Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Shanghai Stir-Fried Pork and Cabbage

This was a great, fast meal that I came across on Sunny Side Up in San Diego, originally from Food and Wine Magazine. The ingredient list is simple and uncomplicated and that allows the flavors of the food really shine through. And, it's inexpensive as well!

Time saving tips: the recipe calls for a boneless pork loin that you slice yourself but I skipped ahead and used boneless pork loin chops instead and thinly sliced those. Also, I found jarred shitake mushrooms in the ethnic aisle of my store so I used those instead of dried and it worked perfectly.

(and can I just say how much I LOVE stir-fried cabbage? I can only eat a tiny bit of it thanks to the Crohns disease but I savor each and every bite)

Shanghai Stir-Fried Pork and Cabbage
3/4 pound boneless pork loin, trimmed of fat (see tip above)
8 dried shitake mushrooms (see tip above)
2 tsp corn starch
1 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 cup peanut oil
Kosher salt
1 pound Napa cabbage, halved lengthwise, cored, and cut into thin strips
Cooked rice and Red Chile Sauce for serving

Place the pork loin in the freezer for 15 minutes to make cutting easier.

While the pork is in the freezer, reconstitute the shitake mushrooms by covering with boiling water and letting stand for 5 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the water and press out the water. Remove stems and cut mushroom caps into strips. Set aside on a paper towel.

In a small bowl whisk together the corn starch, rice vinegar, soy sauce, 1 tablespoon oil, pepper and sugar. Remove the pork from the freezer and cut into 1/4" slices. Stack the slices on top of each other and cut into 1/4" strips. Place the strips of pork in the sauce and stir to evenly coat.

Heat 2 tablespoons of peanut oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat until the oil just starts to smoke. Using tongs, carefully add the pork strips to the hot oil. Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until the pork is no longer pink and the edges just start to turn golden brown, using tongs to stir the pork to evenly cook . Remove the pork from the wok and set aside on a paper towel.

Add another tablespoon of oil and a pinch of kosher salt to the wok and allow to heat for about a minute. To the wok, add the shitake mushrooms and half of the cabbage. Stir-fry over high heat until the cabbage has wilted. Return the pork to the pan and add the other half of the cabbage. Cook just until the cabbage is tender, but not completely wilted.

Serve with rice and red chile sauce.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Rustic Lemon Pie

My friend Jen blogs over at Juanita's Cocina and she posted this lemon pie recipe awhile back. Since lemon flavor is Jason's favorite (the tarter the better!) I knew we had to give it a try.

Not only is it easy as pie (hee hee) but it's delicious to boot! It's tart and sweet with a nice crunch from the double crust. Yes, you even include the (thinly sliced) rind. You know those candied orange/lemon peels? That's exactly what it tastes like to me. I loved it, however, Jason didn't care for the texture in his pie. So, if you like candied peels include the whole thing; if not, I'd leave out the peel (but I'd also be really sad).

Rustic Lemon Pie
2 large lemons
2 cups (plus some for sprinkling) sugar
5 eggs, beaten well
2 9-inch pie crusts

Slice lemons paper thin, rind and all (make sure seeds are removed, too).

In a bowl, mix sugar in with lemons and let stand for 2 hours, stirring periodically.

After 2 hours, add beaten eggs to lemon and sugar mix.

Line a pie pan with one of the pie crusts. Add lemon, sugar and egg mix to the pie shell.

Top with the other pie crust and seal the crusts together. Make a few small slits in the top crust in order to allow steam to escape. Sprinkle sugar on top of pie crust.

Bake pie for 15 minutes on 450. Turn oven temperature down to 375 and bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until crust is nicely browned.

Allow pie to cool completely before slicing and serving.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Carrabba's Champagne Chicken

I saw the commercial for the new champagne chicken dish at Carrabba's and went "ooooh." However, we don't have a Carrabba's anywhere near us so I filed it in the back of my mind and went on.

