Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Spiced Chicken w/ Pepper Rajas

So, I'm deeming today pity party Tuesday. Why, you ask? Well... I found out some pretty discouraging news yesterday. I don't know if you all remember, but I applied for pharmacy school back in October. Well, I finally heard back yesterday. And guess what. I DIDNT GET IN. Of course, they gave me the old speech about how, the class of 2014 is filled up, but I could reactivate my application for next year to have a chance to be in the class of 2015. Well, that's not what I want to hear. There's always next year is a cliche response. And yes, I believe there IS always next year, but the fact of the matter is... this was something I really wanted. Something I still want, but really wanted for myself, for this year. To get on the right track to finish something.
I mean, the more I think of it, the more I depress myself. But it's constantly been on my mind since I got that blasted e-mail last night. I seriously can't hold back the tears. It makes me think of what I did wrong or how I could have been better. Was my GPA not high enough? Did I send my application too late (even though it was 2 & 1/2 months before the deadline)? Did I just not stand out? Did my personal essay just suck?
It's not like someone died. It's not like my life is over. But it really feels like I'm a 2 year old who just had their favorite Barbie snatched away from them and then had somebody run over it, so I could never play with it again. Damn life.
Phew. Now that I've bored you with my bitter, cynical rant... I guess you guys want a recipe. On a lighter note, I love the flavors and colors of this dish. They make me smile. There, I said something positive.

Adapted from Bon Appetit January 2010 "Spiced Chicken Breasts w/ Poblano & Bell Pepper Rajas"

1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3-4 chicken breasts, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
1 poblano pepper, deseeded and cut into strips
1 onion, sliced thinly
juice from 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste

Mix the coriander and cumin in a small bowl. Sprinkle the chicken slices with half of the mixture and set the other half aside. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper also.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet under medium high heat. Add all 3 peppers and onions. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 7-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to medium bowl and set aside.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the same skillet and add chicken. Cover and let cook through, about 7 minutes per side.

When chicken is white throughout, push to 1 side of skillet and add pepper mixture back into skillet. Season the peppers with the remaining coriander/cumin mixture and lime juice. Heat everything through, about 2-3 more minutes. You can either mix everything together or serve peppers alongside chicken separately.

I chose to mix everything together and serve it alongside rice. It was pretty tasty and definitely on the healthy low-calorie side. This would even be great as like a fajita mixture. Enjoy!

P.S. Sorry to bum you all out, but I've just been a little down on life. Trust me though, I am going to apply to more schools next year and not give up. It's just heartbreaking to hear bad news of any kind, you know?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tropical Fruit Stuffed Cornish Hens

With an epic fail behind me, I was determined to execute a great dish for my final meal of the week. However, I had a predicament. I was planning on making cornish hens and I had to work until 9:30 on Thursday night. I didn't want to be up all night long just making this, considering I also had to be at work at 8am then following day. So, "lightbulb!" Andy can do it. I made sure to carefully set everything out that he would need and left the directions plain as day on the table. And plus, if it didn't turn out, I could blame it on him, hehe. Anyway, things went accordingly, and the only somewhat funny question he asked me was... "so we're using this rice to fill up this bird instead of stuffing right?" I know he just pictures a box of StoveTop or something when he thinks of stuffing but I had to explain to him that all of those ingredients combined WERE the actual stuffing. Lightbulbs went off in his head and he understood.


2 Cornish Hens (about 1-1&1/2 lbs each)
8 oz. bag of tropical dried fruit (or any dried fruit you like)
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 oz. Baby Bella mushrooms, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 cups jasmine rice, cooked
1/4 teaspoon Herb de Provence
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon peppercorns (can use any variety, I used black & pink)
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Empty the tropical fruit mix into a medium bowl and cover with brandy, maybe about 1/2 cup or so. Let sit for about 45 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat your olive oil in a large skillet under medium high heat and add the onions, mushrooms, and garlic. Saute for about 10 minutes, or until onions are soft and translucent.

Add in the dried fruits and mix well. Take off heat and cool mixture to room temperature.

Mix in remaining stuffing ingredients and stuff the Cornish Hens. You can place your remaining stuffing in a baking dish and bake alongside the hens.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place hens on roasting rack, sprinkle skin with salt and pepper, and cover the exposed stuffing with aluminum foil. Roast for about 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until internal temperature is 180 F.

