Archive for January, 2010
On occasion, I like to throw a little twist into a normally mundane meal. Last night, I came home from a Sunday family dinner with a bag full of leftovers which included a container of rosemary roasted potatoes. It turns out that these potatoes make really good home fries, so I decided to make breakfast for dinner tonight and include the potatoes.
I had plenty of eggs and picked up some turkey sausage at the store, along with our other staple items like milk. fruit, bread, soda, meats, and cereal. Late in the afternoon, I decided I didn’t just want basic scrambled eggs and sausage. Even with the breakfast for dinner idea, it seemed too boring. Instead, I looked up some egg recipes and decided on Scrambled Eggs with Sausage and Thyme, which I found on my Epicurious.com iPhone app, with a few minor adjustments.
The adjusted recipe is listed below. It was all really good, but you don’t need leftover potatoes to have this kind of meal. To make your own rosemary potatoes, chop up red potatoes into bite sized pieces and arrange them in a single layer on a cookie sheet glazed with olive oil. Sprinkle salt and dried rosemary over them, drizzle a little more olive oil, bake at 400F degrees for an hour. Your other option is a making your own home fries, whether from the frozen aisle or your own favorite recipe.
Scrambled Eggs with Sausage and Thyme – Adjusted from Bon Appetit’s post on Epicurious.com
- 8 Eggs
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 2.5 tbsp butter
- 7 oz cooked smoked turkey sausage, cut in quarters lengthwise and sliced thinly crosswise
- 2 tsps dried thyme
- 4 ozs shredded Gouda (Smoked Gouda would have been awesome too, but I didn’t have any)
Whisk eggs, mustard, salt and pepper in large bowl and blend well. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and stir until brown, about 3-4 minutes. Add thyme and stir 1 minute. Transfer mixture to plate covered in paper towels to collect grease.
Add 1.5 tablespoons butter to same skillet; melt over medium heat. Add eggs and cheese; stir until eggs are softly set and cheese begins to melt, about 3 minutes. Add sausage; stir until eggs are just set, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to bowl and serve.
I made sure to serve the meal with some fruit and milk. If you wanted your vegetables, consider adding some chopped baby spinach in the egg mixture.
After such a filling and tasty breakfast, I think I’m ready to start my night!Keep an eye out for the next Valentine’s Day post, along with a coffee table tailgate spread to feed the Super Bowl Fans in your house!
In my house, food is love. It comes in abundance and without prejudice. Sometimes, it’s created to warm a heart, lift a spirit, or celebrate an achievement. On occasion, special dishes are developed to deliver sensual pleasures or tease and tempt. As Valentines Day approaches, I think it’s appropriate to pair food with love and let the story unfold.
Planting the Seeds
I do believe in love at first sight. It’s possible to feel a shock from the soul that is destined to walk alongside you, just as you first encounter it. Yet, love develops over time. It grows and changes in accordance with the circumstances it encounters. It doesn’t always survive, but it can flourish with proper care. To give love its best chance at survival, you start with good seeds, soil, and attention. Today, we’ll focus on preparing a meal that may remind you of the first time you cooked for your partner or help you prepare a romantic meal for your new love.
I don’t remember what I first cooked for my husband. I know our first real date was three months after we started seeing each other because our college schedules were so packed we couldn’t find time. However, when I think of cooking for someone the first time, I think about what the basic intentions are behind that meal.
I’m doing something special for you because I like you
I really want you to like this because I want you to like me
I want us to have fun because I like us
If we have to finish the dinner later, that’s ok
So we need something special, infallible, fun, and flirty. Is anyone else thinking Italian? Absolutely! Pasta is really hard to screw up. There are so many Italian flavors that elicit romance, bring in the comforts of home, and it can always be reheated if you were suddenly distracted.
So, here is a tantalizing dinner to plant the seeds of love or reignite an old flame. Keep in mind you want to keep your night stress free. If this recipe seems too complicated for your skill level, then look around for something easier and don’t worry about getting help from jars, boxes, mixes or whatever you can find. The important thing is to have the time, energy, and desire to spend the evening with the one you like….a lot.
Fresh Mozzarella Slices
Pick up a ball of fresh Mozzarella and slice it into 1/8” inch slices, reserving 4 for the main course. Serve on a small plate with a sprig of parsley.
Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Spaghetti in Vodka Sauce
- 2 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 4 Mozzarella slices 1/8” thick
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2” tsp basil
- ¼” tsp red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup panko Italian bread crumbs
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- ½ package of spaghetti
- Jar of good Vodka sauce or get directions to make your own here from Allrecipes.com.
