Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Made Pioneer Woman's 16-Minute Chicken Quesadillas

This is a short post for a short cook-time recipe.  Such an easy weeknight meal!  I also found that you do not have to make all the quesadillas in one night but if cooking for two make 2 quesadillas and refrigerate the remaining contents to make for lunch or dinner the next day - still as tasty!!

I am often not home or awake to watch Pioneer Woman on the Food Network each Saturday morning but I do record.  Recently, she made this great 16-minute meal of Chicken Quesadillas with Pico de Gallo.  It was a huge success and I will definitely make again for just the two of us or snacks for our next party.  Head off to the store and try it!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Made Fast-and-Fresh Sausage Ragu

Cringe as I looked at the date of my last post…October.  When does pregnancy stop being an excuse because I  really have been cooking, just not posting??  A subscription to Southern Living for Christmas is a good excuse to change that AND this delicious smelling dinner on my stove.  Let me go serve it up and then I can tell you how I made it, what I changed and how it tasted.  Be right back!

"Real good, Clark, real good."  Why not quote Cousin Eddy from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation when describing how good tonight's dinner tasted?!  This is definitely an easy meal that you could make on the weekend, freeze and then thaw and serve over pasta.  Or really any weeknight it will not take long.  Pretty basic ingredients too unless you have to make a trip to the wine store like we did.  

1, 16 oz. package rigatoni pasta
1, 1 lb. package ground pork sausage
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1/4 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
1, 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
1, 28 oz. can diced tomatoes with basic, garlic, and oregano
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Disclaimer: I had Kuby's spicy venison sausage on hand and 28 oz. of Stewed Tomatoes instead of the diced with spices combined….so I improvised and it was perfect!  Feel free to change it up.

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain, reserving 1/2 cup hot pasta water.  I did NOT reserve the pasta water b/c I like pasta sauce a little thicker.  

Cook sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring ofter, 5 minutes or until sausage crumbles and is no longer pink.  Add onion, zucchini, and carrots; cook stirring often, 8 to 10 minutes or until tender.  And garlic and red pepper, and cook, stirring often, 1 to 2 minutes or until garlic is tender.  Another change…I did not add the red pepper flakes as the venison sausage was already spicy. Add tomato paste, and cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes.  

 Add wine and reserved past water if you choose; cook 2 minutes, stirring to loosen bits from bottom of skillet.  

Add tomatoes, and bring to a boil.  Again I did not have the exact spiced tomatoes on-hand so I mixed 28oz. of stewed tomatoes with 1/4 tsp. garlic powder, 1/4 tsp. dried oregano and 1/4 tsp. dried basil.   Reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Spoon sausage mixture over pasta; sprinkle with cheese.


What I would do different:
Invite friends over to share in the goodness that was Fast-and-Fresh Sausage Ragu!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Made "Fish & Chips"

I probably say this more frequently than I realize but this was one of the BEST meals we have EVER eaten.  Maybe I should look back and see if my description fits with anything healthy….I'm sure it does, right?!  The Barefoot Contessa, while preparing for a seafood dinner on a dock in East Hampton, whipped up Fish & Chips and I was destined to attempt it.  Pregnancy has limited my seafood intake and I have definitely met my quota for the week!  Did I mention we are expecting a baby in April?  It's true - and now blog official.  I don't see the effort this meal took happening with an infant around, i.e. 360 degree oil in a frying pan and batter everywhere.  But I know now that I can do it and it is worth every splash of hot oil that ended up on my arms and clothes!

"Chips"
  • 2 large baking potatoes, unpeeled
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 recipe Baked "Chips", recipe follows

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Scrub the potatoes, cut them in half lengthwise, then cut each half in thirds lengthwise. You'll have 6 long wedges from each potato.  Or cut as many pieces as you would like to have extra.  

  • Place the potatoes on a sheet pan with the olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary. With clean hands, toss all the ingredients together, making sure the potatoes are covered with oil. Spread the potatoes in a single layer with 1 cut side down.

