Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sad Chicken Casserole

Ever have food that's delicious when you first have it somewhere else but when you make it at home it's just "eh". That's what this dish is. When I first had it several years ago living on the lake it was delicious. In reality I was probably starving, freezing, and someone else made it (and it's always better when someone else makes it!). It was a useful way to get rid of our chicken leftovers from when Brad and Christine were over but it wasn't as yummy as I remember and tasted pretty bland compared to some of the other food we've been experimenting with!
Chicken Casserole
(From the Nelsons)
1 small package Pepperidge Farm Stuffing
1 stick margarine
1 cup sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup, undiluted (I used cream of mushroom)
Meat from one whole chicken or 4 chicken breasts, cooked
1 cup chicken broth
1. Melt margarine and mix with stuffing.
2. Place half of stuffing on the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Put cooked chicken (bite size) over stuffing.
3. Mix sour cream and soup and spread over chicken.
4. Spread remaining stuffing over top and pour 1 cup of hot chicken broth over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Double Bread Heaven!

This recipe was divine. I followed suggestions about increasing the amount of olives (I used one cup), adding garlic/herbs and lowering the temperature (The original recipe said 500 and many people complained of burnt bread). You could taste the garlic, it was a nice addition but I could not taste the Italian herbs. Another suggestion was to had 1/2 cup parmesan cheese which would be fun to try! People had good results with all sorts of different olives but I used kalamata because they are my all time favorite.

However, it was not all rainbows and sunshine. I had some issues with the dough. I didn't feel like it was rising properly and it was very sticky. I had reduced the amount of time I kneaded it because I was using my Kitchen Aid and the book says to do that, my yeast proofed wonderfully....I had no idea what was wrong! After I footballed it like a squishy newborn from the bowl to the pan while shouting "Geronimo!" (where it didn't hold it's shape well) I was convinced that it was going to be a disaster. So while it was baking I whipped up some English Muffin Loaf again because 1) we were all out 2) I like eating it all the time with jam or honey or toasted with peanut butter 3) I wanted to stay in my apron because it's super comfy 4) I was looking for an excuse to use Reggie the Kitchen Aid again. Lo and behold the Olive Bread came out okay and I had an extra bonus loaf of English Muffin Bread! The very center of the loaf is a bit moist so it might have needed a few more minutes or it could have been attributed to my dough issues. 
Mediterranean Black Olive Bread
(adapted from
3 cups bread flour (I used all purpose)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Italian herbs
1/2 to 1 cup chopped olives, roughly chopped (amount and type depend on personal taste)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1. In a large bowl, mix together flour, salt, garlic, herbs, black olives, and olive oil. In a second bowl proof your yeast with warm water and sugar. After the yeast is proofed, combine with flour mixture.
2. Turn out dough onto a floured board. Knead until smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes. Set aside, and let rise about 45 minutes, until it doubles in size. Punch down. Knead well again, for about 5 to 10 minutes. Let rise for about 30 minutes, until it doubles in size.
3. Round the dough on kneading board. Place upside down in a bowl lined with a lint-free, well floured towel. Let rise until double in size.
4. While the bread is rising for the third time, put a pan of water in the bottom of the oven. Preheat oven to 450.
5. Gently turn loaf out onto a sheet pan that has been lightly oiled and dusted with cornmeal.
6. Bake loaf at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees. Bake for 30 more minutes, or until done.
Double Bread Heaven! 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ginger-Chicken Soup

January's Bon Appetit has been really awesome (the broccolini was from this issue and there's a brussels sprouts recipe I want to try). I saw this recipe for Cleansing Ginger-Chicken soup and it looked delicious with the added benefits of everything ginger is suppose to do (anti-inflammtory, boost immunity, upset tummy fixer, etc) and being chicken soup. I'm having some residual sinus headaches from last weeks cold so I figured chilling in the kitchen all day huffing sauteing ginger and garlic while simultaneously making ginger-chicken soup was a good idea. Inflamed sinuses begone!
I compared a couple of recipes and couldn't decide which one I liked more. Some used homemade stock but I already had cooked chicken. I liked the idea of Bon Appetit's Cleansing soup with just broth and chicken but others got extra flavor from other veggies. Some strained the veggies and others didn't. I decided to piece together my favorite bits and pieces of each one. It came out pretty good! The broth was super yummy and gingery before I added the chicken but once the chicken was in it mostly just tasted like chicken soup which was a let down. To solve this problem I minced up some ginger and topped each bowl with a bit. This perked it back up and gave it a nice little zip. I ended up eating the strained veggies for lunch, they were nice and spicy!
Jenni's Bits and Pieces Ginger-Chicken Soup
(adapted from Bon Appetit, Real Simple, and various other recipes)
1 carton reduced sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup ginger, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 carrot, roughly chopped
10 whole black peppercorns
1 handful of sliced mushrooms
Desired amount of chicken
1. Combine broth, ginger, garlic, onion, carrot and peppercorns. Simmer till your apartment smells amazing.
2. Strain out all the vegetables and eat them for lunch.
3. Add chicken, simmer till meat is warm and feed the boy dinner.
Using my new Spider (Skimmer/Strainer) to skim out my lunch!


