Hot Broccoli Potato Salad (Recipe)

When I suggested we eat crackers and cheese for dinner, T insisted it didn't have enough nutrients and demanded I make something healthier. Although he did go fetch me some cheese and crackers so I would have the energy to do so.

So healthy he wanted, healthy he got. I thought I had made another vegetarian entree, until I realized that I'd added bacon. I always do that-- think I'm making a vegetarian dish just because I don't have a big ol' slab of meat on the plate. However I did taste this before I added the bacon, so it could be made vegetarian just by leaving it out.

I didn't have high hopes for this meal since we really don't have much in the house, but it turned out well enough I'll share with you. I made it hot because W has a hard time eating raw vegetables, but it would probably be pretty good as a cold salad, too. Maybe better.

First, sautee about 1/2 an onion in butter, along with a handful of baby carrots which have been sliced and chopped (to reduce toddler choking risk-- just slice them if for adults). Steam a bag of frozen broccoli florets, then roughly chop them, and add them to the onions and carrots. While all that is in the pan, microwave a few small red potatoes until soft. When they are done, chop them into bite-sized pieces (I usually do 8ths). Then put all of the ingredients in a big bowl, and add two heaping tablespoons (probably more like 1/4 cup) of mayo, then white wine vinegar to taste (1T?). Stir to mix. Add a few slices of cooked chopped bacon if you're not a vegetarian. Et voila, a kind-of healthy dinner. Or at least one including several food groups, which counts in my book.

Cream of KFC (Recipe)

I've found the key to using up leftovers is to make them different each day (or at least, after you are bored with the original version). Tonight my family (self included) was particularly pleased with my KFC innovation.

I got a bucket of original recipe chicken on Sunday, and although we've been snacking on cold chicken since then, I didn't want it hanging around in the fridge any longer than today. So first I tore all the leftover chicken (crispy skin and all) off the bone and into bite-sized pieces. It was a fair amount of chicken, probably two to three cups.

I made some egg noodles, and lightly tossed them in butter and salt.

I chopped up 1/2 an onion and sauteed it in about 2T of butter. Then I added about 1T of flour to that to make a pseudo-roux (since the butter was in the onions and not separate I just stirred the flour into the soft onions and went with that). I also added a splash of white cooking wine (I'd have preferred to use plain white wine, but I haven't kept any open bottles in the house in months) to thin it all a bit.

Then I put the chicken bits into the pan along with some heavy cream. I'm not sure how much cream I used, maybe a cup. Enough to fill the pan 1/2" and mostly cover the chicken. If I didn't have cream that needed to be used up soon, I would've used milk or half and half, anything would work, you'd just have to cook it down a little longer with the thinner liquids. I simmered the chicken in the cream for several minutes (on low heat) and then added some black pepper to taste.

I served it atop the egg noodles, but it would also be good over toast. This is my new favorite way to use up leftover fried chicken.

Jacques Pépin Sandwiches

I was catching up on some Tivo'd food shows last week, including one from "Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home" featuring some of their favorite sandwiches. They made croque-monsieur and croque-madame two different ways. I was most intrigued by Jacques' technique of baking them, since I was used to the stovetop method used by Julia.

So this week, I tried baking "grilled" sandwiches. Wow-- way easier! You can make a whole tray of sandwiches at once this way, so I tried different variations to see which T and I preferred.

For all I used regular white bread, leftover chicken, and gruyère cheese. All had the outside of the bread buttered. But on the inside sides of the bread slices, one I buttered, another I used mayonnaise, and the last I used both mayonnaise and mustard. We like the one with both mayo and mustard best. Next I liked the one with just mayo, but T liked the one with just butter, so from here on out I'm going to focus on the mayo & mustard combo since we both agree that it is tastiest.

Today I made some more sandwiches in the oven, and tried some more variations. I also tried a hotter temperature. I forgot what Jacques had the oven set to on the TV show, so last time I just tried 350F. It got the sandwiches wonderfully crisp, but they didn't really get golden brown in the 10 minutes I baked them. Today I tried 400F for the same amount of time and on the same cookie sheet (a light-colored sheet), and they browned ever-so-slightly, turned out really beautifully, so I'm going to go with that temp.