  • Bake the potatoes for 30 to 35 minutes, turning to the other cut side after 20 minutes. Bake until they are lightly browned, crisp outside, and tender inside. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.


  • "Fish"
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh cod fillets (choose thick ones)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, lemon zest, cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Whisk in 1/2 cup of water and then the egg.

With about 10-15 minutes left on the "chips", begin preparing the oil for your "fish".  Pour 1/2-inch of oil into a large (12-inch) frying pan and heat it to about 360 degrees F.

Dip each fillet into the batter, allowing the excess to drip back into the bowl. Place it very carefully into the hot oil. Don't crowd the pieces.  Use tongs to place each piece in the hot oil, to avoid excess oil splattering on your skin.  Adjust the heat as needed to keep the oil between 360 and 400 degrees F. 

Cook the fish on each side for 2 to 3 minutes, until lightly browned and cooked through. Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot with the "chips."
Lay the cod fillets on a cutting board. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Cut the fillets in 1 1/2 by 3-inch pieces.

What I would do next time:
Buy a candy thermometer for heating the oil vs. using a meat thermometer 
that only goes up to 180 degrees

We were thinking last night what couple would enjoy this meal…stay tuned for a dinner invite!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Catered a Fall Breakfast & Lunch

I had another opportunity to cater this month for the same group as last month.  I guess they liked the Green Chili Egg Fluff Casserole.  So this time around I went for two of their meals to see if I could handle the load.  It was fun and beside burning one batch of bacon and throwing a breaker everything went off without a hitch.  Thankful for our electrician who was already scheduled to stop by the house that day : )    

Quite a few facebook friends have asked me about these catering "gigs" and if I am doing it full-time.  For now, I am just cooking out of my kitchen for this one small group but open to other opportunities as they might present themselves.  If only I had an industrial size kitchen, a grocery store next door and all the essential catering equipment.  We will see where it goes but in the meantime I love cooking for others!

On the Menu: Hash Brown Potato Brunch Casserole & Homemade Biscuits for breakfast and for lunch, Hawaiian Sandwiches and a beautiful Autumn Salad.

 Breakfast casserole prepping 15 slices of bacon and 20 eggs!!!

 Just looking like plan sandwiches at this point…just wait!

My favorite salad about to take shape.

Again the Hawaiian Sandwiches and Autumn Salad were served at a wedding shower at our home last November and since then every time they have been served are a hit!  Did I mention the Glazed Pecans?!  Amazing!!!

And for the Hash Brown Potato Brunch Casserole - you have to try this!!  A great breakfast item for your Thanksgiving house guests.  

15 slices bacon, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
20 eggs
2 cups milk
1, 32 oz. package frozen hash browns, thawed
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper

In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp.  Remove to paper towels, drain grease, reserving 2 tablespoons.  Crumble or chop bacon and set aside.  In same skillet, saute onion and green pepper in 2 tablespoons leftover grease, until tender.  Remove with a slotted spoon.  In a large bowl whisk eggs and milk.  Stir in hash browns, cheese, salt, pepper, onion mixture and bacon.  Pour into greased 9x13 baking dish.  Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes until firm and liquid is cooked through.  



Until my next "gig"...

Monday, September 24, 2012

Catered Breakfast!!!!

Last week I had the opportunity to fulfill my first "catering" request.  Grocery shopping, meal planning and cooking for a little extra cash!!  I planned breakfast for two separate groups, who needed a hearty start to their day.  On the menu: Green Chile Egg Fluff Casserole & Sweet Fruit Salad.

 A busy kitchen with bulk ingredients and my trusty laptop to guide me.

Green Chile Egg Fluff Casserole

10 eggs
1/2 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 pint cottage cheese
1 lb. grated, Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1/2 lb. grated, Monterey Jack Cheese
2 small cans, chopped green chilies
1/3 c. melted butter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees*.  In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs well.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Pour contents of bowl into 9x13, buttered baking dish.  Bak in a 325-degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until firm.  
*If making ahead of time and refrigerate overnight, baking time will increase with a cold product.

