Monday, February 28, 2011

Get Ready for Some Curry!

Hello, hello, hello! Today is an interesting day. We are going to be cooking Indian food. I am delighted to say that we will be cooking one of my favorite dishes: Curry. Now, curry is a generic description throughout the middle east to describe spiced dishes.
Now, I know some of you are saying, "I know nothing about this... curry that you speak of." Well, that's okay because everything you would want to know will be shown to you. Now, there is nothing specific ingredient that makes a "curry". It's deeper than that depending on what region you are from, but the main 3 ingredients you can always trust to be in a curry are: turmeric, coriander, and cumin. They may not be in one dish at the same time, but they are used most of the time. Now, onto our dish of the day. Drum roll please?

Bengali Chicken Curry and Potatoes

You will need:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 large red-skinned potatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
NOTE: You can find these items at your local market or specialty Indian market or store

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir the onions in the hot oil until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2.  Add the ginger-garlic paste and continue cooking another 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; stir the tomatoes into the mixture and cook until the tomatoes are pulpy, 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Season with the cayenne pepper, curry powder, garam masala, turmeric, and cumin; cook and stir another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken and potatoes to the mixture in the skillet; simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender and the chicken is no longer pink in the center, about 20 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle the cilantro over the mixture and continue simmering another 10 minutes.
  6. Serve!

This recipe makes my mouth water! I hope you all enjoy it. See you all soon bloggers!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

It's All Greek to Me

Good afternoon my fellow bloggers! I suppose you are wondering what the title of this post is playing at, right? Well, if you guessed Greek food, you would be a winner. I'm not saying you would win a prize or anything, but a great Greek recipe would substitute, maybe? I am enchanted with Greek food and their culture. The Grecians are so spirited and care free. I mean, they must be. They live surrounded by water on 3 of their 4 borders. They are golden and beautiful.
When they speak, they have an elegance to their words, regardless of how foreign the words are to us. Anyway, we are going to dip our toes into the world of gyros and tzatziki. Tzatziki is a Greek meze, or appetizer generally used for gyros or souvlaki. Let's get cooking!

Chicken Gyros with Cucumber Salsa and Tzatziki

You will need:

    • 2 kirby cucumbers, divided
    • 1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt (3/4 pounds)
    • teaspoon fresh lemon juice, divided
    • 5 garlic cloves, minced, divided
    • pint grape tomatoes, quartered
    • small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
    • feta (optional, to taste)
    • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
    • 1/4 cup chopped mint
    • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • teaspoon oregano
    • teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
    • 1 (12 ounce) package naan bread (four 8-inch pieces)
    • pocketless pita bread round
    • 1/2 roast chicken, skin discarded, meat shredded (about 2 1/4 cups)
    • 1/2 head iceburg lettuce, thinly sliced
    NOTE: All items can be found at your local market or specialty store

                                  1. Preheat your oven
                                  2. Peel and grate 1 cucumber, then squeeze it to remove excess water. Stir in yogurt, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, one third of garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper to make your tzatziki.
                                  3. Cut remaining cucumber into 1/4-inch pieces and stir together with tomatoes, feta (if using), onion, parsley, mint, remaining 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper to make salsa.
                                  4. Gently simmer the oil, oregano, rosemary, remaining garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a small saucepan, stirring constantly, until garlic is fragrant but not browned, so about 1 to 2 minutes. Toss chicken with 3 tablespoons garlic oil and brush one side of bread with remainder.
                                  5. Heat bread, oiled side up, in a cookie sheet, covered with foil, 3 to 4 inches from broiler 3 minutes. Uncover and broil, rotating bread for even coloring, until golden in spots, about 2 minutes.
                                  6. Spread some of tzatziki on warm bread and top with chicken and some of lettuce and salsa. Serve remaining lettuce, salsa, and tzatziki on the side.
                                  NOTE: Tzaziki can be made one day ahead and chilled if you prefer.

