May 31, 2011

Martha Stewart Living Chocolate-Walnut Fudge Bars

As I've stated previously, I have a major sweet tooth. I can't go more than a few days without something sweet and have even been known to have cake for breakfast. Luckily, I have my dad's genes and sweets don't ruin my otherwise healthy diet. I try to bake my sweets from scratch as much as possible since they taste so much better, so I am always on the look-out for new recipes. Recently Martha Stewart Living had a recipe for chocolate-walnut fudge bars that appealed to my sweet tooth.

This is a pretty easy fudge recipe, with a twist. The fudge is poured on top of chocolate wafer cookies, giving the bottom a crunch. I actually had a hard time finding plain chocolate wafers at my local grocery store, so I had to substitute with fudge covered wafers. This substitution created a toffee like crust on the fudge. All the other ingredients used in this recipe were basic and easy to find at my local store. The active time is stated as twenty minutes, but most of that is the ten minutes of baking time for the crust. All the other prep is done in the food processor and fridge.

This recipe turned out well. The walnuts give the fudge a slightly savory twist that, when combined with the semi-sweet chocolate, is a nice contrast. My four-year-old is a particular fan and ate a large portion of the fudge by himself. This a recipe that is a nice variation on traditional fudge and will be once I will use again whenever my sweet tooth acts up.

For the link go to Martha Stewart Living Chocolate-Walnut Fudge Bars.

May 30, 2011

Bon Appetit Tagiatelle Prosciutto and Orange

My two boys love pasta; I can guarantee that it will almost always be eaten in our house with no complaints. Recently, I have been trying to make a larger variety of pasta dishes, instead of the same old red or alfredo sauces. The May issue of Bon Appetit had a full spread of Italian dishes, and the tagliatelle with prosciutto and orange caught my attention.

This is a great quick weeknight dinner. With only 8 ingredients, this recipe is beyond simple. The prep work is next to nothing; easily under 5 minutes. The one problem that I did encounter was finding fresh fettuccine in my area. I looked at three different grocery stores to no avail. I think it's the universes way of telling me to finally use the pasta attachment that I have for my KitchenAid. Next time I make this recipe I will make the fettuccine from scratch, instead of using dried pasta, which was the only type available. The other modification that I made was the prosciutto. The type of prosciutto available in my area was finely diced, not thinly sliced like the recipe suggested. However, my husband and I actually liked the texture and taste of the chopped prosciutto and I would made this modification again.

This recipe turned out great and was very simple to make. My two boys loved it and my husband liked the orange taste. One suggestion if anyone wants to use locally sourced (or leftover) country ham, it would be a great substitution. All-in-all a great recipe.

For the recipe go to Bon Appetit Tagliatelle with Prosciutto and Orange

May 28, 2011

Better Homes and Gardens Fish Tacos with Cabbage and Chile Pepper Slaw

I have been trying to get more fish into family's diet. We are good about eating lots of chicken, turkey and vegetarian dishes, but  I haven't been making as many fish dishes as I would like. Most of the fish dishes that I have made involve grilled fish in the oven, which can get boring if made too often. My two boys love fish, so I have been making an effort to try more fish recipes. I was excited when the May issue of Better Homes and Gardens had a recipe for Fish Tacos.

A couple of years back my local grocery store eliminated their fresh fish counter. We have a fresh fish market in my city, but the hours are inconvenient for my schedule. For this recipe I would have preferred fresh cod, but settled for frozen. I had to go to multiple stores to find the poblano pepper, but that is true with any pepper besides jalapenos. The remainder of the ingredients for this recipe were easy to find at my local grocery store. There is a decent amount of prep involved in this recipe, with the citrus peels having to be grated and the ingredients for the slaw sliced. I recently upgraded to new citrus peelers, which has greatly improved my prep time for shredding citrus peels. The prep work is easy, and the cooking minimal, most of the work is done in the oven. I found the total time to be less than the 40 minutes of total prep suggested by recipe. I did find the proportions for the packets to be small, the men in my house eat more than little packets would provide. My two and four year old ate an entire packet each.

I think this recipe would have benefited greatly by using fresh cod. Like any frozen fish, the texture of the fish was slightly off from being frozen. The taste of the citrus with the fish was pleasant and my two children loved the tacos. I would use this recipe again and try to find fresh cod or halibut. 

