Sunday, July 31, 2011

My Work Space

Since moving north, my counter space has decreased drastically.  But lack of counter space cannot deny the adamant chef.  Even though I haven't had much of any counter space since starting this blog, I've still managed to produce some pretty tasty dishes.  I hope this can inspire people that feel down on their luck because they don't have a cooking show kitchen.  After all it's the passion that makes the dishes, not the counter space.  Nice.  I just thought of that.  What does your workspace look like?

Garlic Lime Chicken Fajitas

Ingredients: 1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. minced onion
3/4 tsp. ground cumin
3/4 tsp. oregano leaves
1/2 tsp. cilantro leaves
1/2 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. each lime and orange juices
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
1 medium green or red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
8 flour tortillas (8-inch)

I used McCormick spices, but any brand will do just fine.

1. Mix juices, oil, all of the spices and salt in a small bowl. Reserve 1/4 c. of the marinade. Place chicken in a large resealable plastic bad or glass dish. Add remaining marinade; turn to coat well. Refrigerate 30 minutes or longer for extra flavor.
2. Cook and stir chicken in large heated skillet on medium-high heat 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from skillet. Add bell pepper, onion, and reserved marinade; cook and stir 5 minutes or until tender. Return chicken to skillet. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until heated through.
3. Spoon chicken mixture into warmed tortillas. Serve with assorted toppings, if desired.

I forgot the tortillas :) so I served this dish with rice instead. Either way you serve it, this garlic lime chicken is sure to please all members of your family.

Brined and Baked Chicken Pieces

I made a simple brine for the chicken pieces that I had left from cutting up one of the whole chickens I bought.  Brining meats make them juicy and can add flavor.  It just depends what you put in your brine.  Here's what I did:

Brined and Baked Chicken Pieces

chicken pieces
1/2 gallon of water
1/2 gallon of ice
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil

  • In a large pot, combine all of the ingredients for the brine.  Bring the water to a boil and remove from heat.  Make sure that all the salt and sugar is dissolved.  Add the ice to cool the brine.
  • When is no longer hot, add your chicken pieces.  Place pot in refrigerator and let sit for about 4 to 5 hours.
  • Before cooking, rinse the chicken pieces off and pat dry.  Rub a little bit of olive oil on the skin so it can crisp up.
  • Cook in a 375 degree preheated oven for about 40-45 minutes or until the internal temperature is at least 170 degrees.
You can add other spices to the brine as well.  Bay leaves, thyme, oregano, pretty much whatever your preference is.  I added a little bit of Italian dressing to the bottom of the baking dish to give it a little bit more of  a flavor that my wife enjoys.  When she got home from work, she reheated the chicken in the microwave and loved it.  She said it was still juicy even after being microwaved.  Check out John Kluck's Juicy Wings for more brine on chicken action!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Leftover Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

Yesterday, I posted the recipe for the Whole Roasted Chicken that I made.  We had a good bit of leftovers because I also made Potatoes au Gratin.  I said that the leftover chicken would make great sandwiches.  I'm sure it would have...but I went another route.  I was searching the cupboards and decided I had enough things to try to make a casserole.  I went for it.  Here's what I did:

Leftover Chicken and Broccoli Casserole
3 cups cooked chicken, shredded
13 oz cooked noodles(I used elbows because that's what I had)
16 oz cooked broccoli pieces
2 cups milk
1 can cream of chicken and mushroom soup
1 soup can of water
1/2 cup sour cream
8 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup 4 cheese Italian blend
panko bread crumbs
Boursin cheese
salt and pepper

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a 13x9 glass baking dish.
  • In a bowl mix together the soup, milk, and sour cream.  Fill empty soup can with water and add that as well.  Add salt and pepper to your taste.
  • To the baking dish, add the noodles, chicken, soup mixture, and mozzarella cheese.
  • Top with the Italian blend cheese.  Sprinkle a layer of panko breadcrumbs over the top of the cheese.  Dot the top of the breadcrumbs with the Boursin cheese.
  • Cook in preheated oven for 30-45 minutes or until the top is nicely browned.
I, of course, would have added more spices to this dish, but I have other's in my family to think about.  I added ground red pepper to my serving and it was delicious...but would I say otherwise?  Yes, I would.  The smell of the Boursin cheese melting filled the room with garlic and herb aromatics that made my mouth water.  I would have made this with sharp cheddar cheese if I had some but it was good made as listed.  I may even buy one of those cooked chickens you can find in the Deli departments at the supermarket and make this again.  I'm going to try some different noodles, too, maybe penne.  I hope you enjoy this recipe and come back to see What Is Cooking Now?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Whole Roasted Chicken

 My family was at the grocery store searching for ideas for dinner.  The weekly special was half off whole fryer chickens.  I couldn't pass that up so I picked up a couple.  Tonight, a chicken will be roasted alive!  Well maybe not alive...but it'll be whole!  OK here.