We had some poor broccolini leftovers languishing away in the fridge. They were delicious five days ago at Christmas dinner but now they were on the verge of getting a wee bit slimy. So I decided to breathe a little life into them by throwing them in the frying pan with this spicy vinaigrette. Evidently it worked because Mr. Lawyer went back for seconds and cleaned up the pan. 
Broccolini with Spicy Sesame Vinaigrette 
(adapted from Bon Appetit)
2 bunches broccolini (1 lb.)
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons plus 1 tsp. toasted white sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes plus more to taste
2 tablespoons plus 1 tsp. vegetable oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons minced garlic
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Cook broccolini in a large pot of salted boiling water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl of ice water. Drain and dry well. Halve broccolini, if desired. Place in a large bowl.
2. Finely chop 2 Tbsp. sesame seeds and 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes in a spice grinder (or finely chop with a knife). Transfer to a small bowl; stir in both oils, vinegar, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over broccolini; toss to coat. Transfer to a platter; sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp. sesame seeds and more red pepper flakes, if desired.

Holy Sauce.

The most perfect day ever. I just spent 4+ hours rocking out to excellent music while making a mess in my kitchen and creating delicious things. Oh, and eating Peanut M&M's out of my apron pocket. Because that's what life is about.
A bazillion different things: olive bread proofing in the microwave, soup stock simmering, sauce going in The General, and a messy prep counter.
In researching Asian cuisine and wok use it seems that the most time consuming part of stir frying is making the sauce. When the actual act of stir frying is so simple and quick no one wants to come home, take out a bazillion ingredients, and whip up some sauce before starting up the wok. Today my mission was to bake bread and make soup. These activities require a lot of down time between proofings and stock boilings. Problem solved. Let's sauce it up and make a collection of stir fry sauces that can chill out in the freezer.
I wasn't joking about the M&Ms.
Take a peek at the sauce recipes!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mushroom Puffs!

I have this marvelous recipe. I made it at our friend's house during the Prep Crew's Christmas Eve's Eve Gathering so I didn't have my camera on me. I was also two Mad Elves (11%) in so there was no guarantee that the picture would have come out anyway. It was marvelous and multiple people said it was a keeper. It was also so, so simple. We were worried that all the cheesy mushroomy goodness was going to ooze out if you sliced it before baking so we baked it whole and then sliced it which worked out well. We also skipped the whole egg wash thing. I made the filling the night before so all the flavors blended together for 24 hours which probably helped.
Since I don't have a picture of my mushroom puffs here is a picture of my freezer! Mr. Lawyer is really digging the homemade breakfast sandwiches. We've been using egg beaters and turkey sausage to keep it healthy. This batch of eggs are cooling off and almost ready to go!
Mushroom Puffs
(adapted from Southern Living)
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 package sliced mushrooms, chopped up (I used baby bella)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion (I used a shallot)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion (I omitted this)
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
1 large egg
1 (17.3-oz.) package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1. Beat cream cheese at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until smooth. Stir in mushrooms, onion, cheese, hot sauce and green onion. Cover and chill 1 to 24 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 400°. Whisk together egg and 1 Tbsp. water in a small bowl. Roll 1 puff pastry sheet into a 16- x 10-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Cut pastry in half lengthwise. Spread 1/2 cup cream cheese mixture down center of each rectangle; brush edges with egg mixture. Fold each pastry half lengthwise over filling, and pinch edges to seal. Cut pastries into 10 pieces each, and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat procedure with remaining puff pastry sheet, egg mixture, and cream cheese mixture.
3. Brush remaining egg mixture over tops of pastry pieces; sprinkle with pepper.
4. Bake at 400° for 20 to 25 minutes or until browned. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Stir Frying Away!

A few months ago Melissa asked me what cuisine I wanted to learn more about. Deep down I'm a pasta and bread girl but I feel like good Italian food is very accessible for the home cook. The two things I randomly crave but I have clue about are Asian and Mexican. I love a good stir fry from China Town, spicy peanut sauces from Thai places and nothing beats a good enchilada or quesadilla. So here it goes: Wicket, The General and I got busy in the kitchen tonight.
I'm pretty happy with how my first attempt at stir frying went. I decided to stick with veggies because the whole thing is rather intimidating without meat so the simpler the better. I picked out some of my favorite veggies: mushrooms, pepper, baby bok choy, broccoli and a little bit of leftover shallot. I found a recipe for a basic stir fry sauce and augmented it with a few ingredients from a szechuan sauce recipe: white pepper, red pepper flakes and a good squirt of sriracha sauce. My favorite was when you would get a bite with a ginger chunk in it. Yum!
Brown Garlic Sauce
(adapted from
I used this recipe more as a guideline for ingredients and directions, not for proportions.
2/3 cup soy sauce (add slowly, to taste)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup rice wine or dry sherry
3 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1. In a bowl, combine soy sauce, broth, rice wine, sugar, sesame oil and white pepper.
2. Dissolve the cornstarch in 1/4 cup water.
3. Heat a pan over high heat; add the cooking oil, swirling to coat; add the garlic and ginger; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 15 seconds.
4. Add the soy sauce mixture; bring to a boil.
5. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 1 minute.
6. Add the cornstarch solution and cook, stirring, until the sauce boils and thickens.
For the stir fry I heated up the pan and oil, swirled it around, tossed in my veggies and bam! Stir frying away! Right at the end you're suppose to add the sauce or else it can burn.  I also had fun grinding up the white pepper and red pepper flakes with my mortar and pestle. 
Mr. Lawyer approved and cleaned his plate!

