Sunday, December 26, 2010

Recipe #82: Really GOOD Meatloaf

Oh man.  Anybody who might think that meatloaf needs to have ketchup or barbecue sauce piled on it in order for it to be edible hasn't tried this!  Super moist, great flavor, and my stomach hurts because I just had to have more of it!  This is from another new cookbook from my sister:

Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Cooking 3


2 tablespoons butter
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
1 cup frozen or fresh chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic (I used more, of course)
2 teaspoons Montreal steak seasoning
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2/3 cup cocktail sauce
1 1/4 pounds lean ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
1/4 cup light brown sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Saute celery until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes.  Stir in steak seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, and 1/3 cup cocktail sauce.  Heat through and remove from heat.

In a large bowl, mix together ground beef, ground pork, eggs, breadcrumbs, and sauteed vegetables.  Form into a loaf and fit into a large loaf pan.  Bake in preheated oven 45 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine remaining cocktail sauce, mustard, and brown sugar.  Remove meatloaf from oven and carefully drain off fat.  Cover with sauce mixture and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes.  Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Recipe #81: Smoky Sweet Potato Chicken Stoup

Yes, stoup.  Thicker than soup, not as thick as stew, and very hearty.  From one of my new cookbooks!  This was great, although next time I'm definitely cutting the sweet potato smaller.  The chipotle chili was a new ingredient for me.  Just the single pepper added some nose-running heat, but it was perfect.  Add more for a spicier stoup.  My vegetable peeler broke into pieces just as I was starting to peel the carrots, so none of my veggies were peeled for this recipe.  I prefer to leave the skin on the potatoes anyways.

Rachael Ray Express Lane Meals: What to Keep on Hand, What to Buy Fresh for the Easiest-Ever 30-Minute Meals


4 tablespoons EVOO, twice around the pan
2 medium carrots, peeled (if you want...)
2 celery ribs
1 large onion, peeled and halved
1 large sweet potato (I used two medium sized ones)
2 garlic cloves, chopped (I used more)
1 chipotle chili in adobo, finely chopped (I found these in a can in the mexican section at the store)
Salt and black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (eyeball it)
1 bay leaf
1 cup dry white wine (eyeball it)
1 quart plus 1 cup chicken stock
1 package chicken tenders, cut into bite-size pieces
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped (I skipped this)
1/2 cup sour cream, for garnish (optional- I skipped this)


Heat a soup pot over medium-high heat with EVOO.  While the oil heats, cut the carrots in half lengthwise, then slice into thin half-moons.  Add the carrots to the pot, stirring to coat the carrots in the oil.  Chop and drop in the celery and onion.

Peel (optional) and then cut the sweet potato into quarters lengthwise, then thinly slice them into bite-size pieces.  Add the sweet potatoes, garlic, and chipotle and stir to combine.  Season the veggies with salt and pepper, the thyme, and the bay leaf.  Cook the veggies together for 1 minute.  Add the wine to the vegetables and reduce for one minute.  Add the stock to the pot, cover the pot, and raise the heat to high.

When the stoup boils, remove the cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.  Add the cut-up chicken and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender and the chicken is cooked through.  Turn the heat off, discard the bay leaf, and stir in the scallions and cilantro.  Serve each portion of stoup with a dollop of sour cream on top (optional).

Recipe #80: Hummus and Turkey Wrap

This one is short and sweet!  Made this for a healthy and easy lunch yesterday.

Simply take a tortilla/wrap, and put some hummus on top, spreading evenly.  Layer with peppered turkey breast, romaine, tomato (I used romas), and red onion.

Quite delicious, although it was sort of messy.  I think next time I'll cut up my tomatoes smaller so it's easier to close the wrap.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Recipe #79: Salmon-Vegetable Packets

Excitement!  A new cooking technique!  (well... for me...)  All fresh ingredients sealed into an aluminum foil packet and baked in the oven.  This was great because I prepared them hours ahead of time and just threw them in the oven when it was time to make dinner.  I halved this recipe so we'd just have enough for us two, but it would be very easy to adapt to make as many packets as are needed, 4, 6, 8...  And at 225 calories per serving, this is a great healthy option.  Oh, and it tastes WONDERFUL, by the way...


4 4oz fresh or frozen skinless salmon fillets, 3/4 inch thick (I used bigger fillets, skin-on)
2 cups thinly bias-sliced carrots
2 cups sliced mushrooms
4 green onions, sliced
2 teaspoons finely shredded orange peel (I zested it)
2 teaspoons snipped fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
4 gloves garlic, halved (I used minced garlic)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 teaspoons olive oil (I used olive oil spray)
2 medium oranges, thinly sliced
4 sprigs fresh oregano (optional)


Thaw fish, if frozen.  Rinse fish; pat dry with paper towels.  Set aside.  In a small saucepan cook carrots, covered, in a small amount of boiling water for 2 minutes.  Drain and set aside.  Tear off four 24-inch pieces of heavy foil.  Fold each in half to make an 18x12 inch rectangle.

