29 March 2009

Roasted Potatoes

Ohmygoodness, these were yummy and so easy. I had a hankering for roasted potatoes but I had never made them. To speed up the process, I put them in the microwave for 3 minutes to partially cook them first and then it only took 20 minutes in the oven.

6 small red potatoes
1/4 white onion, frenched
3 T. evoo
3 tsp. garlic, chopped
kosher salt
coarse ground or fresh black pepper
2 tsp. italian seasoning

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Wash the potatoes thoroughly and cook in the microwave for 3 minutes. Let them cool for a few minutes (because they will be hot!). Cube into bite size pieces. On a foil-lined cookie sheet, lay potatoes and onions in a single layer. Drizzle evoo on top and make sure the potatoes are evenly coated. Add garlic, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning on top of potatoes. Roast in oven for 10-15 minutes. Stir to turn potatoes, roast an additional 10 minutes. Serve immediately!

26 March 2009

Hawaiian Chicken Crock Pot Style

Back in the days of college, my two best friends from high school and one of their boyfriends (now husband) had a dinner club. We took turns rotating each week by cooking dinner. That was five years ago and one of the dishes that stands out was one that Kevin made. He put chicken, pineapple, peppers and onions in a foil pouch and baked it in the oven. After an hour, he just emptied everything out over rice. It was ingenious and SO delicious. I have been craving this for a while, so I decided to adapt it for the crock pot. It turned out delicious. It didn't taste as sweet as I can remember, I think it has to do with using terrayki marinade instead of sauce. Possibly, or I could just be delusional. So before serving, I took the juice in the crock pot, mixed leftover juice drained from the fruit with a few tablespoons of flour, brought it to a boil and reduced it while I was cooking the rice. It was an excellent idea. It enhanced the sweetness that I thought was lacking in the straight-from-the-crock pot version.

1/2 bag frozen pearl onions
1 red bell pepper, sliced
4 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin removed
1 can pineapple chunks (including juice)
1 can mandarian oranges, juice drained and reserved
1/2 bottle terrayki sauce

flour, if needed
brown sugar, if needed

Layer the ingredients in the crock pot as listed, with the veggies on the bottom, fruit on top. Cook on low for 4 hours. Before serving, transfer liquid from crock pot into saucepan. Mix reserved orange juice with a few tablespoons of flour and pour into crock pot liquid. Bring to a boil on the stovetop. Taste for sweetness. If needed, added a few tablespoons on brown sugar. Simmer while preparing rice.

Serve over white or brown rice with reduction sauce on top! Aloha!

Honey B Ham, Conroe, TX

...or Honey Bee Ham, I'm really not sure which is correct. I drove by this place with a banner that proclaimed the "Best Burgers in Montgomery County." Always the one looking for a good cheeseburger, I had to stop and give it a try. I was highly skeptical however, I mean after all, there were a deli, not a hamburger place. It was a small place in a shopping center, both lined the sides and tables in the middle, but the place was packed! I order their standard hamburger, but there are so many choices! Your choice of cheese and your choice of homemade bread. I opted for American cheese and jalepeno bread. I tend to stick to the ideology of the Texas Burger Guy except for the fact that I don't need the "herd killer" aspect of a burger. I do enjoy a moist (not greasy) burger that when the juices from the properly seasoned patty mingle with the mayonnaise it forms an exlir from heaven. This burger in Conroe was pretty dang close. The homemade bun was killer. It rivaled Tiki Bar in Crystal Beach, one that I could eat every stinkin day. There wasn't much kick from the jalepenos but it was slighty sweet, toasted on the inside but soft and chewy outside. The burger was well seasoned and not over-cooked. Served with seasoned fries, this burger was a steal. Definitely under $10 and SO filling. I give it 4.5 stars only because the decor/atmosphere left something to be desired. If it had been in a rustic burger joint, it would have been 5 stars all around.

25 March 2009

Cheese Stuffed Sausage

Tonight was a quick fix meal and I needed it! I had some fresh sausage that was "Philly Cheesesteak" flavored. Now I'm not exactly sure what that entails but it sounded intriguing. I simmered the sausages in beef broth to enrich the meaty-ness of it. (Yes I know, I make up words all the time.) Then "grilled" it under the broiler to make it crispy, one of my favorite techniques. Did you know a broiler is a grill upside down? Yes! I know! Use it!

1 can beef broth
2 Philly Cheesesteak Sausages
1/2 onions, frenched
1 slice 1/4" thick cheddar cheese

Add sausages and onions to broth. Bring to a simmer on medium heat. Turn heat to low and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes (or until meat is cooked if it is fresh sausage). While sausage is simmering, line cookie sheet with foil and preheat broiler. Place sausage on cookie sheet and broil for 2-3 mins on one side until crispy. Turn onions and broth back up to medium to let boil and reduce broth (psst, we're making au jus-kinda). Meanwhile in the oven, flip sausage and cut a slit in sausage, broil for 2 minutes. Add cheese into slit in sausage and continue to broil until melty and gooey. At the same time, place rolls directly on oven rack to get toasty.

Serve sausage on toasty bun with onions on top. Place au jus in a small dipping bowl and serve along side. So tasty, so good and SO easy!!!