Ho Ho Ho!

My dad called today. He thought I was dead because I haven't cooked and posted anything recently. This one is for you dad! Last week we made a couple of big dishes that we ate all week, then it was the holidays and now we have holiday leftovers plus merely looking at recipes makes me want to toss my cookies. After overindulging on a variety of yummy homemade things in a multiple day eat-fest all I want to do is consume oatmeal and salad. Which is a problem because I received all these fun kitchen gadgets for Christmas and I really want to play with them but I don't want to eat anything I make. Bleh.
I had to reorganize my kitchen. Mr. Lawyer managed to surprise me with this beauty. When ever I drooled over our friend's Kitchen Aids he would pat me on the head and inform me that "this is registry material." Yeah well, get on that. She's so pretty. I'm thinking about calling her "Registry" as a joke, it could always be shortened to "Reggie". I may or may not have caught myself petting her as I fiddled around with things in the kitchen.
More after the jump!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Death by Dairy Products

Is there a limit to how many pasta and cheese dishes you can having sitting in your fridge? Because right now I have around 10 pounds worth of various pasta and cheese combinations just chilling in the fridge. Please come eat my leftovers.
Tonight we had Brad and Christine over for a chicken and mac'n'cheese dinner. I used my standard Perfect Roast Chicken recipe from Martha. It's my fourth time using this recipe so I might experiment with something new on my next whole chicken. For the macaroni and cheese I used a recipe from my mom which contains absolutely nothing healthy. She likes to call it "Death by Dairy Products" for obvious unhealthy reasons. I'm almost embarrassed to post it. Also, this picture sucks.
Macaroni and Cheese
(From the Mother Unit)
1 lb cooked elbows
6 tbs butter
6 tbs flour
4 cups scalded milk
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne
Pepper to taste
1 ½ cup grated cheddar
1 ½ cup grated monterey jack cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup buttered bread crumbs
1. Melt butter and stir in flour. 
2.  Slowly add milk, stirring constantly till boiling. Reduce heat and stir in spices. 
3. Stir in ½ of each cheese and cook till melted. Combine sauce with macaroni. 
4. Assemble in buttered casserole by layering macaroni with remaining cheese. 
5. Top with cream and breadcrumbs.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
The Aftermath
I can't believe no one went for a drumstick! Mr. Lawyer has called dibs on them for breakfast.
And then Mr. Lawyer and Christine attempted to explain what their jobs entailed effectively putting Brad and I to sleep. Wait, you mean not everyone has exciting stories about hooligans lighting things on fire at work?!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cheese + Pasta = Love!

Sometimes simple is the way to go. Especially when we're both fighting off some gross sickness. This recipe is no frills but amazing in it's simplicity. Mr. Lawyer was in charge of this dish. He decided to use turkey instead of beef and he add some red pepper flakes and oregano to the ricotta mixture (and then sprinkled some on top). He also claims that the "meat flavored" Francesco Rinaldi sauce made a difference. Whether it was the turkey or the sauce this time it was much better than the first time he made it.
Barilla No-Boil Lasagna 
(from the back of the box!)
1 (9 ounce) box of barilla no-boil lasagna noodles
2 eggs
1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 lb ground beef or sausage (we used ground turkey)
1 to 2 jars spaghetti sauce (we used 1.5 jars)
1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. In bowl, combine beaten eggs, ricotta cheese and TWO cups of the mozzarella cheese and parmesan.
3. In a 13x9 pan, spread 1 cup of sauce on bottom of pan.
4. Layer in the order, 4 uncooked lasagna noodles (they will overlap), then 1/3 part of the ricotta cheese mixture, half the browned meat, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, and 1 cup of spaghetti sauce.
5. Next layer, 4 uncooked lasagna noodles, 1/3 part of the ricotta cheese mixture, and 1 1/2 Cups sauce.
6. Next layer, 4 uncooked lasagna noodles, remaining ricotta mixture and remained meat, 1 cup of sauce.
7. For top layer, 4 uncooked lasagna noodles, remaining sauce, and remaining 1 cup mozzarella.
8. Bake covered with foil for 50-60 minutes.
9. Uncover and continue cooking until all the cheese is melted on the top (about 5 minutes).
10. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.
mmmmm cheese!

"You Ain't Bluffing With That Muffin!"

