Thursday, May 5, 2016

Chicken Chop Suey

Growing up, I was always intrigued by those cans of chop suey mix. I have no idea why. Maybe it was the big, colorful label. Maybe it was the smaller can taped to the top. Maybe it was the fact that my mom refused to buy it. Who knows... I was a peculiar child. After I moved out on my own, I decided it was finally time to avail myself of the international delight that I had been cruelly denied.

Yeah. Mom was right. As usual.

I almost immediately set to work on making the best darned chop suey I could. If you have ever been subjected to the mushy, metallic-tasting glop from a can, please give this a try. It is worth every second of prep!

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed 
1 t. ground ginger 
1 T. oil 
1 small onion, cut into wedges 
1 small carrot, julienned 
2 C. celery, bias cut 
1/4 C. red bell pepper, chopped 
2 C. fresh snow peas 
2 C. fresh bean sprouts 
1 can sliced waterchestnuts, drained 
1 small can sliced mushrooms, drained 
dash garlic powder 
1 C. chicken broth 
1/4 C. soy sauce 
1 1/2 T. cornstarch 
1 t. sesame oil 
chow mein noodles and hot cooked rice

In small bowl, combine chicken broth, soy sauce, and garlic powder; whisk in cornstarch. Set aside. Heat wok over high until almost smoking. Add oil and stir-fry chicken until no longer pink (about 3 minutes), adding ginger about halfway through. Remove and set aside. Reheat wok, adding more oil if necessary. Stir-fry onion, carrots, celery, and bell pepper for 2 minutes. Add pea pods; stir-fry 1 minute. Add bean sprouts; stir-fry 1 minute. Add waterchestnuts, mushrooms, and chicken; stir-fry until heated through. Add sauce mixture to wok; cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Add sesame oil and stir thoroughly. Serve over rice, topped with chow mein noodles.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Chicken Enchiladas

These enchiladas are our family Cinco de Mayo tradition. They're not exactly authentic... or fast and easy... but they're well worth the effort!

3-4 C. cooked chicken, shredded or diced
1 (7 oz.) can chopped green chilies
1 (8 oz.) block Monterey jack cheese, shredded and divided in half
3 green onions, sliced
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 C. sour cream
1 t. cumin
1 package large corn tortillas (one dozen)
oil for frying
1 (20 oz.) can green enchilada sauce

Preheat oven to 375°.  In a large bowl, combine chicken, chopped green chilies, HALF the shredded jack cheese, green onions, cumin, sour cream, and undiluted cream of mushroom soup.  Combine well.  In a large frying pan, heat about 1/2" of vegetable oil to about 350°.  To test, tear off a piece of one tortilla and slip it into the oil... if it sizzles right away, it's ready.  Fry each tortilla BRIEFLY (about 10 seconds on each side), just until softened; drain on paper towels and pat off excess oil.  Set aside until all tortillas are fried.  Pour just enough enchilada sauce into the bottom of a 9x13" baking dish to cover the bottom; shake around to coat.  Place about 1/3 C. of chicken filling on each tortilla and roll up; place in baking dish.  Pour remaining enchilada sauce over filled tortillas and sprinkle with remaining jack cheese.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until heated through and bubbly.  Let stand about 5 minutes before serving.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Best Meal I Have Ever Made

Just in time for Mother's Day... save it for Valentine's Day... here it is...


Well, for me, anyway.

I haven't made lamb in forever. It's just too darned expensive. The other day while perusing the "green meat case" (as my dad likes to call it), I discovered several racks of lamb marked 50% OFF!! I couldn't resist. I now regret not buying them all.

The only ways I have made lamb in the past is either marinating a boneless leg and cooking it on the rotisserie or marinating and pan-frying chops. I'd never done an intact rack before. But hey... cooking meat isn't rocket surgery as long as you read and follow instructions. I can do that.

And I did.

Please excuse the splooge of balsamic on the lamb, but this was THE BEST DAMN MEAL I HAVE EVER MADE!!! Roasted rack of lamb with garlic and herbs, truffled smashed red potatoes, and roasted asparagus with balsamic reduction. I impressed even myself.

Garlic and Herb Roasted Rack of Lamb

1 8-bone rack of lamb, bones frenched
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 T. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1/4 C. Italian parsley, finely chopped
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
additional olive oil

Several hours before cooking, combine garlic, herbs, and olive oil in a small bowl. Allow to stand around and make snide comments about your cooking skills. Tell it to shove off every once in a while. Have a beer. About an hour before cooking, take lamb out of fridge. Turn on kitchen fan, open all windows, and disable smoke alarm by tearing it off the wall and throwing it in the utensil drawer. If you do this right, there's gonna be some smoke. Right before preheating skillet, pat lamb thoroughly dry with paper towels and season all sides generously with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 350. Heat cast iron skillet large enough to hold the entire rack of lamb over medium-high. Add about 1 T. olive oil to skillet and heat until smoking. Sear all sides (except ends) until golden brown. Remove from heat and drain excess fat from pan. Spoon garlic and herb mixture onto meat side of rack, covering as much as possible. Roast in oven for 15 minutes. Cover lightly with foil and roast for another 10 minutes. Remove skillet from oven, remove lamb from skillet, and place on plate or cutting board to rest for 10-15 minutes. Slice as desired and serve.

