Archive | October 2013

Breakfast Cookies

I’m always on the lookout for something different to fix for breakfast, so when I saw this simple recipe in the latest issue of “Every Day with Rachael Ray”, I thought I’d give it a try:

The ingredients I used:  2013_1026October20130008  That is butter flavor Crisco you see under the baking powder, and you’ll see that I used pecans instead of walnuts.  I always do.  I bought the flavor variety pack of instant oatmeal because none of us eats the cinnamon-spice flavor and I didn’t want to have half a box or more left sitting on the shelf, especially when I didn’t know if we’d like these cookies.  (What else would I do with them?)  The thing is, the recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of the cinnamon-spice oatmeal.  I discovered that one packet is about 1/2 cup.  Wouldn’t you know it, only two packets in the box.  I used a packet of the maple-brown sugar to make up the difference.   That should work, right?  Especially since there’s brown sugar in the recipe.

I have a really nice food processor, but a part is broken and I need to replace it.  In the meantime I’m using the food processor attachment for my blender.  I am not all that pleased with it, or the blender itself, for that matter.  The recipe tells me to pulse the ingredients until “sandy”.  The point at which I quit I had a mixture that looked like this:  2013_1026October20130012   I thought the cookies (well, one big cookie, essentially) looked a bit undone still after 12 minutes, so I let it bake another 3 minutes and here’s the result:  2013_1026October20130015  I’m not sure how they were supposed to actually look, but I think if I’d let them bake much longer they’d have gotten very dry and crumbly.  They were a bit crumbly as it was, but also rather heavy, “stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth” cookies.  I liked the taste, and I can honestly say that one cookie was plenty.  I had a late lunch and had no desire for snacks in between breakfast and lunch.  The picture in the magazine looks like there’s some sort of jelly or preserves on the cookie, but I had mine plain and served my husband’s with strawberries:  2013_1026October20130018  My children were not fond of these, but I’ll eat the remaining ones for a quick breakfast or snack.


Pan-Seared Chicken Breast with Rich Pan Sauce

I try to throw in some lighter recipes along with all the heavier, fattier fare that I so enjoy.  I subscribe to Cooking Light magazine to have one source of said lighter recipes, and this recipe in the latest issue sounded intriguing:

These were my ingredients:  2013_1026October20130002  Now those are some pretty hefty chicken breast halves there.  I know very well that it’s best to flatten your chicken breasts before cooking or you’ll wind up with one end tough and the other not quite cooked through, so that’s what I did.  They also cook more quickly when flattened.  So take a meat mallet (flat side) to your chicken breasts before tossing them in the skillet!  I then cut the flattened chicken breasts (with my kitchen shears) into 6 small pieces before cooking.  Usually I just cut the halves into half again, but these were awfully big and I wasn’t all that hungry.

My substitutions (cooking wine, dried parsley, chicken bouillon) turned out a nice tasting meal, and the sauce was good over rice too:  2013_1026October20130006

Texas Black Bean Soup

I tend to be drawn to recipes with words like Mexican, Southwest, and Texas in the title.  This one is an example of that phenomenon:

The evening I planned to have this for dinner, I pulled out these ingredients: 2013_1024October20130027  And then I read the recipe again and realized that (ooops!) this was supposed to be a slow cooker recipe!  (Obviously I had failed to consult my menu, where I write down estimated time for preparing dinner.  I usually check that every morning, but . . .)  What to do now?  Well, I have a similar recipe that uses the microwave, which I actually cook on the stove since I don’t have a working microwave.  Why not do the same with this one?  I tossed all of the ingredients into a pot on the stove and heated it, covered, to boiling.   Then I went to do something else, so it boiled about 10 minutes.  I returned and turned down the heat and let it simmer while I took the dogs out.  That took 20 minutes, at which point I decided the soup was done.  I spooned some into bowls, topped with sour cream, and served with tortilla chips:  2013_1024October20130030  Since I used just 2 T of chili powder and opted for plain diced tomatoes instead of the tomatoes with green chilies, this soup was flavorful, but not spicy (a good thing as far as my husband is concerned).  I’ll make this again one day, and I’ll make it on the stove again, on purpose next time!

