Monday, October 31, 2011

A PERFECT Dinner on Halloween!

We're not big on Halloween. In fact, it's probably one of my least favorite holidays. I mean, I love seeing all the cute Trick-or-Treaters but I really dislike all the creepy stuff! One way I do like to celebrate though is by making dinner that features pumpkin. So tonight I made Mexican Pumpkin Chili and Pumpkin Corn Muffins. They were both Libby's Pumpkin recipes and came out SO good! Instead of regular corn, I used this Corn and Chile Salsa I found at Trader Joe's. Man, that stuff is addicting! It's got the perfect amount of sweet and heat and I can literally eat it by the spoonful! (In fact, I had to stop myself or else there wouldn't be any left for the chili and corn muffins!) I love the fact that this Chili only takes 30 minutes, which makes it possible on a Monday night. The Corn Muffins also didn't require a long time and I had left-overs for breakfast AND my coworkers! Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2011

LOVE Trying Out New Condiments!

I'm very lazy when it comes to ginger and lemon grass so I always have a tube of Gorumet Garden Grated Ginger and Lemon Grass in the fridge. They're total time-savers and taste great! The other day, I was stocking up on more and saw a new variety, Moroccan Blend and couldn't wait to try it! The blend is a combination of cilantro, ginger, garlic, cumin and black pepper. I added it to some ground beef and made Moroccan Meatballs to serve on top of couscous. To take them over the top (since it's Friday night!), I added a poached egg on top! YUM YUM!

Funfetti Halloween Cookies Again!

I picked up another box of Halloween Funfetti Mix and made some yummy Candy Corn Cookies. They're basically just Funfetti cookes with a Candy Corn on top. How cute are they right?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

We NEVER Get Sick of Moroccan Flavors!

Ever since I started experimenting with Moroccan flavors, we just can't seem to get enough! I marinated some pork chops in a spice mixture overnight and it came out SO flavorful! If you're short on time (or forgot), 30 minutes on the counter works too. I also added apples and raisins and it was the perfect fall meal!


1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 pork chops
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 c onion, chopped
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1/4 c raisins
1/2 c apple juice
1 Tbsp butter
Couscous, for serving


1. Combine cloves, paprika, cumin, coriander and cinnamon in a bowl. Add half of the mixture to a resealable bag with the pork. Seal and shake until well-coated. Marinate the meat for at least 30 minutes to overnight in the fridge. Reserve remaining spice mixture.

2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown pork 4 minutes per side. Remove and keep warm.

3. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add apple, raisins and juice. Bring to a boil and deglaze. Add pork back and turn heat down to low. Cover and simmer 5 minutes, until pork is cooked through. Remove pork to serving platter.

4. Stir in reserved spice mixture and butter. Turn heat up to high and boil until sauce thickens, 2 minutes. Serve with pork and couscous.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

VERY Unauthentic Szechuan Chicken

We LOVE Szechuan Chicken cuz it's spicy and very flavorful. It's one of our usual takeout items so I decided to try and recreate the dish myself. I did some research and put together my own version and it tasted pretty spot on! Instead of deep-frying the chicken, I used Tyson's Chicken Nuggets, which we always have in the freezer. It's a lot easier and less messy!


1/2 lb fried chicken tenders, cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 c chicken stock
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp Chinese wine
1/2 tsp vinegar
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp five spice powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp cold water
1 Tbsp oil
6 dried red chilies, seeded
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, grated
2 scallions, chopped in 2 inch lengths


1. Mix together stock, soy sauce, sugar, wine, vinegar, sesame oil, five spice powder and pepper.

2. Mix together cornstarch and cold water.

3. Heat oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add chilies, garlic and ginger, and stir fry until garlic is golden. Add scallions and toss for a few seconds.

4. Add stock mixture and bring to a boil. Add cornstarch mixture and stir until thickened. Add chicken and toss to heat through.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Another Version of Veal Parmigiana

We enjoyed the Veal Parmigiana so much last time that I decided to make them again. This time, I followed this recipe from Food Network and we loved the addition of the tomato sauce on top! The meat was cut really thin and came out perfectly tender. Plus with all that CHEESE, how can they not be good?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Lamb Lollipops!