So says Mr. Lawyer. I'm not a huge banana bread fan. I just prefer zucchini bread. I like fresh bananas but sometimes banana flavored things can be weird. This recipe called for three bananas but I only had two bananas marching towards liquefaction on the counter. This worked out in my favor as the muffins were pleasantly banana-ish but not in your face banana flavor. Also, muffins just seem more fun than a loaf of bread. I made half of the batter with some pecans. The sugar crumb topping adds a nice sweet pop to them.
Banana Crumb Muffin
(adapted from
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 bananas, mashed
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted (I subbed canola oil)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease or place liners in your muffin pan. I got 12 regular sized muffins out of one batch.
2. In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. 
3. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugars, egg, vanilla and melted butter (or canola oil). 
4. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
5. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.
6. Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.
mmmm melted butter and sugar topping!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

1st is worst, 2nd is best!

Well the third meal out of the Many Meals Pot Roast was a let down. It's just the leftover veggies and broth thrown on top of pasta to make "Tuscan Style Penne." Pasta that tasted like pot roast was not what I was craving tonight. I like the idea of making one dish and being able to make several different meals out of it but this meal plan from allrecipes/hunt's was not a keeper. The BBQ Beef wins the top prize, followed by the original Many Meals Pot Roast recipe (which was fine, if you like pot roasts) and the loser is the Tuscan Style Penne. I'm not even going to bother with the recipe but here is an unappetizing picture.
Ho hum.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Meaty BBQ Meat

The leftover BBQ Pot Roast was better than the original! Pot roast is okay, it's just a bit....well pot roasty. But this leftover bbq stuff was banging. Next time I might just skip the pot roast part and go straight to bbq. I didn't do the onion or chili powder part and I suppose the taste depends on the quality of bbq sauce you get. I was overwhelmed by the choices at the store and had not tried any of the brands present (I'm a Dinosaur or Sweet Baby Ray's girl) so I texted Mr. Lawyer with a variety of choices including apple bourbon and smokey maple. Being a boy he picked the Bone Suckin' Sauce because it "sounded cool". It was good, not too spicy and a little bit sweet which is exactly how I like my bbq.
Tonight was also our building's Christmas party but nothing looked as appetizing as the bbq sandwiches we had waiting for us except for these delicious salads we snagged. One had a cranberry/goat cheese thing going on and the other a sweet onion dressing with almonds. Both were amazing.

Pulled Barbecue Beef Sandwiches
(adapted from
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium red onion, sliced
1 tablespoon chili powder
3 cups shredded leftover cooked pot roast
1 (18 ounce) bottle Barbecue Sauce
6 Kaiser rolls, split, toasted
1. Heat oil in medium skillet or saucepan about 1 minute; add onion. Cook over medium heat 5 minutes, or until onion browns a bit, stirring occasionally. Blend in chili powder.
2. Add shredded pot roast and barbecue sauce. Reduce heat to low and cook about 5 minutes or until bubbling, stirring occasionally.
3. Fill rolls evenly with the meat mixture and serve.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Many Meals Pot Roast

Well, it tasted like a pot roast (which isn't overly exciting) so I guess I win. The original recipe is part of a 3 part series of cooking once and then making two more meals from your leftovers. We definitely have enough sauce/veggies to make the pasta dish but only enough meat for two sandwiches. I very loosely followed this recipe but I plan on trying the subsequent meals. For starters I threw it in the crockpot before work. I also used regular tomatoes so I threw in a bunch of dried basil, oregano and four cloves of garlic. I did not have celery so I subbed that with two diced potatoes. Served up with garlic bread!
Update on the Hootycreek Cookies: Someone named Mr. Lawyer literally ate half of them last night, I put a nice dent in them at breakfast and our neighbor Shannon devoured hers. Can we say keeper?!
A hard dish to make pretty.
Many Meals Pot Roast
(adapted from
4 pounds boneless beef chuck roast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2/3 cup chopped celery
2 (14.5 ounce) cans Hunt’s Diced Tomatoes with Basil, Garlic & Oregano, undrained
1 (14 ounce) can beef broth
1. Season both sides of roast with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat 1 minute. Add roast; cook 5 minutes on each side, or until browned on both sides. Remove from pan; cover to keep warm. Reduce heat to medium.
2. Add onion, carrot and celery to same pan; cook 5 minutes, or until onion is tender, stirring frequently. Add tomatoes with their liquid and broth; stir in all the browned bits from bottom of pan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Return roast to pan. Cover pan with lid; reduce heat to low.
3. Simmer 3 to 3-1/2 hours, or until roast is fork tender. Remove roast from pan; let stand 10 minutes before portioning.
4. Serve half of roast and sauce for this meal. Use the remaining roast to make Pulled Barbecue Beef Sandwiches and the remaining sauce to make Tuscan-style Penne Pasta.

Or skip all this and throw it in the crockpot!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Hooty Who?!

The ingredient list sounded delicious: cranberries, white chocolate chips, oatmeal, pecans....and then I got to the name and it sealed the deal: Cranberry Hootycreeks. HOOTYCREEKS! I love it. Even the internet doesn't know how they got that name. When I presented them to Mr. Lawyer he said "hooty who?!" They are delicious and I just know that they'll be even better tomorrow (as all oatmeal-based cookies are). I did have to substitute regular chocolate chips for the white chips but it was still delicious.
Cranberry Hootycreeks
(adapted from
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 butter, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, beat together 1/2 cup softened butter, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla until fluffy.
3. Add all dry ingredients, and mix together by hand until well blended.
4. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets.
5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges start to brown. Cool on baking sheets, or remove to cool on wire racks.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Roasted Shrimp Awesomeness!

