2011, Recipes 61 & 62: Taco Chicken Bowls & Peach Sangria

Taco Chicken Bowls
Recipe courtesy of Budget Bites

She said this was the first recipe people use with their slow cooker so I did NOT want to disappoint when using my new slow cooker for the first time!  Especially since I LOOOOOVE Mexican food! :)  Her blog is all about low-cost meals so that's why the prices are included.

1.5 lbs. chicken breasts $2.90
1 (16 oz.) jar salsa $1.99
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained $1.19
1/2 lb. (8 oz.) frozen corn $0.57
1 Tbsp chili powder $0.15
1/2 Tbsp cumin $0.07
1/2 Tbsp minced garlic $0.10
1/2 tsp dried oregano $0.03
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper $0.02
1/4 tsp salt $0.02
to taste cracked pepper $0.02
2 cups dry rice $0.66
8 oz. shredded cheddar $2.49
1/2 bunch cilantro (optional) $0.45

1: Add everything except the rice, cheese, and cilantro to the slow cooker along with 1/4 cup of water (for good measure). Give everything a good stir and make sure the chicken is covered in the mixture.

2: Secure the lid on your slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hrs.

3: Near the end of the cooking time, cook the two cups of rice according to the package directions (Bring the rice and 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot with a lid in place, as soon as it reaches a boil, reduced the heat to low and let simmer for 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving).

4: After 8 hours of cooking, carefully remove the lid of the slow cooker. Stir with a fork to shred the chicken (it should be super tender and will shred easily). Build the taco bowls by placing rice on the bottom, then the taco chicken mix, shredded cheese and fresh cilantro.

Results: I used brown rice because we have a ridiculous amount of it and I don't love rice that much anyway.  More than adequate substitution.  Smelled GREAT!  Everyone was mad it took so long since we were sitting around the house smelling it.  I cooked it on high so it only took four hours.  Topped with homemade guac! Delicious!

Recipe courtesy of Epicurious.com
  • 2 firm-ripe peaches, cut into thin wedges
  • 1/2 cup peach schnapps
  • 1/3 cup superfine granulated sugar
  • 3 cups chilled rosé wine (750-ml bottle)
  • 2 cups chilled sparkling water
Stir together peaches, schnapps, and sugar in a large pitcher until sugar is dissolved and let stand 1 hour.
Stir in wine, sparkling water, and some ice.

Results: SO GOOD!!!!  I used a champagne rosé so I didn't need the sparkling water.  You should triple or quadruple this recipe b/c you WILL want more! :)


2011, Recipe 60: Rustic Peach Cake

Recipe courtesy of Mehan's Kitchen
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1/2 c unsalted butter
  • 1 c flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 egg
  • 4-5 sliced peaches or 16-20 pitted plums, sliced in half
  • raw sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon for topping
Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter and sugar and then add flour, baking powder, salt and eggs. Beat well. Spoon batter into springform pan and place sliced peaches (with or without skin) skin side up on top of batter. Sprinkle with about 1 spoon of lemon juice and then 1 spoon cinnamon and sugar. Bake 40 minutes to an hour. Cool. Top with whipped cream.  Cake freezes well.

Results: Several warnings about this cake.  One, it looks like next to no batter when you mix it all up.  Two, you will smell it almost the second you put it in the oven.  This let me know there was no way it would take an hour to cook as the recipe stated.  I added that 40 minutes because mine was a little burnt in spots at 45 minutes.  I would say after 40, check it by sticking a toothpick in the center.  When it comes out dry, your cake is ready.

Despite those thing and my huge skepticism, this cake was really yummy.  It tasted like pound cake with peaches in it.  I tried to make it all pretty and my heavier peach slices sank to the bottom anyway.  I'm sure that's why she says skin side up.  It was delicious.  Next time I'll use the full four peaches.  Also... I got to use my new cake plate! :)


2011, Recipe 59: Eggplant Stuffed with Quinoa

Recipe courtesy of The Gourmand Mom
  • 2 baby eggplants
  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place quinoa and vegetable stock in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and gently simmer for 15 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat. Keep covered and allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Gently fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, cut the eggplants in half lengthwise. Use a knife to cut around the edges being careful not to cut through the skin. Leave about a 1/4 inch remaining around the edges. Use a spoon to scoop out the middle.

