Wednesday, June 23, 2010

No Bake Banana Cream Pie

I am a firm believer of not turning my oven on during the summer unless it happens to be unseasonable cool for the day. If we had air conditioning it "might" be another story, but I still doubt I'd turn it on! So in order to still make delicious foods I look for no bake options. My daughter, who has loved banana's ever since she first time she had them, has suddenly refused to eat them, which means I had some really ripe ones I needed to get used up. I always keep vanilla pudding/pie mix on hand so it was a no brainer as to what to make. My only issue was the pie crust. Sure I could have turned the oven on for a bit to cook the crust but it was already 75 degrees in the house and turning the oven on just seemed like a very bad idea. So I started looking for some no bake pie crusts and actually found a few. I had never made a graham cracker crust that didn't need to be baked but it makes sense. You can do the same with chocolate and vanilla wafer cookies and even pretzels! Of course they work best for fridge/freezer pies, which again, makes it great for this recipe!

What You Need:

1 1/4 c graham cracker crumbs
1/4 c sugar
6 tbs melted butter
2 pkg vanilla pudding/pie mix
milk called for by the pudding/pie mix
4 very ripe bananas

What To Do:

In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs with the sugar and melted butter. Stir until it is well moistened and press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9 inch pie plate. Place in the freezer for one hour before filling.
In the meantime, mix the pudding mix with the milk, following the directions on the package. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap, pressing the wrap down so that it touches the top of the pudding. This prevents the pudding from forming a skin. Place in the fridge until set.
When the pie crust is chilled, mush two very ripe bananas and spread them on the bottom of the crust. Smush the other two bananas and stir them into the pudding. Fill the pie shell with the pudding mix. Garnish with whipped cream or grate some chocolate on top. Make sure to keep it in the fridge.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Stove Top Eggplant Parmesan

I know I've said this a lot lately but during the summer, I honestly hate truing on the oven. It's hot enough without adding the heat of turning on my gas stove. It does, however, leave few choices on what to make for supper. I can't tell you how many cheeseburgers, BBQ Chicken samies, and bratwurst we've eaten since the weather has gotten hot. Craving something different, I started digging through my freezer and found some eggplant I had left over from the the last time I made eggplant Parmesan. During the colder months when I do use my oven quite a bit, I tend to make extra of whatever it is that I'm making that night. Eggplant, that has been breaded and cooked freezes well and I thought to myself, well it's just eggplant, tomato sauce and cheese so why can't I do it on top of the stove? I tried it and it was pretty darn good! Took a lot less time too, since the eggplant was already made and I just basically heating everything through. If you don't have any already cooked eggplant in your freezer, you can easily make some for the dish by slicing the eggplant into rounds, breading it by dipping it into egg and then into bread crumbs and cooking in a tiny bit of oil in a skillet. I cooked up some spaghetti and made a quick salad to go along with it. There was plenty of sauce in the pan with the eggplant for the spaghetti so I didn't have to make any extra.

What You Need:

Several slices of breaded and cooked eggplant
1 (28oz) crushed tomatoes
1 tsp dried oregano
2 cloves minced garlic
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

What To Do:

In a large skillet, heat the tomatoes together with the oregano and garlic. Let simmer for about 15 minutes. Arrange the slices of eggplant into the sauce, pressing them down to be covered.

Sprinkle with cheese. Place a lid on and simmer for another 5-10 minutes until the eggplant is heated through and the cheese is melted.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Parmesan Crusted Chicken

Chicken is a huge staple in this house. My husband isn't as crazy about a nice juicy steak as I am so chicken is the dish of choice. I struggle sometimes to find new ways to prepare it. Chicken is a great protein. It's low in fat, and mild in flavor which means you can do almost anything to it. It can become tough and dry when overcooked, and if not seasoned properly, it's bland and tasteless. Parmesan cheese creates a tasty crust on the chicken and helps to take care of the blandness factor. It also helps to keep the chicken moist during the cooking process. This very basic dish can be served as is or with some tomato sauce and melted cheese on top for a quick Chicken Parmesan dish. You can also cut the chicken into strips and place in on a roll with lettuce, tomato, and the rest of your favorite sandwich ingredients for a tasty Chicken Finger sub. The possibilities are endless!