Imagine my excitement when Plain Chicken posted the recipe!

This was a super easy weeknight meal that tasted much more complicated than it was. I made just a few changes, like pounding my chicken a little thinner so it would cook faster, which I included below.

As written, this really only makes enough for 2 good servings. I doubled it to make 4 servings. 

Carrabba's Champagne Chicken
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup flour
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup champagne (Dry)
2/3 cup heavy cream (or evaporated milk)
pinch Kosher Salt
pinch Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp tarragon
6 oz angel hair pasta, cooked and drained

Mix together the flour, salt, pepper, and grated Parmesan.

Pound your chicken a bit thinner and cut each piece in half. Dredge them thoroughly in the flour mixture, until well coated.

Heat olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet on medium high heat. Brown each piece of chicken until done, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Add the champagne and mushrooms to the pan. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits. Reduce the sauce by half. Whisk in cream, kosher salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes and tarragon. Heat until sauce thickens to a creamy consistency. Serve chicken and sauce over angel hair pasta.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Baked Monte Cristo Sandwiches

Oh my, do I love a good Monte Cristo sandwich! Since the closing of all of our Bennigans, I've yet to find a great replacement for them. In the meantime, this sandwich completely fills the void in my life - and at about a thousand fewer calories thanks to the absence of a deep fryer!

I came across this recipe via Pinterest, originally from Joy's Hope. It could not be easier and is a great weeknight meal. We both really loved them!

You can use any meat and cheese you like, of course, but I stuck with the classic ham and swiss combo with raspberry jam.


Baked Monte Cristo Sandwiches
1 can crescent rolls (1 can = 4 sandwiches)
Thinly sliced deli meat (I used ~2 slices per sandwich)
Cheese, sliced or shredded (I used 1.5 slices of swiss per sandwich)
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Raspberry jam, for dipping
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375.

Line your baking sheet with foil and spray liberally with cooking spray.

Unroll the crescent rolls, keeping the triangles together. Break them apart so that two triangles are making a rectangle (you will have 4 rectangles). Lightly press the seams together so the two triangles are well adhered together.

On half of the rectangle, layer your cheese and meat. Fold the other half over and press to seal the edges.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until golden brown.

Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar and jam on the side.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Veal Parmesan

Between meals out, church events, and leftovers, I probably make a list and grocery shop every 2 weeks on average. When I sit down to make the list (on the great free Droid app, "Out of Milk") I ask Jason if he's craving anything. 9 times out of 10 he says no... make whatever you want. But occasionally, I do get a request. This time, out of the blue, it was veal parmesan! I've never made it before so I immediately went online to find a recipe to try. I quickly came across Emeril's recipe which had rave reviews so I decided to use that as my base. Now, Emeril always adds a cajun flare to his meals - which we really weren't looking for - so I adapted it some to reflect a more traditional dish.

To say it was good would be an understandment. It was GREAT. I even screwed up the tomato sauce (missing the tomato puree) and it was still delicious. I think the bacon really sent this dish over the top. Pancetta was pricey at my store so I went with a few slices of thick applewood smoked bacon I already had.

For such a high quality meal, this actually doesn't take long to cook thanks to the quick cooking veal cutlets making it a wonderful end to a workday.

Feel free to sub chicken for the veal!

Veal Parmesan
8 thin veal cutlets, about 2 1/2 ounces each
Dried Italian seasoning
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 pound pancetta or 3 strips bacon, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 (28-ounce) can Italian-style tomatoes
1 cup tomato puree *what I forgot!
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley
1 teaspoon fresh oregano
8 ounces mozzarella, thinly sliced