Whole Roasted Chicken
1 fryer chicken
House Seasoning
McCormick Perfect Pinch Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning

  • Sprinkle generous amount of House Seasoning all over the outside of the chicken and inside the cavity.  Rub it on the chicken well.  Coat chicken with the McCormick seasoning.  Cover chicken and let sit in refrigerator for several hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Place chicken in baking dish or roasting rack.  Cook in preheated oven for about an hour.  Make sure the internal temperature of the chicken is at least 165 degrees.  Let rest for several minutes. 
  • Carve the chicken and serve.
This chicken was tasty and juicy.  I like my chickens with a bit more spice, but the wife was home.  I think we know how that goes by now.  We had Potatoes au Gratin as a side dish.  Perfectly paired.  We had a good bit of leftovers, so they will make for great sandwiches over the next few days.

Potatoes au Gratin

Potatoes au Gratin is a dish that goes well with most dinners.  Gratin is a term describing a dish with a browned top.  In this case, cheese!  This is my first time trying this(besides from a box) so here goes...

Potatoes au Gratin
5 potatoes, scrubbed
1 onion, sliced
6 tbs butter
1/4 cup flour
1 ts salt
3 cups milk
3 cups cheddar cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup additional cheddar

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease 13X9 glass baking dish.
  • Slice potatoes thinly, about 1/4 inch.  Place half of the potatoes in the baking dish.  Top with the onion and then finish off the top with the rest of the potatoes.
  • Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add flour and salt and whisk together.  Cook for about 1 minute, constantly stirring.  Slowly add in milk while whisking.  Cook until thickened.  Add the 3 cups cheddar and Parmesan and stir until melted.  Pour cheese sauce over potatoes.  Cover dish with aluminum foil.
  • Cook for 1 hour.  Remove foil, top with additional cheese, and cook for another 30 minutes.
This was a delicious dish.  My wife even had seconds!  We had this as a side dish with our Whole Roasted Chicken.  Next time I make it, I will experiment with different cheeses and spices.

Bacon, Eggs, and Fried Potatoes

Who wants some breakfast?  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, or so I'm told.  I made some bacon, eggs, and fried potatoes for breakfast so here you go.

3 slices bacon
2 eggs
1 potato
House Seasoning

Start cooking bacon in skillet over medium-low heat.  While bacon is cooking, scrub your potato thoroughly.  Cut into little bit sized pieces.  Season genourously with House Seasoning
When bacon is done to your liking, remove from skillet and drain on paper towels.  Add the potatoes to the bacon grease and cook until tender and nicely browned.  When potatoes are close to being finished, melt some butter to coat a small pan over medium heat.  Cook your eggs however you like them.  Enjoy!

I made my eggs scrambled so I can feed them to my baby.  She loves eggs.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Finger-licking Chicken & Potato Balls - Baby Friendly

Since starting this blog and actually seeing what I've been cooking each day, I've decided to make healthier dishes because, well, bacon with every meal is NOT a good thing. When I do make one of these meals, they will be from the book First Meals (New Expanded Edition) (Hardcover) by Annabel Karmel. This way I can feed my baby girl great and healthy meals without feeling guilty. When she was a little baby, we used recipes from Top 100 Baby Purees: 100 Quick and Easy Meals for a Healthy and Happy Baby by Annabel Karmel as well. I credit the purees from this book for helping my little girl develop good eating habits at a very young age. She loves broccoli! I hope you can enjoy these as well!

These make a great snack.  They provide great taste as well a several vitamins.

Finger-licking Chicken & Potato Balls
3/4 cup potatoes, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup parsnips, peeled and chopped
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into chunks
large pat of butter
flour for coating

  • Put the potatoes and parsnips in a pan, cover with water, bring to a boil, and simmer, covered, for 12-15 minutes or until tender.
  • Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp of oil in a frying pan, add the onion and carrot, and saute for 4-5 minutes.  Add the chicken and continue to saute for about 10 minutes or until cooked through.
  • Drain the potatoes and parsnips and mash with half the butter until smooth.  Finely chop the chicken, onion, and carrot in a food processor and mix with the mashed vegetables.
  • Form the mixture into 24 walnut sized balls.  Spread the flour on a plate and use it to coat them.  Heat the remaining oil and butter in a frying pan, add the meatballs, and saute until golden.

    My baby approves!  She likes them and can't seem to get enough.  Tomorrow she will have some reheated as well.  These will make a great dish for grown ups as well with just a little salt and maybe some garlic powder added as well.  I will add cayenne pepper next time to the second batch that I fry up.  These made a good and healthy dish that both you and your child can enjoy.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Malt-O-Meal Berry Colossal Crunch

As requested in the comment section of a previous blog, I put together some cereal and milk.  I usually like to combine two or more cereals, but all I had available was Malt-O-Meal's Berry Colossal Crunch.  This one is for you SouthernCatholic!

Malt-O-Meal Berry Colossal Crunch

Malt-O-Meal Berry Colossal Crunch

  • Fill your bowl with cereal
  • Fill your bowl(that is filled with cereal) with milk
  • Get a spoon end eat your magnificent creation

Well I do believe that this will be the easiest recipe I will ever post.  Check out SouthernCatholic's blog at I Was Raised Southern Catholic.  It is full of humor and general postings about life and everything in between.