                                  Pictured above: making of the tzaziki

                                  Well, finishing off that meal made me super hungry so I'm going to dart out of here and make some fyros for myself! Enjoy your tzaziki and Αντίο! (That's bye in Greek)

                                  Saturday, February 26, 2011

                                  Spicy, Spicy, Spicy

                                  Good afternoon everyone! Today, we are stepping into the fire and we are going to add some spiciness to our menus. A friend of mine, Amy, requested jalapeño poppers. Well, obviously, poppers alone wouldn't be enough to satisfy your diner craving, so I'm adding in some chicken and bacon for variety. Amy, this is for you!

                                  Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño and Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast

                                  You will need the following:

                                  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (approx 1.5-2lbs)
                                  • 6 oz Monterrey Jack cheese or other soft melting cheese, sliced into 6 sticks
                                  • 3 jalapenos, de-seeded and cut into strips
                                  • 12 regular strips fatty bacon (not center-cut or thick sliced)
                                  • tooth picks
                                  Onto the show!

                                  1. Prepare your grill for medium heat.  Sorry non-grill folks, you can try making these in the oven but they just don’t turn out as nicely.
                                  2. Trim all fat from each chicken breast, keeping the breast intact (will look sort-of like a lop-sided heart). 
                                  3. Place the breast in a large plastic zip-top bag and use a flat mallet or the bottom of a heavy bottle to pound the breast into an even thickness.  Don’t pound it too hard or with any point because you want to keep the flesh intact.
                                  4. Once the breast is fairly flat and even, and fairly large, cut it into two roughly equal sized vaguely rectangular shaped pieces.  Return one of the pieces to the bag and gently pound it out as thin as you can without breaking through the flesh. Repeat with the other piece and then the remaining breasts until you have six flat, thin, roughly rectangular chicken pieces.
                                  5. Place one piece of chicken on your work surface and top with a piece of cheese and about half of a jalapeno. 
                                  6. Roll the chicken up and then starting at one end wrap it tightly with a piece of bacon, stretching and overlapping slightly as you go, you will need two pieces per chicken roll. Be generous at the ends so there will be a small barrier to keep the cheese in the roll.  Secure bacon with tooth picks and set aside.  Repeat.
                                  7. Grill chicken until bacon is crisp and browned all over, turning as needed. 

                                  Bacon Wrapped Shrimp and Cheese Stuffed Jalapeño Poppers

                                  • 12 fresh jalapenos, the largest you can find
                                  • 12 fresh, jumbo sized shrimp, shells off, de-veined
                                  • 12 oz Monterrey Jack cheese or other soft melting cheese, sliced into 12 sticks
                                  • 12 strips regular fatty bacon (not center cut or thick sliced)
                                  • tooth picks
                                  1. Prepare your grill for medium heat.  Sorry non-grill folks, you can try making these in the oven but they just don’t turn out as nicely.
                                  2. Wearing gloves, slice the jalapenos lengthwise without breaking all the way through.  Make small cuts at the stem and tip so that you can open up the jalapeno without breaking it up too much. 
                                  3. Use a small paring knife or spoon to scrape out all of the inside seeds and membranes.  Clean them out really well unless you like a super hot popper. 
                                  4. Insert a stick of cheese into the pepper.  Next wedge as much of the shrimp into the jalapeno as possible with the tail end sticking out.  Depending on the size of your shrimp and the size of your jalapenos this might be easy or hard.  If there is not enough room just get as much of the shrimp in as you can.  The bacon wrapping will hold them together.
                                  5. Wrap the shrimp and jalapeno tightly with a strip of bacon, stretching and overlapping slightly as you go.  Secure the bacon with a toothpick.  Repeat.
                                  6. Grill poppers until bacon is crisp and browned all over, turning as needed. The bacon fat will melt off and some cheese may melt out so watch for flare-ups.

