Bites. For a special touch, I also added recipe cards so they can make them at home whenever they wanted to!

My First Shot at Making Steak...

...and it turned out GREAT! Greg's been on a steak kick recently ever since he had the Cajun Spiced Ribeye from Morton's while traveling. I don't have much experience with steak but I thought I'd give it a shot. (You know how I love to try new recipes!) I guess a big slab of meat is a bit intimidating to me and my biggest fear is over-cooking it like I tend to do with pork chops. I found this recipe for Ribeye in Mushroom Gravy and it sounded simple and just perfect! All I can say is WOW! I mean, why in the world did it take so long for me to make steak? The meat was seared perfectly in the pan and then slowly cooked through to a medium rare in the oven. I think what made this dish even more amazing was the fact that I marinated the Ribeye in a mixture of Pinot Noir, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and black pepper for over 24 hours. (I actually meant to only marinate it for a few hours but we ended up going out to dinner on Saturday.) The mushroom gravy was also super simple using a packet of gravy mix and some sour cream added at the end. I served the steak over some left over Mushroom Risotto and a sprinkle of fresh parsley at the end. It was the perfect Sunday night dinner!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Entertaining the Barefoot Contessa Way

I don't make a lot of Ina Garten's recipes but she's got some great ones for entertaining! A few of my girlfriends are coming over for an early Christmas celebration next week so I was searching for ideas. I found this recipe from Blue Cheese and Walnut Crackers that sounded really interesting. These aren't really traditional thin crackers, but more like savory shortbread cookies. The crushed walnuts on the outside looked a bit messy so I just added some to the dough instead. OMG they smelled SO good coming out of the oven and tasted even better! The texture was a bit cakey and the crunch from the walnuts was a great addition. The best part about this recipe is that you can make these way in advance or even freeze them for later. I'm sure my girlfriends will like these!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Coq au Vin on a Pizza?

We have a LOT of chicken left from my slow cooked Coq au Vin so I decided to be creative. I also had some sliced Swiss and Provolone Cheese in the fridge that needed to be used up so Coq au Vin Pizza was born! I just can't get over how convenient it is to have Boboli Crust on hand cuz you you can really have a yummy dinner ready in 15 minutes! I also added mushrooms and Mozzarella (of course!) and this pizza was GOOD!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Can't Go Wrong With Mrs Field's

The second batch of cookies I baked were Chocolate Chip Cookies cuz who DOESN'T like those right? I debated which recipe to use and settled on the one from the Mrs Field's Recipe Book that Greg's mom gave me a couple of years ago. (Well, I was going ga ga over it at her house so she said I could have it!) They came out great and super quick too. Hum...if I leave this plate out, do you think Santa will show up early? ;)

Ingredients: (3 dozen cookies)

2-1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 c brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 c white sugar
1 c (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 c chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 300F

2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

3. Cream together sugars and butter in a stand mixer until mixture resembles a grainy paste. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

4. Add flour mixture in 2 batches, mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl. Stir in chips and vanilla.

5. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.

6. Bake 20 to 22 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holiday Biscotti

For the holidays this year, I decided to give out boxes of homemade goodies. I've discovered a few favorites from my Cookie Fridays and one of them is Biscotti. I thought Cranberries and Pistachios would make them look very festive! I found this recipe from one of my favorite baking sites, Joy of Baking, and added some white chocolate chips. They came out SO good with just the right crunchiness (and thank goodness I didn't burn them like I usually do!). The tart cranberries, nutty pistachios and sweet chocolate were just perfect together! I'm sure my guys will LOVE their edible gifts!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Coq Au Vin Take 2

I totally forgot that I've made Coq Au Vin before (thanks blog) but I guess it's been a year so I forgive myself! This time I ran out of mushrooms but you hardly notice since they get so soft after hours of cooking and pretty much disappear. I also cooked the bacon in the oven this time to omit the mess I usually create on the countertop when I fry bacon. The house still smelled like yummy pork fat but I didn't have to clean up all the grease! I used the left-over Pinot Noir from the duck I made earlier this week and it was just perfect! I just LOVE the slow cooker cuz you just basically throw all the ingredients in the night before and wake up to the most amazing smell EVER!