I'm a sucker for shrimp cocktail. Especially when there are other things to slather in cocktail sauce like cheese, crackers and bread. Since this has been one of the longest and most hellacious weeks ever I decided we needed a little treat. Plus I had leftover horseradish and another shrimp recipe I wanted to try. Normally I just buy the precooked shrimp and adjust my recipes for that but this roasted shrimp recipe seemed like fun and uncooked shrimp is a whole two dollars cheaper at WF.
Behold the heavenly platter of awesomeness!
I liked this recipe, it was fun to roast the shrimp. I felt that there was a little bit of a texture difference if you knew to pay attention....they weren't as soft as precooked frozen shrimp. I loved the fact that they were seasoned and you could see that. The sauce was pretty good, had some depth to it but I'm just more of a straight up horseradish and ketchup girl. If it doesn't make you tear up then it's not hot enough!
Roasted Shrimp Cocktail
(adapted from Ina Garten)
For the shrimp:
2 pounds (12 to 15-count) shrimp
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce:
1/2 cup chili sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place them on a sheet pan with the olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread them in 1 layer. Roast for 8 to10 minutes, just until pink and firm and cooked through. Set aside to cool.
3. For the sauce, combine the chili sauce, ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Serve as a dip with the shrimp.

Spicy Shrimp Awesomeness!

Things you always double: Mushrooms, Red Pepper Flakes and now Shrimp. I did double the red pepper and it was the perfect amount. What I did not do was increase the amount of shrimp (or decrease the amount of pasta). Other than wishing for a little bit more shrimp this dish was spot on! I did not put in the fennel fronds because it taste like grass but the basil was pretty clutch. It does make a ton so be prepared for leftover or adjust the amount.
FYI: Orecchiette is just the shape of the pasta, sort of a semi-formed shell. Any type of pasta that is good at "grabbing" sauce would be fine. But saying "spicy shrimp orecchiette" sounds super fancy!
2nd FYI: Just had some for breakfast and it was even more amazing since soaking up the sauce and flavor overnight. Delicious.
Spicy Shrimp Orecchiette
(adapted from Food Network Magazine)
Kosher salt
12 ounces orecchiette pasta
1 cup reserved pasta cooking water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 small bulb fennel, chopped, plus 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I doubled to 1/2 teaspoon)
1 large tomato, chopped
1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and roughly chopped 
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup torn fresh basil
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs. Reserve 1 1/2 cups cooking water, then drain.
2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped fennel bulb and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
3. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic, tomato paste and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring, 2 more minutes (add a splash of water if the mixture is sticking).
4. Stir in the tomato, shrimp, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 cup of the reserved cooking water. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are saucy, about 8 more minutes.
5. Add the pasta and cheese to the sauce and toss to coat. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and add more of the reserved pasta water to loosen, if necessary. Stir in the basil leaves and fennel fronds.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Cookie Attack

I was in a desperate need of cookies Thursday night so I whipped up a half batch of these yummy almond cookies (this is the 4th or 5th time I've made them). However, I am super impatient and it was 8 pm and I just wanted cookies so they didn't come out looking too pretty.
Almond Valentine Cookies
(Joy of Baking)
You can find the recipe here!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Liquid Gouda

I think calling it gravy is just a way to try to make you feel better about the fact that you're inhaling cheese sauce. I mean it sounds more sophisticated and a little bit healthier. I used apple-wood smoked gouda instead of original and man oh man, it was amazing. My chicken was a wee bit dry but that's all my fault. The original recipe also included a broccoli and mash potato side but Mr. Lawyer picked up some grilled veggies from WF.
Chicken with Gouda Gravy
(adapted from Rachael Ray)
Salt & Pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, sliced into tenders
2 tablespoons fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup milk or half-and-half
1 cup shredded gouda cheese
1. Season chicken with salt, pepper and thyme. Saute in a pan with olive oil till cooked or bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.
2. In a small, heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute, then whisk in the chicken broth and 1/2 cup milk and cook until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the cheese in a figure-eight motion until melted, 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Oh wow. So I messed up hardcore. In between trying to finish Christmas cards and fighting a killer migraine of doooom I ran to the kitchen to throw dinner into the crockpot. Evidently I grossly misread the recipe which brings me to my new cooking pet peeve: if you don't use all of the ingredient at once, write DIVIDED on the ingredient list. Impatient people like me cannot be trusted to carefully read through the whole recipe especially when my head is going to explode. I mixed the full amount of brown sugar and soy sauce into the marinade. Oops. After the chicken cooked away in the crockpot for a bit I had to have Mr. Lawyer finish the last step while I mumbled instructions from the couch, it went like this:
"Recipe counter...tomato paste, water....broiler....sticky."
"sugar, paste, water"
"no I already put in all the sugar"
"did you read the directions?"
On the happy side of things, it still came out delicious! The sauce/coating just wasn't as sticky/thick as it should have been. I poured some of the extra liquid onto my rice and it added some nice flavor to the rice (P.S. If you only order a quart of rice you don't get a fortune cookie! I'm so upset). The chicken was fall off the bone perfect (I love crockpot chicken! So easy to eat!) and the flavor was sweet with a vague asian flavor. It was probably sweeter than the proper recipe but oh well, that's life. At least it still came out yummy! Here is the original recipe....with my added notions.
Slow Cooked Sticky Chicken
(adapted from Cook's Illustrated Slow Cooker Revolution)
3/4 cup brown sugar, DIVIDED
1/4 cup soy sauce, DIVIDED
2 tablespoons of minced ginger
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne or red pepper
3 lbs chicken, breast, thighs, legs, etc. (we used thighs)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup tomato paste
1. Combine 1/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoon soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and cayenne pepper. Add chicken and toss to coat.
2. Place in a slow cooker and cook on low for about 4 hours or until done.
3. When done place chicken in a broiler proof dish. Combine remaining 1/2 cup sugar, water, and tomato paste, and remaining soy sauce. Brush on chicken and cook under the broiler for about 5 minutes or until chicken is slightly crisp.