Place chicken breasts between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and pound to a 1/8” thickness. (To be fair, I tend to give up somewhere between ¼” and 1/8”.) Brush one side of each chicken breast with olive oil. Salt and pepper. Sprinkle basil and arrange two pieces of mozzarella on each. Roll up tightly and secure with a toothpick or two. Dredge in flour, dip in egg, and finally cover with the panko bread crumbs. Bake in a greased baking pan at 375 for 40 mins.
Once chicken has been baking for 20 minutes, start water boiling for the spaghetti. Put the sauce in a saucepan on low and stir occasionally. Once the water is at a rolling boil, add the spaghetti and cook for 10-11 minutes. Drain well. Put the warmed sauce in a bowl and add the spaghetti.
Serve the chicken and spaghetti with bread, dipping oil, and your favorite easy to make salad.
Cheesecake or another favorite from a local bakery
Why stress over dessert when it will be an afterthought anyway?
Keep an eye out for my next post, which celebrates relationships that have graduated from the initial spark and moved into a comfortable sway, dancing slowly around the table.
Some people might think I started this blog because I saw Julie and Julia. Let me assure you, that is not the case. In fact, I hadn’t seen the movie or knew the gist of the story until just two weeks ago when I watched it on dvd.
Still, considering my blog attempt and my experiments in the kitchen, it made sense for family members to get me the Julie and Julia movie along with Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking cookbook. After reading through the cookbook, I found it daunting at best. The recipes are complex. There are chapters that include things I have never heard of, even in English! I literally have to study the dictionary and technique sections before I begin. I do love the way Julia and her partners listed instructions next to the specified ingredients. However, I am still overwhelmed by the sheer number of instructions.
Tonight, I finally got up the nerve to try a recipe. It was a sautéed chicken in butter, egg, and herb sauce. I read through the ingredient list two days ago and noted I would need just a few to complete the dish. I needed the chicken, the fennel, and lemons for lemon juice. I had never bought or worked with fennel before. I bought fennel seed, but soon discovered I needed ground fennel. So, I pulled out my mortar and pestle. This was the first time I had really ever attempted to grind any herb. It was awesome! The licorice aroma released as I ground the seeds, clearing my senses. It felt earthy and satisfying to grind seeds into such a fine powder.
It took me well over an hour to make the chicken. Luckily I had put the potatoes in the oven before I started and they roasted while I worked so feverently over the range. Remember the timing issue in my Kitchen Disasters post? Not tonight!
I am proud to say I only made a few mistakes. I forgot to add the garlic with the herbs, don’t think I skimmed out the sauce correctly, and managed to overcook the meat a tad. The herb and butter flavor was fabulous, but tonight taught me that I have a long way to go before I become a really good cook. Still, I will push forward, opening my mind to new techniques, focus on the details, and not give up or avoid a recipe just because it’s difficult. I don’t claim to be a celebrity chef, but I am the Suburban Cook, ready to take on the kitchen then tell you all about it!
I had a busy day! Did you? Today I offer a simple mid-week meal that even kids love! It’s just called Chicken Pockets and it’s done in about 20 minutes. No kidding.
- 1 chicken breast per serving
- 1 package Pillsbury Crescent Rolls per every 2 servings (you could use the new Pillsbury pastry sheets, but I just haven’t tried those yet)
- Garlic pepper or you favorite seasoning
- A slice or 1/4 cup of your favorite cheese on hand per serving
- Dice, chop or Julienne veggies on hand that you love
- 2 tbsp olive oil
Pre heat oven to 375. Slice up the chicken into bite sized pieces. Sprinkle seasoning over the chicken and veggies. Brown chicken in olive oil over med high heat. Add veggies as chicken is about half way cooked through. When all is just cooked through, remove from heat.
On a greased cookie sheet, unroll the crescent roll dough. Separate the dough in half using the already scored line. You should have two long strips of dough, 2 crescent rolls wide. Working with the first strip, fill one side with the cooked chicken and veggies. Top with cheese. Fold the other side of the dough and seal by pressing the dough together. Repeat until you have a pocket for each serving. Bake for 11-13 mins. Remove from the oven when the pockets are golden brown. Let them cool slightly as the interior will be scorching hot. Make sure to slice into each pocket meant for kids and test it before serving.
Sometimes I serve with green beans if I don’t have veggies to put in the pocket.