Friday, December 11, 2009

6 HUGE Scallops for $3!

I saw that Colossal Scallops were half off at Safeway so I knew I had to get some. I picked up a package of 6 for only $3! I found this recipe for Scallops in Sage Cream Sauce and knew it would be the perfect Friday night meal. It sounds really gourmet but it was actually super easy and quick. I served the scallops over some Shiitake Mushroom Risotto (Safeway Select brand, love it!) and added some sautéed mushrooms. The meal was SO yummy and a perfect start to the weekend!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Early Birthday Dinner for my Honey!

It's Greg's big 34th tomorrow and we're going to Ovo, the new Cirque du Soleil show that's playing in SF. (SO excited about that!) I decided to make him a special early birthday dinner featuring duck (his favorite)! I had called a bunch of grocery stores and finally found duck breast at Whole Foods so I went on Sunday and picked up a nice big piece. Then I went online and, after much research, found this recipe for Sautéed Duck Breast and thought it was just PERFECT! I had also picked up 2 bottles of the Cakebread Pinot Noir that we loved so much from Thanksgiving so the sauce was a perfect match. I used regular mushrooms instead of the "wild" varieties in the recipe (that's what I had in the fridge) and Turning Leaf Pinot Noir for the wine. (Hey, I wasn't about to cook with a $60 bottle of wine!) I served the duck over some Israeli Couscous and Greg LOVED it! I love making gourmet meals at home and now our entire place smells like duck! Happy Early Birthday Honey!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ricotta Ricotta Everywhere!

Somehow I always have some ricotta cheese left in the fridge that I need to use up. (If you've been following my blog, you know that I use ricotta cheese at least every other week!) This time, I also had some blueberries and raspberries so I decided to make these Mixed Berry Ricotta Babycakes from one of my favorite blogs, Baking Bites. I just love how the cheese makes these muffins so moist and creamy! The berries made me feel like it was summertime instead of the 30-degrees fall weather we're having. (I know I can't complain but being a Cali girl, I'm only used to the 60's!) Definitely a yummy way to use up that ricotta!

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Last of My Frozen Pesto!

I'm always trying new pizza creations since it's one of Greg's favorites and thought pesto would be a good idea. Thanks to good old Boboli and Tyson, dinner took about 15 minutes! This yummy pizza featured pesto, chicken that I tossed in some Ranch dressing and of course, mushrooms. We might have to start a Pizza Friday tradition soon!

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the YEAR!

December is upon us and that means the holidays are right around the corner! Christmas is definitely my favorite holiday and not just cuz of the presents. I LOVE the lights, the decorations, the carols and of course, the FOOD! Nothing says Christmas like Gingerbread Cookies so that's what I made for the first Cookie Friday of December. I totally cheated and used the Betty Crocker Gingerbread Mix but I did take the time to roll out the dough so I could cut them into festive shapes. I received a Christmas Cookie-Making Set 2 years ago from Greg's mom and this is the first time that I've used it. Aren't they cute?

Here they are getting ready to be baked...

...Now ready for Santa (or my coworkers)!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Can't Waste That Good Greek Yogurt!

I had half a container of Greek Yogurt left from making the yogurt sauce for my Lamb Gyros and didn't wanna waste it. I also had a pear laying around so Pear Nut Bread was born! Of course, you can substitute regular yogurt in any flavor you like but the creaminess of the Greek yogurt made this bread really rich and moist. The crunchy pecans also added a nice texture. I can't WAIT to have this for breakfast tomorrow!


