Monday, May 31, 2010

Meow Monday




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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road - Loveless Cafe


I've been wanting to go to The Loveless Cafe ever since I saw Carol Fay Ellison, "The Biscuit Lady", on Thowdown with Bobby Flay.  The Biscuit Lady was obviously well known for her fabulous biscuits.  Booby Flay gave it his best, but the Biscuit Lady won!  That really made me want to try the biscuits even more! 

Chicken Legs was recently in Nashville for work and saw the sign for the Loveless Cafe.  He decided to give it a try.  I was SO jealous (I ate Funyuns for dinner that night)!  There was a 25 minute wait, so he checked the property and gift shop.  When he finally got seated, he ordered the fried chicken with mac & cheese and hashbrown casserole.  The dinner was served with some of the famous biscuits.  He said the food was good - comparable to the Cracker Barrel.  It was just good, southern-style eats. 









Loveless Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Friday, May 28, 2010

Weeknight Enchiladas


It's no secret that we like Mexican food at our house.  I usually try and make one Mexican meal a week.  I've been stuck on chicken dishes (shocking, I know), so I decided to finally try a beef enchilada recipe.  This recipe is from my Mom's favorite cookbook, Southern Living Quick & Easy Weeknight Meals.  She loves everything in that little cookbook. 

This was incredibly easy to make.  I browned the meat the day before and just assembled the enchiladas when I got home.  These enchiladas are very filling - a little goes a long way.  We both really loved the filling and all the cheese.  I served them with our favorite Mexican rice and black beans.  Another successful dinner!







 Weeknight Enchiladas

1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 can tomato soup
1 (10 oz) can mild enchilada sauce
8 (7-8 inch) flour tortillas (I use whole-wheat)
2 cups shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
sour cream

Cook beef and onion in large skillet over medium high heat until meat is browned, stirring until crumbled; drain and return to skillet.
Stir soup and enchilada sauce into meat mixture.  Spread 1/4 cup meat mixture onto each tortilla; sprinkle tortillas evenly with 1 cup cheese.  Roll up tortillas, place, seam side down, into 9x13 pan.  Pour remaining meat mixture over tortillas.
Cover and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Uncover and sprinkle with remaining cheese, bake 5 more minutes.  Serve with sour cream.

Recipe from Southern Living Quick & Easy Weeknight Meals, page 3

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

BEST Chocolate Cupcakes & Buttercream Frosting EVER



Yesterday was Chicken Leg's birthday (he is OLD!).  Chicken Leg's favorite cake is chocolate with white icing.  When he was little, his Mom would have to make two cakes.  One for him and one for the rest of his family because he wouldn't share HIS cake.  I am "honored" that he shares his cake with me (I think it is really because I won't indulge him and make extra cakes).   I was really excited when he requested cupcakes this year; it gave me a chance to use my new piping tip (#827).  I've had this chocolate cake recipe bookmarked for a while and I was glad to finally give it a try.  We loved it.  It really was the BEST (I had to throw out the extra batter so I would stop eating it).  Don't substitute low-fat or sugar-free stuff - this is an indulgence.  Live a little!

I adapted the buttercream from Billy's Bakery in NYC.  It was great!  I think it was just as good as Olexa's here in Mountain Brook (if you knew how good that was, you would already have this icing going in your mixer - seriously!).







The BEST Chocolate Cake
(Printable Recipe)

1 box devil’s food cake mix
1 package Jello instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream (not low fat)
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a very large bowl (4 qt), mix together all ingredients. The batter will be thick.  Pour batter into cake pan of choice.  For cooking time, use the cooking times on the back of the devil’s food cake box as a guide. Do the toothpick check after the suggested cooking time;  if it’s not done check on it every 5 mins after that.  Cool and frost with buttercream (recipe below).