Let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Let me tell you, this dish was a big sigh of relief. I was almost on the verge of diving off the deep end if it wasn't going to work. I mean, it was great. The stuffing was "interesting," but interesting in a good way. The flavors were complex and the hens were done perfectly. The skin was just amazing, and that's my favorite part! enjoy!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Chicken on a Plate

Okay. So this was my week to cook, right? Right. It started off with a bang... pork tenderloin, seafood medley, things were good. Then had to come Wednesday night. I was so excited to make this delicious chicken dish after I got out of class. And it definitely WOULD have been delicious if I didn't make the most epic mistake ever. Mistake #1 - forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer to thaw out. And you would have thought I'd just save the dish for another day at this point because Andy even offered to go out to eat. But being as stubborn of a person as I am, what I do... Mistake #2 - defrost the chicken in the microwave. Now I don't know about you all, but I think defrosted chicken is kinda funky. I'd rather let it naturally thaw out over a course of time than to somewhat nuke it in a microwave. But that's just me. But what do I do, so determined to cook this dish, I throw it in that box of a microwave and attempt to defrost it. So after about 15 minutes or so, I deem it defrosted enough and continue on. Epic mistake, because when you cut into the chicken it was still somewhat frozen as it cooked and the moisture was just overwhelming. Not the kind of juicy chicken you want. So, instead of NOT including this recipe, I'm going to post it, because I think it looks great on Cookin' Canuck's page where I saw it, and if just done properly by myself, would be delicious.

On a side note, my friend Sarah is going to run the Louisville MiniMarathon and is on a Team Training group to help raise money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. So, I know times are tough, but even just $1 helps out! I know there's tons of things going on in the world right now, Haiti for instance, so if you don't want to donate, that's cool, but I'm proud of Sarah and what she's doing, so any support (even just reposting the link on your page) would be helpful!
Click here to see her page and donate.

Adapted from Cookin' Canuck's blog

1 pint buttermilk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1 & 1/2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
salt and pepper
1 whole chicken (about 3 lbs.)
1 8 oz. box panko bread crumbs

In a medium bowl, mix together buttermilk, dijon mustard, honey, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Make sure honey is well incorporated and not clumpy. Set about 1 cup of the mixture aside for use later.

Spread out panko bread crumbs in a large plate.

Dip the chicken in the mixture and coat well. Then dredge (you may have to just pat it on) the chicken into the panko bread crumbs.

Cover the chicken and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 425 F. Place a roasting rack in the oven for 5 minutes to get nice and hot.

Place chicken on rack and roast for about 1 & 1/2 to 2 hours, when internal temperature of chicken is 170 F. I'd recommend flipping the bird halfway through so the crust doesn't get overdone on one side.

Let rest for about 10 minutes after taking out of the oven and carve. Heat up the reserved cup of batter/sauce in the microwave for about 1-2 minutes, or until thick. Top chicken with sauce and serve on a plate with whatever sides you like!

The original recipe called for using drumsticks, which I probably should have done, but I had the whole chicken in the fridge (or freezer, I should say) so I didn't want to go out and buy more chicken if I didn't need to. And I really do believe this would have been great if I had just properly done things. Have you ever just went through with something that you knew would just end in disaster? Been too stubborn to just stop? Enjoy the weekend guys!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Seafood Medley

I don't watch much television anymore. It's not that I dislike television, it's just I'm too busy or would rather do a variety of other things than loaf on the couch and watch some tube. However, I do have my indulgences that I MUST watch religiously. I'm mainly talking about Top Chef. Of course it's over now, but you bet your ass when Season 7 comes around, I will MAKE time for this amazing show. I love it mainly because it doesn't have that "reality factor"... you know the fake acting, the predictable dialogue, the just downright tackyness. And I don't mean to offend anyone who is a fan of that type of reality tv... but it's not my cup of tea. But Top Chef always provides entertainment, quick wit, and most of all, they showcase the food. The food is the star and that's why I pay attention! Anyway, my segue way here is that for Christmas this year Andy got me the Top Chef Quickfire Cookbook and I've only made 2 things out of it, a dessert, and this seafood dish. It turned out okay, but I somewhat improvised on it, to account for my amateur cooking skills (in comparison to the Top Chef crew) and so I don't think it turned out quite as well as it could have.

Adapted from Top Chef Quickfire Cookbook - "Brian M.'s Tres Rios"

1 lb. mixed shellfish (I used 10 mussels, 10 clams, and 1/2 lb. rockshrimp)
2 cups chardonnay
2 red bell peppers, seeded and sliced into thin strips
juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons shallots, diced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons Pernod (licorice flavored liquor)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat a dutch oven on the stove under medium high heat. Add the shellfish mixture, wine, bell peppers, shallots, lemon juice, butter, Pernod, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

Cover and steam until the clams and mussels open. About 10 minutes or so. Discard any of the unopened shells.

