Thursday, November 29, 2007

Super Simple Egg Salad

You know how you get a craving for a certain food and it just won't go away? Well I've been craving egg salad for about a week and a half. I finally got around to making it tonight. I don't have a recipe for some sophisticated egg salad. Just the basics in this case!

Super Simple Egg Salad

4 eggs, hard boiled, chopped

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

3 Tbsp. light mayo

salt and pepper to taste

Mix! Chill for 30 minutes and serve on lettuce or toast.

Like I said, nothing fancy but it'll do just fine. I usually eat a fried egg over easy with toast which is pretty plain. I occasionally like scrambled eggs or vegetable omelets but I tend to lean towards simplicity when it comes to eggs. Sometimes I like hot sauce. Maybe some cayenne pepper would add a little punch to the egg salad. Does anybody have any ideas to make egg salad a little more distinct?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Man Food

I have somehow caught a killer cold and Johnnycakes has been waiting on me hand and foot, well almost. This cold has rendered me useless in many respects and cooking is one of them (Tho I did muster the strength to make the lasagna the other night). While I was napping, Johnnycakes made me a real man's dinner: Meat and Potatoes.

I can't complain! The New York Strip was grilled to a medium well perfection in the back yard and the french fried potatoes had just the right crisp. We had a starchy succotash for our veggie. Delicious!

Thanks Johnnycakes for this sustaining meal. I need to rebuild my strength to beat this cold for good!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Lake Lasagne

Sometimes the best recipes are the ones you find on the back of the manufacturer's packaging or on their websites. For instance, the chocolate brownies I made on Thanksgiving were excellent and straight from the Hershey's website.

Tonight's lasagna came right from the back of the San Georgio "no boil" lasagna package. You can find the recipe here:

It's hard to mess up lasagna with all it's cheesy yumminess especially when you are following a recipe. I did tinker with the recipe a bit. Since I'm a veggie lover, I added a can of tomatoes, mushrooms and onions to the mix. I also needed more like two jars of spaghetti sauce to make make the dish the way it is described on the box. Unfortunately, I think it made it a little too watery because the dish fell apart when I cut into it. It was more like a pasta cheese soup than lasagna. Maybe I should have followed the directions...

Well, it still tasted good and will yield plenty of leftovers! That's what's important to us!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Game Day Decision

Now that word has traveled far and wide about Johnnycakes legendary Sunday backyard barbecuing, his services have created quite a demand. Somewhat comically, our neighbor showed up with a pound of scallops and a family pack of chicken wings for John to prepare without prior knowledge.

Johnnycakes was all prepared to make the honey mustard wings he prepared last week when I made a last minute request for good old fashioned hot wings! Johnnycakes claimed I was making an abrupt game day decision but I stood my ground.

To make chicken wings, you actually have to cut off the tips of the wings, and then cut the wing into the traditional top and bottom pieces you get in the restaurant.

With my assistance, Johnnycakes placed the wings into a freezer bag and topped the wings with the "Johnny Rub" as he likes to call it.

The "Johnny Rub" goes something like this:

2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup of paprika
1 Tbsp. cumin
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 Tbsp. Salt
dust with pepper

Then you seal the freezer bag and "massage" all the ingredients together until well blended. We let the flavors marinate for a couple of hours in the fridge placing them on the grill to "smoke".
Johnnycakes has taken a liking to the smoking technique. He soaks wood chips in water for about an hour before placing them in a aluminum tray in the back of the grill. This slow cooking technique obviously lends a smoky flavor to the meat and makes the meat almost fall off the bone. The grill was definitely kicking out some smoke! The whole neighborhood could probably smell it:)

The final step is to toss the wings in hot pepper sauce and melted butter before serving with bleu cheese dressing and celery.

I'm sure you can tell how this story will end. We enjoyed some delicious hot wings while watching, in Johnnycakes case, hours of endless football. I'm glad I was able to make a play for the traditional hot wings opposed to the honey mustard wings. Sometimes you can't mess with tradition.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Trimmings

Well, after a frenzied trip to the grocery store and a three hour cooking marathon, I am finally ready for Thanksgiving. This is the first year I can remember in a while where I was actually finished all my cooking the night before the big holiday. Here's what I whipped up!