1/2 c butter, softened
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 c all-purpose flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 c Greek yogurt
1 c coarsely chopped pears (leave skin on)
1/4 c chopped pecans
1 tsp vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. (I used my stand mixer but a hand mixer would work.)

2. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, making sure they're well incorporated. Then beat in yogurt until smooth.

3. Combine the flours, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Add to the egg mixture.

4. Stir in the pears, pecans and vanilla.

5. Pour into a greased 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in the center come out clean.

Dilly Salmon Tortellini = YUM!

Salmon has proven to be the perfect mate for dill as shown in my Benedict and Patties. So when I found this recipe for Tortellini with Salmon-Riotta Sauce, I knew I had to give it a try. The only changes I made were substituting half of a diced up white onion instead of the green just cuz that was what I had in the fridge and adding some mushrooms cuz Greg loves them in pasta dishes (and pizza!). (Oh, and I also didn't have any lemons so I just added some juice from a bottle and omitted the peel.) At first I was afraid the canned salmon would taste too fishy with the tortellini but the flavors actually worked really well together. I guess you just can't go wrong with Ricotta and Mozzarella paired up with cheese-stuffed pasta! This was definitely an easy weeknight dinner and we're always told to eat more fish right? :)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Lamb Meatballs Take 2!

We had a LOT of lamb meatballs left over from Sunday so I decided to make some Gyros for a quick and easy dinner. (I also had more mint to use up so it was perfect!) All I did was toast up some pita bread and stuffed 4 meatballs inside each. Then I made a very simple yogurt sauce using Greek yogurt, S&P, lemon juice and mint. I'm not sure how authentic these were but they were yummy!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I Have WAY Too Much Dill!

It seems like every time I turn around, my dill has shot up an inch! I really hate to waste my fresh herbs so I went online to see what I could make with them. I found this Cheddar Dill Biscuits recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Baking Bites, and decided to give them a try. They were super easy and quick to make and I love the fact that I only ended up with 4 biscuits instead of a dozen! I also used my mini food processor instead of dirtying up my big one. These biscuits tasted very similar to the Cheddar Dill Scones I made before but a lot softer. You don't really NEED to butter them but you really should! They taste AMAZING with a good smear of Land O Lakes!

When Life Gives You Mint...

...You make Minty Lamb Meatballs! (Ok ok so when your AeroGarden gives you mint!) I noticed this morning that my mint was getting pretty high so I decided to make this Minty Lamb Meatballs recipe I found a while ago. I always have some stuffing mix in my pantry so all I had to do was pick up some ground lamb. I realized only AFTER I got home from the store that I had only picked up 1 lb of meat and this recipe asked for 2. SO, being the creative chef that I am, I substituted a couple of Johnsonville Italian Sausage Links instead. You know what? The flavor was PERFECT with the lamb, especially simmered in this tomato-flavored sauce. I served the meatballs over some Israeli Couscous from Trader Joe's and it was the PERFECT Sunday night dinner! We also have a LOT of meatballs left over, which I'm totally happy about! Hum, maybe I'll freeze some for a rainy day... :)

Back from Another FUN Turkey Day!

I can't believe another Thanksgiving has come and gone but we had a great time (as usual)! We arrived Wednesday afternoon (no delays on Southwest...SHOCKING!) and stayed until Saturday night. Greg and I were in charge of dinner Wednesday night and we decided to make Chilean Seabass with Hollandaise Sauce (blender style!). It was a total hit with the parents! His dad even said that the meal was "restaurant quality"! And of course, we had my Jalapeño Corn Muffins on the side. (Yes I brought them onto the plane!)