May 27, 2011

Food and Wine Indian-Style Mustard Greens

Living in a college town, my options for good quality ethnic food is minimal. There are a number of Chinese and pizza restaurants, but only one Indian restaurant. Due to this lack of quality options, I have been trying to cook a wider variety of dishes in my home kitchen. Both my kids and my husband are big fans of curries, which I make relatively frequently, but I have been wanting to broaden my cooking skills to other recipes. The March issue of Food and Wine had a recipe for Indian-style mustard greens, that looked like a perfect start.

The one ingredient that I thought that I would have no problem finding in my area is greens. There are normally a large variety of greens and many ways of cooking them. However, I met my match with mustard greens. The week that I need them for this recipe, I was only able to find kale, collard and turnip greens. Therefore, I had to make a major modification to this recipe. I chose to use turnip greens, kale has a bitter taste and collard greens are best with animals fats and pungent vinegar. I was able to find all the other ingredients easily. The prep time for this recipe is about 10 minutes, most of which is cutting the greens, etc. The majority of the work is done by the food processor, with the actual cooking time only being about 15 minutes.

This recipe turned out very well, even with the major modification to the type of greens used. My husband and I loved that the recipe wasn't a traditional curry recipe, which we have tried many times before. I like that I was able to use greens in a new way, instead of my normal recipe as a side cooked with a ham bone. This is recipe I would use again and try with mustard greens, if I was actually able to find them in season. All-in-all a great new recipe!

For the recipe go to Indian-Style Mustard Greens.

May 26, 2011

Martha Stewart Living Smoky Salmon Burgers with Grainy Mustard

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest I ate a lot of salmon. When I moved to West Virginia, I stopped eating fish as often and almost stopped completely when I had my kids. Recently I have been incorporating more fish into my family's diet and began to eat more salmon again. My four-year-old has fallen in love with anything involving seafood, with salmon being his absolute favorite. With his preferences in mind I was happy to find a recipe for smoky salmon burgers with grainy mustard in a recent issue of Martha Stewart Living.

Knowing that many of the ingredients needed in this recipe would be unavailable at the grocery store in my immediate area, I made a trip to the suburbs. I had no problem finding any of the ingredients at the suburban grocery store and I was pleased to find unfrozen fresh-caught pacific northwest salmon. I had pacific northwest smoked salmon, but my husband wanted to save it for something that would use the entire package, not just 2 1/2 ounces. Instead I purchased another brand of smoked salmon, in a smaller package. This recipe is very easy to follow. It takes very minimal prep work, with the food processor during the majority of the work. I found the recipe to take less than the stated 15 minutes of total time required.

This recipe went over very well in my household. My four-year-old was particularly pleased with the concept of salmon burgers and ate his half happily. I think the next time I make this recipe I would use the whole package of smoked salmon, instead of only 2 1/2 ounces. The smoked salmon flavor created a nice undertone, which would be further enhanced with the additional smoked salmon. I also discovered that I had to add additional mustard and water cress to my burgers, so don't go lenient on either of these ingredients. This is definitely a recipe I would use again in the future, with the above modifications.

Currently this recipe is unavailable on the Martha Stewart Living webpage, but it can be found in the June 2011 issue or the digital edition can be purchased and downloaded here.

May 25, 2011

Bon Appetit Pork Chile Verde with Red Chile Salsa

All the men in my family are huge fans of chili. When my husband and I were first dating he made a point of telling me all about chili from Skyline, Gold Star, etc when we went on a trip to Cincinnati.  He even went so far as to giving my older son Cincinnati-style chili fries for his first table food. Non-beef chilies have been slower to be appreciated by my husband until he had a great bowl of chicken chili last year at a local chili fest. I have been hesitant to try a lot of chili from scratch in my home kitchen, due to the extensive amount of time involved and my husbands high expectations. Recently, I decided to broaden my culinary horizons and try a new recipe from Bon Appetite for pork chile verde with red chile salsa.

This recipe is not one that can be started at the last minute. The prep alone takes about an hour and the cooking time is 3 1/2 hours. The salsa takes an additional 15 minutes, all of which is active cooking time.
Most of the items in this recipe are easy to find, with the exception of cumin seeds, as none of my local stores carry the spice. Next time I will have to check the alternative medicine/health food store in my area. I had to go to two stores to find the dried ancho chiles and the only size available was 1 lb. I didn't make any major modifications to the recipe, with the exception that I didn't top the finished chili with cilantro; I ran out.