Mashed Potatoes! The King of all Thanksgiving side dishes! At least in my mind. I've been making this staple the past three years ever since my mother and grandmother said they didn't want to take on the task anymore. I whipped them up by adding 2% milk, a whole stick of butter, 8 0z. sour cream and some chicken broth. The key is using a hand mixer to make sure all the lumps are out.

I also make a corn bread every year. I usually make corn muffins but I need new muffin tins so I went the old fashioned loaf pan route. My family is always indifferent when I bring this to Thanksgiving dinner but, I love it so much, I make it for myself.

Nothing says Thanksgiving like chocolate. Well maybe not, but I was craving some brownies. Check out this saucepan brownie recipe from the Hershey website. They were super easy to bake and Johnnycakes loved licking the bowl! I substituted walnuts for the macadamia nuts.

Finally, one of the best things about Thanksgiving is the leftovers! It seems like there are never enough which is why I prepared this squash casserole to serve with leftovers over the weekend. I petitioned to have this casserole, which is my sister's recipe, served at Thanksgiving dinner but I was overruled. It's so good that I made a mini one for Johnnycakes and I's personal consumption. It's already to pull out of the fridge and bake on Friday.

I know these items are sort of an eclectic mix of Thanksgiving side items but I love everyone of them dearly.

Happy Turkey Day everyone! I hope you enjoy your feasts as much as I know we will. Thanks for reading!

Waiting Till the Last Minute

I still haven't gone to the grocery store for Thanksgiving items! Am I alone? Are there others that have waited till the last minute? I probably won' t get to the store before 7 p.m. tonight. I'm only preparing a few sides for our family feast but there is still a lot of prep to do. Here are a few items I need off the top of my head:
5lbs potatoes
sour cream
chix broth
squash, yellow and green
cheddar cheese
stove top stuffing
creamed corn
canned corn

That's enough for now but I'm sure I'm forgetting a few items. I hope I'm not in over my head. Is anyone else out there in the same boat?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Lemon Chicken and Other Non-Holiday Related Foods

It's always tough to prepare dinner the final days leading up to Thanksgiving. You're craving all those traditional Thanksgiving items but you don't want to spoil the big day by eating something too similar. Come to think of it, that's probably why I've been craving lasagna but I digress. We also need to go to the grocery store for our big Thanksgiving shopping trip so our food selection is pretty sparse. Since Johnnycakes has been preparing so many magnificent feasts lately, I really wanted to pull my own weight and let him relax.

I scoured the fridge for ideas on flavoring the chicken. I thought there wasn't too much about Lemon Chicken that reminded me of Thanksgiving.

I marinated the chicken breasts for 30 minutes with the following items:

1/2 lemon, squeezed
1 TBSP. Lemon Pepper Seasoning
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt

I tried to keep Johnnycakes involvement to a minimum but, being the barbecue king that he is, he grilled the chicken out back while I tended to the side dishes.

I picked up some Rice-A-Roni Savory Whole Grain Rice packs a few weeks ago when they were on sale . I thought the Chicken and Herbs Classico flavor would complement the chicken. I rounded out the meal with brussell sprouts and acorn squash. I know the acorn squash was kind of pushing the non-Thanksgiving theme but we've had it in the house for a while and I don't want to waste it. I contemplated cooking the acorn squash on the grill but I went the easy route and microwaved the quartered squash topped with butter, pumpkin pie spice and honey.

We both enjoyed this pre-Thanksgiving meal without spoiling our appetite for the big day!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday Dinner

I am one lucky lady. My dear husband has gotten into the habit of preparing a marvelous feast for my consumption every Sunday. While I run around town tending to errands and visiting friends and family, he is in his glory watching football and grilling in the backyard. When I arrive home, a home cooked meal awaits.