                                  Pictured Above: Bacon Wrapped chicken breast

                                  Pictured Above: Bacon wrapped jalapeño poppers

                                  Enjoy this combo of spicy goodness. It makes a perfect meal for any barbecue or just a simple meal for any family. I'll see you all tomorrow! 

                                  Friday, February 25, 2011

                                  Inspired by Japan

                                  Kon'nichiwa! That is hello in Japanese. Tonight, I'm going to treat you all to the flavors of Japan. I've always love Japanese food and culture. They have a very unique way of life. It's easy going, but very evolved. Today, I've decided to dive into Okinawa, Japan. 
                                  Okinawa is part of Japan's southern prefectures, the Ryukyu Islands. Okinawa is the furthest northwest of all of the Ryukyu Islands. The capital of Okinawa is Naha, or Naafa in their cultural language. Anyway... I am getting off track from the point of this blog: FOOD. So, today we are going to try out something with pork. It's called:

                                  Okinawa Shoyu Pork

                                  You will need the following:

                                    • 1 1/2 pounds whole pork belly
                                      • 1/2 cup soy sauce
                                        • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
                                          • 1/2 cup water
                                            • 1/2 cup mirin (Japanese sweet wine)
                                              • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
                                                • 1 clove garlic, or to taste

                                                NOTE: You can find all of these items at your local market or specialty Asian markets in your town.

                                                1. Place pork belly into a large pot, and cover with water about 1-inch above the pork. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and simmer for 2 minutes. 
                                                2. Discard water and fill pot with fresh water about 1-inch above the pork. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the pork begins to soften, about 1 hour.
                                                3. Remove the pork from the water, and place on a cutting board. Allow pork to cool for a few minutes, then slice off the thick skin and discard.
                                                4. Cut the remaining pork meat into 1-inch wide slices. Set aside.
                                                5. Combine the soy sauce, brown sugar, 1/2 cup water, mirin, ginger, and garlic in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat.
                                                6. Add the sliced pork belly, then bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to low, and place a sheet of aluminum foil directly over the meat and sauce.
                                                7. Simmer uncovered until the pork is tender, 30 to 45 minutes, turning the pork several times to cook evenly.
                                                8. Serve.

                                                So, there you go. It's a little harder than the other recipes that we have tried, but with patience and time, you will have a delicious meal. I know you all can do it! Go have some fun! Night everyone.

                                                Thursday, February 24, 2011

                                                Absolutely Cheesy!

                                                Good evening fellow bloggers! I have an extra special request from my best friend and sister, Jessica. She loves her macaroni and cheese, so this blog will win her heart, and hopefully yours as well. This is a staple in our home. We make it at least every couple of weeks. It's easy and filling at the same time. It's called Baked Mac 'n Cheese. We'll keep it short today, so you will need the following items:

                                                • 8 ounces Velveeta, cut into half inch cubes
                                                • 1 pack of bacon
                                                • 1/2 a pound of macaroni
                                                • 3 Tablespoons butter
                                                • 1/4 cup flour
                                                • 1 cup milk
                                                • French fried onions

                                                1. Cook your bacon in a big frying pan. Feel free to make it as crispy, or non-crispy as you like.
                                                2. When your bacon is done cooking, use a food processor or a pair of kitchen scissors and cut up your bacon; Set aside.
                                                3. Melt your butter in a saucepan over medium heat
                                                4. Whisk in your flour; cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly
                                                5. Gradually stir in your milk; stir until your flour/milk combo thickens. Continue stirring constantly, making sure not to burn your roux.
                                                6. Add your Velveeta; cook for 3 minutes or until Velveeta is melted completely.
                                                7. Stir in your macaroni and bacon and take off the heat.
                                                8. Pour your macaroni and bacon into a casserole dish, making sure that it lies evenly in the dish.
                                                9. Sprinkle the top of the macaroni with the French fried onions and place into an oven set at 350 degrees.
                                                10. Cook until the fried onions are golden brown and cheese is slightly browned. Serve immediately.
                                                Unfortunately, there is no picture for this delicious meal...

