Monday, May 24, 2010

Chicken Piccata with Pasta

This is a recipe from Ree Drummond, aka Pioneer Woman. It looks very good, and I thought the boys would like it too. But holy cow, did I have to make some changes. If this recipe is in her cookbook, just pull out your copy and a pen and save yourself a lot of time and hungry children by making changes now.

First, I had an issue with the cooking time Ree claims on the chicken, even with pounding to even out the breasts, I cooked mine for 6 minutes on a side (double what PW suggests) and they STILL weren't done. Call me crazy, I have issues with serving raw chicken. Just cook your chicken until done, I think I cooked mine about 8 minutes per side, then begin to reduce all that wine and broth and lemon juice, and realize that there is No Way In Hell dinner will be ready in 30 minutes.


I only used 1 lemon, and I am sooooooo glad. The flavoring was perfect, tangy and delicious. I would have hated it with two whole lemons. (gee, PW, "expect a real tang" and "expect to add more broth and cream"?? why not just knock off a lemon in the beginning??) The sauce didn't really thicken up very well. Could be I was getting impatient and starving...

Number One and I loved the chicken, and I will make it again, following my adaptation. The boys were another story. I don't know if they were just full from snacking while dinner took For-Ever to cook, or if they truly didn't like it, as they claimed. I'll try to serve their leftovers tomorrow and report back I guess.

Chicken Piccata & Pasta
Adapted from Pioneer Woman's Chicken Piccata

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes (more like an hour, at least!!)
Servings: 4

4 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
Kosher Salt To Taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
4 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour
4 Tablespoons Butter
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 cup Dry White Wine
¾ cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
2 whole Lemons (I used juice from 1 whole lemon)
3/4 Cup Heavy Cream
Chopped Fresh Parsley
1 pound Angel Hair Pasta (we were out of angel hair, I used spaghetti)

Have a pot of water simmering for the pasta.

If chicken breasts are overly thick, pound until slightly flattened. Sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides, then dredge in flour.

Heat 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry two of the chicken breasts at one time until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes on each side; a little longer if breasts are thicker, a little shorter if breasts are thinner. (I fried mine for 6 minutes on a side, and the big ones were still raw in the middle. I'm sure I fried the breasts for about 8 minutes per side) Remove to a plate, then add the other 2 tablespoons each of butter and olive oil. Fry the other two breasts until golden, monitoring the oil/butter mixture to make sure it doesn’t burn. Decrease heat as needed!

After removing the chicken, have the heat on medium to medium-low. Pour in wine and chicken broth, and squeeze in the lemon juice. Whisk the sauce, scraping the bottom of the pan. Allow sauce to cook and bubble and thicken until reduced by about half. (this takes at least 20 minutes, even raising the heat back to high)

Reduce heat to low and pour in cream. Whisk together and allow to cook for a couple of at least ten more minutes until sauce thickens. Taste and adjust seasonings. Sprinkle in some chopped parsley and stir.

Right at the end, cook angel hair until al dente—do not overcook!

With tongs, place a medium-sized mound of pasta on a plate. Place a cooked chicken breast beside it, then spoon sauce over the chicken and the pasta. The sauce is strong, so no need to drown it. Sprinkle a little minced parsley over the top.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Mom's Sloppy Joes

Sometimes when you get a craving, you just have to give in. And it has to be "just like Mom made it" or it just won't do! So I last night I took a pound of ground beef out of the freezer and emailed my mom for her sloppy joe recipe. These are delicious, and I think perfect for summer. Even if it's only May.

I don't ever remember Mom measuring the ketchup or mustard, so I didn't either. Just taste it to make sure it's neither too ketchupy nor too mustardy (or I suppose you could measure if you must). My beef was still frozen solid, despite spending all night "thawing" in the fridge, so I started that first, then added the onions and celery, then read the part about the butter and threw that in there too. As Number One says, "you can't really mess up sloppy joes."

Oh, and I didn't drain mine at all either. Our beef is pretty lean, and it didn't make sense to me to waste all that butter.

I don't know where she got the recipe, and I don't know how many it makes. All I know is, this is perfection. Try it and see how many you get, and I'll try to keep count tonight. I'm going to eat two sloppy joes, maybe even three, and maybe with pickles. Where'd you get the recipe anyway, Mom?

