Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cranberry Chicken

We are finally moved into our new house, but are still living in a sea of boxes and stuff. We moved on the hottest day of the year so far. (100 degrees and humid, 112 heat index) I don't recommend moving at all!! Right now I have no internet, cable tv, or a fridge in my kitchen. (We're using the mini fridge in our family room until the fridge is delivered.) All that to say, eventually I will be back to posting more often. In the mean time, here is a post I drafted a few weeks ago.

I came across this recipe on another cooking blog I read occasionally. I have yet to try it since my husband isn't thrilled with fruit based meat sauces, but several friends have and say it is very easy and yummy.

Cranberry Chicken

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Garlic salt and pepper, to taste
1 can whole cranberry sauce
1 C Dorothy Lynch salad dressing (substitute french or catalina dressing if you don't live in Nebraska where Dorothy Lynch dressing is made)
1 packet dry onion soup mix

Grease a 9×13″ pan. Place chicken on the bottom of the pan and season with s&p. Combine cranberry sauce, Dorothy Lynch and onion soup mix; pour over chicken. Cover and bake at 350 for 1 to 1.5 hours. Remove foil halfway through cooking time. Can be a freezer meal. Mix everything together and pour over chicken breast in a zip lock bag. Thaw and pour into pan, bake accordingly.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Because I Made It For Lunch...

...and everyone loved it. It's hard to mess this up, and the carnivores in my life think it's super tasty. And I think it's fast and easy!

I give you Pioneer Woman's "Marlboro Man’s SECOND Favorite Sandwich."

It's an early recipe of hers and shockingly contains no butter!


* 4 chicken breasts, pounded to even thickness, 1 per person

* 12 slices bacon, pieces sliced in half, probably 4 slices per person

* 4 rolls or hamburger buns or bread, or none at all

* lemon pepper seasoning – I used Pappy’s.

* sliced cheese – I’ve used Havarti and Colby


1. Cook cut in half bacon strips as crispy as you like them. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels. Pour off all grease, except for about a tablespoon.

2. Liberally sprinkle both sides of chicken breasts with lemon pepper.

3. Add chicken breasts to pan and cook covered about 4 minutes.

4. Flip chicken and lay desired amount of bacon strips across the breast; add sliced cheese over bacon. Cover pan and allow cheese to melt thoroughly.

5. Serve chicken on roll/bun, whatever bread you want. You can have it plain as an entrée or make it into a sandwich with a little mayonnaise.

Enjoy! I promise I use recipe sources other than The Pioneer Woman and will share them soon!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Chef'N Stem Gem

I will spare you my long, sad saga of strawberry hulling. I've used knives, different tong-style strawberry hullers, my fingers, etc.

When I saw the new Chef'N Stem Gem at Sur La Table, I thought it looked neat. I pressed the little green handle and watched those silver claws open and close.

But really, I thought, I have a perfectly nice paring knife, a drawer full of kitchen gadgets, and a budget. I didn't NEED it. It wasn't on sale, I didn't have a coupon, I moved on.

Then my sister came to visit, and brought me one. We went to a local farmers market, bought a box of strawberries, and got to work.

To operate the Stem Gem, you press the the green thing on top, which causes the metal jaws to open. You drive the metal jaws into the top of the strawberry, release the green thing, and with a little twist and pull up, the green leafy part of the strawberry as well as the white inside stem are trapped in those metal jaws. Push the green button again, and the stem is in your trash and the strawberry is ready to eat.

The finished strawberry looks nice and would be easy to stuff. I went through a pint of strawberries very quickly. There's really no waste, it's painless, and I haven't injured myself with it yet!

The only downside is that sometimes you have to fleck a little of the strawberry leaf away - it gets cut and then just sits on the strawberry. A final rinse after hulling would probably take care of this issue.

If you're a frequent strawberry eater, and want a quick and easy way to get rid of the stem, you may want to ask your sister to get you one too!

Disclaimer: Unfortunately, Chef'N doesn't know who I am, doesn't pay me to review their stuff, and doesn't even send me free gadgets. A girl can dream...

CSA Boxes

Have I mentioned how much I love my CSA box? Here are five reasons why:

1) I truly hate gardening. I grow a few things in pots but I don't like bugs and worms and the feeling of dirt in my hands has never done anything for me.

2) I make too many decisions (especially menu decisions) already. My mind is on overload and it makes me tired. Weekly someone decides what vegetables (and usually one fruit) I am going to eat that week. I can build the rest from there.

3) I get to try things I never would. Kohlrabi is great with hummus. Beet greens work nicely in soups and stir frys. My kids LIKE sugar snap peas.

4) I'm helping a local farmer grow healthy food within 10 miles of my home.

5) My family is eating organic, vitamin-laden yummy food.

For CSAs in your area, go to Localharvest.org.

Bruschetta with Tomato and Basil

I am growing my own herbs this year and the basil finally reached the point where I could harvest some to use in my cooking. I decided to try my own Bruschetta. I searched around and this recipe seemed simple enough and I had all the ingredients. It turned out delicious and relatively quick and easy to make. Will definitely make again. Apologies I forgot to take pictures of my own food.


