Thursday, August 28, 2008

Egg Salad BLT's

These BLT's make for a very refreshing summer lunch. As if BLT's weren't good enough, how about adding in some creamy egg salad, and serving it up on thick slices of toasted bread? I like it!

I can envision this becoming a regular Sunday afternoon lunch. The egg salad is easy to make ahead and store in the fridge, then just cook up the bacon and assemble everything after you get home from church and have a relaxing lunch. Have some potato chips or fries on the side, and you're all set.

If you're not familiar with making hard boiled eggs - here's the lowdown. Put the eggs in a pot and fill it with cold water to about an inch over the eggs. Bring the water to a rolling boil. Remove it from the heat, cover the pot, and let it sit for 12 minutes. Run the eggs under cold water to cool them down and prevent any further cooking. At this point you can store them in the fridge or peel them and use them right away. Make a few extra for an on-the-go breakfast or to throw into a salad. Easy peasy.

Egg Salad BLT's
(adapted from Cooking Light)

1/4 cup fat-free mayonnaise
3 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions
3 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
2 teaspoons whole-grain Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind
8 hard-cooked large eggs
8 (1 and 1/2-ounce) slices peasant bread or firm sandwich bread, toasted
4 center-cut bacon slices, cooked and cut in half crosswise
8 (1/4-inch-thick) slices tomato
4 large Boston lettuce leaves

1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well. Coarsely chop eggs and add to mayonnaise mixture; stir gently to combine.

2. Arrange 4 bread slices on a cutting board or work surface. Top each bread slice with 1/2 cup egg mixture, 2 bacon pieces, 2 tomato slices, 1 lettuce leaf, and 1 bread slice. Serve sandwich immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Chocolate-Banded Ice Cream Torte

This week's Tuesdays With Dorie selection was made by Amy at Food, Family And Fun. The recipe for the Chocolate-Banded Ice Cream Torte can be found on her site. As always, our recipes are selected each week from Dorie Greenspan's cookbook called Baking: From My Home to Yours. It's a great book!

I was so ecstatic to be making this ice cream torte. Ice cream is by far one of my all time favorite desserts. And an ice cream cake? Even better. I selected a chunky strawberry ice cream to use in mine.

It all seemed pretty easy: make the ganache, pour some in the pan, soften up the ice cream, spread on a layer, more ganache, more ice cream, and then more ganache. It was all stretched out over an entire evening until it was done. The only thing I was apprehensive about was adding the eggs into the ganache without cooking them. It's my first time making something with raw eggs, and it kind of freaked me out. But I decided to go with the flow.

The preparations for it all went really well. The only slight annoyance, and I always have trouble with this when I'm baking with layers, is that I didn't even out each layer very well. My bottom layer of ganache was too thin, as was my bottom layer of ice cream. And the lines weren't perfectly crisp - I had a little bit of waviness when I sliced into it. But that's the perfectionist in me.

As for taste, well... the chocolate was a little rich for me. I never thought I would find myself saying those words because I love rich things. But it was easy to fix, I just added more strawberry ice cream to my plate to offset all of the chocolate. So it turned out pretty well. My husband raved over it... though sometimes I can't tell if he's just being nice or if he's really sincere. In any case, it's already almost gone!

Tune in next week for cookies!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

For the entire past two weeks I have been addicted to watching the Olympics. It seems like all of the good stuff is on late at night, and since my son is a stubborn early riser (5 a.m. - ouch!), I can never stay up long enough to watch it all. But thanks to the invention of DVR, I've been taping it all and watching it during the day while doing my normal things. With all of the fun of the Olympics, I've been getting lazy and resorting to a lot of one-dish fast and easy meals. But this casserole is way too delicious to write off as something just "thrown together."

This casserole is just plain awesome! I really like one-dish meals that are hearty and satisfying and good for any occasion. This casserole is comprised of layers of tortillas, beans, chicken, and cheesy goodness. It's all topped off with a salsa and cilantro mixture. I opted for some spicy salsa which gives it that extra kick, but you can go for mild if you're not a fan of the heat. And as a bonus, this makes for really great leftovers!

Look at this cheesy goodness...

