Friday, February 18, 2011

This Lasagna was FAB

So, I totally didn't take pictures because it was only my 2nd time making lasagna ever, people know what lasagna looks like, and because the camera has new batteries in it and is packed in my hospital bag, ready for whenever this kid decides he wants to arrive.
Bare with me as I kinda sorta made this up as I went along...I didn't measure, but these are more estimates (I know y'all hate when I do this to you, but I'm pretty accurate, I think). Let me know if any of my measurements should be changed when you make it...I'll be sure to give you credit too!

2 lbs ground beef (I used chuck, from a roll. Really, it's quite good)
1/2 tsp dried onion
1/2 tsp dried garlic
2 tsp basil, fresh, diced, divided (you could use about 1 tbsp dried basil)
1 jar Barilla Marinara sauce (you can use other things, this is just what I had on hand)
1 tub (16 oz) Daisy low fat cottage cheese (again, this is what I had on hand)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp pepper, ground
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 lb mozzarella cheese, divided
12-15 lasagna noodles (the no-boil ones are legit as well, but I didn't have them)

Brown ground beef in a medium sauce pan, with onion and garlic, drain any excess fat.
Add marinara sauce and half of the basil. Let simmer about an hour. Add in 2nd half of basil.
Cook lasagna noodles as directed, drain and set aside.
Combine cottage cheese, eggs, pepper, oregano, Parmesan cheese and 1/2 of mozzarella.
In a lasagna pan, layer noodles, cheese mixture, and meat sauce, repeating until it's even with the top of the pan. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese.
Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes or until cheese mixture is thoroughly melted. I also turned on the broiler for a few seconds to make the top that golden bubbly deliciousness.

I served with a salad and The Pioneer Woman's "The Bread" which, is SERIOUSLY the most easy awesomeness you'll ever come across.

Eventually, ok, SOON I'll make this again and post pictures. I promise. <3

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Crispy Coconut Chicken Tenders

Coconut shrimp is my weakness. If you've ever been to the Sagebrush Cantina, theirs is FANTASTIC. I can't help but to order it. It's sweet. Like, donut sweet. Sooooo good. So, back in December, we went to a surprise birthday party for one of Mike's cousins at Downtown Main Martini Bar & Grille in Brighton, MI. We had Coconut Chicken as an appetiser and it was absolutely amazing. I decided to give it a try myself and though I'll be altering the recipe a bit the next time I make it, it still turned out really well for "oven fried."

1 c coconut
1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 lbs chicken tenders
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 c butter, melted

Pre-heat oven to 400*F.
In a flat surfaced container, combine coconut, flour, salt, and pepper.

Dip the chicken tenders into the egg, then coat with the coconut mixture.

Drizzle with melted butter and bake for 25 minutes, turning once.

For additional browning/crispiness, I left them under the broiler for another minute or so more.

Pre-heat oven to 400*F. In a flat surfaced container, combine coconut, flour, salt, and pepper. Dip the chicken tenders into the egg, then coat with the coconut mixture. Place tenders in a shallow, un-greased baking pan, 1 inch apart. Drizzle with melted butter and bake for 25 minutes, turning once. For additional browning/crispiness, I left them under the broiler for another minute or so more.

Next time, I may try more of a batter instead of a dry flour mixture. I'll keep you posted. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comments. Thanks for reading!

Friday, February 4, 2011

MmmHmm Margarita Pizza

I love pizza. I'm not alone really. According to Your Guide to Pizza, "Americans eat an average of 46 slices of pizza a year." AND, because it's officially the Super Bowl weekend, another fact, according to YGtP, "More pizza is consumed during Super Bowl week than any other week of the year." Seriously folks, this is big time food love.

Currently, my Margarita Pizza is in the oven, smelling delicious, enticing my senses. I can hardly stand it. The smell of basil, cheese, bread and tomatoes in the oven is truly making me drool. Even though the timer is set, I keep running over to open the oven for whiffs. I'm an addict.

