Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Chicken thighs...sounds gross but tastes good!

So I admit that I was cheap at the grocery store this week (hence the baked ziti that produced dinner, lunch and another dinner!) so I bought chicken thighs. I have never bought them before...I guess I am a chicken snob and usually buy boneless, skinless breasts. But since money was tight and I wanted to still make tasty dinners, I thought I would give them a try. I did spring for the skinless, and even though the word "thigh" sounds unappetizing, I really liked this chicken. Chad and I decided it's the bones, and I think I'll buy more bone-in chicken from here on out! This is another Giada De Laurentiis recipe...she is good (I did modify the recipe a bit, you can find the original at the link).

Roasted Chicken with Balsamic Viniagrette

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 package chicken thighs

Whisk the vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper in small bowl to blend. Combine the vinaigrette and chicken pieces in a large resealable plastic bag; seal the bag and toss to coat. Refrigerate, turning the chicken pieces occasionally, overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400. Remove chicken from the bag and place the chicken pieces and marinade in a greased baking dish. Roast until the chicken is just cooked through, about 1 hour.

Baked Ziti

There is nothing I love more than Italian food, and I wanted something cheap and easy that would produce some leftovers for lunch so I made Baked Ziti. I started making my own sauce a couple of years ago (thanks mom!) but I never measure. I attempted to measure a bit when I made this so I could have some idea when I posted this recipe. I am a big sauce person, so this recipe makes a ton. I used half of it in the ziti, used more to pass on the side, and covered the leftovers with the rest.

Baked Ziti

1/2 package mushrooms, roughly chopped
1/2 sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
2 8 oz. cans tomato sauce with Italian seasoning (I use Hunt's basil, garlic and oregano)
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 lb. ground beef, browned and drained

Using a large pot, saute the mushrooms, onions and garlic in olive oil for about five minutes. Add all the ingredients for the sauce, mix well and bring to a boil. Turn to low and simmer for about 20 minutes.

1 box noodles, cooked (I liked the noodles with ridges so the sauce sticks)
1 small container ricotta
1 egg
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 cups mozzarella, divided

Mix the ricotta, egg, Italian seasoning and 1 cup of mozzarella in a bowl. In a large bowl mix the noodles with half of the sauce. In a 9x13 baking dish, layer half the noodles and sauce, then spread the ricotta mixture on top. Layer with the rest of the noodles and cover with remaining cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Remove foil and cook an additional 15 minutes to melt the cheese.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pizza night!

I saw this idea to make a pizza with a Pillsbury French bread crust, but I can't remember where! It turned out pretty good as far as the crust goes, but I didn't love the fresh mozzarella. I thought it would make it so good to use the freshest ingredients, but I thought the cheese was kind of bland. So I will make this again, but with some modifications on the toppings.

Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil Pizza

1 can Pillsbury French bread
3 Roma tomatoes, sliced
2 large fresh mozzarella balls
10 basil leaves, chopped
pizza sauce (I used one package of Boboli pizza sauce)

Unroll French bread onto a rectangular baking sheet, crimping edges to form an edge. Prebake the crust for about 15 minutes. Spread sauce on crust, and top with mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. Bake until cheese is melted, about 15 minutes.

Balsamic Glazed Chicken Drumettes

This is a recipe I saw mentioned on The Nest's What's Cooking board, and I found the recipe on the Food Network, from Giada De Laurentiis. It was very easy and very tasty. Of course the skin was the best part, but I tried not to eat too much in an effort to be healthy! I'm not a big chicken leg fan, so I think next time I would make it with chicken breasts instead...but I do think the bone-in chicken helped keep it moist and tender.

Balsamic Glazed Chicken Drumettes

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
5 sprigs of rosemary
5 garlic cloves, halved
10 to 12 chicken drumsticks
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Combine the balsamic, honey, brown sugar, soy sauce, rosemary sprigs, and garlic cloves, in a large, re-sealable plastic bag. Shake and squeeze the contents of the bag to dissolve the honey and the brown sugar. Add the chicken drumsticks to the bag and seal with as little air as possible in the bag. Place in the refrigerator and marinate for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 450. Place the chicken drumsticks on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake until the skin is caramelized and very dark in spots, about 30 to 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the marinade in a small saucepan. Bring the marinade to a boil (in order to kill bacteria). Reduce the heat to simmer and cook over low heat until thick, about 15 minutes. Reserve.

Use a pastry brush to brush some of the cooked marinade on the cooked chicken. Place the chicken on a serving platter. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and the chopped parsley (I left out the parsley and sesame seeds).

