Monday, October 26, 2009

The Easiest Recipe I Know

Parmesan Crusted Chicken Breasts

Seriously. This has two ingredients - TWO. Okay, not counting salt, pepper and olive oil. But I don't count those as ingredients, since most people have them in their pantry.


(1) Chicken, and
(2) Shredded (not grated!) Parmesan Cheese.

When I saw this Rachael Ray recipe on her show, I thought, no way - it can't be that easy. A crispy, buttery crust, without eggs, bread crumbs, milk, or any of that hassle? This was one I knew I had to try!

This is really as simple as it sounds. You just coat the chicken with the cheese (press firmly to adhere as much cheese as you can). Preheat a nonstick skillet (don't try this without a nonstick surface) and pour in a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Make sure it is very hot - the oil should be almost smoking. Lay the chicken carefully in the pan.

Now, here's the ONLY trick to this recipe. You're going to be very tempted to move the chicken around and check on it. LEAVE it alone in the pan for at least several minutes. If you must check, lift carefully from one edge, just until you meet resistance. If it's still sticky and the cheese is gooey, leave it a little longer. It can be hard to understand what you're trying to achieve here if you haven't seen it made, so here's a picture of my pan after I flipped the chicken. When it's ready to flip, it won't be gooey or messy. So don't try to move it too soon!

I also recommend halving your chicken breasts horizontally, to make them cook faster. I did not do that this time, and remembered why I usually do. Mine took forever to cook, so I had to flip them several times while waiting for the chicken to finish cooking. But here's about what they will look like when done:

Hubby and I both love these - parmesan cheese has a buttery, delicious flavor when cooked. I serve them with marinara on the side (I keep this in the freezer for just such occasions!) and whatever veggies I feel like that day. Hope you love it as much as we do!

If you would like to refer to the original recipe, it's here - I have also made her roasted potatoes and peppers (mentioned in the recipe) and they are yummy too!

Love, Dahrlin'

Friday, October 23, 2009

Foodie Friday! Creamy Bowtie Pasta

Here's a new recipe that I have been meaning to try for ages. I finally got around to it the other day, and MAN am I thrilled with this one. Super, super good, and even hubby raved!

This one jumped out at me when I read it in Taste of Home. Why? Aside from the obvious (who doesn't love cheese and pasta?), because when I was in college, before I began to really learn to cook, I literally lived on Lipton Noodles, Pasta Roni, and of course, the Blue Box (it's the cheesiest!!) I ate boxes and boxes and...I can still get a little smile on my face thinking about the Parmesan flavor from Lipton, which was sooooo yummy (they all were, actually). But let's face it - those mixes, however handy, are full of stuff that's just plain Partially hydrogenated whatever, powdered cheese (two words that just don't go together) and other stuff that, today, makes me go "ewww!" Not when I taste it, but when I read it. And have you ever seen what happens if you make Kraft Easy Mac and then let the dish sit for a while? The "cheese" hardens to the side of the dish like a sludge...and it doesn't come off easily! What's that mean for our bodies?

Now, I'm not saying there aren't days when I reach for Easy Mac. Seriously. I do! I still love the stuff. But I am seriously rethinking that after trying this recipe...

This recipe was simply a delight! I definitely recommend it ANYTIME as a side dish, main dish (add your favorite meat or seafood) and just plain comfort food snack!

Creamy Bow Tie Pasta

1 cup uncooked bow tie pasta
1-1/2 teaspoons butter
2-1/4 teaspoons olive oil
1-1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
Dash salt
Dash dried basil
Dash crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons chicken broth
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon sour cream

Cook pasta to desired tenderness. While the pasta cooks, melt butter in a saucepan. Stir in olive oil, flour, garlic and herbs until blended. Next add the milk, broth and water and stir well. Bring to a boil, cook and stir for a couple minutes or until slightly thickened.

Remove from heat and stir in cheese and sour cream. Drain the pasta and toss warm pasta with sauce. Serve immediately (and don't be like me, immediately becoming so entranced that you eat your helping over the stove! LOL!)

Nutrition Facts: 3/4 cup equals 196 calories, 12 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 19 mg cholesterol, 252 mg sodium, 17 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 6 g protein.

Love, Dahrlin'

*PS - wondering about this slightly odd photo? Yeah. Thought so. Maybe you can't quite put your finger on what's odd about it? That would be the fact that about a tablespoon of it was all that was left...when I remembered to stop eating and take a picture!! LOL!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

This bears repeating...

Blueberry Multigrain Waffles

I've posted these delicious creatures once before, but I just made another batch, and I have to say, I really think they deserve an encore appearance! I usually make these in the cooler months, so last weekend I just made our first batch since last spring. They freeze beautifully (and I actually prefer them reheated, because you can get them a little more crispy). Ten minutes in a toaster oven, and you can have warm and yummy waffles any time - and these are actually good for you! See below for nutritional info.