The combination of the chili and the salsa is exceptional. However, taken alone the salsa is too smoky and the chili is bit underwhelming. I wouldn't suggest making one without the other, the tastes separately are lacking. I would make this recipe again, especially on a cold winter day when I wanted something hearty.

For the recipe go to Pork Chile Verde with Red Chile Salsa.

May 24, 2011

All You Honey-Soy Braised Pork Shoulder

When the weather hits the 90's my un-airconditioned kitchen turns into a sauna. I try to avoid making foods that take a large amount of cooking or oven time and stick to less time-consuming options. My slow-cooker gets used frequently in warmer weather and makes cooking fast and easy. I especially appreciate it when I need to feed a large amount of people on a very hot day, such as last week when my in-laws were in town. The May issue of All You magazine had a recipe for honey-soy braised pork shoulder, that is a quick and easy weeknight solution.

The only prep work involved in this recipe is cutting the pork shoulder and chopping the ginger. My prep work took slightly more than the suggested 5 minutes due to the fact that I purchased a 10 pound shoulder than I had to cut for multiple recipes.  The ingredients were all easily found at my local supermarket, I already keep sriracha in my fridge. The slow-cooker does all the work, with very minimal prep effort. I let my pork cook in the slow cooker for a full 8 hours, and made no modifications to the original recipe.

I was worried that this recipe would turn out too peppery for my father-in-law. He hadn't tried sriracha before and is hesitant of spicy foods. It turned out that I shouldn't have worried about it, he ate his serving without complaints and my mother-in-law had seconds. The rest of my family appreciated that the recipe is a nice blend of sweet and spicy, the heat is accessible to a variety of palates. Overall, this was a quick, easy dinner that I would definitely use again.

For the recipe go to Honey-Soy Braised Pork Shoulder.

May 23, 2011

Martha Stewart Living New Greek Salad

In the last year I have been making a concerted effort to make at least one vegetarian meal a week. I have found a number of delicious curries and pasta dishes, but I haven't really tried any salad recipes. Both of my sons love salad and will often only eat the side salad on their plate and not the main dish. I was interested when a recent issue of Martha Stewart Living had a recipe for new Greek salad.

The ingredients in this salad are simple and were all easily found at my local grocery store. There was only one type of olive bread to chose from, so that is the one I purchased, I don't think a different or better variety would have made a difference in the recipe. I was pleasantly surprised that my local grocery store now carries a variety of fresh and jarred kalamata olives, including a generic brand. This recipe is almost all prep work. The only cooking involved is for the croutons and olives, and only take about 5 minutes. I was able to put together this entire salad in less than the suggested 15 minutes while my hungry husband paced around the kitchen.

Everyone in my family thoroughly enjoyed this recipe. Even my picky sons ate everything on their plates. My husband was a particular fan of the fried olive bread and olives, he even looked for leftovers after dinner. I have never made a Greek salad at home; I always ordered it at restaurants. After making this simple and delicious recipe, I will be making more salads at home.

For the recipe go to New Greek Salad.

May 22, 2011

Better Homes and Gardens Pan-Seared Chicken with Cherry-Tarragon Sauce

I try to only cook red meat a couple of times a week, both for my budget and my family's health. The rest of the week I cook chicken, fish and vegetarian dishes. My two boys love any chicken dish, but my husband and I find chicken breast to be dry. Finding good chicken thigh recipes that don't rely on frying can be hard and I tend to make the same type of recipe over and over. I was interested when the May issue of Better Homes and Gardens had a recipe for Pan-Seared Chicken with Cherry-Tarragon Sauce.

All the ingredients in this recipe were easy to find at my local grocery store. I was a week too early to find fresh cherries, so I purchased frozen instead. I used the Merlot I keep in my fridge for the red wine: no need to buy new wine for a recipe. Couscous was already in my cupboard, as I tend to use it a lot with dishes. The prep work needed for this recipe is minimal, easily under 5 minutes. The only thing that has to be cut is the tarragon, which is snipped. This recipe is very easy to follow and requires minimal effort and cooking skill. I was able to cook while my two boys ran around the kitchen, and the whole meal took less than 25 minutes, including prep.