Shepherd's Pie - Baby Friendly

Since starting this blog and actually seeing what I've been cooking each day, I've decided to make healthier dishes because, well, bacon with every meal is NOT a good thing. When I do make one of these meals, they will be from the book First Meals (New Expanded Edition) (Hardcover) by Annabel Karmel. This way I can feed my baby girl great and healthy meals without feeling guilty. When she was a little baby, we used recipes from Top 100 Baby Purees: 100 Quick and Easy Meals for a Healthy and Happy Baby by Annabel Karmel as well. I credit the purees from this book for helping my little girl develop good eating habits at a very young age. She loves broccoli! I hope you can enjoy these as well!

My little red-headed Irish baby loves this meal.  As she should.  This is a traditional Irish dish that is filling just as much as it is comforting.

Shepherd's Pie
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 small red pepper, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1 lb lean ground lamb
1 1/4 cups chicken stock
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced

Mashed Potatoes
2 lb potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
2 1/2 tbsp butter
4 tbsp milk
salt and white pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Warm the oil in a pan, add the onion, red pepper, and garlic, and saute until softened.  Add the meat and saute until browned.  IF desired, transfer the cooked mixture to a food processor and chop for a few seconds on the pulse setting.
  • Transfer the meat to a saucepan and ad the stock, parsley, tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce, and mushrooms.  Cook over a medium heat for about 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in lightly salted water until tender, then drain and mash with 2 tbsp of butter and the milk.  Season to taste.
  • Arrange the meat either in one large dish or in individual ramekins, cover with the mashed potatoes, and dot the topping with the remaining butter.  Cook in the preheated oven or 20 minutes.

Turkey Balls & Pepper Sauce - Baby Friendly

Since starting this blog and actually seeing what I've been cooking each day, I've decided to make healthier dishes because, well, bacon with every meal is NOT a good thing. When I do make one of these meals, they will be from the book First Meals (New Expanded Edition) (Hardcover) by Annabel Karmel. This way I can feed my baby girl great and healthy meals without feeling guilty. When she was a little baby, we used recipes from Top 100 Baby Purees: 100 Quick and Easy Meals for a Healthy and Happy Baby by Annabel Karmel as well. I credit the purees from this book for helping my little girl develop good eating habits at a very young age. She loves broccoli! I hope you can enjoy these as well!

Ground turkey is becoming increasingly popular these days, because it is usually less fatty than most ground beef that you buy.  Because of the lack of fat in the turkey, it can tend to get dried out while cooking.  This recipe keeps the turkey nice and moist as well as flavorful!

Turkey Balls & Pepper Sauce

1 lb ground turkey
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 small apple, peeled and grated
3 tbsp fresh bread crumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp chopped fresh sage or thyme
salt and black pepper
flour for coating
2 tbsp vegetable oil for frying

Red Pepper Sauce
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 1/2 red peppers, deseeded and chopped
1 tsp tomato paste
3 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 3/4 cups vegetable stock
salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • To make the red pepper sauce, heat the oil in a frying pan, add the shallots and red peppers, and saute until softened.  Stir in the remaining ingredients and season to taste.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Blend until smooth.
  • Mix together all the ingredients for the meatballs, seasoning to taste.  Use your hands to form the mixture into about 24 walnut sized balls.  Spread the flour on a plate and use it to coat the meatballs.  Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the balls, and saute, turning until they are golden all over.
  • Transfer the meatballs to a casserole, cover with pepper sauce, and cook in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through and well browned

Bow-Tie Pasta with Ham & Peas - Baby Friendly

Since starting this blog and actually seeing what I've been cooking each day, I've decided to make healthier dishes because, well, bacon with every meal is NOT a good thing. When I do make one of these meals, they will be from the book First Meals (New Expanded Edition) (Hardcover) by Annabel Karmel. This way I can feed my baby girl great and healthy meals without feeling guilty. When she was a little baby, we used recipes from Top 100 Baby Purees: 100 Quick and Easy Meals for a Healthy and Happy Baby by Annabel Karmel as well. I credit the purees from this book for helping my little girl develop good eating habits at a very young age. She loves broccoli! I hope you can enjoy these as well!

This recipe is really just a variation of Mac and Cheese with some added protein. 

Bow-tie Pasta with Ham & Peas
1/2 lb faralle pasta
1 vegetable stock cube

3 tbls butter
4 tbls flour
2 1/2 cups milk
1/2 tsp dry ground mustard
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
4 oz sliced cooked ham, cut into strips
salt and black pepper

  • Cook the pasta in boiling, lightly salted water according to instructions on the package.
  • Meanwhile, make the sauce.  Melt the butter in a small pan, stir in the flour to make a paste, and gradually whish in the milk and mustard.  Stir in the peas and cook for 3 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese until melted.  Add the ham, heat through, season, and toss with the pasta.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mashed Potatoes

Another basic recipe is in the works now.  This time it is Mashed Potatoes.  Who doesn't love Mashed Potatoes?  Un-Americans that who!  This dish partners with just about any meal you can think of.