Chicken Enchilada Casserole
(adapted from Cooking Light magazine)

1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 and 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
Dash of ground red pepper
2 (15.5-ounce) cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups shredded skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 cup thinly sliced green onions, divided
18 (6-inch) tortillas, divided
Cooking spray
2 cups (8 ounces) preshredded reduced-fat 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese, divided
1 cup low-fat milk
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 (16-ounce) jar green salsa
10 Tbsp. reduced-fat sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion; cook 3 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in cumin, chili powder, garlic salt, and pepper; cook 1 minute. Stir in beans; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add chicken, 1/2 cup green onions; stir well.

2. Layer 6 tortillas on bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spread 2 cups chicken mixture over tortillas; sprinkle with 3/4 cup cheese. Repeat layers once. Top with remaining 6 tortillas.

3. Combine milk, chopped cilantro, and salsa in a blender, and process until smooth. Pour over top of tortillas. Cover and bake at 350° for 35 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese, and remaining 1/2 cup green onions. Bake for 5 minutes or until cheese melts. Serve with sour cream.

Makes 10 servings. About 350 calories per serving.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sweet Potato Fries

I am a HUGE fan of sweet potato fries, though I have to admit that I never actually had them until I moved down south a few years ago. Do people up north actually eat sweet potatoes besides on Thanksgiving? I certainly never did, and don't recall ever seeing them at restaurants or anything either. I never knew what I was missing.

So last week as I was purchasing sweet potatoes to make my son's baby food, I decided to pick up a few extra and cook up some fries. They are so incredibly easy and have me thinking that I need to make them more often. I had a recipe, but didn't end up following it because I knew what I liked and didn't like on them. So here's how my hubby and I like them. They're delicious! Serve them with burgers, sandwiches, steak, chicken... well, just about anything.

Sweet Potato Fries

1 and 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (yams), peeled, cut into 1/2-inch-wide slices, then again into 1/2-inch-wide strips
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. dried Italian parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 500°F. Spray large baking sheet with vegetable oil spray. Toss sweet potatoes with oil in large bowl.

2. Spread sweet potatoes in single layer on baking sheet. Top with parsley, thyme, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Bake until sweet potatoes are tender and golden brown, turning occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Makes 4 servings.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Granola Grabbers

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie selection was a fun cookie called Granola Grabbers. It was selected by Michelle of Bad Girl Baking and is on page 82 of Baking: From My Home To Yours. You can check out Michelle's blog for the recipe. I was really excited to be making cookies, especially these ones because they weren't the standard chocolate chip, peanut butter, or some other cookie that I've made too many times. These cookies have peanuts, almonds, coconut, raisins, and granola. They reminded me of eating trail mix. And they were just too easy to experiment with. I included everything the recipe called for, but I also threw in some dried cherries that I had in the cupboard from another recent recipe I made. I also decided to make half the batch with chocolate chips and the other half with M-N-M's. This seemed to really make it more like a trail mix. Plus, I don't think I could really enjoy a cookie without a tad bit of chocolate. I guess that's the chocaholic in me.

Overall, I think they came out great. My husband likes them a tad more than I do, which is good because I'm fearing what all of this bad eating is doing to my waist and hips. I was able to give some of these away, but the recipe made a ton so there are still plenty sitting in my kitchen where I am unable to resist them. So I guess that means it's another successful week!

And I just want to mention how incredibly excited I am for next week's selection! I cannot WAIT to make it and eat it. I hope it's as good as I'm expecting it to be. For those not in the Tuesdays with Dorie club, you are missing out. You'll just have to tune in next week to find out what the selection is that has me so excited! But for now, go visit the blogroll to find out how everyone else's cookies turned out.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Thyme Sautéed Pork Chops with Apple Slices

What could be easier than sautéed pork chops and apples? I love the taste of warm apples and they're a perfect complement to pork. These were so incredibly simple and dinner was on the table in under 30 minutes. And I only had one dirty pan to clean after I made these. I love that!

If you don't have fresh thyme, just substitute in some of the dried kind. Be sure to use thin pork chops or else you'll find yourself waiting too long for these to cook all the way through. Pair the pork with a vegetable and bread, and you're good to go!