* 6 or 7 Ripe Plum Tomatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs)
* 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
* 1 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
* 1 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
* 6-8 (Med-Large) Basil Leaves, chopped
* Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper to taste
* 1 Baguette French Bread or similar Italian Bread
* 1/4 cup Olive Oil

1. Prepare the tomatoes first. Parboil the tomatoes for one minute in boiling water that has just been removed from the burner. Drain. Using a sharp small knife, remove the skins of the tomatoes. (If the tomatoes are too hot, you can protect your finger tips by rubbing them with an ice cube or under cold water between tomatoes.) Once the tomatoes are peeled, cut them in halves or quarters and remove the seeds and juice from their centers. Also cut out and discard the steam area. (Why use plum tomatoes instead of regular tomatoes? The skins are much thicker and thus easier to peel and there are fewer seeds and less juice.)

2. Make sure there is a top rack in place in your oven. Turn on the oven to 450 to preheat.

3. While the oven is heating, chop up the tomatoes finely. Put tomatoes, garlic, 1TBS extra virgin olive oil, and balsamic vinegar in a bowl and mix. Add the chopped basil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4. Slice the baguette on a diagonal about 1/2 inch thick slices. Coat ONE side of each slice with olive oil using a pastry brush. Place on a cooking sheet, olive oil side down. Place tray of bread slices in the oven on the top rack. Toast for 5-6 minutes, or until the bread just begins to turn golden brown.

(Alternative Method/Traditional Method: You can toast the bread without coating it in olive oil first. Toast on a griddle for 1 minute per side. Take a sharp knife and score each slice 3 times. Rub some garlic in the slices and drizzle 1/2 tsp of Olive Oil on each slice.)

5. Align the bread on a serving platter, olive oil side up. Either place the tomato topping in a bowl separately with a spoon for people to serve themselves over the bread, or place some topping on each slice of bread and serve. If you top each slice with the tomato mixture, do it right before serving or the bread may get soggy.

- Makes 24 small slices. Serves 6-10 as an appetizer or 3-4 for lunch.

** Recipe adapted from SmiplyRecipes.com. Picture courtesy of SimplyRecipes.com

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Chicken Caesar Lasagna

Hi, I'm Sally and I'm new here.

I love to cook, eat, and shop at Sur La Table. I'm a vegetarian but my husband and 18 month old son are not; healthy food is important but taste is paramount; and I'm kind of cheap but will splurge (see philosophy on taste, previous). Quick food is great, but sometimes a great meal will take time and that's ok too... on special occasions. I'm not a good photographer but I love to see what food looks like.

Alison asked me to join after traveling all the way to California and having dinner at my house. Since she liked it, I think I'll lead off with it here.

Chicken Caesar Lasagna
Better Homes & Gardens: http://www.bhg.com/recipe/pasta/chicken-caesar-lasagna/
Chicken Caesar Lasagna

Prep: 35 minutes
Bake: 50 minutes
Stand: 15 minutes
  • 9 dried whole wheat or regular lasagna noodles [NB: I love no bake lasagna noodles!]
  • 2 10-oz. containers refrigerated light Alfredo sauce [If you're cheap, jars work too!]
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 3 cups chopped, cooked chicken breast*[You can use leftovers, skip this, or use fake chicken, too]
  • 1 10-oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained [I used fresh]
  • 1 cup bottled roasted red sweet peppers, drained and chopped
  • 3/4 cup shredded Italian blend cheese [You can just shred some mozzarella and Parmesan together - I used about a cup or so]


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain; rinse with cold water; drain again. Meanwhile, in a bowl combine Alfredo sauce, lemon juice, and black pepper. Stir in chicken, spinach, and red peppers.

2. Lightly coat a 13x9x2-inch baking dish or 3-quart rectangular casserole with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange 3 noodles in bottom of dish. Top with one-third chicken mixture. Repeat layers twice. Cover; bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until heated through. Uncover; sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, 5 minutes more or until cheese is melted. Let stand 15 minutes before serving. Makes 9 servings. [I just baked it uncovered for about 35-40 minutes]

3. *Note: For chopped cooked chicken, season 2 pounds raw skinless boneless chicken breast halves with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium. Add chicken. Cook, uncovered, 8 to 12 minutes or until no longer pink, turning halfway through cooking. Cool chicken slightly before chopping.

Nutrition Facts: Calories 268, Total Fat (g) 10, Saturated Fat (g) 6, Cholesterol (mg) 68, Sodium (mg) 557, Carbohydrate (g) 20, Total sugar (g) 3, Fiber (g) 2, Protein (g) 24, Vitamin C (DV%) 83, Calcium (DV%) 21, Iron (DV%) 8.

I also made Pioneer Woman's Rosemary Rolls and Roasted Carrots (with rosemary instead of thyme, since I was already using rosemary) and some Fresh Express Caesar Supreme and Mediterranean Supreme salads (they were on sale!) I'll get into PW's recipes in later posts...

I'll be back!