Easy meal. Easy clean up. Meat, dairy, grain, and veggie….ok, it’s not perfect, but it hits the basic list and it’s better than a burger and fries. For a quick meal on a cold night, it hits the spot!
The pans clatter in the cupboard as I dig for the right size. The mixing bowls clink. The grinders grind and the knives chop on the boards. My kitchen is the stage where music crescendos….and sometimes comes to a dissonant, shattering end. The sauce drips from the counter. I wipe the potato puree from my face and the timer never dings because I forgot to set it. These are my famous kitchen disasters.
Disaster: Baking Boxed Brownies
We’ll start with baking from a box. It was a box of brownies. To my credit, I was young and inexperienced. My friends were over to watch a movie and I thought we’d enjoy some fudgy brownies. I didn’t grease the pan. I endured years of teasing over these brownies that couldn’t be chiseled out of the pan, but one could suck out the gooey middle with a straw
Disaster: First Christmas In My Own Home
I was so excited. It was Christmas Eve. Two years into my marriage, my husband and I bought a wonderful home with a big kitchen. Since my immediate family had experienced recent turbulence as my parents divorced, I wanted to create “The Perfect Family Christmas”….and in Griswold fashion, it delivered. It was my first turkey, a 26lb beauty. It was my first attempt at cooking for 15 people. Who would expect the culprit of chaos could be the pound cake?
My sister loves pound cake and we have a wonderful family recipe the caramelizes along the crust, but remains moist and dense in the middle. My mom arrived early in the day and helped me get things prepared for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner: a buffet of appetizers, a Honey Baked Ham and Christmas cookies. We were right on schedule except for the cake which didn’t seem to be baking. After returning it to the oven for the third time, we turned up the temperature. Then, after suddenly realizing I was missing two presents for the incoming guests, we tore off to the mall. All of us.
Three hours later, after shopping and eating a lazy lunch, we pulled back on the interstate to head home. It was at that moment, I remembered the cake. No one had pulled it out. So, it was working on hour number 4, with an increased temperature, and no one but my dog at the house. I was certain the house was on fire, the dog was dead from smoke inhalation and more than Christmas was ruined.
My husband put the pedal to the metal. As we approached our neighborhood, a fire engine tore past us. My mom put her hand on my shoulder and my husband added another 20mph to the speedometer. We arrived home, but weren’t greeted with smoke as the garage door opened. I jumped out of the car, ran into the house and threw open the oven. There it sat. It was the rock that was once my beloved pound cake. I turned to my husband who rushed in behind me with a fire extinguisher in his hands. I gave him a little shrug, a smile, and then pulled out the cake, promptly dumping it into the trash. Trudging into the bedroom, I wept with despair at my utter incompetence. He calmed me down and reminded me of all I had accomplished. It was a Christmas Eve to remember and one I hope to never repeat.
Disaster: Timing the Big Meal
Like any great composition, timing is crucial. Everything must be served at the appropriate temperature. I can’t seem to get this talent under my belt. Some of my dinners may taste fabulous, but more than likely, they have been served late or in pieces because the timing was off.
For example, I was making dinner for my dad and his wife one year. I think it was parmesan chicken breasts with a bunch of Italian themed sides, warm bread for dipping, and probably a chocolate cake.
We were drinking wine and eating some light appetizers in the kitchen as I worked. It wasn’t too long before I realized that things weren’t going well. I couldn’t pay attention to their conversation because the chicken was still rather pink in the oven, but the green beans were done on the stove top. The pasta was draining in the sink, but the cake was still in batter form in the mixer.
Three hours later, we had finally eaten everything. It went something like this:
Please have some salad as we wait for the chicken to finish…..
Won’t you have some green beans? I think the chicken is nearly done…..
Would you like some more bread? I am pretty sure we just need to give the chicken another minute….
Oh, I am so glad you liked the chicken. I was afraid it was a bit overdone… (It was so dry, we needed another 2 bottles of wine to ignore the taste.)
I’m sorry you have to go. Let me send a piece of cake home with you….
Conclusion: The Root of All My Disasters
I am impatient. Very impatient.
I move quickly and without grace.
I grab without looking, pull without guiding, and turn without balance.
I have timers but forget to set them.
I use potholders to protect my hands on hot pans, but my fingers brush the oven grates.
If I slowed down, used caution, and found some zen, I might actually walk out of the kitchen with no stains, burns, or cuts. But then, I wouldn’t be me: The Suburban Cook, a real girl in a real kitchen with real meals.