I'll refer you back to the original post for the recipe. But before you go, I wanted to point out another feature of this recipe that I love - its flexibility. Normally, flexibility isn't a quality that is associated with bread recipes and baking, but this one truly is. If you've been reading this blog long, you know I have done a lot of couponing in the last six months or so. And I'm trying extra hard these days not to throw away or waste food, which we used to do a lot. It's just me and hubby, so sometimes it's hard to use up the last of things before they go bad (we do freeze a lot though). So last weekend, I was delighted to use up the following items that were languishing in my fridge - all in this recipe:

-End of a box of oats
-End of a can of baking powder
-Remainder of a carton of eggs
-Remainder of a carton of buttermilk
-Remainder of a tub of sour cream
-A whole 4-pack of greek yogurt that was about to expire
-The rest of a jar of maple syrup
-The rest of a carton of butter
-The last of my frozen walnuts
-The last of a package of blueberries

Now, I don't always have this many odds and ends in my pantry and fridge, but this time it just worked out that way. And it made me SO happy to see all those containers going to recycling! Nothing went to waste!

I point this out only so you won't worry if you would like to make this recipe, but look in your fridge and don't have, say, yogurt (use sour cream instead). Or milk (can use buttermilk or soymilk). This recipe has some flexibility, and it will still taste yummy!!

We make these about every 8 weeks, and enjoy them effortlessly on cold mornings in the other 7 weeks! Hope you enjoy as much as we have!

Nutrient info (according to Cuisinart, the recipe author):

1 waffle = 137 calories, 18g carbs, 6g protein, 5g fat (1g sat fat), 2g fiber.

This recipe is posted at Tempt My Tummy Tuesday! Check out Lisa and Lana's collection for more recipe inspiration!

Love, Dahrlin'

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Easy Crockpot Beef Stroganoff

I always look sideways at any recipe that begins with "Easy." The entire concept of what is considered "easy" by a given person varies wildly. I am a devoted Food Network addict, and I can't tell you how many times my favorite cooks and chefs have raved about how "easy" something is...while chopping piles of vegetables at a speed I can only dream of, or stirring some concoction with more ingredients (and dishes) than I normally use in a week. On the other end of the spectrum, I have a girlfriend who considers something truly easy only if it comes in a box and requires no additional ingredients, except perhaps salt and pepper (which she can add at the table - or skip if she wants!)

But this, I promise you, is truly easy. And soooo good. This is one of the first home-cooked recipes I learned to make for my husband. And we still love it! This one takes no more than 30 minutes hands on, and feeds a crowd. Leftovers are delicious for lunches or dinners. And it's perfect fall and winter comfort food!

Start this one about lunchtime - it does not have to cook all morning.

Begin by slicing a couple medium white onions. Toss these in the crockpt with a little salt and pepper (don't overdo salt at this point, as we are using broth later).

Next, cube about 2 pounds of pot roast meat (chuck, shoulder, rump, pretty much any "roast" you want to use - look for a large piece you can cut up yourself - usually a bit less expensive that way). Most roasts are pretty well marbled (contain small amounts of visible fat throughout) so go ahead and trim off any visible fat you can get to on the outside. Cut into about 1 inch pieces (to your preferred size). They will be fork-tender when done, so no worries on the size.

(Hmmm... this roast reminds me of the "Old '96er." Name that movie!!)

Toss the beef with the onions and a little more salt and pepper if you like.

Next, grab a few flavoring friends -

See recipe for the details - throw these together, pour over the beef and onions, pop on the top and turn crockpot to low.

Now, go shopping, paint your nails, play with the kids, whatever you feel like. You have a whole day to enjoy while dinner cooks itself!

After about 6 hours (can go a little longer), add the mushrooms and red wine (if using) as well as cornstarch. Turn heat to high for about half an hour to 45 minutes. Meanwhile, cook your egg noodles and make a green salad!

When ready to serve, turn off heat. I like to let it cool just slightly before adding the sour cream, so the cream does not curdle. But it won't affect the taste either way. If you're hungry, add it and go! (that's what I did, as you may be able to tell from the photo!)

Serve the stroganoff over big bowls of noodles. Your family will love you!

Here's the actual recipe - enjoy!!

Crockpot Beef Stroganoff - from Mable Hoffman's Crockery Cookery

1.5 - 2 lbs pot roast
1-2 white onions, sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Worcesterchire sauce
1 (10 oz) can beef broth
1 Tbsp ketchup
1 tsp paprika
2 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)
2 Tbsp red wine (optional)
1 package sliced baby portobello mushrooms
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 cup sour cream (regular or low fat only)
Cooked egg noodles or rice

Cube steak and toss with sliced onions and minced garlic in crock pot. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper. Combine next five ingredients (Worcesterchire sauce through thyme) and pour over beef. Scrape down sides of crockpot and make sure no tiny pieces of garlic adhere to the sides (keeps it from burning and turning bitter!). Cover and cook on low approx 6 hours. Turn heat to high, add wine and mushrooms. Dissolve cornstarch in water and add to pot. Cover and cook approx 30-45 mintues while you make noodles or rice. When ready to serve, turn off heat and add sour cream; serve over noodles or rice.

This recipe is posted at Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Crock Pot Wednesday! Check out these great sites for more kitchen inspiration!

Love, Dahrlin'

You have to keep it simple sometimes...

This is a video I found over at Debbie's site (check out her Crock Pot Wednesday Roundup!). For any of us ladies who have ever sent our men out to the store, thinking that (this time) we have made the perfect, absolutely idiot mistake-proof list, that he can't possibly misinterpret, I give you the funniest thing I have heard all week. Enjoy!

Happy Sunday!

Love, Dahrlin'
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