Tuesday, March 8, 2011

We *have* been eating around here...

...contrary to what this blog would indicate.

We have just been busy and I've had no time for blogging about culinary delicacies! So, I'm going to cheat a little. For archival's sake, and so that after I have this baby I will be able to remember some of the delicious recipes we've had recently, I'm going to just make a list and rate them with stars without a lot of fanfare or pictures. There are a few that I REALLY want to remember!

I've been having a love affair with melskitchencafe.com. Many of the dishes come from that website recently - especially since I've been doubling and then freezing a lot of dishes in preparation for the baby's arrival and she has a lot of great freezer-friendly meals.

Mel's Kitchen Cafe Recipes:
I do have to say, most of her recipes are just wonderful. I don't like as much meat in my recipes as she typically calls for, so I find that I usually 1/2 the meat and that works for us.
Ultimate Beef Stroganoff: Fantastic slow cooker stroganoff. Easy. Freezer Friendly. Doesn't call for a packet of seasoning. 4 stars.
Creamy White Chili: This. Is. Amazing. Really, words don't do it justice. I think I've made it 3 times since we first had it - that never happens in our house. You don't have to use cream - milk works fine. I also like it a little thicker, I never use the full amount of liquid, and I take the lid off for the last 30 minutes or so. 5 stars.
Chicken Pot Pie Crumble: This was good. Not unbelievable, but very good. The main reason I'm writing about it is because in our entire marriage, I have never made pot pie. That may not sound like that big of a deal. But it is. Because it's my husband's FAVORITE meal. Poor man has to order it whenever we go out because I hate the stuff and won't stand to slave away in the kitchen over a meal I find so repulsive. However, we have officially found common ground with this dish and I'm thrilled about that. I can eat it for one meal, and he can eat it for days on end as leftovers and that is something to blog about. 3 stars (from me), 4 stars (from him)
Chicken and Corn Chowder with Sweet Potatoes: This was awesome. Pure awesomeness. My kids loved it. I loved it. My husband raved and raved about this. We'll make it over and over. 5 stars.
Chicken Cordon Bleu Bread Bowls: I followed everything about this recipe to the "t". Except that all the stuff she wants you to put on top at the end - I just threw it all in the soup at once. I have to say - I think the apple juice is crucial. And these were a LOT of work. But, this recipe was exceptional, and the bread bowls were delicious and turned out beautifully, even though they were my first attempt at such things. I would make this again for an event or company - but probably not for dinner. 5 stars.

Now, for a fan-friggin' tastic recipe from Smitten.com:
Mushroom and Farro Soup: I honestly couldn't stop eating this. I ate until my stomach hurt, and then I ate some more. And then I ate it for leftovers for days. I love farro, although you could easily substitute barley. This soup was SO easy and SO deliciously perfect. I used beef broth because that's what I had from another recipe on hand, but vegetable broth would be good, too. I wanted mine thick, so I adjusted the recipe accordingly. She mentions how she considered putting cream in it and then thought again. I have to agree - this soup doesn't need it. 5 stars.

And of course, an Ina Garten Recipe:
Mustard-Roasted Fish: We eat fish about once a week in this house. I was looking for a new recipe that would be a little different than the usual and this recipe was perfect. Easy, pretty healthy. I used sour cream mixed with a little milk instead of creme freche. This recipe was easy and so yummy. My husband and I couldn't stop picking at it long after we were done with the meal. It's slightly sour flavor is perfectly balanced by the fish. A beautiful dish that also helped me get rid of those last few pesky capers sitting in my fridge. 5 stars.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Macaroni and Cheese I Never Thought I'd Have

Ok, I may be having a small love-affair with Mel's Kitchen Cafe. This dish was so perfect, I can't even begin to describe it. Homemade mac and cheese struggles, in my opinion. I do have a couple of recipes that I really like, they're complex to make and taste yummy, but they're not that oozy, goozy goodness kind of mac 'n' cheese that I get a hankering for. They're more like a casserole. Oh, I realize you can achieve that oozy goozy flavor if you are willing to throw in a bunch of processed foods, but I'm not. So, I just figured my days of creamy mac 'n' cheese goodness had come to an end.

I was wrong.
Very, very wrong.
Mel's Kitchen Cafe introduced me to this:
It's easy.
Really easy.
Really creamy.
It doesn't call for creepy things like Velveeta.
Although it did call for evaporated milk, but I'm ok with that every now and again.

It. Was. Unbelievable. And we will be eating it again and again and again in this house. Please, try it next time you have a craving for the best Macaroni and Cheese you've ever had. Without the use of hyper-processed foods.