P.S. Did you know that you can keep fresh ginger root in the freezer? I love fresh ginger but can never use it up before it goes bad. The last time I bought some I peeled the whole root, wrapped it up and threw it in the freezer. For this recipe I pulled it out, grated it up and voila! Fresh ginger without the waste!


I have made this recipe twice. The hazelnut cream is more like a paste and I never like it the first day but after it sits awhile it's better, they're delicious for breakfast. I know it's not your traditional snickerdoodle cookie recipe but I think it's pretty banging and ate most of them without the filling (and evidently so does Mr. Lawyer and John who ate all my cookies last night). It's a small batch but that means you don't have to eat a ton of cookies all week (or is that a bad thing?!). Oh, and I don't blanch the nuts because I'm impatient. 
Hazelnut Cream Stuffed Snickerdoodle Sandwich Cookies
(adapted from the Rachael Ray Magazine)
1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup blanched and peeled hazelnuts, toasted
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1. Preheat the oven to 375° and line a cookie sheet with parchment. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, the baking soda and salt.
2. Using a mixer, cream 1 stick butter, the brown sugar and 1/4 cup granulated sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Mix in the flour mixture at low speed.
3. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Using a 1 1/2-inch scoop, form 12 mounds. Dip the rounded side of each mound into the sugar mixture to coat, then place sugar side up and 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet. 
4. Bake the cookies until golden at the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool for about 2 minutes, then, using a spatula, transfer to a rack to cool completely.
5. Meanwhile, using a food processor, finely grind the hazelnuts. Add the confectioners’ sugar and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter; process until smooth. Spread 6 cookies with about 2 teaspoons hazelnut cream each and sandwich with the remaining 6 cookies.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Yearning for Home Part II

Hoffman Coneys and German-Style Mustard
A trip to Syracuse is never complete without going to Heid's Hot Dogs. But in the tragic event that you cannot make it there, picking up some coneys and mustard from Wegmans is completely acceptable. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Yearning for Home

Our favorite place to end up in Syracuse was Clark's. We spent a large portion of our grad school career there. It was the best bar ever and perfectly mirrored both of our personalities: twenty-two rotating craft beers on tap, one glorious roast beef sandwich, cheese platters from heaven, a real dartboard, never packed, no tvs, no loud music, and most importantly no drunken undergrads. Before I moved down to Philly Kevin just happened to be in town on Clark's final weekend (they were closing down due to their lease being bought out but great news, looks they might reopen in a new location!) and ever since we have been reminiscing and yearning for a Clark's sandwich. Tonight we revisited our grad school years and recreated our Clark's experience!
First up a cheese platter! They had several different types of cheese available but we always went with smoked gouda. It was served up with an entire sleeve of saltines that was hacked in half and a pile of red onions. Weird I know but give it a try!
You need to start with a good base: onion rolls! Smeared with fresh horseradish. Please note the the orange and blue theme. Go 'Cuse!
You need to serve it up with good beer. We used two of our NY brewery pint glasses: Saranac and Wagner. More orange plates!
Next up: create your Clark's sandwich. Onion roll, slice of cheddar cheese, roast beef, onions, and horseradish. So simple, so delicious. Especially after a night out.
We're getting to the recipe part. The beef! A couple of months ago we received a bag of meat from Mr. Lawyers mom (he likes to insert a "that's what she said" joke here). It contained a beef eye of round roast, I had no idea what to do with it. I found this recipe that had rave reviews but also seemed completely outrageous. You turn the oven off after 21 minutes and just leave the roast in there?! Food poisoning abound! But let me tell you it was delicious. Perfectly pink, flavorful and pretty tender. 
High Temperature Eye-of-Round Roast
(adapted from
1(3 lb) beef eye of round roast
Salt, pepper, garlic powder
1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Season the roast with salt, pepper, and garlic and place in a roasting pan or baking dish (one review suggested making sure the fat was on top so as it melted it was self-bast the roast). Do not cover or add water.
2. Place the roast in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 475 degrees. Roast for 21 minutes (seven minutes per pound) then turn off the oven and let the roast sit in the hot oven for 2 1/2 hours. Do not open the door at all during this time!
3. Remove the roast from the oven, the internal temperature should have reached at least 145 degrees.
4. Carve into thin slices to serve.
Onion-Horseradish-Beer breath reminds me of a whole bunch of great nights.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Around the World!