                                                Please stay tuned for more yummy and easy meals. I'll see you all tomorrow!

                                                Wednesday, February 23, 2011

                                                A Taste of Home

                                                Another day has brought you, my viewers, and I together. Tonight, I have had a request from someone very close to me. This would be my husband. One of his favorite home-cooked meals is Shepherd's Pie. This recipe was passed on to me from my sister. It was passed to her from her mom. I love this recipe. It's many textures and tastes bring total bliss to your palate.
                                                The name "Shepherd's Pie" started to appear in the 1870s. It is a synonym to "Cottage Pie" which refers to an Irish or British meat pie made with minced beef and and a crust made with mashed potatoes. Shepherd's Pie is a slight variation of the original dish.
                                                We'll get started:

                                                Shepherd's Pie

                                                You'll need the following items:

                                                • 1 pound ground beef
                                                • 2 or 3 carrots
                                                • 1 large onion, chopped
                                                • 1 to 2 cloves garlic
                                                • salt and pepper
                                                • 5 to 7 medium sized potatoes
                                                • gravy mix (or Bisto granules, a common item in England or Europe)
                                                • Worchester sauce
                                                NOTE: You may be able to find Bisto in a specialty store. You do not have to use Bisto, but any regular gravy mix works as well.

                                                1. Peel your potatoes and places them in a big pot of salted boiling water. Allow them to cook all the way through. This may take some time, give or take 20 to 30 minutes.
                                                2. Chop your carrots in the mean time and mince your garlic. Set aside for now.
                                                3. Brown your meat, but be sure to save your juices from the meat. Set the juice aside in another pot.
                                                4. Make your gravy with the saved juice from your browned meat. There should be directions on the gravy package if you have any hesitations on what to do.
                                                5. When your potatoes are done, mash them well.
                                                6. Combine your meat, carrots, garlic, onion, salt and pepper in a large casserole dish. Pour your Worchester sauce in, but be liberal.
                                                7. Top your mixture with your potatoes and place a couple slabs of butter over the potatoes (to add color)
                                                8. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden brown around the edges.

                                                There you have it. A simple and delicious favorite, sure to win over your family as it has mine. Feel free to make any adjustments within the recipe. Vegetables are easy to incorporate in the recipe. You can add green beans, peas, or anything else such as corn. You can also omit anything that you don't like, except the main ingredients. Enjoy it my friends and I'll be back tomorrow with more meals for you!

                                                Tuesday, February 22, 2011

                                                A Divergence of Cultures

                                                Good evening and welcome to the second day of Request week! Today's requests are two very different dishes from opposite ends of the world. One dish is widely known in the Philippines and the other comes from Southern Italy, but is a common American favorite. I am going to take these recipes and make a modern twist for each of them.
                                                The two dishes that have been requested are: Adobo and Chicken Parmesan. Leslie Balboa-Engle requested Adobo as "her favorite" dish. I can understand why! This dish is chock full of flavor! David Werner requested Chicken Parmesan. Can't you just smell the aromatic cheese and chicken already? Let's get started!

                                                Pinoy Chicken Pork Adobo

                                                For this recipe, you will need the following:

                                                • 1 pound of chicken, cut into serving pieces
                                                • 1 pound pork, cubed
                                                • 1/3 cup vinegar
                                                • 2 tablespoons crushed garlic
                                                • 1 bayleaf
                                                • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
                                                • 1/2 teaspoon peppercorn
                                                • 1/2 cup water

                                                And here we go!
                                                1. Combine the chicken and the pork with the vinegar, garlic, bayleaf, soy sauce, peppercorn, and water.
                                                2. Boil the ingredients, then reduce heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes or until almost tender.
                                                3. Simmer covered until completely tender.
                                                This dish is very simple and you have practically no time limit on how long to cook the ingredients. You can cook it to the tenderness you desires, but please note: I do not suggest eating the meat with a red or pink color. Please check online for all safety regulations and warnings when making your decisions.