Mashed Potatoes
5 large potatoes, scrubbed
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 chicken bouillon cubes
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/3 cup milk
2 tbls butter
2 tbls sour cream
1/4 cup 4 cheese blend

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water.  Salt the water generously.  Heat water to boiling and boil until tender.  Transfer potatoes to a bowl.  Add butter, milk, and garlic salt.  Mash until it reaches the texture you desire.  Place on plate and top with sour cream and 4 cheese blend.  Enjoy with whatever you desire!  For all my friends on the Facebook group I'm The Head Chef At My House, you can add bacon to it if you desire!  haha

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I made my wife lunch today before she went to work.  She requested a grilled cheese.  So I made her one.  I made one for myself, also.  Easiest hot sandwich to make.   Done son!

Grilled Cheese Sandwich
2 slices of bread
1 slice Swiss cheese
1 slice Colby Jack cheese

Spread butter on one side of both slices of bread.  Put buttered side of bread down in the hot pan.  Layer of the cheese.  Place the other slice of bread facing up.  Cook for a few minutes until browned then flip.  Cook a few more minutes until delicious!  Cut in half and enjoy!

I made my wife's sandwich(pictured) with two slices of white American.  I need more flavor than that and my combination worked well.  This has been a lunch time addition to What Is Cooking Now?

Bacon and Cheese Stuffed Jalapenos

It seems that we have another recipe involving bacon.  I guess there seems to be a trend happening.  I'm going to just have to stop buying bacon so I don't wind up eating it all.  These jalapenos came from my father's garden.  They don't get any fresher than that!  The cream cheese came from the grocery store...

Bacon and Cheese Stuffed Jalapenos
8 jalapenos
1 8oz package cream cheese
5 strips of bacon, chopped and cooked
1/4 tsp garlic salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Cut the tops off of the jalapenos and cut in half.  Mix together and cream cheese, garlic salt, and bacon.  Stuff the jalapenos with this mixture.  Place on baking sheet and cook in the oven for about 20 minutes until bubbly and lightly brown.

Juicy Wings

I love hot wings. The problem is that most of the time, the dish that is served is dried out and chewy. I find that a simple brine does the trick to make the best wings that you have ever had.

For a simple brine, I use brown sugar, kosher salt, and water. You can add anything else that you want to add flavor to the meat...lemons, garlic, herbs...whatever.

Start with a gallon of water. Add 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1 cup of kosher salt. Bring to a boil to dissolve, then allow to cool to room temperature. You can add ice to bring down the temperature fast.

Add your wings to the brine, making sure that all meat is covered. Placing a small plate on the meat keeps it below the surface of the brine. Place in the refrigerator for 4 hours.

When brineing is complete, drain and pat the meat dry with paper towels. Add a spice rub of your choice, and allow the meat to rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

I grill my wings over charcoal. A slight char is great and unexpected to most wing-eaters. When wings are fully cooked, toss with your favorite sauce. My kids like to have a variety, so we toss a couple of wings with different sauces in medium bowls.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Steak and Potatoes

Does it get manlier than this?  I think it might not.  Steak and Potatoes...mmmm.  The steak is courtesy of my brother, Matt.  He even marinated them.  Should be delicious!

Steak and Potatoes
1 rib eye steak
Pilleteri's Marinade

1 large potato, scrubbed
cooked bacon bits
4 cheese blend
sour cream

Preheat the oven to BROIL.  Place the steak under the broiler for 6 to 7 minutes per side until it reaches your desired doneness.  Remove from oven and let rest.
While the steaks are cooking, poke the potato all over with a fork.  Wrap the potato in a wet paper towel and put in microwave.  Cook on the potato setting on the microwave, or about 4 to 7 minutes.  When the potato is finished cooking, top with the butter, sour cream, cheese, and bacon.

Place these two things together on a plate and eat the heck out of them.  I do like a good steak sauce, but I only enjoy it on the potato, not the steak.  Whenever you need to feel like a man, for whatever reason, this is the sure fire way to do it.

Spinach-Cheddar Pancakes with Tomato-Orange Cream Sauce

As I was browsing other peoples food blogs, I came across this recipe at LickMySpoon.  Just
seeing the title of the recipe and I knew that I had try to it.  Please visit the original link here.  There is much more information and description about this dish.
Spinach Cheddar Pancakes with Tomato-Orange Cream Sauce
Inspired by brunch at Lady Marmalade in Toronto, these savory pancakes are thick, fluffy, and full of spinach and cheese. With a zesty tomato-orange cream sauce poured on top, this is not your average stack of pancakes.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Yield: 4-6 servings

10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup grated sharp cheddar
l large egg, beaten
2 egg whites
2/3 cup low-fat milk
1 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Olive oil for frying
Sundried Tomato-Orange Cream Sauce (see below)

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 F.
  2. Squeeze all water from the defrosted spinach. Melt the butter in the microwave, about 30 seconds.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the spinach, melted butter, grated cheese, the beaten egg, milk, flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well, forming a thick batter.
  4. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until they form soft peaks. Fold it into the batter.
  5. Place a frying pan over medium high heat and add enough oil to coat the surface. Ladle the batter into the hot pan, spreading the batter out. Give yourself enough room in the pan to flip the pancakes.
  6. Cook for about 3 minutes, or until the pancakes are golden on the bottom. They will puff up and small air bubbles will form on the surface when they are ready to be flipped. Flip the pancakes over and cook for about another 2 minutes until the other side is golden.
  7. Transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm while you finish the remaining batches. Serve with the Tomato Cream Sauce spooned on top.

