Monday, October 27

risotto-style chicken and rice

This is adapted from my Bride & Groom's First and Forever Cookbook. It's more or less a risotto, but the first time I made it, Taylor said he didn't like risotto. So we're not calling that anymore. To change it this time, I used more water, in mixture with the broth to make it less crazy-creamy, and we put our grilled fajita chicken meat in it. I also substituted the mushrooms it originally called for, for peas. . . as suggested by a recipe on the back of the brown rice box. For the wine, I used a cute little mini bottle of Pinot Grigio. The little bottles you buy in fours. I included the mushrooms in the recipe here, since I really liked it with the mushrooms. This I would say serves 2 or 3 as a main dish, more than that, sans-chicken, as a side. I think it is SOOO good, and is totally worth the patience required by constant stirring.
The Best Risotto Ever (with chicken)
1 -1/2 c. cooked chicken, chopped
1/4 c. chopped yellow onion
2 T. diced garlic
1 c. brown rice (I used quick rice)
2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1 c. water
3/4 c. dry white wine
1/2 c. chopped mushrooms
1/2 c. frozen peas
1 T. fresh thyme
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
1 T. butter
cracked pepper
Combine broth and water in small pot and bring to a simmer then keep warm.
Add olive oil to large pan and heat on medium. ( I used a sauce pan, that almost looks like a wok) Add onions and heat till translucent, about 2 min, add mushrooms and cook, about 8 min, add garlic and stir. Cook about 2 min. Add rice and stir til moistened, about 30 seconds, add wine and simmer, stirring until liquid is absorbed. Add heated broth 3/4 c. at a time, stirring until each addition is absorbed. On the last broth addition, add the peas. Should take about 20-30 min. Once all broth is added and rice is tender and creamy, add butter, cheese and thyme and pepper to taste. Combine with cooked chicken.
To make it more of a real risotto, do all broth, no water. But, I think that since I'm using quick rice, it cooks and then gets creamier faster. So you could even do half water and half broth. Also. The ladies who authored my cookbook claim, "the key is to keep stirring the whole time." I found that if I let each addition build to a simmer before stirring, it went faster and was still good. It sounds like more onerous than it is especially if you cut up and prep all the ingredients while waiting for the broth and water to start bubbling. Also, if you've cooked your chicken beforehand it's even easier. The recipe on the back of the rice called for chopping the chicken and cooking in the oil first. Perhaps that will be my next experiment. Anyway, I think this is SO good. It's like macaroni and cheese for adults. And that's the pic of Taylor's plate...

Sunday, October 26

the applesauce chaos

So herein lies the debate. I'm not really sure how I feel about overhealthifying a cookie. I mean at some point you need to just let yourself have a cookie. If we eat two dozen applesauce whole wheat cookies because we think they're healthy, we may as well should have enjoyed one very-bad-for-me shortening filled triple chocolate fudge delight. But, obviously, if you can make a great tasting healthy cookie it can't be a bad thing. It just means that you shouldn't eat more than you usually would, given the knowledge that it's healthy.

All that to say, I tried it with apple sauce and it was THE messiest experience. The dough was so moist that I got it all over my fingers and all in the sugar cinnamon mixture. What I ended up doing was dousing my left hand fingers in flour, spooning the dough into my left hand and rolling it around before throwing the floury goupy into the plate with the cinsugar mixture. Here's the aftermath:
Whole Wheat Snickerdoodles with applesauce
3/4 cup applesauce
2 T. butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Cream applesauce, butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla. Beat well. Add combined dry ingredients. Shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar cinnamon mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

I don't know why I didn't try to flatten a few with the bottom of a cup. Next time I will try that, but I think I will also go back to butter. I think I will do butter, all whole wheat flour (instead of including all-purpose) and maybe a little more sugar.

Taylor liked them! But I think he was just hungry.

Saturday, October 25


These were "too healthy" tasting for Taylor. My dad and grandparents raved about them. So. you win some, you lose some. I think I tried to make these first because I had a lot of whole wheat flour and wanted to find something I could make with it, besides Aunt Elaine's Pancakes

Whole Wheat Snickerdoodles
1 -1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 -1/4 c. all purpose flour
1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 c. butter
2 eggs
1 t. cream of tartar
1 t. baking soda
1 T. vanilla extract
1 T. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
1/4 c. white sugar
2 T. ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375. Cream sugar and butter until fluffy. Add eggs and beat well. Combine the remaining dry ingredients and gradually beat into creamy mix. Combine the white sugar and remaining cinnamon. Roll the dough in the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes.

