Monday, November 24, 2008

no fuss peanut sauce

this was an impromptu sauce i made tonight with the bare ingredients i have in my pantry. i seemed to have run out of most of my basics, but was still able to pull together a sauce! here goes....

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp water
2 tsp olive oil (don't use extra virgin, the flavor is too strong)
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp lime juice

throw everything in food processor or blender, mix until smooth! this makes a thick sauce - i did not want a runny sauce since i was planning to serve it over a tofu stir fry and rice dish. but of course you can change the amounts according to the texture you want it to be at.

here are some optional ingredients i probably would have used if i had them:
minced garlic
red pepper flakes
chopped peanuts (add in the end after processed smooth)
rice wine vinegar (in place of water)
hoisin sauce (i actually have this, but forgot to add it)

Friday, November 21, 2008

roasted green beans

fresh green beans, trimmed
whole garlic cloves
olive oil

preheat oven to 350 degrees. on a foil-lined cookie sheet, spread green beans into single layer. add whole garlic cloves throughout (i usually use about 5 cloves). drizzle with olive oil. season with salt and pepper. roast in oven for about 45 minutes.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

tawny's usual chicken

i make this chicken dish at least 2-3 times a week. i know, sounds repetitive, but the boys really like it, and it's so easy to make. i don't have measurements, but there aren't too many ingredients anyway. just go by taste :)

4 chicken breasts or thighs
whole cloves of garlic
dried rosemary
olive oil
butter (optional)

heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan over low-medium heat. add whole garlic cloves and allow to roast. on a plate, season chicken with salt, pepper, sugar, and dried rosemary on one side. place seasoned side down in pan, then season the rest of the chicken with the same seasoning. here's where you will add the butter if you want it to be richer. cook for about 10 minutes on each side or until fully cooked. done!

i usually accompany this dish with roasted green beans.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Macaroni and Cheese

Prep : 10 min
Inactive Prep: 10 min
Cook: 25 min
Total: 45 min
Yield: 6 Servings


  • Butter, for greasing dish
  • 12 ounces wide egg noodles
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for pasta water
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups (packed) grated Fontina
  • 3/4 cup (packed) finely grated Parmesan
  • 3/4 cup (packed) grated mozzarella
  • 4 ounces cooked ham, diced, optional
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Butter a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish and set aside. Cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Drain well, but do not rinse.

Whisk the cream, milk, flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper in large bowl to blend. Stir in 1 cup Fontina, 1/2 cup Parmesan, 1/2 cup mozzarella, ham, if using, and parsley. Add the noodles and toss to coat. Transfer the noodle mixture to the prepared baking dish. Toss the remaining 1 cup Fontina, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and 1/4 cup mozzarella in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the cheese mixture over the noodle mixture. Bake until the sauce bubbles and the cheese melts and begins to brown on top, about 20 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Verike's Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps

OK, so here is one of those recipes that DOESN'T have measurements! Sorry :( I sort of just do it all by taste, and if you don't have all the exact ingredients, you can sometimes improvise a bit too. But I would try to include as many as possible. Ryan even thinks these are super tasty (even w/o meat). And I'm sure they could be made with meat if you changed a few things...

Wok-Seared Extra-Super-Duper-Firm Tofu (I used the Thai tofu from Trader Joe's)
Red Onions
Water Chestnuts
Mint (not too much, or it's over-powering)
Green Onions (just the green parts)
Rice Sticks (just a little bit for a little crunch)
Sesame Oil
Chinese 5 Spice
Bean Curds
Shitake Mushrooms (Trader Joe's sells these raw/fresh)

**Iceberg Lettuce Cups (if you can find the mini ones those are the best...I think Safeway sometimes sells those)**

For the sauce:
Soy Sauce
Dry Sherry
Oyster Sauce (I don't always use this)
Sesame Oil

I also serve them with a spicy Chinese Mustard.