What You Need:

4 chicken cutlets
1 c flour
salt and pepper
2 eggs
1 tbs water or milk
3/4 c bread crumbs
1 c grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbs butter
2 tbs olive oil

What To Do:

Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs with the water or milk. In another bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Dredge the each chicken cutlet into the flour, then into the eggs and finally coat into the breadcrumb and cheese.

Heat a sauté pan over medium high heat. Once hot, add in 1 tbs of olive oil and 1 tbs of butter. Sauté 2 of the chicken cutlets for a few minutes on each side, or until they are golden brown and crunchy. Remove from the pan and add the remaining tbs of butter and oil. Sauté the last two cutlets and serve.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Beef and Broccoli

Who doesn't like the american version of Chinese food? The saucy, mostly fried goodness that you get from most  Chinese restaurants is full of MSG among other less desirable ingredients. However, I know a lot of you foodies across the land can't pass it up on occasion. That's why I've tried making my own on a few different occasions. You might remember a couple months back I posted a recipe called General Oranges Chicken, my version of a General Taos. Well today's recipe is Beef and Broccoli and very easily adaptable into chicken and broccoli or even shrimp and broccoli. Just change the type of protein your using and adjust your cooking times accordingly. This recipe calls for flank steak, however when I went to purchase the flank steak I notice that it was twice the price of sirloin steak and almost the same cost as a rib eye steak or strip steak. So of course, I went with the sirloin. Again it just shows how easy it is to change up a recipe to suit your budgets, tastes and lifestyle. One quick note: It's easier to thinly slice the steak or chicken if it's still partially frozen. I've also used left over steak that I've thinly sliced.

What You Need:

1/2lb flank or sirloin steak, thinly sliced.
3/4lb broccoli florets
2 tbs veg or canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cornstarch, dissolved in 1tbs water

1 tsp soy
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp cornstarch
salt and pepper

2 tbs oyster sauce
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbs soy
1/4c chicken broth

What To Do:
Combine the marinade ingredients and let sit on the meat for at least 10 minutes.
Combine the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl and set aside.
Blanch the broccoli and set aside.Heat a large sauté pan or wok over hight heat. Add in the oil and cook the meat in a single layer, stirring once to get both sides. Add in the garlic, sauce, and broccoli. Bring to a boil. Stir in the dissolved cornstarch and cook until the sauce thickens.
Serve over rice.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Chicken Cordon Bleu

When most people think of chicken cordon bleu, they think of these frozen breaded, uniformed shaped, pressed together chicken breast that you pop in the oven or even fried. Contrary to popular belief, the dish wasn't founded by the famous Le Cordon Bleu cooking schools of Europe. In fact, this isn't even a European dish at all but an American one. While no one knows for certain who created the dish, it's thought that a chef that was simply substituting a cheaper cut of meat, chicken, for the Swiss dish of Veal Cordon Bleu which is made in much the same the way.
Chicken Cordon Bleu is a favorite in my house. While I certainly don't make it in the tradition way of breading the chicken before cooking, it's still filled with ham and cheese and rolled up. I also make a sauce out of some white wine and chicken stock and pair really well the dish.

What You Need:

2 chicken breast, butterflied and pounded thin
4 slices of ham
8 tbs shredded Gruyère cheese
Salt and Pepper
1/2 c flour
garlic powder
3 tbs white wine
1/2 c chicken stock
2 tbs olive oil
3 tbs butter

What To Do:

After pounding the chicken thin, I'll cut in half so that I get 4 smaller portions out just 2 breast. You can certainly use the entire breast if you so choose, especially if your breast happen to be on the small side. Season both sides of the breast with some salt and pepper and a little garlic powder.

There are two ways to keep the cheese inside of the chicken breast, instead of melting all over the pan. The first way, is to the take a piece of ham, place two tablespoons of the shredded cheese in the center and make an envelope with the ham, packaging up all four sides so that the cheese is contained with in. The second way, is after you place the ham the cheese in the center of the chicken, is to roll up the chicken borritto style. To do this, fold the bottom up, fold the sides in, and roll the chicken the rest of the way up.

