Sunday, June 27, 2010

Zucchini Potato Scramble

I am in the middle of a love affair with zucchini. Yummy little green squash that it is, it is so good in so many different dishes. When Nick talked about making crepes, I wanted something substantial to go along with them, so I decided to make a scramble. This one was SO good and, although there were a few more steps than just dumping it all in a skillet, it was worth the work. Who would have thought that a little bit of sauteed zucchini would make all the difference?

Zucchini Potato Scramble

1 medium sized zucchini
5-6 red potatoes
8 eggs
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
salt and pepper
Dash of cayenne
Oregano to taste

First, cut up potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Try to make the size uniform so the potatoes cook evenly. Boil in salted water until a fork inserted in a piece goes in easily, about 15 minutes. Drain and transfer to a skillet over medium-high heat with about a tablespoon of melted butter. (I didn't do this and it would have made all the difference in the texture of the finished potatoes, so make sure you do it!) Season with salt, pepper, cayenne, and oregano. Let the potatoes sear on all sides and then place them back in the saucepan you boiled them in and cover to keep warm. While the potatoes are cooking, cut up zucchini into medallions.

Melt another tablespoon of butter in the skillet you did the potatoes in. Saute zucchini on both sides until a little brown. Make sure to season with salt and pepper.

Add potatoes back into the skillet and lower the heat to medium. Cook and stir for about 3 minutes.

Beat 8 eggs with a splash of water. Add in cheese. Pour mixture in with the zucchini and potatoes. Stir.

Cook for 5 minutes or until eggs are done. Serve hot and enjoy!

Baked Zucchini Fries

Whenever we go to Mama Stortini's in Sumner, I always get the zucchini fries for an appetizer. I love the crisp, fried breadcrumb coating and the fresh, not oily taste of the thick-cut zucchini inside. So delicious. I wanted to make them, but needed the fries to be healthier, so I opted to bake them. Although the zucchini tasted good, the coating didn't stick well and wasn't very crunchy. Next time I will probably toast the panko breadcrumbs and refrigerate the coated fries before baking in the hope that the coating will stick better. Overall, the flavors were good, but the execution needed work.

Baked Zucchini Fries

1 large or 2 medium-small zucchini
2 egg whites
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup panko
1/2 cup grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the zucchini into fry-sized pieces about 3 inches long. You do not need to peel the zucchini. Beat the egg whites with a splash of water. In a separate dish, mix panko and parmesan. Dust the zucchini in flour and dip in egg white. Then coat the fries in the panko and parmesan mixture. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet (don't crowd) and bake 10 minutes. Carefully flip the fries and bake an additional 10 minutes or until crispy and lightly browned. Sprinkle the hot fries with additional parmesan and serve hot. These are good with the garlic feta spread too!

Garlic Feta Spread

Well, it's happened. All the time I've been spending in the kitchen has rubbed off on my husband. He's been loving the results of my new obsession with cooking and has decided to try the cooking thing himself. This from the man who once asked me what boiling water looked like. The other day I gave him a cookbook and told him to choose a recipe and make it. I had faith. He picked this spread, and although no real cooking was involved, he did use (and not break!) my food processor. He was so proud and the spread was really good! Great job Nick!

Garlic Feta Spread
*From The Taste of Home Cookbook

4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese
1/3 cup fat-free mayonnaise
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1/8 teaspoon dill weed
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
Veggies, crackers, and bread for dipping

In a food processor, combine the first seven ingredients; cover and process until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in feta cheese. Serve with veggies, crackers, and bread. We made zucchini fries to go with it, which was delicious. Double the recipe and take it to a party. I bet it will be a big hit!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Baked Parmesan Garlic Chicken Strips

Nick loves chicken wings. Buffalo especially and the boy needs a drop cloth every time he eats them. I would like them more, but they are so unhealthy, so I'm always trying to find ways to make wings in a better-for-you way. When I saw this recipe on Steamy Kitchen, I knew I wanted to try it, but I didn't have any wings. Enter the wonderful thing that is the chicken tenderloin. A piece of white meat chicken, cut in a strip that is healthy and delicious. So I used these instead of wings. And they were delicious! Very herb-y and flavorful. Even Nick's brother, who only eats pizza and burgers, loved them! Score!

Baked Parmesan Garlic Chicken Strips
*Adapted from Steamy Kitchen

1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Crushed black pepper
8 chicken tenderloins
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil (make sure you use fresh!)
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt (like Lawry's)
For the dip:
1 cup blue cheese dressing
1-2 teaspoons dijon mustard
(We skipped the dip.)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl, combine oregano, rosemary, cumin, salt, and pepper.

Lay the chicken in a baking dish and season with the mixture.

Bake the chicken for 20-25 minutes. While the chicken is baking, mix together the oil, fresh basil, garlic, parmesan, and seasoning salt.

