Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Beats Hamburger Helper

So recently I was in a bind for dinner and I had to make something quick. Unfortunately I made Hamburger Helper. This is something I rarely make and what's worse is admitting I actually fed it to my poor family. To no surprise I was hugely disappointed and could barely stomach one helping before I went for a snack in the fridge. (keep in mind I am pregnant so that may have had something to do with it)

Later I got to thinking what a simple idea hamburger helper is and how easy it would be to make up my own home made version. This would insure a taste far better than anything that came out of a box. Then I remembered a skillet dinner my Mom made for us growing up. It's simple, delicious and most of the ingredients are staples you probably already have on hand. We call it Sausage Noodle Skillet and trust me it's a good one. It's almost lasagna like but much simpler and it's one the kids will eat too :) Hope you enjoy!

1/2 lb ground sausage

1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce

15 0z water, just use tomato sauce can

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon sugar

salt and pepper to taste

Sour cream, for garnish

Brown sausage over medium high heat in a large skillet with a tight fitting lid. Drain grease and add all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil then stir, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer and stir occasionally until the sauce is thick and the pasta is tender. Serve with a dollop of sour cream on top for a creamy tomato sauce.

You may add water 1/2 cup at a time if the pasta isn't cooked and it seems the sauce is becoming too thick.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Cincinnati Chili

Cincinnati chili has some of the most common chili ingredients including ground beef and tomato sauce, but what makes it so unique is an uncommon blend of spices creating a truly inspired dish. Even more interesting is the chili is served in the most uncommon fashion....over spaghetti noodles, and topped with whatever your heart desires.
This recipe was given to me by my husband's uncle who tells me this is one of the original chili recipes coming out of Cincinnati. Whether or not that's true is any ones guess but what I do know is this is a long time Finlinson family favorite and hopefully it will become one of yours as well. So enjoy!

I know this list of ingredients seems long and can look a little intimidating but the items this recipe calls for are common household ingredients. I strongly urge you to give this one a try, you will be pleasantly surprised.

2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 lbs ground beef (get the 15% fat, the lean meat will turn out dry)
2 tablespoons oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 cups tomato sauce
hot pepper sauce to taste

Bring 2 quarts of water and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil in a large pot. Add ground beef, stirring vigorously to separate meat into individual strands. As soon as the foam from the meat rises to the top and before the water returns to a boil, drain the meat into a strainer and set aside.
Using the same pot used to cook the meat. Set pot over medium heat and add the oil and onion. Cook stirring frequently until the onions are browned around the edges. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring constantly about 1 minute (be careful not to burn the garlic).
Stir in the chili powder, oregano, cocoa, cinnamon, cayenne, allspice, black pepper and 1 teaspoon salt stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. Now add broth, water, sugar, vinegar and tomato sauce, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits.
Add the blanched ground beef back to the pot and increase heat to high. Upon the liquid boiling reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour stirring occasionally.
Adjust the seasonings adding salt and hot pepper sauce to taste. Serve over cooked spaghetti noodles and top with desired toppings.

*you may want all or just a few of the toppings listed below. I recommend adding at least cheese and sour cream.

Recommended toppings:

kidney beans (rinsed and drained)
shredded cheddar cheese
diced tomatoes
sour cream
chopped onion
green pepper, diced
Jalapeno peppers

Monday, March 15, 2010

Fried Pickles

How fitting to have fried pickles on the pickled pear! These turned out pretty tasty. I will definitely be making these again. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.


1 large jar sandwich sliced dill pickles
1 large egg
1 (20 oz) can/bottle beer
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon dill
2 cups flour
Vegetable oil (for frying)

Pat pickles dry with paper towels. Whisk together egg, beer, baking powder, salt and dill in a large bowl. Add flour and whisk until smooth. (I had to add a bit more flour to make the batter thicker. It was too runny and I wanted a nice thick coat of batter on the pickles)
Pour 1 1/2 inches of oil into a skillet or dutch oven. Heat over medium high heat to 375 degrees. Dip pickles into batter, allowing excess to drip off. Fry pickles in batches 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown turning half way through cooking. Drain fried pickles on paper towels and serve immediately.
We dipped the pickles in home made ranch dressing (which I highly recommend)Just use the recipe on the hidden valley ranch dressing packet. Yum-o

Friday, February 26, 2010

By The Way

So I think I was a bit over zealous thinking I was going to have the time or the focus to post 3 recipes a week along with menus and reviews, so I'm re-thinking the process. I've decided to post my favorite recipe of the three meals I cooked the previous week.
But here's something to look forward to. Last weekend we went to Hoppers, and our waitress was kind enough to bring us a free plate of beer-battered fried pickles. It's a new appetizer they have and it was amazing! I've looked up some recipes to go off of and I'll be trying them next week. Stay posted to see how they turn out :)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pesto Roasted Salmon

So easy AND delicious AND good enough for company.

You'll need....

4 salmon fillets
1 container pre-made or home made pesto
4 tablespoons butter, divided
salt and pepper to taste

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.
Rinse fillets of fish under running water and pat dry. Then place fish on a rimmed cookie sheet.
Cut 4, shallow one inch slits along the top of each fillet making sure you don’t cut all the way through to the bottom of the fish. Now insert a small chunk of butter into each slit, dividing one tablespoon of butter for each fillet.
Smear the top of each fillet with a generous amount of pesto (about 1 to 2 tablespoons. Note: you may not need to use the entire container of pesto sauce.) and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake fish uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes or until fish is opaque and flakes easily.