Turkey Day preparation started early the next morning with 2 turkeys, 1 in the oven and another on the rotisserie! (Yes, there are 6 of us and we absolutely NEED 2 turkeys!) We also had all the usual goodies on the side like mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing (2 kinds as well, 1 regular and 1 cornbread), cranberry sauce (also 2, 1 jelly and 1 more saucy) and roasted veggies. AND to top it all off? 2 pumpkin pies, of course! Needless to say, everyone was happy and stuffed afterwards. The next couple of days included a LOT of turkey sandwich-making and of course Black Friday SHOPPING! I confess that I bought WAY more stuff for myself than presents but hey, I got good deals! I've got a whole month left to find gifts. :)

We also had 2 birthdays to celebrate since Kanika's was last week and Greg's is next week. His mom baked 2 really cute cakes for them! A Red Velvet for Kanika and Carrot Cake for Greg (his favorite)! How thoughtful is that, right?

We had such a good time and I was sad to leave. BUT we're getting together again for Christmas and they'll finally get to meet my mom! I'm REALLY excited!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Since I Can't Physically be There, I Guess I'll be There in Spirit

Even though my mom says she doesn't mind that I'm not there for Thanksgiving, I always feel incredibly guilty about leaving her alone. So I always try to do something special for her to let her know that I care and that I'm there in spirit! This year, I thought I'd recreate one of her favorite restaurant dishes, which is Shrimp and Angel Hair in a Tomato Sauce. (Seriously, she'll order it EVERY time if it's on the menu!) I found this recipe from Taste of Home and thought it would be PERFECT! I halved the ingredients to make 2 good-sized portions so that my mom could have it for lunch on Thanksgiving (she's going to a group dinner at her complex) and dinner another night. I also added some sautéed mushrooms and LOTS of fresh basil for color and brightness. I love you mom!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Yes, I Watch Cooking Shows During My Workouts

A lotta people can't grasp the concept of watching cooking shows while working out, but I find that it's the perfect thing to watch. You don't need to really listen so you can have your Ipod on. AND it totally motivates you to work out harder so you can EAT the yummy food you're seeing! During my lunch workouts, I usually watch Lidia's Italy on PBS. It's not my favorite cooking show, but it's on at the right time and Lidia does grow on you after a while. She's like the perfect Italian mother who's just so HAPPY making big pots of pasta and stews! She also travels around Italy and since I won't be going there anytime soon, I feel like I'm getting "cultured" in some way. I'll admit that I probably won't make most of Lidia's recipes cuz she does everything the traditional Italian way, meaning pasta dough from SCRATCH! BUT sometimes she dows inspire me to go out of my comfort zone. One particular episode that caught my eye invovled Crêpes. Lidia's version was a bit complicated, but I thought I'd do some research and see what I could find. WOW, there was a LOT of info on Crêpes out there! Apprently, there were French versions, American versions, sweet or savory, rolled up like a burrito or stuffed and baked in the oven. I even watched a few videos on YouTube! After MUCH research, I finally settled on this simple recipe that uses a blender for easy mixing. The key is to let the batter sit for at least an hour before cooking the Crêpes. I also found that you really have to let your pan heat up before brushing it (VERY well) with melted butter and adding the batter or else it will tend to stick, making them not so pretty. (It's kinda like making pancakes, where the first one is never as nice as the rest of them!) I decided to make mine savory by stuffing them with a ham, Ricotta and mushroom mixture. Overall, I would say that Crêpes are pretty easy to make as long as you have the patience and time for them. They're definitely gonna make it on my brunch menu again soon!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Left-over Cranberries Make Another Appearance

I found a recipe for Cranberry Tea Loaf that I've been wanting to make, but somehow I clicked on the bookmarked link and it no longer exists! I was totally bummed but thought I could probably recreate it with some research. I'm not sure how close I got to the actual recipe but the bread turned out yummy and that's all that matters!


1-1/4 c water
1/4 c cranberry juice cocktail
4 green tea bags
2 c whole wheat flour
1 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/4 c granulated sugar
1/4 c butter or margarine, softened
2 large eggs
1 c chopped fresh cranberries
1 c chopped walnuts


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan; set aside.

2. In a small saucepan, bring water and cranberry juice to a boil. Remove from heat and add tea bags; cover and brew 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and squeeze; cool.