I've had Lamb Lollipops at restaurants a few times but have never been able to find them at the grocery store, so when I spotted them at the grocery store, I knew I had to get them! Tonight's dinner was Lamb Chops with Herbes de Provence and it was YUMMY! If you don't have Herbes de Provence, you can make your own, but I keep a jar of McCormick around since it goes well in lots of marinades and rubs. (Also cuz I love to collect spices!) This recipe was so quick and easy and I served the lamb with couscous, which goes well with just about everything! The weekend might be over but at least we're happy and full!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

What to do with Big-O Shrimp on Super Special?

Safeway was running a 1-day Friday special on REALLY big shrimp so I definitely had to take advantage! I rushed over to the store right after work and got myself 2 pounds worth of yummy shrimp goodness! They were still a bit frozen so I decided to thaw them out in the fridge. By Saturday night, they were ready to be turned into the most delicious Creamy Lemon Shrimp Pasta! I used Cream Cheese Spread, which was already softened and melted very quickly into the sauce. I also used Seafood Stock instead of the Chicken for extra seafood flavor. YUM!

Tourists in Our Own Backyard!

Once in a while, we like to go to a Touristy Place and pretend like we're from out of town (so my hubby's not embarassed that I'm taking pictures!). On a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, we decided to check out Urban Tavern, which is located inside the Hilton Union Square Hotel. We heard good things about their burgers and so of course, my hubby had to get one. It came with Sweet Potato Fries and he loved it! It was such a fun place too with funky decor and friendly waiters. A definite cool tourist spot!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Taking Meatballs to a Whole New Level!

We LOVE meatballs at our house and I don't think I've ever met ones I didn't like. These Vietnamese-style ones were no different. The flavors of fish sauce and lemongrass really took them to a whole new level! I served them over Rice Noodles (my hubby's new obsession!) and a yummy Friday night dinner was born!

More Free Apple Goodness!

A while back I picked up a package of Cherry Baking Chips and have been meaning to use them. Since I still had a couple of apples from my coworker's tree, I decided to make these Apple Oatmeal Cookies. Instead of the walnuts, I subsituted the Cherry Chips and they turned out amazing! The apples were a bit tart so it went really well with the sweet chips and the oatmeal made them taste really hearty and perfect for fall!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Free Apples Make Yummy Chicken Dinner!

Someone at work brought in a huge basket of apples from his apple tree so I took a few home to make Honey Mustard Chicken and Apples! They turned out SO yummy and the flavors were spot on! Thanks Food Network!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuna...I mean Crabmeat...Noodle Casserole!

Tuna Noodle Casserole is such a classic but I thought I'd switch it up this time and use Imitation Crab, which is a blend of Alaska Polluck and King Crab. I followed this recipe, which adds Fried Onions to the mixture and tops everything off with Corn Flake Crumbs. It came out SO incredibly good and extra crunchy on top! A classic reinvented, LOVE it!

Back from Another Fun Laguna Trip!

My hubby's company hosts a conference every year down in Laguna Beach and for the last 5 years, I'd been lucky enough to tag along. I mean, who says no to a free weekend at the St Regis right? It also became a tradition that my mother-in-law comes and takes me shopping while my hubby attends meetings on Saturday. This time, we went to Fashion Island, which is one of my favorite malls and did some pretty good damage! For lunch, we tried out a new place to eat, Cafe Beau Soleil. It's this cute lil bistro with outdoor seating and lots of yummy sandwiches and salads and even Quiche. We had a lovely time as usual!

We were told that we definitely had to try the Bloody Mary at the St Regis so of course we did! It was a amazing and we even got to chat with the bartender who makes the mix from scratch every morning! Seriously, I think it was THE BEST Bloody Mary I've ever had and trust me, I've had my share! It just tasted so fresh and flavors were spot on! I also had to take a picture of the plate of butter and Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus that came with the bread basket. The Hummus was SO good and I literally ate it by the spoonful!