This recipe is a nice change to an everyday pan-seared chicken dish. I appreciate that it incorporates fruit, without being overly sweet. The one modification that I would make to the recipe is to puree the sauce in a food processor after being cooked. The consistency of the cherries is too close to chicken thigh fat for people who are texture sensitive (such as my husband). I would try this recipe again with the aforementioned change, my whole family thought it was a good weekday dinner.

For the recipe go to Pan-Seared Chicken with Cherry-Tarragon Sauce.

May 21, 2011

Everyday Food Pasta with Eggplant-Tomato Relish

Earlier this year I decided I was, for the most part, going to stop buying store-bought pasta sauce. Due to couponing combined with sales, I had accumulated a large amount of both pasta and jarred sauce, which was beginning to take over my pantry cupboard. It was at that point that I decided I was going to start making my own pasta sauces from scratch. A recent issue of Everyday Food had a recipe for pasta with eggplant-tomato relish that looked simple and delicious.

This is a very easy recipe that has few ingredients. My local grocery store had all of the components needed and the prep time is only 5 minutes. My eggplant-tomato mixture took less than the 30-40 minutes of roasting time, which might have been due to the fact that I forgot to tear the tomatoes, so they were roasted whole. The end result tasted great, so I don't think that the over site made a significant difference to the recipe.

Everyone in my house thoroughly enjoyed this dish. I appreciated how little prep time the dish took and that most of the work was done by the stove and oven. My boys love any pasta dish and this recipe was a hit. The vegetables make this a hearty dish, which my husband particularly appreciated. I actually salted my pasta water efficiently, so the dish came out perfect. I'm slowly progressing on my salt inadequacies, it's a work in progress. All-in-all  this is a recipe that I will definitely put in my recipe folder.

For the recipe go to Everyday Food pasta with Eggplant-Tomato Relish.

May 20, 2011

Better Homes and Gardens Fresh Raspberry Bars

I have a major sweet tooth; I can't go a day without eating something sweet. My two boys seem to have inherited my love of sweets, while me husband craves saltier snacks. Since I eat sweets so frequently I tend to tire of sweet recipes relatively quickly. I'm always scouring cookbooks and magazines for new recipes to bake and I was intrigued when I saw a recipe for fresh raspberry bars in the May issue of Better Homes and Gardens.

The ingredients used in this recipe are very easy to find---there were even five different brands of goat cheese available at my local grocery store! I followed the recipe and used 4 oz of goat cheese and 8 oz of cream cheese, instead of using all cream cheese, which was also an option in the recipe. I finally bought a new citrus grater, making shredding the lemon peel a much more enjoyable experience. I wish that I had bought a new one years ago. I followed everything in the recipe as written. I found that my prep took less than the stated 20 minutes and the recipe is very easy to follow. I did not sprinkle the finished bars with powdered sugar, since I forgot to purchase it at the grocery store during my weekly trip.

I really like these bars, they remind me of mini cheesecakes. My two year old loved them also and ate 3 as soon as they had chilled. My husband thinks that the bars might as well be made with only cream cheese. He doesn't like that the bars lack a goat cheese flavor and would rather enjoy the goat cheese with crackers. The two people that had these bars who like sweets appreciated these and I would definitely make them again, possibly using all cream cheese to see if the flavor is any different (and to save some money).

For the recipe go to Fresh Raspberry Bars.

May 19, 2011

Martha Stewart Living Boeuf Bourguignon Soup with Horseradish Chive Bread

As the summer months approach, my time for making new soup recipes is coming to an end. My desire for hot foods plummets when temps spike into the 90's, so  I have been hunting down the last of my soup recipes to test out. I pulled out a recipe for boeuf bourguignon soup with horseradish chive bread a couple of months back from Martha Stewart Living and figured I would give it a try.

There are few ingredients that I have a very hard time finding as long as I don't mind going to multiple stores. However, I have met my match in regards to finding bone-in beef short ribs. After looking at three separate stores in my region I asked the butcher and was informed that price of ribs has gone through the roof due to too many rib joints opening in the region. My next idea was to purchase a roast and use a soup bone, however, the butcher also informed me that the stores make more money selling the bone to dog food companies and therefore don't always sell them to the general public. So ultimately I had to make a major modification to this recipe due to unavailability of beef ribs. Instead of the ribs, I substituted a well-marbled beef roast. The other modification that I made to the recipe was that I used the bottle of Merlot in my fridge that I use for cooking, instead of the suggested Burgundy. The price of Burgundy is incredibly high currently and the cost isn't justifiable for my family budget.