3. In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

4. In a stand mixer (or large bowl with hand-mixer), beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in cooled tea mixture.

5. Gradually beat in flour mixture just until blended. Stir in cranberries and walnuts. Turn into prepared pan.

6. Bake 1 hour 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pre-Turkey Day Treat: Cranberry Walnut Bars!

Cranberries are everywhere these days with Turkey Day coming up, so I picked up a bag at the store. Not really having much experience with fresh cranberries (I've only used dried ones), I went online for some recipe searching. I found this recipe from the Ocean Spray website and thought they'd be perfect for my Cookie Friday. They were really easy to make and I love any recipe with only 6 ingredients! The cranberries burst open while they're baked and made these bars really moist with a lil bit of tartness. The walnuts also added some great crunch and texture. I think these bars are the perfect treats to welcome Turkey Day!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Glad I Have Frozen Pesto Cubes!

I was bored one night while Greg was traveling and decided to make some Pesto to freeze in an ice cube tray. It was a method I learned a while ago and always wanted to try. Well, I'm glad I did cuz now I have Pesto on hand to spread on sandwiches or use as pasta sauce like I did tonight! I took out 8 cubes (which is about a cup of Pesto since every cute is about 2 tablespoons) and let them thaw on the counter for about 30 minutes. Pasta sauce DONE! I cooked up a package of Trader Joe's Pesto Tortellini, drained them. Then in the same pot, I browned up some mushrooms in butter, stirred in 2 cups of cooked chicken (I used Tyson's Grilled Chicken Strips) and the Pesto until everything was heated through. (I had to thin it out with some milk cuz it was really thick.) Then added fresh basil and LOTS of Parmesan cheese. Dinner was served in less than 15 minutes!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Finally Made Pizza Dough by HAND!

Greg's absolute FAVORITE food in the world has got to be PIZZA so I figured it was time for me to master pizza dough by hand. I know Boboli is good but we don't always have it on hand and when the pizza craving hits, I don't wanna have to wait for delivery. (Although Pizza Orgasmica is pretty quick!) I found this recipe from the Fleischmann's website, which are the yeast packets that I have at home, and they even had a video on how to make pizza dough. It looked pretty easy so I decided to give it a shot. I'm SO glad I did cuz the dough turned out perfectly and you really can't beat home-made pizza on a weeknight! I also added some dried Italian seasoning to the mix for more flavor and then topped it with sliced Provolone cheese, Trader Joe's Pizza Sauce, pepperoni, mushrooms and LOTS of Mozzarella cheese. And of course, I had to sprinkle some fresh basil and oregano at the end too!

Turkey + Avocado = A Match Made in Panini Heaven!

One of Greg's favorite sandwich combinations is turkey and avocado so I thought I'd recreate it in Panini form! I debated whether to just slice the avocado or make a sauce out of it and decided, why not both? So half of it got mashed up with some Ranch dressing and the other half was sliced and added to the sandwich. I also added tomatoes (a must in Greg's book!) and Swiss Cheese (cuz what a Panino without cheese right?) and the flavors were amazing together! I read somewhere that Pesto would be a good addition too and will definitely have to give that a try since I have quite a few frozen Pesto cubes in my freezer.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Crunchy Pear Muffins for Fall

It's really starting to feel like fall here with the chilly winds and rain. To me, pears really represent the season (along with Pumpkin Pie and turkey, of course!) and what can I do with them? Bake muffins, of course! I used a Red Bartlett Pear cuz I love the pretty color but you can use any type of pear you like. These muffins turned out really good and are super healthy too with the whole wheat flour and oatmeal. They make a great on-the-go breakfast or snack!

Ingredients: (12 muffins)

1 c all purpose flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 c quick-cooking oats
1/2 c brown sugar
2 eggs
1 c sour cream
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 c diced pear (1 medium pear)
1/3 c pecan, finely chopped


1. Preheat oven to 350°F, line 12 muffin cups.

2. Sift the flours, baking powder and cinnamon into a large bowl. Add the oats and brown sugar and stir to combine.

3. Whisk together the eggs, sour cream and oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in the pear and pecans, being careful not to overmix.