Thyme-Sautéed Pork Chops with Apple Slices
(from The Martha Stewart Cookbook)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
8 thin (1/2-inch-thick) loin pork chops
4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
4 Tbsp. olive oil
16 sprigs of fresh thyme, or 2 Tbsp. dried thyme
2 Granny Smith or McIntosh apples, unpeeled, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1. Season the flour with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge the pork chops in the flour. Heat half the butter and oil in a large skillet. Sauté half the chops for 5 minutes on each side. While the chops are cooking, put some of the thyme under each chop so the herb will stick to the meat. Remove the chops and keep warm.

2. Add the remaining oil and butter to the skillet and cook the rest of the chops the same way. Remove them and keep warm.

3. Using the same skillet, sauté the apples for 2 to 4 minutes, or until soft but not mushy. Arrange the chops and apples on a serving dish.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Grilled Burgers with Blue Cheese Mayonnaise and Barbecued Red Onions

Nothing says summer more than burgers on the grill! I was never one who really enjoyed burgers very much until recently. They always just seemed kind of boring. But as I've experimented and made them more fun I've found out just how delicious they can be.

This recipe does not disappoint. Onions slathered in barbecue sauce and then grilled... and blue cheese mayonnaise... all piled on top of a freshy grilled burger. How can you go wrong? The three are a magical combination. So fire up your grills and get cooking before summer is gone!

Grilled Burgers with Blue Cheese Mayonnaise and Barbecued Red Onions
(from Bon Appétit magazine)

8 thick slices red onions
1 and 1/3 cups bottled hickory-flavored barbecue sauce
3 pounds ground round, formed into eight 4- to 5-inch-diameter patties
8 hamburger buns, split
Blue Cheese mayonnaise (recipe below)

1. Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Brush onions generously with barbecue sauce. Grill until onions are tender, brown, and glazed, basting with barbecue sauce and turning occasionally, about 15 minutes.

2. Sprinkle patties with salt and pepper. Grill patties until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Grill hamburger buns, inner sides down, until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Place patties on bottom halves of buns. Top each with 1 onion slice, Blue Cheese mayonnaise, and then bun tops.

Blue Cheese Mayonnaise
(can also be used on roast beef or turkey sandwiches)

8 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. hot pepper sauce

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl to blend. Can be made one day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Makes 8 servings.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Easy Pesto

I still remember the first time I ever had pesto. It was in college at the Grill in our Student Union. They made a fabulous chicken pesto wrap that was simply chicken, rice, pesto, and cheddar cheese all on a spinach tortilla. It was delicious and I make it fairly often in our home.

Until I got a recipe for pesto, I always bought the pre-made kind from the store. But after seeing how few ingredients go into it and how easy it is, I love making my own. It's just a handful of ingredients all thrown together into a food processor and ready in 3 minutes. You can make a small batch for wraps or pour it over a baked potato, or make a bigger batch to go on pastas. The other night I poured it over linguine and threw in some grilled chicken for a quick, easy meal. Can't go wrong with pesto!


2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic

1. Place all ingredients in blender or food processor. Cover and blend on medium speed about 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape sides, until smooth.

2. Use pesto immediately, or cover tightly and refrigerate up to 5 days or freeze up to 1 month.

Makes about 1 and 1/4 cups.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream

OH. MY. GOODNESS. This is one of the best ice creams I have ever tasted. Seriously. I really wasn't expecting to like this as much as I did.

Blueberry sour cream ice cream, where have you been all my life?

I luckily still had blueberries in the freezer from my blueberry picking last month, so they came in very handy for this. To avoid an overly-sour cream taste, I only used 1/2 cup instead of the recommended 3/4 cup. I contemplated putting a few add-ins into this, but I'm glad I didn't. It was just perfect the way it was. It was so rich and creamy, I had to eat it really slowly to savor every bite. My only complaint is that it didn't make anywhere near a big enough batch to satisfy me.

Thank you to Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity for selecting the group's recipe for this week. You will definitely want to visit her blog for the recipe. Up next week are some really great sounding cookies - can't wait!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Best Ever Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes are one of my absolute favorite side dishes. Anytime I visit my Grandmother, I'm guaranteed a big helping of mashed potatoes with my meal. She knows me well.