I'm moving this week. Everything in my kitchen is boxed up for right now. I'm looking forward to having my new kitchen (with a pantry!!) and posting again.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Black Bean and Corn Soup

Sarah introduced me to this recipe from the Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook. It has been one of my standby crock pot meals ever since. It's fast, cheap and easy. Perfect for those days when I have to work late at the office. I usually assemble it in my crock pot the night before, refrigerate and put in the pot on low all day.

Black Bean and Corn Soup
6-8 servings, it usually serves us plus leftovers for one if we are really hungry

2-15oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
14 1/2oz. can mexican stewed tomatoes, undrained
14 1/2oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
11oz. can whole kernel corn, drained
4 green onions, sliced
2-3 T. chili powder
1t. ground cumin
1/2t. dried minced garlic
Add water if necessary

1. Combine all ingredients in crock pot. Can be assembled the night before.
2. Cover. Cook on High 5-6 hours OR Low all day.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Spinach, Chickpea and Potato Soup

First of all, I'm happy to be on board with the revived Marthas. I know most of you even if I haven't seen you in years... so hello!

In my mind (and probably in most of yours) there are three important meal elements often in tension with each other: good taste, reasonable cost, and ease/speed of preparation. I find that most meals succeed at two, but it's hard to manage all three. In my case, throw in multiple food allergies (gluten, eggs, dairy) and the third almost always gets sacrificed to the other two. Most of the time I don't mind because I like cooking, but sometimes I still want or need to make something quick.

This soup is one of my favorites, and counts as quick in my kitchen. It is also cheap, especially if you get your spinach in giant bags at Costco (and incorporate it into every dinner for a week. I didn't call myself the Spinach Monster as a child for nothing!) I clipped it out of the Washington Post 5 or 6 years ago and neglected to keep the original publication information, which pains my academic citation-obsessed soul. I did replace the original chicken broth with vegetable, so can I call it mine now?

Spinach, Chickpea and Potato Soup

1 T olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, chopped (about 3 T)
1/2 tsp ground allspice, or more to taste
6 cups vegetable broth (I like the Rapunzel bouillon cubes)
1 pound red or white new potatoes (or any kind except baking), cut into 3/4" cubes
1 15.5 oz. can chickpeas, drained, or 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
6 oz fresh baby spinach
Juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper to taste (The Rapunzel broth is quite salty.)

Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir just until it releases its aroma, about one minute. Add the allspice and cook for one minute; then add the broth. Heat until bubbles start to appear around the edges. Add potatoes and chickpeas. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium low. Cook at a gentle boil until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, 15-20 minutes depending on the size of the cubes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Turn off the heat and add the spinach, which will wilt in the heat of the broth. Add the lemon juice and stir. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

We're Back!!

Thanks to all of you ladies for being willing to get this blog back up and running. :-) Please post when you feel like it. Here are a few posting reminders:

  • Please use the tags when you post. Make sure to tag your name.
  • Post about anything food, cooking, kitchen, etc. related.
  • Use pictures if you have them

Amazing Alfredo Asparagus Chicken

• Four to Six chicken breasts (I used frozen boneless/skinless); whichever fit well in a covered saucepan without overlapping.
• One bunch asparagus, I cut the woody part off and then cut the tops in half so they were about 1.5" long.
• One 15 oz. can alfredo sauce (I've also made my own, which is yummier, but this was super easy/quick)
• Enough pasta for six servings. I used a "summer" pasta that was a macaroni weight, so it was nice and light.
• 1 small red-onion, diced to a nice size, not too small or it will just mush
• Salt, Pepper, granulated garlic, oregano (dried)
• Butter
Saute the onions in butter over medium-heat until semi-translucent, scrape to the side, add more butter and turn up the heat to high. Sear the chicken in the butter (both sides), forming a nice, brown crust.
Spinkle the chicken with salt, pepper, galic and oregano. Redistribute the onions around and on the chicekn, lower the heat to low-medium and cover.
Cook the pasta until ALMOST cooked, it should still be somewhat stiff. Drain, then put back in the pot with the alfredo sauce, warm the sauce over low-heat while the pasta finishes. Do not boil.
Remove the chicken from the sauce-pan (cover and keep in a warmed oven, or use a separate skillet for the next part).
Add a couple of tablespoons of butter to the chicken fat and onions in the sauce-pan, turn the heat up to medium, and then add the bottom, woodier parts of the asparagus. Add the tops of the asparagus to the pan once the bottom halves are almost halfway cooked, and then scrape the entire pan into the pasta and alfredo pot.
The asparagus will be soft but not slimy when it's cooked. If there is a large diameter difference between the bottoms and the tops, cook the bottoms until they're mostly done before adding the tops in, the tops (esp. the crown) will cook much faster than the woodier parts.

Product Weigh-In:
If you have a Costco, and can get some of this pasta, it comes with two other macaroni weight
shapes and is AWESOME with light sauces. It's called something like their "Summer Collection" and was fairly inexpensive (esp. considering it's organic).

When pairing it with an alfredo sauce, I found that the twists were just heavy enough to stand up to the thicker sauce, but they didn't grab too much of it in a bite, so you were getting a balance of asparagus, alfredo and
pasta, vs. some thicker pastas (like fettuccine) that would outweigh the sauce+veggie duo.