*if there is any herb mixture left, set it aside for the potatoes*

Truffled Smashed Potatoes

3 lbs. red potatoes
2 large cloves garlic, peeled
kosher salt
1 - 8 oz container chive and onion cream cheese spread
1/4 to 1/3 C milk
any leftover garlic and herb mixture from lamb
2 t. black truffle oil

Scrub and cut potatoes into approximately 2" chunks. Place in large pot along with garlic cloves. Cover with water to about 1". Add a couple tablespoons of salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 min. Drain thoroughly. Add cream cheese, milk, leftover herb mix, and a pinch of salt, cover, and let stand for at least five minutes. Mash with hand masher. Add truffle oil. Mash some more. Stop when you like the consistency. Cover, let stand five minutes, stir, and serve.

Perfect Oven Roasted Asparagus

1 bunch asparagus, rinsed and tough ends snapped off, dried thoroughly
olive oil
kosher salt

Preheat oven to 375. Place asparagus in a relatively single layer in roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle lightly with kosher salt, toss around, and roast for 7 minutes, tossing and turning asparagus halfway through. Remove from oven and serve as is or with your favorite topping, sauce, etc.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

This Thanksgiving, in particular, was very special. For one reason or another, I have never been able to have my family over for my Full Thanksgiving Experience (yes, it's a thing that needs capitalization). Now that we have our own house, complete with back yard, I insisted everyone come over and let me do EVERYTHING (with the exception of one salad and a salmon cheese ball).

I mention the back yard because I am all about deep frying turkeys. I have been denied one of my favorite past times due to living in an apartment for the past five years. I never asked, but I assumed the management of said apartments would probably frown upon vats of boiling oil over an open flame being used near buildings with people in them. They have no sense of adventure.

Our menu consisted of mashed potatoes, gravy (made from stock that took me nearly four hours... TOTALLY WORTH IT!), stuffing, roasted mashed red yams with toasted pecans and dried cranberries, fresh cranberry sauce, roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon, corn, spinach/bacon/pear/candied pecan salad, shaved Brussels sprout Caesar salad (probably my favorite out of everything!), dinner rolls, and various snacks...

Now you may be thinking, "But what about the turkey?" 

That, my friends, deserved more than photographs...

Friday, November 13, 2015

Stir Crazy Popper Curried Kettle Corn

Do you own a West Bend Stir Crazy popcorn popper? Do you love kettle corn? Did you know you can have it any time you want with this popper?

I DIDN'T!!! Until now, obviously.

Now you, too, may enjoy the never ending delight of making yourself some kettle corn whenever you want! Try it with the curry powder... omnomnomnom...

Stir Crazy Kettle Corn
1/2 C popping corn
1/3 C vegetable oil
1/2 t. curry powder
1/2 t. garam masala
1/3 C sugar (I used Sugar in the Raw, but the original recipe just said sugar)
Put ingredients in listed order into Stir Crazy popper. Cover with lid. Turn switch on. Turn off when kernels slow to about one pop per three seconds. Unplug, flip, then pour into serving bowl. Toss with salt before serving.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween 2015

I love Halloween. A lot. Back in the day I used to throw some pretty elaborate parties, but due to circumstances of life, I haven't been able to do that in years. 2015 was going to be the year I pulled out all the stops and showed everyone I still had it in me. Apparently I do (even though this morning my house looks like a bomb went off and Brian and I feel like we've been hit by a truck... lol)! All the weeks of planning and work totally paid off, and everyone had a fantastic time!

A couple weeks before, I started making decorations for the front porch...

A few days before, I started carving the pumpkins...

We had wanted to get everything set up before the day of the party, but we had a series of rather blustery storms roll through. My incredible husband took over and got everything done in the nick of time!

Lucky for me, Brian is a part-time DJ, so we have all these great lighting effects and a fog machine! I had wanted to have it out on the porch, but it was way too windy. We ended up using it in the living room and it was a great effect!

As usual, there was WAY too much food, but that's just how we roll. The complete menu was pulled pork sliders with coleslaw, brain dip, bacon-wrapped Lil Smokies, fresh guacamole with tortilla chips, crock pot spinach dip, eyeball deviled eggs, steamed dumplings with chili sauce, enchiladas and rice, various chips, crackers, and store-bought dips, crock pot apple crisp, and a graveyard cake. Thanks to my good friends Chrissy and Jill for bringing the desserts!

The original recipe called this a dip, but it was more like a shrimp mousse. Absolutely delicious!!

The classic puking pumpkin guacamole.

Jill's graveyard cake. So moist and delicious!

Almost all of the recipes, tutorials, and reference photos are on my Pinterest Halloween board if you're interested in doing some of them yourself. Feel free to check it out HERE.

And in case you're wondering, yes I AM already planning for next year!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Season 6 'The Walking Dead' Premiere Dinner!

No recipes tonight... just some photos of the fun (and TASTY!) dinner I made to celebrate the season premiere of one of our favorite shows, The Walking Dead. Enjoy!

Zombie head meatloaf-

Your favorite meatloaf recipe, onions, bacon, ketchup... you get the idea...

Orzo risotto and Parmesan cream spinach make for yummily gruesome sides...

Pretty sure it's dead now...

And for dessert, Carl's chocolate pudding with Carol's cookies!

We didn't climb on the roof to eat it though...