This isn't the exact recipe I made and I may try this one tomorrow. The one I actually made was good, but could've been sweeter and I didn't have Cream of Tartar at the time. I'm going to try substituting the sugar for brown sugar, adding vanilla and lowering the temp. from 400 to 375. So, consider yourself disclaimered. I've seen a few comments on All about making them with apple sauce. I think that might actually help them spread out more -to avoid having to smash them like pb cookies before baking them -by adding more liquid to the dough, and may make them lighter feeling since the w.w. flour does have a heavier feel. Again, stay tuned. I may perform a smashing versus apple sauce experiement. Regardless, adding applesauce may not give me much to wager against tay's "too healthy" excuse. More for Dad and Grandpa, I guess.

shiner bock beer bread

I think it is Blue Baker in College Station that makes Shiner Bock Beer Bread. When we had our friends, Rex and Kylee, over to watch the Ags one football game day, we ended up with extra Shiner. So I set out to recreate Blue Baker's bread. I didn't have yeast, sorry not that much of a little baker. But I looked up the way to mix baking powder or soda with all-purpose flour to make self-rising flour, which is what the recipes I found called for. This was AWESOME when it came out of the oven because the outside was so crispy. It was still great once cooled and days later and I made a little butter, honey, cinnamon mix to spread on it.

Shiner Bock Beer Bread
3 c. all purpose flour
4 & 3/4 t. baking powder
1 & 3/4 t. salt
heaping 1/3 c. brown sugar
12 fl. oz. Shiner beer
1/4 c. butter, melted
Heat oven to 375. Lightly grease a 9x5 in baking dish. Mix dry ingredients very well. Add beer and mix just until moistened. Pour into baking dish and top with melted butter. Bake 45 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

The day after making this, I took it to Logan after he had surgery. He liked it -of course he did, it's bread. And Taylor liked it too even though he refused to eat more than a tiny bite when it was fresh and wonderful out of the oven, because he "wasn't hungry" (translation for skeptical of the new experiment....) Hallie liked it too! but maybe she was just being nice to me. I was proud of this because I felt like I was performing a chemistry experiment. I probably will never try it with self-rising flour because this worked and was yummy.

pesto whole wheat penne pasta

This is a vestige of my college days. I could eat this for every meal. Once tay and I discovered HEB's premarinated fajita chicken meat, it made an excellent addition to this dish. That fajita meat is great for us because we can grill it on our little indoor grill and then I can put the meat in a variety of dishes throughout the week to make it fit our 2 person portion size. Typically I can make this pasta, we have leftovers for the next day and we still have half the fajita meat for another dish. The fajita meat doesn't have a Mexican-y taste. It has a lot of flavor and is really tender. It has gone great with everything that I've put it in, and Taylor likes it, so, anything with it in it, he will eat.
Here goes.

Pesto Penne Pasta with Chicken
1-2 c. diced HEB premarinated, grilled, fajita chicken meat
8 oz. Whole Wheat Penne pasta
1/3 c. pesto
1/2 c. grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
2 T. olive oil
Cook pasta according to package directions (this is half the standard size box). Drain and return to pot. Add chicken. Pour in olive oil and pesto, mix well. Add cheese, mix well. The more pesto the better. I buy those little containers made by HEB. Without the chicken, it would be good sided for grilled chicken breasts. If I served it as a side, I'd probably add some little diced roma tomotes.

I don't think Tay is a huge fan of this but I really like it and he eats it because of his fajita chicken meat. I think I served this with some chopped cantelope and honeydew. Yum yum!

soouuuth'rn parmesan chicken

This little dish holds a near and dear place in my heart because, after the Ziti, it was the first married dish I made that Taylor RAVED about and said was his favorite. This one is Paula Dean inspired so get ready for butta.

Souuth'rn Parmesan Chicken
1 to 1.5 lb. chicken tenders (about 8)
2 cups parmesan cheese (I tried fresh grated last night and it was great!)
1 T. fresh thyme
1 t. garlic powder
1 T. cracked pepper
1 c. fine bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 c. flour
Season chicken with pepper and pound to even thickness. Combine bread crumbs, spices, herbs and cheese in shallow bowl. For each tender: coat in flour, dredge in beaten egg and coat with bread crumb mixture. Heat 2 T. butter in skillet on medium heat (4 on my stove :). Cook tenders, about 4 minutes on each side or until coating is dark and crispy. I served this with spaghetti last night. It makes a huge mess, but is pretty quick, very easy and nice and crispy goodness. I've seen recipes calling for cooking this in EVOO but the butter has the best result. Also, I use tenders because they are thin enough too cook through while the coating is getting crispy. When done with breasts, at least in my amature cooking experience, you have to cover the skillet and actually "cook" them and then the coating gets mushy.

