Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kitchen Chaccatori

Sadly, every time I make this dish, my husband decides to maul the name/pronunciation into this ridiculous phrase… and after a year of living together, I sometimes refer to it as kitchen chaccatori as well… I guess it’s love, what can I say? Anywho… it’s amazing and surprisingly healthy and did I mention amazing?

The usual suspects…

Chicken Cacciatore                           Karla Cowan for RR
4-6 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 ½ cups orzo pasta
Bunch of fresh basil (finely chopped)
1 medium onion (finely chopped)
1 pint of mushrooms (finely chopped)
14.5oz can diced tomatoes
8oz can tomato sauce
2 Tbsp capers

Add a couple tbsp of EVOO to a large skillet over medium heat. Season both sides of your chicken with S&P. Cook for about 7min on each side and then transfer to a plate tented with foil.

Grab a large pot and get some water boiling. Don’t add too much salt this time, since the orzo is so small. (I’ve made this mistake before) Cook it for about 5 minutes and then drain. Put it in a large bowl, add 2tbsp of EVOO and season with Pepper and a handful of the fresh basil. Sometimes I skip this step, because the sauce on the chicken is enough for the orzo… you decide.

When the chicken is done, add a bit more EVOO if needed and get the onion with some S&P in the skillet to soften. If you have a non-mushroom eater in the house, like we know I do, put the mushrooms in a separate pan (dry) and sauté them for about 8-10 minutes. Otherwise, you can cook them with the onions. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, capers and basil and bring it to a bubble. Let it thicken for about 7-8 minutes and add the chicken back in the pan the last few minutes to warm it up. Your kitchen should smell heavenly at this point. And the pan is beckoning you to dip your finger in a give it a lick…

But a decent person would wait until it’s properly plated… who am I kidding… I never wait.

But it does look pretty huh? Enjoy ya'll!

Friday, June 25, 2010

An Appitizing Burger...

First of all, I need to tell ya’ll about this amazing little website called Tasty Kitchen. One of my absolute favorite blogs is The Pioneer Woman (more on the amazing Ree later.) Well, she created this lovely little community for all the foodies out there to post their tried and true recipes! I’ve made quite a few (they’re all amazing, and waiting in a folder to be posted) and this recipe was a deeelicious burger by Aggie’s Kitchen that fit perfectly into my little Friday tradition. Her recipe calls for ground pork, but as the Hubby and I are trying to be a bit healthier, I used ground sirloin (and tweaked it a bit as usual)

Here’s the line up…

Bruschetta Patty Melt by Aggie’s Kitchen

For the Burger:
½ Green Pepper (finely chopped)
1 Small Onion (finely chopped)
Small bunch of Basil (finely chopped)
1 Egg
¼ cups grated Parm
2 teaspoons Red Wine
1 lb ground sirloin
½ cup of shredded Mozzarella
1 Small Ciabatta (you’ll need 4 pieces plus more for eating the rest of the bruschetta!)

For the Bruschetta:
6 plum tomatoes
1 Tsp balsamic vinegar
Small bunch of Basil (finely chopped)

First, you’ll want to whip up the Bruschetta.

Get a big pot of boiling water on the stove and “parboil” the tomatoes whole for just a minute. Then dump ‘em in an ice cold bath so you can get those skins off! Then seed and finely chop them. Add the EVOO, balsamic vinegar, basil and S&P and stir. Then grab a piece of toasty ciabatta to give it a taste!

Oops… I mean, slice your ciabatta and get it under the broiler to get nice and toasty!

Now, grab a skillet and put a bit of EVOO over medium heat. Add the onions and peppers and cook em’ till they’re nice and soft. Then set them aside to cool off. Grab your meat, and add the wine, parm, basil, egg, S&P, and the cooled peppers and onions. Now take off your rings and get mixin’! Form 4 even patties and either grill them or broil them. I broiled them for about 15 minutes. Add the cheese in the last few minutes to get it melty!

When the patties are done, put each one on a piece of ciabatta. Put a big helping of bruschetta on top and DIG IN!

Here’s the amazing result… Melty, tomato-y goodness on Ciabatta. YUM.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Gift for My Dad...

I have an amazing Dad. He’s the man I compared every man to before I found my hubby… and ironically they have many of the same qualities. I won’t deny it, I’m a Daddy’s girl and now that my Daddy lives a million miles away, I wanted to send him something special to let him know how much I love him! I started looking around for a crafty way to say Happy Father’s Day but really didn’t find much for the Dad of two twenty somethings.

I’ve been really obsessed with pennants lately (No idea why)… and after them all over Etsy & other crafty blogs, I thought, that can’t be too hard! I had also seen a banner someone made with old ties, and I thought I’d combine the two and make something that was a little more my style… thus this Tie Pennant was born… and my Dad loved it!