Today I didn't mess with the bread coatings (butter on the outside for all slices, mayo & mustard on the inside), but I did change up the fillings. I used the same leftover chicken, but instead of gruyère I used cheddar (I'm saving the rest of the gruyère to use with ham next week) and added bacon. I also made one without cheese at all (since I'd used up the last of my cheddar. . .) that included chicken, bacon, and in lieu of cheese I added avocado slices and lots of honey. Oh YUM. What a tasty way to get some veggies, huh?

T liked today's sandwiches even better, he said he really didn't notice a taste difference between the gruyère and cheddar. That's one of the reasons he's so easy to cook for-- there are subtle taste differences that I notice that he overlooks, so while I grade my meals on a 100-point scale, with T it's more like a 5-point scale so it's easy to get an "A". I told him I'm glad he likes the cheddar just as well, since it's way cheaper and I always keep some in the fridge so he's more likely to get these sandwiches added to our regular food rotation now.

It still takes a little while to prepare the sandwiches, it's not as easy as just popping open a can of soup or something, but I do appreciate that I don't have to mind them once they are in the oven, unlike when actually grilling them on the stovetop. When I grill sandwiches in the George Foreman grill, they are equally free of monitoring, but I can only cook one sandwich at a time, where I can do entire trays of sandwiches at once in the oven.

These have turned out so well, I will continue to experiment with different fillings and stuff, since it could be perfect party food. Cut the sandwiches into triangles and serve as hot hors d'oeuvres. You can make the sandwiches ahead, and then just put them into the oven at party-time, they cook in 10 minutes.

I think I may also experiment with freezing the sandwiches, and cooking them directly from frozen. Although I might leave out the mayo, and try them with butter & mustard on the inside if I go that route. I'll have to think about how to adjust the cooking temp & time. But if I can make up a bunch of sandwiches and wrap them individually and freeze them, it would be a simple meal that T can prepare for us after I have the baby.

How To Add Music To Your Web Page

I was looking for a quick and easy way to put some of our own music on this site, and after researching a few free music players, settled on this one by Yahoo!.

It's super easy. Just clip a line of code and put it into your page's html, then put in a link to whatever song or songs you want people to hear. Magically, a little "play" button will appear next to your song, and visitors to your site can play or pause the music at will.

Italian Macaroni & Cheese (Recipe)

I'm not sure if there is already an official Italian name for this dish, so do me a favor and make a comment if you know it. Until I hear otherwise, I'm just gonna call it Italian Macaroni & Cheese. It's based on baked ziti, but all I had was macaroni. This is a general recipe, since I didn't measure a single thing. Just throw it together.

Preheat oven to 350F. Cook 1/2 package of macaroni (better yet, use up leftover macaroni, like I did).

In a bowl, mix 1/2 container of ricotta cheese, and like amounts of parmesan and shredded mozzarella (these ingredients were in the neighborhood of 1 cup each). Season with: several leaves of finely chopped fresh basil, about 1T of dried basil and 1T of dried oregano, 1/2tsp each of salt and pepper, one large clove of minced garlic, 1/4 finely chopped onion. Stir in 1 beaten egg. When the cheese mixture is fully mixed up, stir in the cooked macaroni.

Spread the cheese/noodle combo in the bottom of a shallow baking dish; I used an oval baking dish, a 13" x 9" pan probably would work, too. Spread about 2+ cups of your favorite tomato pasta sauce on top. Here's what I used today:

Saute 1/4 of a chopped green pepper and 1/4 of a chopped onion in olive oil, then add 1 cup of tomato puree from a variety of heirloom tomatoes. Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste. After I spread this atop the noodles, I saw that it was not nearly enough sauce. I poured 1 can of V8 atop everything, and that brought the red to the right amount vs the cheese.

Generously sprinkle the top with with more parmesan cheese, and bake for 30-40 minutes. Serve & enjoy!

1 2 3
5 6 7 8 ... 10 20 30
<<Page 4>>