It should look something like this:

In a separate bowl, mix together the blue cheese and dijon mustard as your dipping sauce. When the chicken is cooked through, toss in the garlic, cheese, oil sauce.

We served this with reworked mac and cheese. Use the boxed stuff, but add about a 1/4 cup more milk and a handful or two of extra cheese. Top with breadcrumbs and toast under the broiler. Easy and semi-homemade!

Banana Cream Pie for Father's Day

When I asked my dad what he wanted for Father's Day, his response was: Banana cream pie. I've never made a pie from scratch before, but my dad was worth the effort. And it was an effort. For starters, our Pillsbury dough didn't make it through the baking process. I didn't push it high enough up the side of the pie plate and it slid down while baking. Round 2: send husband to the store for a pre-made crust. Unfortunately, I forgot to specify that I needed a deep dish crust. The crumb crust he brought home=no good. Thankfully, I remembered that I had a pre-made deep dish pie crust in my freezer, so I thawed that out and shoved it in the oven to cook. All of this occurred about an hour before we had to leave to go my parents' for their Father's Day celebration. Despite the fiasco, this was a delicious pie. My dad loved it and my Papa scarfed down a huge piece too. This one is definitely in my permanent file!

Banana Cream Pie

1 9-inch deep dish pie shell, baked
3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon banana extract
3 bananas plus one for decorating
Whipped cream

In a large saucepan, scald the milk. To scald milk means to bring it to almost boiling. But don't let it boil!

In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually stir in into the scalded milk. Over medium heat, stirring constantly, cook until thickened. You'll know it's done when you lift the spoon and a thick coating remains. It will be the consistency of custard. Cover, and stirring occasionally, cook for two minutes longer. In a small bowl, have the 3 slightly beaten egg yolks ready. Stir a small amount of the hot mixture into the beaten yolks to temper. When thoroughly combined, stir the yolks into the hot mixture. Cook one minute longer, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and blend in butter and banana extract. Let the mixture sit until lukewarm.

When you're ready to pour, slice three bananas and scatter in the cooked pie shell. Pour the warm mixture over the bananas. Refrigerate until cool.

Top with whipped cream and sliced bananas before serving. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Honey Dijon Chicken with a Toasted Almond Crust

This recipe started out with toasted almonds, which I did not have. So I toasted my own. It was easy and made the house smell amazing! After cooling, I put the almonds through the food processor and now have leftover toasted almond pieces that I am so excited to use in some new recipes. This one in particular from Tasty Kitchen was so delicious. From honey, dijon mustard, toasted almonds, and parmesan cheese, you have so many flavors smacking you in your taste buds that your head may spin a little bit. Now, for those who don't like dijon mustard, I don't either. The flavor of the dijon is underlying and wonderful, so use it. And try this recipe. Now. Go!

Honey Dijon Chicken with a Toasted Almond Crust
*Adapted from Tasty Kitchen

8 chicken tenders (or 3-4 chicken breast cut in strips)
1/2 cup dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 cups panko
1 cup roasted almonds, finely chopped-recipe to follow
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil to coat pan and drizzle on chicken

To roast almonds: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread almonds on a baking sheet lined with foil.

Drizzle a little bit of olive oil on almonds. I would guess I used about a tablespoon. A little goes a long way.

Bake for 10 minutes. When the almonds are done, remove from pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels to allow excess oil to drain. Let the almonds cool and then process or store for whatever purpose.

Meanwhile, combine dijon mustard and honey in a bowl. Add in chicken and marinate in the fridge for 1/2 hour or more.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and place a baking dish or sheet in the oven to warm. In a shallow bowl, combine the finely chopped almonds, panko, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Remove chicken from honey dijon mixture one at a time and dredge in the almond mixture.

Place these on a plate as you complete them and place in the fridge for about 10 minutes. This allows the chicken time to "dry out," which will make the coating crispier.

Once the chicken is ready to come out of the fridge, remove the pan from the preheated oven. Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of the warmed dish.

Place chicken in the dish and drizzle with a little more olive oil. I also pressed on some extra almond coating at this point.

Cook for 10 minutes and flip then cook 10 minutes longer. This goes great with pasta in a garlic cream sauce!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Pasta in a Garlic Cream Sauce

I love garlic. Okay, now that that is out of the way, I have a story for you. My dad worked in an Italian restaurant way back in the day when he was still a young, think teenage, pain in the rear. (Now he's just an older pain in the rear, by the way.) He made garlic bread and lots of it. He would come home reeking of garlic from his hair, clothes, and skin. This gave my dad a huge aversion to garlic. We never had it in our house. A little garlic powder here and there, but no cloves of garlic, no happy minced garlic gracing our lasagna, no roasted garlic in our mashed potatoes. A travesty, I tell you! But I love garlic. And now that I'm out of my parents' house, I use the magical garlic bulb liberally in many recipes. And this one is no exception. Loved it. Reheated well and with a couple minor tweaks, I think it could actually achieve a depth of flavor beyond the wonderful garlicky-ness. For next time: a little lemon juice and some fresh basil chopped and sprinkled on top would be the clencher.