Seriously, the BEST Vanilla Buttercream

1 cup butter, room temperature
6 cups powdered sugar (may need a little more)
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add 6 cups sugar, whipping cream, and vanilla; mix until light and fluffy. If necessary, gradually add more powdered sugar to reach desired consistency.



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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Herb Drop Biscuits

I planted a little herb garden this year, and by "I", I mean Chicken Legs planted it for me.   I am growing basil, oregano and rosemary.  I saw these biscuits over on Tasty Kitchen and thought I could kick them up with some fresh herbs from my garden. 

I served these with the Cheesy Chicken Pesto Pasta, so I added some fresh basil and mozzarella to complement the dish.  These were really good - light and fluffy.  They only took a few minutes to make.  I could have eaten the whole batch by myself!



Herb Drop Biscuits
(Printable Recipe)

1 cup Flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup mozzarella
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, cream of tartar, basil, mozzarella and salt. Stir to mix. Add the softened butter, mix until it forms coarse crumbs. Add the milk. Stir just until mixed. If you over mix the batter, the biscuits will be tough. Place by spoonfuls (about 1/4 cup to make 7 biscuits) onto a greased or parchment covered sheet pan. Bake until puffed and golden, about 15 minutes.


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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cheesy Chicken Pesto Pasta

This recipe is from The Deen Family Cookbook - the first book I downloaded on my iPad and it is wonderful.  I had some pesto from the calzone braid that I wanted to use up and this recipe fit the bill.  The original recpie was just a cheesy pasta bake; I added chicken to make it into a nice meal. 

This was a fabulous dish!   We couldn't stop eating it.  The pesto wasn't overwhelming - it just gave it a nice flavor.  It was simple to put together, as most of Paula Deen's recipes are.  It could easily be made ahead of time and popped in the oven after work.  I know that I will be making this again!

Cheesy Chicken Pesto Pasta
(Printable Recipe)

2 chicken breast, cooked and chopped (I sprinkled my chicken with some garlic seasoning before I cooked it)
8 oz spaghetti
6 oz pesto
8 oz ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella or Italian cheese blend
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400.

Cook spaghetti for 2 minutes less than the package directions specify.  Drain the spaghetti well and transfer it to a bowl.  Stir in chicken, ricotta, pesto, 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup of the parmesan cheese.  Toss the mixture well and transfer it to a 9-inch square dish.  Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

Bake until the cheese is melted, about 20 minutes.  Turn the oven to broil and broil for 1 minutes or until golden.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Meow Monday

Marmalade


Sherbert 
(looking down at Marmalade)




Jack
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Friday, May 21, 2010

Chicken Pesto Calzone Braid


This was a twist on our usual pizza night.  I saw this recipe over on Multiply Delicious and thought it sounded great!  My two favorite foods, chicken and pizza, all in one!!  How could I go wrong?! The original recipe made this into little pizza bites for a party.  I was really interested in the filling, so I decided to switch it up and make it into a big pizza calzone braid.  It turned out great!  We topped the braid with some pizza sauce and parmesan.  We loved the flavor of the chicken and pesto.  I would definately make this again.  If I ever have a party at the house, I would make the little pizza bites like the original recipe.  I think they would be a hit.



Chicken Pesto Calzone Braid
adapted from Multiply Delicious
(Printable Recipe)

1 can crescent rolls
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, minced
1/3 cup pesto (store bought or homemade)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 shredded mozerella

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Finely chop chicken. In a large mixing bowl, mix the chicken, pesto, minced garlic, ricotta cheese, tomato paste, parmesan, and mozerella. Mix all until well combined.

Unroll crescent roll dough, and arrange flat on a medium baking sheet. Pinch together perforations to form a single sheet of dough. Using a knife or scissors, cut 1 inch wide strips in towards the center, starting on the long sides. There should be a solid strip about 3 inches wide down the center, with the cut strips forming a fringe down each side. Spread the chicken mixture along the center strip. Fold the side strips over chicken mixture, alternating strips from each side. Pinch or twist to seal. 
Bake at 375 for 25-28 minutes, or until golden brown.