In a large bowl combine carrots, mushrooms, green onions, orange peel, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Divide vegetable mixture among foil rectangles.

Place fish on top of the vegetable mixture.  Drizzle (or spray) fish with oil; sprinkle lightly with additional salt and pepper.  Top with orange slices and, if desired, oregano sprigs.  For each packet, bring up 2 opposite edges of foil and seal with a doulbe fold.  Fold remaining ends to completely enclose the food, allowing space for steam to build.  Place the foil packets in a single layer in a large baking pan.  (I put mine directly on the rack after storing these in the fridge for a few hours.)

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes (OR 40 FOR A LARGER FILLET LIKE I USED!) or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork and carrots are tender.  Transfer the packets to dinner plates.  Open slowly to allow steam to escape.

 Before cooking- so colorful!

 Ready for baking

Monday, December 20, 2010

Recipe #78: Enchilada Lasagna

Nick has some favorite meals that he likes to request.  Two of them are enchiladas and lasagna.  And here's a recipe that combines them!  It's mostly a huge enchilada, in my opinion, a big sloppy mess of Mexican awesomeness.  I found this recipe in one of the new cookbooks my sister gave me for Christmas!  This makes a TON of heavy food, so be ready to share it!

Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Money Saving Meals



1 can (16oz) refried black beans (I only found regular)
1 can (4oz) diced green chiles
1 container (15oz) ricotta
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons Mexican seasoning (I got a McCormick taco seasoning packet)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cans (10oz each) red enchilada sauce
18 corn tortillas (I used much less, more like 14)
1 can (11oz) mexicorn (Green Giant)
2 packages (6oz each) grilled chicken strips cut into bite sized pieces (Tyson)  (I bought a 22oz package of Tyson grilled strips that were in the freezer section and used about 18oz of it.  You can also use your own precooked chicken)
3 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
Sour cream (optional)
Scallions (optional)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine refried beans and green chiles.  Cover and microwave on high for 1 minute.  Set aside.  In a small bowl, combine ricotta, egg, salt, and mexican seasoning.

Spread 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce evenly in a 9x13 inch baking pan.  Overlap 6 (I used 5, torn up) corn tortillas to create a layer.  Spread half of the bean mixture evenly over tortillas.  Top with half the ricotta mixture, spreading evenly.  Sprinkle with half the mexicorn and add half the chicken.  Add 1 cup shredded cheese.  Spread 1/2 cup enchilada sauce over top.  Add another layer of tortillas; top with 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce.  Repeat with the remaining beam mixture, remaining ricotta mixture, remaining mexicorn, remaining chicken, another 1 cup of shredded cheese, another 1/2 cup enchilada sauce, and the remaining tortillas.  Spread remaining enchilada sauce over tortillas and sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes.  Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.  Serve with sour cream and sliced scallion.

Woah.  that's a ton of food...

It's a hot mess... of deliciousness!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

New Cookbooks!

My sister and I exchanged Christmas presents early. I'm so excited because she got me a crapload of cookbooks she found on clearance. Thing about cookbooks- it's not like they really expire. So if you can get one for super cheap, that's even better... same great recipes, less price. So she got me a bunch, including 2 sets of 4 each of these cardboard themed cookbooks. I love them!!!

Look at these bad boys! THREE new Sandra Lee cookbooks. Jenny got me one of Sandra Lee's cookbooks last Christmas and I use it so much, so I'm really excited about these new ones! A Rachael Ray cookbook! She's the Food Network star that got me started with this whole cooking obsession- it's been 2 years now since I started really learning and trying new things. Oprah magazine recipes- can't wait to try! And Fresh & Easy Meals.... it was like I picked these out for myself lol! She did a great job. On the right are my little themed cardboard cookbooks- can't wait to see what those have too, especially the cooking with soy cookbook- that's different!

My kitchen counter-top was overflowing already with my cookbooks and cooking mags, and we've been running out of room for our games, so we decided it was time for a new bookshelf. So we ran to Target and got one to match the other 3 we have, and now we have a nice setup!

Oh the simple pleasures in life...

Time to come up with a menu for the week, and a grocery list... This means lots of new blog posts!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Recipe #77: Garlic Shrimp with Spaghetti Squash

Why oh why didn't I make a spaghetti squash sooner? This stuff is great! It has the consistency of angel hair pasta but is much better for you than pasta! A spaghetti squash has only about 40 calories per cup (as opposed to 220 for a cup of pasta!) I'd been craving shrimp for a few days, so when I saw this recipe in my cookbook "The Wine and Food Lover's Diet," I knew I had to try. It turned out perfect! I'm definitely making this dish again.