Serve with crispy baguette slices and jasmine rice.

Like I said, this was an okay dish. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great. It was definitely one of those dishes that smelled completely different than it actually tasted. The Pernod was overpowering when you whiffed the pot, but when you tasted the broth it was delicious and didn't really have an overpowering taste of licorice or liquor. More like a lemony, buttery taste with a hint of possible licorice as an afterthought. And I definitely wouldn't recommend the rock shrimp. My clams were the last to open so the whole mixture was steaming for a long time and the shrimp seemed to get overdone. They were really "rock" shrimp after all was said and done. And if the rock shrimp was used again, I'd probably put it in last minute because they cook so fast. All in all, it's worth a shot and it's quite versatile of a dish. Most of all, it's colorful and take a nice picture, if anything. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Smoked Sausage Fajitas

It's only Wednesday, but I already feel worn out. Waking up early, working, going to school... it takes a toll on me. I can tell you that I'm totally ready for the weekend (which I have completely off from everything). What shall I do? I don't know, but I know I won't be working and I won't be waking up early. That's a good enough combination for me. Well, this recipe is pretty quick and easy. Everything is pretty much already cooked so you just have to get it warm, and who doesn't like fajitas?!?!


2 large smoked sausages, sliced
1 green pepper, cut into strips
1 red pepper, cut into strips
1 onion, sliced into thin rings
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon frank's red hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
flour tortillas
shredded lettuce
sour cream

Heat a large skillet under medium high heat and saute sausage, peppers, onion, oregano, cumin, frank's hot sauce, and red pepper flakes.

Heat until warmed through, about 8 to 10 minutes and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Put mixture into warmed flour tortillas and top with lettuce, salsa, sour cream, and/or whatever other toppings you'd like.

See... how extremely easy was all of that? Sometimes you have lazy days in the kitchen, but that doesn't necessarily mean you have to lack on flavor or taste! These were scrumptious and delicious even for lunch the next day! What recipes do you guys whip up in no time? Enjoy!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pork Tenderloin & Sauteed Pears

First week of the spring semester was last Monday. I'm feeling pretty good about it already. Both of my classes, including Organic Chemistry, have really great professors and I'm pretty pumped about that. I mean, just sitting in my Organic class this past week was more enlightening than all of last semester (where it was just pure confusing hell). It was like that "EUREKA!" light bulb went off in my head, or maybe it's just the fact that I have a professor that can really get me, the student, to grasp the concepts. Whatever it is, I'm glad. Have you ever had a "Eureka" moment? Or just been put into a better situation than you planned?

Adapted from the Bon Appetit January 2010 issue - Pork Tenderloin w/ Pears & Shallots

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 & 1/2 lb. pork tenderloin
3 shallots, cut into wedges and peeled
3 unpeeled red Anjou pears, diced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons flour
1 & 1/2 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup pear nectar
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 475 F.

In a small bowl, mix olive oil, garlic, and thyme. Spread 2/3 of the mixture on the pork, then use the remaining 1/3 to coat the shallots and the pears.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add tenderloin and shallots. Cook all sides of tenderloin until browned, about 2-3 minutes per side. And cook shallots until lightly browned and softened.

Transfer shallots to serving platter. Then place tenderloin on baking sheet and roast for about 10 minutes or when thermometer inserted into center reads 145 F. Allow pork to rest on cutting board for about 5 minutes.

In same skillet used for tenderloin and shallots, add pears and saute until lightly browned, about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer pears to serving platter with shallots.

Mix butter and flour in a small cup. Add chicken broth, pear nectar, and butter to same skillet you've been using all along and scrape up the sucs, or brown bits, from the pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and allow to thicken, about 8-10 minutes.

Slice the pork and arrange atop pears and shallots. Drizzle the pork with the sauce and serve!