Once you have the chicken all rolled up, dredge them in the flour and place into a hot skillet with the olive oil and 2 tbs of the butter. Cook about 3-5 minutes per side, depending on how thick your breast are. They should take on a nice brown color. After they're browned, remove them to a platter and deglaze the pan with the white wine and chicken stock. Bring it up to a bubble, then lower to a simmer and return the chicken back to the pan along with any juices that may have collected on the plate. Cover and let cook for another 5 minutes. This assures that the chicken is cooked all the way through, and the cheese is melted, as well as letting the rich flavor of the sauce soak into the chicken. Remove the chicken to a serving platter and whisk in the remaining tablespoon of butter. Drizzle the sauce over the chicken and serve.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sizzling Chicken and Cheese

When my husband and I first starting dating, our date place was always TGI Fridays. I loved their frozen Cosmopolitans and their Jack Daniels shrimp. My hubby loved most of their chicken dishes but his favorite was their Sizzling Chicken. We haven't been in years, mostly because we've moved away from our home town and I couldn't even tell you if the menu is what I remember.
Sizzling Chicken and Cheese is flavorful, gooey, and just amazing! The chicken is marinated first before being sautéed with bell peppers and covered in cheese. What is not to like about this dish???

What You Need:

2 tbs olive oil
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 c shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
2 slices American Cheese
1 green pepper, julienned
1 red pepper, julienned
1 onion, sliced

2 chicken breast
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs chopped parsley
1/3 c olive oil
1 tsp crushed red pepper
salt and pepper

What To Do:

In a bowl, whisk together all the marinade ingredients, except for the chicken. Place into a resealable plastic storage bag along with the chicken. Press out as much air as possible so that the marinade surrounds the chicken. Let marinade for a few hours.

In a skillet, over medium heat, sauté the onions and peppers in the 2 tbs olive oil until they start to soften. Add in the garlic. Push the peppers and onions to the side of the pan and sauté the chicken until browned on both sides. Place the chicken on top of the peppers, then cover with the cheese. Place a lid on the pan for a few minutes or until the cheese has melted. Serve!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sloppy Joe's

This is no manwich so if that's what your expected you're going to be slightly disappointed and pleasely surprised. I hate processed foods. I try to avoid them at all cost, in other words, meals that come out of a can or out of a box almost never grace my table. That means I need to find new ways to make all the tasty foods that everyday Americans eat. Sloppy Joe's are something from everyone child's hood. I'm sure you fondly think of the mess they used to create when eating them. My mom always ate them opened faced with a fork and knife and now that I'm a 'grown up' I tend to eat them same way. It sucks all the fun out them, I know, but at least my shirts stay clean now!!

What You Need:

1lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes
3 tbs brown sugar
3 tbs Worcestershire sauce
3 tbs red wine vinegar
2 tbs yellow mustard
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper

What To Do:

In a large, deep skillet, sauté the ground beef till cooked. Drain whatever fat may have cooked out. Add in the onions, peppers, and garlic and cook for a couple minutes. Add in the rest of the ingredients and stir until well combined. Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook for at least 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cook longer depending on how thick you like your sloppy joe's. Serve over hamburger rolls.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Stuffed Zucchini

Trying to incorporate more vegetarian dishes into our diets, I needed to find ways to make them taste good. I am first and foremost a carnivore. I will pick a thick, juicy, rare, steak over just about anything else. However, all that red meat isn't always so healthy. To counteract that, I like to find creative ways to eat dishes with no meat in them what so ever. Stuffed Zucchini is an easy, delicious way to do just that. While it can be turned into a meat dish very easily, I quite enjoy them stuffed with a mixture of bulgar wheat, and herbs. If you're unfamiliar with bulgar, it's a whole grain full of fiber and protein with a slightly nutty flavor.

What You Need:

1 small zucchini per person or 1 large zucchini for two people
Olive Oil
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
salt and pepper
1 cup cook bulgar wheat
unseasoned bread crumbs
Parmesan Cheese

What To Do:

Slice the zucchini in half and using a spoon, or small cookie scoop, scoop the insides out of the zucchini, and chop them up into bite sized pieces. In a sauté pan, over medium heat cook the chopped zucchini and minced onion in a small amount of olive oil until tender. Add in the garlic, oregano, thyme and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Cook for another minute before stirring in the cooked bulgar. Add enough bread crumbs to soak up any excess moisture, being careful not to add in to much. Spoon the mixture equally into the hulled out zucchini, drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes or until the zucchini is softened and the filling is golden.
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