Sunday, August 29, 2010

Skillet Macaroni Supper. Again.

It's an old standby, especially the last few days before payday. Tonight's skillet contains hamburger, onions, peppers, corn, black beans, canned chili tomatoes, and cheddar. Yummy!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Flower Pie Crust!!

Just had to share this link. Definitely going to try this the next time I make a pie!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mix It Up Macaroni Salad

Did you know that you can toss just about any kind of leftover veggie into macaroni salad? You CAN! Also pasta, cheese, and lots of little dibs and dabs of things.

Mini bow tie pasta, frozen mixed veggies, chopped tomato, jicama, red onion, pepperjack, celery seed and mayo. 

The basic recipe is:

Sauce (Mayo, Miracle Whip, bottled salad dressing, even a spurt of honey-mustard)
Spice (Mrs Dash, onion powder, oregano, salt & pepper, celery seed, ranch dressing mix, just any savory thing,)
Cooked pasta (bite-sized, any shape)
Chopped veggies (the sky's the limit here - thawed frozen 'mixed veggies', leftover corn kernels, fresh peas, chopped peppers, onions, black olives, tomatoes, avocado, broccoli... just clean out your veggie crisper!)
Chopped or shredded cheese (any kind)

To make it, just get a big bowl and add about 1/4 cup of your chosen sauce (or a couple of heaping tablespoons). Add in a bit less than a teaspoon of your spice and mix. Toss in your cooked pasta, veggies, and cheese. Mix, mix, mix. Chill and serve as a side, and it's great for potlucks and barbeques (and is super cheap to make!) Tomatoes, corn, beans, black olives, avocado and peppers and cheddar (with a little cilantro, chili powder or cumin) go Mexican. Chopped pepperoni, onion, green peppers, parmesan and oregano go Italian. Toss in some crunchy rice noodles, a little soy sauce, mixed veggies and chopped cabbage for Asian! Just have fun with it. :)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Eggplant Parmesan

My usual recipe for eggplant parmesan involves slicing, sweating, breading then frying a LOT of slices of eggplant, layering them with cheese and tomato sauce, more cheese, and baking the omg nummy cheesiness until hot and bubbly. It's time consuming, mostly me standing at the stove frying the eggplant slices, and it's super high calorie. But did I mention nummy? Oh yes. Today, though, I'm going to try to save some calories (mostly from the frying) by following Chef John's lighter version.

And here it is.

Other than the frying, it's just as labor intensive I think and took nearly an hour to slice, shred, fold and all that jazz before heading to the oven. I did salt and sweat the slices, contrary to the recipe, because I think they are a good deal less bitter. I'm also wondering if I should have added some mozzarella anyway, perhaps sliced on top just below the breading, because it wasn't as cheesy-gooey as my usual recipe for Eggplant Parmesan (pretty much followed verbatim from my friend Doug) which is OMG amazing.

This stuff was good, but not OMG amazing. But, then again, it's also about half the calories. ;)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Mexican Mac and Pork Chops

Here's a simple supper that has a bit of zip, yet is still super quick and easy. I really don't make many modifications in ingredients, other than occasionally adding some corn kernels, or black beans, or 2 chopped peppers instead of one. Also, 1-1/2 cups of salsa is just a bit less than a full 16oz jar, so I usually just dump in the whole jar and use some of the 2 cups of water to rinse out the jar.

I prefer using boneless chops (I'll sometimes buy butterfly chops if they're on sale cheap and split them into two chops) but Bill prefers bone-in chops. They just take a bit longer to cook. Get the chops well-browned on both sides and, once the mac and salsa mix is boiling good, put them back in then instead of waiting till the end and they'll be super tender. If you put a lid on the pan, it'll have more sauce.

This recipe works well with any of the 'deluxe' mac and cheese mixes (I use the store brand since it's cheaper) and you can use the kind with shells or with elbow macaroni. You can also use 2 cups dry macaroni and about 4oz of velveeta or other melty cheese. Sorry I forgot the pic tonight, by the time I remembered, we'd already eaten most of it. lol  ;)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Crepes, part two

First of all, I want to make sure everyone realizes that the batter has to sit in the fridge for an hour, so crepes aren't a 'last minute decision' kinda thing to make. Also, the batch makes about 16 crepes (that's what I got, anyway) and they took about 40 min total to cook, so plan for that too.

The process:

I used Chef John's recipe, but Alton Brown's technique of making them in the blender. It all came together beautifully. I also used my good 12 inch non-stick pan and a nylon spatula. My heat setting on the stove was just a hair hotter than medium, any cooler and they'd get too fragile before showing any browning. My first crepe was a bust - it fell apart when I flipped it (the heat was too low) but the other 15 turned out great!

So. A bit time consuming, but really not all that difficult. Just takes a little patience. And repeated applications of butter or non-stick spray to the skillet (for me, that was about every other or every third crepe.)

I'd decided to make chicken broccoli and cheese stuffed crepes (using Trent's recipe on The Simple Dollar as a template) but I used fresh broccoli (chopped and microwaved for 5 min) and fried up two chicken breasts in a little balsamic vinaigrette before chopping them. Instead of swiss (which I didn't have) I used about 3/4 cup of cheddar and 3/4 cup of monterey jack that I hand-shredded. Oh, and some salt and pepper, too, with a little grated parmesan and the last bits of broccoli and chicken on top.

Looked lovely, tasted kinda bland. Maybe there was - gasp! - too much broccoli. I dunno. But the crepes turned out great, just not sure about the chicken cheesy broccoli stuff.

Crepes (part one)

My daughter doesn't work today - which means I don't have to leave an hour before supper to go pick her up - and Bill's on his regular schedule, so I have DECIDED that, tonight, I WILL tackle crepes.

I have never made crepes. Never. Not once. But, dangit, it's about time I learned. I'm using Chef John's recipe because, well, it seems so... simple. And comforting. And totally do-able.

Not sure what I'm gonna stuff them with. Maybe chicken and broccoli (have I mentioned that I LOVE broccoli?!?), maybe ham and cheese, maybe I'll get giddy and make blueberry blintzes. Not sure yet, but crepes are on the menu and I'll report back on how I do. :)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Been crazy busy

I haven't been cooking much of anything interesting the past couple of days because life has been rather crazy busy, and I really don't think anyone wants to see a detailed post focusing on 'toss steak in broiler and nuke a can of baked beans'. Hopefully I'll get back on the cooking wagon tonight. :)