P.S. This serves two sausages, one with onions, one without; so if you both want onions, then add a whole onion to the simmering concoction. There's a million variations you can do on this dish. Be careful though, I overcooked my fresh sausage so it was a little tough. BUT I wouldn't hesitate to make it again!

Sweet Potato Fries

It's Tuesday and I've already strayed from my menu planning. BUT I'm a thrifty shopper AND a sucker for a deal, so that's my excuse. ;) I went to an HEB Market, which is similar to a Central Market, only they carry name-brand foods and not as extensive in the organic line. BUT they had a cafe on the run, which I had to check to see if they had pimento cheese. (If you haven't had HEB's Pam's Pimento Cheese, go find yourself some now. It is absolutely NOTHING like they overly orange gooey stuff in the tub. It is simply fabulous!) While I was there, they had crab cakes on sale for $3 each! Then the girl told me they froze well, so I got four. Yum-o. I spent the hour driving "home" to figure out what side I could easily make and that would complement crab cakes. Corn relish?! Yes! However, my fellow dinner partner doesn't like corn. (Who doesn't like corn?! Crazy people, that's who.) That's out. Cole slaw. Possibly, if only they made a decent cole slaw dressing in a bottle. So what do I do turn? Turn to google. :) After a few posts, FINALLY someone recommended sweet potato fries. A-HA! I used to make sweet potato chips all the time. Easy peasy. Except, BOTH mandolines that I own are at my aunt's house...in San Antonio.

I decided to go the old-fashion route and make actual fries. I normally make chips in the microwave but since these would be thicker, I decided to use the oven. I made the mistake of adding too much oil. I thought it would help them cook faster, but it just made them soggy. So I then took a paper towel and wiped up the excess oil and popped them back in the oven, no problem. Also, I LOVE a sprinkle of cayenne on my sweet potatoes. (And I do mean a sprinkle.) It gives it just a little kick that makes you wonder where it came from. You could always go with the standard salt and pepper. Or brown sugar and cinnamon. Whatever suits your fancy.

2 small-medium sweet potatoes (one for each person)
Oil (you can use canola or evoo, just enough to barely coat the fries)
Kosher salt

Preheat oven to 400. Peel the sweet potatoes and remove any bad spots. Uniformly, slice them into fries. (Uniformity is the key or else parts will skinny fries will start to burn before the fat fries get crunchy.) Line a cookie sheet with foil and lay fries in a single layer. DRIZZLE oil onto potatoes and toss with fingers to coat. Use a lot less than you think you will need, it goes a long way. Redistribute so the fries are in a single layer again. Sprinkle with salt and a hint of cayenne. Bake in oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Turn the fries if you wish. Turn the heat up to 425 and bake an additional 15-20 minutes until desired doneness/crispiness.

24 March 2009

Chocolate Chip Pie

I've made this pie once before. It was one of the last things I made in my kitchen before the hurricane. I remember taking it to my Dad's when I evacuated because there was over half a pie left. Everyone went crazy for it up there. The only problem is, I don't remember the recipe. I tried to make it again and had problems while cooking it in the oven. I think I originally added more flour. The problem was, I couldn't get the pie to "set." After 40 minutes, the top was brown and crusty, but the inside was still raw. I turned the oven down to 300 degrees and baked it for another 15 minutes like that. It set fine in the end but all the chocolate chips had melted together at the bottom and then there was the 'dough' layer. So I'll post the recipe as I made it and you can make your own judgment as to how to prepare it. (I would probably add another 1/2 cup of flour and start baking it at 300 degrees first.)

2 eggs
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla (I didn't have any!)
1/2 c. butter, melted
1/2 c. flour
3/4 c. chocolate chips
1/4 c. chocolate chips
pie crust of your choice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Beat eggs until frothy. Add both types of sugar and vanilla, blend well. Once sugars are incorporated, add melted butter. Add flour in small batches until well blended. Add 3/4 c. chocolate chips and pour into pie crust placed on a cookie sheet. Bake in oven for 40 mins. Add 1/4 chocolate chips (so you'll have some at the bottom AND the top). (This is where I had to turn the oven down to 300.) Bake an additional 15-20 minutes. Pie will still look raw, much like chocolate chip cookies, but should be firm.

Serve warm with Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla, whip cream and chocolate syrup (if I had some!). Yummy!

Pie in the Sky, Part II

Okay, so I HAD to go back since I was in Conroe. This time I had their savory pie of the day, which had: zuchinni, squash, tomatoes, onions, fresh spinach, cilantro, bread, ham, bacon and eggs and I'm not sure what else, all baked in a pie shell. Then they broiled a sliced tomato and cheese on top. It was so tasty. I remembered to take a picture of it as I was almost done. It was SOOO tall and very filling. They served it along with your choice of soup for $7.95.

I had to skip dessert this time because I was so full. But there's always next time. (This place is actually what inspired me to make my chocolate chip pie again.) =)

23 March 2009

Menu Planning

I haven't cooked anything in what seems like weeks. I mean, I whip up the standard pasta or something easy but this week I'm gonna plan so I can make something exciting and new! Hopefully. Here's my plan...

Leftover Mexican Pasta

Hawaiian Chicken

Oven Fried Chicken

Spinach Noodle Crockpot

Eat out

Hmm, that's a lot of chicken. We'll see what happens!