                                                Chicken Parmesan Casserole

                                                You'll need the following:

                                                • 2 cups rotini pasta
                                                • A 12 ounce can of chicken chunks, drained
                                                • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
                                                • 2 cups marinara sauce
                                                • 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

                                                1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
                                                2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil on high heat.
                                                3. Stir in the rotini and cook, uncovered for about 8 minutes (This allows for Al Dente, or tender with a little firmness to the bite)
                                                4. Drain and leave in colander for a few minutes
                                                5. Stir in the mozzarella, the rotini, and the chicken in a large casserole dish; pour the marinara sauce over the pasta mixture; sprinkle with bread crumbs.
                                                6. Cover the dish in aluminum foil
                                                7. Bake until the cheese is entirely melted, about 35 minutes

                                                And there you have it. Two diverse dishes, twisted and molded into something unique and simple for your everyday life. I recommend these dishes to anyone and everyone. Enjoy and I'll catch you all tomorrow! Good night!

                                                Above: Chicken Parmesan Casserole

                                                Above: Pinoy Chicken Pork Adobo

                                                Monday, February 21, 2011

                                                Trying Something New

                                                Hello and good afternoon everyone! I'm going to be doing something new this week. I will be posting recipe requests from my fellow friends on Facebook. Today, I will be starting out with a couple requests from Yas Simmons and April Weaver. Yas requested anything vegetarian. April requested something with grilled shrimp. Here's for you ladies:

                                                Vegetarian Lasagna

                                                You will need the following items:

                                                • 10 ounces fresh lasagna noodles
                                                • 10 ounces cherry tomatoes, sliced
                                                • 1.5 (1 in a half) pounds round eggplants
                                                • 2/3 pound robiola (a mild, slightly runny, soft creamy cheese)
                                                • 4 tablespoons milk
                                                • 1/4 pound baby spinach leaves
                                                • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
                                                • A small bunch of chives, chopped
                                                • 6 tablespoons Olive Oil
                                                • Salt and pepper to taste

                                                1. Trim the ends of the eggplants, slice them into quarter inch pieces, put them in a colander and sprinkle with salt
                                                2. Let them rest for 1 hour, rinse them, pat them dry, and grill them on a lightly oiled cast-iron griddle for a couple minutes on each side, seasoning them with salt and pepper as they come off.
                                                3. Slice the tomatoes and wash the spinach
                                                4. put the robiola in a bowl, work the milk into it, and add the chives
                                                5. While combining the above items, bring your pasta to a boil, lightly salt it, and add a drop of oil to it. Cook the lasagna a few sheets at a time. 
                                                6. Remove the noodles when Al Dente (mostly soft with a little bit of hardness to it) and put them on a clean cloth to cool.
                                                7. Lightly oil a deep pan, big enough to contain all of the ingredients and lay down a layer of lasagna noodles, followed by a layer of the robiola mixture then eggplant, tomatoes, grated cheese, and a drizzle of Olive Oil.
                                                8. Repeat Step #7 until all of the items are used up then drizzle the top with Olive Oil and bake in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes

                                                NOTE: You can serve this dish with a nice white wine (If you are old enough to drink). Please note, I do not condone underage drinking. ^_^

                                                Now, onto April's request. She requested something containing grilled shrimp. I've scrounged up a delicious and different take to an ordinary meal.

