Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Moons over My Hammy

Technically Mondays are Brad's night to cook. Brad ACTUALLY cooks about 1 out of every 10 Mondays. Two Mondays ago he made Chicken Picatta. It was delicious. It is disturbing that we stock all of the ingredients one needs to make Chicken Picatta, but we do. Last Monday I think he had frozen pizza. I was dining at the delicious Emperor's Palace for family Girl's Night. Yesterday was a prime example of what normally happens on Monday, though...

Sometime on Sunday, I receive a text inquiring as to what I want for supper the following night. Sometimes I suggest something, sometimes I mention a particular product that needs to be used, sometimes I say something utterly brilliant and helpful, like "dunno." Around 3 pm on Monday, I usually get this text: "I am uninspired." When I arrive home 1-6 hours later, depending on what I have going on, either *I* cook something, or we go out. How did this play out this week? On Sunday afternoon, I got a text. "What do you want me to make you for dinner tomorrow?" I responded, "Biscuits and gravy, because I already have the sausage thawed." At 2 pm on Monday, I got a text. "You might have to help me make the gravy." My response. "You don't know how to make gravy?" Wait for it... Wait for it... "Not if it isn't premade."

I guess I am making dinner.

I didn't feel good, though. I got home and just wanted to lounge on the sofa. I did, too, successfully. I kept saying I would make dinner, but I didn't, and I didn't. Then, a Denny's commercial came on TV. The Original Grand Slam breakfast for $3.99. "Do you want to go to Denny's?" Brad asked, "I'll drive." SOLD.

Unfortunately, though, the $3.99 Grand Slam is only available Monday - Friday, 6 am - 4 pm. I got the Moons Over My Hammy.... mostly because I like to say Moons Over My Hammy. Brad got the Lumberjack Breakfast. I ate his pancakes.

Brad might not ever cook on "his night," but I'm not perfect either. This first photo is of my entertainment center. Notice the matching Christmas Ornament Trees on either side of the candle holder? Yeah. I forgot to take them down when I finally took down my Christmas decorations the first week in FEBRUARY. Now, almost April, the ornament trees remain firmly planted atop the entertainment center. I figure I'll take them down before my in-laws get here for my wedding... in June. Hopefully by that point we will also have removed the dead Christmas tree from the side of the house. I am sure my neighbors have called into some morning radio show to complain about us.

We still needed to use the sausage, though, so we had biscuits and gravy tonight.

2 1/4 cup Bisquick baking mix
2/3 cup 2% milk

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Mix together mix and milk until thoroughly combined. Spread 1/2 cup Bisquick on a clean dry surface. Place dough in the middle. Knead dough 20 times. Roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut biscuits out of dough. Place biscuits on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 8 - 10 minutes, or until golden brown. (This recipe is also on the side of the box. You really don't need me to tell you what it is...)

Sausage Gravy
1 pound sausage
1/4 cup flour
2 cups 2% milk
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large skillet on medium heat, saute sausage until cooked throughout. Crumble. Add flour, and stir until sausage and flour are combined. Add milk. Increase heat to medium-high. Add salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cook over medium high heat until sauce thickens. Reduce heat to low until ready to serve.

Hash Brown Casserole
1 medium onion, chopped
Olive oil
1 stick butter or margarine
1 cup sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
2 pounds frozen hash browns, thawed
Preheat oven to 375 F.
In a small skillet on medium heat, saute onion in olive oil for about 5 minutes, or until onion begins to brown. Meanwhile, melt butter or margarine in a large bowl. Stir in sour cream, cream of mushroom soup, pepper, salts and cheddar cheese. Add onions. Add hash browns and mix well.
Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Spread mixture into pan. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 15 minutes.

Here is a picture of the biscuits and gravy, along with hash brown casserole, and some mediocre scrambled eggs. How does one make a mediocre scrambled egg? Beats me. I did what I always do, but this time they seemed bland. Also, it is a good darned thing my plates are colorful, because that is the most "yellow" meal ever. It needs something green, or perhaps orange.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Chicken Tetrazzini

Chicken Tetrazzini

5 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 pound white mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk, room temperature
1 cup heavy whipping cream, room temperature
1 cup chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
12 ounces linguine
3/4 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
2 cups grated cheese (mozzarella, provel, provolone or some combination therein)
1 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup dried Italian-style breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Generously spray a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Melt 1 tablespoon each of butter and oil in a deep large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the hot pan and cook until pale golden and just cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate to cool slightly. Coarsely shred the chicken into bite-size pieces and place in a large bowl.

Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon each of butter and oil to the same pan. Add the mushrooms and saute over medium-high heat until the liquid from the mushrooms evaporates and the mushrooms become pale golden, about 12 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, and thyme, and saute until the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until it evaporates, about 2 minutes. Transfer the mushroom mixture to the bowl with the chicken.

Melt 3 more tablespoons butter in the same pan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, cream, broth, nutmeg, remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons salt, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Increase the heat to high. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add 2 cups of cheese.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the linguine and cook until it is tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 9 minutes. Drain. Add the linguine peas, and parsley to the chicken mixture. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Pour sauce over mixture. Stir a bit so sauce coats the the mixture and is blended.

