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Ideas, suggestions and thoughts on my favorite topic.

Catching Up January 30, 2009

Filed under: Comfort Foods,Crock Pot,Desserts,Entrees,Life,Products,Soups,Vegetarian — lindsayrose @ 4:03 am

I am supposed to be doing work right now, but I am really not interested so I figured it would be a good time to catch up on my blog. 

 

We’ve had some very random meals lately.  Many were not at all bad, but just not really worth mentioning.  Here are some of the highlights (some good and some not so good).

  • Chicken Pot Pie.   I originally wrote about this recipe in this post.  I love this recipe.  The thyme is very tasty and the wine adds a very nice flavor.  I made this one day last week when we were stuck home in the snow.  I decided to switch it up in a few ways.  First, I made it in the crock pot.  I made up the sauce on the stovetop and poured it over 2 large chicken breasts in the crock pot.  I added carrots, celery and onions and cooked it on low for about 6 hours.  Once the chicken was cooked through, I removed it from the crock pot and shredded it up with a fork. While I was shredding, I added a cup of frozen peas to the sauce in the crock pot and let them heat through.  I mixed the chicken back in with the sauce and put it in an 8×8 baking dish.  Now – here comes the special trick that made it extra tasty –  a few Sunday’s ago, Ross made homemade biscuits for breakfast.  He makes awesome biscuits and I always beg him to make them for me.  I think this was the second time, so hey, I can count on them once every couple of years or so.  Anyway, he froze extra dough.  I thawed it out and rolled it into an 8×8 square.  I placed it on top of the chicken mixture and baked it at 350 for about 25 minutes.  It was awesome.  I don’t know his recipe for biscuits, but any recipe would work.  It is much tastier than a pie crust, I  promise you that!
  • Tonight, we had another crock pot meal (I’ve been on a crock pot roll lately).  I was in a hurry this morning, so I just put some chicken in there and poured Lawry’s Caribbean Jerk marinade over it.  It was horrible.  I hardly ate any.  It was the saltiest stuff ever, so salty that I couldn’t even taste any of the flavor of the sauce.  I will definitely never buy that again, or probably any Lawry’s marinade.  It was that bad. 
  • In addition to the chicken (thank goodness we had something else with it) we had a Southwestern Corn Chowder.  I didn’t make it; this one came in a box.  Yes, a box.  It was a V8 soup.  Who knew V8 made soups?  I don’t think I could force myself to drink a V8 juice, but soup I could try.  It was great!  As advertised on the box (looks like an overgrown juice box) there is a full serving of veggies inside.  That along with a great flavor and hearty, thick texture, you can’t go wrong!  Apparently there are several other flavors.  I want to try the Butternut Squash and the Garden Broccoli!

  •   I have one other random note, and I add this only  because Amy Burns of Amy’s Confection Company isn’t making cakes so much as her other sweet treats anymore.  After finding out that Amy couldn’t make my wedding cake, I went on a long and difficult search for someone to do the job.  We ended up going with Once in a Blue Moon Bakery in Cary.  I am pretty sure that other than “congratulations”, the comment I heard most on my wedding was “where did you get that amazing cake?”  Not only did it look beautiful, but it was the best tasting cake I have ever had (again, only saying this because I’ve never tasted one of Amy’s!).  I mention this because I just ordered another cake from there for a gathering I have this weekend.  I ordered the same flavor as my wedding cake, chocolate with hazelnut mousse and cream cheese frosting.  I can’t wait to eat it.  They are also super cool because you can place your order online if you do it 72 hours in advance.  If you ever need a great cake for a special event, I highly recommend them!  They also have a really cute little cafe where they offer breakfast treats,  lunches and other sweet treats.  Check them out!

This isn’t the best picture of our cake, but it was the most convenient one for me to put here. 

OK, now I am off to go do my work!  Yay for tomorrow being Friday!!!

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Tomato Gorgonzola Soup January 24, 2009

Filed under: Comfort Foods,Entrees,Family,Soups,Vegetarian — lindsayrose @ 4:46 am

My sister and I had this for dinner last night and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.  This may be my new favorite soup.  It was such a very tasty combination of flavors, easy to make, and fairly inexpensive (Kara bought it and made it for me, but I was there when she did it, so I can attest to the easiness of it, and she said it was cheap!).

 

I love cheese, so anything with cheese automatically sounds good to me.  I like Gorgonzola (tastes a lot like Blue Cheese) but I can only take it in small amounts and if it is mixed in with something.  This was the perfect  amount of cheese, and the flavor blended so well with the creamy cream cheese.  It was more subtle than I thought it would be, which was perfect. 

 

I also really loved the sweetness of the chopped red peppers and the fresh taste of the basil (the recipe calls for dried basil, but Kara bought fresh and it was wonderful).  The chunks of tomatoes were perfect for the texture.  Some reviews of the recipe said that people used and immersion blender, and you could, but it was thick and creamy without doing it.  Personally, I liked the chunkiness of it.