This is one of our favorite dishes but sorry, no pic yet.

fall roasted vegetables

I grabbed a Cooking Light at the grocery store this week and was inspired to make some fallish looking vegetable dish. Sweet tay tay had already picked up a sweet potato (grocery store translation for the man looking at the signs: yam) and I had a zucchini and squash ready in the veggie drawer of the refrige in order to force myself to branch out on our vegetable sides. Salad can get old even with avocados and seasoning salt (which is another recipe that needs blog time at some point) when you're eating it four times a week. Buy something that will go bad to force yourself to find something to do with it, great strategy. Anyway, Cooking Light helped and inspired me. On the way home I grabbed some little fresh thyme and sage boxes from Randall's showy little organic veggie section -of which it is too proud. $1.99 for some fresh herbs was not a bad deal and I was able to use some for both the Pesto Stuffed Chicken and my Parmesan chicken I made last night for Lauren and Rich.

Here's what I came up with:
Fall Roasted Veggies
one large yam, cut in 1 inch pieces (goal: bite sized)
one large russet potato, cut the same
1 cup baby carrots
1 zucchini, sliced width wise
1 yellow squash, sliced the same
2 T. chopped thyme
1 T. chopped sage
cracked pepper
1 T. kosher salt
olive oil
Place an oven rack on the top and the other in the middle. Cover a cookie sheet in foil. Preheat oven to 450. To a large bowl add the potatoes and carrots. Pour about 4 T. olive oil over them and add half the thyme and sage along with half the salt and around 1 T. cracked pepper. Mix. To a smaller bowl add the squash and zucchini and mix with olive oil and the remaining spices. Lay potato mixture out evenly on the pan and bake for 20 minutes. Pull it out and add the zucchini mix and cook for 20 min more. Take the pan out and set the oven to High Broil. Broil for 2-3 minutes. Allow to cool before removing or potatoes will stick to the foil.

I actually folded the foil up over the mix and allowed them to cool in a little foil pocket. I think the moisture helped the potatoes come off the foil and still keep their crispy skins that would've stayed on the foil had I removed them another way. I dumped the foil pocket into a serving dish when I was ready to serve them. Served with more cracked pepper on top and a few dashes of seasoning salt.
Forgive the blurry pic.

Taylor said, "Well done Babe. It's good because the vegetables don't taste like vegetables." Well, a win is a win.

aunt elaine's hearty pancakes

My great aunt gave me this recipe and we love it! I eat pancakes with peanut butter and so this is like breakfast and lunch..all in one!

Aunt Elaine's Hearty Pancakes
1 1/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour
3/4 cup corn meal
2 T. Wheat Germ
1 T. Baking Power
1 1/2 cup Milk
1 egg, beaten
1/4 c. evoo
Heat griddle to medium high heat. Mix dry ingredients and moist ingredients separately. Once mixed, combine. Add water or more milk until desired thickness. Pour onto griddle and flip when bubbles appear on the sides and in the middle.

Lauren and Richard came to visit and enjoyed these with us for breakfast! Or at least they told me they were enjoying them! Taylor eats them with jelly.

Friday, October 24

epic pesto feta stuffed chicken

I have to pat myself on the back for this one because Taylor and I both agreed that it turned out well. All the recipes I found, mostly on Epicurious which, by the way, I think is the most brilliant name EVER. Epicurean meaning gourmet, full, yummy, delish...but epicurious to me seems to be derived from epi- mean like always, maybe, am I making this up...some latin root? and then curious! like, always curious... how to make more good food! I mean, maybe I'm pulling this out of nowhere but surely their marketing people had these punnesque intentions.
Anyway back to the pesto. Here's what I did.

Pesto Feta Stuffed Chicken
6 Chicken breast halves, with an incision cut for stuffing
4-6oz or one tub crumbled feta cheese
3 generous T.s of pesto
1/2 c. diced cherry tomatoes
2 T. fresh thyme
Preheat oven to 400 and line baking dish with foil. Season the breasts with kosher salt and ground pepper and tenderize until even in thickness. Mix together pesto, thyme and feta in microwave-safe bowl and heat about a minute. Stir in tomatoes. Set aside. Heat oil in skillet on medium high heat. Cook each side of each breast about a minute, or until white and slightly browned. Place in baking dish. Stuff each breast with the pesto mixture and use toothpicks to keep them together if needed. Pile a bit of the mixture on top of each breast-half as well.

Bake for around 15 minutes.