Cover a work surface with plastic wrap. Space the cutlets evenly on the plastic, leaving a 3-inch space between each cutlet. Cover all the veal with another piece of plastic. Using a meat mallet, pound the cutlets to an 1/8-inch thickness. Lightly season the veal on both sides with salt and pepper.
Place the flour in a shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper (I also threw in some Italian dry seasonings). Place the breadcrumbs in another shallow bowl and season liberally with salt, pepper, and more Italian dry seasonings. Beat the eggs and milk together in a shallow bowl.
Dredge the flattened veal chops in the seasoned flour and shake off excess. Dip in the egg wash, and then coat both sides with the breadcrumbs. Heat the butter and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the veal until golden on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from the skillet and place on a plate.
Add the pancetta to the pan and fry in the remaining fat. Remove from the pan.
Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the onion and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the wine, and cook, stirring, to deglaze the pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the puree, the basil, parsley, and oregano. Bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and add the cooked pancetta. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
Arrange the cooked veal cutlets on top of the sauce, spooning sauce over each one. Top each cutlet with a sprinkling of Parmesan, then with a slice of mozzarella. Lower the heat to medium-low, and cook, covered, until the veal is tender and the cheese melts, 5 to 6 minutes.
Serve immediately.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I finally created a recipe index!

After spending hours over the weekend working on it (and wondering why I hadn't kept it up from the beginning!) I finally have a recipe index! I'm also combing through old entries, removing some that weren't complete winners, and cleaning some of the formatting up. It's still a work in progress but just about all the archived recipes are now listed there and are much easier to find!

It's already been a timesaver for me to easily find a recipe I was after and I hope it helps you come across something you'd like to try making soon!

Click here for the recipe index

Monday, January 16, 2012

Homemade Waffle Batter

Somehow, we've gone 9 years of marriage without a waffle iron. I guess we decided not to register for one when we married and it just hasn't been a priority. After countless meals out just to satisfy our waffle craving, I decided I really wanted one of our own. I added it to my Christmas wish list and came home Christmas Day with this fabulous belgium waffle maker.

We finally tried it out and I used this easy, delicious waffle batter found via Pinterest on A Zesty Bite. No need to buy a box mix when you can throw this together just as fast using pantry staples!

Homemade Waffle Batter
1 3/4 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup melted butter
2 tsp vanilla

In a large mixing bowl combine all wet ingredients together. Beat until well blended.

In another bowl add all dry ingredients and slowly start to add them to the wet ingredients

Mix all ingredients until everything is wet and well mixed (but don't overmix).

Cook in a waffle maker according to makers instructions.

*This made about 5 waffles worth of batter for us

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Maple-Mustard Glazed Chicken

This was another great recipe from the latest Cooking Light magazine. I loved that it used pantry staples, was done in one dish, and was super quick! This dish is tangy and sweet and really delicious (not to mention low cal). The only change I would make next time is double the sauce, as most of it simmers away and there isn't much left to drizzle. If you decide to make this, I would recommend doing that.

This is great for a busy weeknight meal!

Maple-Mustard Glazed Chicken
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon stone-ground mustard

Preheat oven to 400°.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Sprinkle chicken with pepper and salt. Add chicken to pan; sauté 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove chicken from pan.

Add broth, syrup, thyme, and garlic to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add vinegar and mustard; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Return chicken to pan, and spoon mustard mixture over chicken. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until the chicken is done.

Remove chicken from pan; let stand 5 minutes. Place pan over medium heat; cook mustard mixture 2 minutes or until liquid is syrupy, stirring frequently. Serve with chicken.

Amount per serving
Calories: 264
Fat: 4.4g
Saturated fat: 0.9g
Monounsaturated fat: 2.2g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.7g
Protein: 39.5g
Carbohydrate: 14.2g
Fiber: 0.2g
Cholesterol: 99mg
Iron: 1.6mg
Sodium: 337mg
Calcium: 38mg

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Oven Roasted Garlic Brussels Sprouts

I already like Brussels sprouts but this recipe sent that over the top. When any vegetable is roasted, it becomes extra delicious and this was no exception. Try them. Even if you aren't sure you like Brussels sprouts.