It was such a fun trip but I'm actually glad to be home! I do miss my own gym even if our suite was amazing!

Friday, October 14, 2011

New Favorite Snack!

I'm known for being Snack Attack and I'm always really excited when I find something new I like. Last weekend, I spotted Kellogg's Cracker Chips and decided to try the Sour Cream flavored ones. YUMMY! They really do taste like something in between a cracker and a chip!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Lamb Shanks on a Weeknight?

I used to think that Lamb Shanks wouldn't work on a weeknight since it takes such a long time to cook. Then I found this recipe which only requires about an hour and a half of braising so weeknight Lamb Shanks it is. I think the reason it doesn't take as long is cuz I'm only cooking 2 shanks and the less there is to cook, the less time it takes. The meat was falling-off-the-bone tender and really flavorful from the tomatoes and marjoram. As usual, I skipped the celery since neither of us like it and used beef broth instead of the bouillon cubes. YUMMY weeknight dinner!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fancy Shmancy Pork in Cream Sauce

Whenever I cook with cream, I always think of a fancy meal so tonight I felt very fancy with these Pork Chops in Cream Sauce. They were SO incredibly delicious and I was very proud of myself for not overcooking the pork! I served them with some Cheesy Polentas and dinner was just perfect!

How I Manage Working Out, Work AND Cooking Every Night

Poeple often ask me how I manage to work out so much AND cook pretty much every night while managing a full-time job (oh and don't forget Cookie Fridays!). Here are 3 of my main tips and tricks that help me every night.

1. I ALWAYS have staples on hand like different dried pastas, rice, couscous and cornmeal (for making polenta and grits) for side dishes. My pantry is also loaded with pasta sauces, canned tomatoes and condiments galore!

2. I have a VERY stocked freezer with all sorts of beef, pork, chicken and seafood that I buy in bulk whenever they go on sale. (So much that I'm pretty much out of room!) There's also frozen veggies (I love spinach and corn) and nuts for baking. Once in a while I'll actually not feel like cooking so there are a few pizzas in there as well (LOVE Trader Joe's BBQ Chicken!). However, that's as far as I'll go for convenience frozen food so you won't find any Marie Callendar or Hot Pockets in there!

3. Besides stocking up on meat, I also buy whatever veggies go on sale and make sure I'll use them up within the week. That's where the weekly planning comes in and I find it really fun to put together a menu that includes all the things I need to use up in the fridge.

There you go! I like to keep things simple on the weeknights and go a little more gourmet on the weekends. I'm sure you've noticed mostly quick and easy recipes Monday through Friday and more labor-intensive and time-consuming recipes on Sundays!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I Bought 24 Cans of Cream of Mushroom Soup!

The only bad thing about ordering groceries from Amazon is that they come in bulk but usually they're such a good deal that I just can't help myself. A few weeks ago, I ordered 48 cans of Cream of Mushroom Soup (yes 48!) and have been looking for recipes to use them in. Tonight, I made Southwestern Chicken, I recipe that I found on the Campbells Canadia website and it turned out SO good! The creamy sauce was amazing and the cumin and chili gave it just the right amount of kick. I served it with some rice and it was an easy weeknight dinner! 1 down and 47 cans to go!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Curry Inspired by Aarti's Night Night Lamb Curry

I say "inspired" cuz I made more than a few adjustments to Aarti's Night Night Lamb Curry. First of all, I used beef stew meat cuz it was a lot easier for me to find than lamb. I also simmered the whole dish on the stovetop instead of roasting it in the oven. I read the reviews and a lot of them complained about the yogurt sauce curdling so I did some research. The main reason is that you have to use full-fat yogurt, which isn't easy to find around here. So instead, I used sour cream and it worked like a charm! I also subsitutued Fench's Fried Onions instead of frying my own and bought Curry-flavored Naan from Trader Joe's just to make my life easier. (Hey, I did say "inspired" right?) The dish came out really yummy and perfectly comforting on a rainy night!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Ultimate Asian Marinade!

