Friday, January 30, 2015

Cheater Korean Beef

This is one of those recipes that makes you wonder how something with so few ingredients (and pantry staples at that) can come together into something downright magical.

Cheater Korean beef

Amy's post about this Cheater Korean Beef recipe made it sound like one of the best things she's ever made so, of course, I was intrigued. I trust her judgement when it comes to food, and after a quick glance at the ingredient list I figured it would make a quick and easy weeknight meal.

What I wasn't expecting was for it to be so delicious I was fighting my 5-year-old for a second helping. And wishing my husband had other dinner plans that night. Seriously, this is so utterly amazing, there are no words. And it's ridiculously easy. So easy that said 5-year-old could probably cook it herself. You know, if she was allowed to use the stove.

Make this one soon. You won't be sorry.

Cheater Korean Beef
As seen on Very Culinary
Serves 2 (so double it or make a side dish if you want leftovers)

1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 pound lean ground beef
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1/4 - 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (adjust to your spice preference)
salt and pepper
3 scallions, chopped
toasted sesame seeds

Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Brown the beef until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Toss in the garlic and cook for another minute. Drain off all the fat*.

Stir in the brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, and chili garlic sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 1-2 more minutes to blend the flavors. Toss in the scallions.

Serve over hot rice and sprinkle with a few sesame seeds.

*Quick tip: An easy way to drain off the fat is to use paper towels. Turn off the heat, then move all the beef to one side of the skillet. Tilt the pan the other way so all the oil runs to the other side, away from the beef. Use balled up paper towels to soak up the excess oil. Leave a little oil in the pan (you want some moisture). Then simply throw the paper towels in the trash.
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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Florentine Lasagna Roll-ups

I haven't made a lasagna roll-up in years. I don't know why; they're so easy to make and more fun than regular lasagna because everyone gets their own roll or two. As soon as Kylee posted these Florentine Lasagna Roll-ups on her blog I knew I had to make them.

Chicken florentine lasagna roll ups

I prepped the roll-ups on a Sunday and popped it in the fridge for later in the week. The night we had them for dinner I just had to preheat the oven, make the salad while the roll-ups cooked and dinner was served. I love easy meals like that.

Prepped chicken florentine lasagna roll ups for dinner this week. I'm going to be so excited later this week when all I have to do is pop this in the oven to bake.

The only change I made was adding ricotta cheese to the filling. I had some to use up and ricotta is synonymous with lasagna, in my opinion. But feel free to leave it out since there's enough going on with that delectable Alfredo sauce.

Florentine Lasagna Roll-ups
Slightly modified from Kylee Cooks

Alfredo sauce:
1 stick butter
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2oz cream cheese
2 cups half and half
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

12 lasagna noodles

Filling:
2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
1 1/2 cups baby spinach, chopped finely
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella, or cheese of your choice

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add the cream cheese and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the half and half. Season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Bring to a simmer (don’t boil!) and whisk frequently until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Add the Parmesan and whisk until melted and blended. Set aside,

Cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse the noodles with cold water. Lay them out to dry on clean kitchen towels. This will make them easier to work with.

While the noodles are cooking, combine the chicken, spinach, ricotta, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and 1 cup mozzarella cheese in a large bowl.

Spread about half a cup of the Alfredo sauce in a 9x13" baking dish. Working with one noodle at a time, place some filling onto each noodle, then roll it up. Place each roll seam side down into your baking dish. Top with the remaining Alfredo sauce and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. (If making in advance, stop here, cover the dish with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake).

Bake at 350 degrees, for about 30 minutes until the casserole is heated through and cheese is bubbling.
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Monday, January 12, 2015

Best of 2014: My Favorites

On Friday I brought you your 14 favorite recipes from 2014. Today I'm sharing my favorites from the year. Looking back through my posts, I realized I made quite a few awesome recipes. A few of these we eat time and time again while others are ones I need to remember to remake in 2015.

And this is where I struggle. There are only so many meals in a day. I want to remake all of these again and again, but there are literally hundreds of other recipes I want to try. Oh, the trial and tribulations of a food blogger.

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14. Breakfast Risotto - I love risotto and I love runny eggs. Put the two together and you've got one heck of a dish. The poached egg is key - you want that gooey yolk to mix with the risotto, almost like a sauce. So amazing.


13. Chicken Stew with Biscuits - This was a surprise winner for me. I'm not usually a fan of chicken pot pie, which is pretty much what this is. But there's just something wonderful and comforting about this dish. The biscuits on top just make it even better. I love that everyone gets their own biscuit.



12. Skillet Chicken Saltimbocca Spaghetti - I love one pot meals and this one is incredible. Salty, tangy and easy to make.


11. Collard Greens - I tried this recipe a year ago and it was a huge flop due to an excess of salt. I scaled way back on the salt this time and they were pure perfection, with just a hint of spicy goodness.


10. Oven Fried Chicken - To go with those delectable collard greens, we had this killer oven fried chicken. Not to toot my own horn, but this was some of the best fried chicken I've ever had. Moist and flavorful, with a crackly crust.