This was absolutely delicious. My pork couldn't be more tender if I wanted it to be! The pears really provide a sweet and savory element to the dish. And the sauce was just enough to set the whole plate off! This was great and I highly recommend this for a quick weeknight meal, because it's really on the table in less than 40 minutes! Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Korean Flank Steaks

Many of you know of the wonderful dish Korean BBQ right? Well, my first experience of it was this past summer. I was at a friend of mine's BBQ and another couple that was there, brought some Korean BBQ over. Being the Asian cuisine lover that I am, I was intrigued. The aroma itself was enough to sell me on the dish. Sam, the griller, is a pharmacist for Kroger and happened to be good friends with the butcher. He said that he would get the guy to cut the ribs across the bone instead of along side the bone. It made the pieces of meat thin and grilled fast. He said he marinated it in soy sauce, ginger, and garlic... the holy trinity of most Asian cuisine in my opinion. So since then, I've always wanted to try to make my own, and this weekend, I had a couple friends over and had to give it a try.


1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons chardonnay, or other white wine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
2 & 1/2 lb. flank steak, sliced across the grain
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

The marination is pretty much where most of the "cooking" or work is done in this dish. Combine all ingredients (except for steak, cornstarch, and vegetable oil) in a somewhat deep glass dish (like a casserole dish would be perfect). Make sure sugar dissolves and ingredients are well combined. Add in steak strips and coat well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Ideally, you would want to grill these, but since it was bloody cold outside, I opted to cook these over the stove top. Once again, ideally, if you were doing this inside, a grill pan would be best, but I don't have a grill pan, so I just used my skillet.

Heat skillet (or whatever else you want to use) under medium high heat and add vegetable oil. In batches of about 4 or 5, brown both sides of the steak, about 30 seconds to a minute for a nice medium-rare to medium.

Continue with remaining flank pieces and tent the cooked steak with foil to keep hot.

If you want to make a quick "gravy", if you will, using the leftover marinade, just add it to the same skillet used for steak and scrape up brown bits. Heat until bubbling and then bring to a simmer. Combine 1 teaspoon cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water and mix until dissolved. Add mixture to "gravy". Increase heat and allow mixture to thicken while constantly stirring. Pour gravy on top of steaks! I served this alongside some simple roasted sweet potatoes!

This was definitely a great take on meat and potatoes. The sweet potatoes brought out the sweetness of the marinade, while still maintaining the savoriness of the steak. This is really not close to the Korean BBQ I talked about before hand, but more of a "distant cousin". I know that they were both really frickin' delicious though! Enjoy!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Asian Meatballs w/ Fried Rice

I'm starting to be at a crossroads in my life. I'll be turning 25 this year, and I've been in college since I was 18, still with nothing to show for it. It's starting to really bother me. I'm antsy to make something of myself, but at the same time realize it's still going to take time to accomplish that. So here in lies the crossroads. Go to pharmacy school or finish up my biology degree and go to graduate school for food science? I love both fields, I mean, I've worked for a pharmacy for about 5 years and there's nothing better than the satisfaction you get out of really making a difference in someone's life. But then again, food science! Wow, I could work in research & development in food labs. I'd be hands on with products and potentially incur the same revenue as I would as a pharmacist. Either choice would allow me to finish up about the same time, so time really isn't an issue. I think this all just came about really because I still haven't heard back from my pharmacy school application. Am I just paranoid? I need a back up plan in case all else fails, but this is just downright nerve racking! Anyway, this all has nothing to do with today's dish, really, just had to vent for a minute.

Adapted from Vanilla Sugar's blog

1 lb. ground pork
1 small onion, grated
1 egg
5 garlic cloves, minced and divided
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons black bean sauce with garlic
pinch of cornstarch
pinch of powdered ginger
2 cups jasmine rice, cooked
1 teaspoon canola oil
1/4 cup shredded carrots
4 green onions, chopped
1 small can water chestnuts, drained
1 small can bamboo shoots, drained
1/4 cup roasted peanuts
3 tablespoons pad thai sauce

Whoa that's a big list of ingredients! Don't let it deter you! Most of it, if you cook enough Asian foods like me, will already be in your pantry! If not, still give it a go because it's definitely worth it!

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Combine pork, egg, grated onion, 3 garlic cloves, fresh ginger, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, and panko bread crumbs in a medium bowl. Mix well and form about 1-2 inch meatballs.

Heat canola oil in a large skillet and brown meatballs on all sides. Do not cook all the way, just get them nice and browned. Then place on a greased baking sheet and bake in oven for about 15 minutes.

Drain most of oil off of skillet, but leave just a bit. Combine honey, black bean garlic sauce, corn starch, powdered ginger, and 4 tablespoons of soy sauce in a small bowl. Add to skillet under medium heat and cook until it bubbles and slightly thickens. Pour mixture over meatballs and coat well.