Oh, and I skipped the hot sauce because I didn't have any, but I bet it would be tasty. I also used various cheeses I had on hand, and increased the sauce just a little, because I love me some creammmy mac 'n' cheese!

5 stars.

Recipe here or below:

Skillet Macaroni and Cheese

from My Kitchen Cafe (www.melskitchencafe.com)

3 1/2 cups water, plus extra if needed

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk

12 ounces (about 3 cups) elbow macaroni

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon hot sauce

6 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)

6 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)

2 tablespoons butter, cut into small chunks

Ground black pepper to taste

Bring 3 1/2 cups water, 1 cup of the evaporated milk, the macaroni, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a simmer in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat. Cook at a vigorous simmer, stirring often, until the macaroni is tender and the liquid has thickened, 9 to 12 minutes.

Whisk the remaining 1/2 cup evaporated milk, the cornstarch, mustard and hot sauce together in a small bowl, then stir into the skillet. Continue to simmer slightly thickened, about 1 minute.

Off the heat, stir in the cheddar and Monterey Jack, one handful at a time, adding water as needed to adjust the consistency of the sauce (I didn’t need any additional water when I made it). Stir in the butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Thai Chicken Pizza

Little Buddy had to sneak a bite while I was taking the picture, he just couldn't wait!

I had this pizza at a church function and HAD to have the recipe. The bean sprouts, the cucumbers, the peanut butter, the sweet and sour sauce!! It was such a fun dish, given that it combined so many pieces of different cuisines.
I assumed the crust was some sort of store-bought bread because it was so thick, but when my friend sent me the recipe, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was homemade! That also made it so I could make most of the bread with a white wheat flour instead of regular floud. I made the crust as directed - with the italian herbs and everything. The crust is quite thick, which suits this dish, so I'm glad I didn't use my normal pizza crust recipe.
After making it, my husband and I decided it will be something I need to make again in the future. SO many fun flavors - I am a sucker for anything that has a peanut flavor mixed with crunchy vegetables. My kids loved it in pieces - they'd pick off the cucumbers, then have a piece of chicken, and then they would scrape everything off and eat the crust. Doesn't bother me at all, they still got their food groups in!

This could also be an ideal dish to bring for a party or shower. You can cut it up nice and bite-sized.
There are a few steps I did that made this recipe faster:
1) I made the dough in the morning and then after the first proof, I wrapped it in saran wrap (with extra saran wrap on the top so it wouldn't pour out of it as it rose slowly in the fridge) and popped it in the fridge. Then I just rolled it out and popped it in the oven as directed when I was ready to cook it. 2) I also did all the chopping in the morning, so the evening was just making the sauce and assembling it. 3) In addition, I knew I was making this, so the night before, when we had chicken, I just cooked it up then so the next day the chicken was ready to go.

Lastly, I was shocked to find that the next day this was delicious - even heated in the microwave for 30 seconds or so per piece! My husband actually thought it was better. This recipe was so refreshing, different, and yummy, it is definitely a keeper.

5 stars!

Thai Chicken Pizza:


1 package active dry yeast

1 teaspoon white sugar

1 cup warm water

2 ½ cups Flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

Garlic powder, Italian seasoning, basil, oregano

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a medium bowl, dissolve the yeast & sugar into warm water.

Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

Stir in flour, salt, and oil. Also add your garlic powder, Italian seasoning, basil, & oregano.

Mix with fork and hands until smooth. Let rest for 5 minutes.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface, and pat or roll into a round or square)

Transfer crust to a lightly greased pizza pan, cookie sheet, or baker’s peel

Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove.


In a small saucepan on low heat stir together just until combined

4T peanut butter

4 T soy sauce

2 cloves minced garlic

1 t ginger

4 T brown sugar

2 baked chicken breasts, diced

pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)


½ bottle of Lay Choy duck sauce or sweet and sour sauce (*note, my store was out, so I just used a thin layer of sweet and hot sauce)

1 chopped and sliced cucumber

handful of bean sprouts

handful of chopped cilantro or fresh parsley

handful of chopped dry roasted peanuts

half a red bell pepper sliced or diced

1 ½- 2 cups shredded Monterey jack and cheddar cheese blend

After pre baking crust for about 10 minutes dough will be firm but still doughy. Remove from oven and spread a thin layer of Duck Sauce or Sweet and Sour Sauce. Cover with shredded cheddar cheese. Top with peanut chicken mixture and red bell pepper slices. And bake 10-15 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown. Remove from oven and top with cucumber slices, bean sprouts, cilantro, and chopped peanuts.

Slice and Enjoy!