Ingredients for 1 large-ish pizza
1 pizza dough (click the link for the recipe)- if you want flat crust, omit the yeast.
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, fresh, sliced 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick
1 lg. tomato, chopped
3 tsp. basil, fresh, chapped
garlic salt, to taste

Toss your dough and spread it on your pan or stone. Sprinkle with a little garlic salt. Or, a lot. Whatever you want, it's your pizza.

Chop your tomato, basil and slice the cheese. Yes, I used roma tomatoes, that's what I had on hand.

Layer cheese, tomato and basil onto the dough.

Place into a 425 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until crust is evenly browned.

Remove, let set about 5 minutes, slice and enjoy!

Guinness Beef Stew

I love beer. I really love Guinness. If you ever want to make me happy, bring me Guinness. Or better yet, chocolate Guinness cake which, I've had once and obtained and lost the recipe. My new mission is to find it again and share the deliciousness with you.

I've been home for the last 2 weeks, off on maternity leave. Apparently, my job is too far away from the hospital and because of my complications, they're keeping me on a tight leash. Swell. I really don't mind too much, except I'm a bit bored. What better to do than bake and cook my days away? (I don't think The Husband minds much either...he's actually getting home cooked meals again.)

So, I'm stuck at home, knocked up, bored and avoiding (read: not really able to) leaving the house due to the "Snowmageddon" snow storm that covered like 30 states or something like that. Yeah, we got a bunch of snow, it was cold and windy as what. Sorry- anyway- I decided to make some beef stew. Yummyness.

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
2 lb. Stew Meat (yes, the label really says "Stew Meat")
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced (I didn't have fresh, so I used the minced crap in a jar, this is an estimate of how much I used)
1 12 oz. bottle of Guinness
4 c beef stock (I use low or no sodium)
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tbsp tomato paste
.5 tsp cayenne pepper
.5 tsp Kosher salt
1.5 tsp sugar
4-6 whole carrots, unpeeled, washed, very roughly sliced
4-6 new potatoes, very roughly sliced
black pepper, freshly ground - to taste
Water, if needed

In a large skillet, melt butter and add olive oil. Add the meat to brown. I cooked to about medium temperature. While that's cooking, chop your onion. Don't cry, it's just the onion. You should also dice your garlic at this time too...unless you're lazy like me and use the jarred crap. When the meat is browned, remove to a separate cutting board.

Add the diced onions and saute until soft. While that's cooking, cut your meat into smaller, more bite-sized bits. Next, add your garlic and cook for a bout a minute more.

Once the onion and garlic are soft, I transferred them and the remaining liquid from the pan into a large stock pot, as you can see below.

Mmmmm, Guinness.

Measure your Guinness (if you're like me, you get a bigger bottle and drink half...just make sure you save 12 oz. for the stew) and add to the stock pot.

Add in the beef stock. (or in my case, veggie stock, because I had none. Nor did I have any beef bouillon, but truly, no one knew the difference)

Add your tomato paste. You could use more than the recommended amount, if you'd like. Hell, I probably did. I don't measure anything.

Next the Worcestershire Sauce. Notice I didn't clean the measuring spoon from when I added the tomato paste. Again, I don't care that much.

Then, add your sugar, salt, Cayenne pepper and fresh ground pepper. You don't have to separate it here, but I didn't want to have 17 photos of adding various spoons of crap into the stew. That's right, I care about you, the reader, and your time, and your eye balls.

Mmm, meat, in bite-sized pieces.

Toss your meat (gently because the liquid is hot) back into the pot.

After all of the meat is back into the pot, cover and simmer over low heat. Take about a 2 hour time out. Put your feet up, drink a little of the Guinness if you want. Relax. Your meat needs time to tenderize.

Mmmm, carrots. And potatoes.