1 spaghetti squash (about 3 pounds)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
5 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
2 tablespoons capers, drained and roughly chopped (I left them whole)
Cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I used some dried parsley instead)
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional).... I forgot this!


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Pierce the skin of the squash in several places with a knife and put it in a baking dish. Bake until very soft, about an hour. Use a pot holder to grasp the squash and cut in half if still whole. Scoop out the seeds. Then, with a long-handled fork, tease out the strands into a warmed serving bowl. Fluff and separate the strands with the fork. Keep warm while cooking the shrimp (or have your spouse do this while you cook, like I did!)

Spaghetti squash after pulling apart

The remains...

In a skillet over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the oil until it shimmers. Add the shrimp and stir and toss until the shrimp are bright pink and opaque throughout, about 4 minutes. Add to the bowl with the squash.

Add the garlic to the hot pan and cook until softened, about 30 seconds. Stir in the capers and a pinch of cayenne. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the parsley and stir well. Remove the pan from the heat, reduce the heat to very low, and whisk the butter, a few cubes at a time, moving the pan on and off the heat so the butter just melts and emulsifies the oil. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper. Pour over the squash and toss well. Scatter the cheese over the top and serve.

Nick mixing and mixing...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Recipe #76: Chicken in Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce (crock pot)

My crock pots are really getting a good workout this season. It's so easy to make such simple but delicious food in them! Here's a new recipe from my Campbell's cookbook. You can serve this over rice or egg noodles. Sorry about the not-so-great pictures- I was in a hurry to eat and leave!


2 cans (10 3/4 ounces each) Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Chicken with Herbs Soup or Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup

1 cup Chablis or other dry white wine

1/4 cup coarsely chopped pitted kalamata or oil-cured olives (I left them whole)

2 tablespoons drained capers

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 can (14 ounces) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1 cup jarred sun-dried tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped

8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 2 pounds) (I only used 6)

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (optional)

2 cups regular long-grain white rice, cooked according to package directions (about 6 cups)


Stir the soup, wine, olives, capers, garlic, artichokes and tomatoes in a 3 1/2-quart slow cooker. Add the chicken and turn to coat.
Cover and cook on LOW for 7 to 8 hours or until the chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle with the basil, if desired. Serve with the rice. (Check the chicken early to prevent overcooking and drying it out)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Recipes 73-75: Chicken Nuggets, Honey Mustard Sauce, Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Well it's been forever since I've posted a new recipe (busy busy!) so to make up for it (sorta), here's a 3-for-1! Again, not a very photogenic bunch, but this dinner turned out amazing! Behold: baked panko chicken nuggets, roasted brussels sprouts, and a honey mustard dipping sauce. All of these recipes are variants of ones found on This is a good mix because the chicken and brussels sprouts bake at the same temperature. Also, the black leaves on the brussels sprouts might look gross or overcooked, but I think they have an awesome flavor!



  • 3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (I used 2)
  • 1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs (I used Panko)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme (I used Italian seasoning instead)
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil (Ditto...)
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  2. Cut chicken breasts into 1 1/2 inch size pieces. In a medium bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, cheese, salt, thyme and basil. Mix well. Put melted butter/margarine in a bowl or dish for dipping.
  3. Dip chicken pieces into the melted butter/margarine first, then coat with the breadcrumb mixture. Place well coated chicken pieces on a lightly greased cookie sheet in a single layer, and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. (I threw the chicken in a large ziplock bag with seasonings and melted butter, coated the chicken well, and took out the pieces individually for coating with Panko, then sprinkled the Parmesan cheese on top with more seasonings)



  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice


  1. Mix the mayonnaise, yellow mustard, Dijon mustard, honey, and lemon juice together in a bowl. Cover and chill in refrigerator overnight. (I didn't leave it overnight, just for about an hour or so)



  • 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and yellow leaves removed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).
  2. Place trimmed Brussels sprouts, olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper in a large resealable plastic bag. Seal tightly, and shake to coat. Pour onto a baking sheet, and place on center oven rack. (I cut my sprouts in half top to bottom so they'd cook faster and take on more flavor since Nick doesn't like the middles as much. It seems to have worked!)
  3. Roast in the preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes, shaking pan every 5 to 7 minutes for even browning. Reduce heat when necessary to prevent burning. Brussels sprouts should be darkest brown, almost black, when done. Adjust seasoning with kosher salt, if necessary. Serve immediately.