He even takes orders! I've been in the mood for honey mustard chicken wings for months. I think I was reliving my old college days. My craving was finally satisfied today. Johnnycakes looked up a honey mustard chicken wing recipe on the Internet and made the best honey mustard wings I've ever eaten. They were sweet, sticky and smokey thanks to a smoking technique he applied using the backyard grill.

For a more traditional Sunday meal, he also prepared a delicious pork tenderloin on the grill which we topped with the sticky honey mustard glaze. Broccoli and a baked potato rounded out the delicious Sunday meal.

I know that I am completely spoiled by my grill master husband. In fact, I told him his meals have been so impressive that I feel like I'm being robbed of my womanhood. He shows me up with some regularity. I do try to pull my own weight a bit. I did make him a simple fried egg for breakfast with toast. I also had dish duty. It's all about teamwork!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Chicken Crack

I admit it. I'm a crack addict. A chicken crack addict! I love this buffalo chicken dip recipe so much that I affectionately call it "chicken crack". This recipe is courtesy of a dear friend who knows I can't get enough of this stuff, especially at a party.

Buffalo Chicken Dip (aka "Chicken Crack")

Boil and shred 2-4 boneless chicken breasts (depending on their size)
Place shredded chicken in a 13x9 baking dish
Pour a bottle of Frank's hot sauce over chicken and completely cover

Combine (2) 8 ounce packages of cream cheese and a 16 ounce bottle of ranch dressing or blue cheese or a mixture of both in a sauce pan. Stir constantly over medium heat. After heated pour mixture over chicken.Bake uncovered @ 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Sprinkle 8 ounces of cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese over chicken and bake another 10 minutes until cheese is melted.Serve with scoop tortilla chips.

Tell me what you think! Tell me I'm not alone in my addiction.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Nice and Easy: Slow Cooker Pork Roast with Cranberry Sauce

Nothing too fancy to report from our kitchen today. We opted for an easy slow cooker meal which guaranteed minimal effort and plenty of leftovers. Fortunately, this is just the right time of year for a hearty and warm meal.

Crock pot cooking is so easy!
We tossed the following into the crock pot and cooked on low for about 10 hours:

- medium sized pork shoulder roast,
- 4 chopped carrots
- 2 chopped yellow onions
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 5 new potatoes, halved
- 1 cup of homemade beef broth
- 2 cloves garlic
- salt and pepper

The meat and vegetables were super tender and flavorful straight out of the slow cooker but I had to have some cranberry sauce on the side since Thanksgiving is fast approaching. What I love about cranberry sauce is that it is both sweet and tart at the same time. The canned sauce was the perfect accompaniment to this hearty and savory meal!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

All Gravy

Despite our lack of new materials on the blog and our "house guest hiatus", Johnnycakes and I have returned to our little kitchen with a quite a vengeance. We hope to make it up to any readers we may still have left!

One of our favorite dishes is roast chicken thanks to Nigella Lawson on the Food Network. We prepared a large bird over the weekend on the backyard grill. One of the highlights of this meal was the gravy we made to accompany the chicken, veggies and homemade mashed potatoes. As they say, the rest was definitely gravy!

Chicken Gravy

2 cups water
Giblets from chest cavity bird (typically heart, gizzard and liver)
2 Tbsp. herb butter
2 Tbsp. flour
salt and pepper

Add chicken giblets to the water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes. After water takes on a brown color, add flour and butter one tablespoon at a time, stirring frequently. Add salt and pepper to taste.

This gravy was excellent. It seemed to thicken a bit more after cooling down a bit. It was excellent on top of the mashed potatoes and chicken breast. This gravy was the perfect teaser right before Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Houseguest Hiatus

Johnnycakes and I have had a houseguest for the past 7 days or so which has not been conducive to blogging. I have been lamenting about the sad state of our blog:( I had been looking forward to November and putting the blog back into full gear after a crazy September and first part of October. Here it is the 11th of November and not a single post! We'll start again once we are back to our old routine. In the meantime, I'm watching the Food Network for inspiration and I'm taking notes!