Just taste as you go along, and you'll eventually get the taste/texture you're looking for. Basically you should cook the mushrooms first (in the sauce), then add everything else (except mint & cilantro) in over super low heat. You don't want it to be too soupy, so slowly add in the amount of sauce you need. The tofu should go in last because otherwise it gets too crumbly. Remove from heat and stir in mint & cilantro. Put filling into a lettuce wrap. So delish!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Black bean and veggie burritos

4 9- to 10-inch-diameter flour tortillas

3/4 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup chopped red or green bell pepper
2/3 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 medium carrot, coarsely grated
1 2/3 cups canned black beans, rinsed, drained
1/2 cup drained canned Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
2 teaspoons minced seeded jalepeño chile

8 tablespoons grated Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese (about 2 ounces)
4 tablespoons nonfat sour cream
4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
pickled jalepenos


Combine onion, garlic and oil in large nonstick skillet. Stir over medium-high heat until onion is golden, about 6 minutes. Add cumin and chili powder; stir 20 seconds. Add bell pepper, corn and carrot; sauté until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes and jalapeño; bring to simmer. Season with salt and pepper. remove from heat.

Fill tortillas with mixture and garnish, wrap and eat!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Chicken breast stuffed with cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and artichokes

1 12-ounce jar marinated artichokes, drained, coarsely chopped
1 cup grated Fontina or Swiss cheese
1/2 cup (packed) drained, coarsely chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried basil
4 5-ounce skinless boneless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix artichokes, cheese, tomatoes, and basil in medium bowl. Using small sharp knife and working with 1 chicken breast at a time, cut 2-inch-long slit horizontally into 1 side of chicken breast. Move knife back and forth in slit to form pocket. Divide 1 cup cheese mixture among chicken pockets (reserve remainder for frittata). Press edges to seal. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in heavy large ovenproof skillet over high heat. Add chicken; cook 2 minutes. Turn chicken over; transfer skillet to oven. Bake until cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Swiss Veggie Casserole

This dish is great as a side dish or just by itself. The more cheese, the better :)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly butter a 1-quart casserole dish.

16 oz. frozen broccoli-carrot-cauliflower mix, thawed & drained (CA Veggie Mix)
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 1/4 cup shredded Swiss Cheese (save about a 1/4 cup for the topping)
1/3 cup of sour cream
1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
2.8 oz. can of Durkee French-Fried Onions (save some for topping)

Mix, pour into casserole dish, and bake for 30 minutes.
Sprinkle on toppings and bake for another 5 minutes.
Allow casserole to rest 5-10 minutes before serving.

So delicious! Super easy to make. This recipe can be doubled also if you're serving a crowd.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Homemade Marshmallows...don't be scared, it's easy!

Homemade Marshmallows (Recipe by Emiline, but adapted from Grammy)

Butter, for greasing & confectioners' sugar, for coating
2 tablespoons gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup boiling water
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Butter an 8x8-inch square baking dish. Line with waxed paper, then butter waxed paper, and lightly coat with confectioners' sugar.

Disolve gelatin in cold water, in the bowl of a stand mixer, using whisk attachment.

In a large saucepan, over medium high heat, whisk together granulated sugar, boiling water and salt; bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Stop whisking, and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until a thermometer reads 236 degrees F.

Pour syrup slowly over gelatin. Add vanilla extract, and beat on medium speed, for 20 minutes, or until thick and cool.

Butter a spatula, and scrape marshmallow cream into prepared dish; smooth the surface. Freeze overnight, then remove waxed paper from dish, lifting out marshmallow. Peel waxed paper off, then cut into squares, on a cutting board, using a buttered-sharp knife. Lightly dust marshmallows with additional confectioners' sugar.

Makes 36 mallows (This depends on how big you cut them)

I just made these beautiful marshmallows this morning and I am currently sick (a good sick) to my stomach for eating so many!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

tiramisu cookies

i spent about a month developing this recipe. i have to admit, it is pretty tedious to make, but well worth it! set aside an afternoon to make these. i submitted this recipe to a baking contest, but it did not win. but it gets first prize in our home!

Tiramisu Cookies

Cookie Base:

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp instant coffee crystals

2 cups mascarpone cheese
2 tsp instant coffee crystals
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp rum (optional)

Decoration (optional):
Cocoa powder
Confectioner's sugar

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Stir cookie mix, confectioner's sugar, egg, softened butter, and instant coffee crystals in medium bowl until soft dough forms.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased 17.25 inch x 11.5 inch x 1 inch cookie sheet.

Bake for 7 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 1 minute before removing from cookie sheet. Transfer cookies to cooling rack.

Mix mascarpone cheese, instant coffee crystals, brown sugar, and rum (if desired) in small bowl until smooth.

Assemble cookie sandwiches:

Spread 2 tsp of mascarpone cheese mixture on flat side of one cookie, then sandwich with another cookie. Repeat with rest of cookies, and arrange on plate.