I just drew a tie-shape on a piece of paper and used it as a pattern. I pinned and cut out two pieces of colorful fabric for each “tie” in the pennant. Next I picked a fun font on my little pink laptop, selected “outline” in the font menu, cut out the letters and used them as patterns. After zigzag stitching the letters to the ties (I used turquoise and brown threads), I made a zigzag stitch across the tie to separate the “knot” from the rest. Then I stitched the two tie pieces together, right sides facing, leaving the top open so I could flip them right sides out. I ironed each piece and then sandwiched them between some bias tape I made, using one long stitch across the entire Pennant to secure all the pieces in place. It was fairly simple, and I loved coming up with my own design!

My Mom put up the banner before my Dad came home from church Sunday so he had a nice little surprise! Doesn’t it feel great to do nice things for people you’re just crazy about?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Staycation & Our 1st Anniversary!

I’ve been married to my wonderful Hubby for a WHOLE YEAR! Whew… whoever said the first year is the hardest was wrong. We blinked and a year of marital bliss whizzed by! We had always talked about going on a big trip for our one year… but when it came sneaking up on us, we were searching for a new place, had just had my parents out, and are leaving again to go home in month, and let’s face it, California living ain’t cheap. It was obviously not the time for traveling. Sooo… we decided to have ourselves a “Staycation!” Since people come to San Diego from all over the country to vacay, why not enjoy our lovely paradise from a different perspective! So we packed a bag and headed towards Downtown San Diego. First stop: Balboa Park for some sightseeing! We’ve always wanted to go, but just kept putting it off. Then we checked in at the Glamorous Westgate Hotel… where Bri won my heart way back when he interned here for the summer… and boy was it nice to live a life of luxury for a bit! Here are some pictures of our fabulous escape from real life…

Balboa was beautiful! We stopped off at the San Diego Museum of Art… (my hubby indulged me), had lunch by a fountain, and walked around soaking up the sunshine and the pretty flowers!

Yes, I’d already stayed at the Westgate once, but it still took my breath away…

The large rooms with gorgeous heavy drapes, the exquisite furniture, the crown molding… it’s all so luxurious and definitely not my normal life.

The view of Downtown San Diego was great… but the monogrammed matching bathrobes… even better. FYI… we love matching bathrobes… please don’t laugh at us. They were hanging in the large bathroom with the marble bathtub and cushy vanity stool… Ah.

We went to Dinner at Ra (a really fun sushi fushion restaurant downtown) and came home to turn down service… gotta love that… chocolate on your pillow, dimmed lighting, and classical music coming from the TV… seriously.

But what made the night super sweet was the fact that we know each other so well… we bought the exact same card. Hilarious… and maybe a bit sickening. It’s love.

And in the morning… the spoiling continued… I could get used to this…

The Silver Coffee pot and utensils, personal carafes of orange juice, Starbucks coffee (I accept nothing less), and a pink rose… it’s the little things in life. I almost stole the adorable butter dish. Yes, yes that is chocolate oozing out of my croissant... and those potatoes- I almost fainted. Room Service is lovely. I just might be moving in… in my dreams I live here.

Thank you Hubby for the amazing anniversary getaway! I loooove you!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Big Bowl of Cheesy Comfort...

One of the first recipes I made for Brian when we were dating was Rachael Ray’s Italian Mac & Cheese. Well, as usual I had to tweak it according to what we like and don’t like… and it came out tasting like a big cheesy sausage pizza, so we call it Pizza Pasta, and we eat it as often as possible, meanwhile we become paranoid about our growing waistlines… but it’s soooo worth it. Trust me.

Here’s the usual line up…

Pizza Pasta by Yours Truly
1 lb cut ziti
1 lb Italian bulk mild sausage
2 Tbsp EVOO
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 ½ cups shredded Mozzarella (plus more for sprinkling on top)
½ of 4 Italian cheese blend or grated Parm (plus more for sprinkling on top)
1 can (15oz) of Italian diced tomatoes (the can says ‘with garlic, oregano & basil’)
Dash of Tabasco (totally optional)

Preheat your broiler.

Get a big pot of water boiling, add salt and cook your pasta to al dente, or package directions. Drain and set aside.

Brown and crumble sausage in a skillet over medium heat and then set it aside on a paper-towel lined plate.

Add EVOO and butter to pan. Add Flour and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in the chicken stock and stir in the heavy cream. Bring it to a bubble and then add 1 ½ cups Mozzarella and a ½ cup of parm. When the cheese is all melted, add the tomatoes, S&P, Tabasco and sausage.

Grab a casserole dish a put the pasta in the bottom. Pour the sauce over it and give it a good stir to evenly coat the pasta. Sprinkle some mozzarella and parm on top and put it under the broiler for a few minutes to get it brown and bubbly.

