Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

In honor of my wonderful husband on his first Father's Day, I made him a special treat. This is something I would never in a million years make, except he loves it. I do not. Which means that this whole entire pie is his. I wonder how long it will take him to eat the whole thing?

When I first met my husband, his love of all things coconut grossed me out. Macaroons, German chocolate cake, coconut cream pie. Anything with coconut is loved by him. I do not love coconut (the texture is odd to me). I have learned to like it over the years, but I still do not love it. If it's placed in front of me in dessert form, I will eat it. I can't not give my husband his favorite thing, so off to make a pie I went.

He gets a German chocolate cake every year on his birthday. This year for his first Father's Day, I tried my hand at a coconut cream pie. I never realized how easy a cream pie was to make. I assumed I had to boil the filling to make it thick. This particular recipe required no boiling. I just needed to measure and mix.

This morning, at 7:00 am, while the wee one was sleeping, I went to work on the pie. It took me a grand total of 15 minutes to make. I will fully admit that I did not make the pie crust from scratch. If I had, it would have added a significant amount of time to my pie baking adventures.

The pie baked up beautifully, but it's missing something. I realized after about an hour what is missing: Whipped cream on the top. Don't coconut cream pies usually have a ginormous mound of whipped cream on them? Thankfully, I have some whipping cream in the refrigerator from a recipe a couple of weeks ago. Because I am a good wife, I will whip that up and top the husband's pie. He darn well better not ask for Cool Whip.

Here is the lovely pie before the whipped cream.

How did this taste? I have no idea. I don't like coconut remember? The pie sure looks pretty (with the exception of a little burnt edge. My oven has hot spots).

Coconut Cream Pie

1 pie crust
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 eggs
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons butter
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup flaked coconut

1. Mix together sugar, flour and nutmeg. Beat in eggs. Add milk and butter and stir. Stir in coconut. Pour filling in unbaked pie shell.

2. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.

Here is the lovely pie after the whipped cream. I would like to point out that by the time I took this picture, half the pie was consumed.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Cajun Night

Although I doubt many Cajuns eat a lot of pasta. At any rate, this recipe is called Cajun Chicken Pasta. I found it from the Pioneer Woman's website. I don't even remember what I was looking for on her site, but I stumbled across this. I never say "no" to a good pasta dinner, so I made this.

I don't know if there was something in the water last weekend, but I swear, my cooking kind of sucked. My cornbread topping didn't turn out (see last post) and when I was making this recipe, my cream sauce never thickened. Oh well. You can't win 'em all!

I have never made a recipe from the Pioneer Woman before, but I plan on making more! This pasta was really good. Even better? Eat it warmed up the next day. Both my husband and I agreed that it was better the next day.

I did a couple of things differently from the recipe. First, I didn't cook the chicken in batches. I have a huge pan so I decided to just cook it all at once. It was much easier for me this way. Also, I didn't have white wine, so I just used a bit extra of the chicken broth. I also made my own Cajun seasoning. It was very simple. Salt, pepper, paprika and some other seasonings. I used more than what the recipe called for since we love things spicy in our house. I am glad I used more too. There was the perfect amount of heat on the veggies and chicken.

This recipe was more time consuming than I am used to these days. That is not to say that it would be time consuming for you. After all, I purposely look for recipes that take less than 30 minutes because I am usually watching the wee one. I need simple. This was simple for sure. It only took a little bit longer than my regulation 30 minutes. It was very much worth it though!

I love pasta so I am glad I found something that had protein to make the husband happy, tomatoes and pasta to make me happy, and spicy to make both of us happy!

Cajun Chicken Pasta

3 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
3 teaspoons Cajun spice mix
1 pound fettuccine
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 whole green pepper, seeded and sliced
1 whole red pepper, seeded and sliced
1/2 large red onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 whole Roma tomatoes, diced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup heavy cream
cayenne pepper to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
chopped fresh parsley, to taste

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta when it's al dente. Do not overcook!

2. Sprinkle 1.5 teaspoons of the Cajun spice mix over the chicken. Toss around to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add the chicken in a single layer; do not stir. Allow chicken to brown on one side, about 1 minute. Flip to the other side and cook an additional minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a clean plate.

3. Add remaining butter and olive oil. When heated, add peppers, onions, and garlic. Sprinkle on remaining Cajun spice, and add salt if needed. Cook over very high heat for 1 minute, stirring gently and trying to get the vegetables as dark/black as possible. Add tomatoes and cook an additional 30 seconds. Remove all vegetables from pan.