Sundried Tomato-Orange Cream Sauce

Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Yield: 1 cup

5 sundried tomatoes packed in oil
2 whole peeled tomatoes
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon orange zest

  1. Blend together all the ingredients using food processor or blender. (The cream may look a little chunky, it\'s ok).
  2. Transfer to a saucepan and warm through over low-to-moderate heat. If you had chunky-ish cream before, it should melt smoothly, leaving you with a creamy smooth sauce.

Again, thanks to LickMySpoon for letting me share this recipe.  Please visit her site because there are more amazing dishes and photographs to be viewed!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Yeah that's right.  I did it.  I finally made Spinach and Artichoke Dip.  This is an essential dish for game day.  When you think of the game being on, you think, "When is the Spinach and Artichoke Dip gonna be ready?"  If I'm not smelling the dip when the puck is dropped at the start of the second period, I'm going to be asking questions.  A little over two months until HOCKEY starts back, people!  Get ready!  Oh and this dip also goes well with your Alabama Crimson Tide!  ROLL TIDE!!  NCAA Alabama Crimson Tide Wood Sign I would say that it also goes well with Awbarn, but apparently I didn't pay them to mention their name in this blog.  I  can tell you, though, that this dip will leave a better taste in your mouth than a revoked Heisman and championship.  But I digress...recipe follows:

1 8oz package cream cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup Romano cheese
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1 14oz can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl mix together the cream cheese, sour cream, Parmesan cheese, Romano cheese, chopped garlic, dried basil, garlic salt, and half of the mozzarella cheese.  Stir in the spinach and artichoke hearts.
Put mixture into greased baking dish.  Top with remainder of mozzarella cheese.  Cook in oven for 30-40 minutes until browned on top.  Serve with chips or toasted bread.  Enjoy!!!

I took this recipe from here.  I changed the mayonaisse to sour cream and added a little bit more mozzarella than the original recipe.  I really wanted to add incendiaries to make it a spicy dip but I didn't.  You're welcome, Wifey.  I thawed the spinach under running cold water, because I'm a Food Safety Certified Manager.  To properly remove the water I wrapped the thawed spinach in 3 paper towels and squeezed all the water out of it.  It took some effort but you don't want all that water to be mixed with everything.  Years ago I tried to make this, but I didn't put forth the effort to properly dry the spinach and the result was not good.  I hope you enjoy this, because I know I did.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Spaghetti w/Meat Sauce

Who doesn't like a good Spaghetti with Meat Sauce?  Except for vegetarians...but it's just as good without adding meat.  Also perhaps Germans and Japanese, but that's another story.  Spaghetti has been a popular dish since the 18th century.  Did you know that Thomas Jefferson can be credited to bringing pasta to the United States?1  This is an easy dish to make and can be so flavorful.  There are countless versions and this is mine.  Recipe follows:

Spaghetti w/Meat Sauce
1 lb thin spaghetti noodles
1 tbls olive oil
1 lb ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbls house seasoning
28oz can crushed tomatoes
14.5oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
6oz tomato paste
1 tbls basil pesto
5 fresh basil leaves, minced
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp dried minced garlic
8 tsp fennel seed
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
8oz sliced baby portabella mushrooms

Heat olive oil in pot  to medium high.  Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent.  Add ground beef and House Seasoning.  Cook until beef is browned all the way through and no longer pink.  Drain but not rinse off with water.  Return to pot.
Add crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste.  Stir until well incorporated.  Add the pesto, fresh basil leaves, oregano, Italian seasoning, minced garlic, fennel seed, bay leaf, and Parmesan cheese.  Stir until mixed well and then add mushrooms.  Turn heat to low and let simmer for a while.  I like to let it sit for a few hours while stirring occasionally. This lets the flavors really combine with each other.  It also makes my place smell amazing and really builds your appetite up.
Cook noodles as directed on package.  I prefer Angel hair pasta, but my wife likes the thin spaghetti noodles.  So guess what, we're having thin spaghetti noodles.  You're welcome again, dear.
When noodles are finished cooking, drain well.  Put noodles on plate and top with meat sauce.  Top with some grated Parmesan cheese.