Chop the scooped eggplant into small pieces. Drizzle with olive oil. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, parsley, salt, crushed red pepper, and about 2/3 of the goat cheese crumbles. (Reserve the remaining 1/3 of goat cheese crumbles for topping the stuffed eggplants.)

Once the quinoa is cooked, gently toss it with the eggplant mixture. Rub the outside of the eggplant skins with a small amount of olive oil, then place on a baking sheet. Generously stuff each skin with the quinoa mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining goat cheese crumbles on top of each eggplant during the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Results: Yummy!  I used regular eggplants because they were on sale! $.99/lb. Also, did you know Whole Foods has goat cheese for $2.99 for 4 oz.  And it was $6.99 at Harris Teeter!! I was so proud of myself for knowing my prices and getting a great deal!  The eggplant was so large, we each had just half of one.  It was my first time making quinoa and I was extra pleased!  Yummy!  Rashan didn't like it so much, though.  Ah well.


2011, Recipe 58: Middle Eastern Rice with Black Beans and Chickpeas

Recipe courtesy of Allrecipes.com

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup uncooked basmati rice
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bunch chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 1 bunch chopped fresh parsley (optional)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in garlic, and cook 1 minute. Stir in rice, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. Cook and stir 5 minutes, then pour in chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes.
  2. Place the turkey in a skillet over medium heat, and cook until evenly brown.
  3. Gently mix cooked turkey, garbanzo beans, black beans, cilantro, parsley, and pine nuts into the cooked rice. Season with salt and pepper.

Results: I used brown rice instead of basmati.  Just cook it according to the package if you're using brown rice subbing stock for water.  I always sub stock for water in recipes like this one.  I also don't believe in pine nuts because they're so ridiculously expensive.  I bought them ONCE when I had access to the Dekalb World Market in Georgia (better known as HEAVEN).  The prices at the place = out of this world!!  Love it!  This was so yummy, y'all!!


2011, Recipe 57: Chicken Paillard with Fresh Fig Salad & Blue Cheese

Recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence

3 tbsp honey
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot, chopped
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
½ medium lemon, juiced
1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1½ lbs.)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ lb pancetta (I just used bacon)
extra virgin olive oil
¼ lb blue cheese, broken into hunks
1 bunch arugula, trimmed
1 small basket seasonal figs, halved
tarragon leaves for garnish, if desired

1. Prepare vinaigrette: Whisk together all of the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Prepare chicken: Sandwich chicken breasts between 2 layers of plastic wrap and pound them very thin with the side of a meat cleaver or a rolling pin. Remove chicken from plastic wrap and season well on both sides with salt and pepper.
3. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Unroll the pancetta so it looks like big strips of bacon. Add it to the pan and fry it like a tangle of bacon until the fat is rendered, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
4. Drizzle a 2-count of olive oil into the pan with the pancetta drippings. Add the chicken and pan-fry for 3 to 4 minutes on each side to brown the breasts and cook them through. Use a spatula to remove the chicken to the paper towels with the pancetta. Add the vinaigrette to the sauté pan and heat for a few minutes, stirring, to deglaze the bits of pancetta and chicken from the bottom of the pan; take the pan off the heat.
5. To serve, arrange the chicken on a platter. Scatter the blue cheese, arugula, figs, and pancetta over. Drizzle the dressing over everything and garnish with the tarragon leaves.

Results: So yummy!  But expensive.  There was no reason for me to buy sherry vinegar since this recipe only called for a tablespoon.  I should've paid attention to that before I bought it.  Don't be surprised if you see a bunch of sherry vinegar recipes on here soon.  Figs were on sale, arugula was not and ridiculously priced.  Easy recipe, though.  Just sounds fancy. 


Oy, vey! Oysters!

Hey, y'all! Sorry this post took so long, I lost the paper I wrote my list and descriptions on! While packing for my next trip to DMV (and possibly NYC), I found it in between jeans. Weird.