I put this marinade recipe together from a bunch of sources and it's seriously good! You can use it on beef, pork, chicken or even seafood and it's good after an hour or up to overnight. Tonight, I made a type of beef stew, cooked low and slow for about 2 hours on the stovetop. The meat was falling-off-the-bone tender and just about as flavorful as you can get! Try it ASAP with some rice or rice noodles!

Ingredients: (enough for a pound of meat)

1 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp ginger, grated
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp lime juice
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp Sirarcha
1/4 tsp black pepper

Friday, October 7, 2011

JUMBO Shrimp Found at Safeway!

I swung by Safeway on the way home for dinner inspiration and found some JUMBO shrimp so I decided to make Giada's Penne with Shrimp and Herbed Cream Sauce. Such a quick recipe and turned out amazing! Hubby LOVES shrimp and the bigger the better so he was delighted with this meal. What a great way to start the weekend!

Boozy Cookies to Kick Start the Long Weekend!

We somehow ended up with a big bottle of Kahlua so I decided to bake some Nutty Kahlua Chocolate Chip Cookies. Boy, were they a HIT at the office! I doubt anyone got tipsy off of them but they sure got a nice sugar-rush to kick-start the long weekend! Hope you all get Columbus Day off!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

EVERYTHING'S Better with a Fried Egg on Top!

After discovering how yummy Chicken-Fried Steak is and how easy it is to make, I decided to make them again but this time, with a FRIED EGG on top! Yes, EVERYTHING'S better with a FRIED EGG on top! Greg LOVED it! I served the steaks over some Cheesy Grits and it was a fine Southern Meal at home!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

More Tomatillo Yumminess!

When I made Chili Verde on Sunday, I made extra Roasted Tomatillo Sauce cuz I knew it'd be good on just about anything. Tonight, I braised some chicken thighs and added the sauce to them. They came out SO flavorful and just as yummy as the Chili Verde! I served the chicken with my version of Mexican Rice, which is just rice with a packet of Taco Seasoning and also some Hominy. Quick and easy and super yummy on a weeknight!

Monday, October 3, 2011

VERY Saucy Catfish!

I watched Paula Deen make Saucy Catfish over the weekend and couldn't wait to try it! How can you go wrong with butter, ketchup and mayo? I think I overdid it on the sauce and ended up with extra, which I stirred into the cheesy grits on the side. SO yummy!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

First Time with Tomatillos!

Can you believe I've NEVER cooked with Tomatillos before? I mean, sure I've had Salsa Verde but it's always been either at a restaurant or out of a jar. I saw that Tomatillos were on sale and decided it was time to give them a try. I made Simply Recipe's Chile Verde and it came out amazing! Roasting the Tomatillos gave them such a nice smokey flavor and adding the roasted garlic just took them over the top! I swear I could eat that sauce by the spoonful! (Actually, I kinda did eat a few spoonfuls!) I simmered the chili for about 2 hours and the meat was just falling-off-the-bone tender. (Gotta love that pork butt!) I also made Barefoot Contessa's Cheddar Jalapeno Cornbread cuz who eats chili without cornbread right? Perfect meal on a Sunday night!

Snacky Sunday Continues

Since football is now in full session, I've decided last week that we will be having Snacky Sundays so I can try new appetizer recipes. This afternoon, I made Emeril's Baked Jalapeno Poppers and they came out really yummy! The cheesy mixture paired perfectly with the spicy seasoning. The Panko also added a nice crunch and I love the fact that these are baked and not fried. Football Sundays just get better every week!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Another First, Veal Scallopini!

Looks like I've been feeling very adventurous lately and tonight, I made another first for me, Veal Scallopini. I did some research online and found that it's basically just thin pieces of veal (calf) dredged in flour and herbs and then cooked very quickly on both sides. I made mine using the 3 Plate Dredging Method and then added some Mozzarella Cheese on top just for good measure. They turned out SO yummy and very tender! LOVE trying out new food!

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