                                                Grilled Shrimp with Pasta and Pineapple Salsa

                                                You will need the following items:

                                                • 2 pounds pineapple chunks, packed in their own juice, drained
                                                • 1 large bell pepper, chopped
                                                • 1 large red onion, chopped
                                                • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
                                                • 1/2 (one half) cup orange juice
                                                • 1/3 cup lime juice
                                                • 1.5 (one and a half) cup shrimp, peeled and de-veined 
                                                • 2-2/3 (2 and 2/3) cup cooked rotini pasta

                                                1. In a large bowl, combine all of the salsa ingredients, except the shrimp and the pasta
                                                2. Prepare an outside grill with an oiled rack set 4 inches above the heat source.
                                                3. On a gas grill, set the heat to high.
                                                4. Grill the shrimp for 2 minutes on each side.
                                                5. Toss your rotini pasta with the salsa and arrange the shrimp on top and serve. (You can wait until the last minute to cook your pasta, if preferred. I do.)

                                                Both of these meals make for excellent summer meals. Enjoy and I'll be back tomorrow with more requests and fan favorites!

                                                Sunday, February 20, 2011

                                                An Italian Side to Everything

                                                Hello, hello all my great people! Today, we are taking a step into the Italian world of cooking. I know... you all are thinking: "But I'm not Italian! I know nothing of Italian food..." Well, we are going to keep this meal sweet and simple for you.
                                                This dish is from a booklet that my sister had hidden away from the world, for her own delight. I managed to smuggle this beauty way from her so you can enjoy it as well. It's called Tortelloni Bolognese. Yes, you can find this dish at your local Olive Garden most of the time. So, let's do some background history.
                                                Tortelloni is a stuffed pasta, originating from Bologna, North Italy. Most tortelloni is found mainly during the Christmas season, and is a staple on Christmas menus. The exact origin of tortelloni is fuzzy. There have been a few different tales of it's first appearance. Now, onto our cooking!

                                                Tortelloni Bolognese

                                                For this recipe, you will need the following:

                                                • 2 pounds Tortelloni
                                                • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
                                                • 3 stalks of celery, finely chopped
                                                • 1 small onion, finely chopped
                                                • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
                                                • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
                                                • 8 ounces ground beef
                                                • 6 ounces Italian sausage, casings removed
                                                • 1 cup dry red wine
                                                • 2.5 (2 in a half) cups Plum tomatoes, copped and crushed
                                                • 1 teaspoon rosemary, chopped
                                                • 1 teaspoon sage, chopped
                                                • salt and pepper to taste
                                                • Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

                                                NOTE: I know it looks like a lot of ingredients and probably expensive, but honestly, the most expensive thing on this ingredients list is Italian sausage.

                                                1. Heat oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat
                                                2. Add celery,  carrot, onion, and garlic into sauce pan and cook gently for 5 minutes or until they are translucent 
                                                3. Add beef and sausage to the mixture
                                                4. Using a spatula, break up your meats into small pieces and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
                                                5. Add wine and stir to de-glaze pan; reduce until wine has evaporated
                                                6. Add tomatoes and remaining ingredients. Simmer slowly for 1 hour (usually a medium/low heat)
                                                7. Cook tortelloni according to package directions and drain
                                                8. Toss hot pasta into the sauce and top with Parmesan cheese; Serve immediately.

                                                There you have it. An Italian dish made easy. Everyone have a great day (and dinner)! See you all tomorrow. Oh, if you all have any suggestions that you would like to hear in my blog, leave a comment below telling me what you would like for me to share.

                                                Saturday, February 19, 2011

                                                A Variety of Yumminess

                                                Hey everyone. After a long awaited 2 days or so, I am back with more delicious recipes for you all! I've been thinking very long about what I am going to share with you and I have decided to bring in some special recipes from my sister's mind. She, like myself, is an avid cooker. She loves sharing the kitchen with me and we have the best times together there. She's my best friend and a wonderful cook!
                                                Let's kick this off with a recipe that she got from her mom, my mother-in-law:

                                                Beef and Barley Casserole

                                                NOTE: This is a slower recipe, you will need about 4 hours of total time (No... laugh now because you won't be cooking for the entire 4 hours. Only about 1 hour of time is required. The other amount of time is for soaking the barley ahead of time. ^_^)