Coarsely or roughly chop your carrots and potatoes. I cut them into bite sized pieces. The Husband said he like them like that, a bit on the bigger side. I think he feels this stew is "manly-er" because everything was a bit bigger than in the canned soup crap that he eats. ::shudder::

Add your potatoes and carrots to the pot. At this time, you could TOTALLY add other veggies. I contemplated doing so as well but got lazy. I wanted to watch the blizzard rather than chop more stuff.

Cover again, and let simmer at least 45 minutes. Sample the veggies to make sure they're cooked. You should probably sample some more Guinness too. If the soup needs anything more; seasoning, WATER if it's too thick, etc., add it here and simmer a few minutes more.

(Directions without pictures)
Heat oil and butter in a large skillet or pan (you could make this into a 1 Pot Dish or Crock Pot Recipe, but I chose not to.) over medium-high heat. Brown meat. While that's cooking, chop and mince your onions and garlic, keeping them separate. Once meat is cooked, set aside, onto a cutting board. Cut pieces in half and save for later.

Add diced onions to the pan and cook, stirring frequently for a few minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and cook for about another minute. Transfer to large sauce pan or crock pot.

Pour in beer and beef stock. Add Worcestershire, tomato paste, Cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, and sugar. Add beef back into the pot. Stir to combine. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Coarsely chop carrots and potatoes (and other veggies if desired) and add into the pot. Cover and cook for an additional 45-ish minutes. If your stew is too dry, add hot water as needed. Sample and adjust seasonings as needed.

Serve with buttered bread, salad, etc. Whatever. Just ENJOY!

I served this with some buttered Everything Bagel Bread. Soooooo good. The Husband agrees.

Makes about 4 larger servings.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Oops! Now it's Bagel Bread!


Yesterday, I tried (keyword being "tried") making bagels. I think my flour was old (I know, many of you will say it was the yeast or the water temp, but I just bought it and the water was about 135f). Anyway, I followed the recipe for Nigella's Bagels as I have so many times before, adding garlic powder, dried diced onion, sesame and poppy seeds, and the stuff never really did raise the way it was supposed to. (I'm seriously contemplating changing my blog name to The Accidental Baker or some shit like that. Because really, things I make rarely ever turn out the way they're supposed to. ha.)

So, I decided that instead of throwing the delicious smelling-dough away, I'd bake it bread! YEAH! That's it, I'll make bread out. I avoided the boiling process that's used in the bagel recipe, formed the dough into loaves and let them proof (raise), covered by oiled plastic wrap in a 100 degree f oven. (We're cheap and keep our house at 65...not so good for making things that need to raise).

After the 2nd "raising" which never really worked too well, I took the plastic wrap off, turned the oven to 375f and baked the hell out of it for about 20 minutes, buttering the top at about 18 minutes. The top didn't brown too well (of course), so I turned the broiler on it for a few seconds and "wallah" Bagel Bread! WOOT!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Spaghetti & Meatballs

I’m a pasta-holic! Any way to jazz it up and give it a new twist, I’m there! However, you have to start with the basics before you can advance to the pros! So let’s make some Spaghetti and Meatballs!


1 pound ground beef , ground turkey, or ground chicken (or you can combine 1/3 pound each of ground beef, pork, and veal if you like the flavor combo)
½ cup white bread crumbs
¼ cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs
2 tbs fresh flat leaf parsley chopped
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 ¼ tsp Kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 cloves grated garlic
½ of a small white or yellow onion –grated
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Fresh Mozzarella (go for either a log or ball because it has less moisture, but if you prefer the kind in water that is okay as well, pat it dry with paper towel really well, and let sit for about 15-20 minutes to ensure total dryness) cut into little cubes (approximately a 1 cm x 1 cm cube – about half the size of something you would find on a cheese plate)

1 tablespoon olive oil
½ of a small white or yellow onion chopped (use the remaining portion from the meatballs)
3 cloves minced garlic
½ cup chicken stock
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt (add more or less to your tasting)
½ teaspoon black pepper (add more or less to your tasting)
½ tablespoon fresh oregano chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
½ tablespoon fresh thyme chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)

For serving:
16 ounce box (1 box) of your favorite spaghetti cooked according to package
Grated parmesan cheese

Now let’s start cooking!!!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and spray with cooking spray (you may need 2 sheets depending on the size of your meatballs). Also start boiling your pot of water for the spaghetti.

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the meatballs EXCEPT the mozzarella. Add 1/3 cup of warm water to the bowl as well. Combine all ingredients in bowl very lightly with a fork. It is highly important not to over mix – otherwise you will have tough meatballs. Now, for your pro step! Take a piece of the cubed mozzarella (this is going to be the center of your meatball). Using your hands, lightly form the meatball mixture around the mozzarella into a 1 – 1 ¼ inch meatball, as you make each meatball place it on your baking sheet. ***NOTE*** it is important to make sure the mozzarella is well sealed within the meatball; otherwise it will leak out of the meatball. You should be able to make about 15- 20 meatballs, however more or less is okay! Once all meatballs are formed place in the oven and cook for about 20-25 minutes.

While the meatballs are baking, prepare the sauce. But first, season your pasta water with a generous heaping of salt, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and drop spaghetti into the water.

In a large skillet (about 12”) or even the Rachel Ray type sauté pan (which ever you have is fine) heat the olive oil. Add the onions and sauté over medium heat until translucent, this will take about 5 to 10 minutes. Be careful not to burn. If you find that they are cooking to fast and starting to brown turn heat down to medium low. Once onions are translucent, add the garlic and cook for about a 1 minute, if you turned the heat down to medium low, raise it back up to medium. Add the chicken stock and cook on high heat, combining the onions and garlic. Let the liquid boil a little; along with reduce/evaporate about 3-5 minutes. Turn the heat back down to medium, stir in the tomatoes, parsley, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper. Your meatballs should be done cooking by now, reduce the heat on the sauce to low and let all the flavors get happy together while you are waiting for the meatballs. Once the meatballs are done, remove from the oven, let them cool for a minute or two and then with a pair of tongs, gently place them into the sauce mixture. Gently coat the meatballs with sauce, and allow simmering on med-low for 5 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering drain your pasta. Plate out your portions of pasta, and pour the wonderful meatballs and sauce over the spaghetti, top it off with some parmesan cheese! As you dig into the meatball, enjoy the oozing of the mozzarella center :-) That my friends, is a scrumptious serving of spaghetti and meatballs!!!


The Guest Blogger has landed!

I am truly honored and delighted to be Bridgette’s new guest blogger! I share the same passion for food as my dear friend, and am constantly consulting on recipes with her. Now, I shall share my culinary experiences with you!!! ~*~Sundeep~*~

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Martha Stewart's Perfect Mac 'n Cheese

Now, I'm a bit of a Mac 'n Cheese connesour. It's my "go-to" for almost everything. Before becoming pregnant, I could have eaten it daily (right now, it tastes like I'm eating melted butter- EW!) and kind of did. No wonder I'm so chubby.

A few months back, a friend of mine (Adam) made this for his pregnant wife and I. Yes, you can say he was brave, having 2 really pregnant women in his house at once- and attempting to make a recipe that he'd never made before. However, it turned out splendedly, and we spared his life.

I've been craving this, decidedly because he used buttered challah bread for his topping...After making this recipe, I think the challah really made it. I decided to go shopping for ingredients and people to eat it, seeing as it makes enough for 12 people (not really, I say 6 MAX). Let me tell ya, BE PREPAIRED this is an expensive mac n cheese. Holy moly. Also- if you can't find challah, I suggest using King's Hawaiian bread, which I found at Walmart (yes, I know, but it was the 3rd store I'd been to looking for supplies). Get the bread loaf, it'll be easier than the rolls.