This was SO good with my roasted veggies and I was proud of myself for making something that was not only good, but healthy. Thus far I've been doing well making great tasting, not-so-healthy things....

ooey gooey cream cheese appetizer

So I made this with my friend, Erin, and we used brie. I figured it would still be good (and significantly cheaper) if I attempted it with cream cheese to take to my Women's Wine and Cheese night at church. In all honesty, I think my excitement about making this was my real reason for going. I think I would ball up the cream cheese next time and not use so much of the crescent roll pack just because the edges, where it was all bunched up, cooled to be really crispy and not as easy to serve and spread. So probably just enough dough to cover it all and then a little pinching on the top.

Cream Cheese Chipotle Appetizer
8 oz Crescent roll pack
8 oz Cream cheese
1 beaten egg
wheat thins
Chipotle Raspberry Salad Dressing/Marinade
Preheat oven to 350. lay the dough out flat and enclose the cream cheese brick in it by folding up the sides and pinching together. Brush with the egg and bake for 15-18 min. Cover in the dressing once cooled and ready to serve. Serve with wheat thins or similar.

Central Market makes a great marinade that's about half the price of some kind of popular Chipotle Raspberry Dressing. I thought using CM's marinade was great! Also, I baked this on my great little Wilton Armetale oval platter that is pretty and oven safe. Brilliant invention. It wasn't hard to scoop off using a spatula though, so it can be served pretty if you don't have WA lying around.

easypeasy chicken enchiladas

Oh man, Taylor loved these. I put together a bunch of recipes from All and it seemed like the good reviews coincided with the ones that were more casserole-y involving Cream of Chicken soup. So I didnt resist. Here's what I came up with and Taylor loved it.

Chicken Enchiladas
1/2 c. onion chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced, or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder.
1 tsp cumin
1 1/2 cup cooked chicken, cubed or shredded
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can green enchilada sauce
1 cup grated cheese. (I recommend monterrey jack and sharp cheddar)
6 flour tortillas, warmed so they're soft.
Oven to 350. Lightly grease large baking dish. Heat oil in skillet on medium and saute onions about 4 min. Add soup and combine. Transfer 3/4 mixture from pan into small bowl and stir in the enchilada sauce. Set aside.

To the remainder in the pan, add chicken, cumin, garlic. Mix well. Lower heat and add half the cheese and stir to melt.

Pour enough of the set aside sauce mixture into the baking dish to cover the bottom. Fill each tortilla with the chicken mix from the skillet. Line filled tortillas in baking dish. Pour the rest of the sauce over the top and top with remaining cheese. I put about 5 green chili peppers on top. Bake for 30 min or until cheese is bubbly.

That's that! next time I may try more things in there, like peppers or spinach or a more interesting cheese like goat or feta, and perhaps corn tortillas.

{image belongs to vivamex}

Thursday, October 23

the evoo experiment

So my precocious husband has a very scholarly political blog. I'm living up to the family name by embarking upon an equally respectable undertaking. Food. I know, so intellectual. Our blogs balance each other. Honey, start breathing and have a cookie.

All that to preface myself. Last week I decided I wanted to make a chocolate chip peanut butter cookie. Through this process I learned why people put that Hershey's kiss in the middle of peanut butter cookies to make them chocolate, because the dough is so darn crumbly. Because I had no butter but would not be thwarted in my baking desire, I decided to use olive oil. I looked up the conversions, thank you google, and was on my way.

M&M Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies
1/2 cup butter (1/4 c and 2 T. EVOO)
6 tablespoons brown sugar
6 tablespoons white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used regular sized and some M&Ms:)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Cream butter or margarine with brown sugar and white sugar. Add egg and vanilla. Mix well. Stir in peanut butter, baking soda, and salt. Make sure it is well blended. Add flour and chocolate chips. Drop teaspoons of cookie dough then flatten with fork slightly on greased cookie sheet. Bake for 5-6 minutes or until just showing a hint of brown on edges. Don't overcook. Let cool on cookie sheet for 5 -10 minutes. Then transfer to cooling rack.

I really think that because I used evoo instead of butter that they were more moist and the chocolate and m&ms actually stayed in there! I know butter creates that browned, crispiness but I don't think that's necessarily essential for pb cookies. I used natural pb as well. SO! I had some good moist little cookies with chocolate chips and m&ms. Perfect!

UPDATE: If you opt for butter, double the baking soda and increase the time to 7 minutes.

foodie quotes

"I don't want to live in a world where I have to eat sugar-free sugar cookies."

"Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing."

"I've been on a diet for two weeks and all I've lost is two weeks."

Welcome to my blog! I'm making an epic effort to catalogue my cooking endeavors.