Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's Cranberry Sauce Time!

Just stopping in for a quick hello and a yummy recipe for home made cranberry sauce and cranberry juice. I hope everyone has a fantastic holiday!

Easy to Make Cranberry Sauce(from the back Ocean Spray bag)

1 bag of Ocean Spray Cranberries - fresh
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of water

In a medium pan, bring water and sugar to a boil. Add cranberries. Boil until completely soft. Strain over heat proof container to catch the juice. When juice is cooled, add to a picture with ice and refrigerate. Then use potato masher to mash the cranberries to the sauce like consistency. Refrigerate to cool further and enjoy the sauce at the temperature you like. Add juice to a martini glass with a shot of vodka for a yummy drink!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Teriyaki Chicken and Fried Rice

So much for best laid plans. I thawed shrimp with every intention of making shrimp teriyaki tonight. When I unsealed the bag that held the shrimp, I was greeted by a surprisingly bad odor. In the (outside) garbage can it went and the plan turned to chicken. But wait, I had no fresh or defrosted chicken! So, what did I do? I used chicken nuggets. I had to - there were three hungry people in my kitchen. There were four, if you count me(can you count me? I am ALWAYS hungry). I threw the chicken nuggets in the oven and started in on the rice. Now, you can use regular rice, boil in bag rice, or even microwave rice. This will work with whatever you have in the house. It can be brown rice or white, whichever you prefer. Start to finish and depending which ingredients you use, this meal doesn't take more than twenty minutes. While I prefer to put more time and effort into my meals, this quick fix was just what I needed tonight. It was pretty tasty and enjoyed by all.

Jaime's Quick Fix Teriyaki Chicken and Fried Rice

10 chicken nuggets (you can also use 2 medium, boneless chicken breasts, breaded, fried and cut into pieces)
1 cup of white or brown rice (can be regular, boil in bag or microwave rice)
3 TBSP of teriyaki sauce (2 for the rice, 1 to add to chicken)

1 TSP of minced garlic
1 TBSP of olive oil
1 egg
1 TSP salt
1 TSP pepper

Prepare chicken nuggets according to box or bag, or prep and cook your breaded chicken cutlets. Prepare rice according to directions on box or bag. In a wok or medium pan, heat 1 TBSP of olive oil. Add rice when cooked. Stir in 1 TSP of minced garlic and 2 TBSP of teriyaki sauce. Stir intermittently for around three minutes then add salt and pepper. Finally, add egg to rice mixture and stir continuously until egg mixture is cooked and mixed into the rice. Then add cut up chicken to the rice mixture and add the last TBSP of teriyaki sauce. Keep stirring mixture for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and enjoy!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Red Wine Mozzarella Burgers

I have to admit that I haven't had a great burger in a long while. Combined with that, and that fact that I needed to throw together a dinner of things I already had in the house, I was on a mission. 1/2 bottle of wine leftover from the weekend, CHECK! Ground beef, CHECK! Mozzarella I had no idea what to do with, CHECK! The result - a super juicy, yummy burger! I made a second batch, sans wine, for the kiddies. They loved it as well. I can't say the same for my oven baked  French fries, which refused to bake. In any case, we had awesome burgers and even some wine left over. WOOHOO!

Red Wine Mozzarella Burgers

1 LB ground beef
1 TSP dry mustard
1 small white onion, diced
2 TBSP of minced garlic
1 TSP pepper
1 TSP salt
1 TBSP Olive Oil
1/2 cup Red Wine
2 TBSP of shredded Mozzarella per burger

Dice onions and sauté in 1 TBSP of olive oil. Remove when softened and set aside. Mix all ingredients, except mozzarella, in a bowl and make two patties. Broil burgers for 20 minutes, turning in between. Remove from broiler and spoon 2 TBSP of shredded cheese on each burger, returning to the broiler for 3 minutes. Serve on your favorite bread or bun.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Triple Berry Crisp

My son will eat fruit all day long if I let him. His latest obsession is berries - raspberries,blueberries and blackberries.  Today, I picked up a batch of each and searched the great wide web for a perfect recipe. to the rescue again.  This berry crisp was easy to make and went off without a hitch, not counting burning my hand on the pan. I served it with fresh, home made whipped cream.  Because I am a chocolate addict, I added some chocolate chips to my serving. YUM!!! Coming up this week, I will share simple recipe for making cranberry sauce and cranberry juice (Cosmos,anyone?), just in time for Turkey Day.