You can buy fresh basil at most grocery stores.  Or you can come pick some from my "herb garden."  This dish can be preceded with a nice salad.  I have to have garlic bread with this meal.  Unfortunately for everyone, I just used Cole's frozen garlic bread loaf this time.  Eventually I will get my garlic bread recipe posted...stay tuned.  Green beans also go great with this dish if you need another side item.  I don't think you will though.

House Seasoning

I usually use the same spices when I'm cooking.  I decided to put them together and make a "house" seasoning.
4 tbls salt
1 tbls garlic powder
1 tbls onion powder
1/2 tbls cayenne pepper
1/2 tbls paprika

The paprika is pretty much just to add a nice color to it.  You can, of course, put together whatever you want to match your palette.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Country Fried Steak

Mmm mmm!  Country Fried Steak!  Momma, I'll be home for dinner!  This is a great comfort food that makes me think of home.  One of my favorite things about this dish is that it is simple to make.

Country(or Chicken) Fried Steak
2 cubed steaks
1 egg
1 tbls milk
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp white pepper

Season the steaks with salt and pepper.  Dredge steaks in flour.  Whisk together milk and egg in a bowl.  Put steaks in egg/milk mixture and cover completely.  Put steaks back in flour until completely coated.  Shake off excess flour.  Set steak aside and let rest.  This is the trick to getting the breading to stay on the steak when it is cooking.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium/medium high heat.  Cook steaks in skillet about 5 minutes per side until they are nice and browned.  Remove steaks from pan and place on a wire rack to drain and rest.  Enjoy!

These steaks are a classic American dinner(or Austrian - Wiener Schnitzel) and are perfectly paired with mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese.  They are also great with gravy made from the drippings in the pan.  Perhaps I will post my recipe for the gravy one day as well so you'd better come back and visit!

Spinach, Bacon, and Chicken Macaroni

Macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite dishes.  I like to use white Irish cheddar cheese but I didn't have any available while making this.  Sharp cheeses are perfect for this dish.

Spinach, Bacon, and Chicken Macaroni
Spinach, Bacon, and Chicken Macaroni

1 lb rotini noodles
6 oz baby spinach

2 chicken breasts, cooked, chopped

6 slices bacon - chopped into bits
2 tbls flour
2 1/2 cups milk
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp salt
12 oz sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese

2 tbls butter - melted
1 1/2 cup Colby jack
panko breadcrumbs to cover top

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Make sure the chicken is thoroughly cooked.  I boiled my chicken.  To the water I added a chopped onion, about 4 cloves of garlic, and several spices including, salt, garlic powder, cayenne, thyme.  It's up to you how to do it, just make sure it is completely cooked.  Chop it into bite sized pieces.

Cook rotini noodles as directed on package.  Add baby spinach to boiling water for the last minute of cooking.  Drain. 

Cut bacon into little bits and cook in a large sauce pan until crispy.  Remove the bacon and drain well on paper towels.  Leave the bacon drippings in the pan.
Add the flour to the drippings and stir with a whisk until bubbly.  Slowly add in the milk while whisking and cook for a few minutes until it starts to thicken up. 
Remove from heat and stir in the nutmeg, white pepper, black pepper, red pepper, and salt.  After the spices are incorporated add the cheddar and Parmesan cheese.  Stir until melted.

Add half of the bacon, all of the chicken, and all of the noodles/spinach to the cheese sauce and fold together until well blended.

Add the mixture to a greased two quart baking dish.  It won't all fit so don't be worried.  You can either put the rest in a small baking dish, or just simply have something to snack on as the rest cooks.

Add the Colby jack cheese to the top of the dish.  Cover the top with the panko breadcrumbs.  Drizzle the melted butter over the panko.  Add remaining bacon bits to the top.

Cook in oven for about 30 minutes until the top is nice and browned.

Dig in and enjoy!

You can use different cheeses and different spices.  Once you get the basics of making the cheese sauce, the possibilities are pretty much endless. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs

Today's healthy, diet, yummy recipe is Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs!  Just the sound of it makes my heart flutter a little bit.  I use Hebrew National hot dogs now because they are simply the best.  I always thought a hot dog was a hot dog until I tried the Hebrew National brand.  Delicious!  Didn't even break the bank with the money.  I feel that by posting this recipe, it is also my duty to post this number: 1-800-AHA-USA-1.  That is the phone number to the American Heart Association.

8 Hebrew National Hot Dogs
8 Slices bacon
Hot dog buns
Condiments of your choice

Wrap the bacon around the hot dogs.  Cook in skillet over medium-low heat until the bacon is cooked to your liking.  Place in hot dog bun, top with whatever you like, enjoy!(but not too many)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Barbecue Mop Sauce

Well it is summer. Summer is the barbecue season. You've already got my Barbecue Rub and Barbecue Sauce recipes. It wouldn't be complete without my Barbecue Mop recipe. You can't have the Holy Trinity without the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, just as you can't have a barbecue trifecta without a Rub, Mop, and Sauce. To finish it off, here is my Barbecue Mop Recipe.

Barbecue Mop Sauce
2 cups distilled white vinegar
1 tbls coarse salt
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced

Add all ingredients to sauce pan. Heat until boiling and remove from heat. Let cool.

Boom. Simple enough. Add this mop sauce to meat as they are cooking. You can add it every fifteen minutes. You can add it every thirty minutes. You can even not add it at all. It is up to you if you want your meat to taste delicious or not.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Barbecue Sauce Recipe

As promised here is my Barbecue Sauce Recipe. Again, I like it spicy so I add a little bit more incendiaries to it as might be necessary. Cut back on the hotness if you feel the need to. No one here is judging. This recipe yields about 2 1/2 cups.

Barbecue Sauce

2 cups ketchup

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup Worcestershire

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tbls pancake syrup

2 tbls mustard(prepared)

1 tbls Tabasco sauce

1 tbls Barbecue Rub (yesterday's post)

2 tsp liquid smoke

1 tsp black pepper

Combine all these ingredients in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for fifteen minutes.

This is a delicious sauce. Add to meats during the last fifteen minutes of cooking. It can also be used as a dipping sauce. Don't be shocked if you only get one eating session out of this sauce as it is simply yummy. Enjoy!

Barbecue Rub Recipe

Unfortunately I didn't get to cook anything tonight as I am back in my old apartment doing some cleaning. I will, however, leave you with my recipe for my Barbecue Rub that I make/use. I find that it goes well with anything that is supposed to have a barbecue flavor to it. I guess if it didn't I would have to call it something else. As you may know, I do like things spicy so this does contain a bit of cayenne powder. If you don't like the heat then cut back or omit this spice. This recipe yields about one cup so adjust as necessary.

Barbecue Rub

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup paprika

3 tbls black pepper

4 tbls coarse salt

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp onion powder

2 tsp celery powder

2 tsp cayenne powder

It's that simple. Apply a generous amount to meat and grill or ovenize it. I may have made up a term just now. It means cook it in the oven. I recommend rubbing the meat and letting it sit in the refrigerator for several hours before cooking.

Tomorrow I may not be cooking anything either so I will post my Barbecue Sauce recipe.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Cheeseburger Next To Paradise

As I was browsing the aisles at the grocery store looking for something cheap to make, I came across the ground beef section. I found a good deal on the 85/15 ground beef, so I decided to buy a pound or so. Tonight on the menu: cheeseburgers. Simple. How complicated can a good ole burger be? A few spices, some cheese, produce, and a few condiments...BAM! You've got yourself an American classic! Ok let me go measure out some spices and make you my recipe for "What Is Cooking Now?" <--shameless plug Recipe follows:

1lb 85/15 ground beef
1 tsp dehydrated garlic flakes
1 tsp dehydrated onion flakes
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp Worcestershire


Boursin cheese
Cheese of your choice

Mix ground beef with all the spices. Try not to over work the beef, just until well mixed. Form into four patties.
Heat grill pan over medium-high heat. When grill pan is heated, add patties. Cook for 4 to5 minutes and flip. Cook another 4 to 5 minutes. Add cheese of your choice until it is melted. Place patty on bun and top with your favorite produce and condiments.

I made my burger with Monterrey Jack cheese, lettuce, onion, tomato, bread and butter pickles, and Boursin cheese. I prefer my produce to be thinly sliced. A mandoline slice is perfect for creating thin, uniform slices. Or, if you have a wife like mine, you'll get good at slicing thinly with a knife(Love you honey!). The Boursin cheese is a garlic and herb flavored spreadable cheese found in most deli departments that adds a little flair to the burger.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. You can of course tweek things to make this recipe yours! Thanks for looking!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Grilled Chicken and Farfalle w/Spicy Red Sauce

Tonight I just made what I had available in the pantry/refrigerator. Had I planned properly I would have made Garlic Bread(recipe to be posted later) with this meal as well. Recipe follows:

2 large chicken breasts cut into strips
1 tbls vegetable oil
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

1 tbls olive oil
1/4 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground red pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper
28oz can crushed tomatoes
2 tbls tomato paste
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp fennel seed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

16oz box Farfalle pasta

Start the sauce first. Heat olive oil in pan. Add onions and garlic to oil. While onions and garlic is cooking, add garlic powder and both types of red pepper. When the onions are translucent, add the can of crushed tomatoes and the the tomato paste. Add oregano, basil leaves, pepper, salt, fennel seed, and Parmesan cheese. Stir thoroughly. Simmer over low heat as ever thing else cooks. This allows time for all the flavors to mingle with each other and get super delicious.

Start boiling water in a large pot to cook the pasta. Add salt to water. It should be enough salt to make the water taste salty.

Heat your grill pan over medium/medium high heat. Season chicken strips with the salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Coat pan with vegetable oil. Add chicken strips and cook until cooked through. Pasta should be added to the water at this time as well.

When everything is finished cooking, put the pasta on a plate and cover with sauce. Add chicken on top of the sauce. Finish with a dusting of grated Parmesan and crushed red pepper. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Heart Achin' Bacon and Cheese Sirloin

OK folks. If you're on any kind of diet then go ahead and don't read this post. The fat and caloric content of this meal shall not be posted.