Heat up a little more canola oil in another large skillet under medium high heat and add garlic. Stir until fragrant, about a minute or so, and add in cooked rice. Then add carrots, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, and peanuts. Mix well. Add pad thai sauce and a few dashes of soy sauce to the rice mixture. Incorporate the sauces well throughout the rice. Top with chopped green onion.

Serve meatballs on top of rice and dig in!

These were some of the most flavorful and delicious meatballs I've ever had. Definitely has one leg up on the Italian variety! Enjoy!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Warm-Up White Chili

I've always wanted a dutch oven to cook with. I used to always use a crockpot in replacement of it, but to my surprise, Andy got me a dutch oven for Christmas this year! I was so excited to use it, and this white chili recipe was the perfect reason! There was snow on the ground and it was the perfect thing to warm you up from the cold. And p.s. I got a new car the other day! I'm not the proud owner of a red 2008 Ford Focus... and I'm now having to readjust my lifestyle to include a car payment and an increased insurance rate! Oh well... I'm going to try my best not to cut into my food budget because I truly believe good ingredients are necessary for great food!

Adapted from All That Splatter's Blog

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes w/ green chilies, undrained
6 tomatillos, chopped (I LOVE tomatillos, definitely ingredient of the year for me)
1 jalapeno, halfway deseeded if you want a little kick, but if not you can deseed the whole thing
2 cups chicken stock
1 can green chilies, chopped
3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon cumin
2 cans Great Northern beans, undrained
juice from 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste
crushed tortilla chips and shredded cheddar cheese, for garnish

In a dutch oven, under medium high heat, heat up the oil and saute the onions until soft, about 5 minutes. Then add in garlic and stir until fragrant, a minute or two.

Stir in tomatillos, tomatoes, and jalapeno. Cook for another 5 minutes so tomatillos can soften.

Add chicken stock, green chilies, chicken, oregano, cumin, beans, and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer until ready to serve, stirring occasionally. I let mine sit for about 30-45 minutes to let the flavors really meld together.

Ladle into soup bowls and garnish the the tortilla chips and cheddar cheese.

I really loved this chili. It's not as thick as most normal white chilies and it's not overcrowded with beans. The complexity of flavors is just amazing. The sweetness of the tomatillos and the subtle hint of the jalapeno spice are just wonderful! I really hope you give this one a try! Enjoy!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Chicken Noodle Soup w/ an Asian Twist

It's been quite cold here in Louisville lately, and today is not exception. There's a few inches of snow on the ground and I'm sure the city is in mass hysteria... especially the thousands that can not drive in the snow. I don't know what it is, but this city is NEVER prepared for snow. The snow trucks never come prepared, or salt the night before a known snow is coming. People drive just like they normally would on a sunny day, which is not the right way to drive in the snow. That's how you end up in a ditch or a median. But best of all... on the seemingly coldest and most snow filled day of the year so far... I am intending to test drive and purchase a new car. Am I crazy? Yes. But more importantly, I'm in need of a new vehicle... and why not today. When the salesman don't want to spend hours outside and more time inside signing paperwork and getting the deal done. That's my viewpoint anyway, I'll keep you updated on whether this plan actually worked or not.

Adapted from The Way The Cookie Crumbles' blog

3 chicken breasts, sliced into medallions
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 small onions, chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups water
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 to 1 box of spaghetti noodles
5 large shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced thin
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
pinch or two of red pepper flakes (optional)
2 scallions, sliced thin

This is definitely a crockpot soup. Or I made it that way anyway. Turn your crockpot onto the high setting to get it warmed up.

In a large skillet, heat up oil under medium high heat and cook the chicken medallions until no longer pink. Transfer chicken to crockpot and cover.

In same skillet used for chicken, saute the onions, garlic, and ginger for about 5 minutes, when onions are soft and translucent. Add mixture to crockpot over chicken.

Deglaze skillet of brown bits by adding 1 cup of water to pan and scraping of the sucs. Then dump that water into the crockpot. Add remaining 3 cups of water and 4 cups of chicken broth into crockpot as well. Let simmer in crockpot until almost ready to serve, stirring occasionally. Mine was in there for about 45 minutes.

About 15 minutes before you're ready to dig in, add in noodles and mushrooms. When noodles are soft, stir in rice vinegar, soy sauce, chili flakes, sesame oil, and scallions.

Ladle into bowls and serve hot!