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

I love mac and cheese, but don't love how bad for you it is, so I searched on Cooking Light and found a recipe for Gouda and Spinach Mac and Cheese. I wanted to use some cheddar too, so I modified it a bit. It was pretty good, but not as creamy as I would have liked. Next time I would probably add more milk and cheese...but I guess that would take away from it being light! Oh well, maybe mac and cheese is one of those things that just shouldn't be light =)

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

1 tablespoon butter
1/2 sweet onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk (I used 1%)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 ounces gouda, shredded
6 ounces cheddar, shredded (I used 2% milk light cheese)
5 cups coarsly chopped spinach, or 1 box frozen spinach, thawed
4 cups hot cooked elbow macaroni (I used whole wheat)
2 cups herbed croutons, crushed
melted butter

Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic; cook 1 minute. Add flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk, salt and pepper, stirring constantly with a whisk until blended. Bring to a boil; cook until thick (about 2 minutes). Add cheeses, stir until melted.

Add spinach and macaroni to cheese sauce. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with croutons and drizzle on melted butter. Bake for 15 minutes until bubbly.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sunday cooking...

I had a TON of papers to grade, and I told myself that as a reward for getting through them all I would cook! On my menu - Sundried Tomato Meatloaf, Red-Skinned Mashed Potatoes and Apple-Oatmeal Bars. Chad said my meatloaf was a 6 (I thought it was at least an 8.5) and the apple bars were a 10. They were soooooo good!

Sundried Tomato Meatloaf

During last school year, my friend Susan and I were frequent visitors to Let's Eat, and one of my favorite things was the Sundried Tomato Meatloaf. I couldn't remember exactly what was in it, so I just improvised and came up with this. I thought it was pretty good (I think maybe I cooked it too long) but Chad said he likes HIS meatloaf better. I told him he can start cooking dinner! I served the meatloaf with green beans and red-skinned mashed potatoes (boil the potatoes with the skin on, and when they are tender, drain and add warm milk, butter, garlic and sour cream).

Sundried Tomato Meatloaf

2 lbs. meat (I used 1 lb. lean ground beef and 1 lb. pork)
3 oz. sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/2 sweet onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1 small can (8 oz.) Hunt's basil tomato sauce, divided
1 egg
1 tablespoon Montreal steak seasoning

Mix all ingredients together, using only half the can of tomato sauce. Shape into a loaf and put on a baking sheet. Spread rest of sauce on top. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or cooked through.

Apple-Oatmeal Bars

I saw these on a blog, Apples & Oranges, and knew immediately that I needed to try them. I love apple desserts, and am a fan of oatmeal cookies, so these seemed like a good mix of the two. I was surprised that the "batter" for the base of the bars wasn't really a batter at all, but more of a crumble. I didn't know for sure if I did them right, but I guess all that butter melts in to the oatmeal and flour to make the crust. As I said before, Chad said these were a 10! I think they would be over the top with ice cream and caramel sauce.

Apple Oatmeal Bars

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup quick oats
1/2 cup butter
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
3 apples, peeled and diced (I used Braeburn)

1. Sift flour, salt and soda together.
2. Add brown sugar and oats. Work in butter.
3. Grease a 8x8 inch pan and spread mixture on the bottom.
4. Spread apples on and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon mix.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Long time, no post!

It seems like I've been really busy (what's new) and haven't really cooked in over a week! Last night I finally made something blog-worthy (as opposed to frozen California Pizza Kitchen or Velveeta Mac & Cheese) so here it is! I still wanted to do something quick and easy because I was tired after my long weekend (Happy Birthday Kelli!) so we had steaks on the grill, stuffed portabella mushrooms courtesy of Publix, and my contribution, Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes with Feta. This came from the new issue of Bon Appetit magazine. It's a really good issue with some great Thanksgiving ideas...I already have a few marked as possibilities for this year's dinner. (And mom...if you're reading this, I need a new camera because mine is taking really bad food pictures! =)

Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes with Feta

1 big eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 large plum tomatoes, cored and quartered lengthwise (I used 6...we like tomatoes!)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar (I couldn't find this so subbed red wine vinegar)
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano (the one package left at Publix was scary, so I just used a few shakes of dried oregano)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 450. Place eggplant and tomatoes on rimmed baking sheet and toss with oil and vinegar. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of oregano, salt and pepper. Roast until eggplant is tender and golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes. Transfer eggplant and tomatoes to platter. Sprinkle with feta and remaining oregano.