Stir the cheese and breadcrumbs in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the cheese mixture over the pasta. Bake, uncovered, until golden brown on top and the sauce bubbles, about 25 minutes.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Today's Chocolate Cake

Amazing Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Mousse Filling and Ganache Frosting
1 (18.25 ounce) package devil's food cake mix
1 (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced
1/3 cup strawberry preserves
Ganache Frosting
1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
6 tablespoons butter (DO NOT USE MARGARINE)
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease and flour 3 8 inch cake pans.

In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs and water. Pour equal portions of batter into each cake pan.
Bake according to cake mix package directions for 8 inch cake pans, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cake thoroughly in pan at least 20 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack. Cool thoroughly before assembling.
In a medium sized bowl, combine sliced strawberries and preserves. Fold to combine.
In a large bowl, beat whipping cream, gradually adding powdered sugar, until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold strawberry mixture into whipped cream. Cover and Refrigerate until needed.
Place one layer of cake in the center of a serving platter. Place 1/2 of the mousse mixture in the center of the cake. and spread evenly to within 1/4 inch of the edge of the cake. (The weight of the remaining pieces will push the mousse out to the edges.) Gently place the second layer of cake on top of the mousse. Repeat step with the strawberry mousse. Gently add the final layer of cake on top. Refrigerate at least an hour before icing cake.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add all ganache ingredients together. Stir constantly until ingredients are melted and smooth. Allow to cool about 20 minutes. Place saucepan in the refrigerator to cool an additional 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
To frost, spread ganache evenly on the top and sides of cake. Return to refrigerator for at least one hour before serving. Ganache will harden up and retain the moisture of the cake.

Seafood Night!

So it turns out I don't love the little scallops. I really enjoy the big ones, but the little ones, not so much. Dinner on this particular evening had a seafood theme. I made Near East Rice Pilaf rice box and roasted broccoli to accompany the following two recipes.

Scallops Scampi
1/2 cup butter
1 tablespoon prepared Dijon-style mustard
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, or 1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 pound scallops, rinsed and dried. (Peeled, deveined raw shrimp would also work nicely)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, and parsley. When the butter melts completely, remove from heat.

Arrange scallops in a shallow baking dish. Pour the butter mixture over the scallops.
Bake in preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until the scallops are opaque.

Baked Dijon Salmon
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
4 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
4 (4 ounce) fillets salmon
salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small bowl, stir together butter, mustard, and honey. Set aside. In another bowl, mix together bread crumbs, pecans, and parsley.

Brush each salmon fillet lightly with honey mustard mixture, and sprinkle the tops of the fillets with the bread crumb mixture.

Bake salmon 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until it flakes easily with a fork. Season with salt and pepper, and garnish with a wedge of lemon.
I got out pork chops to make Pork Chops and Pierogies, a new favorite of ours, but I didn't make it and didn't make it, and then I didn't want it. Instead, I made this delicious stir fry experience, but I cannot for the life of me find the recipe. I know there were scrambled eggs in there, and fried garlic chips, and I think some mushrooms... I am still searching. It was GOOD!... Good Grief.... It has been 10 minutes, and I am still looking. Where could I have possibly gotten this recipe? Well, I give up. I can't find it. I remember it well, because it was really delicious and really easy, but I had to keep moving ingredients in and out of the pan. Fry the garlic, then remove. Cook the eggs, then remove, etc. At any rate, it was delicious and I served it with roasted broccoli. When I find the recipe, I will send it your way.

Below is a picture of a delicious salad. It is red leaf lettuce with chicken, peas, mushrooms, cucumbers, provel cheese, homemade croutons and some Zia's Sweet Italian Dressing. Yum!

I'm behind... again.

I have been a grading fool lately, which means I have not branched out in the cooking department. I figure it will get really redundant if the title for multiple posts is "Grilled Cheese... It's What's For Dinner, though it is. I am taking this opportunity to catch up on some recipes for some pictures I have taken of meals, and then, I am going to write about the delicious cake I made today for my luncheon with the girls!

Penne with Tomato Sauce and Sausage

1 (16 ounce) package penne
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 (14 ounce) cans Italian-style diced tomatoes, drained
1 small can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley or 3 teaspoons dried Parsley

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente; drain.

Heat oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Cook sausage and pepper flakes until sausage is evenly brown. Stir in onion and garlic, and cook until onion is tender. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, cream, and salt. Simmer until mixture thickens, 8 to 10 minutes.

Stir cooked pasta into sauce, and heat through. Sprinkle with parsley.

*This was really delicious, though I thought it needed to be a bit more wet. In the future, I will probably either use a bit less pasta, or create half again as much sauce. Brad thought it was great, and though he is awesome and eats anything I put in front of him with out complaint, I really do think he thought it was great the way it was. I am a saucy girl. I like lots of sauce. *

I also just remembered that if I add another picture now, it will be at the very top of this document, thus giving me a headache trying to format everything, so I am just moving on to a new post.... I'll be back!