Note: I made 1 pound instead of 2 pounds and just adjusted the recipe - they won't need to bake as long if you're using less. Just keep an eye on them.

Oven Roasted Garlic Brussels Sprouts
2 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (quartered if large)
5 cloves garlic, minced fine or pressed through a garlic press
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Move oven rack to the upper third and preheat to 425 degrees.

In a 9x13 inch baking dish, toss together Brussels sprouts, garlic, water, oil, salt and pepper and spread out in a single layer.

Bake for 40-50 minutes until caramelized to taste, tossing once about 25 minutes into cooking time. Remove from oven and toss Brussels sprouts in the pan scraping up brown bits into the sprouts.

Recipe from The Cooking Photographer

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

{Skinny} Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce

For Christmas, I decided to make bread pudding to take to Jason's family gathering. I'd never made it before and while it turned out well, the lack of sauce made it a bit dull. I decided to try it again but make a sauce this time. And just like magic, the Cooking Light magazine I got in the mail that day had a recipe for bread pudding WITH sauce!

This is a skinny version, as traditional bread pudding (understandably) has a load of calories in it. This recipe makes 8 servings at around 300 calories each. It was easy to throw together and delicious hot from the oven with the warm sauce. We both loved it!

(Just a note, this does have a distinct bourbon flavor so keep that in mind if you're not a fan)

{Skinny} Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce
For the bread pudding:
5 cups (1/2-inch) cubed French bread (about 8 ounces)
1 cup evaporated fat-free milk
3/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs

For the sauce:
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons bourbon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 tablespoons half-and-half, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare bread pudding, arrange bread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 8 minutes or until lightly toasted.

Combine evaporated milk and next 7 ingredients (through eggs) in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Add bread cubes. Let stand 20 minutes, occasionally pressing on bread to soak up milk.

To prepare sauce, combine brown sugar, 3 tablespoons bourbon, and butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Simmer 2 minutes or until sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. Stir in 5 tablespoons half-and-half; simmer 10 minutes or until reduced to about 1 cup. Remove pan from heat. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon half-and-half, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Keep warm.

Spoon half of bread mixture into a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Drizzle 3 tablespoons sauce over bread mixture. Spoon remaining half of bread mixture over sauce. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm sauce with bread pudding.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Creamy {Baked} Chicken Taquitos

These taquitos have made their way across the cooking blog world over the past year or so. For whatever reason, I didn't get around to making them until recently and then wondered why I waited so long! They are delicious! I used the recipe posted at Annie's Eats.

The filling is super easy to throw together and can be tweaked to include anything your family likes. You could make them just with beans and cheese, or add other veggies like corn, peppers, and black beans. We liked them so much that we had them two nights in a row! You can always make up a batch and freeze them before baking to make for an easy weeknight meal later.

By the way, Jason recently scored us a smoker through his work incentive program which we've had fun playing with. We actually threw some boneless/skinless chicken breasts on the smoker one afternoon and I used that in this recipe and it was AMAZING. Creamy and smoky. Win-Win!

Creamy {Baked} Chicken Taquitos
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
¼ cup salsa
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. onion powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. chopped cilantro
1-2 green onions, chopped
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 cup shredded cheese (I used Monterey Jack)
10-12 6-inch flour tortillas
Cooking spray
Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 425˚ F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper, or spray lightly with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, salsa, lime juice, spices, cilantro, green onions, chicken and shredded cheese. Mix thoroughly until well combined.

Briefly heat the tortillas in the microwave to make them soft enough to roll easily, about 20-30 seconds. Place a tortilla on a work surface. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the filling mixture down the middle of the tortilla. Roll the tortilla up tightly around the filling. Place seam-side down on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling, spacing the assembled taquitos evenly on the baking sheet. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt.

(To freeze before baking, transfer the baking sheet to the freezer and chill the assembled taquitos 30-60 minutes. Transfer to a freezer-safe container or plastic bag. To bake from the freezer, simply add a few additional minutes to the original baking time, until the filling is warmed through.)