UPDATE:  As you can see if you read the comments, my mom got this recipe from my grandma, her mother-in-law.  As for the butter, I've taken to making a double batch of these, but just using one stick. 
You can make them however you'd like, but this is the way my family likes them!!


Mom's Sloppy Joes

1 stick butter (or 1/2 stick, your choice)
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced or diced, - if I have it

1 pound ground beef
1 (10-3/4 ounce) can Campbell's Chicken Gumbo soup
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup mustard
hamburger buns
pickles (optional, but good)
Saute onion & celery in 1 stick butter. Add ground beef. When beef is cooked, drain & add soup, catsup & mustard. Simmer for 20 minutes. Serve on hamburger buns, with pickles if desired.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Taste & Create Partner List

It's that time again! Here is the Taste & Create partner list! Please remember to submit your creations to Nicole's Taste & Create website by May 24th. If you have any questions or problems, please feel free to email me at cowgirlmin07 [at] gmail [dot] com.

Have fun!!

Sweet and Savory Says It All & Eats Well With Others

The Misadventures of Mrs. B & For Such a Time as This

My Year on the Grill & Dragon Musings

Mangia, Figlie & The Bad Girl's Kitchen

A Bolder Table & Always Eat on the Good China

Mommie Cooks & No Reason Needed

My Year of Self Development & Culinary Delights

If you'd like to enter next month's Taste & Create, the fabulous event which pairs food bloggers randomly and tasks them with preparing one of their partner's recipes, please visit the how it works page for an email address to sign up~sign up deadline is the 8th of the month. And don't forget to tell your friends how fun this event is!

Breakfast Strata with Spinach and Gruyere

We were served this strata at a brunch a couple weeks ago, and I just happen to have the recipe. It comes from The Best Make-Ahead Recipe. It's a delicious strata, but it's not my favorite strata to date. (My favorite so far has asparagus, sausage and fontina, and I have to tell you it's much easier to make than this one too!)

Sorry, I don't have a picture for you, maybe next time!

Breakfast Strata with Spinach and Gruyere
Serves 6 to 8

Though each strata calls for a certain type of cheese, feel free to substitute any good melting cheese, such as Havarti, sharp cheddar, or colby. Be sure to use supermarket-style loaf bread with a thin crust and fluffy crumb; artisan loaves with a thick crust and chewy crumb don't work well here. The strata needs to sit in the refrigerator, well covered, for at least 8 hours in order to achieve the desired consistency, and it can be made up to 24 hours in advance.

16-20 (1/2-inch-thick) slices supermarket French or Italian bread
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for the baking dish
2 large shallots, minced (about 1/2 cup)
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
Salt and ground black pepper
1 cup dry white wine or vermouth
12 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded (about 3 cups)
12 large eggs
3 1/2 cups half-and-half

1. Adjust 2 oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Spread the bread out over 2 baking sheets and bake until dry and light golden brown, about 25 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking time. Let the bread cool completely and then spread butter evenly over 1 side of each bread slice, using 4 tablespoons of the butter.

2. Meanwhile, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook until warm, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the wine to the skillet and simmer over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes; set aside to cool.

3. Butter a 13 by 9-inch baking dish and tightly fit half of the bread slices, buttered sides up, into a single layer in the dish. Sprinkle half of the spinach mixture, then 1 cup of the cheese evenly over the bread slices. Repeat with the remaining bread slices, spinach mixture, and 1 more cup of the cheese.

4. Whisk eggs in a large bowl until combined, then whisk in the reduced wine, half-and-half , 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the bread layers and sprinkle the remaining 1 cup cheese evenly over the top.

5. TO STORE: Wrap the strata tightly with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap flush to the surface of the strata. Weight the strata down (three 1-pound boxes of brown or confectioner's sugar, laid side-by-side over the plastic-covered surface, or a gallon-size zipper-lock bag filled with about 2 pounds of sugar or rice, make ideal weights for the assembled strata.