Pasta in a Garlic Cream Sauce

1 pound pasta, any shape
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups shredded parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
3 to 4 cloves of garlic, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4-1/2 teaspoon pepper (we like ours a little peppery)
1 1/2 cups half and half
Milk for thinning, if necessary

Cook the pasta according to package directions to al dente. Combine parmesan cheese and flour in a bowl and set aside. Meanwhile, melt butter and olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Once it's all melted, add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add salt and pepper and stir. Then add half and half and cheese. Stir constantly until the sauce simmers and begins to thicken. Do not boil.

Add in milk if necessary to thin the sauce if it becomes too thick and continue stirring. That's my husband helping me out!

Pour sauce over cooked pasta and serve. A 1/4 of chopped basil would make a nice accompaniment for the top of the pasta and a splash of lemon juice will brighten up the flavors. This was great served with honey dijon chicken with a roasted almond crust.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Saucepan Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

I have no idea where or when I found this recipe. It's been in my cookbook for a while, begging me to give it a try. I happen to love oatmeal cookies. What I don't love is the nastiness people tend to put in them. Yes, my friends, I'm talking about raisins. Yuck! I hate raisins and they will not muck up my oatmeal cookies ever! The nicest thing about this recipe was that it did not require me to haul out my stand mixer (a beautiful Kitchenaid that we got as a wedding present, and of which I am completely terrified). This was all done on the stove, a mixing bowl, and the oven. Easy, right? Yep. As long as you don't make the mistake of using too much dough for the individual cookies . . . a picture of that fiasco later in the post!

Saucepan Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
*Makes 48 cookies

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 cups oats
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 well-beaten eggs
1 cup chocolate chips

Grease a cookie sheet and set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium saucepan combine butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Cook and stir over medium heat until melted. Remove from heat.

In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add in butter and sugar mixture and stir to combine. Add eggs and mix well.

Stir in chocolate chips. The mixture will be warm and the chips will begin to melt as you stir them in.

Drop batter by rounded teaspoons 3 inches apart on the cookie sheet, stirring the batter often.

Here's what happens when you make the cookies too big and too close together. It was one giant cookie. I'm going to crumble it up and use it as an ice cream topping.

Bake cookies 6-7 minutes or until the edges are firm. Cool on the cookie sheet for 1 minute then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Egg in a Hole, Revamped

I saw this recipe on The Novice Chef's blog and had to try it. This was very good and a fun, different way to eat eggs. The only changes I would definitely make are in the flavors. Asiago cheese and balsamic vinegar are so strong that they overpower everything else. Next time I might try parmesan or a medium cheddar cheese and I'd leave off the balsamic or use a much smaller amount. Nick and I both liked this one and will absolutely make it again, with our adjustments.

Egg in a Hole, Revamped
*From The Novice Chef

1 large bell pepper, seeded and sliced into 1/2 inch rings
4-5 eggs (one per pepper ring)
Asiago cheese
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add in bell pepper rings and cook for 30 seconds on each side to soften a little. Crack an egg in the center of each ring. Season with salt, pepper, and a dash of cayenne. Cook the eggs for about 3 minutes on the first side, until the white of the egg is mostly cooked.

Carefully flip the rings and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes on the other side. Remove from the pan and top with asiago cheese and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. You could also try parmesan or a medium cheddar cheese and omit the balsamic.

Baked Turkey Spaghetti

I hate it when I forget to set out any protein for Nick's lunch/dinner. Yesterday I had a doctor's appointment (we got the go-ahead to start trying for a baby when we get back from Europe in October!) and was just not on top of things. But Nick needed to eat, so out came a tried and true, semi-homemade recipe we use often: turkey spaghetti. This one is nothing special, except that I use a couple of tricks to make the sauce taste a little more homemade. The nice thing is that this can be adjusted to anyone's taste.

Baked Turkey Spaghetti

1 pound penne pasta (or any other kind of pasta)
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 pound ground turkey
Onion powder
Pinch sugar
Kosher salt
Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to package directions in a pot of salted water to just under al dente. Meanwhile, cook the ground turkey in a skillet. Add in garlic, onion powder, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper to taste. My rule with ground turkey is to season until you're sure you've over-seasoned. Turkey is very bland and needs that help! While pasta and turkey are cooking, pour sauce in a blender. Add garlic cloves, onion powder, sugar, basil, and oregano and blend until smooth. Add in about 1/2 cup of water to the sauce and blend again. Pour sauce and turkey (drained of fat) into the pan with the pasta. Stir and then transfer to a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Top with parmesan cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil and cook at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and cook 15 minutes longer. To crisp up the cheese, place under the broiler for a minute or two. Enjoy!