Amanda and I have started a new adventure, we're going to start eating and cooking our way around the world! Each month we are going to pick a different country/culture/region and find a restaurant that specializes in that food. After eating at the restaurant we schedule a second date to attempt make a dish inspired by our restaurant visit. The only rule is if we have eaten that type of food before, we have to try a new dish. For example: when we go to a Thai restaurant I am not allowed to order Pad Thai because it's my favorite and I've had it a bazillion times.
For November we decided on Greek and went to Zorba's in Fairmount.  We got a sampler platter of various dips (delicious!), a sampler of charcoal grilled meats (mostly good, not a huge lamb fan), and a stuffed eggplant dish (yummy!). We decided to recreate the eggplant dish, called Imam Bayildi on our own. We did not do a very good job. Our dish was fine but it felt like it was lacking a certain layer of flavors. The feta cheese was a life saver and added a nice pop of flavor. Oh well, in the very least Mr. Lawyer and I have had many veggies this week! We've had two vegetarian dishes, eggs and veggies, and veggies with fish. Oh so healthy!
Imam Bayildi
2 medium to large eggplants
1 large onion (white or yellow)
4 garlic cloves
Olive oil (for sautéing)
5-6 tomatoes
Juice of 1 lemon
1-2 tablespoons white sugar
1 can of pureed tomatoes
1-2 T tomato paste (to thicken sauce if needed)
Salt/Pepper to taste
Feta for sprinkling
1. Chop onion and sauté in large pan until transluscent. Add garlic to pan for an additional minute or so. Remove onion and garlic from pan and add to bowl of chopped tomatoes.
2. Take both eggplants and slice down middle, scoop out a little of the flesh to make them easier to stuff.
3. In a bowl mix tomato puree, lemon juice and sugar.
4. Put eggplants skin down back into large sauté pan. Stuff with tomato, onions and garlic. Pour the tomato puree/lemon/sugar mixture on top.
5. Cover pan w/ lid and simmer on top of stove for 45 minutes.
6. After 45 minutes, remove lid and let simmer for an additional 15 minutes until eggplant is extremely tender. Add tomato paste if you’d like sauce to be thicker.
7. Before serving, sprinkle with feta!
Holy Moley! That's a lot of eggplant. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I Love Soup

Another Rainy day means warm soup belly! This recipe was delicious and super filling. Plus I love, love, love squash. There was a lot going on in this soup: noodles, squash, fennel, zucchini and much more! I was not strict with measurements because I didn't want any leftovers. I used the whole carrot, zucchini, onion etc. So there was a higher volume of stuff in the soup, very thick and almost stew like. 
Winter Minestrone
(adapted from Cooking Light)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3-4 dashes of red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 cups cubed peeled acorn or butternut squash (about 1 medium)
3/4 cup diced zucchini (small zucchini)
1/2 cup chopped carrot (one carrot)
1/2 cup diced fennel (a small fennel bulb)
1 cup water
2 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
5 tablespoons no-salt-added tomato paste
1/2 cup uncooked ditalini (very short tube-shaped pasta)
2 1/2 cups chopped Swiss chard
1 can rinsed and drained canned Great Northern Beans
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Asiago cheese
1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, basil, oregano, pepper flakes and garlic to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until onion is tender. 
2. Add squash, zucchini, carrot and fennel; sauté 5 minutes. 
3. Stir in 1 cup water, broth, and tomato paste; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. 
4. Stir in pasta; cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
5. Add chard; cook 3 minutes. 
6. Add beans; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. 
7. Stir in pepper. Serve with cheese.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fake Huevos Rancheros

I found this amazing recipe for huevos rancheros but alas I did not have many of the ingredients and my grocery budget informed me that running to the store was a no-go. I did however have a bunch of peppers and cherry tomatoes left over from last night's fish dish. Enter our poor man's huevos rancheros! Which, except for the salsa, was really more a veggie scramble. Ah well, can't go wrong with breakfast for dinner right?
Veggie Scramble
(from our kitchen of leftovers)
6 eggs
Little bit of milk
Shredded Cheese
Salt and Pepper 
1. Saute up your veggies. In a bowl whisk together the eggs and milk.
2. Add egg mixture to pan and cook till done, adding cheese at the end.
3. Top with a little salsa and pretend that it's yummy huevos rancheros.

Nutella Cookies!