6. TO SERVE: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Meanwhile, unwrap the strata and let it sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Bake the strata, uncovered, until puffed and the edges have pulled away slightly from the sides of the dish, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before serving.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Navajo Stew

I'd never had this stew, despite living in the Four Corners region...but I had a pork shoulder thawed and waiting to be used. I also have all these ingredients in the pantry, and there is hardly any prep work. Perfect for a day I don't really feel like cooking...although my pork roast is twice the size the recipe calls for, I guess we'll see what happens!

The recipe comes from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook, which has some very different, tasty and relatively easy recipes in it.

Currently in the slow cooker, pictures and review tonight!

Navajo Stew
Serves 4 to 6

Here is real home cooking from Four Corners (where New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Arizona meet). This is a fast, easy meal. Serve it with bread, rice, and a green salad.

Cooker: medium or large round or oval
Settings and cook times: LOW for 7 to 9 hours, then HIGH for about 20 minutes; chickpeas and chiles added during last 20 minutes

One 2- to 2-1/2 pound Boston pork butt, trimmed of all fat (I didn't trim)
1 large yellow onion, cut in half and sliced into half moons
Water to cover
One 15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
One 4-ounce can roasted whole green chiles, drained and cut into 1/2- to 1-inch-wide strips
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In the morning, put the pork butt and onion slices in the slow cooker and add just enough water to cover. Then cover and cook on LOW until the pork shreds easily when pressed with a spoon, 7 to 9 hours.

When ready for dinner, cut the pork butt into cubes or break into uneven pieces. Return to the cooker, add the chickpeas and chiles, turn the cooker to HIGH, and cook until hot, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. You can thicken the sauce if you like by taking off the lid and cooking for another 15 minutes on HIGH. Serve in bowls.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Taste & Create, Anyone?

I'm doing a plug for my friend Nicole, the creator of the Taste & Create food blog event and fellow food blogger at For the Love of Food. Nicole's been bogged down in housing construction, subsisting in a 400 square foot apartment with barely a kitchen, so in the meantime I've been hosting T&C.

Taste & Create is a fantastic event in which food bloggers are randomly paired off, tasked with choosing and preparing any of their partner's recipes--and then blogging about it, of course. To read more about it, go to How It Works.

Do YOU want to play?

If you'd like to participate this month, please email me at cowgirlmin07 [at] gmail [dot] com by May 9th. I'll send out partner assignments by the 11th, and submissions will be due on the Taste & Create website by May 24th.

That's all there is to it. Usually we have a variety of participants from all around the world, and it's a ton of fun to meet new friends and discover new ingredients!

Hope you'll join us!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Molten Chocolate Cakes

When your husband's birthday is on a weekday, it's still nice to put together a dessert. Not an elaborate dessert, because chances are you're exhausted, but a delicious dessert. For this, I happened to pick up my Everyday Food: Great Food Fast cookbook, where I found a recipe for Molten Chocolate Cakes. Cakes that take only 15 minutes of prep time.

The cakes took about that long to put together, and then baked while we ate dinner. By the time they were out of the oven and had stood for 10 minutes, we were just about ready for dessert. They unmolded easily, and looked great. I forgot to dust them with powdered sugar, but luckily we had some whipped cream in the fridge.

Decadent, molten chocolate, with a surprising slight crunch from the sugar lining the muffin cups. Delicious. Make sure you have whipped cream, and a glass of milk, you'll need it!

Also, you can prepare the batter through step two up to two hours ahead, then cover and refrigerate. Before baking, uncover and bring the batter to room temperature.

Molten Chocolate Cakes
Serves 4 Prep time: 15 minutes Total time: 35 minutes

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for muffin tins
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for muffin tins
3 large eggs
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted*
confectioner's sugar, for dusting
whipped cream, for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Generously butter 4 cups of a standard muffin tin. Dust with granulated sugar and tap out excess. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and granulated sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With the mixer on low speed, beat in the flour and salt until just combined. Beat in the chocolate (do not overmix). Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. (there is a lot of batter, and it's thick and fluffy. you'll have to pile it in the muffin cups, only 4 of them, even though you'll be tempted to use 5...)

3. Place the muffin tin on a baking sheet; bake just until the tops of the cakes no longer jiggle when the pan is slightly shaken, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven; let stand for 10 minutes.

4. To serve, turn out the cakes, and place on serving plates, top sides up. Dust with confectioner's sugar, and serve with whipped cream, if desired.