 Day 1 Fruit Salad layered in a trifle bowl: grapes, strawberries, blueberries & raspberries.

 Day 2 Fruit Salad with Mint: pineapple chunks, grapes, strawberries, blackberries, peaches & minced, mint leaves.

The food looked great now all I had to do was securely pack everything in the car for the North Dallas delivery.  A great first experience that gave me confidence in future opportunities!!
  

Friday, July 20, 2012

Made Sweet Potato, Bacon & Egg Salad

 More Paleo creativity and blind trust.  The boiled eggs and dill threw me on this one...
As I was cooking this up in the kitchen I kept telling B to have low expectations and I had no idea what this was going to taste like.  I threw out our favorite, local restaurant as Plan B.  To both of our surprise it is one of our FAVORITE PALEO meals to date.

1 small to medium sweet potato, diced
2 eggs
8 slices of bacon, diced
1 tbs. coconut oil
4 tbsp. dill, finely chopped
2 tbsp. mayonnaise
2 tbsp. lemon juice

Place eggs in small saucepan, cover with cold water, cover pan and place on high heat until just before boiling.  Remove from heat and let sit covered for 13 minutes.  Immediately rinse in cold water, peel and slice eggs and set aside.

Meanwhile, dice sweet potato.  Heat skillet over medium-heat.  When hot, add bacon and cook for 5 minutes.  Add diced sweet potato and continue to cook until potato is tender and bacon is fully cooked. 

 In a small bowl, mix dill, mayonnaise and lemon juice.  

Add eggs, sweet potato and bacon, and mix.  Serve warm or cold. 

This makes just enough for two people with a little left over to snack on.  You won't be disappointed!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Made Skewers

The Madeley's are still on Paleo…it is a love-hate relationship for me but we are making it.  I might add, it is NOT without the strong cravings for sweets and a more than occasional "cheat" to satisfy that craving.  Meal-planning continues to demand additional thought and creativity so we are not just eating grilled chicken and roasted vegetables every night.  B is much appreciative as this week I have heart twice at the dinner table, "can we have this every week?".  So sweet!  Great recipe finds on Pinterest allows me to mix it up a bit.  In an effort to catch up on the past weeks cooking, I will begin with making Mushroom Skewers & Grilled Pesto Shrimp.  I altered both of the recipes according to what I had around the house and preferred.  

Grilled Pesto Shrimp
Feel free to whip up your own pesto according to your taste buds.  I have played around with generic basil pesto and paleo pesto several times and both are fabulous!  This go around I went to Central Market for basil pesto : )

1 lb. local, medium shrimp
1/2 cup basil pesto
Wooden or metal skewers, whichever you have handy

If using wooden skewers, soak the skewers for at least 2 hours to avoid flames when they hit the grill.  Marinate the shrimp in pesto at least 2 hours prior to skewering.  

Once marinated, skewer shrimp on each skewer.  I filled the skewers but feel free to spread out and use more skewers.  

On a preheated hot grill, sear each skewer for 2 minutes each side until shrimp turn opaque and are firm to the touch.  

This was SUPER easy, especially if you purchase pesto vs. making from scratch…but then you are missing out on the fun.  This would be a GREAT summer appetizer or served alongside a steak dinner.  


Mushroom Skewers
These are fabulous and easier than the shrimp.  Slice mushrooms, marinate, skewer, grill, eat.

1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. dried oregano
8 oz. baby portobello mushrooms, halved lengthwise

Whisk the olive oil through oregano together in a medium bowl.

Add the halved mushrooms and toss well to coat.  Marinate for 30 minutes.

Preheat grill.  Thread the mushrooms onto presoaked skewers.  Grill for 5 minutes on each side.

Grilling in the summer is somewhat steamy due the the 5:00 Texas heat but these skewer options are worth it!