 

Here is the link to the recipe.  It is calculated to serve 4, but Kara and I finished off the whole pot. I would definitely double it.  We had it with a nice crusty loaf of bread and it was a heavenly meal.

 

Thank you to my wonderful sister for a delicious meal and the best company a girl can get.

 

Herald Column 1-21-09 – Hot Cocoa January 21, 2009

Filed under: Beverages,Life,The Herald Columns — lindsayrose @ 3:54 pm

For those of you stuck at home today once again, here is the recipe from this week’s column.  It is perfect for a day like today!

 

This winter, North Carolina is experiencing some of the coldest days we’ve seen in years.  Having moved here from Upstate New York, not too far from Canada, I should be prepared for days such as these.  Unfortunately, I am not.  My blood has thinned and I spend many days searching for heat vents to sit near, layers to add on and blankets to cover myself with.  While warming myself from the outside protects me from the cold air around me, there is nothing quite like being warmed from the inside out.

One of the things I miss most about the winters in New York is the cozy feeling that comes along with warming up.  Sitting by a hot fire following an afternoon of ice skating or sledding with a steamy cup of hot cocoa is a comforting feeling like none other I know.  As soon as the weather dropped below freezing this past week, I became determined to invent a homemade hot cocoa recipe that would bring back the feeling of those cozy afternoons, and more importantly, succeed at the task of warming me from the inside out.

I began searching the Internet for hot cocoa recipes; I like to have a place to start.  I found several, but they seemed a little too ordinary for me.  I finally realized that I knew just what the secret ingredient had to be.  Whenever I order a steamed coffee beverage, I always order with soy milk.  This began in an effort to be healthy, but has continued based on the hint of sweetness and the incredible smooth, creaminess that comes along with soy milk.  By using this magic ingredient, not only are you adding vitamins and nutrients to your hot cocoa, but you are also able to cut back on the fat in whole milk and the sugar usually added to hot cocoa while still retaining the sweet, creamy goodness.  Most base recipes I found for cocoa use about ¾ cup of sugar, while this recipe really only needs 1/3 cup per 4 servings.

This week, when the weather is cold, go ahead and reach for your blanket.  Just be sure to leave one arm out so that you can reach for your mug of hot cocoa at the same time.  It’s sure to be key ingredient for a truly warming day.

 

Hot Cocoa

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

1/3 cup  sugar

1/3 cup boiling water

Pinch of salt

3 ½ cups vanilla soy milk (tested with Silk soy milk)

Half and half

 

Mix together cocoa and sugar in a medium saucepan.  Add boiling water, bring to a low boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Be careful not to scorch the sugar.  Add the milk and heat through, coming close to a boil without actually boiling.  Serve with a splash of half and half if desired.  This will add additional flavor and help to cool the cocoa before drinking.

 

 

 

Quiche January 20, 2009

Filed under: Breakfast,Entrees,Vegetarian — lindsayrose @ 4:45 am

Tonight we had a meal that I made for the first time on Mother’s Day.  I wrote about it here.  I made it right this time and did puree the spinach with the nutmeg before putting it in the egg mixture.  It was definitely better this way, and it was prettier, too.  I love this quiche for several reasons:

  • using puff pastry as a crust tastes way better than a pie crust
  • layering the sauteed onions and sliced tomatoes on the bottom gives it a unique flavor, and makes it pretty
  • the pureed spinach, nutmeg and cottage cheese added to the egg mixture make it distinct from other quiches
  • it is super delicious!

I served this with the Pasta, Bean and Pepper soup leftover soup from last night.  It was filling, but left just enough room for the chcolate chip cookie sundae that I am about to indulge in.  I had to celebrate having a snow day tomorrow!!! Hooray!

 

Frugal Food January 19, 2009

Filed under: Comfort Foods,Crock Pot,Entrees,Panini,Products,Soups,Vegetarian — lindsayrose @ 3:36 pm

Frugal is something that by nature, I am definitely not.  Especially when it comes to food.  When Ross and I got married, we knew that our biggest downfall is that neither of us is very good at all about spending money wisely.  We’re a little too “live in the moment” when it comes to spending!

 

However, there are a few major home improvement projects that we really  want to do, so we are trying to save money in order to complete them before we move out of this house.  We’ll see how it goes.  Unfortunately, food is the most logical area to cut back on.   After all, it’s easier to cut back on food than electricity or something, right? 

 

I think in part this is why I haven’t been blogging as much lately.  Our food just hasn’t been interesting enough to talk about.  I’m going to try to be more creative with our cheap groceries and get more interesting.  Food is one of my highlights each day; I look forward to dinner the second I finish lunch.  So, I want it to be exciting and fun and interesting, even if it is cheap.