Pepperoni Pizza Twists

Here’s another recipe from Taste of Home’s “Almost Homemade” cookbook:

I started with the first loaf of refrigerated French bread loaf by trying to follow the instructions given: 2013_1024October20130011  I found it a bit difficult to work with, since the loaf is rolled and wanted to separate into layers instead of stick together and flatten.  So I unrolled the next one instead of slicing and rolling out, even though I knew it would end up wider than called for:  2013_1024October20130013  I have one child who doesn’t think he likes pepperoni, so I made the loaves half pepperoni and half just cheese:  2013_1024October20130016  2013_1024October20130018  I also, as you can probably see, used more sauce than I was supposed to.  I then rolled those two loaves and “braided” them:  2013_1024October20130021  I sort of accidentally skipped the egg wash/top with cheese and seasoning step, but cheese on top is in danger of turning brown (which none of us like) and the Italian seasoning might “scare off” a couple of the kids.  My end result was this:  2013_1024October20130024  Yeah, it “exploded” a little.  Every filled bread I make does, whether I overstuff it, understuff it, vent it or not.  Every time.  This wasn’t as bad as usual, and there was plenty of filling left inside.  This is really just pizza that looks a little different from the usual, but when pizza is one of the very few foods that all 4 of my children will eat, I present it in different forms from time to time to prevent boredom (theirs and mine).  Three of my children were pleased, and Mr. Super Extremely Picky ate a little of his.  He wasn’t thrilled, but he didn’t flat out refuse to eat any, so that’s something.  If I were to make this for the entire family, I’d make sure to throw in some different fillings (think typical pizza toppings): mushrooms, onions, peppers, sausage, etc.  And who knows?  Maybe one day, just for fun, I’ll make a double batch of my usual homemade pizza crust and form it into some twists 🙂

Baked Pasta with Meatballs and Spinach

This recipe from the latest issue of Woman’s Day caught my eye:

I had a one pound package of ground beef and a one pound package of Italian sausage that I failed to separate before freezing, so when I pulled them out of the freezer and had no other use planned for them but this recipe, I decided to go ahead and double the meatballs.  After the meatballs were ready, I did save 4 of them for a meatball sub, but the rest of them went into the pasta dish, along with these ingredients:  2013_1024October20130005  I actually found mezzi rigatoni at my local grocery store!  I was pleasantly surprised 🙂   I bought the Silver Palate Marinara sauce awhile back when it was half price, and my husband said he really liked it, so that’s what I’ve been buying lately, even though it means spending a couple of extra bucks to get it.

I’m a little leery of putting a glass baking dish under the broiler and I don’t like my cheese to get browned, so I put mine in the oven at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes, and this was the result:  2013_1024October20130007  I didn’t find the extra meatballs to be too much (and the extras I saved made a fine sub for lunch one day, along with a little leftover sauce and some mozzarella cheese melted over top).    My husband had seconds of the pasta and the leftovers heated up nicely in the oven the next day.

Baked Jalapeno Poppers

Jalapeno poppers were requested at my house this week, and I’ve made a couple of varieties, but have yet to come across a “favorite”.  Thus, I sought out another:

I gathered together these ingredients:  2013_1020October20130003  The Bayou Blast doesn’t contain exactly the same ingredients as the Essence in the recipe, but I thought it was close enough.  I also have cayenne here, but it got cut out of the photo.  I only made half of this recipe, knowing the kids wouldn’t touch these.  Here are the “poppers in progress”:  2013_1020October20130006   And the finished product:  2013_1020October20130009  Notice I decided to use parchment paper instead of lightly greasing the baking sheet.  I just wanted easier clean-up 😉  My husband was telling me how incredibly hot these were as I was eating my first one, which tasted almost sweet to me.  But the second one?  Wow!  It really had a “bite” to it!  What I did was fail to remove all the membranes from the peppers.  I am pretty sure that’s where all that heat came from, because I used less seasoning than called for, knowing my husband’s aversion to very hot foods (and yet he asked for jalapeno poppers, go figure).

Grilled BBQ Salmon with Avocado & Corn Salsa

My husband says salmon isn’t his favorite fish, but it’s readily available and often one of the advertised fish & seafood sales at our local grocery store.  So I buy it and fix it for him anyway (though I sometimes substitute trout in salmon recipes).  I just try to find recipes that have flavors I’m pretty sure he’ll like, such as this one:

Since my husband was the only one going to eat the fish and he didn’t need leftovers for lunch the next day, I only prepared one fish fillet.  But I chose to go ahead and make the entire recipe of salsa to go with it.  Hey, I wanted to try that part of it too!

Here are my ingredients for the corn salsa: 2013_1019October20130017  Those parsley flakes are my standard substitute for cilantro, which we don’t like.  And the only reason I used seasoned black beans (which were rinsed before using anyway) is that the shelves were emptied of the store brand unseasoned black beans, and the store brand seasoned ones cost less than the name brand unseasoned ones.  Next time I’ll buy the unseasoned, as usual, provided they’re back on the shelves then.

I do not have a grill and refused to drag out my double-burner grill pan for one piece of fish, so I just cooked it in a small skillet on the stove:  2013_1019October20130021  My husband found the final result to be quite tasty, even if it was salmon:  2013_1019October20130023  I served it over Arroz Blanco, and I just had the rice with some salsa over top.  We had plenty of leftover salsa, which we finished up with tortilla chips.  Yum!