This recipe came from my For Goodness Taste cookbook, which was given to me by my husband's stepmother. It's written by the Junior League of Rochester, NY where she resides and it contains a great collection of upstate New York favorites. I think this is my favorite recipe from this book. It starts out with the typical boiled and mashed potatoes, but then includes sour cream, cream cheese, and chives. I did a slight variation to the printed recipe to scale back some of the fat (omitting a cup of sour cream and adding in some skim milk) and it still tasted just as delicious. It's all finished off by baking it in a casserole dish. It's just perfect!

Best Ever Mashed Potatoes
(adapted from For Goodness Taste by The Junior League of Rochester)

8 to 10 medium potatoes
8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup chopped chives
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp. margarine

1. Peel potatoes, boil until tender.

2. Beat cream cheese and sour cream together. Add potatoes and milk and beat until smooth. Stir in chives, salt and pepper.

3. Pour into well greased 2-quart casserole. Dot with margarine and sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Shredded Beef Sandwiches

These sandwiches are delicious, light and easy! Cooked in a slow cooker, they're perfect for a busy day. The meat roasts all day and produces its own au jus sauce for dipping the sandwiches. They reminded me of beef sandwiches that I've had at restaurants, and are just as good.

I used hamburger buns, which were great, though I think next time I may make them a little more exciting and use a different type of roll or thick bread. Maybe a garlic roll or sourdough bread. They are perfect with a side dish of fries or a salad.

The recipe calls for a pretty large piece of meat, but feel free to use whatever suits your family best. I bought a 1.5 pound chuck roast and it was much more suitable for just me and Denny. This is so simple and great. Enjoy!

Shredded Beef Sandwiches
(adapted from Southern Living: Light and Easy Comfort Food)

1 lean boneless chuck roast, about 3 and 1/4 pounds
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1 large onion, cut into 8 wedges
3 bay leaves
9 hamburger buns or other large rolls

1. Trim fat from roast. Place roast and next 6 ingredients in an electric slow cooker. Cover with lid; cook over low-heat setting for 11 hours or until roast is tender. Remove roast from slow cooker; let stand 10 minutes. Shred with 2 forks, and set aside.

2. Strain cooking liquid; discard solids. Cover liquid, and freeze at least 1 hour. Skim solidified fat from surface; discard. Place cooking liquid in a saucepan, and bring to a boil; remove from heat.

3. Serve beef on buns with the hot cooking liquid as a dipping sauce.

Makes 9 servings.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

BBQ Meatloaf

Funny story - when I was younger, my Dad always used to tell me that I needed to learn how to cook meatloaf because when I got married someday, I'd have to make meatloaf for my husband. I used to laugh at him and say, "Who eats meatloaf?" because it wasn't exactly something we had often in our house, and wasn't something that ever came to mind when I was hungry. Well, lo and behold, now I'm married and my husband's favorite meal is meatloaf. I definitely married a "meat and potatoes" type of guy, because he does not enjoy when I make salads or anything without meat. This must be payback for everything I put my Dad through when I was younger.

Since I love cooking for my husband and keeping him happy, I find myself cooking meatloaf more often than I ever thought I would. This recipe for BBQ meatloaf is a favorite. Nice and juicy and tender, and the BBQ sauce that it's slathered in lends a great taste. I've now done my wifely duty and cooked him his meatloaf... I wonder how long we can go before he asks for it again.

BBQ Meatloaf

1 and a half pounds ground beef
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 onion, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 and a half tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Two 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
3 Tbsp. vinegar
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. prepared mustard
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1. Mix together the beef, breadcrumbs, onion, egg, salt, pepper and 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce. Form the mixture into a loaf and place it in a shallow pan.

2. Stir together the remaining tomato sauce, the water, vinegar, sugar, mustard, and Worcestershire. Pour this sauce over the meatloaf. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour, basting occasionally with the pan juices.

Serves 6.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Black and White Banana Loaf

Better put on your stretchy pants or loosen your belt, because it's that time of the week again!