To create half-moons of cocoa powder and confectioner's sugar, place piece of paper over half of one sandwiched cookie. Place confectioner's sugar in sifter and dust one-half of the sandwiched cookie. Move paper to cover already-dusted side of sandwiched cookie. Place cocoa powder in sifter and dust the other half of the sandwiched cookie. Repeat with rest of sandwiched cookies.

Store in airtight container and refrigerate up to 2-3 days.

Note: the longer the cookie sandwiches rest, the softer they get and the better they taste! i recommend refrigerating overnight before serving.

quick and easy lentil soup

this will serve about four adults:

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup lentils, rinsed and drained
water, in 1-cup parts
1 tomato, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
salt, to taste

place a deep saucepan on low-medium heat. once heated, add olive oil and garlic. cook garlic until lightly brown. add the onion and cook until it is translucent. add the lentils and let it toast a bit, about 2-3 minutes. next, add all of the vegetables - tomatoes, zucchini, and mushrooms.

last comes water! you will need to add water in parts, one cup at a time at intervals. it depends on the brand of lentils you get, so the amount of water varies. add one cup of water and let it simmer, covered. the lentils should absorb the water in 5-7 minutes. add another cup of water to the soupy consistency you desire. continue to do so until the lentils no longer absorb water and it is at the consistency you like, around 20 minutes. season with salt to taste. serve with crusty bread.

note: i usually use whatever vegetables i have on hand. i even sometimes keep it as simple as garlic, onion, and tomatoes.

this recipe was given to me by my good friend.

Quick sauce for anything really...

I have a staple seasoning sauce that i pretty much use on anything. Its good (at least to me) on fried stuff, as a dipping sauce, or marinade for meat for stove, grille, and baking. Just adjust it to taste.

a estimate of ratios is listed below... i am waiting for a business call while writing this
  • ~ 1/2-5/8 Lemon Juice
  • ~ 1/8 Fish Sauce (can be omitted if you don't have any)
  • ~ 3/8 Soy Sauce
  • some pepper
  • if you would like add a tiny bit of sesame oil too.
I like to get red leaf lettuce or tomatoes and dip leaves whole leaves or slices of tomatoes into a little bit of sauce. Marinate ground beef and cook it in the pan. Use less fish/soy sauces for a less salty taste. Great with fried dumplings or fried whole fish. mmmm

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Chicken Fajita Burgers

Chicken Fajita Burgers:
1 1/3 pounds ground chicken
1 or 1/2 (depending on desired heat) chopped chipotle pepper canned in adobe sauce
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon grill seasoning (recommended: Montreal Steak Seasoning by McCormick)
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Seared Peppers and Onions:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
2 red or green bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 medium yellow skinned onion, thinly sliced lengthwise, reserve 1/4 of a piece, uncut
1 jalapeno or serrano, seeded and chopped
2 cups tomatillo, green chili salsa or chipotle-tomato salsa, your choice
8 crusty rolls, split

Heat a grill pan or large skillet over medium high heat.

For Chicken Fajita Burgers:

Combine chicken, chipotle powder, cilantro, hot sauce and grill seasoning. Score and divide meat into 4 sections and form big patties, 1-inch thick. Using the rest of the 1/4 reserved onion piece, grate the other half of it on the burgers. Drizzle patties with extra-virgin olive oil and cook 6 minutes on each side or until meat is firm and cooked through.

Heat a medium skillet over high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil and peppers and onions. Stir-fry the veggies tossing them with tongs to sear them at edges. Add the jalapeno or serrano pepper. Toss and turn the mixture about 3 minutes, then add salsa of choice and toss a minute longer. Place burgers on each bun bottom and top with 1/4 of the pepper and onion mixture and bun top

This is a slightly revised Rachel Ray recipe.

Baked French Toast (Sadly I have no photo for this dish)

5 eggs
1.5 t cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter-melted
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 loaf bread-1" slices

Grease a 9x12 baking dish. Mix together the butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup. Pour into pan and evenly cover the pan's bottom. Arrange bread slices on top of the mixture.

Whisk eggs, milk and vanilla together. Pour evenly over the bread, making sure they are evenly covered.

Cover, refrigerate overnight.

Bake 30 miutes at 350 degrees.

I was given this yummy recipe by my mother-in-law. It is always well received by those who eat it!

Enjoy, Nicole