*Melting Chocolate: Place finely chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water; stir until just melted.

--Break up the chocolate into small pieces, place in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave at half-power (50%) for 30 second intervals, stirring between each interval, until melted and smooth.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mary's Green Curry Turkey Burgers with Asian-Style Cucumber Relish

When Mary of One Perfect Bite stopped by my blog today with her sweet comment on Make Your Own Pizza, I knew I wanted to stop by hers. I had been at a loss for what to make for dinner. I know we all have those moments, mine just seems to be dragging on for a week or two.

Mary's recipe for Green Curry Turkey Burgers was the first one I saw, and it was all I needed. I had an afternoon trip to the store planned (H-Bomb is always always hungry when he gets out of school and needs a snack or three for the 45-minute ride home), so I was able to pick up the few ingredients I needed.

I did finally find ground turkey in the freezer section of the teeny tiny grocery store, but it's not anywhere near what sounds like Mary's freshly-ground turkey. This turkey was too finely ground, like mush to be precise, and when I mixed it up with the relish, there was no way it would hold its shape. I added a cup of oats to the mix, and it was just right.

I'm glad I used two whole pounds of turkey, because the green curry I had (I only used a teaspoon, I swear!) is s p i c y, and I've got two young, hungry boys to feed! I didn't adjust any of the other ingredients, other than what is noted below. I felt like my burgers were quite large, so I cooked them for about 6 minutes on a side. I wanted to grill them, but I was worried about how they would hold up, so I just fried them in a bit of olive oil.

These burgers are everything I thought they'd be. They were delicious, and slightly spicy, and a nice contrast of flavors and textures. The curry is a natural with the turkey, and the cucumber relish is such a perfect complement. The boys (ages 4 & 6 1/2, remember) didn't care for the burgers. Sawed Off at most of his bun, H-Bomb ate some cucumber relish with the onions picked out. Number One and I loved them.

Thank you Mary, for your lovely comment and your delicious recipe! I'm so happy you chose today to stop by!

Green Curry Turkey Burgers with Asian-Style Cucumber Relish

...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite


1 large English cucumber, cut in 1/4 to 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup finely minced red onion
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh hot green chilies

1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt, divided use

1 cup mayonnaise
1 to 3 teaspoons Thai-style green curry paste
1-1/4 pounds ground turkey meat (I used 2 pounds)
1 cup oats

4 lightly toasted brioche-style rolls
Garnish: Cilantro sprigs


1) Combine vinegar, water, sugar and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium sauce pan and cook, stirring occasionally, over moderate heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

2) Combine cucumbers, onions and chiles in a small bowl. Cover with cooled dressing and chill for several hours.

3) Combine mayonnaise, green curry paste and reserved 1 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Mix well. Remove 1/4 cup of sauce to another small bowl and stir 1/2 cup drained cucumber relish into it.

4) Add relish mixture to ground turkey and mix just until combined. Shape into 4 patties. In a large nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat, cook patties for 4 minutes on each side. Spread reserved mayonnaise mixture on top and bottom of warm rolls. Place a pattie on bottom half of each roll and cover with relish and sprigs of cilantro. Set roll tops in place and serve.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Make Your Own Pizza!

H-Bomb had a friend over after school yesterday. I thought it'd be fun for them to make their own pizzas. I pulled some Marinara sauce out of the freezer, and decided to use my Artisan bread dough for the pizza crust.

All I had to do was assemble the ingredients, roll out the dough, watch the boys assemble their own pizzas and bake!

The boys, ages 4, 6 and 7, had so much fun, and the two older ones each finished eating their entire pizza!

Make Your Own Pizzas

Artisan bread dough
Marinara sauce
pizza toppings:
shredded cheese
green peppers
anything you want!

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Gather pizza toppings. I put them in separate small bowls for easy access. Sprinkle a few baking sheets with cornmeal, in circles roughly the size of your pizzas.

I used a peach-size lump of bread dough for each pizza, shaped it into a ball with floured hands, let it rest, then used a rolling pin (and my hands) to roll it out to pizza size. Placed each round of dough on the cornmeal, and let the boys go at it with toppings.

I baked each tray of pizzas at 425 degrees F for about 20 minutes.

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