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie selection was made by Ashlee of A Year In The Kitchen. She chose the Black and White Banana Loaf, which is on page 232 of the book we're cooking from - Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan. The complete recipe can be found on her site.

This is quite the twist on traditional banana bread. Chocolate and Rum? Oh my! The recipe calls for one and a half bananas, and I instead opted for just one large ripe banana to avoid the batter being too runny. For the rum, I used Captain Morgan's spiced rum and it really gave a kick! I wasn't expecting to be able to taste it much, but I sure could. It was a tad bit of a turnoff to me, but for some reason the more I ate, the better it tasted. Hhmmm...

I substituted in some skim milk, but the remainder of the recipe I followed exactly. It turned out delicious! I loved the mixture of the plain banana and chocolate sections. My marbling wasn't quite as pretty as the picture in the book, but I think it turned out great for a first try. I love having a loaf of this in the kitchen... I snag a piece every time I walk by.

Tune in next week for blueberry sour cream ice cream!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Baked Eggs In Maple Toast Cups

Weekends are meant for great breakfasts, right? We love a special breakfast once in a while at my house to break up the monotony of the typical bowl of cereal. This breakfast really hit the spot. Baked Eggs in Maple Toast Cups were easy and fun to make. They're just about the cutest little things I've ever seen.

The important thing to note when making this is to use real maple syrup for delicious flavor. Wheat or white sandwich bread is fine, just cut off the crusts and roll them really thin before brushing on the glaze. I started checking on my eggs after about 5 minutes, but I found that they took closer to 9 or 10 minutes before they were set. Cook them a little less or a little longer depending on whether you want cooked or runny yolks.


Baked Eggs In Maple Toast Cups
(adapted from Dakin Farms)

1 and a half Tbsp. butter
1 and a half Tbsp. pure maple syrup
6 slices thin sandwich bread
3 slices bacon, cooked until crisp and broken into small pieces
6 large eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease 6 muffin cups. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and add the syrup.

2. Remove the crusts from the bread. Flatten each slice with a rolling pin. Brush both sides of the bread with the syrup mixture. Pat the bread into the muffin cups and sprinkle the bacon pieces into the bottom of each cup. Break an egg into each cup and bake until the eggs are set; this will take approximately 8 to 10 minutes, check regularly.

3. Lift the toast cups from the tin and serve immediately, drizzled with additional syrup, if desired.

Serves 3 to 6.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Spicy Steak And Corn Soft Tacos

I really love tasty, quick cooking meals for weeknights, and this recipe is just that. I'm a big fan of tacos, enchiladas, anything with a Mexican flair. I found this in my Bon Appétit cookbook. You may have noticed that a lot of the recipes I've made lately have originated from Bon Appétit. Here's my explanation - I got their cookbook that is 750 pages of great recipes that all have been published in the Bon Appétit magazine. It's great, and almost every recipe sounds good to me. Get yourself a copy!

This one was extremely quick and easy. You can have it all finished and on the table in under 20 minutes. I usually add a few things and make a few tweaks to the recipes I find, but this one had everything that sounded good in a taco. Steak? Check. Onion? Check. Bell Pepper? Check. Corn? Check. So here it is just as I found it and just as delicious as can be.

Spicy Steak And Corn Soft Tacos

(from Bon Appétit magazine)

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium red onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 pound top sirloin, flank, or skirt steak, cut into 1/4-inch-thick, long narrow strips
3/4 cup frozen corn kernels, cooked according to package directions, drained
1 jalapeno chile, stemmed, minced with seeds
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 and 1/2 Tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
Corn or flour tortillas
Grated cheddar cheese
Chopped fresh tomatoes
Sour cream

1. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper; sauté until soft, about 10 minutes. Transfer to plate. Add steak to same skillet and sauté until no longer pink, about 1 minute. Return onion and pepper to skillet. Add corn, jalapeno, cumin, and chili powder; stir until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and mix in cilantro. Transfer steak mixture to bowl. Cover loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm.

2. Cook tortillas directly over gas flame or electric burner until just beginning to char in spots, about 30 seconds per side. Transfer to napkin-lined basket. Serve hot tortillas, steak mixture, cheese, tomatoes, and sour cream separately, so tacos can be assembled at table.

Serves 2.