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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Balsamic Lemon & Rosemary Chicken


Now that the weather is nice, we are doing a lot more grilling.  Chicken Legs loves to grill and I am more than happy to keep the oven off when it is 90 degrees outside.  I saw this recipe on one of the many blogs I check periodically.  I had some bone-in chicken breasts in the freezer and thought I would give it a try.  This recipe is a big departure from my normal chicken marinades since it uses a lot of balsamic vinegar.  I like balsamic in moderation, but I didn't know if I would like it as the star of the dish.  Much to my relief, the chicken turned out great.  It was juicy and had tons of great flavor.  I am glad broke out of my comfort zone and gave it a shot! 



Balsamic Lemon & Rosemary Chicken
Emeril Lagasse
(Printable Recipe)

3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rosemary leaves
3 tablespoons thinly sliced garlic
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 bone-in chicken breast pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a medium bowl combine the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, rosemary, garlic, lemon zest and red pepper flakes. Whisk to combine and place half of the marindae in a 1-gallon resealable food storage plastic bag. Place the chicken in the bag and seal it. Turn to ensure that the chicken is evenly coated, then refrigerate, turning occasionally, for 2 to 4 hours.  (I did this overnight)

Remove chicken from marinade.  Tear off three squares of heavy-duty foil and place one chicken breast in the middle of eat piece of foil. Pour reserved balsamic marindae on top of chicken and seal the foil package. Place on grill and cover. Allow chicken to grill for approximately 30 minutes. Open foil packets and grill chicken 5-10 minutes, just until chicken is completely cooked and has a nice color.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Chicken Fajitas


These are my new favorite fajitas! We both absolutely loved them. (New favorite at home, my absolute favorite fajitas are at Superior Grill)  We don't usually make fajitas at home. When we do make them, we use the recipe I have from Pampered Chef. They are great and perfect for a busy week night.   I have been searching for a good grilled fajita recipe.  I saw this recipe in the May issue of Southern Living and knew we had to give it a try.  The original recipe called for both beef and chicken.  I didn't have any flank steak on hand, so we just did chicken.  I will have to give the flank steak a try next time.  The meat was tender, juicy and full of flavor.  We had some chicken leftover and I had it for lunch the next day, and it might have been better at lunch.  I love when I find a great new recipe like this!






Chicken Fajitas
slightly adapted from Southern Living(Printable Recipe)

1/2 cup bottled Italian dressing
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon chipotle seasoning
1 Tbsp lime juice
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to an even thickness

Whisk together first 9 ingredients. Pour marinade into a large zip-top plastic freezer bag, and add chicken breasts; seal bag. Chill at least 2 hours (I did overnight).

Grill chicken, covered with grill lid, 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until done.

Remove from grill, and let stand 5 minutes. Cut chicken diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick strips.



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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Amazing Hard Boiled Egg Oatmeal Toffee Cookies


This is another wonderful cookie that is made with hard boiled eggs. We loved the chocolate chip cookies so much that we had to give the oatmeal cookies a try.  HAD TO!  They were truly amazing!  I just can't get over how good both these cookies are.   Chicken Legs has proclaimed the hard boiled egg cookies his all-time favorites and the best cookies I've ever made.  That says a lot coming from the Cookie Monster!

The original recipe comes from Katrina over at Baking and Boys.  I only made a few slight changes - added the toffee and mixed the oatmeal in by hand instead of pulsing it in the food processor.  Next time, and there will be a next time, I am going to add almonds and almond extract - that might result in my all-time favorite cookie. 