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9. "The Gobbler" - This sandwich is the perfect way to use up Thanksgiving leftovers. I can't wait for my mom to make another roast chicken with all the trimmings so I can make this again.

BBQ chicken sandwiches

8. Grilled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with Brown Sugar Grilled Onions - These are some incredibly flavorful sandwiches. Don't be put off by the word "grilled" - you can make these year-round on an indoor grill pan or even just a regular skillet.

roasted salsa

7. Baja Fresh Grilled Salsa - We made this salsa for a get together with our friends and inhaled it. I love how easy it was to make, too.

Mozzarella stuffed meatballs

6. Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs - These are my new favorite meatballs. So simple to make and I love the addition of the melty cheese inside. My new favorite way to eat them is just with some sauce and extra mozzarella, with some crusty buttered bread to mop it all up.

Hawaiian chicken and coconut rice

5. Grilled Hawaiian Chicken with Coconut Rice - I wish Baby Girl could eat coconut because this rice was outstanding. Definitely the highlight of the meal, although the chicken was also delicious.

Chicken piccata risotto

4. Chicken Piccata Risotto with Crispy Capers - Again with the salty, briny capers. What can I say, I have a thing for those little buds of goodness.

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3. Pasta with Chicken Meatballs - Another fantastic meatball recipe, only lighter because they're made with chicken instead of beef. These were like little pillows of softness that melted in our mouths.

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2. 3 Cheese Rosemary and Pepperoni Pizza - We make a lot of pizza and this one is, hands down, our all-time favorite. No contest. The fresh rosemary is key and you can't go wrong with three different cheeses.

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1. Chicken Chorizo Patty Melts - I made 3lbs of fresh chorizo early in 2014 and had no idea what to make with it. SP did some searching online and found these patty melts. And the rest, as they say, is history. We fell hard for the wonderful flavors. When I found the last bag of chorizo in the freezer I actually shed a tear, knowing we wouldn't be able to enjoy another round of patty melts. I plan to make another batch of chorizo in the spring just so we can eat these again and again.
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Friday, January 09, 2015

Best of 2014: Your Favorites

2014 was a tough year for us. Nothing catastrophic happened, it was just little things that piled one on top of another until we cried uncle. As we watched the ball drop on New Year's Eve, we both breathed a sigh of relief that 2014 was finally over and we could look forward to a fresh start in 2015. That's not to say we didn't have some good times in 2014. The highlight of the year was our first family trip to Disney World. And we tried to spend more time with family and friends, something we want to do more of in 2015.

As for this blog, I wasn't the best blogger in 2014. I'm hoping to change that this year. I want to focus on making new recipes and rediscover the joy of cooking.

So, while I didn't make a ton of new recipes in 2014, I figured it would still be fun to share your favorites and mine from the past year.

Here are your favorites from 2014. I'm not surprised to see any of these on the list. In fact, some even made my favorite list, which will post on Monday.

Peanut butter chocolate bars

14. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars. Peanut butter and chocolate are a perfect match so it was no surprise that these were just as amazing as they sound.

Crunchy baked tacos

13. Crunchy Baked Tacos. We have these tacos (or taco rice) at least every other week. It's simple to throw together and usually makes enough to put some leftovers into the freezer for another time.

Ham and Swiss sandwiches

12. Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwiches with Caramelized Onions. This is a grilled cheese sandwich with the volume turned up. Melty, gooey perfection.

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11. Loaded Baked Potato Dip. I wish I had more reasons to make dips. I think I need to invite myself to more parties, or throw a few of my own.

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10. Corn Casserole. I do love it when a recipe calls for stirring a few ingredients together and baking.

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9. Artichoke and Brie Dip. I wish SP and Baby Girl like artichokes. Then I might stand a chance of making this delicious dip again.

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8. Broccoli Cheddar Risotto. I was on a serious risotto kick in 2014. Not surprised to see this one on the list. It makes a great side dish but if you add some protein like shrimp, chicken or even sausage it would become a one-pot meal.

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7. Bang Bang Cauliflower. Man alive was this recipe good. I need another excuse to make it. I'll be sure to invite some friends over, though, since I can't seem to find a small head of cauliflower.

Shrimp pasta with lemon cream sauce

6. Pasta with Shrimp in Lemon Cream Sauce. I used this sauce as the base for various pasta dishes throughout the year. We even had this on New Year's Day 2015. It's just that good.

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5. Chocolate Pudding. I love, love, love being able to make pudding from scratch. Rich and decadent, yet so easy to throw together. You just need to plan ahead so the pudding has time to cool.

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4. Breakfast Bowls. These bowls need to make another appearance on my dining room table ASAP. How could I have only made these one time?

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3. Avocado Enchiladas. Stuff some guacamole inside tortillas, smother with sauce and cheese, bake. What's not to love?

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2. Perfect Roast Chicken. I may have only gotten around to posting this recipe in 2014 but I've been making it for years. Like the name implies, this comes out perfectly every single time.

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1. Pasta alla Norcina. I admit, out of all the recipes I made in 2014 I was surprised to see this one at the top of your list. Don't get me wrong, it's a great pasta dish, but it just goes to show that you never know which recipes will grab your readers attention the most.
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Monday, December 29, 2014

Recipe Redo: Polish Chicken

My grandmother has been making this recipe for Polish Chicken for as long as I can remember. It's the ultimate comfort food and one of those meals that instantly transports me back to my childhood.