Triple Berry Crisp
from (SERVES 9)
3/4 cup fresh blackberries
3/4 cup fresh raspberries
3/4 cup fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
 1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a large bowl, gently toss together blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and white sugar; set aside.  In a separate large bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cut in butter until crumbly. Press half of mixture in the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan (I used 8x8). Cover with berries. Sprinkle remaining crumble mixture over the berries. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until fruit is bubbly and topping is golden brown.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

R. Ray Day 3:Garlic Lovers Shrimp with Garlic over CousCous

We've all been sick in my house, started with a virus and ended with a cold. Hence, the reason my 3rd entry on Rachael Ray dinners is late.  Anyhow, we are on the mend, I am back to cooking and getting ready for the upcoming holidays. The only thing that puts a slight damper on my love of cooking and eating is the weight gain. While I am holding steady at my current weight, my sweet husband is not as lucky.  So, I am trying to prepare more healthy yet tasty meals for the blog.  Fear not, I will still be making sweets for my neighbors and little ones, so there will be plenty of great treat recipes coming up.  Also in my future is a blog feature on an idea I have for a kiddie holiday party. It doesn't necessarily have to be an all out party, but it is a great theme to base a day of cookie baking and tree decorating upon. So, keep an eye out for that in the coming weeks.  Now, back to the recipe. This recipe, by far, was the easiest to prepare and fits right in the 30 minutes or less category. Definitely tasty and I LOVED the couscous! My husband and children won't touch it again, but I am infatuated. I had never had it before and really enjoyed it. I cheated a bit and used a prepared box of quick cooking couscous and it only took about 5 minutes.  You can find those particular products in the rice aisle or international foods aisle.
Garlic Lovers Shrimp
12 to 15 cloves garlic, cracked away from skins
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 3 turns of the pan
2 tablespoons butter, cut in small pieces
1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 pounds, 30 pieces, jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined, ask for easy peel shrimps
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Black pepper
1 toothpick, optional  
Process garlic in food processor to finely chop. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil and butter. Add garlic and crushed pepper flakes to oil and butter. Season shrimp with salt and toss to coat. Add shrimp to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until pink and heads curl to tails. Add black pepper, to your taste. Serve immediately.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Day 2 of Rachael Ray: Grilled Lime Cilantro Chicken Sammies with Pico- Guac

Ever make a recipe that made someone a believer? If you have been following my blog, you know that my husband is the pickiest man on the planet. He drives me nuts. He will not touch guacamole with a ten foot pole and I LOVE it. Avocado is one of my favorite foods.  I found this recipe in Rachael Ray's Big Orange Book(I have re-named it the 'Big Orange Bible') and decided to see if I could convert my husband to a guacamole fan. Mission(sort of) accomplished. While he wasn't thrilled about trying some of the pico-guac off of a spoon, he loved it as the sandwich topping. So, while he may not be the biggest avocado fan, he has certainly warmed up to it after I made this recipe. But of course, I did make one change to the recipe. My chicken cutlets were not defrosted enough, so I used a pound of ground chicken. I personally think the ground chicken absorbed the seasoning much better than a cutlet and gave the sandwich a more 'burger-like' feel. I also lightly toasted the rolls to give the sandwich some crunch.
Rachael Ray's Grilled Lime Cilantro Chicken Sammies w/ Pico- Guac
from 'Go Green Sammies')


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
2 scallions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
Grated peel of 1 lime plus juice of 2 limes
2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
Salt and pepper
Four skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 avocados
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 small plum tomato, seeded and finely chopped
2 jalapeño chiles, seeded and finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, grated or finely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
4 hamburger buns or crusty rolls, split and toasted
1 head bibb lettuce or green leaf lettuce
Tortilla chips, for serving

In a shallow dish, combine the EVOO, cilantro, scallions, thyme, lime peel, half of the lime juice, and the hot sauce; season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken and let marinate for at least 30 minutes. Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high. Grill the chicken until cooked through. In a medium bowl, mash together the avocados, red onion, tomato, jalapeños, garlic, lemon juice and remaining lime juice; season with salt. Top each bun bottom with lettuce, a chicken breast, a mound of guacamole and a bun top. Serve with the tortilla chips.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