                                                For this recipe, you will need the following:

                                                • 2/3 cup barley, uncooked
                                                • 1 pound ground beef
                                                • 1 onion, chopped
                                                • 1 cup carrots, sliced
                                                • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
                                                • 2 tablespoons molasses
                                                • 1.5 (1 in a half) cups water
                                                • salt and pepper to taste

                                                NOTE: All items can be found at your local market or grocery store

                                                1. Soak the barley in water for 3 hours, then drain and set aside
                                                2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
                                                3. Toss the beef and the onion together in a large skillet. Brown the meat until it is no longer pink and the meat is completely crumbled, not stuck together.
                                                4. Drain the grease from the skillet and toss in the carrots, soy sauce, molasses, drained barley, and water and place back on stove on low/medium heat.
                                                5. Stir the molasses in until it is dissolved and the mixture has begun to simmer
                                                6. Season to taste with salt and pepper then place the mixture in a lidded 2-qt (quart) casserole dish
                                                7. Bake covered until the barley is tender and has absorbed the water, about 1 hour total.

                                                This dish is a delicious and easy route to any casserole lovers heart! Now, onto our second dish:

                                                Taco Pie

                                                You will need the following items:

                                                • An 8 ounce package of crescent rolls
                                                • 1 pound ground beef
                                                • 1 ounce package of taco seasoning
                                                • 16 ounce container of sour cream
                                                • 8 ounces Mexican-style cheese, shredded
                                                • 14.5 ounce bag of tortilla chips, crushed
                                                Let's get the ball rolling...

                                                1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
                                                2. Lay out your crescent rolls on a baking sheet (flatten them out, please don't bake as crescents...) and bake accordingly as stated by directions on their packages.
                                                3. Meanwhile, brown your meat in a large skillet over medium-high heat
                                                4. Add taco seasoning and stir well
                                                5. When dough is done baking, take it out of the oven and allow to cool slightly
                                                6. Place your meat and taco mixture on top of the crescents
                                                7. Layer with sour cream and cheese
                                                8. Pour your crumbled tortilla chips on top of it all
                                                9. Return to the oven, still at 350 degrees, and bake for about 10 minutes or until your cheese is nice and melted

                                                NOTE: This makes about 8 servings. Please feel free to tweak the recipe and have a blast layering more layers to this dish!

                                                There you have it: 2 great dishes that anyone can make in their free time. I, personally, enjoy the Taco Pie the best. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, I would give this dish a 13. Then again, I am biased because this has been made numerous times before. Anyway, enjoy both of these and I will return tomorrow to fuel your hunger. Good night everyone!

                                                Pictured above: 1.) Beef and Barley Casserole
                                                2.) A layered version of Taco Pie

                                                Wednesday, February 16, 2011

                                                Crock Pot Special

                                                Good morning to everyone! Yesterday was a slow day. Let me scratch that. It was painfully slow. Life moved in slow motion, as did my internet. I'm sorry for no post yesterday. To make it up, I am going to spoil you all with not one, but two delicious crock pot recipes! We'll start off with some trivia first to get your minds cooking themselves.
                                                The crock pot was invented by a company named Rival Industries. It coined the name "crock pot" to refer informally to any slow-cooker. It redefined the make of a typical bean pot, which obviously, was used to slow cook beans in. This occurred in the 1970's. Most housewives at that time were abandoning their roles within the household to become workers outside of the house, and the crock pot became convenient and a low-powered way to make meals. The motto, "Cooks all day while the cook's away" accurately fit their new lifestyles.
                                                Now, onto some wonderful recipes for you all We're going to start off with:

                                                Slow cooked Cherry Pork Chops

                                                For this, you will need the following:

                                                • 6 bone-in pork loin chops (8 ounces each)
                                                • 1/8 teaspoon salt
                                                • 1 cup canned cherry pie filling
                                                • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
                                                • 1/2 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
                                                • 1/8 teaspoon ground mace
                                                • dash of pepper

                                                NOTE: All of these things can be found at your local market place or store.