The prep time for this recipe is short and the active cooking time only about 20 minutes of the roughly 3 hour total. My prep took slightly longer due to the fact that I had to cut my roast into pieces, instead of using short ribs, which would not have required the additional prep. The recipe is simple and easy to follow, with minimal effort involved. The bread portion of the recipe is particularly easy, the bread is store bought, with only a horseradish-chive butter being added.

Even though I had to substitute two major ingredients in this recipe, the end result was delicious. The bread was a particular highlight, with a sweet taste that my two boys particularly enjoyed. My husband remarked that the bread reminded him of a great alternative to steak house garlic bread, that he would definitely eat again in the future. I was denied my soup leftover the next day due to my two-year-old sticking his hand into the soup pot in the fridge, I will have to make this recipe again so I can enjoy multiple bowls!

For the recipe go to Boeuf Bourguignon Soup and Horseradish Chive Bread .

May 18, 2011

Taco Two Ways: Chickpea Curry and Shredded Beef

I'm always at a loss as to what to do with leftovers in my house. My husband packs his lunch to work and most days that entails a frozen meal of some sort, because it's the easiest to transport. I try to eat as many leftovers as I can the next day, but I am often still left with a freezer full of past meals and no idea what to do with them. Recently my husband came up with a good solution for leftover chickpea curry and shredded beef: he made tacos.

For the curry tacos he used corn tortillas, placing Bengali chutney on one side, topped it with the leftover chickpea curry, yogurt and cilantro. The shredded beef taco consisted of the beef, green salsa, shredded Mexican cheese and topped with cilantro. Alternating the two tacos while eating cut down on the spicy flavor of the chickpea curry taco. It was a great way to use leftovers in a new way!

May 17, 2011

All You Chicken with Artichokes and Lemon

I love making chicken dishes, but I'm not a fan of plain grilled chicken breasts or bland baked chicken. In my ongoing quest to find a decent dish,  I've tried countless chicken recipes that have turned out dry or simply flavorless. My husband and two boys love chicken thighs, so when the May issue of All You magazine had a recipe for chicken with artichokes and lemon, I jumped at the chance to find a decent chicken recipe.

The prep involved for this recipe is next to nothing. The artichokes are canned and the lemon only has to be sliced, the recipes suggestion of 5 minutes might even be on the high end. All the ingredients are easily found at any supermarket, my store even had multiple brands of artichokes available. The cooking required is not active; the dish cooks itself for most of the 20 minutes. I didn't have to make any modifications, the recipe works well as written.

This is a great weeknight recipe. My whole family enjoyed the dish and my children ate the leftovers for lunch the next day. I like that the dish is quick to prepare and that I can do other things while it finishes cooking on the stove. My husband pointed out that the sauce would be great on fish and I agree that it would make a great addition to a boring recipe. All in all this would be a chicken dish that I would feel confident about serving to friends and family in the future.

For the recipe go to All You Chicken with Artichokes and Lemon.

Artichokes on FoodistaArtichokes

May 16, 2011

All You Guacamole with Cumin Chips

My husband loves guacamole. One of his friends (a culinary school grad) makes very good guacamole and every couple of months my husband tricks him to making a batch for him. I haven't made guacamole since we got married, so I figured that it was about time that I let my husband's friend off the hook and made some myself. The May issue of All You magazine featured a guacamole with cumin chips recipe, which seemed perfect to try.

This is a very easy recipe to follow. There are few steps involved and no actual cooking, with the exception of the cumin chips. The ingredients are simple and easy to find; the only problem I ran into was finding decent avocados in my area. I had to go to multiple stores before I was able to find ones fresh enough to use. I only used one baking sheet to bake the cumin chips, which resulted in some of the chips on the side of the pan burning; next time I would follow the instructions and use an additional sheet.

My whole family thoroughly enjoyed this recipe. My young sons have been resistant to eating avocados in the past, but this recipe they loved, with the older boy especially enjoying the bright color of the red onions. I loved that it was so simple to prepare and I was able to make it while waiting for dinner to be finished. My husband appreciated that the recipe doesn't rely on garlic like many other guacamole recipes. I think from now on I will make my husband guacamole using this recipe so that his friend is no longer quite so exploited for his Tex-Mex cooking skills..