2 or 3 Days of Rachael Ray;Day 1:Steakhouse Shepherd's Pie

I have always been on the fence as to whether or not I was a Rachael Ray fan. On a whim, I bought her Big Orange Book, which is a bible of 30 minute meals and then some. She is now one of my heroes. If you don't own a copy of this book, I highly recommend you drag your self to the bookstore or get online and order it. Pronto. There are so many meal ideas in this book, it's crazy! So I have chosen to do two, possible three dinners, from her book. Rachael and I share a passion: steakhouses. So when I came across a recipe that combined all of her favorite elements from a steakhouse meal, I needed to get to work. Her Steakhouse Shepherd's Pie did not disappoint. It was, in my humble opinion, labor intensive. Then again, I can't chop onions and chives as fast as Rach. My best novice advice concerning this recipe is to read it over and set up all you pots and ingredients before you start. I also did not have an oven safe skillet, so I had to transfer my meat to a Corningware, but I can assure you the pie turned out fine. The only other let down was that I had to omit the mushrooms(my favorite) since my husband turns green at the mention of them.

Rachael Ray's Steakhouse Pot Pie   

2 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 slices good quality bacon or peppered bacon, chopped
2 pounds ground sirloin
1 onion, chopped
1/2 pound button mushrooms, quartered
Black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 pound blue cheese, crumbled
3 to 4 tablespoons chives
1 teaspoon paprika 
Place potatoes in a pot, cover with cold water and bring up to a boil. Season water with salt and boil potatoes until tender, 12 to15 minutes. Heads up: save a ladle of starchy cooking water just before draining. Heat a skillet with high sides over medium high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil, half a turn of the pan and the bacon. Crisp bacon and remove to paper towel lined plate. Add sirloin to the pan and caramelize the meat, 4 to 5 minutes. Add in the mushrooms and onions and cook until tender, 6 to 7 minutes more then season with salt and pepper.While meat cooks heat a small sauce pot over medium heat and melt butter, whisk the flour into butter, cook 2 minutes then whisk beef stock into flour, add Worcestershire and season sauce with salt and pepper, to taste. Thicken 6 to 7 minutes. Pour gravy over meat and turn on broiler. Temper egg yolk by beating it with the starchy potato cooking water. Place drained potatoes back into the pot you cooked them in to dry them out a little. Mash potatoes with egg yolk and sour cream then fold in crumbled blue cheese and chives. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper and spread across the top of the meat in an even layer. Garnish the potatoes with paprika and place under broiler to crisp and brown the potatoes, 2 to 3 minutes. Crumble reserved bacon over top. Serve immediately right from the hot skillet.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Good Old Fashioned Brownies

I volunteered to make brownies for my son's pre-school Halloween party. I always panic when I have to bake for a large group. This time, I wanted to make two pans full of brownies and naturally, I only had enough semi sweet chocolate to make one pan. I called my mother in law in a panic to see if she had any on hand and thankfully, she showed up on my doorstep bearing a bag of semi sweet chocolate chips. I had to keep the recipe simple. Not nuts of any kind were to be used, due to a student with allergies. As usual, I turned to my girl, Martha Stewart, for a suitable recipe. Two bits of advice - 1. It does matter what kind of chocolate you use in the recipe. For one pan, I used the semi sweet chocolate baking squares I had in the house. THAT pan was predominantly better than the pan made with the chocolate chips. Don't get me wrong, both pans were great, but the baking squares' pan had a little something extra. 2.  Your brownies will be cooked, just chewier if you only cook them for 30 minutes as opposed to 35 minutes. So, if you prefer the brownies chewier, shave off 5 minutes cooking time. Just check the brownies with a tooth pick to make sure that they are indeed cooked. Every oven is different, so my 30 minutes may be your 32 minutes. Served with a side of chocolate ice cream, these are sure to please.

Martha Stewart's Double Chocolate Brownies
Makes 9 large or 16 small squares
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan
6 ounces coarsely chopped good-quality semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a buttered 8-inch square baking pan with foil or parchment paper, allowing 2 inches to hang over sides. Butter lining (excluding overhang); set pan aside. Put butter, chocolate, and cocoa in a heatproof medium bowl set over a pan of simmering water; stir until butter and chocolate are melted. Let cool slightly. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl; set aside. Put sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat on medium speed until pale, about 4 minutes. Add chocolate mixture; beat until combined. Add flour mixture; beat, scraping down sides of bowl, until well incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pan; smooth top with a rubber spatula. Bake until a cake tester inserted into brownies (avoid center and edges) comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet, about 35 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan, about 15 minutes. Lift out brownies; let cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares.