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Holy Cow...I Can Cook?

I started this food blog New Years 2010 to force myself to get in the kitchen and teach myself how to cook. Well it has been a year, and it turns out, cooking isn't so hard after all. I kept the promise I made to myself and cooked healthy yummy meals for my family all year. Once I just got in there, read the recipes, and experimented I found cooking is yet another form of artistic expression. Just like with my art, I let go of the fear of failure and found a new passion.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blackened Chicken Salad

You could just buy a spicy seasoning mix to use on this chicken, but I found that so many of them contain too much salt or MSG, so I included my spice-rub recipe at the end of this post. This salad and spice rub would also be great with fish!

3 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp honey
3 cups chopped tomato
3/4 cup diced yellow or green bell pepper
4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts
3 tbsp Spicy Seasoning *see recipe below
Cooking spray
1 lb green beans
8 cups torn romaine lettuce

1. Combine first 8 ingredients in a small bowl, stir with a whisk to combine.
2. Rub chicken evenly with Spicy Seasoning. Coat a large heavy skillet with cooking spray, and place over med-high heat until hot. Add chicken, and cook 7 minutes on each side or until chicken is done. Remove chicken from pan, and cool. Cut chicken across grain into thin slices.
3. Steam green beans, covered 2 minutes. Rinse with cold water, and drain. Combine green beans and lettuce in large bowl; drizzle with dressing and toss to coat. Top with tomatoes and chicken.

*Spicy Seasoning

2 1/2 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp ground red pepper
1 tbsp black pepper

1. Combine all ingredients; store in airtight container.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rosemary Balsamic Pork Chops

My main problem with pork chops is that they dry out really fast. This balsamic glaze really helps to flavor the pork chops and keep them moist. This dish is simple enough for a quick weeknight dinner, without being boring!

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 garlic cloves (minced)
4 boneless, center-cut, pork chops

1. Place vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by half (about 5 min)
2. Place a grill pan over medium-high heat. Combine rosemary, salt, pepper, and garlic; rub mixture over pork. Place pork in pan; cook for 5 min on each side or until desired degree of doneness, basting with vinegar. Let stand 5 min before slicing.

*Serves 4

I served the pork chops with wild rice, but it would be great with mashed potatoes or even creamy polenta

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chicken Cacciatore

This dish falls under the *Super Fast category. This recipe is really simple, but it tastes like you slaved over the stove. My kind of fast food!

1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast (cut into bite-sized pieces)
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
Cooking spray
2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
3/4 cup green bell pepper (chopped)
1 1/2 cups tomato-basil pasta sauce
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tbsp thinly sliced fresh basil

*Serve this over your choice of pasta. I served this over a bed of whole wheat spaghetti

1. Cook pasta according to package directions.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Sprinkle chicken evenly with oregano, dried basil, and red pepper. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; saute 2 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Add mushrooms and bell pepper to pan; saute 5 min. Stir in pasta sauce and wine; bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 min. Stir in salt and black pepper. Sprinkle with cheese and fresh basil.

Serves 4

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Banana Bread

What to do with the bananas my son does not eat? Make banana bread! I kept this recipe very simple so you could add nuts or dates if you wish to change it up. Just be sure to use really ripe bananas.

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter (softened)
3 ripe bananas (mashed)
1/4 cup fat-free milk
2 egg whites
2 cups flour
1/4 cup grape seed oil (or vegetable oil)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Beat sugar and butter until well-blended. Add banana, milk, oil, and egg whites; beat well.
3. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture, beating until blended.
4. Pour batter into a 9 inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Beer-Braised Beef

The ultimate comfort food dish! I used my husband Win's home brew beer for this recipe since it is always on tap at our house. When looking for a beer to use in this dish keep in mind, you want the beer to be dark but not too strong. A stout for example would be too overpowering, you just want a touch of toasted malt flavor and just a little hop bitterness.
*This is not a quick recipe. Give yourself a few hours to prepare this one!

3 tbsp flour
1 1/2 tbsp canola oil
1 lb boneless chuck roast (trimmed)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup beef broth
4 garlic cloves
1 12 oz dark beer
1 bay leaf
3 carrots (peeled & cut diagonally into 1/2inch slices)
9 oz small turnips (peeled and cut into wedges)
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Preheat oven to 300
2. Place flour in a shallow dish. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sprinkle beef evenly on all sides with 1/2 tsp salt and pepper; dredge in flour. Add beef to pan; cook 10 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Add broth, garlic, beer, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, scraping pan to remove browned bits. Cover and bake at 300 for 1 1/2 hours. Add carrots; cover and cook 25 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 tsp salt, turnips, and onion; cover and cook an additional 1 hour and 5 minutes until vegetables are tender and beef is fork tender.
3. Remove beef and vegetables from pan; discard bay leaf. cover beef mixture; keep warm. Let cooking liquid stand 10 minutes. Separate cooking liquid and fat; discard fat. Serve cooking liquid with beef and vegetables. Sprinkle each serving with 1 tbsp parsley.

Serves 4

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pine Nut and Shrimp Pasta

If you use your time right, this meal should only take about 30 mins. Most of the work can be done while the pasta water boils and the pasta cooks. You could also make this dish with chicken!

8 oz uncooked spaghetti
12 oz peeled & deveined medium shrimp (COOKED)
*I like the frozen shrimp at Trader Joes*

2 tbsp pine nuts
1 cup 1% milk
1 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil

1. Thaw shrimp if frozen. Bring water to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. While pasta cooks, heat a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add nuts to pan; cook 2 min. or until lightly browned.
3. Combine 1/2 cup milk and flour in a large saucepan, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Place pan over medium heat; gradually stir in remaining 1/2 cup milk. Stir in mustard and nutmeg. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and cook 3 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken, stirring constantly. Stir in salt, pepper, and shrimp cook another 2 min. Add drained pasta, cheese, and chopped basil. Toss gently to combine. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with pine nuts.

Serves 4