I'm going to try this recipe again...I was reading it, via email on my BlackBerry and missed a step (saving some of the cheese for the top, under the bread) AND used more cheese than I was supposed to, oops! Hopefully, next time, it will turn out a bit more creamy. The main problem I have with baked macaroni and cheese is that it turns out a bit dry and/or more gritty...kind of odd.

6 slices good-quality white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
5 1/2 cups milk (I used 2% but might try fat free half and half next time)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (omitted, as we don't like nutmeg)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (omitted as we didn't have any)
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyere or* 1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated pecorino Romano *yeah, I didn't read the or part and did both. oops!
1 pound elbow macaroni

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place bread pieces in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into the bowl with bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside.

In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk.

Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour.

Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
Slowly pour hot milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.

Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere or 1 cup pecorino Romano. Set cheese sauce aside.

Fill a large saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 fewer minutes than manufacturer's directions, until outside of pasta is cooked and inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well.

Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/2 cup Gruyere or 1/4 cup pecorino Romano; scatter breadcrumbs over the top.

Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes; serve.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Guest Posters!

Stay tuned everyone, I'm going to have a friend of mine, Sundeep, my "brown twin" post a few things here. She's gorgeous, can cook like crazy and is TOTALLY awesome, of course.

If you would like to do a guest post on my blog, please let me know- we can make it happen!

Friday, January 7, 2011

I'm Gettin' Stabby O'er Here!

Don't say anything about my hair or lack of make-up, I'm knocked up and lazy, ok?

Anyway, I come home from visiting a neighbor today and notice fresh footprints in the snow, leading to my front door. Curious, I go in through the garage, as I usually do, and head to the front door.

I totally expected to see a business card or note on the door, selling tree cutting or snow plow services. I get about 3 per week. Those of you who have been to my house, know about the giant dead tree in my front yard. Ha. But no, instead, there is a brown box on the porch. What's in it?



I stumbled upon the Daily Deal at through slickdeals about 30 minutes before the deal was over. Thank you insomnia! I got this beautiful set of 14 knives, kitchen shears and the wood block for $40.95 SHIPPED! I think that's a pretty good deal...don't tell me if it's not. Ignorance is bliss, k?

I look a tad scary here. Hopefully, this'll never make it into the news. EEK.

So- here it is, in all of it's sharp, stabby, metal glory in it's purdy little wood block stand. I'm in love. LOVE I TELL YOU! Love. I've been using hand-me-downs and cheap knives (except for my cook for the cure santoku knife- my favorite) from the Omaha Steak Company. Ha.

This is my KitchenAid corner.

Pizza! Pizza!

I'd much rather have homemade pizza over frozen, and really- most delivery places. This way, I know exactly what goes into making it. I mean, COME ON! Look at that beautiful thing...right above this. Awesome.
Now, Mikey grew up with his mom making pizza like, every Friday night. It's good, but she doesn't seem to understand, or want to understand the concept of more cheese, less sauce...but that's my preference.
So, you'll need the following for each pizza:
  • marinara sauce (we like Barilla marinara or tomato & basil)
  • cheese (we use Sargento Mozzarella & Provolone-about 1 bag per lg pizza)
  • toppings : pepperoni, baby 'bella mushrooms, onion, green pepper, sausage, chicken, olives, pineapple, ham...whatever you like!
  • garlic salt seasoning
To build your pizza:
Stretch dough over pizza pan or stone. Top with marinara sauce- as much or little as you like. Be careful not to put the sauce all the way to the edge, leave a little dough to raise as the crust.

Top with your desired amount of cheese, again, leaving the edge clear to raise as the crust. Then, add your desired toppings.
We like sesame seeds around the crust edge, so if you'd like that, Parmesan cheese, garlic salt, etc., brush the crust edges with olive oil or butter and sprinkle with desired crust flavoring. We also like a bit of garlic salt sprinkled all over the entire pizza. Soooo delicious! Bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes, or until cheese and crust is golden and cheese is bubbly.


So- how do YOU top your pizza?