For the recipe go to All You Guacomole with Cumin Chips.

Note: this post was previously published but bumped offline during Blogger's recent system upgrade.

May 15, 2011

Clementine's Butterscotch Brownies

As my two children grow bigger and bigger, I am finding myself going through larger and larger amounts of snacks. I am diligently trying to cook from scratch as much as I can, both for health and my checkbook. Snacks are a recipe category that I am always trying to find new options that taste good and can be an occasional treat for my family.  My local newspaper, the Charleston Sunday Gazette-Mail, had a re-printed recipe for Clementine's Butterscotch Brownies that looked perfect for family snack.

This is a truly easy brownie recipe. The brownies only require two bowls for preparation and the ingredients I already had in my pantry cupboard. I recently bought an oven thermometer to accurately gauge my disco-era oven's temperature more effectively. My brownies for this recipe took 5 minutes less than the suggested 25-30 minutes of baking time. Other than the temp difference I made no other substitutions or adjustments to the original recipe.

These brownies are a great combination of sweet and salty. I find regular chocolate brownies to be overly sweet at times and these ones were just right. I would definitely make these brownies again, they are a quick and easy family friendly snack.

For the recipe you can go to the original link at the Los Angeles Times website: Clementine's Butterscotch Brownies.

May 14, 2011

Family Fun Pork-Rib Ragu

With two kids under 5, I am always looking for quick, easy meals to get on the dinner table. Slow cooker recipes are a popular cooking method for me because I can put the ingredients in the crock pot in the morning and forget about it until dinner time. However, I tend to get stuck in a rut with the slow cooker, making the same beef recipes time and again. Recently, the April issue of Family Fun magazine had a recipe for Pork-Rib Ragu that looked like a great alternative to my normal slow cooker repertoire.
As with most slow cooker dishes, this recipe is very easy to prep and prepare. One recommendation that I have that the recipe does not suggest is to brown the pork ribs before placing in the slow cooker, it helps the meat to retain its juices and flavor. The ingredients were readily available, with the exception of the pork ribs. The only baby back ribs available in my area were far more than the 4 lbs required and very expensive. Spareribs were additionally unavailable so I purchased country ribs. I followed the recipe suggestion and served the dish over egg noodles. 

The taste of this dish was excellent. However, as with most pork slow cooker recipes that leave the bone-in, I was left with small pieces of pork bone in the finished product. While, this would be a minor problem for an adult, for a child it is a choking hazard. In the future for this recipe I would use a pork butt roast, which would have the same great pork flavor without the bone fragments. I will say that the flavor of this dish was great and would be something that my family would enjoy in the future made with the pork roast substitution. This is definitely a dish I would try again with the above mentioned modifications. 

For the recipe go to Family Fun Pork-Rib Ragu.

May 11, 2011

Food and Wine Chickpeas in Spicy Tomato Gravy

My husband and older son love Indian food. However, the town we live in has very few ethnic restaurants, so our choices of places to get good Indian food is limited at best. I have tried cooking various Indian recipes from cookbooks that I have acquired, but the taste has been off or just mediocre. The March issue of Food and Wine magazine had a spread on Indian food and the recipe for chickpeas in spicy tomato gravy caught my attention.

This is one of the easiest recipes to follow. The prep time is minimal and the food processor does most of the chopping work. All the ingredients were very easy to find, I had the spices already on hand in my pantry. Unlike many Indian recipes that I have tried in the past this recipe takes no previous experience making Indian dishes and the instructions and cooking procedures are incredibly easy to follow

The resulting dish from this recipe was great. My two boys ate all their chickpeas off their plate (with large amounts of yogurt mixed in) and my husband thought it was some of the best Indian he had eaten outside of London. I like that the recipe is very easy to follow and the taste was spot-on to similar dishes I have eaten in restaurants. My one big suggestion is to have yogurt on hand to mix in this curry, the 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper packs a spicy punch. I don't suggest cutting down on the spice, it would take away the essential flavor of the dish. This is definitely a dish that I will be making in the future!

For the recipe go to Food and Wine Chickpeas in Spicy Tomato Gravy.