The only problem I had with this dish was that I used too many noodles. But besides that, the flavors were all there and it definitely warms you up on a cold and frigid day. Just a different take on a classic. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Momma's Lasagna

I wish I had this long story about how my mother made awesome lasagna for us when we were growing up. But no, the name of this dish doesn't come from something my mother made for us. I mean, don't get me wrong, my mom made lasagna... but it was the kind you get in the freezer aisle and there's not much to that except putting it in the oven and letting it cook. No love there, but it fed us and I can't complain.

The real reason behind the name of this was that the whole time we were eating this last night, Andy kept saying... "Wow, this tastes just like my mom's lasagna." Had I ever had Andy's mother's lasagna? No. But I took it as a compliment and so I digress...

Adapted from Cooking With Michelle's blog

1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. mild italian sausage
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
4 cups sausage marinara
1 box of about 20 or so lasagna noodles, cooked
30 ounces ricotta cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
4 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

In a large skillet, under high heat, cook the beef and sausage until browned. Season with salt and pepper, and if you're feeling extra frisky throw in some red pepper flakes to add the heat.

Add about 2 1/2 cups of marinara to the beef and mix well.

Add 3/4 cup of marinara to the bottom of a rectangular roasting pan. Layer about 4-5 of the cooked lasagna noodles over marinara. Spread 1/3 of the meat mixture on top of the noodles. Then top with 1/3 of the ricotta, 1/2 of the parmesan, and 1 cup of the mozzarella.

Repeat layering twice more. Top the remaining noodles with remaining 3/4 cup of marinara and extra mozzarella cheese.

Cover tightly with foil and preheat oven to 375. Bake until heated all the way through and cheese is bubbly, about an hour or so. Cut into sections and serve!

This was absolutely delicious. It made tons of lasagna and is a great comfort food for any occasion! Enjoy!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Chicken w/ Asian BBQ Sauce

Happy New Year everyone! 2010 will be big for me, hopefully. A few resolutions:

- be a nicer person. I'm somewhat known as a brash and straight forward person. I don't normally take "feelings" into consideration. I know this is sometime a bad and a good thing, but I'm working towards improving on just being "nicer" and more approachable.

- cook a 5 course dinner for friends. I've wanted to do this for a long time, and I think I've got enough solid dishes that I can actually pull this through. Look for this when it starts to get warmer!

- get a new car. This I'm in the process of doing right now. It's just so hard finding something to stick with and in my price range.

- expand my cookbook collection. Right now I've got about 5 or 6 solid cook books. I want more. And I plan on getting more vintage cookbooks and anything I can get my hands on.

- get accepted to pharmacy school. With my application in since the beginning of October, I still haven't heard anything. The only correspondence I've received is that "we are reviewing other applicants/application and when we get to yours we'll get back to you." Who says that?!?! Come on people, am I in or not? Patience is a virtue, I suppose.

That's just a few things I want to do in 2010. I hope to accomplish them all, but there are only so many hours in the day.

Anyway, this Chicken would not even be close to being as good if it weren't for the bbq sauce. It's amazingly tasty!

Adapted from Food & Wine's November Issue - "Chicken Drumsticks w/ Asian Barbecue Sauce"

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon Chine 5-spice powder
1 whole chicken (about 3 lbs)
salt and pepper
3/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons minced ginger
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon sesame oil
sesame seeds (optional)

Preheat your oven to 425 F.

Mix the vegetable oil and the 5-spice powder in a small bowl. Lather the chicken up with this stuff. Get it nice and shiny. Then season the bird with enough salt and pepper to your liking. Place the bird on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast for a total of an hour, turning once in between, but just make sure it is cooked through, depending on the size of your bird.

While that's in the oven, you can prepare your sauce. In a food processor, combine the hoisin sauce, chili sauce, rice vinegar, chicken stock, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, and a dash of salt and pepper. Combine until nice a smooth. You'll have small bits of ginger and garlic, but that's okay. Transfer the sauce to a small saucepan and simmer until it thickens just a bit, for about 5 minutes.

Periodically through the roasting period, brush the sauce onto the chicken. Turn over chicken about halfway through, and continue to brush on sauce.

Let chicken rest for about 10-15 minutes after removing from the oven. Carve accordingly and plate. Top with toasted sesame seeds.

I really loved this dish. It makes me never want normal barbecue sauce again! There are just so many flavors singing in your mouth when you bite into this juicy chicken! I served it with a simple sweet potato and cranberry casserole which was just delicious and paired well with the chicken. Enjoy!


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