                                                1. In a large skillet, coated with cooking spray, brown your pork chops over medium heat on both sides. Season with salt and pepper.
                                                2. In a 3-qt (quart) slow-cooker, combine the pie filling, lemon juice, bouillon and mace. Add your pork chops.
                                                3. Cover and cook on low for 3 to 4 hours or until meat is no longer pink.

                                                VOILA! A simple, no hassle slow-cooker recipe for you to devour and enjoy.

                                                Now, onto our next crock-pot recipe:

                                                Spiced Acorn Squash
                                                For this recipe, you will need the following:

                                                • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
                                                • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
                                                • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
                                                • 2 small acorn squash, halved and seeded
                                                • 3/4 cup raisins
                                                • 4 tablespoons butter
                                                • 1/2 cup water
                                                 NOTE: As stated above, all items are locally found, if in season.

                                                1.  In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg
                                                2. Spoon the above items into your acorn halves and then sprinkle with raisins
                                                3. Top each of the halves of acorn slices with 1 tablespoon of butter
                                                4. Wrap each squash half individually with heavy-duty aluminum foil and seal tightly
                                                5. Pour you water into a 5-qt. (quart) slow-cooker
                                                6. Place the squash cut side up in the cooker
                                                7. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or until tender
                                                8. Once done, allow the squash to be uncovered to release all steam to escape
                                                NOTE: The squash may be stacked within the slow-cooker if needed. No harm will come to them.

                                                There you all have it. I hope each and everyone of you enjoys these delicious alternatives to standing over a hot and unnecessary stove at the end of your busy days. Feel free to share these recipes and have a wonderful day!

                                                  As pictured above: Top) Cherry Pork Chops
                                                Below) Spiced Acorn Squash

                                                Monday, February 14, 2011

                                                Fun, Fearless Chicken

                                                Let's start this blog off by introducing myself. My name is Mandie. I'm an ordinary woman with an ordinary family. It just so happens that my family has an extraordinary appetite, so home-cooked meals are a necessity in our home, as I'm sure they are in your own home.
                                                It's tough to juggle a busy family, a career, and dinner all at once. That is where this blog, and myself, come to aid you in your search for delicious food to try out!
                                                I will post a new recipe for you to try everyday. Some days will be easier than others, but for those tough days, I'm sure you can handle anything that I throw at you! Remember, you are a tough cookie! So here we have 365 days in a year, so 365 wonderful recipes for you to try! Good luck and have fun.

                                                We will start today with an easy meal:

                                                40 Clove Garlic Chicken

                                                You will need the following items:
                                                • 3 pounds of chicken pieces (feel free to use any variety that you prefer: thighs, wings, or even whole chicken)
                                                • 40 cloves of unpeeled garlic
                                                • 2/3 of a cup of white wine
                                                NOTE: All of these items can be found at your local market and/or liquor store

                                                Now, let's begin:
                                                1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, no more, no less.
                                                2. Place pre-washed chicken, skin-side up in your baking pan and sprinkle the unpeeled garlic around and over your chicken
                                                3. Bake for 20 minutes, uncovered.
                                                4. After the first 20 minutes are up, pull out your pan just long enough to pour your cup of wine over the chicken before popping it back into the oven again,
                                                5. Bake for an hour (1 hour), making sure to baste your chicken every 20 minutes
                                                6. When the last 20 minutes arrives, flip your chicken over to it's backside and allow to cook the remainder of the time and VOILA!

                                                You have a delicious and simple meal to feed your family. Serve with your favorite side dish and enjoy!

                                                NOTE: This makes 4 to 6 servings

                                                Have a great day and happy cooking!