Amazing Hard Boiled Egg Oatmeal Toffee Cookies
Baking and Boys
(Printable Recipe)

4 oz. cold unsalted butter (1 stick)
4 1/2 oz. all purpose flour (1 cup)
1/2 cup quick oats
4 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 hard boiled egg, chopped
1/2 cup toffee bits

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In bowl of food processor, pulse flour and butter until mealy. Add sugars, honey, salt, soda, cinnamon and vanilla. Pulse again until mealy. Add the egg and pulse until combined.  Remove to a medium size bowl and work in the oatmeal and toffee bits with spoon. Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake about 13-15 minutes. Do not overbake.

Let cool on baking sheet five minutes, then remove cookies to cooling rack. Makes 18 cookies.



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Monday, May 17, 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010

Pizza Dough



Pizza is all-time favorite food.  I know you would think it would be chicken, but it is actually pizza.  I could eat pizza every meal -really!  I have started to experiment with making my own dough - it is just hard to do after work.  Most dough takes hours to rise and I just don't want to wait that long on a weeknight.  This recipe didn't require a long rising time so I gave it a shot.  It was really good.  It was a little thicker that I normally make our crust, but it was nice and crispy.  Best of all it was a breeze to throw together.


Pizza Dough
Got a Little Space
(Printable Recipe)

1 packet yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 cup warm water
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
cornmeal

Preheat oven to 400F. In a large bowl, combine the yeast and warm water and stir until the yeast dissolves. Add the flour, salt, honey and olive oil; stir to combine using first a wooden spoon then your hands. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle baking sheet with cornmeal and press dough into it to your desired thickness. Top with your toppings and bake for approximately half an hour or until crust is golden, toppings are heated through and cheese is bubbly.



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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Black Pepper and Molasses Pulled Chicken Sandwiches


I've seen this recipe floating around the internets for a while and I finally got around to trying it out.  It is originally from Cooking Light.  It is basically a quick BBQ chicken sandwich.  I couldn't find any boneless chicken thighs, so I had to use chicken breast.  I also ended up doubling the sauce.  I mixed it all together and thought there is no way that is enough to coat all this chicken.  I really liked how easy these sandwiches were to make and I also really liked the flavor of the BBQ sauce.  I think it would be a good crockpot meal too.  I love to have dinner already done when I get home from work!



Black Pepper and Molasses Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
(Printable Recipe)

6 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoon prepared mustard
2 tablespoon molasses
1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 teaspoon ground ginger
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into chunks
sandwich rolls
dill pickle chips

Combine first 9 ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, 23 minutes or until chicken is done and tender. Remove from heat; shred with 2 forks to measure 2 cups meat. Place 1/2 cup chicken on bottom half of each roll. Top each with 3 pickles and top half of roll.


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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Chicken & Cheese Enchiladas


I have finally found a chicken enchilada recipe that I am willing to eat at home!  I have tried several recipes for easy chicken enchiladas and they always turn out to be too mushy.  These enchiladas are made with cheese soup instead of cream of chicken - I really think that made the difference.  I also buy the whole-wheat tortillas.  I think they taste great and hold up better when cooked. 

We both loved the enchiladas.  They weren't mushy and had all of our favorite flavors inside.  I served it with our favorite Mexican rice with black beans mixed in.  It was all great.  I am glad my search is over for easy weeknight chicken enchiladas!




Chicken & Cheese Enchiladas
(Printable Recipe)

1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup
1/2 cup milk
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1 cup salsa, divided
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
8 flour tortillas (8-inch), warmed (I use whole-wheat tortillas)

Stir the soup, 1/4 cup salsa and milk in a small bowl.

Stir 2 tablespoons soup mixture, chicken, cheddar cheese, 3/4 cup salsa and chili powder in a medium bowl.

Spoon about 1/3 cup chicken mixture down the center of each tortilla. Roll the tortillas around the filling and place seam-side down in a greased 3-quart shallow baking dish.

Pour the remaining soup mixture over the filled enchiladas. Cover the baking dish. Bake at 375°F. for 35 minutes or until the filling is hot.