I served this with angel hair pasta and tossed the pasta with a pat of butter, and some of the remaining pesto sauce.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Sage-Cream Sauce

Deeeeelicious! This is a crunchy crusted chicken breast with lots of flavor. The Sage cream sauce is worth the extra effort and I do say the meal is worthy of company. I served this with oven roasted potatoes and veggies on the side.
Funny story though, as I was cooking this meal Sophie was uncharacteristically occupied, usually she is right under my feet in the kitchen wanting to see what I'm doing. This time she was happily toddling in and out of the kitchen and around the house. At the time I was enjoying the peace and quiet, until later I realized the reason she was so content was probably because she was up to something naughty. I scanned each room in the house looking to see any destruction Sophie might have caused, and to my complete lack of surprise she had unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper all over the bathroom floor. Not only was it everywhere but torn into little tiny pieces by her little tiny fingers. I am still finding itty bitty pieces all over the house. In fact Matt found a pile of it carefully placed in one of his shoes, I suppose it's what she though to be the perfect hiding place.
So go cook up and enjoy this meal as I am highly recommending it, but keep an eye on those little ones, cuz you never know what their little minds will think up next.

For chicken: Makes 4 servings

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 egg whites
2 tsp. corn starch
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cup coarse dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. parsley
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
zest of 1 lemon, minced
3 Tbsp. olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Cut chicken breasts in half lengthwise and lightly pound each piece between plastic wrap to an even thickness.
Blend egg whites, corn starch, and lemon juice with a fork in a wide shallow dish and set aside.
Combine bread crumbs, cheese, parsley, salt, pepper and zest in a second wide shallow dish ( a dinner plate works) and set aside.
Dip chicken pieces in egg mixture then in crumb mixture, pressing the crumbs on, to make sure they stick. After crusting the chicken let it sit at room temperature for 20min to set the crust.
Next saute chicken in oil, in a large nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat for 3 min. or until golden brown and crisp. Carefully turn each chicken piece with spatula and transfer skillet to the oven to finish cooking. Roast chicken just until done about 8 minutes.

For Sage-Cream sauce: Makes: 1 cup sauce

This sauce seems pretty versatile and I imagine it would be tasty over most chicken, fish, pastas etc...

1 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp. shallot, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine, white cooking wine or white grape juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
4 tbsp butter
1-2 tsp. fresh minced sage
salt, white pepper, and cayenne to taste

Saute shallot in 1 Tbsp butter in small sauce pan over medium heat just until soft, 2-3 min.
Add wine, cream, broth and lemon juice and simmer till reduced by half 8-10 min.
Whisk in 4 tbsp butter 1 tbsp at a time, stirring constantly. Do not add more butter until previous addition has completely melted ( I don't know why, that's just what the recipe says).
Finish sauce with sage and seasonings and serve over crusted chicken.

Hope you enjoy the meal :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Lime and Honey Glazed Salmon with Basmati rice and broccoli

I found this recipe in "Bon Appetit" magazine, the ingredients sounded like an interesting combination and the picture of it looked yummy so I decided to try it. As for how it actually turned out is a little bit of a different story. It tasted good but I'm not necessarily in love with this recipe. I think there are tastier ways to prepare salmon. It has a zesty lime flavor but I found the cilantro and soy sauce to be a bit overpowering (although I'm not a huge fan of cilantro, so maybe that was more of a personal issue.) I didn't dare change the recipe at all since the flavor combination was slightly unusual, and although I was skeptical....cooking everything in one pot turned out splendidly, but not a pretty as the picture in the magazine. So the final verdict? If the combo of ingredients sound appealing to you than I would suggest giving it a try but if you're a little unsure than pass on this one and maybe the next recipe will be a surefire winner.

Prep time: 35 Min. Total time: 55 Min. Serves: 4

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons finely grated lime peel

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

4 teaspoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

3/4 cup sliced shallots (about 3 large)

1 1/2 cups basmati rice

3 1/4 cups low salt chicken broth

4 (5 to 6 oz) salmon fillets

1 bunch broccoli cut into long stalks

Preheat oven to 450. Whisk together lime juice, lime peel, honey, soy sauce and 2 tablespoons cilantro in small bowl and set aside.

Heat oil in large deep ovenproof skillet or casserole dish (with lid) over medium-high heat. Add shallots and saute until beginning to soften and brown, about 5 min. Stir in rice, then broth and bring to A boil. Cover skillet tightly with lid and place in oven. Bake for 10 min. (rice will be almost cooked and most of the broth will be absorbed, if the rice looks dry add 1/4 cup water)

Remove skillet from oven and sprinkle rice lightly with salt. Sprinkle salmon fillets with salt and pepper and arrange on rice pressing in lightly. Tuck broccoli in around fish, with stems anchored in rice. Spoon 1 tablespoon lime mixture over each salmon fillet. Cover skillet and return to oven. Bake until salmon is opaque in center and broccoli is crisp tender, about 8 to 10 min. Drizzle remaining lime mixture over fish and rice, sprinkle with additional chopped cilantro and serve from skillet.

As for the skillet the recipe refers to I used my cast iron dutch oven (Pictured below). This is my favorite pot because it is so versatile. I use it for everything. I highly recommend acquiring one of these pots for your kitchen. The bad news, they are expensive. A good dutch oven can run anywhere from $50-$150. The good news, if you hurry the R.C. Willey outlet store (on 90th South and Redwood Road) has them on sale for 25 bucks until the 7th of November. So hurry up and go get one :)