Anyway, when I went to Grand Central's Oyster Bar, I was presented with a menu and time. I read over the menu and decided I wanted 6 from each coast. I was once told west coast oysters are smaller and sweeter whereas east coast are bigger and saltier. I wanted to put that to the test by choosing 2 oysters from each location. I'll start with West Coast oysters.

Emerald Cove from Washington: the first one was very milky and basic tasting (alkaline). Almost like eating liquid soap. The second one was better b/c the mignonette sauce (MS) cut thru the basic taste.

Hama Hama from Washington: very salty at first, goes down good! The second one was too intense with MS. Salt + Acid doesn't taste too good.

I tried to order Snow Creek, Yaquina, and Totem Inlet but they were out. It looked like my west coast oyster tour has ended. I didn't want to eat anymore from Washington but the other states like Oregon and Cali were perkin. Now for East Coast.

Martha's Vineyard from Massachusetts: first one was salty! But unlike the HamaHama's, the second one tasted much better with MS!

North Haven from Maine: this was a bitter oyster. I remember making a medicine face. It became sweet when paired with MS.

Beaver Tail from Rhode Island: the first one was bland, the second one was AWESOME with MS! It was my fave of the bunch! Note to self, get RI oysters whenever possible and have plenty of mignonette sauce available.

Cape Breton from Nova Scotia: this one was recommended to me by a Russian couple seated next to me. The man overheard my trouble with various west coast oysters and suggested I try this one. He looked like he eats people who don't follow directions (think the typical russian goon bad guy in movies) so i didn't want to tell him I was trying to get an equal number of oysters from each coast... anyway, it was a nice oyster and better with MS. I was still in love with the RI oyster.

I thought about ordering some more Beaver Tails and trying different ones but I was kind of full. Remember, I had a hotdog, shackburg, and fro-yo! No worries, I walked EVERYTHING off freakin around in NYC!

So that was my oyster adventure! I can't wait to go back and try some more!

*my notes are cracking me up. You should see the exclamation points and capital letters I used to emphasize each oyster*


2011, Recipes 54-57: Indian Meal

Y'all.  I ALMOST cooked an additional side! So crazy!  This was a lot of work but it came together quite deliciously!
Chicken Curry
Recipe courtesy of allrecipes.com
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
  • 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
  • salt to taste
  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute onion until lightly browned. Stir in garlic, curry powder, cinnamon, paprika, bay leaf, ginger, sugar and salt. Continue stirring for 2 minutes. Add chicken pieces, tomato paste, yogurt, and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.
  2. Remove bay leaf, and stir in lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Simmer 5 more minutes.
 Results: Yummy!  Very flavorful!  As you'd expect from a recipe with this many ingredients!

Jasmine Rice
Recipe courtesy of Allrecipes.com
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup green peas
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 cups dry jasmine rice
  • 3 cups water
  • salt to taste
In a large saucepan over a medium-low heat, warm the oil. Add onion and saute for 3 to 5 minutes. Mix in green peas, bay leaf, and jasmine rice. Stir to coat the rice.
Pour 3 cups water into the saucepan and add the salt. Increase the heat to medium and let the rice come to a quick simmer. Reduce heat to low and let rice simmer lightly and sit uncovered until all of the liquid is absorbed. Cover the rice and remove from heat, let sit approximately 40 minutes.

Results: Yummy! :)

Indian Potatoes, Peas and Cauliflower
Recipe courtesy of Epicurious.com
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 4 cups cauliflower florets, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
 Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes and ginger; sauté until potatoes are lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Mix in cauliflower, then salt, turmeric, chili powder and paprika; sauté 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water; cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add peas and simmer 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Results: YUMMY!!  Y'all know this household is nuts about potatoes! These were yummy!  I might use them to make samosay tomorrow! :)

Indian Dahl with Spinach 
Recipe courtesy of Allrecipes.com
  • 1 1/2 cups red lentils
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 pound spinach, rinsed and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
Rinse lentils and soak for 20 minutes.