4. Divide the batter between the muffin cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Sugar-Free Pumpkin Bread by Accident!

I had about half a can of pumpkin left from making my Mini Pumpkin Pies and decided to make some bread to bring to my mom. I found this recipe and used whole wheat flour and milk instead of the water. I also added a ton of walnuts and raisins cuz my mom loves her baked goods that way! Well, guess what? I realized AFTER the bread had come out of the oven that I forgot to add the sugar! I was pretty disappointed since I put in all this work only to have no bread to show for it. Well, anyway, I decided to have a bite and you know what? Since I added so many raisins, the bread was actually sweet enough! I mean, it probably could've been sweeter, but I was trying to make it healthier with the whole wheat flour and all, so omitting the sugar wasn't such a bad idea. My mom had a slice on Sunday and actually said she was glad I didn't add any sugar! What a relief! I'm always so sad when I botch up a recipe so I'm SO happy that my "accident" had a nice ending!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Crabby Lasagna Rolls!

Lasagna Rolls pretty much make an appearance at our house at least every other week. I try to switch it up a bit though, so this time, I used a can of crab instead of the usual ground beef or sausage. The verdict? AWESOME! I guess crabmeat makes them a bit more gourmet and trust me, opening up a can takes even less time than browning up some meat! And on a Sunday night when I'm doing laundry, vacuuming and trying to watch football at the same time, SIMPLICITY is EVERYTHING when it comes to dinner!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Biscuits and Gravy but this time, from SCRATCH!

Greg requested Biscuits and Gravy again and this time, I wanted to make everything from scratch! (Last time I cheated and used Pillsbury Biscuits in a tube.) I followed this recipe from The Cooking Photographer and it couldn't have been easier, thanks to my food processor! I also used her buttermilk substitution with milk and cream of tartar cuz I forgot to get buttermilk. The biscuits came out so flakey and perfect that I really couldn't believe I made them myself! The Sausage Gravy recipe was from Bob Evans (even though I used left-over Johnsonville Sausage) and besides the fact that the sausage chunks pretty much took over the gravy, it was yummy on the biscuits! Will I make Biscuits and Gravy from scratch again? Hell yea! Maybe next time I'll actually serve them for breakfast instead of Friday night dinner. :)

Using More Dill in a VERY Gourmet Way

Dill and salmon may be a great combination but dill and SMOKED salmon on Eggs Benedict is even better! I used this Hollandaise Sauce recipe using a blender and added about 1 tsp of fresh dill. It was SO good and way better than any brunch you could get at a restaurant! (Well, maybe not WAY better but definitely WAY cheaper!) What a yummy way to start the weekend huh?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Miniature Things are just BETTER!

It's almost Thanksgiving and that means I'm seriously craving Pumpkin Pie! So when I saw this recipe, I knew I had to make it for my Cookie Friday. These Pumpkin Pie Bites were super easy to make and tastes EXACTLY like the real thing! I used half a can of Libby's Pumpkin Puree and 1 tsp of Pumpkin Pie Spice instead of all the different spices that Kate used. Aren't they cute or what?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sausage-Stuffed Shells...Need I say more?

Stuffed shells has become one of our favorite pasta dishes and this one did not disappoint either. I like making small batches of these (8 to 10 shells) so we don't end up with left-overs for a week. These babies were stuffed with a mixture of Johnsonville Original Brats (casings removed, of course!), Italian seasoning, Ricotta and Mozzarella cheese. I used 3 Brats and half of them went into the mixture and the other half went into the Alfredo Sauce. I think stuffing the shells is my favorite part! Don't they look so cute all nestled against each other?

Not as cute on a plate but sure taste good!

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