Bake 15-20 minutes, until crisp and golden brown. Serve with queso, sour cream, or salsa.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Zuppa Toscana (Olive Garden Knock-Off)

Truth be told, I can't remember the last time we dined at Olive Garden so I honestly had no idea they offer this soup... but it seems to be a favorite menu item for many. A friend of mine recommended this recipe from All Recipes - with her stamp of approval plus 800+ 5 star ratings, I knew we had to try it!

We both liked it a lot. It's hearty, warm, and very filling - plus easy to throw together! I'm not even a sausage fan and I loved it in this.

The original calls for spinach but I did what many suggested and switched it for kale. Spinach doesn't hold up well in the liquid but kale does. Plus it's a super healthy food!

Zuppa Toscana
1 pound bulk mild Italian sausage
1 1/4 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
5 (13.75 ounce) cans chicken broth (I used stock)
6 potato, thinly sliced
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 bunch fresh kale, tough stems removed

Cook the Italian sausage and red pepper flakes in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crumbly, browned, and no longer pink, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Cook the bacon in the same Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain, leaving a few tablespoons of drippings with the bacon in the bottom of the Dutch oven. Stir in the onions and garlic; cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Pour the chicken broth into the Dutch oven with the bacon and onion mixture; bring to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes, and boil until fork tender, about 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the heavy cream and the cooked sausage; heat through. Mix the kale into the soup just before serving.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Italian Nachos - Johnny Carino's Style

We rarely go out for Italian food (it's so easy to make at home!) but if we do, I advocate for Johnny Carino's just so I can order their nachos. They are so good! I was thrilled to find a knock off recipe online and try it at home.

These were spot on - especially the delicious cheese sauce over top - and super easy! Great for a weeknight meal. Of course, feel free to omit any ingredients your family doesn't eat.

Italian Nachos - Johnny Carino's Style
1 package wontons, cut on the diagonal to form triangles (as many chips as you anticipate wanting)
1 package ground sweet Italian sausage, browned and cooked through
2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cooked and thinly sliced (throw them on the grill!)
1 jar Pepperochini peppers
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup sliced olives

For the Cheese Sauce:
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups half-and-half
2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, or other good-quality Parmesan

In a heavy, medium saucepan melt the butter over low heat. Add the garlic and then the flour and stir to combine. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and whisk in the half-and-half little by little. Cook until thickened, about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat; add 2 cups of the grated Parmesan. Season with the salt, pepper and stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Cover and set aside. *If the sauce becomes a bit thicker than you might like, simply add some milk or more half & half.

Heat a heavy saucepan or deep fryer to medium. Cook the wontons until light brown. This only takes a few seconds per side. Set aside on paper towels to drain.

Top wontons with sausage, chicken, tomatoes, olives, peppers, and drizzle with warm cheese sauce.

Slightly adapted from Just Get Off Your Butt And Bake

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Dark Chocolate with Pistachios and Sea Salt

They say dark chocolate is good for you - in moderate doses, of course. And we all know pistachios are super healthy! So if you're starting 2012 with a goal of being more healthy, know this is one of the best sweet treats to have on hand. A little bit goes a long way, thanks to the super dark chocolate, and even a small piece is very satisfying.

I came across this treat on Pinterest (from this blog).

Dried cranberries or cherries would be great on this, too!

Dark Chocolate with Pistachios and Sea Salt
8oz of 70% dark chocolate, melted (I always use the microwave)
1/4 cup shelled pistachios, chopped
1/4 tsp sea salt
Optional toppings: dried cranberries or cherries

Line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper. Pour the melted chocolate over the paper and smooth with a spatula into an even layer.

Sprinkle pistachios, sea salt and any other optional toppings.

Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes or until completely set.

Peel off paper and break into pieces.

See Aimee Cook

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