4. With the pan over high heat, pour in the wine and chicken broth. Cook on high 3-5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Reduce heat to medium-low and pour in the cream, stirring/whisking constantly. Cook sauce over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until cream starts to thicken the mixture. Taste and add freshly ground pepper and cayenne pepper and/or salt and pepper to taste. Sauce should be spicy!

5. Finally, add the chicken and vegetables to the sauce, making sure to include all the juices that have drained onto the plate. Stir and cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes, until the mixture is bubbly and hot. Add the drained pasta and toss to combine. Top with the parsley.

Not Quite a Hit

Well, I should have known. Any time I try a recipe in the crockpot that calls for a biscuit or cornbread topping, I am disappointed. You might recall a post from a couple of years ago that was a disaster. The cornbread topping was mush. It never set up. This time, it set up, but it was almost chewy/gummy.

I am still going to post the recipe because the filling was a hit. The cornbread topper? Not so much.

I found this from the wonderful blog of 365 days of crockpot recipes. If there is something I want to try in the slow cooker, I know I can find it there. The last few recipes I made were a hit, so I thought I would try this one. What drew me to it was the fact that it took minimal "special" ingredients. Meaning, I could use most of my pantry staples and not have to buy any extra (aka: expensive) items. What did I have to buy? A sweet potato and a new container of barbeque sauce. Seriously, that's it. I had everything else on hand.

Funny story about the sweet potato. I bought it at the grocery store. It was in a bin labeled sweet potato. When I peeled it, it wasn't orange like I am used to. It wasn't a regular potato either. I honestly have no idea what the darn vegetable was, but I used it anyways. I figure it can't be so horrible since it looked like a potato, but it wasn't orange or yellow-ish like a regular potato. Anyone have a clue what it could have been?

This was very easy to put together. I pre-cooked the chicken like I usually do when a recipe calls for already cooked meat. I also cubed the vegetables earlier in the day so all I had to do was throw everything in the crockpot and hit go. Jack kept me company in the kitchen in his ExerSaucer while I cooked. I am going to have a mini chef on my hands in no time! He seems very interested as I talk him through what I am doing.

I was skeptical about the cornbread topping and whether or not it would set up. Surprise, surprise! It did. However, it didn't taste very good. I had a normal cornbread flavor, however, it was an odd consistency. I suppose that's because I put it in the crockpot, duh!

The chicken mixture was fantastic though! If I were to make this recipe again, I would double the chicken mix and serve it alongside some cornbread from the oven. Or, you could eat it with rice if you wanted to. The chicken mixture was just spicy and sweet enough. The addition of my unknown potato made it thick and slightly creamy. Plus, I love that you get some healthy veggies alongside the chicken.

If you are brave and want to doctor this recipe up to try and make the cornbread edible, I commend you! Heck, for all I know, it was operator error. It could be my fault that the cornbread didn't turn out very good.

Crockpot Barbeque Chicken and Cornbread Casserole

1 pound of cooked or practical cooked chicked, cubed or shredded
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cubed into 1-inch chunks (optional)
1 red onion, diced (optional)
1 cup frozen or fresh corn
1 bottle of your favorite barbeque sauce (18 oz)
1/4 cup hot water

Cornbread topping:
Use a mix and follow the directions on the box (minus the oil or butter), or mix together the following:

3/4 cup corn meal
1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking powder

* Spray the inside of your stoneware with cooking spray. Cut up the chicken and sweet potato, and add to the crock. Add the corn. Empty the contents of the barbeque sauce bottle, and then add the 1/4 cup hot water to the bottle, shake, and pour that in too. Mix well with a spoon.

* In a separate bowl, mix together the cornbread topping. You don't need to mix well. Spread the topping on the chicken mixture.

* Cover and cook on low 6 to 8 hours.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pizza Night

Don't many people splurge and treat themselves to pizza on the weekends? I am not one to be a conformist so I made our "pizza" dinner. Yes, that happens to be in quotes for a reason. It isn't really fair to say we ate pizza for dinner. We ate a variation of pizza.........In soup form.

Yes, soup.

Pizza soup! And wouldn't you know it? It tasted exactly like pizza, just in liquid form. Don't get grossed out because it was very tasty.

The crockpot was in use in our home on Saturday. I love my crockpot. I wish I had the time and the energy to use it every day like Stephanie from this blog:

She is an inspiration to me. Can you imagine making all your recipes in the crockpot for a year? Wow! Talk about dedication!

I was perusing her site again and came across this yummy concoction. I thought "hmmm, why not?". It had a lot of fresh veggies in it which made me feel less guilty. Really, the only "bad" ingredients are the pepperoni and sausage, and you can easily make them light by using the turkey varieties. I didn't because, well, I like the full fat stuff sometimes.

Being that easy is the motto I am trying to adhere to lately, I love using my crockpot. This recipe was very easy to make. All it really took was cutting the veggies. Cut and dump and plug in!

I loved that my house smelled like pizza all day. My husband even commented. We had a friend over briefly in the afternoon and even HE commented. Funny how that works.

I served this pizza/soup with sourdough bread, but if I had thought out my venture a little more, I would have bought pizza dough and made breadsticks. The sourdough worked just fine though.

If you aren't a fan of some of the veggies in this, you could easily substitute. Don't like onions? Take them out! Don't like fresh mushrooms? Used canned. If you really wanted to be a rebel, you could probably use more pizza sauce to make the recipe more pungent. I am not a rebel when it comes to trying a recipe for the first time though. I tend to stick to the original recipe and then doctor it later after I have made it once or twice.

I goofed when making this. In my haste to eat (hey, don't blame me, I was hungry), I forgot to add the pasta. Wouldn't you know? It still tasted delicious without it. Oops.

Thank you again to Stephanie for inspiring me to use my crockpot more! I plan on making another of her recipes soon.

Pizza Soup

1 jar (14 oz) pizza sauce
3 empty jars of water
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 of a red onion, chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup baby tomatoes cut in quarters (or 1 canned diced tomatoes, drained)
2 already cooked Italian sausages
1 cup sliced pepperoni, cut into quarters
8 fresh basil leaves, chopped (or 1/2 tablespoon dried)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 to 1/3 cup dried pasta
shredded mozzarella cheese (to add later)

Use a 5 or 6 quart crockpot for this recipe.

Wash and chop the veggies. Add to the crockpot. Cut up the sausage into bite sized pieces. Add to crockpot along with the pepperoni. Add the spices, pizza sauce and the water.

Cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours.

30 minutes before serving, add the pasta and turn to high.

Garnish/top with shredded mozzarella cheese.

The spots on the top of the soup in this picture is the cheese.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Words You Don't Hear Together

Three words that aren't typically heard together: Crockpot, buffalo, lasagna. No, really. If you are already repulsed, you are a weinie. Trust me, although you don't hear these things together, they taste so delicious together!
I love using my crockpot and since I am partially lazy and partially just don't have time, I have been relying on it a lot lately. This blog is fantastic if you ever want any crockpot recipe under the sun:

I wasn't looking for any recipe in particular when I went searching and I don't recall how I found this one. When I did find it, I knew I had to make it. One of Jason's favorite foods is buffalo wings. I wasn't sure how he would feel about incorporating those flavors into lasagna, but I didn't care. I have a fondness for pasta and he has a fondness for buffalo wings, so it's truly the best of both worlds in my mind.

Things that I did while making this:

* I prepped most everything on Saturday night. I precooked the chicken, cut it and mixed it with the sauces. The peppers got cut and the cheese got pre-measured. This made it very very easy to throw together this morning.

* I used Frank's Red Sauce in the buffalo style for the sauce.

* I used one each of the red, yellow and orange peppers. I thought it be really pretty, plus they came in a nifty package together at the grocery store for less money than buying them individually.

* When I was assembling the recipe, I made three layers, starting with the sauce. I was too lazy to make four and I thought three would be enough to hold together the ingredients.

* I bought pre-crumbled blue cheese. See laziness comment above. I also used more than 1/2 cup. You can't really have too much cheese can you?

This smelled AMAZING while it was cooking. My mouth was watering all day waiting for this to be finished. I was so tempted to eat dinner early just so I could taste it.

It tasted just as delicious as it smelled. I was surprised that with the amount of buffalo sauce that it wasn't spicier. It did have a nice slow burn to it, but nothing that would need antacids or a glass of milk. My only complaint is that I should have let it rest longer than 20 minutes. It still fell apart. It certainly didn't affect the taste, it just looked messy. You can see that by the picture.

Jason loved this! He made the comment "You can make this again", which means I have succeeded. He only reserves that statement when he really likes a recipe.

Look how beautiful this looks when assembled and before cooking:

Buffalo Chicken Lasagna
from: A Year of Slow Cooking

uncooked traditional lasagna noodles
4 already cooked chicken breast halves
jar of prepared pasta sauce
1 cup buffalo wing sauce
3 red, yellow or orange bell peppers
tub of ricotta cheese (15 oz)
2 cups shredded cheese (Mexican or cheddar/mozzarella blend)
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
1/4 cup of water (add at the very end)

1. Use at least a 5 qt. crockpot, or cut back on the ingredients.

2. In a large glass bowl, combine cooked and chopped chicken breast, the pasta sauce and 1 cup of buffalo wing sauce.

3. Ladle a big spoonful of the sauce into the bottom of your crockpot. Cover with a layer of the lasagna noodles. You'll have to break them to get them to fit.