It should look like this…

YUM! Don’t you want some of that?! I’ll just tell you now that the following picture was not my only helping.

You really need to make this for someone tonight… or for yourself… come on, you deserve it.

Friday, June 11, 2010

This ain't your average burger...

I must confess, I totally missed Burger Friday last week, but I do have a VERY good excuse! My parents came out all the way from my home town in Missouri for their first visit to our home here in Cali! We saw all the sights, ate a WHOLE lot of food (I’m pretty sure I gained 10lbs) and had a wonderful time!

So this week, I have one deeelishous burger for ya’ll! This one just might make the “Top Ten” recipe list (from our first year) I’m working on!

Gaucho Burger and Charred Pico by Rach & Yours Truly

For the Burger…
1 lb ground sirloin
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground coriander
Big romaine leaves
4 slices of sharp cheddar cheese
4 gourmet white hamburger buns

Charred Pico…
2 Roma tomatoes (seeded and quartered)
2 Jalapeños (seeded and quartered)
1 red onion, halved (I used a yellow one… it worked.)
A big bunch of cilantro (finely chopped)
A pinch of salt
Big squeeze of fresh lime juice

First you’ll need to get those veggies grilling! Get your grill or grill pan screaming hot! It only takes a few minutes on each side to get the veggies good and charred. Transfer them to your cutting board and give them a dice. Grab a bowl and add the cilantro, salt and lime juice to the pico! You might just have to grab a chip to give it a taste! Yum!

Next, grab a bowl and mix up the ground sirloin with the spices. Make four even patties, a little thinner in the middle so they cook evenly. Lower the temp on your grill pan to Medium.
Cook the burgers for about 5min on each side, and put the cheese on top in the last few minutes to get it melty!

Don’t forget to get your hamburger buns toasty under the broiler!

To put your Gaucho Burger together, put a couple leaves of lettuce on the bottom bun, then the burger, and then PLENTY of that pico!

Now take a big juicy bite, and say “Thank you Candace!” You’re welcome.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Blog got a Makover!

Try as I might, my blog was just lookin’ a bit eh. It really didn’t show my sparkling personality (ha!) or that Midwest Americana style I love… UNTIL I found the fabulous folks over at Designer Blogs! It turns out that working with HTML is HARD! So dear Erin over @ DB gave my blog a once over and turned it into EXACTLY what I wanted! The price was amazing, and she put up with my bein’ picky too! Thanks girl! You made my day! Go check em’ out ya’ll!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Something Sweet…

It’s absolutely shocking to me that it’s taken this long for something baked to end up on this blog. Boy do I ever have a sweet tooth! It’s so bad that we have to keep low fat ice cream in our freezer at ALL times because I simply can NOT go to bed at night without a little somethin’ sweet! I blame my parents… well my Dad actually. When we were growing up, around 8 o’clock every night, like clockwork he would ask “Desert anyone?” How was a girl supposed to refuse?! Pair this apparent addiction to sweets with my absolute LOVE of baking and well… thank God I’ve learned a bit of self control over the years.

I thought I’d start out with a basic… everyone has their favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and after years of using the tollhouse recipe on the back of the bag (not that I’m putting down that old trusted friend) I just needed a little change. One of the cookies I make frequently is my own recipe for chocolate chip cookies… which is actually a bit healthy since I substitute whole wheat flour and use splenda baking mixes for the sugars, plus a couple of secret ingredients. But hey, we can’t go starting my first baking post on a HEALTHY note now can we?

So I present a delicious recipe for a chocolate chip cookie so darn good that it only took 4 days for us to devour the whole batch! It’s not only chocked full of chips, but Heath bar, and hazelnuts too!

Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies by Giada De Laurentiis
½ cup ground old-fashioned oats (I used whole wheat flour… works perfectly!)
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
4 ounces Heath bar (2 ½ small bars)
1 cup hazelnuts (toasted, skinned and chopped)
12oz bag semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

If you’re like me, you forgot to set out the butter ahead of time so it’ll be room temp, so while you’re toasting and chopping hazelnuts and chopping up the Heath bars, put the butter near the stove.

Line your baking sheets with parchment paper. Grab a bowl and mix the whole wheat flour, white flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with a whisk.

Put your room temperature butter and both sugars in your mixer. Beat until fluffy. Then add eggs and vanilla. Slowly add the flour mixture and stir just until blended. Stir in the toffee, hazelnuts, and chocolate chips. It’ll get pretty thick at the end, so grab someone with muscles to give it a good stir! Bri loves this part because he gets to lick the spoon afterwards.

I use a small ice cream scooper to drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto my baking sheet. Bake until the cookies are golden, which is usually exactly 15 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, and then completely on a wire cooling rack.

We never let them cool completely before getting a big glass of milk and a plate full! You’re welcome.