Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pan Roasted Chicken and Veg

Time for something a little more healthy, eh?

For starters, here's the recipe.  I'd hate to forget the springboard that might have inspired this dish.

So then, start with a veritable ton of vegetables.  These are a bunch from my garden, plus some store bought, to really fill you up.  I didn't have a big enough bowl to stir them all in, so I decided to mix them up in the wok.

While I waka-ed it up like Fozzie Bear, I connived convinced Thomas to cut, season, and bread the chicken.  He understands that I HATE (yes, really, HATE) touching raw meat, and to speed up the process, it was much easier for him to do it.  Otherwise, it would be me, with my two pinching finger (on only one hand) "ew"ing and "gross"ing the whole time.  MUCH quicker this way.

We used a combo of Panko and Italian seasoned bread crumbs for the chicken.  Thomas also used paprika, s & p, and probably other spices we had in the house as well.

Back to the vegetables....

Once they're all cut, (roughly the same size), you're supposed to layer them in your stoneware pan.  I did.

Three times!

Okay, maybe I really wanted more vegetables than I had room for.  Thomas swore it would be okay...
Then he had about three times as much chicken, and layered that almost twice on the vegetables!

It's time for a bigger pan, me-thinks!

So, now we have five layers of veg and meat and we're still trying to stick to the directions on the recipe as much as possible.

Didn't work.  Should have just wok-ed the veg and baked the chicken.  It took way too long, and by the time we ate, I didn't even want it any more!  :(
However, it was healthy, and pretty, and a very filling meal!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cream Cheese Filled Pumpkin Muffins!

 Okay.  Fall and I had a face off and I lost.  We were doing so well with sunny, warm days, that I lived in denial of where it might all be going.  Then, for the past two days, it's been chilly for about 22 hours of the day, then gorgeous for two, late in the afternoon.  Made me feel like a sweatshirt.

And pumpkin muffins.

I have an awesome friend back home, Kara, who makes pumpkin muffins with a cream cheese frosting - to die for!

I have a friend out here, Megan, who just posted this idea for cream cheese filled muffins, and I thought that might be just what I was craving!

I turned to Google, and gave me this recipe.  Sounded good, but I didn't want to make the muffins from scratch, so I grabbed the Pillsbury box and followed the muffin recipe.

Then I made the filling.  SO EASY!!

 Egg yolk, bar of cream cheese, and 2T of sugar.

Beat until it looks amazing.  Like this!!

It's a very firm filling, so it's easy to scoop up a teaspoonful and drop it into the center of your muffins.

(yes, I used way to much Pam, but the cannister was nearly empty, so it was very hit or miss!!)

Now, this is where I'd stray from the recipe a bit.

If it had been up to me, I would have filled it half way, placed the spoonful of stuffing (don't let it touch the paper), then put more pumpkin on top.

I did push it down a bit, and it did bake up around it, but when it was warm, the cream cheese fell and left little divots in the tops of my muffins.

Ugh. More on that later!

So, once everything looks all pretty, you make the crumble topping.  Use 2T of softened butter, 4T of flour, 4T of sugar, and 1/2 t of cinnamon. 

Then just use a fork (or knife) to cut the butter until it's well mixed.

Just sprinkle on the goodness, completely covering the muffins, and bake according to the box directions.  (About 18 minutes at 400).

Turned out amazing, although you can kind of see where the cream cheese is sinking in.

That's the money shot!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Taste of (Chocolate-y) Sweetness Saturday!

Ta-daa!!  My mama apparently loves us quite a bit.  This awesome Cuisinart ice cream maker arrived in the mail last month, and Thomas and I have been chomping at the bit to use it.  It came in two pieces - first the freezer containers and then the actual machine.  By the time the machine came, we were more than ready to go!!

Since Thomas is a baptized confirmed choc-o-holic, of course the first recipe I would look for would be a Very Chocolate Ice Cream recipe!!
One of the oddest things I found out about ice cream recipes?  If you want it to be a creamy, custard like texture, you need to cook it.

Which means it gets hot.

Which means you have to cool it off.

For hours.

BEFORE you can start to process it as ice cream.

This is, like, the worst idea since Greedo shooting first!  You can't tell me to make ice cream and then I have to wait FOR HOURS before I can even actually make the ice cream, where I have to wait any way before I can even eat the ice cream.  Ridiculous!
Okay, so you wait, it gets cold, then you can process it in the actual machine.  This is about the time when your choco-crazed loving husband comes home and has bright ideas, like adding Nutella.  And not so bright ideas, like adding almost a whole bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips.  I just left my chips to the side in my bowl, but the Nutella is a definite add in.  Just add it in just before the ice cream is firm enough to take out of the machine and into your freezer safe bowls.  It's completely worth it!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pasta?!? My triumphant return!!

I know it's been a month.  I'm so sorry, but I've left the teaching profession, started a new job as a Recreation Director for a  home owners association.  This means (occasionally) weird hours and (always) longer days, plus I'm still tutoring after work.  This basically equates to me cooking about once a month, Thomas cooking all the time, or lots more take out.  Sad, but true.  However, my garden is still producing, and I've had this recipe that I've been wanting to try, and what better way to jump back into blogging than pasta!

My Orecchiette with Spinach, Sausage & Tomatoes was my way back in, and by that point, Thomas was so excited to have me make dinner, ANY dinner, that he would gladly put up with the tomato based pasta sauce.

Now, my biggest objection to this recipe was the sausage.  I used half hot and half mild, but I had to take the casing off.  Yes, I know there are places where you can buy the sausage just ground without casing (it looks like ground beef), but I wasn't at one of those stores, so I had to get off de-case as soon as possible!

Thomas recommended that I cut off one end and squeeze it out like a tube of toothpaste.  Gross?  Definitely!  I lasted one link, and then decided to just make a slit up the side and let it drop out.  Much easier, much quicker, and a lot less...toothpaste-y. 

I was a bit worried about all the juice in here.  I didn't use any water, although I did use a veggie broth that we had in the house.  I also kept all of the tomato juice from the cans to add.  I'm sure I also used a bunch of Italian seasoning, too.  I didn't want my triumphant comeback to be bland.
Turns out the juice was enough, and I actually could have probably used a little more.  Everything cooked down nicely, and if I was more patient, it would have done even more so, but I didn't want the orechiette to get mushy.  Turned out amazing, and even better? The leftovers lasted all week and were equally delicious.  I was sad to run out of this, and my co-workers were all super jealous every time I ate it.  On a scale of ponies to unicorns, I'd give this recipe a solid pink elephant.

AMAZING!!  Oh, and I promise I have many more posts in the pipeline, I just have to find the time to post them.  Welcome back to the Pampered Jes, and dig in while you can!!