4. Add a smear of ricotta cheese to the top of the noodles. Add a layer of chopped bell pepper. Sprinkle a handful of shredded cheese.

5. Repeat layers until you run out of ingredients.

6. Add the blue cheese crumbles. Put the 1/4 cup of water into your empty pasta sauce jar and shake. Pour the liquid over the top of the entire lasagna.

7. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 4-5. When cooking time is complete, unplug and take the lid off of the crock. Let it sit for 20 minutes before cutting into it.

So, it's messy, but it's delicious!

Real Men Don't Eat Quiche

Or so says my husband. I think he has bad memories of quiche because he hasn't had any desire to try one in years. His mom used to make a salmon quiche and my husband doesn't care for salmon. Maybe that's why he thinks he doesn't like quiche or fritattas. That soon changed when we were watching the Food Network and there was an episode of "Best Thing I Ever Ate" and there was a ginormous, incredible looking quiche. He and I were both drooling. It was huge and very fluffy looking.

I found a recipe online for a variation of Quiche Lorraine and I thought I would try it. I figure since it had meat, cheese and eggs, it couldn't be something Jason would complain about. You can't really go wrong with bacon and other yummy proteins.

This was a very easy recipe to prepare, which is ultimately the most important aspect of my cooking these days. If it has a hundred steps or takes forever to cook, forget it. I bypass the recipe. I need easy and fast.

We were over at my in-laws yesterday when I prepared this meal. It was very easy. To make it even easier, I prepped a lot of the things beforehand. Rather than fry the bacon and then crumble it, I find it much quicker and easier to cut the bacon into small pieces and then fry it. Much, much easier. Plus your hands don't get greasy and gross from crumbling the bacon.

I also pre-chopped the onions and pre-beat the eggs. I also cheated and bought premade pie dough. I didn't want to go through the hassle of making my own crust. That way, I pretty much had to throw the ingredients together in the pan and bake. It cut down on the prep time by about 10 minutes, which doesn't sound like a lot, however, to me, it is a lot. That is 10 minutes that can be spent doing something much more important, like burping a baby or taking a shower.

I paired this meal with roasted asparagus (yum) and a salad. All in all, it was a pretty healthy meal since it was mostly veggies. Obviously, you are getting some bacon, but if you cut the quiche into six big slices, you are theoretically only getting a slice or so of bacon in your whole piece and less than one egg.

This quiche was very good. So good in fact that there was only one piece left in the pan after we all ate. There is none left as of this morning though since my husband polished off the last piece for his dinner at 3:00am (he works swing shift). I guess it must have been good huh? Especially since the man says "Real men don't eat quiche". Okay honey, you keep telling yourself that.

Country Quiche

8 slices bacon
1 small onion, chopped
4 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium heat until evenly browned. Drain (reserving 1 tablespoon grease), crumble and set aside. Heat reserved grease in skillet and saute the onion until brown.

3. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, milk, flour, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper. Add bacon, onion, mozzarella and cheddar cheese; mix well. Pour mixture into pie shell.

4. Bake for 45 minutes or until lightly brown on top and firm in the middle. Serve warm.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Welcome back to the blogging world Pachey! Like I have stated previously, I haven't been cooking or baking much. Tonight, after the wee one went to bed, I decided to remedy that. I actually baked! Alert the media.

I had about five pathetic looking bananas and I didn't want them to go to waste. What do you typically do with overripe bananas? In my house, I make banana bread. Why mess with tradition right? However, I did mess with tradition. When I mentioned to my husband that I was going to make banana bread, he very kindly told me that I should look for a new recipe. He isn't fond of my old one apparently.

Off to trusty I typed in banana bread and used the very first recipe that came up. I only made one addition, which was the tasty and yummy addition of some chocolate chips. I personally think that chocolate chips and banana go together very well.

This recipe came together quickly, which is a positive in my house. You just never know when the baby is going to wake up. I also liked that it used up all five of my browning bananas. I had all the other ingredients on hand since they are regular baking staples.

This bread was delicious! Very moist and super chocolately with the addition of my chips. I had two pieces. After all, I have officially lost all my baby weight and I can afford to have a few extra calories in my diet. Yummmmm!

Banana Banana Bread

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/3 cup mashed overripe bananas

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and banana until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Pour batter into pan.

3. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

* Note: I added the chocolate chips after the banana mix and flour mix were added. I did not stir very much because I didn't want to make the bread tough.