2 half pound sirloin steaks
4 slices of bacon
4 slices of sharp cheddar cheese
1 tbls butter
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Adolph's Tenderizer and Seasoning

Season steaks with Adolph's. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Cut bacon into small bits. Cook in skillet until crispy. Drain bacon pieces on paper towel.
Cook steaks in bacon grease 6 to 7 minutes each side until medium rarish.
While steaks are cooking melt butter in a bowl. Combine with breadcrumbs. Add bacon bits.
When steaks are finished cooking, top with equal amounts of cheese. Spoon breadcrumb mixture over cheese.
Place steak in oven until cheese is melted.
Let steaks rest for a few minutes before cutting into them.

These steaks are designed to be enjoyed in moderation. As you can imagine, they probably aren't the best thing for your heart. However, they can do wonders for your soul!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Things I Use

Some things I like to use:

Stainless steel skillets: These are perfect for browning and cooking meats. Most can also be placed in the oven for finishing cooking of large cuts of meat. I always use these pans for cooking unless something requires covering.

Grill Pans: I like to use grill pans sometimes as well. Grill pans are pans designed to use on the stove top and they put sear marks on meat. They make for nice presentation for indoor cooking. The raised lines in the pan also allow for the food to not be completely submersed in the fat/grease that it's cooking in so it's not quite as unhealthy as straight up pan frying.

Spices: Usually, I like to use my own blends. However, there are premixed spice blends that I use as well. These include but are not limited to, Adolph's Meat Tenderizer with Seasoning, and McCormick's Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning. These are the main two that I use. I will add more if I find any.

Habanero Peppers: This is one of my favorite "spices." Dried habanero peppers add quite some heat to dishes that you see fit. You must be careful when handling these peppers. Even after thoroughly washing your hands, the capsaicin can still remain on your hands, as well as knife and cutting board. I suggest wearing gloves while preparing habanero peppers for drying. I know first hand the burning that comes from forgetting that you have handled habaneros with gloves. I know have an even better reason to use proper protective equipment, my baby girl. I dry my habaneros in the oven. Heat the oven to the WARM setting. Cut the tops off of the peppers. Then cut them in half, lengthwise. Some people with suggest removing the seeds and ribbing of the peppers. I prefer to leave these intact as it adds to the heat of the spice. Place the peppers on a sheet pan, skin side down. Leave the oven door slightly open so all moisture can escape. Leave in the oven for 4 to 5 hours. Turn over the peppers. Leave them in the oven for another 4 to 5 hours until very brittle and crisp. Remove from oven and let cool. I have a little mortar and pestle that I grind the peppers to a powder when they are completely dry. You can also use a food storage bag and rolling pin to break them down. Apply just a small amount to foods that you want to be spiced up. Be very careful when using this spice because just the smallest amount can be too much for most people.

Garlic: Garlic is one of my most used herbs while cooking. If you don't use garlic very often then buying the occasional bulb should be just fine. If you use garlic as much as I do, you might want an option to save a little bit of time. At my most recent trip to Costco, I found a bag of fresh, peeled garlic cloves. This is a three pound bag of garlic cloves that are already peeled. This is the way to go if you use a slew of garlic like I do. I don't suggest using the cans of minced garlic that you can find in stores. I'm not even sure what that liquid is that the garlic is stored in. I do suggest that you go ahead and store the bag in an additional gallon sized food storage bag so the wife/husband doesn't complain about the overwhelming garlic smell coming from the refrigerator.

I will add more to this list as time permits.

Simple Cheesy Chicken

Tonight I made chicken breasts strips smothered in cheeses. I bought some bone-in skin-on chicken breasts that were on sale at the local grocery store. I cut the breasts from the bone, took the skin off, and trimmed of excess fat. This is a great way to save a lot of money when you need to use boneless skinless chicken breasts. Another way to save money is by using coupons.  You can find coupons and offers at sites like Special Offers coupons and other coupon sites.  Combine these to methods and watch the savings pile up!  The recipe follows:

2 large chicken breasts
Adolph's Meat Tenderizer with Seasoning
Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning
Poultry Seasoning
Garlic Powder
Vegetable Oil
1 tbls Butter
2 slices each - cheddar, Colby jack, Monterrey jack cheese

-Preheat skillet over medium high heat. Preheat oven to WARM setting.
-While pan is heating, cut chicken breasts into one inch strips.
-Lightly season the chicken breasts with the Adolph's on both sides.
-On only one side sprinkle a dusting of the rotisserie seasoning, poultry seasoning, and garlic powder.
-When pan is preheated, put in enough vegetable oil to coat the pan. Add butter.
-Place chicken in pan with the side that is seasoned facing down.
-Cook for 6 to 7 minutes until nicely browned. Flip over. Cook another 5 to 6 minutes until cooked through.
-Top with cheeses. Place skillet in oven until the cheese is nicely melted.

I had this chicken with some Brussels sprouts in butter sauce. Rice pilaf would also make a good side for this dish.