In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil and stir in salt, lentils, turmeric and chili powder. Cover and return to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook 5 minutes, or until lentils are soft. Add more water if necessary.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and saute onions with cumin and mustard seeds, stirring often. Cook until onions are transparent, and then combine with lentils. Stir in garam masala and coconut milk and cook until heated through. 
Results: Tasted a bit dull.  It needed more salt and something else... I'm not sure what, though.

Bonus Recipe: Garam Masala
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Mix cumin, coriander, cardamom, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg in a bowl. Place mix in an airtight container, and store in a cool, dry place.

Results: Quick and easy! This is the pre-mix color array. Like!

Recipe 53: Pumpkin Cake in a Mug

I always forget to post these recipes if I don't do it immediately.  I've been on a pumpkin kick lately.  Don't be surprised if you see another pumpkin recipe or two on here in the next month.  No, I don't feel bound by fall! :)  I was intrigued by the idea of cooking a cake in the microwave!  I was like, I can give up 5 mins of my life to give this a shot!  MAKE SURE YOU USE A GIANT MUG!!

Recipe courtesy of Cakespy.com
  • 7 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Dash of ginger, ground cloves and nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 tablespoons chopped pecans (optional)
Mix together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, ground cloves and nutmeg. Add egg, milk and vanilla. Mix well, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the mug. Stir in the pumpkin and pecans.

Cook for 3 minutes on high on a microwavable plate, followed by 2 minutes at 50% power. Turn the mug upside down to release the cake onto the plate.

Note: She also suggests coating the inside of the mug with a no-stick spray to ensure easy release. I forgot this step since it wasn't in the recipe itself and mine still came out fine.
Results: First, you know I don't like nuts so I definitely didn't add those.  Second, I couldn't find my ground cloves! That made me batty!  I have since found them.  I added extra nutmeg since I love me some nutmeg.  Third, can you believe I get distracted when I'm cooking/baking and have to count above 4?  I'm always like wait... was that 5 or 6? Oh geez... It usually turns out okay tho! LOL  This one was way wetter than your average cake.


Recipe 52: Vegetable Lasagne Casserole

Recipe courtesy of Food Network Kitchens
  • 2 small zucchini
  • 2 small summer squash
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 7 ounces low-fat goat cheese
  • 1/3 cup pitted Calamata olives
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 recipe tomato sauce (they include a recipe but I used jarred sauce)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Slice zucchini and yellow squash lengthwise into 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick strips. Lay the strips out on baking sheet pan and salt generously. Set aside.
Roast the peppers over a gas flame or broil on a sheet pan until completely charred, about 8 minutes. Put the peppers in a bowl, cover, and set aside until just cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes. Rub the skins off the peppers with your fingers to remove most of the charred skin. Core and remove the seeds, then slice the peppers lengthwise into 1 1/2-inch strips.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Mix the goat cheese, olives, thyme, and red pepper flakes together in a bowl and season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Thoroughly wipe excess salt and moisture from zucchini and squash with paper towel.
Spread 1 cup of the tomato sauce into the bottom of an 8- by 11-inch baking dish. Begin layering, remembering to season with pepper between each layer. Start with the zucchini and then summer squash and all the peppers. Dollop spoonfuls of the cheese over the peppers and then spread it out to cover. Spoon half of the remaining sauce over the vegetables. Repeat with the remaining zucchini, squash, goat cheese, and sauce. Sprinkle top layer with Parmesan and bake, covered, for 30 minutes, then uncover. Continue baking until the vegetables are tender and the sauce thickens, about 30 minutes more. Let lasagna stand for 10 minutes before slicing.

Results: Don't be put off by the extensive directions.  This is really an easy layering recipe.  And it's delicious!  Rashan loved it AND it's vegetarian.  Also... it's my first time cooking as his wife! :)))  I love goat cheese.   It brings me joy.  He tought the olives gave this dish a meaty quality.  I always use more crushed red pepper than a recipe calls for and it was a great pay-off!  You could also buy jarred roasted red peppers to save yourself a step.  I had peppers so I roasted them in the toaster oven.  This recipe combined a bunch of stuff I love!  And it was fulfilling!