Pic of the curry with yogurt sauce added:

Fun pic of the curry using the AutoPainter:

May 10, 2011

All You S'mores Cookie Bars

With two growing boys in our house, we go through a vast amount of food every week. Recently, I have been attempting to make as many things from scratch to both save money and help our overall health.  I have cut down on the amount of junk food that I buy, but I still believe in baking treats from scratch (a little of anything is fine). I hate making the same old treat recipes, so I was intrigued when a recent issue of All You magazine had a recipe for s'mores cookie bars.

I only had the basic baking ingredients for this recipe in my pantry, I had to purchase the chocolate chips and marshmallow fluff. I had to make a major modification to the recipe due to the fact that I forgot to purchase graham crackers on my grocery store trip. I remembered that I had multiple graham cracker crusts about to expire that I had bought on a mega event at Kroger for almost free after coupon. I broke up the crust and substituted it for the graham cracker crumbs. The overall prep for this recipe is very easy, just make sure that you don't get the marshmallow fluff all over yourself like I did. The baking time was longer than 35 minutes for my disco-era oven. It took about an additional 10-15 minutes baking time.

 These are very rich cookies. I think I may have ended up using more than the 2 cups of marshmallow creme suggested, because my cookies look gooier than the recipe pictured. The slightly burnt marshmallow taste is definitely reminiscent of s'mores and my favorite part of the cookie. My family enjoyed these cookies, I think if I made them again I would cut down on the marshmallow fluff to see if it gave the bars a better consistency.

For the recipe go to All You S'mores Cookie Bars Recipe.

May 9, 2011

Martha Stewart Everyday Food Pork Fried Rice

Living in a college town, our area has an abundance of Chinese restaurants. I have tried my fair share and have been mostly disappointed. Thinking I could make better Chinese food from scratch I have tried numerous recipes with mixed results. Fried rice is one of the recipes that I haven't been able to find that doesn't taste like a bad replica of a good dish. Recently, an issue of Martha Stewart Everyday Food had a recipe for pork fried rice, that looked promising.

All of the ingredients in this recipe are simple; I was able to buy everything easily at my local grocery store. The prep time is slightly longer than the suggested 15 minutes if, like me, you forgot to make the cooked rice ahead of time, adding an additional 20 minutes to the overall time spent. Additionally, I grind my own pork with a KitchenAid attachment, and forgot to do it ahead of time so it took me another 5 minutes or so to prep the meat. I think my overall prep and cooking time ended up being closer to 45 minutes total. The cooking portion of this recipe is very easy, I was able to complete it with no problems while my four-year-old anxiously awaited dinner.

This dish was a big hit with everyone in my family. My husband and I were pleased to finally find a pork fried rice recipe that actually tastes like it wasn't the result of some wild-hair guesses about ingredient amounts and my four-year-old ate his serving and then tried to steal his younger brothers portion. I liked that, with the soy sauce, my dish didn't end up being under-salted (a problem I'm working on). This is definitely a dish that will be added to my list for future use.

For the recipe go to Everyday Food Pork Fried Rice Recipe.

May 8, 2011

McCormick Spiced Springtime Sugar Cookies

I have a major sweet tooth and bake something to satisfy it about once a week. However, I have a hard time finding recipes that aren't overly sweet or just plain boring. Cookies are the worst offenders; I love chocolate chip, but most other varieties leave me wanting something more. This is particularly true of sugar cookies. They look great decorated, but the actual cookie is soft and mundane. A recent issue of Martha Stewart Living had an advertisement for McCormick with a recipe for spiced springtime sugar cookies that looked out of the ordinary.

All the ingredients used in this recipe are simple and I had all of them on hand in my pantry. The prep work is super minimal. I let my dough sit in the fridge overnight. When it came out of the fridge, it was too cold to work properly, so I would suggest only putting it in for a couple hours. My oven tends to run hot, so my cookies took slightly less than the 8-10 minutes suggested.

Overall, this was a great spin on the traditional sugar cookie. My kids loved the taste and my husband and I appreciated that they weren't run-of-the-mill. The cookies taste slightly spicy from the nutmeg and cinnamon, which produces a nice undertone to the sweetness. This is one cookie recipe that I will definitely be using again.

For the recipe go to McCormick Spiced Springtime Sugar Cookies.

May 7, 2011

Better Homes and Gardens Beef and Noodle Toss

Weekdays in my house can turn into chaos around dinner time. My two-year-old starts his melt-down from lack of napping and my four-year-old tries to snack his way through the evening. Trying to get a decent dinner on the table can be difficult, so I'm always looking for quick, good-tasting new recipes. The April issue of Better Homes and Gardens had a recipe for beef and noodle toss, which caught my attention.