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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Buitoni Riserva Dinner Party


I was so excited to learn that I was selected to host a Buitoni Riserva Dinner Party from Foodbuzz.com!  I decided to share this opportunity with my parents before we went on vacation last weekend.  I don't get to cook for my parents very often, so I thought it would be a nice treat.  It was a great kick-off to our trip!

I decided to check out Buitoni's website for inspiration for the dinner party.  Buitoni has a ton of great recipes on their website - all of which look amazing and are simple to make.  I don't normally cook with fresh pasta (but I will now). The only fresh pasta I have ever cooked with is the Buitoni Riserva ravioli. I didn't get very creative with it - I just boiled them and topped them with sauce, but they are wonderful! I decided that I needed to "kick it up a notch" this time and try something new.  I chose Baked Ravioli and Chicken in Creamy Tomato Sauce with Linguine.  Both of the dishes were amazing and incredibly easy to make.  Everyone was really surprised at how great everything tasted.  If you didn't know any better, you would swear we had takeout from an Italian restaurant. 

We finished the meal with a Chocolate Amaretto cake from the Magnolia Bakery cookbook (downloaded on my iPad!).  It was incredible - light and moist.  The almond and amaretto flavor shined.  I hated that we were going to vacation and couldn't eat it all weekend! 

This meal was fabulous!  I loved it!! I was kind of sad that my pictures turned out OK; I was hoping to have to make it again this weekend.  I am already looking for the next recipe to make with fresh pasta.  I can't believe I waited so long to try it!


Baked Ravioli
(Printable Recipe)

1 package (9 ounces) BUITONI Riserva Refrigerated Quattro Formaggi Agnolotti Ravioli , prepared according to package directions
2 large eggs , beaten
1 cup Italian dry bread crumbs
Olive oil cooking spray
1 container (15 ounces) BUITONI Tomato Herb Parmesan Sauce

Preheat broiler. Dip prepared ravioli into beaten eggs, coating both sides, then into bread crumbs, coating both sides. Place on baking sheet. Lightly spray top of breaded ravioli with cooking spray.

Broil for 1 to 2 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Turn and spray with additional cooking spray; broil for 1 minute or until edges begin to brown. Serve with heated sauce for dipping.


We paired the pasta with a Pinot Noir and a Pinot Grigio. I don't know if those are technically correct or not. We took a wine class a while back and they said if you like it, it is good! That was our philosophy here.



I made our favorite baguettte and added some roasted garlic while I mixed it together.  It added a nice hint of garlic.  We dipped the bread into some grapeseed oil and herbs.




Chicken in Creamy Tomato Sauce with Linguine
(Printable Recipe)

1 package (9 ounces) BUITONI Refrigerated Linguine
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves , cut into 1/2-inch strips chunks (I marinated my chicken in Lawry's Herb & Garlic marinade)

2 containers (15 ounces each) BUITONI Roasted Garlic Refrigerated Marinara Sauce
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
BUITONI Refrigerated Freshly Shredded Parmesan Cheese
Chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Prepare pasta according to package directions.

Heat oil in large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; season with salt and ground black pepper. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until no longer pink. Remove from skillet.

Pour sauce into same skillet; cook until heated through (do not boil). Add chicken and cream; stir well. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes or until heated through. Toss with pasta. Sprinkle with cheese and parsley.



Max tried his best to get a taste.  It was hard to say no to such a cute face!





Chocolate Amaretto Cake
(Printable Recipe)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted
1 cup milk
3 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons amaretto-flavored liqueur

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and lightly flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.

Sift together the flour and baking soda. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, mix the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Add the chocolate and mix well. Add the flour/baking soda mixture in thirds, alternating with the milk and the extracts. Beat after each addition until smooth. Mix in the liqueur. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake 45-50 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes. Then, remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack.



After dinner we were all stuffed.  Max was a sweet boy and "helped" with the dishes. 


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Monday, May 10, 2010

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