 

There was chicken on a major sale at Lowe’s this past week and I bought a whole bunch.  I froze them in packs of 2 so that instead of making 1.5 lbs of chicken for just the 2 of us, I am making a more reasonable amount and saving the rest for another meal.  On Saturday, I took 2 chicken breasts and covered them with my favorite lemon garlic marinade from Wegman’s.  (I always bring a bunch of this back everytime I visit NY).  I let it cook for about 6 hours and then shredded the chicken with a fork.  We loaded ciabatta rolls with the shredded chicken, caramelized some red onions and sauteed some mushrooms and topped it all with a slice of Swiss.  We grilled these and ate them alongside a new and tasty soup. 

 

Campbell’s Select Harvest Caramelized French Onion Soup was wonderful.  It was close to some I’ve tasted at restaurants, and only required being heated in a pot.  It is lower in sodium than most French Onion soups, but didn’t taste like it was.  We threw a slice of cheese on top and let it melt and really enjoyed this with our sandwich.

 

Last night, I wanted to make homemade soup.  I have a recipe for one that we’ve only had once, but I remembered that we really liked it.  I cooked this up last night, and ended up tossing in the leftover shredded chicken from the night before.  2 chicken breasts fed 2 people for 2 meals!  I’m proud 🙂

 

Bean, Pasta and Pepper Soup

 

1 tablsespoon olive oil

2 large carrots, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 large onion, diced

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 can diced tomatoes

1 can black beans

1/2 cup uncooked diatalini pasta (I couldn’t find it so I used elbows)

1 can chicken broth (or veggie to make it vegetarian, and I used doulbe this amount)

1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

 

Heat oil in a pot.  Add carrots, celery, onion, parsley and garlic, cook until tender.  Add tomatoes, beans, pasta and broth.  Heat to boil.  Cover and cook 15 minutes or until pasta is done.  Add peppers and vinegar, heat through.

 

That’s all!  It is quick, easy, cheap and has a wonderful flavor.

 

Quick and Easy Pork Chops January 15, 2009

Filed under: Entrees — lindsayrose @ 2:21 am

I had pork chops, but didn’t want to go to the store to buy anything.  So, I had to hunt through the kitchen to figure out something to do with them.  I saw a can of green beans and a can of whole tomatoes, and was reminded of  a great recipe, My Chicken Milano.  I’ve blogged about this one before, it is quick and easy and very tasty.  I decided to make a variation with pork chops.  Here’s what I did:

 

3 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 lb pork chops

1 large can whole tomatoes, undrained(stewed would be easier!)

1 14.5 oz can green beans, drained

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

salt and pepper to taste

 

Heat skillet over medium high heat.  Add olive oil and minced garlic.  Brown pork chops a few minutes on each side, seasoning with salt and pepper to your liking. Crush tomatoes in your hands (this is why it is easier if they are stewed to begin with!) and pour over pork chops.  Add green beans, red wine vinegar and sugar.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 30 minute or until pork chops are cooked through.

 

This is pretty good, considering I was really winging it!  It will be one that I look forward to playing more with in the future.  I served it alongside a box of Italian Herb and Cheese rice.

 

The Burns Family Catalina Roast January 11, 2009

Filed under: Crock Pot,Entrees,Life — lindsayrose @ 3:56 am

This past week, Amy posted the recipe for her Catalina Roast on her blog.  It sounded so delicious to me and I knew we had to try it.  After attending a basketball game this morning where Miss Hailey Page starred as the “most spirited” cheerleader, I decided that today would be a great day to cook this one up in the crock pot.  I already had carrots and potatoes and an onion, so all I needed was the meat and the Catalina dressing.

 
As I commented on Amy’s post, we’ve used Catalina dressing before as a marinade when we’ve grilled chicken or pork.  Sometimes we use it on its own and sometimes we mix it with Worcestershire sauce.  It’s really tasty!  I would have never thought to pour it over a roast, though.  As Amy directed, I sliced the onions, peeled and quartered the potatoes and cut the carrots into large chunks.  I covered the bottom of the crock pot with the veggies, put the meat on top, and poured a large bottle of Catalina on top. 

 

That’s it!!!!

 

It couldn’t have been any easier.  And… it was AWESOME!  We really, really loved this.  Ross is a good guy and always thanks me at the end of a meal – but for this one, he thanked me after the second bite!  I think he would have done it after the first bite, but he was in a hurry to get that second taste in his mouth!  I thought about seasoning it with some spices, but I wasn’t really sure how it was going to taste so I didn’t know what to season it with.  Other than a little salt and pepper on the meat, I didn’t use a thing, and I am glad.  It is perfect just the way it is!

 

While I was washing the dishes, I got to thinking about how I love the way that recipes connect people.  Because I can imagine myself in a kitchen 40 years from now telling my grandchildren about Amy Burns from Sanford, NC and about how I got the recipe for this roast from her blog 40 years earlier.

 

I will then probably have to explain to my grandchildren the ancient concept of a blog as a spacecraft flies by and a robot prepares our dessert.