This recipe promises supper, super fast, with 25 minutes from start to finish. All the ingredients are basic, many of them people would already have on hand in their pantry. The prep work is minimal, I bought pre-sliced mushrooms, so the only thing I had to cut was the beef sirloin. I did have a hard time breaking the lasagna noodles in half, most of them broke into three or four pieces. From start to finish this recipe actually took less than the 25 minutes suggested and was super easy.

The older boy really enjoyed this recipe; he even ate the leftovers out of the fridge the next day. My younger guy picked out all the tomatoes and mushrooms, which is normal for him. I thought this recipe was a quick, delicious way to get dinner on the table during the weekday, when time can be at a minimum. The one suggestion I have is to make sure that you salt the pasta water sufficiently. I undersalted my water and the dish was not salty enough, even after salt was added (undersalted pasta is almost impossible to compensate for in a dish). Overall, this is a dish I would definitely make again, especially if I was strapped for time.

For the recipe go to Beef and Noodle Toss.

May 6, 2011

McCormick Cinnamon-Stewed Chicken and Spicy Roasted Coriander Rice

I have tried countless product advertisement recipes found in magazines over the years and most have failed to meet my expectations. The taste ends up focusing too much on the ingredient being sold and too little on the taste of the overall recipe. I was surprised to find two recipes for McCormick in a recent issue of Bon Appetit magazine and decided to give them a try.

These two recipes use the new line of McCormick roasted spices, which were easily found at my local grocery store. They come with a bright yellow plastic seal that is easily recognizable on the spice shelf. All the ingredients involved in these recipes are easy to find, including multiple types of basmati rice available in my local Kroger. The prep time for these recipes was slightly more than the suggested 15 minutes, but no more than 5-10 minutes. Overall, the cooking and prep was simple and the dishes turned out better than expected.

My family really enjoyed these dishes. Both of my children ate the chicken contently and my husband loved the sauce around the chicken (he mixed the sauce and rice to make a wrap using lavash bread). I thought the rice had a great taste and I would definitely use the chicken recipe again (note: it was even better the next day).

For the recipe go to McCormick Cinnamon-Stewed Chicken with Spicy Roasted Coriander Rice.

May 5, 2011

Cream Scones with Currants

I have tried just about every scone recipe that I have in my large cookbook collection. Some have been great, some just mediocre. My main complaint has been with the prep work, which can be hassle. Last Sunday the Charleston (WV) Sunday Gazette-Mail had one that looked intriguing.

This is the easiest scone recipe that I have ever tried. There are very few ingredients and most can be found in your pantry. The prep work is minimal and the total time involved short. I did have to add more flour than suggested in order for the dough to not be overly sticky. I also increased the baking time for the tops to brown.

This is a recipe that I would use again. The scones were light and tasted great, with little time spent. The one thing that I would change next time would be to brush the tops with heavy cream instead of milk to promote the tops to brown more.

The Charleston Sunday Gazette-Mail does not have the recipe on their site, but it can be found here.

May 4, 2011

Martha Stewart Living Tomatillo and Chipotle Salsa

I have never been good about remembering to buy condiments and accompaniments for my dishes. Many times I will come home from the supermarket and get groans from my husband because I have forgotten the coleslaw for the hotdogs or the salsa for the tacos. Recently, I have been trying to make things from scratch, but haven't had much luck finding any good salsa recipes. When I received my May issue of Martha Stewart Living I was pleased to find a recipe for tomatillo and chipotle salsa.

If I had known how easy salsa was to make before this recipe, I would never have purchased store bought. With only 4 ingredients, the prep work is next-to-nothing and the total time is far less than the hour suggested. All the ingredients were easily found at my local supermarket, which, much to my delight, recently expanded their fresh produce section and now carries tomatillos. I used frozen chipotle chiles from my freezer leftover from previous recipes and used slightly more than the suggested 4. The resulting salsa was a bit on the spicy side, but made a great topping to the Spicy Shrimp Quesadillas from one of my earlier blog posts.

This recipe was very simple and quick to put together. My husband really enjoyed it, it was too spicy for my children. After following this recipe I will definitely make my own salsa in the future.

Martha Stewart Living does not currently have this recipe on its website, but it can be found in the May 2011 issue of the magazine.

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