You just can't go cold turkey after all those delicious Thanksgiving desserts. Last night I was craving something sweet so I whipped up some nutella cookies. There are a ton of recipes on the internet so I picked out the parts I liked (Chocolate chips? Yes. Cocoa powder? Nope.). I did half the batch with hazelnuts on top as an experiment (plus I had these extra hazelnuts in my cupboard!). The verdict: we like the ones with nuts more. The nutella flavor is subtle but then I'm use to eating nutella by the spoonful! They were especially good reheated this morning with a cup of coffee. I highly recommend them as a change from traditional chocolate chip cookies.
Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2/3 cup Nutella
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Crushed hazelnuts for topping
1. Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
2. Cream together butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in Nutella and vanilla extract. Mix in egg. Add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Add chocolate chips. Refrigerate dough for approximately one hour.
3. Roll dough into one tablespoon balls, lightly press into crushed hazelnuts and place 2 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake at 350 for about 11 minutes until the edges look set. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes then carefully remove to cooling racks.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fast Fish!

This dish was fast and good. It was a light dish and loaded with veggies. Perfect for detoxing after a week long eating fest! I ended up using my Hendrickson's Sweet Vinegar and Olive Oil salad dressing because we didn't have any Italian (and the last thing I need is another bottle in my fridge!). It added a nice sweetness to it but it would have been interesting to have the zestiness from Italian. I think I'm finally getting the hang of cooking fish and knowing when it's done. This batch was perfectly moist and only semi-mangled.
Fast Fish Skillet

(adapted from Kraft Food & Family)
4 tilapia fillets (1 lb.)
1/4 cup Italian Vinaigrette Dressing made with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
1 tablespoon pesto
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, cut lengthwise, then crosswise into slices
1 cup grape tomatoes
3 Tbsp. thinly sliced fresh basil
1. Brush fish with 2 tablespoons of dressing. Cook in skillet on medium heat 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily with fork. Transfer to plate; cover to keep warm.
2. Add remaining dressing, pesto, vegetables and tomatoes to skillet; cook 5 minutes or until heated through, stirring frequently. Spoon over fish.
3. Top with basil.

There were a ton of veggies! I just dumped everything on one big platter.

A Word About Bourbon

Thanksgiving morning started like any other: me baking away in Grandma's kitchen and then triumphantly licking the spoon. Granted I did this in a very confrontational lock eyes with you kind of way which was promptly met with "How does that salmonella taste Jennifer?" "Great, the rum totally kills the salmonella." Ha. I went on to explain my bourbon cheesecake when all of the sudden Grandma exclaims that she has some the telephone. Obviously I think that she has completely lost it as she motions to the top of the china cabinet which is filled with the typical grandparent things like an antique phone, a rooster teapot and lasagna noodles.
But wait! It turns out that the antique phone I thought was actually just a phone my whole entire life is a giant flask of bourbon. Which after a quick calculation of the original age and how long my grandparents  were in possession of it resulted in us discovering we had 40 year old bourbon on our hands. At which point Grandma decides what the heck, let's open it up. And so the three of us did a shot of 40 year old bourbon before ten in the morning and man oh man was it smooth. Best Thanksgiving ever?!
Oh snap, the bell pops off to reveal a hidden flask!
Right, back to the cheesecake. I have never made a cheesecake before which may have resulted in some technical issues such as the texture, it was very fluffy not thick like a cheesecake. I'm also unsure about how I feel about pumpkin flavor that is not in a traditional pumpkin pie (which is sweet). Everyone liked it and thought it was good except for the non-cheesecake texture. Mr. Lawyer said if I had plopped it in a ramekin and called it a custard or mousse no one would have thought twice. The caramel-bourbon sauce? To. Die. For. I will definitely be keeping that part of the recipe for future desserts and ice cream. It made a lot so I still have half a mason jar in the fridge which I may or may not be eating by the spoonful.
Pumpkin Spiced Cheesecake with Caramel-Bourbon Sauce
(from Bon Appetit Magazine)
1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted, cooled
3 tablespoons golden brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
4 large eggs
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Large pinch of salt
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 to 4 tablespoons bourbon
1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted, cooled
1. Crust - Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides. Grind first 4 ingredients in processor until nut mixture sticks together. Press evenly onto bottom of pan. Bake crust until golden, about 15 minutes. Cool completely. Wrap outside of pan in triple layer of heavy-duty foil.
2. Filling - Using mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar, and lemon peel in large bowl until smooth. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then pumpkin, yogurt, flour, vanilla, spices, and salt. Pour into pan.
3. Set springform pan in roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of cheesecake. Place in oven. Bake until outer 3 inches puff slightly and center is softly set, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool in water bath 30 minutes. Remove from water. Cut around sides of cake to loosen. Refrigerate in pan until cold, about 4 hours. Cover and chill overnight.
4. Sauce - Bring sugar, cream, butter, corn syrup, and salt to boil in deep medium saucepan, whisking until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium; boil 1 minute without stirring. Remove from heat. Stir in bourbon, then pecans. Cool, stirring occasionally.
5. Remove foil. Cut around pan sides; remove sides. Cut cheesecake into wedges; spoon sauce over.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving, a Love Story

Thanksgiving might be my favorite holiday. All of the food without the let down of being a big kid on Christmas morning. Although after two awesome and food filled Thanksgivings this year, I'm really just craving some ham.