Polish chicken

I went through a period where I didn't like meat on the bone (sacrilege) but thankfully I got over it. This is absolutely a meal you want to make with bone-in chicken. The bone helps the meat stay moist and tender. There's nothing complicated about this recipe, making it perfect for both a weeknight or a hearty, warming Sunday dinner. I think the gravy is my favorite part. As you can see in the photo, I smother everything on the plate with copious amounts. My grandmother always served Polish chicken with mashed potatoes and green beans so that's what I do, too.

And if you're wondering why this is called Polish chicken, I asked my grandmother and she said it's just what her mother called it when she was making it and the name stuck. Her family is Polish, so there you go. Regardless, it's delicious.

Polish Chicken
My grandmother's recipe

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts*
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, minced
2 cups water
1 cube chicken bouillon

Place the chicken in a resealable plastic food storage bag or in a baking dish. Add the flour, garlic and onion powder, and some salt and pepper. Seal the bag and toss to coat the chicken evenly in the flour (if using a baking dish, rub the flour and seasoning over the chicken to coat both sides).

Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet (make sure the skillet has a lid) over medium heat. Add the chicken, skin side down. Cook for 5 minutes, until the skin is brown and crispy. Flip and cook another 5 minutes. Add the minced onion around the chicken pieces and cook for about 5 minutes, until the onions begin to soften.

While the onion is cooking, bring the water to a boil (you can use an electric kettle, a pan on the stove, or heat it in the microwave). Add the bouillon cube and stir to dissolve. Once the onions are soft, add the water to the skillet. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, then cover. Cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring and turning the chicken every so often.

If the gravy looks a little thin, put a few tablespoons of flour in a bowl and add some water to make a paste. Whisk the paste into the gravy in the skillet. You should see the gravy thicken immediately. Taste the gravy and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, as needed.

Serve the chicken topped with the gravy.

*You can also use thighs or legs, just increase the amount based on how much you think your family will eat.
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Friday, December 26, 2014

Penne with Five Cheeses

Another Sunday dinner prepared by SP. As I've mentioned before, he's loving Ina Garten right now. Her Penne with Five Cheeses sounded not only easy, but delicious. I've never seen a cream sauce like this before - you don't cook it ahead of time, just add the cooked pasta to the sauce and cheese and bake. I was skeptical but it worked.

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We all loved this but, unfortunately, it doesn't reheat well. I was so excited for the leftovers the next day, too. Oh well - that just means we get to eat it all next time. The only thing he changed was the cooking method. We don't own enough large ramekins to make individual servings, so we put the pasta and sauce in a large baking dish and baked it at 350 for about 20 minutes, until the sauce was bubbling.

Penne with Five Cheese
From Ina Garten

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup crushed tomatoes in thick tomato puree
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano (1 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup shredded Italian fontina (1 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup crumbled Italian Gorgonzola (1 1/2 ounces)
2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
1/4 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced
6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 pound penne rigate pasta

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all the ingredients except the penne in a large mixing bowl. Mix well.

Cook the penne in boiling, salted water until al dente (1 or 2 minutes less than the recommended cooking time on the package). Drain well in a colander, then add to the ingredients in the mixing bowl, tossing to combine.

Add the pasta to a large baking dish (9x13 or larger). Bake for 20 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the edges are beginning to brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.

Note: due to the cream in the sauce, this doesn't reheat well.
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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

"The Gobbler" {aka a Thanksgiving leftovers sandwich}

Despite living in New Jersey and Pennsylvania for most of my life, I've never eaten at a WaWa. Apparently I'm missing out. See, they sell this sandwich called The Gobbler and it's right up my alley. Turkey, stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce on a hoagie roll. It's the ultimate in Thanksgiving leftovers, only you don't have to do any of the cooking.

Recently Coleen over at The Redhead Baker made an at-home version of The Gobbler sandwich. I was practically drooling all over my keyboard just reading about it so I knew I had to make it. The only problem was, we weren't going to be home for Thanksgiving. No problem - I just asked my mom to save me some turkey, stuffing and gravy. When we got home she dropped off the leftovers, I picked up some cranberry sauce and hoagie rolls and we were in business.

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As suspected, these were outstanding. I added a little mayo to our sandwiches because we all love mayo. Now I just need to get my hands on some more turkey or chicken, stuffing and gravy so I can make these again.

Thanksgiving Leftover Sandwiches (aka "The Gobbler")
As seen on The Redhead Baker

1 cup leftover turkey gravy
8 ounces leftover turkey, thinly sliced
4 hoagie rolls
mayo
jellied cranberry sauce
1 cup leftover stuffing

Warm the gravy in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When just starting to simmer, add the turkey meat. Heat just until the turkey is warmed through.

Split the rolls and toast them. Spread mayo on both side, then add cranberry sauce to each sandwich. Arrange some of the turkey meat and stuffing on each sandwich. Spoon more gravy over top. Serve warm.
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